Seanad debates

Tuesday, 9 July 2024

1:00 pm

Photo of Lisa ChambersLisa Chambers (Fianna Fail)
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I will move a motion at the end of the Order of Business to pass an expression of sympathy on behalf of the House on the death of former Deputy and Senator John O'Mahony. I concur with the Cathaoirleach on John in that he was a lovely man, a real gentleman. It was very sad to hear of his passing. I express condolences to his wife Gerardine, his five children, all the family, his community and his Fine Gael colleagues. He was a fantastic Mayo football manager and a representative for County Mayo. He was a very kind and warm person, and I am very sad to hear about his passing. We think of his family, community and friends at this really sad time.

The Order of Business is No. 1, motion regarding the orders of reference of the Seanad Select Committee on Scrutiny of Draft EU-related Statutory Instruments, to be taken on the conclusion of the Order of Business without debate; No. 2, motion regarding the appointment of An tOmbudsman Póilíneachta, to be taken on the conclusion of No. 1 without debate; No. 3, motion regarding the reappointment of a member to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, to be taken on the conclusion of No. 2 without debate; No. 4, Defence (Amendment) Bill 2024 [Dáil] – Report and Final Stages, to be taken at 3.25 p.m. and with the proceedings thereon, if not previously concluded, to be brought to a conclusion at 4.45 p.m. by the putting of one question from the Chair, which shall, in relation to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Government; No. 5, Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2024 [Dáil] – Committee and Remaining Stages, to be taken at 5.15 p.m. and whose proceedings shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 6.15 p.m. by the putting of one question from the Chair, which shall, in relation to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Government; and No. 6, the Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2024 [Dáil] – Committee and Remaining Stages, to be taken at 6.30 p.m.

I welcome Councillor Noel Heavey and his wife Bernie to the Chamber.

Photo of Jerry ButtimerJerry Buttimer (Fine Gael)
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Céad míle fáilte. They are very welcome.

Photo of Fiona O'LoughlinFiona O'Loughlin (Fianna Fail)
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On behalf of the Fianna Fáil Group, I ask that we be associated with the sympathies for that wonderful public representative, John O'Mahony. We express our deepest sympathies to his family, community and the Fine Gael Party.

I add my voice of welcome to my good friend and colleague, Councillor Noel Heavey, his wife Bernie and his four best canvassers in the local elections, Molly, Mary, Rose, James and Chris, who went out to support their grandad every day. They did a wonderful job. It is great to have the opportunity to say that to them.

We have had democracy in action in our two nearest neighbours, the UK and France. While we have some clarity in terms of the way forward in the UK, there is anything but clarity in France. No matter what happens, we hope that those who are in positions of power will hold fast to the true values of democracy and social justice.

I refer to the issue of fairer fares. The Cathaoirleach has heard me speak ad nauseam about commuter fares in south Kildare and the need to have balance between fares beyond short hop zones. After a long campaign, we were happy to see fairer fares announced. In respect of Newbridge, it was expected that the fare would drop by 45%, along with a drop of 37% for Kildare town, which is important for commuters. This was due to be implemented next September, with implications for towns in Meath and Wicklow, as well as Drogheda. I was gutted to hear not from the NTA but another source that this will not now be implemented this year and the change will not happen until 2025. In areas where fares were adjusted upwards, changes were introduced in June. I cannot understand why, therefore, we would have to wait until the following year for a reduction in fares.

I spoke to then Minister for transport, Deputy Jack Chambers, about two weeks ago. September was on the horizon at that point. There was an NTA briefing about three weeks ago and we understood nothing had changed. I cannot understand what has changed. I have written to the NTA and the new Minister, my Kildare colleague, Deputy James Lawless, to ask for a meeting on this. This is an important issue. We should take it up. I would like to have an opportunity to bring the Minister to the Chamber and discuss this.

Photo of Martin ConwayMartin Conway (Fine Gael)
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I too would like to be associated with the very generous comments of the Cathaoirleach and Senator O'Loughlin on the passing of our dear friend and colleague, John O'Mahony. It came as a shock to all of us that he passed away so quickly. The last I heard of John was when he paid tribute to that great person, Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh.

I first met John before I was elected to the House, when he became a TD in 2007. He has always been a shining light and guiding force to all of us. He was steadfast in his views and opinions, which is what would be expected of somebody in politics. He was a genuinely kind, decent and sincere person. He was a mentor and somebody who was happy to dispense advice. When I was elected in 2012, I became very close to John O'Mahony. He looked out for people who came in here, and guided, supported and encouraged them. He instilled confidence and belief in people.

Of course, that was reflected in what he did on the sports field. He worked extremely hard and was dedicated. He was a team player and loyal to his team, which was seen in great counties like Mayo, Galway and Leitrim, where he achieved remarkable success in all counties. He did not achieve the elusive Sam Maguire for Mayo, but he brought the county as close to it as anybody has in many decades.I had the great privilege, along with other Senators, including the Cathaoirleach, to serve with John in the previous Seanad, where he was a great source of advice, support and wisdom at our group meetings. I remember being in Brussels with him after, I think, the 2019 election. We were having dinner in a restaurant that was about 20 minutes away from our hotel. It was misty and taxis could not be got. John did not have a coat or an umbrella, but he was fearless. He got out and walked back to his hotel in the rain. That shows John's absolute determination that nothing was going to get in his way.

In recent times, we saw John battle illness with great dignity, determination and focus. I have no doubt he is looking down on us today saying, “Lads, I am with you spirit, so get on with your job, go and win seats in the next election and I will be proud of you from above.” Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

Photo of Gerard CraughwellGerard Craughwell (Independent)
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I too wish to be associated with John O'Mahony. He was a very decent man, a towering man. When you met him, you knew you were standing in the presence of greatness. I believe his last interview was given from his hospital bed. That would be the nature of the man. I extend my sympathy to John's family.

I propose to amend the Order of Business to increase the time for the Defence (Amendment) Bill 2024. Providing an hour and a half for this most significant legislation is outrageous. It will change so much about the Defence Forces that it simply cannot be completed in an hour and a half. We were dismissed here last week by the Tánaiste when we tried to table amendments. There are a significant number of important amendments today. I ask that the Cathaoirleach consider giving at least an extra hour for the Bill, meaning we would debate it from 3.15 p.m. until 5.45 p.m. I ask the Cathaoirleach to do that. This is very important.

Photo of Jerry ButtimerJerry Buttimer (Fine Gael)
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The Senator is proposing to extend the debate until 5.45 p.m.

