Order of Business.

It is proposed to take item No. 2 — Report Stage of the Environmental Protection Agency Bill, 1990, until 1 p.m. There will be a sos from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. At 2 p.m. we will take item No. 3 — the Statute of Limitations (Amendment) Bill, 1990. May I, on that point, indicate that that was originally a Seanad Bill. There was one Dáil amendment so it comes back to us as a Dáil Bill and we may discuss the amendment only at that point. When that is concluded, if the Environmental Protection Agency Bill has not already been completed we will continue from approximately 2.30 p.m. to 4 p.m. with the remaining Stages of the Environmental Protection Agency Bill.

On the Order of Business, in view of the fact that it does not look as if the Leader of the House will accede to the request I made yesterday for a discussion or statements on Northern Ireland, at this point now that the Brooke talks have come to a halt, may I pay tribute to Mr. Peter Brooke for all he has achieved over the past number of months, and assure him that it is the earnest wish of all parties in this House that his work will recommence at a fairly early date and that there is total support for what he is trying to do. There is a certain sense of relief that the way the talks have come to an end at the present time has been without too much acrimony and it gives good hope that they can be resumed in a constructive way. We hope that in the intervening period pressure will be brought to bear in a constructive way on all parties in Northern Ireland to ensure that they do not walk away from the table but that they will come back with their minds clearer and more open at a fairly early date.

I strongly support Seanator Manning in his request for a debate on the North. We have been asking the Leader for time to discuss the North for some time. Such a debate can now make a contribution when the discussions or negotiations in the North have reached the first phase. It is right and proper that this House should make a contribution. If we do not, we will create a vacuum. This House is capable of making a constructive contribution and and its comments are worth while.

I support both Senator Manning's sentiments and Senator McGowan's calls for a debate. Although the news is very disappointing there is some consolation to be taken, for example, from the statements of Mr. John Hume and Mr. Ken Maginnis this morning. In a sense the Government have the ball at their feet and all very much depends on whether the Government have the courage and vision to take a constitutional initiative at this point. That is crucially important.

I endorse the remarks of my colleagues about the Northern Ireland situation. I am particularly saddened, as an Ulster person, that there is a hiccup in the situation already. It is imperative that we do not leave a vaccum and that we do not allow the forces of bigotry to take over again in Northern Ireland. The great risk exists that Northern Ireland will return to being a place dominated by tribalism and bigotry. For that reason I urge the Leader of the House to convey the anxiety of this House to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and, if possible, to arrange a short debate on the matter.

On behalf of the Progressive Democrats, I wish to say that we are obviously saddened the talks have come to an end and we sincerely hope this is a temporary situation. Obviously, the hopes of all the people on both islands rests on the courage and confidence that can now be engendered among all the parties in Northern Ireland. We urge them all to continue to search in order to find a solution, to have trust in each other and to realise how important it is that all of them get back around the table and continue the talks. We urge Mr. Brooke to continue to seek a solution that satisfies all sides.

I would like to ask the Leader of the House to take up the question of the Altamont (Amendment of Deed of Trust) Bill immediately. It is against a background where we had hoped this would have been dealt with by last Christmas. We were told subsequently that it would be dealt with before the Easter recess. I would like to point out to the Leader of the House that he had assured us that it would be dealt with during this term which finishes in two weeks' time. If it is not dealt with pragmatically next week or the following week we are then into the late autumn or early winter. In fairness, arrangements should now be made. I request the Leader of the House to ensure that arrangements are now made to deal with that issue, either next week or during the following week, for the reasons I have stated.

In regard to the last point made by Senator Staunton, it was mentioned yesterday by the leader of the Fine Gael group, Senator Manning. I agreed with his sentiments on that occasion and I agree with the Senator now. I am anxious to do what I can to get that item moved from the Order Paper to another forum which, I understand, will be a Joint Committee of Dáil and Seanad, I will certainly investigate that and try and do something positive about it. In regard to the other queries raised about the talks on Northern Ireland Senators Manning, Murphy, O'Reilly and Cullen, I have always said that I live in hope and this morning even though things look a bit difficult, I still live in hope. I repeat what was said in the Dáil yesterday, that we hope matters will move forward in a positive and constructive spirit in the shortest possible time. We certainly hope that the violence which has taken place in the North over the past 20 years will come to an end and that these talks will play a positive role in regard to that matter.

Order of Business agreed to.