Order of Business.

Ms O'Rourke: The Order of Business is No. 1, motion re the draft Civil Service code of standards and behaviour, copies of which were laid before the House on 29 November 2000 and referred to the Joint Committee on Finance and the Public Service which has completed its discussions, to be taken without debate; No. 2, motion re the Employment Equality Act 1998 (section 12) (Church of Ireland College of Education) Order 2003, referred to the Joint Committee on Education and Science which has completed its discussions, to be taken without debate; and No. 3, statements on Forfás consumer pricing report 2003 to be taken at the conclusion of the Order of Business and to conclude not later than 1 p.m, the contributions of spokespersons not to exceed 15 minutes, those of other Senators ten minutes and on which Members may share time, the Minister for Education and Science to be called on to reply not later than five minutes before the conclusion of the statements; No. 4, statements on the CAP reform proposals, to be taken at 2 p.m. until 4.30 p.m, with the contributions of spokespersons not to exceed 15 minutes, all other Senators ten minutes and on which Members may share time, the Minister for Agriculture and Food to be called on to reply not later than ten minutes before the conclusion of the statements – all the Members have asked for extra time on that matter and the Minister has agreed to continue until 4.30 p.m. rather than 4 p.m.; No. 5, Houses of the Oireachtas Commission Bill 2002, Report and Final Stages, to be taken at 4.30 p.m. and to conclude not later than 6 p.m.; No. 16, motion No. 34, re thepro tem order of the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague regarding Sellafield, to be taken from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. There will be a sos from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

Tragically, we and the public realise that the penalty points system is not working. The slaughter on the roads over the weekend and the significant increase in road deaths for the months of May and June is an appalling indication of the failure of the penalty points system. We have to point the finger fairly and squarely at Ministers, despite their laudable efforts to take action. The Government has failed to provide the manpower and resources necessary to allow the Garda do its work. People have reverted to their old ways of speeding, bringing great tragedy to many families.

It is important that the Leader bring the message to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy Michael McDowell, and the Minister for Transport, Deputy Séamus Brennan, that it is absolutely essential, as we move towards high season of tourism when there will be more motorists on the road, that adequate resources and manpower should be made available. The fact that there are only 125 gardaí dedicated to road traffic duties at any given time is a clear indication that all the spin from the two Ministers regarding their commitment to road safety is just that. Resources and manpower are not put in place to back up the spin with reality. Until such time as resources are available, we will have the continuing tragedy of road deaths.

We were promised an extra 2,000 gardaí during the lifetime of the Government. Where is there any indication that it is taking steps to meet its commitment on this very important issue? There is even a failure to provide technology for the Garda to put in place a proper campaign against road deaths and speeding motorists. I ask the Leader as a matter of urgency to highlight to both Ministers that the time for spin is over and that there must now be action. We all look forward to seeing the number of road deaths substantially reduced, as was the case for the first few months of this year. Now we have reverted, and it is time for action.

Perhaps I should bring to the notice of the Leader the fact that in the BMW region there was an underspend of €644 million in the first three years of the NDP. Surely this is another indication of the total lack of commitment of the Government to the region. The disparity between the economic ratings of the east and west is not narrowing but widening. There is verification in all of the reports. It is unfortunate that an area so deprived in the past is now suffering because, despite the resources having been made available under the NDP, they are not being spent during the plan's lifetime. I call on the Minister concerned to make an effort for the remaining three years in all areas, including infrastructure, agriculture and social inclusion, to close the yawning gap between the economic standing of the east and the west. The money must be spent in allowing the west's infrastructure to catch up.

I call Senator Henry, or is Senator Norris the acting leader?

I beg your pardon.

I thought—

I believe I heard the Cathaoirleach use the term "acting leader". Perhaps I might presume to correct him. We do not have a leader, and most certainly do not have an acting leader. I used it yesterday to my colleague—

I apologise to the Senator. I should have said "spokesman" or "spokesperson".