Photo of Gerard CraughwellGerard Craughwell (Independent)
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Yes. I ask that the Cathaoirleach do that. This is very important legislation. I make no secret of the fact that at the outset of the debate, I will ask the Tánaiste to withdraw the Bill and pause the debate altogether. I have legal advice that I will share with him when he comes to the House indicating there are constitutional issues with the legislation.

We hear a lot of bad stuff about the Defence Forces. I want to put on the record the brave act of Sgt. John Ainsworth in Galway, who was driving by the Corrib when he saw a person fall into the water. John stopped his car, ran to the Corrib, dived in and saved the man while John’s son called the emergency services. We so often hear the bad side of the Defence Forces. Here is a good side that needs to be put into the public domain. People need to realise there are decent, hardworking and honest people working in the Defence Forces.

Finally, it is no secret that there is a case before the High Court seeking a judicial review of the deal to allow the RAF to fly over our skies. I am delighted to inform the House that I won my High Court battle yesterday to have that go to a full judicial review. We had six days in the High Court in all. In a 27-page, 91-paragraph judgment, Mr. Justice Cregan found in my favour. The State will probably appeal but at least it is the first volley in a long battle that has been going on for over two and a half years.

Photo of Jerry ButtimerJerry Buttimer (Fine Gael)
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Congratulations, Senator.

I join in welcoming Councillor Noel Heavey, his wife Bernie and his grandchildren to the Gallery. Céad míle fáilte leo agus comhghairdeas leis an gcomhairleoir.

Photo of Vincent P MartinVincent P Martin (Green Party)
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I too offer my deepest sympathy to the family and friends of the late John O’Mahony, the wider GAA community and the family of Fine Gael, which lost a wonderful public representative who served in both Houses with distinction. I would also like to closely associate myself with the Cathaoirleach’s kind, thoughtful and very appropriate remarks when he paid tribute to John.

I also welcome Councillor Heavey from my home county, who was recently re-elected.I wish him and, indeed, all who were elected in the UK recently well. There is a big responsibility and burden on their shoulders. It is more than a cliché to say that this is a golden opportunity for a reset in Anglo-Irish relations.

My primary business today is to seek an amendment to the proposed Order of Business as outlined by the Leader of the House. At the appropriate time, I propose that No. 15 be taken before No. 1 and I will be seeking the leave of this House to introduce my Bill.

My Bill, entitled the Bail (Amendment) Bill 2024, proposes to amend the Schedule to the Bail Act 1997 so as to include in that Schedule a reference to the offence of coercive control under section 39 of the Domestic Violence Act 2018. In summary, a person who is currently charged with committing an offence under the said section can, in appropriate cases, be prosecuted on indictment. Despite an accused person having been charged on indictment, this is distinct from a summary non-jury trial prosecution in the District Court where bail can only be refused in relatively limited circumstances. This is because the offence is not listed on the Bail Act Schedule. This is notwithstanding that under section 39(3)(b) of the Domestic Violence Act 2018, a person who commits the offence of coercive control is liable on conviction on indictment to a term of five years' imprisonment.

The current bail law in respect of the offence of coercive control provides for a lighter and more relaxed bail regime. My Bill proposes to add it to the Schedule to the Bail Act and if enacted into law, this would change the admissibility objections made in a court bail application hearing and thus provide for the possibility of preventive detention being made permissible on the grounds of fear of further serious offending.

I conclude by thanking my fellow Senators for co-signing this cross-party legislative initiative and I look forward, subject to it being granted leave today, to a good debate on the Bill on Second Stage in this House.

Photo of Annie HoeyAnnie Hoey (Labour)
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I also want to be associated with the remarks made about the late John O'Mahony and to pass on my Labour Party sympathies to his family and to all who knew him.

This Saturday, 13 July, the Trans and Intersex Pride Dublin march will be held. They are meeting at 12 noon at the Garden of Remembrance. I encourage everyone here to attend but if Members cannot attend, to take the time to learn about the reality of life for trans and intersex people here in Ireland. Only two weeks ago, I went through a litany of actions which could be undertaken to improve the lives of trans and intersex people here in Ireland.

If one has any queries as to why we need to do anything further to support this community or why I relentlessly stand up in this Chamber advocating for the trans and intersex community, one needs only to look at some of the comments underneath the video. They are vile, dehumanising, violent and disgusting comments. One might perhaps then realise that we still have a very long way to go to better support trans and intersex lives here in Ireland. The march is on this Saturday, 13 July at 12 noon, meeting in the Garden of Remembrance.

This brings me neatly to my second point, which is to ask the Leader for an update on the status of the hate crime and incitement to hatred legislation. It has been a year since we last had it in the Seanad and hate crime continues on. The communities affected continue to call for the introduction of the legislation. Indeed, the new Green Party leader, the Minister, Deputy Roderic O'Gorman, to whom I, of course, extend my congratulations on his successful election as leader, also called for this legislation in his leadership speech. Does the Leader have update as to the status of that legislation because the Coalition Against Hate Crime Ireland and other affected groups are deeply concerned? We have seen only in the past couple of weeks discussion of hate crime and the impact it has on women and on other communities.

Finally, I briefly again raise the issue that there still are no financial supports for part-time postgraduate students. Much has been done for part-time students at undergraduate level but postgraduate students are still not covered within that. As there were discussions that they would be at some point, does the Leader have insights as to whether that will happen? We are still waiting on a report on the status of PhD researchers. Are they workers? Are they students? It simply cannot go on the way it is and it is time it is cleared up.PhD researchers are in limbo. They are in a state of being workers in all but name. They come in to do their teaching and their hours. If they do not show up to do that, they are adequately held to account. They are workers in all but name yet they get none of the benefits such as maternity leave, paternity benefit, holiday or sick leave. These are all things one would expect if going in and out doing a job. The PhD researchers report is long overdue. While I know the former Minister, under whose responsibility this lay, is now the Taoiseach, perhaps the Leader might be able to give some insight as to what is the status of that report and whether it is going to be published soon.

Photo of Paul GavanPaul Gavan (Sinn Fein)
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Initially, I wish to be associated with the Cathaoirleach's own remarks on John O'Mahony. I had the pleasure of serving with John in the last Seanad. I agree with everything that has been said. He was an absolute gentleman and someone who was very passionate about the west of Ireland. He was very strong in his opinions but always very pleasant and modest for a man with his achievements. I offer my condolences on behalf of myself and our party to John's family and friends and indeed to the wider Fine Gael Party.

