Order of Business (Continued)

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Seanad Éireann Debate
Vol. 228 No. 6

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Senator Darragh O'Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien] Effectively, Committee and Remaining Stages, will be bundled together and, if so, we will have to oppose that. It should be open to us on Report Stage of a Bill, such as this, to resubmit recommendations and to have a proper and reasoned debate. I will raise the issue directly with the Minister for Finance, Deputy Michael Noonan.

  Will the Leader confirm whether the Minister, Deputy Noonan, or the Minister of State, Deputy Brian Hayes, will take the remainder of the Bill? We had the Minister here yesterday for the Credit Reporting Bill 2012 which was not contentious in any shape or form and was agreed by all parties and the Minister of State came in to take the Finance Bill. I am aware the Minister is busy but I would like to know if the Minister will be here today. We will oppose the Order of Business on the basis that Committee and Remaining Stages are being put through in one sitting.

  Has the Leader made any progress with the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government in respect of the scheduling of the pyrite Bill? Does he still intend to take all Stages of that Bill on Monday evening? I think it is a Bill on which we can agree. We have done much work on it and I have sought feedback from residents who are affected. I am not trying to be difficult next week. We have not yet seen the Bill but would like to see it. I am sure it is fine but we should be able to debate it properly rather than it being dealt with in an all Stages format. I agree with the Minister, Deputy Phil Hogan, that it is important it is passed before Christmas and we will facilitate that. However, I do not want all Stages taken on Monday.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke Is the Senator opposing the Order of Business or proposing an amendment to the Order of Business?

Senator Darragh O'Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien I am opposing the Order of Business and everybody knows the reason.

Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik Zoom on Ivana Bacik I spoke yesterday in support of Senator O'Brien on the pyrite Bill. It is important that we do not simply rush through all Stages of the Bill in one sitting, just because it is welcomed. Indeed, it is welcomed by both sides of the House and, in principle, it is a good idea. I know the Leader has made every effort, particularly with the Water Services (No. 2) Bill 2013, to ensure we have adequate time for debate, particularly on Committee and Report Stages.
  I agree with the Senator that we had a very good Second Stage debate on the Finance (No. 2) Bill last night. I was in the Chamber for most of it. It was very fair. I felt those on both sides of the House welcomed the job activation measures and the measures in it that will have the effect of boosting consumer confidence. We did also have a robust debate on section 7, on which amendments have been tabled. With the Finance (No. 2) Bill there are different reasons for urgency which the Leader will address. Where possible, we should seek to allow adequate time for debate on amendments. Of course, on the Finance (No. 2) Bill there are only recommendations. It is a very different type of Bill.
  I welcome the fact that this weekend sees the exit from the bailout. That issue was discussed last night during the debate on the Finance Bill. It is an historic moment when we will finally see the restoration of our economic sovereignty. The good news of that should boost consumer confidence in the run up to and during the Christmas season. While we will have the opportunity for more debates on the economy in the new year, I thought it was worth mentioning that at this stage, and I know others will.
  I call for a debate in the new year on the report of the Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality on prostitution. Yesterday, further correspondence was published by the Minister and the committee, following on from the report, in which the committee recommended that the Irish law on prostitution be changed to reflect the Swedish approach, whereby only the purchase of prostitution is criminalised and not the sale. Recently, the French legislature moved to make the same change. A number of countries are looking at this model. The Minister, Deputy Alan Shatter, raised some questions with the committee and the committee has responded. Those communications are now published and form a very useful addendum to the report. Colleagues will be interested in this, given that the report was initiated in this House in Private Members' business by the Independent Senators. It would be great if we could have that debate in the new year, perhaps after the Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality has met the Minister to discuss his correspondence.
  I call for a debate in the new year on school patronage. We had that debate previously. However, there is a passionate article by Kitty Holland in today's edition of The Irish Times in which she describes the serious difficulties parents whose children are not baptised still face where schools run by religious orders or different religions have the right, in law, to refuse those children or to give priority to children of particular religions. That has not changed, despite the strenuous attempts by the Minister for Education and Skills, Deputy Ruairí Quinn, to move forward a model where there is greater diversity and patronage and where parental choice is respected more adequately. I call for a debate in the new year to hear what progress has been made on this issue.

