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Seanad Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 20 Apr 1994

Vol. 140 No. 1

Order of Business.

Today's Order of Business is Items 1 and 2 between now and 6 p.m. Item 38 will be taken between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Item 3 will be taken between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. I suggest ten minute contributions on Item 3. This will hopefully give everybody an opportunity to be involved in the debate. Regarding Item 2, I also suggest ten minutes for each contribution.

On my own behalf, and on behalf of my colleagues, I extend my congratulations to Senator Brian Hillery on his appointment to the board of the European Bank for European Reconstruction and Development.

At a subsequent date, when he was leaving, we planned to do something but you said it now in good faith.

It is the type of news that will bear repetition.

Say it again.

I started so I should finish.

As a long term friend and colleague of Senator Hillery, both at University College Dublin and in this House, I extend my very warm congratulations. It is a great honour for him and for the House. He will bring all the qualities we have come to admire to his new position.

I ask the Leader of the House to urgently arrange a debate on Northern Ireland; it was the last thing we asked for at the end of the previous session. In the meantime, there has been a succession of loyalist terrorism, which is growing daily in depth and depravity. The situation in Northern Ireland is spiralling out of control. We would all welcome a debate to review political developments and to express our views on this matter. We would all like to hear the type of condemnations that have come from this House when the IRA commit atrocities from some of the unionist politicians of the deeds that are being committed in the name of the Protestant people of Northern Ireland. Some of these condemnations have been deafening in their silence and some of the twisting and twirling in recent days has been quite sickening. I ask the Leader of the House for a debate on Northern Ireland.

Could the Leader also indicate what legislation it is intended to take in the early part of this session? Will Item 38 be taken in European time or European summer time this evening?

I support Senator Manning's request. I agree with the response of the Chair to the request from Senator Enright in relation to the unspeakable developments in Bosnia. Later today we will discuss the consequences of illegal drug trafficking.

On this island the most unspeakable depravity is perpetrated by people who call themselves loyalists, to whatever they may be loyal. That is not to say that any one of us is in any way reluctant to condemn what has been done by so-called republicans over the years; indeed we have condemned these actions. That people are being targeted consistently and maliciously by an element on this island of Ireland is unbelievable and unspeakable. I join with Senator Manning in saying that those who have jurisdiction over the North must ensure that these actions are not allowed to continue.

I had planned to ask you to say a few words on Senator Hillery's appointment, a Chathaoirligh but I gather you would prefer to leave that to a later stage. We are honoured that he has been given this appointment.

I support the suggestions for a debate on Northern Ireland at the earliest opportunity and I agree with the concerns expressed within the last few minutes. The comments in regard to Northern Ireland should have covered not just terrorist activities but the joy we felt when we heard the announcement today of the 250 new jobs in Northern Ireland. The people in Ballymena who achieved this have our support and goodwill.

I also support Senator Manning's efforts for an immediate debate on Bosnia. The Independent Senators asked for this debate some weeks ago. The situation in Bosnia has disimproved to such an extent that it is of the utmost importance that we find time in this House to debate it almost immediately.

I support Senator Manning's call for a debate on Northern Ireland. I ask the Leader of the House if the Minister for the Environment or the Taoiseach would come here to clarify the Government's intention in relation to residential property tax, rates or the funding of local authorities at an early date. Many of us have an interest in this area and we are very concerned at the way things are going.

Further to Senator Honan's comments on local authority funding, I call for clarification by the Taoiseach of his explicit statement regarding the reintroduction of rates on private houses. Reports in today's paper suggest that the Government is intent on going down that road and householders around the country are very worried about this. It is incumbent on the Taoiseach to come into this House, to clarify the position and to tell us if the Government is intent on bringing back rates on private houses.

I support those Members who called for a debate on the problems in the North. Both sides of the House have requested this debate on a number of occasions. We are all aware that murder and butchery continues to escalate there. The authorities in the North and the British Government are the responsible authority there. We must have a debate in this House and send a clear message that we are not satisfied with the controls put in place by the present administration in the North.

The second item I wish to raise affects our beef producers. I ask the Leader of the House to arrange a debate on the beef industry at an early opportunity. The German Government recently made a statement that they were considering banning the purchase of Irish beef on the grounds that we had a high incidence of BSE. Every branch of the media in Europe carried that news. A great deal of damage was done to the Irish beef trade by that news item. I listened at seven o'clock in the morning on Radio Four and that news spread far and wide and much damage was done. We must give a very positive response in this House and I ask for an opportunity to debate this matter and to refute the statements that have been made about the health of the Irish beef trade.

I would welcome a debate on Northern Ireland. It is often said that actions speak louder than words and the action of the authorities on both sides over the last 48 hours is to be commended. Such action will, hopefully, help to curb the activities of the paramilitaries. With regard to the point about clarification of the Taoiseach's speech as the Leader of the Government, Ministers and backbenchers speak with diverse tongues these days on the issue of rates.

With regard to Item 7, the Second Stage of the Adoptive Leave Bill, 1993 was taken last November, six months ago; there are obviously some difficulties. Would the Leader of the House inform us privately of the reasons for the delay in taking the Committee Stage?

I will make the Tánaiste aware of the feelings of the House that a debate on Northern Ireland should take place urgently. Over the weekend I listened to Archbishop Eames give leadership in condemning out of hand the atrocities that have been carried out in the name of Protestants; he has given leadership to others who might have a say in this issue. With regard to legislation, next week we will take the Local Government (Amendment) Bill, 1994 and in the coming weeks we will deal with the Casual Trading Bill, 1994, and the Irish Shipping Limited (Payments to Former Employees) Bill, 1994.

Order of Business agreed to.