It is intended to take Items Nos. 1, 2 and 3 today.
Order of Business.
The Order of Business is agreed but I wish to raise two points. First, I wish to thank the Government for agreeing to take the all-party motion on the Constitution which I believe will be taken next week and the week after. I am very pleased about this. It will be a very valuable debate. I would like to give notice that under Standing Order 29 I intend to propose the following motion:
That Seanad Éireann notes with dismay and concern the suppression of the Stalker-Sampson report by the British Government and the failure to prosecute RUC officers involved in the shoot-to-kill policy and supports the efforts of the Irish Government and of the two Houses of the Oireachtas to have this reversed.
Because of the obvious public concern and importance of this I will be invoking Standing Order 29 to have an urgent debate on this matter today.
I appreciate that. I do not think Senator Manning needed to give notice at this point. He could have given notice in writing and I would have ruled.
To reiterate the first point made by Senator Manning on the question of a debate on the Constitution I would like to place on record my thanks for the co-operation of all the Whips, and the Government side in particular, in allowing this discussion to take place. I look forward to it and urge Senators to contribute to it.
I would like to establish once and for all when we will get to the next stage of the Adoption (No. 2) Bill. I would just stress that there are people out there worrying and waiting for this legislation to be enacted and there are families under stress on account of it. I appeal to the Leader of the House to put the pressure on whichever Minister it is who is delaying the matter to get it before us.
I would also like to ask the Leader of the House about Item No. 13 which is the Extradition (European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism) (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill. In the light of the matter which has just been referred to by Senator Manning and in the light of the Birmingham Six trial of today, as well as the Stalker report earlier in the week, we have a clear responsibility to our citizens to make sure that, when we extradite them, we extradite them with proper evidence against them. This is a matter of urgency and a matter which must be addressed. We cannot abnegate our responsibilities to our citizens. We must have confidence in the legal system to which we are extraditing them and we must also be confident there is a case against them. I urge that this item should be taken.
I welcome the debate on the Constitution which the Government have agreed should be taken as an all-party motion. It is appropriate that we should look at the Constitution after 50 years and I hope the two week debate will afford many of the experts on constitutional matters who are in this House an opportunity to state their case.
Regarding Senator Manning's request under Standing Order 29, to which I hope you will agree, could the Leader of the House in responding to the Order of Business indicate what the format will be if the debate is allowed? Will it be the normal format under Standing Order 29 or will all Members of the House be allowed to make contributions as we did on the last occasion?
We are having a discussion on something which is not even before me as Cathaoirleach and on which I have made no ruling.
The Senator would be very foolish to anticipate what I might rule in an hour's time.
I said I was speaking in the hope that you would agree. Knowing your generosity I know you will agree.
That generosity has been tested in recent times. Senator Brendan Ryan.
I sat down. I did not want to test your generosity any further. I simply want to reiterate a number of things Senator O'Toole said. The Adoption (No. 2) Bill was, and still is, a relatively non-controversial issue. Let us remind ourselves what it is about. It is about making it possible to adopt children who currently cannot be the subject of legal adoption processes. I would like to know if there is a problem because, if there is a problem, perhaps this House can attempt to influence public opinion by discussing it. If there is a delay because of a constitutional issue, then so be it.
The best thing to do is to get the legislation through and have it tested in the courts. I am absolutely certain that the Irish people would support an amendment which would make provision for this but we cannot do anything by simply sitting on it and hoping it will go away. It is an important piece of legislation and I appeal to the Leader of the House to use his influence with the Government to get progress on the Bill. It is not long or complex. It may well be difficult in terms of constitutional problems; it is neither complex nor long in terms of parliamentary procedure.
With regard to what Senator O'Toole said about Item No. 13, the Leader of the House should give serious consideration to allowing that Bill to be discussed because it is now of vital importance. We are fortunate that we live in a society where murder and coverups by the police are not tolerated. I am not very happy about having people extradited to a jurisdiction where it appears that the public interest can justify the most extraordinary activities by the security forces and therefore I cannot——
We cannot make a speech now on Item No. 13.
In that case I did not make a speech. I simply wanted to express my point of view on why it should be taken. I do really think that Item No. 13 is now extremely relevant in terms of the vulnerability of Irish people under what is called justice in Northern Ireland.
Will the Leader of the House consider taking Item No. 54 which is a motion in the names of some of the Fine Gael Senators regarding the plight of Irish illegal emigrants in the USA? There was a report in the Irish Independent on Monday about a girl from Cork, Catherine Fitzgerald. Under the new Immigration Control Act in the United States the immigration authorities have started to round up illegal Irish people and now they are taking them to police precincts in New York. We should have this discussion as a matter of urgency to see if the Government can help in some way to alleviate the problem.
I would like to support the efforts of other Senators to bring the Adoption (No. 2) Bill back into the House as soon as possible. It is very important legislation, affecting the lives of young children. The children who would have been affected by it six months ago when the Second Stage of the Bill was discussed in the House are now six months older. The sooner it can be passed through both Houses of the Oireachtas the better. I support the previous speakers on that.
I would like to congratulate the Garda on the great work they are doing in unearthing all the arms which have been dumped around the country, particularly their find recently, and the great work they did yesterday outside this House in clearing——
You can congratulate whomever you like but let me get the Order of Business out of the way.
The main objective of many Members is to bring forward the Committee Stage of the Adoption (No. 2) Bill. I can assure them that concerns me as well. The Whip and I are getting fed up of being fobbed off with excuses as to why the Bill cannot be brought forward. We will do our utmost to ensure that it is in this House either next week or the week after. Every effort will be made to ensure that it comes forward. Senator W. Ryan has done most of the negotiations on this and he is fed up of being fobbed off and I can assure the House it will not continue.
The debate on the Constitution was not a matter of controversy. It was a matter of getting a suitable time and a suitable format to take the discussion. We will take the item next Thursday and Thursday week. There should be a good discussion on that very important item.
On the Order of Business I said that Items Nos. 2 and 3 were being taken. Now that there is a suggestion that there may be a request under Standing Order 29 before us, it is doubtful that we will reach Item No. 2 today at the risk of being out of order. If it is taken I suggest to the House that the Minister should have 15 minutes, that other speakers should take no longer than ten minutes and that the debate should conclude within an hour, if the Cathaoirleach gives permission for it to be taken.
Thank you for your generosity.
I am not in a generous mood. It is up to the Cathaoirleach to make the decision.
I agree with Senator Reynolds that Item No. 54 is a matter of urgency. The Senator will have an opportunity to bring that forward as a Fine Gael motion with the agreement of his group. Without putting words into his mouth, there are other methods he could use within Standing Orders if he gets the permission of his group to bring it forward again. It is not intended to take Item No. 13 at this stage.
Would the Leader of the House indicate at what time we might take Item No. 3, allowing for all these things that are going to happen before that?
We can get the Whips together later on when we see what is going to happen in terms of the other item.
Is it in order to propose that only one hour be devoted to the item under Standing Order 29? I understood that the Standing Order made provision for an hour and a half.
When I make my decision the arrangements can then be worked out and under Standing Order 29 it is an hour and a half.
Before the conclusion of the Order of Business I would like to convey my sincere thanks and that of my mother, my brother Andrew and my sister Clare to all sides of the House for their kind tributes and vote of sympathy on the sudden death of my father last Thursday. Former Senator Joseph Mary Mooney was proud of his membership of this House and proud that I have been allowed to continue this tradition. My brother Andrew is also present in the House today and I know that he too appreciates the kindness of the House in passing a vote of sympathy on the death of a dear father and a great Irishman. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.