Tuesday, 26 November 2019
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
The Order of Business is No. a1, motion regarding the thirteenth report of the Committee of Selection, to be taken on the conclusion of the Order of Business, without debate; No. 1, motion regarding reappointment of An Coimisinéir Teanga - back from committee and to be taken on the conclusion of No. a1, without debate; No. 2, motion regarding Universities Act 1997 (section 54(3)) (University Authorisation) Order 2019 - referral to committee, to be taken on the conclusion of No. 1; No. 3, Finance Bill 2019 - Second Stage, to be taken at 4.45 p.m., with the contribution of group spokespersons not to exceed ten minutes and all other Senators not to exceed six minutes; and No. 4, Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2017 - Report and Final Stages, resumed, to be taken on the conclusion of No. 3 and adjourn after two and a half hours, if not previously concluded.
I have an amazing sense of déjà vu. Last week, I raised the issue of gangland crime and I must do so again today. To date in 2019, there have been ten gangland-related murders in the city, which is nearly one per month. At the weekend, we heard of the horrific murder of a 22-year-old man in Coolock. Another murder took place in Lucan the previous week. People are living in fear in our cities, not just because of gangland crime but also because of petty crimes such as burglaries. People are living in fear in rural Ireland because of the major increase in crime rates. Isolated farmers are living alone and burglaries at their properties seem to be the norm. This is not right and it is not the type of society in which I want to live. There seems to be no respect whatever for the rule of law and there seems to be no disincentive to prevent people breaking the law. Scores are settled using guns rather than in more rational ways. We must formulate a solution and look at what we did in the past when we set up the Criminal Assets Bureau and strict legislation relating to sentencing and gun laws, particularly possession and crimes committed with guns. We must get much tougher. The Minister for Justice and Equality is not doing enough. There have been ten gangland-related murders in the past year, which is not a great record. He should be held accountable for this and come to the Seanad to engage in a proper debate on gangland-related crime and illegal drugs. It could be a wider debate on the drugs issue, including legalisation-----
I hope the Minister will do that.
The second matter I wish to raise relates to the Irish Cancer Society's report.The report shows that many families spend up to €1,000 extra a month on expenses they are unable to claim back. My father had cancer for 15 years. He came back six or seven times. Each time he spent three to four months in hospital. Each day he was in hospital probably three people visited him, so we probably spent €50 a day on parking. We could afford it and were happy to do so, but it is a lot of money for families, and that is only the expense of parking. The HSE should look at parking fees, not only regarding cancer patients but for all long-term illness patients. It is only a small thing but it really adds up when families spend the guts of €50 a day between them for parking, especially if they are travelling long distances. If one thing were to be taken away from the Irish Cancer Society report, a thing that is doable, it is parking.
Yes, I propose there would be no change in the times.
I wish to mention the passing of Major General David O’Morchoe, The O'Morchoe. David The O'Morchoe was the president of the Royal British Legion in Ireland for many years during the Troubles period. He did a great deal to bring people together in his time. He was a member of the Royal Irish Fusiliers and later my own regiment, the Royal Irish Rangers. David's passing was very sad. We buried him on Monday and I am delighted to say that there was a very large crowd and he had a wonderful send off. He was a tremendous man who did a lot of work bringing people together.
I received correspondence the other day that I think will interest the Leader. It was from the Mayor of Galway. He pointed out that he attends between three and five functions a day while balancing a full-time job. He has attended over 200 functions since his election in June. Last Tuesday he attended an event in Brussels as Mayor of Galway. He attends functions furthering his city, as do others, all over Europe and the United States. He was communicating with me over the rules laid down on attendance requirements for members of local authorities to avail of their allowances and travel and subsistence. An 80% attendance is required at all meetings to qualify for travel and substance, and the annual allowance requires 50% for all meetings. We need to change the legislation or the statutory instrument, or regulate to include mayoral duties, particularly those carried out abroad on behalf of the local authority, accounting for the number of meetings attended. Failure to do so will deter councillors from putting themselves forward for the position of mayor. There are members of this House and the Lower House who frequently find themselves abroad, working for the State with diaspora groups, on missions with IDA Ireland and so on. It is a subject of freedom of information requests from journalists, who are tracing our every movement. I have no difficulty with that but if someone is doing work on behalf of the State, that should be recognised as such. We should not have people chasing around after our every movement. I refer especially to mayors. I met the Mayor of the Leader's own city of Cork in Chicago -----
There is another issue I wish to raise with the Leader and the Whip. I wrongly accused the Taoiseach of changing the day of the remembrance ceremony in Merrion Square. I have since been reliably informed from the highest sources that it was a military decision. I apologise profusely to the Taoiseach and the Whip, who I know was concerned that I was maligning her boss.
