As amendments Nos. 2, 7 and 12 are related to amendment No. 1, they may be discussed together.
Youth Work Bill, 2000: Report and Final Stages.
I move amendment No. 1:
In page 7, line 36, after "services" to insert "in both the Irish and the English languages".
I tabled these amendments on Committee Stage. The Minister indicated then that there was no difficulty, in principle, with making these reports available in both the English and Irish languages, but that it would be at variance with other legislation where it was not specified. I have given that point consideration. Given that such importance is placed on the Irish language it might be useful to draw a line in the sand and state that from now on there should be an obligation to make these reports available in both languages. There is an explosion of interest in all aspects of Irish culture, particularly in the education sector where there has been an explosion of gaelscoileanna. There is also the knock-on demand for post-primary education through Irish. It would be keeping in step with that cultural revival and expression of interest in the Irish language which, in many respects, is now more prevalent in the galltacht than the Gaeltacht. Even if we have not referred in other legislation to the need for these reports to be available bilingually, it would be useful to put down a marker now and make it an obligation. I hope the Minister of State will respond favourably.
I support Deputy Creed because it is important in relation to our commitment to the Irish language and its development outside Gaeltacht areas. There may also be an issue of placing people whose first language is Irish at a disadvantage. They should have access to all the information through the Irish language. It is also common practice to produce most annual reports as Gaeilge and in English. It would not be out of line and would be useful to write it into the legislation.
Ba mhaith liom cur leis an méid a bhí le rá ag na Teachtaí Creed agus Upton agus tacaíocht a thabhairt don mholadh íontach réasúnta seo. Cuirim fáilte roimh an mBille seo, Bille an-mhaith é a rachas chun sochair go mór do chlubanna óige ar fud na tíre agus don obair thábhachtach atá siad á dhéanamh. Ach bheadh laige mhór ins an reachtaíocht muna gcuirfí na tuairiscí ar fáil i nGaeilge agus i mBéarla.
Tá mé féin i m'ionadaí ar cheantar Gaeltachta. Oíche Aoine seo caite bhí mé ag imeacht mhór i Sraith an Úrláir ar raibh clubanna óige ar fud Dhún na nGall ann. Chuir sé íontas mór orm an méid acu a bhí ag caint tré Ghaeilge. Bhí daoine óga ann ó Chnoc Fola, Gaoth Dóbhair, Teileann, an Charraig, gan trácht ach ar cúpla áit. Má théann an Bille tríd gan aitheantas a thabhairt don Ghaeilge ní bheimid ag tabhairt aitheantais do chlubanna ar fud na Gaeltachta, i dTír Chonaill, i Mhuigheo, i nGaillimh, i gCorcaigh, i gCiarraigh, san Mhí nó i bPort Láirge. Tá clubanna taobh amuigh den Ghaeltacht a dhéanann a gcuid oibre tré Ghaeilge. Tá Club na bhFiann i mBaile Átha Cliath, mar shampla, do dhaoine a fhreastail ar Choláiste na bhFiann i gConamara agus a dhéanann a chuid oibre ar fad tré Ghaeilge. Ní bheadh sé sásúil ar chor ar bith muna mbeadh aitheantas tugtha do na clubanna ar fud na tíre a dhéanann a gcuid oibre tré mheán na Gaeilge.
Tá meas mór ar an nGaeilge ar fud na tíre agus tá sí ag teacht chun cinn. Tá Gaelscoileanna agus Gaelcholáistí ar fud na tíre agus ní thig linn neamh-íontas a dhéanamh dóibh siúd.
Tá eagraíochtaí Stáit ar nós Bord Soláthar an Leictreachais agus boird Stáit eile a chuireann tuairiscí bliaintiúil ar fáil i mBéarla agus i nGaeilge.
While I welcome this important Bill and compliment the Minister on introducing it, it will be defective if we do not recognise the activity in Gaeltacht areas and many other parts of the country where such clubs conduct all their business through the medium of Irish. We are told there are two official languages in this country, Irish and English, and that Irish is the first official language. We want to influence young people to respect Irish and use it if they can. We are not compelling them to do so. It is a free country and they can make that choice. We are focused on incentives rather than compulsion. It would be a tremendous example to all young people, regardless of whether they conduct their activities through Irish or English, if the report was bilingual. It is a reasonable amendment which should be considered sympathetically by the Minister of State. If he does not do so, the Bill will be defective.