Earlier today, I raised an issue around the National Advocacy Service for People with Disabilities. Some Members will have noticed its workers were outside the gates of Leinster House today. The service consists of 48 workers who provide an absolutely essential service to frankly some of the most vulnerable people in the State, that is, people with disabilities. They provide advocacy and represent people who have no one else to represent them on many occasions. They are on strike because this Government is refusing to support and implement a Labour Court recommendation. I cannot get over the irony of that. We have heard Ministers urge Aer Lingus workers to accept the Labour Court recommendation only this morning yet there is a Labour Court recommendation in support of these really badly paid workers, who do incredibly important work, and the Government is refusing to implement it. It is an absolute disgrace. I am calling out the Minister, Deputy Heather Humphreys, on this and I am asking the Leader to intervene. These workers are on strike and for every day they are on strike, those vulnerable people receive no supports. They supported 1,500 disabled people last year. They support disabled people every year by way of representation, support and advocacy. They cannot do that while they are on strike. They are on strike because the Government refuses to implement the Labour Court recommendation, which is entirely unacceptable. I am asking the Leader to intervene to get the Government to cop on and allow these workers to get back to work and be given the respect, and indeed the pay, they deserve.

The second point I wish to raise is about the safe access zones Act. This is an Act that, for the most part, all of us supported. We worked collegially to get it passed. It was passed on 7 May but it has not been implemented. Two months after it was signed into law by the President, it is still not implemented and, for the life of me, I cannot understand why that is. A number of people have contacted me in recent weeks to ask me what is happening in this regard. I am raising this issue with the Leader. We should not be waiting more than two months to see this law actually implemented in order that we can put protections in place for women who badly need them when they are making their way to hospital or to private appointments.

Photo of Timmy DooleyTimmy Dooley (Fianna Fail)
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I join the expressions of sympathy to the family of the late John O'Mahony. I had the pleasure of serving with him in the other House. I served with him in close quarters on the transport and tourism committee. While John was mild mannered and was not always the person you heard first, when it came to detail, the progression of legislation and addressing serious issues, John O'Mahony was to the fore. He was a serious politician. While he did not shout from the rooftops, he worked assiduously and diligently behind the scenes. As I said, I saw that at close quarters. I was often taken by his mild-mannered nature because, generally, that is not associated with great coaches. They are always seen being revved or riled up and driving their teams on. John had a capacity to get to the nub of an issue and instil confidence in those around him by being careful in the way he used language and by being cautious in his approach to things. He wore his accolades very lightly. When meeting him for the first time, you would have to Google him to really appreciate and see what he had achieved. He certainly was never one for having his elbow on the bar shouting from a distance about what he had achieved, even though he had achieved so much. I am sure he could have achieved so much more if life was not so cruel.

I want to address a sensitive matter and I want to do so in the most general way possible.Recently, I understand a member of the usher brigade within this House had their position terminated. There is a serious issue that needs to be addressed and it would be useful if the Leader could communicate to the Commission of the Houses the concerns that have been raised by many, particularly in how the House addresses an issue like this when it is brought to their attention and how long it takes to make a decision. Rumours abound that complaints had been made and were not addressed and we need to look into that.

Photo of Jerry ButtimerJerry Buttimer (Fine Gael)
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Tá an t-am caite.

Photo of Timmy DooleyTimmy Dooley (Fianna Fail)
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I want to conclude; it is important that background checks are made on all people who are employed in this House. It is quite serious.

Photo of Jerry ButtimerJerry Buttimer (Fine Gael)
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I thank the Senator.

Photo of Timmy DooleyTimmy Dooley (Fianna Fail)
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We talk about the necessity to protect politicians-----

Photo of Jerry ButtimerJerry Buttimer (Fine Gael)
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Tá an t-am istigh.

Photo of Timmy DooleyTimmy Dooley (Fianna Fail)
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-----outside this House, I think it is important they are protected within this House.

Photo of Jerry ButtimerJerry Buttimer (Fine Gael)
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I remind Members that on matters that Senator Dooley has raised, there is a need to be careful. There is a process under way by the Houses of the Oireachtas and it is incumbent upon all of us not to prejudge the outcome or what happened before, after or during. I want to protect all of us in that regard. There is a process and there are Members of the House on various bodies, including the Commission, where it can be raised. I ask Members to be careful and conscious of that.

Photo of Joe O'ReillyJoe O'Reilly (Fine Gael)
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At the outset, I want to formally second my neighbour's, Senator Vincent P. Martin, amendment to the Order of Business. I know he is celebrating the great emissions results today and it is good to see the legislation coming through. I want to join in the words of sympathy to Gerardine and all the O'Mahony family on the passing of John, a man of great warmth, high principle and dedication. He had a wonderful teaching career and an illustrious GAA career and political career. It was a privilege to serve with him, to have his friendship and he was an inspiration to anyone who knew him. I know, Cathaoirleach, we will have a special day of tributes in due course and I will leave it at that until then.

I thank the Cathaoirleach for the way he welcomed the Ormiston family here today, Elizabeth, her son Peter and her grandchildren Aaron, Philip and Moya. Elizabeth is worthy of recognition and mention in this House because in what has been traditionally a man's world, and wrongly so, she was a pioneering woman in achieving leadership positions in the Irish Farmers' Association, IFA, and in the agricultural community and was in that way a mould breaker. She did it with distinction and for that reason, it is a great privilege to honour her here today.

I want to ask the Leader, because I know when I asked this before that it is a matter that she herself has grave concern around and I certainly have, where are we at now with the Child and Adolescence Mental Health Services, CAMHS. Where are we at in terms of waiting lists and reform there because we cannot have young people not having access at a critical moment to mental and psychological services? It is no good having access when it is too late and the harm is done.

Photo of Victor BoyhanVictor Boyhan (Independent)
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I would like to join with others in sending my condolences to Gerardine, John's wife, who I met. I knew John well and I was thinking about John yesterday or the day before when the news broke. I travelled with him on the Organisation for Security and Co-Operation in Europe, OSCE, trip and like so many journeys that many of us do through the course of work, you become quite close to people to whom you would not necessarily gravitate. We sat beside each other on the plane both ways, and indeed some here may very well have been on that visit. He was a man of few words but very strong beliefs and very definite ways of going on. The one thing I learned about him and the GAA is that the GAA family is another big political family. It is very like politics and John led from the front and on the ground. As someone said earlier, he did not shout from the ditch. He got involved. He was proud, focused and strategic by his very nature and he brought that to politics.We will miss him. While he had left the Seanad, people kept in touch with him. We remember his family in our thoughts and prayers.

