Header Item Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill 2013: From the Seanad (Resumed) (Continued)
 Header Item Technological Universities Bill 2015: Order for Second Stage
 Header Item Technological Universities Bill 2015: Second Stage

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Dáil Éireann Debate

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Deputy Kathleen Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch I do not want to hold up proceedings but I thank the Deputies opposite who have taken an interest in the Bill. It is technical, long and complex and has been amended dramatically. It is not the same Bill as originally presented. From time to time, it must have seemed cumbersome and difficult to come to terms with. I appreciate their interest because no legislation should go unchallenged through any House of parliament. It makes us think differently and makes us understand things a little bit better.

I thank those who have taken an intense and long interest in this legislation, some of whom are in the Public Gallery today. They have followed and driven the Bill and advised us all along. We are deeply grateful to all of those people. For the organisations that have been waiting on it, it has been a long time coming. As Deputy Keaveney rightly points out, we are repealing the Lunacy Regulation (Ireland) Act 1871 and the Marriage of Lunatics Act 1811. It seems difficult to comprehend now that at the time, legislation that recognised there was a difficulty in some people's lives was considered to be revolutionary. We think differently now, are in a different space and understand more, which is why this legislation is so important. It will allow people to make decisions for themselves even if those decisions are not ones we would make ourselves. It is hugely important to understand that people who may have limited capacity in one area can have complete capacity in another. This defines the level of capacity and is hugely important to allow people to express their will and preference on any given issue. It is also time based.

I am sure the officials from the Department of Justice and Equality who have worked on this for the past four years have been very frustrated by it from time to time but nevertheless have been entirely committed to a good outcome. We are very well served by officials who work in our Departments. For the most part they are invisible and they do not come out and make statements to the papers - or, at least, they do not put their names to them if they do. That is a joke by the way. The people of Ireland can be truly grateful that they work on their behalf. When there is collaboration to do something right and proper, one sees the talent we have in this country coming to the fore. I thank them all because so many people are waiting on this legislation.

I will tell a story I have told in the Seanad. A family came to see me recently - someone they loved very much was awaiting a wardship hearing. The person was an adult and did not want to have that hearing. They had certain limits but were perfectly capable of making decisions and living as complete a life as any one of us. The judge wrote to him and suggested he look for an adjournment because this legislation was coming in. This judge was enlightened and it shows that people we do not even know about were waiting for this legislation and watching it with great interest. Sometimes we think we are talking in a bubble in here but an awful lot of people watch what we are doing.

I wish everyone a very happy Christmas. I hope it will be peaceful and not too many crises will arise. As someone working in the Department of Health, we always dread Christmas week.

I again congratulate on her appointment the first woman in the history of this parliament to become deputy head usher. I foresee great things for her. It is amazing that women now hold such decision-making positions in this country. The next election will see far more of that.

Deputy Colm Keaveney: Information on Colm Keaveney Zoom on Colm Keaveney I welcome the Minister of State's comments. Many human rights advocacy groups have been calling for this legislation. As the Minister of State has said, it has been 144 years in the melting pot, and irrespective of the nuance of the language, it was as complex then as it has been for the team in the Department of Justice and Equality who have managed to get to this juncture through their dedication, commitment and action. I want to be associated with those acknowledgments.

Progress on the Bill was slow - it was subject to many amendments. We have always said it is far from perfect. I do not think any legislation that has ever gone through this House has been perfect, so it is no reflection on the people who have engineered to get to this juncture. It must be borne in mind that the Bill is being introduced on the back of many bad policy decisions in the area of disability. There are long waiting lists for services, social welfare and protections have been attacked for people with disability and the health service is overwhelmed with demands. There is also a concern around congregated settings and the abysmally slow and under-funded reforms required in that area. That is not to distract from the principle and spirit of the legislation. I am delighted and hope that this will put to an end a dark chapter of abysmal and unacceptable language in our legislation and will contribute greatly to the area of mental health. It is language which causes stigma. We have to do an important job in this House to improve how we deliver our message to ensure we insult nobody and do not contribute to stigma. We have to do the best we can to honour the faithful commitment that we as Oireachtas Members give to our constituents with the honour of our office.

I acknowledge the hard work to date and wish the Minister of State a happy Christmas. I acknowledge the work and commitment of Phil, who has been a shining light since 2011, and one of the finest public servants in this House. I give her a bualadh bos.

Deputy Kathleen Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch I should also have mentioned that Department of Health officials worked very hard on this on the advanced health care directives.

  Seanad amendments reported.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Agreement to the Seanad amendments is reported to the House. A message will be sent to Seanad Éireann acquainting it accordingly.

Technological Universities Bill 2015: Order for Second Stage

Bill entitled an Act to provide for the dissolution of certain institutes of technology and for the transfer of their functions, assets, liabilities and staff to new institutes of technology to be established; to provide for the dissolution of certain institutes of technology and the transfer of their functions, assets, liabilities and staff to the Dublin Institute of Technology; to provide for the reform of the governing authorities of the institutes of technology and the Dublin Institute of Technology; to provide for the establishment of technological universities; to provide for the functions and governance of technological universities; to provide for the transfer of functions, assets, liabilities and staff from certain institutes of technology to technological universities; to provide for the consequential amendment of certain other enactments and to provide for related matters

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan I move: "That Second Stage be taken now."

  Question put and agreed to.

Technological Universities Bill 2015: Second Stage

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

It is an enormous honour to bring the Technological Universities Bill 2015 before the House. This Bill will allow us to expand university-level opportunities to students across Ireland. Those institutions will be linked to industry and will have an enormous impact on our capacity to create and retain jobs in regions such as the south east and north west. The main purpose of the Bill is to give effect to one of the key planks of the Government’s National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030 - the modernisation of the institute of technology sector through the establishment of technological universities.

In addition, the Bill provides for a number of important reforms to the governance and operation of the existing institutes of technology. I thank the Joint Committee on Education and Social Protection and its Chair, Deputy Joanna Tuffy, for undertaking pre-legislative scrutiny on the general scheme of the Bill in April 2014. Many of the committee’s recommendations have been taken into account during the drafting of the Bill before the House today.

The National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030, published in 2011, provides a framework for the development of the higher education sector to 2030.


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