Almost every week on the Order of Business a Deputy from one party or another will ask about the up-to-date position on Bille na Gaeilge which will be introduced to give recognition to Irish. We are told it will be published by the end of this year or the beginning of next year. We have been waiting for it for four years and all hope it will be published. As my county colleague, the Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands, Deputy Coughlan, is now in charge of operations, perhaps she will speed it up. It is illogical that while every Department presents its views in preparation for Bille na Gaeilge, this important Bill, which is relevant and important for our young people, does not recognise the Irish language. It should not only be there, but out of respect for the Gaeltacht people agus Gaeilgeoirí ar fud na tíre, sílim gur cóir go nglacfaí leis an mholadh seo.
I know the Minister of State is a reasonable person. Some are not as fluent in the language as others, but the Minister of State should consider these amendments favourably and sympathetically. They are supported by every party on this side of the House. If my colleague from the Green Party was here, bheadh sé chomh dáiríre agus atá mé féin agus na daoine seo eile ag iarraidh intinn an Aire Stáit a dhíriú ar an leasú seo. The amendments would improve the Bill immensely. They would make the legislation relevant to those inside and outside Gaeltachtaí who are doing so much to promote the language on a voluntary basis. Most youth clubs operate on such a basis.
The purpose of amendment No. 1 is to give specific recognition to young people who reside in the Gaeltacht and/or whose language is Irish. I undertook to consider the matter on Committee Stage and I examined it in the interim. I am satisfied that making the amendment is the proper way to proceed and, accordingly, I accept it. The same logic applies in regard to amendments Nos. 2, 7 and 12 and I also accept them.
I thank the Minister of State for his generosity. Many people who view the proceedings of the House rarely appreciate the give and take involved in the fine detail of the legislative process or that we work to produce the optimum in terms of any legislation that is passed. The amendments are a step in the right direction and I hope in respect of other legislation under which annual reports and so on are obliged to be published, it will become standard practice to make them available in both languages.
I very much welcome the agreement to publish such documents in both Irish and English. Deputy McGinley spoke very eloquently as Gaeilge on the issue. It will be advantageous in terms of the development of the Irish language for young people, in particular. I thank the Minister for his consideration of the amendment.
Ba mhaith liom cur leis an méid atá ráite ag an Teachta Creed agus ag an Teachta Upton agus an tAire Stáit a mholadh as a bheith chomh réasúnta sin agus glacadh leis na moltaí seo. Nuair nach mbeidh sé ina Aire Stáit a thuilleadh – agus níl fhios agam cén fhaid a bheidh sé ina Aire Stáit – beidh cuimhneamh ag muintir na Gaeltachta agus ag muintir na Gaeilge ar an lá gur ghlac sé leis na leasaithe seo a chuir an Teachta Creed isteach agus a thug an Teachta Upton ó Pháirtí an Lucht Oibre tacaíocht dóibh. Beidh áthas orm an t-eolas seo a bhreith ar ais go dtí na Gaeltachtaí. Tá súil agam, mar a dúirt an Teachta Creed, nuair a bheidh Billí eile ag teacht isteach anseo san am atá amach romhainn agus nuair a bheidh tuairiscí á gcur ar fáil, go gcuirfear ar fáil iad sa dá theanga, Gaeilge agus Béarla, agus nach gá dúinn a bheith ag feitheamh leis an mBille Teanga chun sin a dhéanamh.
I appreciate the Minister of State's magnanimous acceptance of these reasonable amendments that have been tabled and supported by the Opposition parties. This is a recognition of the central role of the language in the lives of many young people, whether they reside inside or outside the Gaeltacht. I also hope it will become an accepted practice in similar legislation in future so that Members will not have to table such amendments.
I recently visited Canada, which also has two official languages. Legislation and amendments in the Canadian Parliament are published in both English and French. To have two official languages is the aim of our language Bill and before it is enacted we should adopt the practice of publishing documents in both our official languages, Gaeilge agus Béarla.
Tá an tAire le moladh. Go raibh míle maith aige.
I move amendment No. 2:
In page 8, between lines 35 and 36, to insert the following:
"(c) youth work requirements of persons who have attained the age of 10 years but not 21 years who reside in a Gaeltacht area and/or whose first language is Irish.”.
