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Seanad Éireann debate -
Thursday, 16 Nov 1995

Vol. 145 No. 6

Order of Business.

It is proposed to take items 1 and 2 today. It is proposed that there be 20 minutes for spokespersons and 15 minutes for other speakers and that there be a sos between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.

I agree with the Order of Business. In view of the forthcoming referendum, what will be the sitting arrangements for next week?

Once again horrific crimes were committed last night on the streets of Dublin. The Government would have the full co-operation of this side of the House if it introduces emergency legislation to deal with this situation which is getting out of hand.

In light of reports which appeared in today's newspapers and on radio yesterday that Mother Teresa of Calcutta is intervening in the divorce referendum and in light of the fact that a previous Vatican representative claimed to have won a referendum on behalf of the Vatican, will the Government make it clear to the current Vatican representative that such interventions are unhelpful, undiplomatic and greatly resented?

Last week we tabled a motion dealing with Government interference with the governance and charter of Trinity College and the autonomy of the colleges of the National University of Ireland. Will the commitment we were given then be honoured and will the motion be discussed next week?

When will the Voluntary Health Insurance (Amendment) Bill be brought before the House? Will it be initiated here? We received a commitment from the Leader that the Minister for Health would come to the House to discuss the White Paper on mental health. I would like the Acting Leader to give an assurance that this will be dealt with within the next few weeks.

It is proposed that the Harbours Bill will be taken next Wednesday. I am sure Senator Fitzgerald will have a particular interest in this. It is possible that we may not sit next Thursday because of the referendum the following day. Information on this will be given next week. I agree with the Senator's condemnation of the crime level. We have had debates on crime and we should continue to play whatever part we can with regard to this issue. There may well be an opportunity to discuss crime next week during Private Members' Business.

With regard to the point made by Senator Norris about Mother Teresa, I am not sure what we can do about her taking part in the public debate on the divorce referendum. Mother Teresa has the same right to free speech as anybody else and she is entitled to make her views known. This is the nature of public debate and I am not sure we can do anything about her expressing views on the subject.

I know a promise was given with regard to the motion on Trinity College and the National University of Ireland. I cannot answer for the Leader but I understand that it will be debated within the timescale promised, which was three weeks.

Commitments were also given on the Voluntary Health Insurance (Amendment) Bill and the White Paper on mental health and I understand that the Minster for Health will come to the House in the near future.

Order of Business agreed to.