I will not go into the matter Senator Dooley raised but it is not appropriate in this House to discuss the internal workings of members of staff. People may have concerns but we have a commission, and I want to make that clear. There is no point in people grandstanding here. There is a commission that governs and rules this House and its procedures. Political representatives and parties can bring issues to its attention. It needs to be said that it is wholly inappropriate and unfair to single out a person who is still an employee of this organisation on the floor of Seanad Éireann.

Photo of Sharon KeoganSharon Keogan (Independent)
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Hear, hear.

Photo of Jerry ButtimerJerry Buttimer (Fine Gael)
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I remind everybody that there is a process and we should be conscious of it.

Photo of Malcolm ByrneMalcolm Byrne (Fianna Fail)
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I am sure the Leader will join me in again expressing our solidarity with the people of Ukraine following the horrific and deliberate targeting by Russia of the main children's hospital in Kyiv overnight. This is part of an appalling ongoing war and it is something we need to regularly recall in this House. Ukraine continues to fight for its survival. There is a dangerous, despotic regime in Russia. While it is often said we are militarily neutral, we cannot be politically neutral. The State needs to reiterate in the strongest terms our support for Ukraine and whatever support we can give to the Ukrainian people we need to give it. In particular, we need to express our solidarity after the horrific attacks last night.

I raise the issue of an ongoing boil-water notice in Ferns, County Wexford. The people who live in over 1,000 homes are now going into their 12th day of a boil-water notice in Ferns and the indications are that this could last another two to three weeks. This is very unfair to the people of Ferns. I reserve my main criticism for Uisce Éireann. Its complete failure to communicate with the people and businesses of Ferns is unacceptable. There should be a representative of Uisce Éireann on the ground talking to people, explaining what is happening and working with Wexford County Council to provide solutions. To have a boil-water notice last this long is not acceptable. I have submitted a Commencement matter on this issue, which I hope the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage will accept. The real problem, as we have seen so often in the past, is the failure by Uisce Éireann to speak with the users of its services.

Photo of Micheál CarrigyMicheál Carrigy (Fine Gael)
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I, too, would like to be associated with the expressions of sympathy on the death of former Senator John O’Mahony. I did not serve with John politically but I knew him for 20 years through my involvement in the GAA. One of the great days I remember was the all-Ireland final between Galway and Kildare in Croke Park in 1998. I also recall being in the canal end of Croke Park when supporting Leitrim in the all-Ireland semi-final in 1994. I remember one of the greatest days of Longford GAA, and we have had few, was when we beat Mayo in the qualifiers. I forget which year it was but the match took place in Pearse Park in Longford town. I think it was the last day John spent as the manager of Mayo.

I spoke to John O'Mahony a number of times to get political advice. He always gave shrewd, measured advice. I met him during my campaign to become a Senator. He was so politically wise and it was a huge loss to the Fine Gael Party when John did not go forward again because he wanted to spend time at home. He got the opportunity to spend his final years with his family. I extend my sympathy to John's family on his untimely death. I thank him for his service in both the sporting and political fields. He was one of life's gentlemen. Nobody would ever have a negative word to say about him.

As the Leader will know, counties Longford, Roscommon and Mayo are now in one Garda area. Our local superintendent, Seamus Boyle, retired on Friday last. I wish him well. He is from Longford and served there for the last number of years.He was extremely proactive in tackling many of the crime families, tackling the drug issues and working with CAB to make sure we take down those families that are involved in causing such damage within our communities. I wish him well on his retirement but also thank him for his service. We want to make sure in Longford, with the reconfiguration which took place, that we have that superintendent role in our county. It would be poor going forward within the Garda Síochána that we would not have a senior officer based in our county. I put that on record and ask that it be highlighted.

Photo of Mark WallMark Wall (Labour)
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I add my name to the condolences on the late John O'Mahony. Unfortunately, John and his Galway team broke our hearts in 1998 and again in 2000 with his Galway team and the lilywhites defeat in that All-Ireland of 1998. I cannot share the view with the Senator Carrigy that that was a good day. Unfortunately, it was not a good day but out of that we gained a lot of respect for John O'Mahony as a GAA coach and that has to be mentioned today. I send my condolences and those of the Labour Party to Gerardine and John's family. He was a great Gael. I send sympathy as well to the Fine Gael Party.

The other issue I wish to bring up today has been raised by all the representatives in County Kildare, namely, that of the train fares in the Dublin commuter zone. We all attended a briefing a number of weeks ago with the NTA, that informed us that in quarter 3, that is, September of this year, we would get a reduction in train fares through Newbridge and Kildare. This is a campaign the Newbridge Labour Party started in 2018. Its members gathered 8,000 signatures and met a number of different organisations, including the NTA, over that particular year. They handed that petition in to the NTA and started and continued that campaign. It was taken up by the Newbridge development association probably in the last two years. I pay tribute again, as I have done every time I have raised this issue in this House, to Jennifer Caffrey who has highlighted this at every stage and has garnered another 1,500 to 2,000 signatures. What we were told only yesterday is that the changes in train fares are now not going to happen until 2025, which is totally and utterly unacceptable. Like other colleagues, I would like to see the Minister for Transport come before us. We have had promises upon promises. This campaign has been going an awfully long time. I have met the NTA with Labour Party colleagues. I have met representatives from the NTA individually and in Buswells Hotel at the latest briefing. We had all been told that this was good news and yesterday was a dark day for all those commuters who, as we said before, are paying up to €300 more than their colleagues in Sallins when trying to get into Dublin to work. Can we ask the Minister to come before us? We need to ensure this is brought before this House as quickly as possible. Those hard-pressed commuters need help and they need it urgently.