Today I want to talk about the conference I attended yesterday along with my Seanad colleague, Senator McFadden. It was held in Westport, County Mayo. I commend Safe Ireland for such a wonderful conference on domestic violence and for holding it in Mayo. One of the reasons it did so was that it launched a report on Mayo with regard to combating domestic violence. I will speak briefly about two of the speakers who attended the conference. The first is Ryan Hart from Britain, of whom many Senators have heard. His mother and sister were killed by his father. He and his brother Luke have written a book on it, Remembered Forever. What he spoke about in particular was the eulogising of his father who died by suicide just after the death of his mother and sister. He said this has to stop. We see so much of it in this country, where women and children are killed and suddenly the person who killed them is eulogised and all kinds of excuses are made, such as being a great member of the GAA, going to Mass on Sunday or being a great community person. The reason I say all of this is that we need to do much more in this State. I have asked for the Minister to come to the House to evaluate the legislation we passed earlier this year. It is hugely important that we do so. I do not believe adequate resources are being put in place to underpin the legislation. The conference also heard from Detective Superintendent Gordon McCreadie of the Scottish police. He spoke about the many good practices in Scotland to combat domestic violence.
The Safe Home Safe Communities programme has been launched in Mayo. The idea behind it is to have prevention, intervention, response, recovery and measurement. It is hugely important that we have these things. I will speak about it at length later. This is crucial because the funds for Safe Ireland are not guaranteed and the staff are on protective notice. We are starting our 16 days of action to oppose violence against women and it is not good enough. Tusla is not allocating the money. It is administering the money but it is not dishing it out. That money needs to be released. We cannot have a precarious situation where Safe Ireland is not being adequately funded to do the job it needs to do. I am sure I will speak about this during the 16 days of action on opposing violence against women.
I was very sorry to learn of the death of Major General The O'Morchoe, head of the Murphy family. I knew him for more than 50 years. All of the old Irish families know each other, including the O'Haras and the McDermotts. We all know each other and I am very sorry he is gone. He was a general in the British Army. I think he was head of the British Legion.
He used to turn up at the Armistice Day ceremonies. He was a thoroughly decent, nice man.
I second Senator Craughwell's amendment to the Order of Business. It is a real pity that we will take the Finance Bill, which has no terminal point and we do not know when it will end, prior to the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill.Surely we should take the latter and, when it is finished, enter into the indeterminate deserts of the Finance Bill. That seems logical to me. I do not understand-----
As already stated, I very much regret the death of the O'Morchoe, who was a thoroughly charming and gentlemanly person from, I think, Wexford. I also want to second Senator Craughwell's amendment to the Order of Business.
Obviously. I concur with the remarks of Senator Conway-Walsh regarding the Safe Ireland conference. Yesterday was UN International Day for the Elimination of Domestic Violence against Women. The conference, which was held in Westport, was exceptionally good. What I took away from it is that we need to have a whole-of-Government approach to domestic violence. I was struck when I heard victims state that the first point of contact for a person when he or she first admits that he or she is struggling or being abused does not have to be an organisation charged with responsibility for looking after people suffering as a result of domestic violence. That point of contact could be an official of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection or a local authority housing official. The point was made yesterday that, along with An Garda Síochána, everybody in these areas should be trained to take statements, help women - and, in some cases, men - and ensure that they say what is right and listen to victims.
It is important that we would have a whole-of-Government approach in respect of this matter. That approach would not necessarily have to be led by the Department of Justice and Equality. I ask the Leader to use his good offices in the context of identifying which Department should take the lead. Perhaps the Department to the Taoiseach should do so, but with all other Departments get involved. That one in four women will have suffered abuse from their spouse at some point in their lives is striking. While there have been improvements through the years, domestic violence has not stopped. We should be brave enough to have a conversation on this issue. Perhaps, as I suggested, the Department of the Taoiseach could take the lead on this.