We share and share alike. We are very democratic and independent. That is what makes us work.

Except for votes. They do not share them.

We are very independent on votes.

They do not share votes.

Yes, we do. I would like to get back to more serious matters, for the issue raised by Senator Ulick Burke is very serious. I would like to join in what I understand to be his call for a major debate on transport and traffic. However, it is unrealistic to expect this before the autumn. We should plan now to have a major debate in this House then.

The problem is not simply a failure of Government, for that is too easy. There is a responsibility on the part of drivers. The reason people are being killed is that there is too much careless driving. We can assist. It has been said in this House that we must have consistency in speed limits. People will regard them with contempt if, as happens on one of the main motorways into Dublin city, one drops within a matter of seconds from a limit of 70 kph to 50 kph on precisely the same road. We must have a little coherence. I know there are difficulties and that it might need legislation. Perhaps we should examine having an overall regulatory authority to avoid having to deal with a whole scatter of county councils. One needs consistency and coherence if one is to get people to respect such matters.

We must also examine the situation in Dublin. The infrastructure is being used as a method of attacking citizens. We closed O'Connell Street to all traffic except pubic transport. Now we have one lane in Gardiner Street into Dublin city from the north side, which is absolutely idiotic. Can we have the Minister attend in the autumn to explain the facts about the metro and the Luas, including the incompatibility of the lines and gauges and the fact that they now appear to be demolishing the ramp at Amiens Street Station at a cost estimated as being between €30 million and €60 million? For what? It is all absolute nonsense.

Perhaps I might raise a second very serious matter that should be examined calmly in this House. I know that we have discussed the health service but we were all moved by the death of a small girl with a heart condition. I compliment the surgeon who spoke this morning, who was extremely fair and balanced. He said the death had not been anticipated. Unfortunately, such things happen as mortality is part of the human condition. I send my sympathy to the parents of that small girl.

That very tragic situation affords the opportunity for a calm and balanced review rather than partisan point-scoring. I know that matters need to be examined such as the capping of nurse numbers. Perhaps we might look at staffing, which the surgeon said was a problem. They had enough beds and the other facilities but they did not have the nurses. He spoke of the wonderful work of the Filipino nurses but I know from them that some are leaving, not just for financial reasons but because they are not permitted under the law to have their spouses with them and able to work. That simple legislative change might help transform matters.

It is unrealistic when people say, as I heard someone say today, that we should demolish the hospital and build a perfectly new one because it is 50 years old. A hospital built in 1850 would not have been demolished in 1900 simply because it was old. We must look at such issues in a very careful and balanced way. For that reason we should have a debate on the issue.

Perhaps I might ask one technical question. An amendment has been tabled this evening but it does not seem to clash at all with the Government motion. Could we not have a little co-operation between the two main parties and have a composite motion which would strengthen the Government's hand with regard to Sellafield?

We will have that.

When I escaped into true democracy and joined the Labour Party, I realised the checks and balances of democracy. The great thing about being an Independent was that there were no checks and balances.

The Senator was told yesterday by Deputy Pat Rabbitte why he was a left-wing conspirator.

Perhaps Senator Ryan might limit himself to the Order of Business.

First, I would like to ask the Leader about the first two matters. While I have no great objection to them, I do not know enough about them, which is the point I wish to make. Motions are introduced, referred to a committee and brought back having been discussed by it. However, there is no mechanism of which I am aware whereby I or any other Member of this House can find out what the committee thought, said or did about them. I have no problem with the committees but surely the Houses of the Oireachtas ought to know what is happening about all these matters. I ask the Leader to indicate a method.

The Government may celebrate this but many on this side of the House will not: we have reached an historic moment, for the average price of a new house is now €250,000. If ever there was a measure of Government failure, it is the decision, either deliberate or taken through ineptitude, to price a huge number of working families out of the housing market, or else impose on them a heavy burden of debt. It is worth mentioning today that we have now reached an historic moment regarding the average price of a new house.