Photo of Tim LombardTim Lombard (Fine Gael)
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First, I acknowledge the contribution made by the Cathaoirleach regarding the great John O'Mahony. I got to know John in 2016. On my first day in the Seanad, John's wife sat beside my wife in the Public Gallery and they had a wonderful conversation and chat. Catherine was pregnant with twins at the time and John and his wife told us they had twins and the whole lot. It was an amazing affair. Over that period, between 2016 to 2020, John became a very close friend of mine. My office was on floor 3 in Leinster House and John was sharing an office with Paudie Coffey on the same floor. Theirs was the go-to office to know what and when was happening in Leinster House and what was going down. John really was a pure gentleman. He was a solid character. He was so solid when it came to advice and advising me as a young Senator coming into place, on what I needed to do and how I needed to conduct myself. I considered him a very good friend. He is an awful loss to us here. I really miss John. His death leaves a void that will be very hard to fill. He stepped out of politics in 2020. We stayed in contact for so long on the phone. However, John delivered so much for politics, sport and society. I pass on my sympathies to his wife and his family. He really was so proud of his family. He often spoke about them. As a GAA man, he had an unbelievable knowledge of football, something I do not have. I might have a bit of knowledge of hurling but John really had that wonderful knowledge of football and he always willing to share it. Society is at a loss because of the passing of John. I pass on my sympathies to John's family and to all the members of the GAA family, the Fine Gael family and the wider Mayo family on the passing of the great John O'Mahony.

Photo of Sharon KeoganSharon Keogan (Independent)
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I too want to be associated with the expressions of sympathy for Senator John O'Mahony. My sympathies go to his family. It is lovely to hear colleagues around the Chamber talk so lovingly about him.

I second the amendment to the Order of Business proposed by Senator Craughwell. I call for a debate regarding recent failures of Tusla and proposed solutions for reforming this State agency. The Irish Times reported last Thursday that Tusla failed to notify the courts that it had not allocated designated social workers for 235 children in care. The 235 children are under the care of two social work departments, Dublin and south-west Kildare, and west Wicklow and Dublin south-central. They still have no allocated social workers, and some have had no allocated social worker for years, according to Judge Conor Fottrell. Earlier this year, breakingnews.ie reported that almost 30 children had gone missing from the State in the period from January to mid-April. This morning, the Irish Independent cited a High Court Judge who commented that it is only by the grace of God that some deeply troubled children caught up in a Tusla staff retention crisis are still alive. This was in reference to children deemed by the court to be in need of special care. Tusla operates three special care units but said only 15 of the 26 places in these units are operational as it cannot get staff due to the difficult nature of the work and current rates of pay.

A new report by the Child Law Project reveals that children could not get court-ordered placements in recent months, including a girl with chronic suicidality who had to be rescued on a number of occasions. I could point out many more examples of recent and tragic failures of the State with respect to child welfare. We cannot sit idly by and cease to act. Tusla must be overhauled and revamped urgently. I am sick of asking for these. These are children. By the way, it does not always fall to the State, either. I am constantly asking people out there to step up. These are the most vulnerable children in our society. If you have a home and think you can take care of a child, give these children a chance, please. They are crying out for a loving home and a chance in life. Please, come forward.

Photo of Seán KyneSeán Kyne (Fine Gael)
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I join with others in expressing sympathies to John O'Mahony's family, his wife Gerardine, his children Gráinne, Niamh, Rhona, Deirdre and Cliodhna, his brothers Dan and Stephen and others. John was a legend in Galway with his exploits with the footballers, the all-Ireland in 1998 and 2001, as well as the Connacht championships. Not just for Galway but for Mayo and probably most impressively for Leitrim, who when they won that Connacht championship had beaten Roscommon, Galway and Mayo en route to the title. That was most impressive. I was down at the house last night where I saw the all-Ireland pictures of those teams on the wall with John proudly with them, Leitrim, Mayo and Galway. I pay tribute to his family. I contested the 2016 general election with John as a running mate in the south Mayo area. Certainly we did not come to any blows. We got on well together and John ended up as a Member of the Seanad from 2016 to 2020. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Last week, Senator Ahearn raised the issue of childcare providers that are pulling out of the Government schemes and increasing their fees thereafter. This is putting parents under massive pressure where it happens. I am not sure how prevalent it is or whether it is isolated. Certainly Senator Ahearn had a case in Clonmel. I have come across a case now as well of a provider that has pulled out. This is putting parents in an invidious situation where they have effectively a second mortgage to pay, with the possibility it could go even higher now because of this. I am calling for a debate on the matter. We need to know the pathway. If this starts increasing and providers keep pulling out of these schemes, it could be very serious for the sector.

Photo of Tom ClonanTom Clonan (Independent)
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I echo the expressions of sympathy to the family of our former colleague, Senator O'Mahony.Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

I echo the condemnation of Russia's attack on the children's hospital in Kyiv. It was part of two waves of missiles that were fired at Kyiv yesterday. In the first wave, the Russians fired what NATO designated AS103 Kodiak missiles. These are very sophisticated and they have a GLONASS, which is a variant of a GPS guidance system that gives them a 7 m to 10 m error or accuracy ratio, so there is no mistaking that this hospital was targeted. The payload of such a weapon is 400 kg of high explosive. To fire that into a hospital with children with disabilities and children receiving treatment for cancer is bestial. We should call on Vladimir Putin, those who empower him and the ambassador in Ireland to account for this.

On the subject of children's hospitals, it is two years since €19 million was allocated to end the waiting list for children suffering on the scoliosis and spinal surgery waiting list. As I speak, two years later, there are 281 children still on that waiting list. There are also dozens of children who are going to go on that list because, at the moment, the annual reviews of spinal issues are not being carried out because there is no spinal surgeon in Temple Street Hospital, which is only examining hips. This is a national crisis and an international scandal. It is shameful. We really need to press the Government on this. At their party meetings, Members should press upon their colleagues the need for meaningful action on this. The board and the executive function of CHI need to be reviewed and removed because they are not fit for purpose.

I ask colleagues to support the criminal barristers in their attempt to have pay restoration and equity in their pay. They are taking the almost unprecedented step of withdrawing their services. This is central to the proper administration of justice and confidence in our criminal justice system.

Photo of Jerry ButtimerJerry Buttimer (Fine Gael)
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I welcome Senator Clonan's guests, Ben Guerin from Blackrock, County Dublin, and Louis-Marie Windeck from Provence. I thank them for being here and hope they enjoy their visit to Leinster House.

Photo of Mary Seery KearneyMary Seery Kearney (Fine Gael)
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I want to be associated with the sympathies for our former colleague, John O'Mahony.

I concur with the statement by Senator Kyne regarding childcare. We need statements on the order of this House. The fact is childcare facilities are pulling out of the core funding scheme, regardless of the Department's assertion that it is so effective. This time last year and the year before, I sought support for services and was told that the sustainability fund was the answer to everything. However, when I put down parliamentary questions and asked for press figures on the matter, the answer was that it has not been supporting services, which have had no choice but to pull out of core funding, thereby disadvantaging parents. We need statements on the order of this House. We need to challenge the assertions of the Department of children, which are bordering on misleading given some of the information we are receiving in this regard.