The debate on last year's Finance Bill was relatively short. I will be opposing the amendment to the Order of Business. I find it slightly hard to take that a group which has spent 100 hours plus opposing the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill is now in a rush to have a debate on it and to have that debate taken before debates on other matters.
I am making the point, validly, that the people who are proposing the amendment to the Order of Business to rush the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill into the House at 4.45 p.m. are the same individuals who have spent hundreds of hours and approximately a year and a half opposing it. That is fine. I have opposed the Bill too. I have no problem with them opposing the Bill, but I find it slightly hard to take that they want to rush it in now when they have been opposing it up to now.
On another point which I raised last week, we were all supportive of the Moorhead report being published. Again, I am not pushing an amendment on the matter and I am aware that it will be before an the Joint Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government tomorrow. However, it must be published because we need sight of it.We need the councillors of Ireland to see what is on offer. It may not be great but I have no idea. I hope it is great but I would not advise people to take out mortgages or loans against what they might get from it.
It is important that we see it and that we debate it as soon as possible in the House after it is published. I hope the Leader can find out from the Minister when we will see that.
We cannot leave the next issue unsaid. The story of the printer in the Houses of the Oireachtas is unfortunate. It is not something any of us caused.
I am not saying anybody did this deliberately but when this kind of mistake in expenditure happens, we should probably not just gloss over it and pretend it did not happen. The Leader knows this and it is important to say that when we spend the State's resources, however that is done, we should try to get the best value for money.
I listened to Senator Horkan's comments but I support my colleagues, Senators Craughwell and Norris, on the proposed change to the Order of Business. It is our function or role and ultimately this is a matter for Members.
Will the Leader update us at some stage on the land development agency Bill? There was great fanfare with the announcement of the agency over two years ago and we were then told that eight sites had been identified and were under control of the agency. The Leader also knows we were promised the roll-out of construction of over 8,000 houses on those sites.
I support the Land Development Agency and it is a really good proposal from the Government but the time for this Government is running out and we will be running into an election within months. If this development agency Bill does not progress through the various Stages in these Houses, which would be right and proper, there will be no Land Development Agency as the legislation will fall when the Government falls. It is too important to the delivery of affordable and social housing, or all forms of housing. There are great opportunities for this agency and I would like to see the Bill progressed, subject of course to scrutiny. It has not completed pre-legislative scrutiny but we must keep our eye on the ball. If the Leader has any further details, he might keep the Members informed.
Members of the culture committee visited Mayo and Roscommon last week as part of our work on local and regional museums. We were in Straide to see the Michael Davitt museum and Strokestown House and famine museum. We also saw the Jackie Clarke collection in Ballina. We all know these spaces can be drivers for tourism, education and international and national engagement, as well as research. I encourage Members to get in touch with the committee if they have ideas about our local and regional museums. Some of the issues concern greater support for local authority arts officers and heritage officers and funding for people on the ground rather than just capital projects. For example, it is about allowing people to go overseas to meet people from organisations where there may be engagement. We should also return Heritage Council funding to pre-recession levels. The committee will shortly complete its work on local and regional museums and I encourage people to have a look at the landscape locally and get in touch with the committee or me with ideas on that report and recommendations.
Unfortunately, I must raise an issue I have raised continuously in the House, namely, criminality and murder on the north side of Dublin. It gives me no pleasure to have to raise it again because a young man was murdered on Sunday evening in Clonshaugh Avenue in Dublin 17. It is the fifth murder in the last seven months in this geographical location. The news cycle moves on quickly but I must reiterate the damage this type of event does to a family, community and area. Children are walking past Garda tape at the scene of the murder on their way to school. Time and again, I have called on the Minister for Justice and Equality to replicate in Dublin's north side what was done in the north inner city. When there was a spate of murders in the north inner city in February 2016, in fairness to the then Taoiseach, Deputy Enda Kenny, he responded by getting every agency, actor and stakeholder into a room, regardless of their political backgrounds, to try to find a solution. A commission was put together and a report, known as the Mulvey report, was produced. Solutions were found that were not just policing solutions.