I move amendment No. 3:
In page 8, line 45, after "disadvantaged" to insert "in this age range".
The amendment results from submissions received by all parties from the National Youth Council and relates to the youth work functions of the Minister. While these functions are being devolved to vocational education committees the Minister has specific responsibilities.
The amendment refers to the targeting of specific age groups and social and economic disadvantage. The National Youth Council suggests that references to particular regard for young people who are disadvantaged and to those aged ten years to 21 years should be separated. The wording should be amended in the appropriate sections, including section 8(3)(b), which would then read “that particular regard is had for the youth work requirements of persons who have attained the age of ten years but not 21 years and for young people who are socially or economically disadvantaged in this age range”. The Minister of State will appreciate this point as it has merit. He also indicated on Committee Stage that he would consider this issue for Report Stage.
I support the amendment. It is important to clarify the legislation covers youths within that age range and not only socially and economically disadvantaged youths.
I have examined this issue since Committee Stage. The purpose of the amendment is to specifically refer to the ten to 21 years age group referred to in section 8(3)(b)(i). However, this subsection covers all categories of young people in that age cohort while section 8(3)(b)(ii) refers specifically to other young people who are economically or socially disad vantaged. There is, therefore, no need to amend the subsection in the way suggested on the basis of the advice I have received.
The Minister of State may have raised our expectations in terms of co-operation on all amendments. I will not press the amendment. I concur with the National Youth Council that to target specific groups because of age or social disadvantage is almost sectarian but I accept it is not an enormous issue in the context of legislation.
I move amendment No. 4:
In page 12, line 15, to delete "3" and substitute "5".
The Minister gave a commitment on Committee Stage to consider this issue in detail.
I supported the amendment on Committee Stage and I support it again.
Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted and 20 Members being present,
We debated this amendment on Committee Stage. The net point is that in terms of the publication by vocational education committees of youth plans for their respective areas, there appears to be some merit in ensuring that these plans coincide with the five-year term of vocational education committees after local authority elections. Is it fair to expect a VEC to be responsible for, and to take on board, a youth work plan into which it had no input and which may run for the first two or three years of its term of office? In terms of democratic accountability it is important that elected members are answerable to their electorates and, in this case, to the youth groups interested in the plans being produced by vocational education committees.
However, it is hardly fair to inflict accountability on members of a VEC for a plan into which they had no direct input. These plans may be inherited by virtue of the overlap between three-year plans which run from the term of office of one VEC into that of its successor which may involve a substantial change in membership. It would be preferable if each VEC, as it commences its term of office after a local authority election, would be responsible for introducing its own plan for which it would be accountable to those interested in youth work and to the public at large. That is the reason for this amendment, to which there are three related amendments.
We are dealing with amendment No. 4.
Ba mhaith liom cuidiú leis an Teachta Creed. Sílim gur moladh an-siosmaideach é seo. Bhí mé féin ar choiste gairmoideachais ar feadh beagnach deich mbliana agus sílim gur chóir go mbeadh comhoibriú i gcónaí idir an coiste gairmoideachais agus lucht pleanála den chineál sin chomh fada agus a bhaineann sé leis an aos óg. An pointe atá déanta ag an Teachta Creed, tá sé an-phraiticiúil ar fad, sé sin, go mbeadh an plean agus téarma an choiste gairmoideachais ag dul céim ar chéim, agus nach mbeadh ceann acu roimh an cheann eile nó ina dhiaidh.
Is moladh réasúnta agus tá súil agam go mbreathnóidh an tAire go fabhrach air.
I support this amendment. Like other Deputies I have been a member of a VEC for eight or nine years and it is logical and practical that the term of office of a VEC and any such plans, particularly those concerning young people, should run shoulder to shoulder rather than one being half a term ahead of the other. This would ensure that the members of a serving VEC are familiar with the plan from introduction to implementation. This amendment would result in such a situation which would be advantageous for the implementation of these projects.
Tá súil agam go nglacfaidh an tAire leis an mholadh.
I appreciate the logic of what Deputies are saying and I studied this matter since Committee Stage. However, in the context of this amendment it is not considered necessary or desirable to increase the specified terms to five years as this longer cycle would reduce the momentum of co-operation and co-ordination for proper supervision by the Department of Education and Science.