The Seanad Public Consultation Committee sat this morning. I ask that we would have a special public consultation on sexual abuse, sexual assault and the culture and general attitude regarding this in Ireland. As a public discourse, we need to have statements. We need to explore this and hear from the various stakeholders and representative entities. We see from the article in the Sunday Independent and the “RTÉ Investigates” programme that women are preyed upon. What happened in the FAI happened after the revelations on the swimming coaches so there was no excuse for ignorance at the time. There was an exposure going on at the time that the coaches were preying upon young women in that instance. We then saw a similar situation in the FAI. I venture to say that this is a national scandal and we have only hit the tip of the iceberg. We need to have a public discussion. I ask that we facilitate a public consultation committee on this particular subject.

Photo of Barry WardBarry Ward (Fine Gael)
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I join with colleagues in expressing my condolences to the family of John O'Mahony.I knew John, not from in here, but from politics certainly. Both he and my father were from Ballaghaderreen. He was a gentleman and somebody who was very understated in terms of his achievements and what he had done. I greatly regret hearing the news this week and I pass on my sympathies to his family. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

I recognise we are now 17 days from the Olympics. I note in particular the success of Irish sailing in sending four young sailors to the Olympics, namely, Finn Lynch from Carlow in the laser standard category, Eve McMahon from Howth in the laser radial and Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove in the 49er class. These four young people will represent us in Marseille at the Olympics in just over two weeks time. We do not spend enough time recognising the successes of our sporting organisations. Sailing Ireland deserves huge credit for putting together a high performance academy to foster the talent we have in sailing and to send those people to the Olympics. I am very much looking forward to their successes. As an island nation, we could certainly benefit from more investment in watersports, swimming, water safety and facilities for people around the coast of Ireland. In Dún Laoghaire, there are plans for a large water sports development, which I welcome. There is a bright future ahead. I recognise those four young people as they head to Marseille - I believe they are already in France - to compete for us and do us proud. I wish them the very best of luck.

Photo of Emer CurrieEmer Currie (Fine Gael)
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I too give my sympathies to the O'Mahony family. He was such a huge figure in Irish sport and politics. His death is a terrible loss for their family. I hope they can feel proud of him and all of his achievements at this time.

I raise the approximately 30 children with additional needs across Dublin 15 who urgently need school places for September. It is July, we are in the midst of summer holidays and all of these families need places in fewer than 60 days. The reason the community is so mobilised and angry on this issue is because it knows first-hand it should not be here. Both the NCSE and the Department of Education knew about the scale of needs in Dublin 15 because principals and parents had told them. They were forewarned. The parents who walked in these shoes in previous years did everything they could to ensure that families would not have to go through this again. Yet, here we are, so late in the day in a scramble for school places. Our new Minister of State for special education is prioritising these shortages, has given assurances for September and she is committed to reform. Today, I suggest that the reform start in Dublin 15. Dublin West has been acknowledged as the most difficult place in the country to secure an appropriate school place for a child with additional needs. We have pressures every year regarding school capacity. If we can fix it in Dublin 15, we can fix it anywhere. We need a Dublin 15 working group, an action-oriented group of parents, principals, patrons, the NCSE, the Department of Education, including the building unit, led by the Government to make sure this never happens again and that no child is left behind. We should be looking at common application processes, which I have spoken about before. That can be led by principals. They are in an ideal position to run this and to forward plan for the coming shortages. We need to address data sharing and communication between the NCSE, schools and preschools. We need to fix the gaps in processes, training, resources and supports. We need a debate about this, if not now, first thing in September.

Photo of Maria ByrneMaria Byrne (Fine Gael)
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First, I wish to pay my respects to the late Mr. John O'Mahony, to his wife, Gerardine and his daughters, Gráinne, Niamh, Rhona, Deirdre and Cliodhna. I had the pleasure of serving in the Senate with John from 2016 to 2020 but knew him prior to that. He was a very fine man, not only in his role model as a sportsman but also as a politician. I too served with him on the third floor. I met him on the corridor every day. He was a fountain of knowledge and I believe he touched the lives of many people right across sporting and political circles. He will be sadly missed by all. I am thinking of his wife and family at this difficult time. For a long time, I have been raising the issues at University Hospital Limerick, UHL, and the call for a crisis management team to be introduced and for fresh eyes to be cast over the situation there. I was delighted when that was done. My understanding is that the crisis management team is due to publish its report shortly. Once that happens, I hope the Minister, Deputy Stephen Donnelly, and the Department of Health take it seriously. The report will contain a number of recommendations that need to be implemented straight away. We are in the summer now but the winter will come. There are so many issues at the hospital now and their urgency will increase as the months go on. Those issues need to be addressed straight away. I hope to have the Leader's support in calling for that to be done.

Another issue relevant to health is the situation of young carers. The Government is examining the relevant budget of more than €5 billion. Young carers can only apply for carer's allowance if they are studying part-time but they cannot get Student Universal Support Ireland, SUSI, grants if they are in education on only a part-time basis. That anomaly needs to be addressed. I ask for the Leader's support in this regard.

Photo of Aisling DolanAisling Dolan (Fine Gael)
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This is a very sad week in which we have lost an absolute giant in the world of sport and politics, John O'Mahony. Our deepest sympathies go to John's wife, Geraldine, his daughters and all the O'Mahony family on their loss. Many Oireachtas colleagues knew him well and have spoken of their feeling of loss. His death is shocking to many because he was only in his early 70s. He grew up with a love of football and for Fine Gael. He lived on the boundary between counties Mayo and Roscommon. His was the last house in the parish of Kilmovee. With his family, he chose to make Ballaghaderreen his home. He took on the role of manager of the Galway football team and brought it to all-Ireland glory in 1998 and 2001. He stood successfully for election as TD for Mayo in 2007 and 2011. He was nominated to Seanad Éireann in 2016 by the then Mayo Taoiseach, Enda Kenny. He was able to motivate and inspire people and players. He represented the west with pride.

His continued interest in public life and supporting new candidates was evident when I met him a couple of months ago. He took the time and had the passion to be there for his relative, Councillor Gareth Scahill, when he launched his local election campaign in Tully's Hotel in Castlerea. John was so proud when Gareth won his seat in the elections for Roscommon municipal district. He was an iconic guest of honour at that launch. He also launched Councillor Alan Harney's campaign in Gullane's Hotel in Ballinasloe. John spoke at the launch about his memory of stopping in Ballinasloe after the all-Ireland win in 1998. It was the first town in Galway the team reached on its return. I remember being there with my dad and other family members.

