Today's Order of Business is Item 1; it is hoped to conclude Second Stage today. Item 40 will be taken from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. I suggest 30 minutes for spokespersons and 20 minutes thereafter on Item 1.
Order of Business.
Our efficient spokesperson would like the Leader to consider 40 minutes for spokespersons. I understand some discussion took place with the Whips in this regard and some people believe there should be no time limit on such an important debate as the Finance Bill. We will accommodate it on this occasion if there is 40 minutes for spokespersons.
I ask the Leader of the House to give permission early next week to discuss Item 33. It has been on the Order Paper for some time and relates to the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, the anniversary of which was yesterday. The atrocities in Dublin and Monaghan occurred 20 years ago yesterday and left 33 people dead and many injured. Those who were injured and the families of those who died are entitled to know the full truth from the Government about the situation and why nobody has been brought to justice.
I want the debate because the Minister for Justice ordered a report after the Yorkshire Television programme; I understand that report has been on the Minister's desk since last December. I ask the Leader of the House to arrange a debate on Item 33. Perhaps as a forerunner to that, the Minister for Justice could use the opportunity this evening on the Progressive Democrat motion on crime to make a preliminary statement on the matter.
I also ask the Leader of the House when Item 4, the Landlord and Tenant (Amendment) Bill 1993, will be taken. Two weeks ago we asked this question in the House and understood from the reply that it would be taken this week; we advised some of our people of this. Maybe the Leader would update us on that situation.
I would also ask the Leader to impress upon the Taoiseach the need for immediate support for the candidature of Mr. Peter Sutherland for the EU Commission Presidency. It is a unique opportunity for this country to obtain the leadership of the Commission and utilise that to our advantage.
A golden opportunity.
Considering what we heard from Fine Gael last weekend, 30 minutes should do adequately to extend the message this afternoon. We feel 30 minutes would be adequate. Foreign affairs issues come up regularly in this House and during the past few weeks we have heard a number of harrowing stories from different parts of the world, such as Bosnia and Rwanda. When these things happen other places take second fiddle in terms of a high profile. We had a long and comprehensive discussion on East Timor recently and, in the meantime, I have circulated Members of both Houses with a petition on the matter for the Minister. I would like to remind people who support the position we articulated in this House regarding East Timor to conclude that petitioning. We should consider sending — not at the taxpayers' expense but at our own expense — a delegation of parliamentarians to look at what is happening there. This needs to be addressed urgently because there is a serious problem there.
Last week I asked the Leader of the House about a debate on the input that elected public representatives should, can and do make to the development of education policy. I again raise with him the need to have such a debate as quickly as possible. There are all sorts of conflicting views on this. I hold a middle line; I think it is very important that democracy should be reflected in the curriculum. We need to assert ourselves as public representatives, as I would as an educationalist. I would ask that matter to be taken very soon.
May I urge Senators to make requests to the Leader of the House, rather than speeches.
As a spokesperson for Finance for Fianna Fáil — and I will not call myself an efficient spokesperson in the circumstances — may I join with Senator O'Toole in suggesting that 30 minutes should be adequate?
That was not the point.
You have the Minister.
It is probably enough for you.
Do not encourage him.
There is so much I could say in support of this Bill that I could use three hours. However, in the interests of discipline and communication I think that 30 minutes are adequate. I will go along with whatever agreement is reached between the Whips.
Three or four weeks ago, with a terrible degree of anticipation and apprehension, I raised the fact that the spate of sectarian assassinations in the North would unfortunately continue and that by the time we met again other innocent people would have lost their lives. I very much regret to say that the spate of sectarian assassinations has increased since then. The victims include young teenagers and old women who have nothing to be blamed for except that they may belong to one religion or another. This is totally unacceptable in what is the most heavily policed city in Europe, if not in the world. While I welcome the actions of the police, in Belfast particularly, in trying to apprehend and question those who claim to be leaders of sectarian——
Senator O'Kennedy, may I ask you to put a query to the Leader? I am sure you are coming to that.
Of course, I will do that. While I welcome the efforts of the police authorities in trying to apprehend people after the event, I would suggest that it would be appropriate if we could have a discussion on the basis that it should be possible, through an effective policing and intelligence to prevent this awful series of sectarian attacks.
Bosnia has been mentioned. We are, quite correctly, proud of our people who go abroad to create the basis for peace throughout the world. However, while that takes place, in our own island innocent youngsters and old people are being mown down in their homes because they happen to have a certain religion. This issue must be discussed. I know the disposition of the Leader of the House on this matter and I hope we can have a responsible discussion on it.
Would the Leader of the House ask the Minister for Health to explain to the Seanad the effect of the dispute between the IMO and his Department concerning the acting director of community care in the health boards? What effect will this dispute have on the delivery of services relating to AIDS, HIV and screening and treatment for hepatitis C?
I reiterate Senator O'Kennedy's comments. Again, I ask the Leader of the House to afford us an opportunity to discuss Northern Ireland further. We should have an opportunity to discuss and do something about the continuing deaths at the hands of terrorists there. Two men were killed yesterday and seven children were orphaned. We should have an opportunity to refute the statement made yesterday by a unionist councillor that the republican rhetoric of Dublin has encouraged the IRA to continue its terrorist campaign. We all know that the opposite is the case. We also need the opportunity to say again to Sinn Féin and the IRA that actions speak louder than words. They know what they must do. They must not continue to ask questions but lay down their arms.