Senator Sean D. Barrett: Information on Sean D. Barrett Zoom on Sean D. Barrett I welcome the establishment of the National Data Analytic Centre which will be announced later today by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Richard Bruton. It is the combined effort of four universities, namely, Dublin City University, National University of Ireland, Galway, University College Cork and University College Dublin - to carry out statistical research in a commercial sense. We have a superb tradition in this field. Dr. Roy Geary, the first chief executive of the Central Statistics Office, an international figure, and his successor, Professor Michael McCarthy, became the president of University College Cork. This is a very welcome development.

  I welcome the former British Prime Minister, John Major, to Ireland. I gather he gave an inspiring lecture in Iveagh House last night. I acknowledge his role in the peace process and express my best wishes to Albert Reynolds, who was indisposed and could not be present, who also played a major role. During the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s and well into the 1960s the two jurisdictions in Ireland rarely spoke to each other. That was the backdrop that Albert Reynolds and John Major had to overcome. Some remarkable secretaries of state for Northern Ireland, such as Willie Whitelaw, Peter Brooke and Patrick Mayhew had to overcome that. We must keep that Northern Ireland connection alive. I note that the Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement is meeting today. Perhaps the Leader might consider a debate on Northern Ireland with Northern Ireland participation in the new year. The special request from the former British Prime Minister, John Major, was that we remember also, for their centenary, the 500,000 Irish people who fought in the First World War, including 50,000 who were killed. I think we should keep that request in mind.

  At the initiative of the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, the focus of the G8 summit currently being held in London, was on dementia, which is a major problem in ageing societies. Professor Des O'Neill, Trinity College, Dublin, speaking on the radio this morning referred to physiotherapy of the mind. This condition can be treated. I have heard cases of music getting people out of being locked in dementia. I have also heard of an Irish speaker who does not participate in the world but if he hears another Irish speaker he will come back. That is an issue we might also debate in the new year - the new ways of treating dementia and mental illness. One thing about growing old is that we get plenty of notice. This is an area in which it appears there are exciting and interesting policy initiatives which could make a difference. I ask the Leader if we might discuss those improvements resulting from the G8 summit and from research being done in Ireland on the ways in which dementia can be treated. Left untreated, with a growing number of old people, it would become a serious problem.

Senator Paul Coghlan: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan I propose an amendment to the Order of Business that No. 15, the Valuation (Amendment) Bill 2013, be taken before No. 1 today.

  I join with Senator Sean D. Barrett in welcoming former British Prime Minister, John Major, to Ireland. I agree thoroughly with him that it was a worthwhile account which he gave at Iveagh House last night of his role leading up to the Downing Street Declaration and his work with Albert Reynolds, Dick Spring and others. As he said, there were many players, all of whom played a vital role in knitting the whole together.

  May I say to my very good friend, Senator Darragh O'Brien, that we would not want to overstate our role on recommendations in regard to money Bills which are provided for constitutionally as a preserve of the other House in decision making. I say that gently, if I may. Of course, the Deputy had a worthwhile debate yesterday and he will have ample time again today to go through the other Stages.

Senator Darragh O'Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien I thank the Senator for the advice.

Senator Ned O'Sullivan: Information on Ned O'Sullivan Zoom on Ned O'Sullivan A Chathaoirligh, the Leader and members will have heard me refer time and again to ongoing problems with the Shannon LNG project whereby liquid gas is imported into the country and is reliquified in a station built particularly for that purpose. This project was mooted in 2004 when I was Mayor of Kerry and director of Shannon-Foynes Port Company on the same occasion.

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