John was well loved in many counties, including Mayo, Galway and Roscommon. He was a champion. His goal was excellence as a player, manager and public representative for Fine Gael. As the senior Fine Gael Oireachtas representative for Roscommon and Galway, I pay him tribute. I echo the many accolades paid by colleagues to John O'Mahony, former Deputy and former Seanadóir. May he rest in peace.

Photo of Jerry ButtimerJerry Buttimer (Fine Gael)
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Before calling the Leader to reply to the Order of Business, I welcome the sister, niece and friends of our friend and colleague, the Minister of State, Deputy Burke, to Leinster House.

Photo of Lisa ChambersLisa Chambers (Fianna Fail)
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I thank the Members who contributed to the Order of Business. Senator O'Loughlin spoke about the French election results. We all breathed a sigh of relief at the outcome, which was not expected a number of weeks ago. It gives cause for reflection in all EU member states in terms of the direction we are going in our politics.

The Senator also raised concerns regarding commuter fares and that the planned reduction in fares beyond short hop zones will not go ahead in September. I suggest that she put forward a Commencement matter on this issue. There is a new Minister of State in the Department of Transport. We might receive some update on the matter. It was my understanding that the fare reduction would go ahead. The same issue was raised by Senator Wall.

All colleagues who rose expressed their deep sadness and sympathies on the passing of the former TD, Senator and Mayo football manager, John O'Mahony.People were clearly very fond of John and knew him well. He was a fantastic colleague across the political divide and was well respected. He had a presence when he was in a room. People understand what that means. It is very sad to see somebody go far too young, having battled a long illness. It was very difficult for John and his family. I was really struck, when I heard him speak on radio last week on the passing of Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh, to learn that he had done so when he was very unwell. He spoke so eloquently. Again, I extend our sympathies to John's family, his wife Gerardine and his daughters, the community and, of course, his Fine Gael and GAA friends and colleagues. I will move a motion at the close of the Order of Business.

Senator Craughwell proposed an amendment to the Order of Business: "That we extend the time for the Defence (Amendment) Bill by one hour". The amendment was seconded by Senator Keogan. I am unable to accept the amendment. I understand the reasons the Senator sought the extra time. I asked for the time we proposed today. I know there was a robust debate last week but I am not in a position to accept the amendment. I will leave it in the Senator's hands as to how he would like to proceed on that point.

Senator Craughwell also noted the need to acknowledge the good work that our Defence Forces do. It has been a really difficult period for our Defence Forces. I have responded every week since the Senator has been here on that matter, and he will know my position on it. There has been unfair criticism of our Defence Forces in recent weeks and a tarnishing of an entire organisation for the really bad actions of a really small number of individuals. Those actions were horrific and appalling and they have been properly aired and dealt with. Justice was served in the case that was raised in this House and other cases that are being dealt with. The many thousands of men and women who serve in Óglaigh na hÉireann – serving members, former members and the “defence family”, as we call them, of relatives and communities of these individuals – were deeply hurt in recent weeks by particular comments that were totally out of line and unnecessary. You can deal with the issue without tarnishing everyone with the same brush.

The Defence Forces are an organisation in transition. It is undergoing huge changes and transformation. These cultural changes will take time. After many decades serving with the UN as peacekeepers and peace enforcers and putting their lives at risk - some of our soldiers lost their lives - it is important to always acknowledge the fantastic work the Defence Forces do and the role they play in every community in the State. We should remember that in the context of some really negative comments that may not have been precise enough.

I take on board the point Senator Craughwell made on the RAF deal. I understand the proceedings he has taken in that regard are moving forward.

Senator Martin proposed an amendment to the Order of Business: "That No. 15 be taken before No. 1". The amendment was seconded by Senator Joe O’Reilly. I am happy to accept it. I concur with the Senator's remarks wishing all those newly elected at the recent UK elections the best in their task ahead. He spoke of it as a reset of Anglo-Irish relations, as did the Taoiseach and Tánaiste. We look forward to better relations in the time ahead. It appears that new Members of Parliament have hit the ground running. In particular, we wish Hilary Benn, the new Northern Ireland Secretary, the best. Our Ministers have been very quick to engage with their counterparts in the UK, which is a positive start to the next chapter.

Senator Hoey raised concerns around the trans community and trans rights, as she does on most occasions when she is in the Chamber. She asked for an update on the hate crime Bill. It has not moved since the last occasion. We are awaiting Committee Stage of the Bill. I have not been requested by the Department to schedule the Bill. That is the current position.

I take on board Senator Hoey's point about financial supports for postgraduate workers. It might be worth tabling a Commencement matter to get an update from the new Minister for further and higher education on that and, similarly, on PhD researchers' status. That probably presents a challenge in that researchers are doing a PhD, so I can understand why the issue is not clear-cut. I am probably not as well informed on the topic as the Senator is. It may be worthwhile tabling a Commencement matter to get an up-to-date position on PhD researchers' status.

Senator Gavan raised the issue of the National Advocacy Service and the Labour Court recommendation. I take his comments on board. The Minister is working through that. These issues are always complex and I do not think it is correct to compare this dispute with another labour dispute, namely, that in Aer Lingus. However, I am pleased to see there is a decent recommendation on the table. We hope for the sake of all those working that both disputes can be resolved for the benefit of workers and those using the service because that is really important.I will seek an update on the safe access zones Act but it has passed through the legislative programme here so it is not really a matter for the House, as such. I have asked my office to get in touch with the Department to see where it is at. We will revert to the Senator with information on that matter.

Senator Dooley raised an issue around matters affecting the internal workings of this House. I do not propose to comment any further on that and take on board the comments of the Cathaoirleach in terms of his direction on that matter.

Senator Joe O'Reilly asked for an update on CAMHS. I might suggest a Commencement matter on that point as it is quite a specific question.

Senators Malcolm Byrne and Clonan raised the issue of the strike by Russia on a children's hospital in Kyiv in Ukraine. It was an absolutely and appalling act and we saw imagery and footage of really sick children, the ones who actually made it out. The Senator is absolutely correct that we need to make sure that issue stays at the top of our agenda, that it does not become normalised, that we do not become used to there being a war in Ukraine and that it becomes somehow acceptable. Putin's actions know no bounds in terms of how despicable and horrid he can be. It is important we continue to support and have solidarity with Ukraine and that we assist Ukraine not just to defend itself but to win. That is important because we are kind of hovering between the two and getting nowhere on that point.