A five-year timespan is a long period in the informal youth sector where programmes and projects often operate for only one year. Increasing the period for another two years would also create additional pressures on youth worker assessors and would cause an inordinate delay in the production of their reports.
Due to the progression of the age cohort on the youth front and the fact that the majority of the young people would have moved on from the intended catchment age group, the duration of a five-year plan is considered inappropriate. Therefore I have decided to adhere to the three-year duration in each case. The three-year period is also in tandem with the three-year period proposed under section 11 if a VEC has, in certain circumstances, to provide youth work programmes or services.
I am loathe to divide the House on
this issue but I listened to that logic on Committee Stage and have considered the Minister's position on this matter in the interim. I still think
the original point has considerable merit in so far as the review process for a youth work plan will commence perhaps in year four of a five year cycle, that is, if the amendment is accepted. The final adoption of a new youth work plan could be tailored in such a way that it would become the property of the newly elected vocational education committee. It is a bit rich to ask a vocational education committee to be accountable for a plan into which it has had no input.
The reason for the five years is quite simply that we will have local authority elections every five years. They are a trigger mechanism for membership of vocational education committees which will be ultimately responsible. Surely it makes sense that members of a vocational education committee, who are responsible and who will be answerable, will not be able to throw their hands in the air and say this is a plan into which they had no input, although they are now sitting members of the VEC. At least if the plan runs for the duration of five years, the mechanism to begin to invite submissions for a new plan to begin in year four of a five year cycle and the final adoption being one of the first issues a new vocational education committee takes on board, one can move relatively seamlessly in a five year cycle.
The Minister is going to diminish accountability and put members of a vocational education committee in a very invidious position if they are being asked to account for a plan which has, maybe in terms of their membership, two or three years to run and yet they are expected to be answerable for a policy into which they have had no input. It does not appear to be something on which it would be extraordinarily difficult to yield.
We have moved from a position where local authority elections were held almost at the whim of the Minister with responsibility for local government – they went from five years to seven years and sometimes more. The elections are now fixed statutorily. It is probably time this House moved to a situation where elections were held on fixed dates every five years rather than have the uncertainly that regularly prevails and hinders the capacity of the House to work effectively. The same thing will happen at local authority and vocational education committee levels. The buzz words in politics today are openness, transparency and accountability, the goddess of OTA, as the Minister for Finance termed it on one occasion. That equally applies at local authority level. Let us not place members of vocational education committees in a position in which they are expected to answer for something over which they have no responsibility or into which they have had no input. That is the logic behind the amendment before the House.
Ahern, Dermot.Ahern, Michael.Ahern, Noel.Andrews, David.Ardagh, Seán.Aylward, Liam.Blaney, Harry.Brady, Johnny.Brady, Martin.Brennan, Matt.Brennan, Séamus.Browne, John (Wexford).Carey, Pat.Collins, Michael.Coughlan, Mary.Cullen, Martin.Daly, Brendan.Davern, Noel.de Valera, Síle.Dennehy, John.Ellis, John.Fahey, Frank.Fleming, Seán.Flood, Chris.Foley, Denis.Fox, Mildred.Gildea, Thomas.Hanafin, Mary.Harney, Mary.Haughey, Seán.Healy-Rae, Jackie.Jacob, Joe.Keaveney, Cecilia.Kelleher, Billy.
Kenneally, Brendan.Killeen, Tony.Kirk, Séamus.Kitt, Michael P.Kitt, Tom.Lawlor, Liam.Lenihan, Brian.Lenihan, Conor.McGennis, Marian.McGuinness, John J.Martin, Micheál.Moffatt, Thomas.Molloy, Robert.Moloney, John.Moynihan, Donal.Moynihan, Michael.Ó Cuív, Éamon.O'Dea, Willie.O'Donnell, Liz.O'Hanlon, Rory.O'Keeffe, Batt.O'Keeffe, Ned.O'Kennedy, Michael.O'Rourke, Mary.Roche, Dick.Smith, Brendan.Smith, Michael.Treacy, Noel.Wade, Eddie.Wallace, Dan.Wallace, Mary.Walsh, Joe.Woods, Michael.Wright, G.V.