As nobody else seems to have raised it, I ask the Leader, a formidable person in her own right, to find out what exactly went on between Mr. Justice Feargus Flood and the Government. For example, is the correspondence that was published yesterday all the correspondence? The Government has filleted the Freedom of Information Act so we will only know what it chooses to give us. That is a fact. Is that all the correspondence?


Order, please, Senator Ryan without interruption.

I love being interrupted.

I ask the Senator not to react to interruptions.

I will do my best not to react.

The Senator, without reaction.

I will do my best not to react. When did the Taoiseach know about it? If he knew as far back as it now appears, why did he not tell anybody? Why did he not tell his colleagues in Government, the Progressive Democrats and, more particularly, why did he not tell the Dáil? These are serious questions about a most important issue and there is a classical fudge from the Taoiseach about what happened.

This House was an equal party with the other House in setting up that tribunal. Let us remember it was set up following a vote of both Houses of the Oireachtas. We are as entitled as the other House to know what is going on and I ask the Leader to find out.

The International Criminal Court came into operation on 1 July. So far the United States has prevailed upon 44 countries publicly to say they will not prosecute US citizens before the ICC. These were the figures given this morning by the media. Seven countries have secretly agreed. Can I have an assurance that Ireland is not one of the seven secret countries that have agreed that under no circumstance will it refer US citizens to the International Criminal Court? I am sure we are not, but after recent events in Iraq one is never certain of anything.

I compliment the six brave European countries which came under enormous pressure to sign up to the refusal to implement international law and who are all NATO applicants. Perhaps old Europe and new Europe are reaching an identical view on the world and it is a good thing.

I ask the Leader to highlight the issue of organised crime. I recognise there will not be time between now and Friday for a debate on the matter but perhaps she will contact the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform. There has been much debate here in recent months on crime and public order offences. To some extent organised crime has gone off the agenda but it has not gone away. This was highlighted over the weekend when we discovered that a journalist from the Sunday World has been intimidated by organised criminals. He and his family are under Garda protection as a result of a threat to their life. This is outrageous.

This House and the other House acted swiftly in the wake of the murder of Veronica Guerin by similar people by enacting legislation to ensure these people were put out of business. Unfortunately, a void seems to have developed, allowing a similar group or groups to operate with impunity and to contemplate perpetrating a similarly heinous crime. It is incumbent on all of us to ensure something like that can never happen again, to ensure the freedom of the press is maintained and that this type of intimidation is ended.

Hear, hear. Well said.

Transport appears to be the theme today, having been raised by Senators Ulick Burke and Norris. Senator Norris rightly referred to the slow progress of the Luas project and the wholesale disruption caused by it and raised questions on the metro. The contract for the operation of Luas has been awarded to a firm known as Connex. Commuters will have been dismayed to learn over the weekend that Connex, which has also been running part of the British rail system, has had its contract axed by the Strategic Rail Authority. How the Minister for Transport can continue to exude confidence in a company which has had its contract axed in Britain is beyond me.

This House should exhort the Minister to examine, as a matter of urgency, the contract between a company which has been axed in Britain and which is to run our still embryonic Luas project. The Minister would be well advised to meet with the Strategic Rail Authority in Britain to find out exactly what happened and what is the problem in relation to the manner in which they have obviously made a mess of the British system.

I join others in asking the Leader for a debate on transport and the penalty points system in the new session. I reject the claims by Senator Ulick Burke that it is a failure of Government on the basis that the penalty points system to date has shown that the number of fatalities on our roads is down by 50 in the year to date.

While I regret very much the terrible carnage on our roads at the weekend, there is a case to be made for the Garda to refocus its efforts given that the cameras and speed traps are predominately on the widest stretches of road, on dual carriageways and bypasses. If the focus was more on rural Ireland and the smaller roads where accidents take place there would be a genuine chance to reduce the number of accidents.