Senator Malcolm Byrne raised concerns about Uisce Éireann and the boil water notice in Ferns, County Wexford. I urge him to contact Uisce Éireann directly and if he requires my assistance I am happy to assist in that regard.

Senator Carrigy congratulated and wished Superintendent Seamus Boyle well on his retirement. I take on boards the points he made around the Garda districts. It is a matter for the Minister for Justice and An Garda Síochána. It might be worth tabling a Commencement matter to the Department of Justice on that particular topic. The points were very well made on how we are running those geographically very large areas and how they can be covered satisfactorily for citizens.

Senator Keogan raised an issue with regard to Tusla and I share her concerns about the lack of social workers for some very vulnerable children and the lack of care places. I understand one child was sent to the UK because a space could not be found for them in Ireland so we clearly have a lot of work to do there. It is really difficult to attract staff to that sector, particularly in an economy that is doing well and has full employment. That always puts pressures on jobs where the pay could be a bit better or is not where it needs to be. There is a huge challenge there and I certainly back the Senator's call that anyone who is in a position to foster or to assist in those spaces, more of a campaign from the Department around that might assist in bringing new people into the system who can help and who can give those children a place and a home.

Senators Kyne and Seery Kearney spoke about childcare providers pulling out of the sector. The information from the Department and the Minister is that the scheme and the core funding is working very well and that the vast majority of providers are staying with the scheme. Some childcare providers are pulling out. I share the Senators' concerns in that many providers have their prices fixed since 2017 or 2018, did not get a chance to increase during the Covid period and then the core funding came in. Obviously, the cost of running those service has increased in terms of the cost of living and utilities. There is definitely pressure, particularly where providers might be paying rent for their premises as well. We need to look at those providers who fixed their rates quite a number of years ago. The focus of the Government during the past number of years, as we all know, has been to reduce the cost for parents and we have done that. We have halved the cost for parents and we are getting that message back really positively from parents. We now need to do something for the providers. Along with that work, we need to look at facilitating parents who want to stay at home and that should be financially viable as well. For many households it is simply not an option and being a stay at home parent is now the preserve of those with money and the wealthy. That is going in the wrong direction as well. Ultimately, it is about providing parental choice and making sure that whether a parent wants to go out to work or work outside the home, or work in the home, that choice is available across the board and that we are not funnelling everything into one sector. I have grave concerns about a system that clearly benefits the larger childcare providers. We do not need to name them but some of them are very well known. It should not become an industry or a corporation when we are providing early years education. Small providers are the preference for many parents and we need to keep them in the system. Many parents would love to be in the home as well, and it is not a financial option and that also needs to be examined. We will certainly raise that with the Minister for Finance in the context of the upcoming budget.

Senator Clonan raised issues around spinal surgery at the children's hospital and I take on board his comments in that regard. He also spoke about the bombing of the children's hospital in Ukraine. Senator Seery Kearney asked for a public consultation on the issue of sexual violence and sexual abuse. It is not within the remit of my role to provide a public consultation but we can certainly seek statements on the issue for the schedule in the coming term.

Senator Ward highlighted that the Olympics will happen soon and wished well the four sailors who are heading off to represent our country. We often do not see all the work that goes into getting to the point of making it to the Olympics, along with that of all those who did not get there but also put years of work into it. It is a huge honour to represent your country in those games. We wish all the Irish participants the very best in the upcoming Olympics.

Senator Currie raised issues of school places for children with additional needs, a pinch point in her constituency, where 30-plus children are awaiting spaces. She might contact me directly on that to see whether we can assist in getting help from the Department.

Senator Maria Byrne raised, as she has always done, the issue of University Hospital Limerick. I absolutely support what she said about the report. We await that information and hope we are moving in the right direction to address the very acute problem in that hospital, which is really impacting on staff, patients and the wider community. Some people feel as though they do not want to go into UHL, which is a problem. There is an acceptance that a great deal of focus and work has been done by the Department of Health and the Minister, with additional beds, funding and staff. It is moving in the right direction, but I completely understand that there is a desire for it to happen faster and for that issue to be resolved.

I take on board the Senator made about young carers and SUSI. That is probably an anomaly and it would be a matter for the Ministers for Social Protection and further and higher education. It might be worth tabling a Commencement matter to each of those Departments on their respective roles in that issue. Often, when an issue goes across multiple Departments, it is more difficult to resolve, but clearly there are two people there who need to come together and I have no doubt there will be a desire to address that.

Senator Dolan spoke about John O'Mahony and his sad passing, as did many others. He was a local representative of the Senator in the Roscommon-Galway constituency. We will move a motion of sympathy shortly and we will, of course, have more time in the new term, when space will be put aside in the Seanad schedule, to give Members a proper opportunity to put on record their thoughts in light of the passing of our former colleague.

Photo of Jerry ButtimerJerry Buttimer (Fine Gael)
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I thank the Leader. I welcome the guests of Deputy Kehoe: the Lacey family from Breen, Enniscorthy - Liam, Ita, Liam Jnr., Eva and Chloe. I thank them for being here and hope they will enjoy their visit.

I welcome the guests of Senator Craughwell, who have come from the United States of America. I thank them for being here.

Senator Craughwell has proposed an amendment to the Order of Business: "That proceedings on the Report and Final Stages of the Defence (Amendment) Bill 2024 be brought to a conclusion at 5.45 p.m." It has been seconded by Senator Keogan. Is the amendment being pressed?

Photo of Gerard CraughwellGerard Craughwell (Independent)
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Yes.

Amendment put.

The Seanad divided by electronic means.

Photo of Gerard CraughwellGerard Craughwell (Independent)
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Under Standing Order 62(3)(b) I request that the division be taken again other than by electronic means.

Amendment again put:

The Seanad divided: Tá, 14; Níl, 29.



Tellers: Tá, Senators Gerard P. Craughwell and Sharon Keogan; Níl, Senators Paul Daly and Joe O'Reilly.

Amendment declared lost.

Photo of Jerry ButtimerJerry Buttimer (Fine Gael)
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Senator Vincent P. Martin has proposed an amendment to the Order of Business and it was seconded by Senator Joe O'Reilly. The Leader has indicated that she is prepared to accept the amendment.

Question, "That No. 15 be taken before No. 1", put and agreed to.

Order of Business, as amended, agreed to.