Would the Leader of the House raise with the Minister for Justice my fears and the fears of a number of people who have contacted me regarding what is perceived as a change in our justice system? It appears that we are adopting a system of plea bargaining. I am referring to two cases currently before the courts. When an accused person pleads guilty it appears that subsequently additional charges are dropped. I do not wish to prejudice the outcome of either of the cases but the Minister should know that there will be public outcry if justice is not seen to be done in these cases.
Did the Leader of the House say that the debate on Item 1 will be concluded today? If so, at what time will it be concluded? Extending the time for spokespersons lessens the time available to other Members. It is frustrating to be restricted to four or five minutes to make one's contribution. I am elected by a wide electorate and time restrictions are being imposed too frequently.
Could the Leader also tell the Seanad what the Government proposes to do about the fact that, for the second time in a month, women have to come here from Cork to protest that they are not receiving their rights under the equal treatment provisions of the social welfare code? It is appalling that women must continue take to the streets to protest that.
I wholeheartedly support the condemnation of the atrocities in Northern Ireland.
I question the time restriction on contributions on the Finance Bill; it is unfair. It would be preferable if we had an open debate particularly between the spokespersons on the Bill. Tomorrow on Committee Stage we will discuss 155 sections. If we do not have an opportunity to speak on the Bill and if we are restricted to 20 minutes, Committee Stage will be held up.
It would be better if Members could make comprehensive contributions on this Stage. Otherwise many amendments will be put down on Committee Stage and questions will have to be dealt with on that Stage. This is the first time there has been a time limit on the Finance Bill, which is extremely important legislation and has always been debated fairly in this House in comparison to the other House. We should have the opportunity to make the points which concern us.
We will be putting down recommendations. Everyone should be allowed to speak on the Bill without a time limit, especially the main spokespersons; perhaps other speakers could be limited to 30 minutes. If the time limit is not removed I will be one of those delaying Committee Stage tomorrow.
I wish to express my condolences to Senator Cassidy on the loss of his father who had been sick for a few weeks. I understand the Senator had a very close relationship with him.
You are in breach of procedure at this point, Senator.
I appreciate that but I feel it is important to extend condolences to Senator Cassidy and his family.
I ask the Leader to convey this House's concern about the lightning strike at B & I which was the result of disagreements which arose last February. This is a serious problem and the Minister for the Marine last night condemned the action. I am not aware of the background to the strike but I am concerned at the implications for our tourist industry, coming as it does at the beginning of the 1994 summer season; I am sure the House shares my concern.
This country relies heavily on access to encourage tourism. I hope common sense will prevail. Given that the ferry service is so vital, unions and management should come together as quickly as possible to resolve the dispute. We should not have to face a summer of uncertainty, which would have an adverse affect on our tourist industry.
I also ask the Leader to consider having a debate on the film industry. I compliment the Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works and the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht, who brought a major film production to this country. This will benefit the immediate area to the tune of £35 million.
A question to the Leader, please.
This is a significant project which has been won in the teeth of tremendous opposition. One could draw a parallel with a film on the Easter Rising, due to be filmed in Dublin, being switched to another country at the last minute. That gives some idea of the implications for the country losing the project and the benefits to the country acquiring it. Because of the burgeoning film industry in Ireland and the success of the section 35 film provisions, I ask the Leader for a debate in the House on the film industry.
I support the comments seeking a debate on the film industry. I do not wish to be parochial but it is extraordinary that when that industry is expanding, the Bray UDC has rezoned a studio backlot for the building of houses, as if we did not have enough concrete already.
I ask the Leader to arrange for the House to discuss on an ongoing basis the arrangements being afforded or offered to women who have contracted hepatitis C from infected blood samples, especially those women who will require hospital treatment arising from this infection. I understand the VHI is refusing to accept that women who have contracted hepatitis C and may require hospitalisation are entitled to full cover. This is a scandal. I normally support this State body because if fulfils its public service obligations but this House should allow time to debate this matter.
First, I ask the Leader for a debate on the enlargement of the EU, which I have sought on a number of occasions. Such a debate would be timely because this issue has profound effects for the nation. Second, I support Senator O'Toole's call for a debate on education. It gives us an opportunity to support Archbishop Eames in his call for minimum interference in denominational schools.
I suggested 30 minutes per spokesperson in order to facilitate the smooth running of the debate on this Bill. However, Opposition spokespersons may speak for 40 minutes if they wish. I suggest 15 minutes thereafter for Senators. With the present state of the economy, we on this side of the House have no objection to a lengthy debate on the Finance Bill, 1994. Everyone will have an opportunity to speak on this Bill tonight. After the votes at 8 o'clock the Whips will review the situation to see if we can finish Second Stage before midnight.
The Whips will discuss Items 33 and 34 in the hope that we can deal with them within the next two weeks. Item 4 could not be taken because the Finance Bill, 1994, was being taken this week.
Senator O'Toole and others mentioned a debate on education. We have already communicated to the Minister our desire to have a debate on this issue. As regards Northern Ireland, we have stated that we would like a further opportunity to discuss the tragic situation as soon as possible. Other issues were raised, but they are part of Private Members' Time and we can discuss them at a later date.