I condemn the Irish Insurance Federation who consistently move the goalposts. The penalty points system has shown that the number of deaths has been reduced and that this has saved these companies millions of euro, yet we read in today's newspaper that they are moving the goalposts and are looking for sustained enforcement. This is not acceptable. I condemn them as a whole but commend Hibernian which has committed to do it. For the most part, insurance companies will not reduce insurance premiums. This is a disgrace.

May I make one comment on the Crumlin Hospital case? During the debate on health I said how bad morale was among the staff of the health service at present. This tragic case will have a devastating effect on the nurses in particular who are in close contact with patients and we will lose even more of them.

I support the call for a debate on the Department of Transport. When the former Senator Máirín Quill was in the House she commented frequently on the reports and surveys which came before the House and wondered what value they were.

Yesterday afternoon I was contacted by a young lady from England who was doing a survey for the Department of Transport here. I asked why an Irish company was not doing the survey and she said that because there was so much business it had to be farmed out to England. The young lady asked me questions such as: Did I agree slightly, disagree slightly, agree strongly, disagree strongly that I got promptness of reply, competence of handling of complaints, focused organisation? Am I treated as an important person? Am I happy with the quality of service received? Did I have trouble contacting staff by e-mail? It went on and on.

The Senator need not go into detail.

We are looking for black holes in the health service where money is being wasted, but what sort of waste of money is this exercise? I said I thought the whole exercise was pointless. She asked how many people I employ: two half people. I asked where she got my name and she replied from the Department of Transport. What is the Department of Transport doing carrying out surveys like this? What is the cost of this survey? When we have the debate on the Department of Transport, could we kindly ask why it is carrying out fruitless exercises such as this one? I have not contacted the Department of Transport for years but I have contacted the National Roads Authority. What are we doing in carrying out such surveys? I wish the former Senator Máirín Quill was back here so that she could comment on it.

We could arrange that.

I support the suggestion from Senator Ryan. When orders are placed before the House it would be helpful if they were available for consultation outside with perhaps a short summary note on what they are about. The Joint Committee on Finance and the Public Service discussed the Civil Service code of conduct but it would be fair to inform the House about these matters in case anybody wishes to raise a point.

In regard to what Senator Ryan said, it is not necessarily the duty of Government to bring all problems in their raw state immediately to the Oireachtas. The job of Government is to bring solutions to the Oireachtas for discussion.

I also support the calls of Senators Ulick Burke and Norris for a discussion on transport in the autumn. It is far too early to jump to conclusions and write off the penalty points system.

The issue of Connex was raised. There is a big difference between running a new transport system and a vast, dilapidated, suburban one in south-east England. One must look critically at the assumption made that a private system is always more efficient than a public one. I have no ideological presupposition in regard to either.

On the issue of Connolly Station, as a passenger, I would not appreciate being dumped 150 yards from the station entrance, particularly with luggage. It is necessary that the tramway should run to the door.

We are not having a debate now.

In the light of recent announcements regarding job losses and the alarming rate at which we learn of companies and organisations going to the wall, I ask the Leader to bring the Tánaiste into the House to explain the situation. In recent days 50 jobs were lost in Macroom, County Cork when a well established bakery unfortunately ceased operations. We want the Tánaiste to tell us the reason the jobs announced for Macroom prior to the general election to replace the 300 plus lost in the General Semi-Conductor plant, and the 113 jobs promised for Dunmanway, have not materialised. If the jobs came to the country, where did they go? How does the Tánaiste intend to deal with the current disgraceful situation where we are haemorrhaging jobs at an alarming rate?

Will the Leader arrange for the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Deputy Harney, to come to the Seanad before the end of the session? The strength of the euro and the weakening dollar and sterling are creating a crisis for indigenous industry. We saw the effect it had on Navan Carpets. I predict the situation will worsen for indigenous companies exporting to the United Kingdom.