We are asking for the same template to be applied in the geographical location of Dublin 17, Dublin 13 and parts of Dublin 5. We are asking every public representative, school and local agency, including the Northside Partnership and Preparing for Life in Darndale, to come together and come up with answers as to why this is happening in the first place and possible solutions to make it stop. There have been five murders in seven months. If any other geographical location in the country had five murders in seven months, I am quite sure the political reaction would be different. It is not good enough. Nobody in this House believes it is good that children are walking past murder scenes. One primary school on the north side had a murder take place outside its gate. There is a memorial to that individual outside the gate of the school. He was shot dead there. This is not normal and cannot be considered normal.
I am trying to be constructive and am not trying to score party political points. It was this Government under the former Taoiseach, Deputy Enda Kenny, that did the right thing in the north inner city and it is the same Government under the Taoiseach, Deputy Varadkar, and the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Flanagan, that can do the right thing in this geographical location on Dublin's north side. I cannot comprehend why it is felt that the news and politics have moved on when a young man of 22 years of age has been gunned down on Clonshaugh Avenue. It is as if it is just another news item. It is not good enough. It cannot be good enough and the Government must respond. If it did, I and every other Member of the House would support it in doing that.
Today, massive machinery travelled through the capital's streets. Tractors were driven by farmers who have been badly let down. We must stop waiting for mass protests like this to change things. We must do the right thing. Our ancestors made this country the great place it is today through farming. Agriculture made us and we must never forget that. Small farmers across the country are suffering crippling price cuts and bad rewards for good, hard and honest work. I stood with the farmers outside the House and I stand in the Chamber in support of them. A task force was to be convened, but it failed. Talks were to take place, but they did not. Prices were to be fixed and they were not. Will the Leader invite the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Deputy Creed, to the House to answer our questions? Why are the farmers left to feel let down again and to feel that they have no power unless they travel to the capital on enormous tractors to be heard? This is a very serious issue.
Senator Murnane O'Connor spoke about people being let down. The capital city is being let down continuously by this Government. We were promised revenue neutrality in respect of the rates from Irish Water, but there is an €8 million shortfall in the city's budget that was passed last night. The can will be carried by both the citizens and the ratepayers.It is not good enough to tell the people of our capital city that Irish Water is neutral in the context of funding when, in fact, that is not the case. The rates from the Irish Water buildings in the city are being spread across the country on a per capitabasis. That is not the only issue in respect of which Dublin is being let down. The Government has forgotten that the capital city must be treated to some element of fair play. It certainly has not been getting fair play for the past year.
Senator Ó Ríordáin mentioned what is happening on Dublin's northside. I see the same thing happening, albeit at a lower level, on the southside. Communities are being drained of Garda resources. Community gardaí in the south inner city are out policing protests at Google, at greyhound stadiums and on Merrion Square. These are the very gardaí on which my community depends for policing. We are being starved of those resources because hours are being soaked up dealing with those protests and the officers involved are not being replaced. In one area in the south inner city, 11 cars were broken into on a single night and no gardaí were available to respond. That is not acceptable. From small acorns grow large problems. We are seeing a very large problem starting to grow on the south side of the city because of the lack of policing resources. This needs to be put right. The capital city is the largest contributor of tax to the Exchequer but it is not getting its fair share of resources or funding. I am absolutely sick of it. I keep asking what on earth Dublin did to Fine Gael to deserve being ignored in such a manner.
Senators Conway-Walsh and McFadden have already highlighted that we are in the midst of the 16 days of action campaign in the context of violence against women. Violence against women is one of the most corrosive elements across all societies internationally. There is no society in which it is not present. The patterns can be seen almost everywhere. Figures indicate that between one in three and one in five women experience sexual violence, physical violence or other forms of abuse. These are significant patterns across society. It is a global problem. Luckily, some steps have been taken on a global scale, such as in the form of the Istanbul Convention, to put forward ideas as to how to address this issue. Domestically, one of the great things the Seanad has done was to pass legislation making coercive control an offence. If we want to see that addressed, we need to ensure that the front-line organisations such as Safe Ireland, Women's Aid and the many rape crisis centres across the country are properly resourced. They are facing a constant battle to provide basic services while also trying to contribute to and support the societal change we need. For example, Safe Ireland has produced very strong research showing that a whole new generation still has attitudes of entitlement in the context of power over women within relationships. It is really important that these organisations are empowered not only to keep providing basic front-line services to which many women - thank goodness - now come forward to talk about their experiences but also to act as advocates. I ask the Leader whether we could have a debate within this 16-day period focusing on violence against women in its many forms.