Barnes, Monica.Barrett, Seán.Bell, Michael.Belton, Louis J.Boylan, Andrew.Bradford, Paul.Broughan, Thomas P.Browne, John (Carlow-Kilkenny).Burke, Liam.Carey, Donal.Clune, Deirdre.Connaughton, Paul.Cosgrave, Michael.Crawford, Seymour.Creed, Michael.D'Arcy, Michael.Deasy, Austin.Deenihan, Jimmy.Dukes, Alan.Durkan, Bernard.Enright, Thomas.Farrelly, John.Finucane, Michael.Fitzgerald, Frances.Gilmore, Éamon.Gregory, Tony.Hayes, Brian.Hayes, Tom.Healy, Seamus.Higgins, Joe.Higgins, Michael.Hogan, Philip.
Howlin, Brendan.Kenny, Enda.McCormack, Pádraic.McDowell, Derek.McGahon, Brendan.McGinley, Dinny.McGrath, Paul.McManus, Liz.Mitchell, Gay.Mitchell, Jim.Mitchell, Olivia.Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.Naughten, Denis.Neville, Dan.O'Shea, Brian.O'Sullivan, Jan.Penrose, William.Perry, John.Quinn, Ruairí.Rabbitte, Pat.Reynolds, Gerard.Ring, Michael.Ryan, Seán.Shatter, Alan.Sheehan, Patrick.Shortall, Róisín.Spring, Dick.Stagg, Emmet.Stanton, David.Upton, Mary.Wall, Jack.
Amendments Nos. 5 and 6 are related and both may be discussed together by agreement.
I move amendment No. 5:
In page 13, line 10, to delete "third" and substitute "fifth".
The amendment envisages a five-year plan instead of the three-year plan that I have proposed. I have opted for a three-year plan having regard to the programme of services in youth work, some of which may operate for one year only. Extending the plan to five years could make assessment almost impossible in some instances as the course-project participants could have left the informal youth work system. The three-year period also dovetails with the requirements for the assessor of youth work to assess at least once in every three-year period youth work programmes and services provided by voluntary youth organisations or funded by vocational education committees. The prescription of the National Youth Council of Ireland as the prescribed national voluntary youth organisation is for a period of three years, subject to renewal. Thus, there is a consistency in the Youth Work Bill, 2000, in relation to a three-year period of planning and assessment. Accordingly, I cannot accept the amendments.
In light of the fact that these are similar to the amendments we have just voted upon and given the result of that vote, I am not pushing this amendment.
I move amendment No. 7:
In page 13, between lines 24 and 25, to insert the following:
"(iii) who are living in a Gaeltacht area and/or whose first language is Irish,".
Amendment No. 8 is consequential on amendment No. 9 and both may be discussed together by agreement.
I move amendment No. 8:
In page 15, line 5, after "as," to insert "subject to the terms of subsection (2),”.
The broad intention of the Bill is that funds will be available to vocational education committees in the case of local provision, in accordance with their agreed plan. Where the VEC feels a need to deviate from that plan it is proper that there should be a process as outlined in section 11 that will ensure the greatest possible transparency. Section 15 is intended as a safety mechanism to be used in unforeseen circumstances. If the Minister were bound by the strictures of the proposed amendment, no Minister would have the ability to react quickly to such problems that might arise from time to time and which require a speedy intervention. In any event, the actions of the Minister are, or course, subject directly to the scrutiny of the Houses of the Oireachtas. Any youth work programme or service provided by the Minister would be in accordance with the local requirements and, of course, would have regard to the VEC development plan.
I move amendment No. 10:
In page 15, line 34, after "subsection (1))” to insert “or in respect of any matter in relation to which it is desirable that the Assessor should not act due to his or her prior involvement”.
The purpose of this amendment is to ensure that there will be no conflict in a situation where an assessor already has a role, for instance, in relation to an appeal or to some conflict that might have arisen. The amendment seeks to extend that section to ensure that the assessor would stand independently and that there would be no conflict in the case of an appeal. Thus, they would not be acting as an assessor in a situation where they had already acted and, in effect, would not be seen to be the person to whom the appeal is being made if they have already acted as an assessor.