As the Taoiseach is meeting Prime Minister Blair today, I would appreciate it if the Leader could arrange for him to come to the House to discuss those talks before the end of the session. I wish to inform Members that the Joint Committee on Transport, which will be attended by members of the RPA, is meeting at 7 p.m. this evening. It would be a good idea if Members attended and heard directly the correct position of the RPA.

That would be a change.

Senator Norris would want to be careful of what he says.

What will the Senator do?

Senator White, without interruption.

Wait and see. They should hear the correct position regarding Connex, not just the gossip and the frenzy.

I agree with previous speakers regarding the penalty points system. Not long ago the sycophantic nature of the Government benches was apparent in their praise of the success of the system. Now things are not going well and they are walking away.

Senators should not waste time. There is a time limit.

I ask the Leader to arrange a debate on transport in the autumn. The issue of right of redress is a concern, especially in the case of fixed speed cameras. People should have the right to question fines or penalty points imposed. Yesterday representatives of the Irish Insurance Federation attended a joint committee. They blamed the Government for the delay in making reductions in insurance premiums because the legislation due had not been processed. Will the Leader ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when the legislation will come before the Houses and when will we see a reduction in the crippling insurance costs affecting people around the country?

As we have a light schedule tomorrow, I ask the Leader to arrange a debate on housing. The changes in the planning Act have done away with the figure of 20% for social housing and are having a huge effect in urban areas, particularly Dublin.

The Senator has made his point. I will not be able to accommodate all Senators if others are not brief.

In terms of the availability of land in Dublin, the monetary compensation being paid to local authorities would not buy a stamp. Luas has grossly inflated house prices in Dublin also. It is time we had a debate on housing.

The Minister for Transport, Deputy Séamus Brennan, was in Galway on Monday and announced a rural transport initiative for south-east Galway, the first in the county. He also announced two quality bus corridors in Galway city, which I welcome. I have raised the issue of the railway strategy report previously. If the part of the report dealing with Galway city could be brought forward, particularly as it relates to commuter traffic from the north, south and east of the country, it would be of benefit and deal with the problem of congestion in the city. I am not prepared to wait for 20 years, as suggested by the rail review, for this to be done. We must work on it now, starting with commuter traffic. I hope we will have a debate on the issue soon.

Yesterday I raised the subject of selling tobacco to under age persons. As soon as I returned to my office, I discovered an e-mail from the company to which I had referred which stated that in regard to the price of cigarettes, there was clearly no control on under age selling. The company claims to be selling tobacco into Ireland legally at a lower price. I do not know how to handle this. However, we must draw to the Minister's attention that it is something about which we must do something right away. We do not need a debate but must see what we can do. It is outrageous that we can pass laws to protect health, particularly the health of young people, and that it is possible to override them from outside the State.

I agree with all that has been said about the horrific deaths on our roads. The problem is not likely to be solved by a debate but there are things the Government can do immediately, one of which was raised recently in this House. Penalty points, north and south of the Border, should be amalgamated. The road between Belfast and Dublin is one of the most horrific for deaths but penalty points in the North only apply there and those in the South only apply here. I read in the newspapers that the Minister may be able to do something about this and that talks were taking place in order that penalty points would apply in all of Ireland.

There are in excess of 250,000 provisional licence holders on our roads. This is a problem about which we can do something immediately. It takes six months to get a test appointment in certain parts of the country. We can do something about this by banning provisional licence holders who have not passed a test from our roads. These are steps a Government could take without debate.

I agree with Senator Quinn. We could end gridlock immediately if we banned the 250,000 provisional licence holders.

Since yesterday the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Cowen, represents the European Union under a system whereby the relevant Ministers of the former Presidency, the current Presidency and the future Presidency represent the European Union. I wish the Minister well in that regard because it enhances and improves Ireland's international image. Will the Leader consider having a debate in the autumn, midway through the Troika of Foreign Ministers? I wish the Minister well in that regard because it enhances Ireland's international image. I am sure the House will join me in commending the initiative taken by the Minister for Foreign Affairs on the Middle East in the last week. He has made a major contribution to reducing tension in the area by bringing to bear his enormous experience of conflict resolution.