Very strong testimony on domestic homicide has been heard. Since 1996, 100 women have died at the hands of partners or former partners. In the UK, every domestic homicide is now investigated. When the full investigation is carried out, details of which are then published, it is often discovered that coercive and controlling behaviour was one of the first and earliest red flags. We have a chance to get that right. I know we are under pressure from the point of view of time but I would love it if the Leader could accommodate even a short debate on the issue of violence against women globally and within Ireland within the 16-day period to which I refer.
Last week, the Joint Committee on Health had an opportunity to question the leadership of the Irish Wheelchair Association regarding the proposed closure of Cuisle.I commend those who gathered in Roscommon on Saturday to protest against the proposed closure. I express again my hope that there will be a stay of execution on this decision as a result of the joint committee's request. Those who care about the importance of the wonderful service that Cuisle provides to the community should be given an opportunity to see how the facility can be saved for the future and for the sake of those who benefit from it.
I wish to highlight another threat to the provision of services for members of the disability community. The National Platform of Self Advocates is Ireland's first disabled persons' organisation and the only one to consist of and be directed solely at people with intellectual disabilities. It was established in 2011 by people with intellectual disabilities and has been funded by a grant from a private philanthropy organisation. It regularly seeks to progress vital employment opportunities for its members. Its national meeting in July of this year focused on this theme. Unfortunately, the private funding has now ceased. In the absence of direct Government assistance, the National Platform of Self Advocates will close at the end of this year. Its vital contribution to the comprehensive employment strategy for people with disabilities, which is running from 2015 to 2024, was recognised by the Minister of State, Deputy Finian McGrath, when he attended a debate on the strategy in this House in May. The debate in question was organised by our colleague, Senator Dolan. I commend the Minister of State on his friendship and support for the platform. As I understand it, he has been a significant supporter of the platform over the past 18 months. Without him, it would have closed at the end of last year. I ask the Leader to bring this matter to the attention of the Minister. We need to impress on him the urgent need for a definitive resolution to this funding crisis. From what I can ascertain, the initial funding grant that established the platform was a modest €55,000. If such a trifling sum cannot be restored, or provided for such an important organisation, it will be a terrible shame. I ask the Leader to bring from this House the concern that Senators share about the credibility of our commitment to truly advancing participatory decision-making for people with physical and intellectual disabilities. It is important that a special arrangement would be made in this case.
I support what has been said by other Members of the House, including Senator Mullen, about the Cuisle facility in Roscommon. I have listened back to the contributions that were made by representatives of the Irish Wheelchair Association when they came before the Joint Committee on Health last week. There was a huge demonstration in Roscommon over the weekend. The Cuisle facility for people with disabilities is of benefit to the entire country. It is essential for the HSE and the Department of Health to provide the required capital allocation. In her contribution to last week's debate at the joint committee, the chief executive officer of the Irish Wheelchair Association said that approximately €1.1 million would be required to avert the closure of the facility. I would like the Minister for Health or the Minister of State with responsibility for disability issues to come to the House to address this specific matter.
When I met representatives of the Association of Irish Local Government earlier today, we discussed the terms and conditions of local authority members. I support what Senator Craughwell said about the need to do more than look at terms and conditions. We should also look at the requirement for mayors and cathaoirligh of local authorities to attend 80% of meetings. There should be a system that is similar to that which operates in the Oireachtas. When local authority members are facilitating their local authorities by being abroad or at another event, they should be able to reconcile for any local authority meetings they are due to attend. That would be on a par with what is available to Members of the Oireachtas. That facility should be made available to chairs and mayors of local authorities, in particular. When the Minister of State with responsibility for local government comes before this House next week, I hope he will have some good news for the local authority members across the country who are anxiously awaiting equality of pay.