Any person, professional or otherwise, in any post of authority would be expected to declare an interest if a conflict of interest issue arose or was likely to arise. In any event, a safety measure to take care of this situation would be more appropriate to a job description or terms of reference for the assessor post, rather than specifically providing for it in legislation. I intend to proceed on this basis. Section 16(10) provides for the removal from office of the assessor of youth work for good and valid reasons.
I move amendment No. 11:
In page 16, line 10, after "determine." to insert "The annual report and all such published reports shall be in the Irish and English languages.".
In light of the fact that I have accepted amendments Nos. 1, 2, 7 and 12, I will accept amendment No. 11.
I move amendment No. 12:
In page 16, between lines 31 and 32, to insert the following:
"(b) the provision and co-ordination of youth work programmes and youth work service in the Gaeltacht and/or to young persons whose first language is Irish,”.
I move amendment No. 13:
In page 17, lines 20 and 21, to delete "27 and not more than 29" and substitute "31 and not more than 33".
On Committee Stage I indicated my agreement, in principle, to provide for four representatives of the Irish Vocational Education Association, instead of the original two. That being so, it will of course be necessary to provide for a further two representatives from the voluntary youth sector to be nominated by the National Youth Council of Ireland. The provision for four IVEA nominees has been included in the printed version. Accordingly, I am moving the amendment to enable this increased representation of the advisory committee to be reflected in the overall membership of the committee.
I move amendment No. 14:
In page 18, to delete lines 46 to 50 and substitute the following:
"(3) The youth work committee shall, in relation to the notification of a decision referred to in subsection (2), at a further meeting of the youth work committee, consider the reasons for its decision as stated by the vocational education committee. Where the youth work committee re-endorses its original recommendation by resolution and its subsequent recommendation is again rejected by the vocational education committee, then the vocational education committee shall, as soon as may be, notify the Minister in writing of, and state the reasons for its decision.”.
The procedure envisaged by the Deputy is basically in line with what I have proposed in section 19(3) and 19(4). I have outlined in greater detail the arrangements for the workings of the youth work committee with the vocational education committee and I see no need to depart from these arrangements.
I move amendment No. 15:
In page 19, to delete lines 21 to 26, and substitute the following:
"(7) A vocational education committee shall–
(a)appoint to act as chairperson of the youth work committee a person appointed to the committee under section 20(2)(a), and
(b)appoint any other member of the youth work committee to act as vice-chairperson of the committee for the purpose of his or her performing the functions of the chairperson in the absence of the latter.”.
Since I proposed this amendment, representations have been made to me by the IVEA and the NYCI. The two viewpoints are diametrically opposed. Deputy Creed will recall that in relation to an amendment which he proposed on Committee Stage, I changed the initial legislation to reflect his viewpoint. That is where the matter now stands. Therefore, with the permission of the House I wish to withdraw the amendment to give myself further time to consider this matter between now and when the Bill comes before the Seanad next week.
I move amendment No. 16:
In page 19, line 21, after "shall" to insert ", from among the representatives of the vocational education committee".
The essential point in section 19(7) as passed on Committee Stage allows for a member of the vocational education committee to be appointed as chairperson of the youth work committee. This is the same purpose as Deputy Creed's amendment. I therefore accept the amendment.
I move amendment No. 17:
In page 20, between lines 11 and 12, to insert the following:
"(vi) Údarás na Gaeltachta where a vocational education committee functions in a Gaeltacht area,".
The purpose of Deputy Creed's amendment is to make statutory provision for Údarás na Gaeltachta to be represented on the youth work committee where a vocational education committee functions in a Gaeltacht area. This proposal is reasonable and acceptable in my view. Therefore I propose to accept this amendment.
I move amendment No. 18:
In page 21, to delete lines 14 to 21.
The purpose of Deputy Upton's amendment would be to remove specific provision whereby three-quarters of the voluntary youth council will come from the volunteer sector or, to put it another way, not more than one-quarter will come from the paid youth sector workers. It seems to me that this strikes the right balance and that it takes into account, appropriately, the high input from volunteers in the youth work sector. Indeed, I have received a number of representations to uphold the representation of volunteers at local level. I am therefore satisfied that section 22(2) should remain as it is.