Does the Leader know when the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government plans to amend the legislation in regard to the €20 fee for planning objections, which was introduced last year and found to be illegal by the European Commission? Will she further ensure that the money paid by people to local authorities is reimbursed?

I support Senator Ulick Burke in regard to his call for action on road safety. We are all aware of recent appalling incidents on our roads and it is important that action is taken.

Despite commitments to the contrary, the BMW region has seen huge reductions in funding for the RAPID and CLÁR schemes.

The Senator has registered his support. I call Senator Jim Walsh. I remind the Senator that we have exceeded the allocated time and I have another Senator to accommodate.

The Cathaoirleach cannot blame me for exceeding the time.

The transport issue seems to be the order of the day and I join other Senators in their requests for a debate on the matter. It would be wrong of us to send the message that we are decrying the introduction of penalty points since it has been an effective and worthwhile initiative and is acknowledged as such by everyone. There may well be an enforcement issue, which comes down to two aspects.

It would be more effective with resources.

One is resources and the other is quality of management. Will the Leader arrange an early debate on transport? The Department of Transport has been doing a good job since its establishment 12 months ago under the leadership of the Minister, Deputy Brennan. I particularly commend his efforts to inject competition into a wide area of the public service. This House should, in a united fashion, strongly condemn efforts by a certain section within the public service to commandeer the assets of a company in order to provide free services. If that situation happened in the private sector, the company would close and the people involved would be sacked. It is unacceptable. Partnership has stood us in good stead over the last 16 years. However, if this is the price of partnership, we must seriously review if it is worthwhile.

I heard the interview given by Mr. Freddie Woods, the cardiologist at Crumlin Children's Hospital, on the radio this morning. I agree with other Senators that he was extremely fair in what he said. I welcome the inquiry by the Minister for Health and Children into this serious and important matter. It is worth pointing out that, over the last number of weeks in Crumlin hospital, 25 beds have closed, chemotherapy has been regularly deferred for small children with cancer and the conditions of the buildings are so inadequate that senior staff are moving to a prefab in order to allow their space to be developed for essential services within the hospital. It is critical that we examine this as a matter of public policy because ICU nurses are simply not available in Crumlin and Mr. Woods said that such an incident could happen again. It is not good enough and cannot continue.

The acting leader of the Opposition today, Senator Ulick Burke, referred to what he called the failure of the Government to provide resources which has led to an increase in road deaths. The biggest challenge in this regard is for individuals – those who get behind the wheel of a car and pedestrians – to take responsibility for their own conduct on the roads. There is no doubt that people have become careless. It used to be the case that when one drove within the speed limit, no one attempted to overtake because everyone was travelling at that speed. However, people are now overtaking again with great gusto. Carelessness has set in.

The Senator also referred to what he referred to as the €640 million underspend in the BMW region. The money is not put in a box labelled "NDP" and taken out when it is needed, rather it is part of the budgetary arrangements, which is reflected in the situation to which the Senator referred.

Senator Norris spoke about dual-carriageway confusion. I acknowledge that such a condition exists. I do not know how one is supposed to reduce speed from 70 mph to 50 mph from the point at which one sees the sign looming and then increase to 70 mph again. It seems disruptive and I am sure it leads to confusion in people's minds.

The Senator also expressed sympathy to the parents of the young child who died and referred to the manner in which the specialist dealt with the matter in his interview on "Morning Ireland" this morning. I agree that he displayed great sympathy and consideration. I hope we will be able to merge our motions for tonight's debate, as the Senator suggested. That possibility has been in my mind and I hope to speak to the leaders of the parties. However, the Senator is not a leader. He is a representative.

I am now the Whip. I came into my glory on 1 July.