I will speak about the impact that the overcrowding in the accident and emergency department at University Hospital Limerick is having on the lives of real people. The hospital is due to get an MRI scanner.I hope that will be in place quickly. A review is under way on the operation of the hospital. I ask for that to be expedited to see exactly what specific plans we need in place over the next number of months until we have the 60-bed block completed.
Furthermore, I ask that a review would be done on available bed capacity in the other hospitals within the group, including St. John's Hospital, Limerick, Ennis Hospital, Nenagh Hospital and Croom Hospital. We need to ensure bed capacity is used in the most efficient way possible looking at all hospitals as the one unit. My main concern is for patients, many of them elderly, who are waiting a huge length of time. A great debt is owed to the staff who are working in the accident and emergency department because of the pressures they are under. We have to ensure that until the 60-bed block is in place, we have the correct measures and the necessary resources in place. I ask that the Leader of the House would convey to the Minister for Health the urgency of this, particularly with the overcrowding of University Hospital Limerick.
I thank the 15 Members of the House for their contributions to the Order of Business. Senators Ó Ríordáin and Ardagh raised the issue of the tragic shooting and killing of a person in Coolock at the weekend. To be fair to Senator Ó Ríordáin, there is much merit in what he is suggesting about a specific task force. Equally, Government is committed to ensuring Ireland is a safe and secure place, including the northside of Dublin. To that end, the Government established a task force in 2016, augmented and supported by increased resources for the armed support unit of the Garda, along with a suite of legislation. Senator Ardagh's point is one we should all focus upon, namely, the need for the rule of law to be respected, and that is not happening. There is also a need for accountability and for us to ensure, whether it is for the possession of firearms, the possession of drugs or whatever reason, that there is a commensurate sentencing policy and that we are not soft on crime. I do not disagree with much of what Senator Ó Ríordáin said about the effect it has on communities. We all live in communities and we all understand the impact, effect and import of what is happening. The Government is committed to that. The armed support unit is available 24-7. There has been an increase in the number of gardaí deployed in Dublin and there has been an increase in the number of gardaí recruited. It is important to note, in the context of the contribution of Senator Ardagh, that crime is reducing. There is a reduction in crime but there is an issue with gangland crime in our capital city in particular, and it is necessary for it to be urgently addressed by the Garda Commissioner. I would be happy for the Minister to come to the House on the matter.
Senator Ardagh raised the Irish Cancer Society report, entitled The Real Cost of Cancer. I have not read the report but the points made by Senator Ardagh can be addressed fundamentally by local hospitals with car parking where for cancer patients in particular the fee can be waived. In some hospitals that does happen. I would be happy to have a debate on the report although I have not seen it. I commend the Irish Cancer Society on the work it does and it is important we work collectively on the issues raised in that report.
Senator Craughwell, seconded by Senator Norris, has not given a cogent reason for the need to change the Order of Business.
I know Senator Boyhan said in his contribution that it is our job to order the Order of Business and to vote for or against it. We agreed the schedule last Wednesday at the group leaders' meeting and I know it is our prerogative to change it if we need, want or deserve to. There is, however, no real cogent argument to change it, so I am not accepting the arguments put forward by Senator Craughwell.
Both Senators Craughwell and Norris commented on the sad passing of David Creagh, The O'Morchoe. I pay tribute to him for his leadership and I thank him for his strength, valour and commitment in the public service.I extend our sympathies to his family. Our thoughts and support are with them at this tragic time.
Senators Craughwell, Horkan and Ó Domhnaill raised the issue of the Moorhead report. The 80% attendance rate requirement for those who are lord mayors, mayors or cathaoirligh is one that should be waived given that they are performing a ceremonial and representational duty. They are also the voice and ambassador for councils, not just abroad but also locally. A mayor, lord mayor or cathaoirleach should not have to meet the 80% attendance rate, in a similar manner to the rules for Ministers in government. It was mentioned that we can reconcile our attendance, but a mayor, lord mayor or cathaoirleach should be exempt.