I would be slightly concerned that if we leave it as it stands with a requirement for no more than a quarter of staff to be involved that it could present a situation where it would be extremely difficult to fill those posts by virtue of the exclusion of the volunteers. In the future it will be difficult to access enough volunteers. With the greatest respect for the work that is done by volunteers, their training and role on the committees is slightly different to that expected from trained staff members. There is nothing to be lost by leaving it open. There is no need to include an absolute requirement in relation to the division. It could be left such that it could be filled by appropriate or suitable people but should not be exclusive.
Deputy Upton made this point on Committee Stage. I have considered what she said and have spoken to various people in the sector. They have advised me that her fears are essentially groundless. I will give the matter further consideration between now and when it is discussed in the Seanad.
I move amendment No. 19:
In page 22, line 18, before "are" to insert "and within ethnic groups represented in the functional area of the committee".
I promised Deputy Upton on Committee Stage to review the question of including ethnic groups specifically. I appreciate the sentiment behind this proposal. I am advised that it is not necessary to include it in the legislation as youth work embraces all groups, including ethnic groups. My understanding is that a number of youth organisations have already included ethnic groups in their programmes. The Equal Status Groups Act, 2000, provides that no discrimination can take place on grounds of nationality. I understand what Deputy Upton wants to achieve here and I am personally sympathetically disposed towards it. I accept the logic of what she says but am advised I cannot accept the amendment as it stands because of a question of definition. We are trying to find some form of expression to meet that point. I hope she accepts my word on that and I would appreciate if she could withdraw her amendment. We will continue to work on it between now and when the Bill comes before the Seanad. I am anxious to do something along the lines suggested if possible.
I appreciate the Minister's commitment and will withdraw the amendment.
I move amendment No. 20:
In page 22, between lines 18 and 19, to insert the following:
"(8) In issuing directions under subsection (5), a vocational educational committee which functions in a Gaeltacht area, shall have regard to the desirability of ensuring that persons engaged in the provision of youth work programmes or youth work services for young persons in the Irish language in the said Gaeltacht are represented on Voluntary Youth Councils.".
The purpose of this amendment is to ensure that where a vocational education committee functions in a Gaeltacht area, persons engaged in youth work programmes and services in the Irish language in the Gaeltacht areas are represented on the voluntary youth councils. I can appreciate the logic underpinning this proposal and am therefore prepared to accept it.
I move amendment No. 21:
In page 22, lines 44 and 45, to delete all words from and including "may" in line 44, down to and including "organisations" in line 45 and substitute "shall prescribe the National Youth Council of Ireland".
The purpose of section 24 relates to the prescription of a national youth organisation as the prescribed national representative youth work organisation. I am satisfied to prescribe the National Youth Council of Ireland as such organisation in legislation. It is only reasonable that such a prescription be subject to renewal and I am satisfied that such period should be every three years. The wording of this section was arrived at after considerable thought and represents a logical sequence of prescription and future prescription. The Youth Work Act, 1997, did not prescribe on these lines and at that time the prescription of the National Youth Council of Ireland was done by ministerial order. In deference to representations from the NYCI I have now specifically provided for it to be the prescribed national representative youth work organisation. I do not therefore propose to accept Deputy Creed's amendment.
Amendments Nos. 22 and 23 are related and will be discussed together by agreement.
I move amendment No. 22:
In page 27, line 39, to delete "recommendations" and substitute "a report".
I move amendment No. 23:
In page 27, line 41, to delete "recommendations" and substitute "report".
On behalf of the Fine Gael Party I thank the Minister for his generosity on Committee and Report Stages. A number of useful amendments have been accepted and they will contribute to a better working of the legislation. This legislation has had a long gestation and has passed from one Government to another. I appreciate the work done by the Minister's predecessor, Deputy Allen, who published the first Bill in this area. Arising from the passage of the Education Act that Bill had to be restructured. The work we have done here this evening will serve the sector well and I hope the Minister takes it quickly through the Seanad so that interested parties outside the House can get on with their work. I thank the Minister for the manner in which he dealt with the debate.
I too would like to thank the Minister particularly for addressing graciously a number of the amendments that we raised. I also thank him for moving it forward quickly from Committee Stage to today.
I am glad that we have finally disposed of this Bill in the Dáil. We hope to move on and deal with it in the Seanad next week. I wish to thank the Opposition spokespersons for their constructive contributions and for the amendments put forward. Those amendments accepted will make it a better Bill.