Senators Conway-Walsh, McFadden and Higgins commended Safe Ireland on its conference yesterday and the quality of the speakers and presentations. Yesterday was white ribbon day and I will endeavour to have a debate as part of the 16 days of the campaign. It is important that we acknowledge not just the cultural but the legislative changes. There is an element within society that thinks domestic violence is okay which we have to curb. That culture must be continually challenged. Legislation, as well as conferences like that which took place yesterday, will help. We must consider the funding of Safe Ireland and I would be happy for the Minister to come to the House for a discussion. It is an important piece of work on which we can all stand together.
Senator Horkan referred to the Moorhead report. The Minister is going to the committee tomorrow and it is my intention to debate the matter next week as there was a scheduling change this week. The Senator made reference to the printer in Leinster House. The Clerk of the Dáil has commissioned an investigation into the matter. I understand the Committee of Public Accounts will discuss the matter on Thursday. It beggars belief when something like this goes awry. I cannot comment on what happened. I do not know what happened. It should not happen. A measuring tape to measure the gap between the wall and the door is not that difficult to come by. Perhaps there are other issues of which we are not aware. Perhaps we should wait until we have the full report. It does not make for pretty reading. This type of thing puts us all into one basket and condemns us all, which is unacceptable.
Senator Boyhan raised the issue of the Land Development Agency, LDA. His point on the lifetime of this Oireachtas is one that is beyond my control and his. His point on the Bill is important. As he knows the LDA is very active. It is examining the Shanganagh site in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, as well as the St. Kevin's site in Cork. Eight sites are being actively considered. I do not have an up-to-date answer for the Senator, but I am sure he has the answer given that he is pretty proactive. The Minister, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, is committed to the project and an interim board and chair have been appointed. I will endeavour to convey the points the Senator made to the Minister.
I commend Senator Warfield and the committee on the work they are doing with local regional museums. We will have that debate in due course.
Senator Murnane-O'Connor raised the issue of farmers and the beef sector. We are all fully aware of the issues affecting the sector and the Government's commitment to it through a series of measures and programmes.I am sure the Senator would join me in welcoming the opening of new markets in China and commend the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine on the work he has done there. We must recognise the role of the beef sector and it is important to ensure farmers have reliable and good incomes. I will arrange for the Minister, Deputy Creed, to come to the House for a debate on this issue.
It has become Senator Humphreys election mantra now. It is important that we have accuracy in the context of Dublin City Council's budgeting and on the issue of Irish Water, and Senators should be informed of that. Equally, Senator Humphreys should recognise that Garda numbers have increased, not decreased. As Senator Craughwell said, there is an election coming up. I will say nothing more.
Senators Mullen and Ó Domhnaill raised the important issue of Cuisle, the Irish Wheelchair Association and a presentation that was made to a joint committee last week. Many Senators have raised this matter. I do not have an update in respect of it.
Senator Mullen referred to the National Platform of Self Advocates. Perhaps he should raise this as a Commencement matter in order that he might get a more expeditious answer. I do not have any information on the matter but it is important that we increase participation and recognise the importance of advocacy. If the Senator has not chosen to table a Commencement matter, I would be happy to arrange for the Minister to come to the House to discuss the issue in due course.
Senator O'Donnell referred to overcrowding at University Hospital Limerick. Clearly, there needs to be an increase in supply. I hope the provision of an MRI scanner will improve the position. I will be controversial about this in that I believe there is a game going on in our health system regarding the provision of trolleys in emergency departments about. We need to have an honest debate about this. I have said that previously in the House and I will not shrink away from saying it again. There is a game going on between vested interests in our health system. The person who often loses out is the patient. I hope that the House will have an honest debate about the health system prior to Christmas.
Catherine Ardagh, Jerry Buttimer, Martin Conway, Rose Conway Walsh, Mark Daly, Paul Daly, Alice Mary Higgins, Gerry Horkan, Billy Lawless, Anthony Lawlor, Tim Lombard, Gabrielle McFadden, Michelle Mulherin, Jennifer Murnane O'Connor, Catherine Noone, Niall Ó Donnghaile, Kieran O'Donnell, Marie Louise O'Donnell, John O'Mahony, Joe O'Reilly, Neale Richmond, Lynn Ruane.