Does the Senator have that in writing?

I will speak to the Senator too, whatever title he has.

Senator Ryan referred to the manner in which we take motions in the House. I do not like reading out every day that motions are to be taken without debate. However, the motions are from two joint committees and I assume some Senators attend and are members of such committees.

Senator Ryan and Senator Mansergh had a fair point when they requested written conclusions from such committees which could be left on the table in the Seanad ante-room. Therefore, it is peremptory of me to say that there will be no debate. I will follow up on the matter and request written conclusions from the committees.

Senator Ryan also asked if I knew what went on between Mr. Justice Feargus Flood and the Taoiseach. The Government Chief Whip made a clear statement on "Morning Ireland" in this regard this morning. It appears that the judge did not want the situation to be made public until a particular point. However, I know no more than the Senator about this issue. All such matters become heightened by debate when there are often ordinary explanations for them. There will be a debate in regard to the new chairman of the Flood tribunal in the House on Friday, when I am sure we will get explanations. The Senator also asked about the seven countries which did not want to sign up to the International Criminal Court.

Senator Dooley made a clear point in regard to organised crime not having gone away. There are so many people looking for debates in the autumn that I am thinking we might sit for an extra week in order to encompass them all.


Hear, hear.

That was not a very enthusiastic "hear, hear".

Hear, hear.

Senator Norris has now resigned as Whip.

Senator Higgins and Senator White requested that Connex and the Strategic Rail Authority in the UK speak to the Minister for Transport about what happened in regard to the former's contract. There is a debate at 7 p.m. tonight, which all Members of the Oireachtas may attend. I received notification of the meeting from Senator Dooley, who is a member of that committee. All Senators may attend the meeting and hear the questions teased out and it would be good for them to do so.

Senator MacSharry referred to the penalty points system. As he said, the Irish Insurance Federation has been very quick to state it will not give reductions in insurance premiums, even though there is clear evidence that there has been a reduction in the number of road traffic accident fatalities. The federation appears to be reluctant to offer reductions in insurance premiums.

Senator Henry raised the issues of morale in the health service and also this daft survey in which she has been invited to participate. We often receive telephone calls asking us to participate in surveys. I usually respond by saying I am too busy. The surveys ask such questions as how many people one employs.

Senator Mansergh echoed what Senator Ryan said and agreed with the need for a debate on transport, Connex and Connolly Station. I hope we will have a major debate on this topic when we return after the summer.

Senator McCarthy raised the job losses in Macroom and Dunmanway, both of which are areas that have suffered. Senator White requested that, before the end of the session, the Tánaiste attend a debate on the state of indigenous industry. I understand the Tánaiste is not well and will not be able to attend. The Senator also asked if the Taoiseach could attend a debate in the House on his meeting with the British Prime Minister, Mr. Blair. I am still pursuing this.

Senator Browne requested a debate on transport in general and the two pieces of legislation due in this area. He also requested a debate on housing. He suggested Thursday when business would be slack. It is not, because I hope to keep it free for the Taoiseach to attend a debate, if I manage to arrange it. It is a remote possibility at this stage. Senator Kitt said Galway had received good news about transport but he wants more.

Senator Quinn raised the issue of an e-mail he received yesterday. I also received it and asked my colleagues if they had but they appear not to have. The e-mail offers delivery of under-priced cigarettes to one's home. I do not know if that is proper or correct. The Senator also raised the issue of deaths on the roads and the fact that 250,000 people are driving on provisional licences. That is indicative but they could not be removed immediately from the roads because it must be asked how they would go about their business otherwise. A huge backlog of people await assessment of their ability to drive.

Senator Mooney raised the issue of the Troika of Foreign Ministers and said I would know of this from my experience as a Minister. The Senator praised the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Cowen, for his actions in the Middle East last week. We took the opportunity in the Seanad to pass a vote of congratulations to him. I thank the Senator for raising the issue.

Senator Bannon wants those who paid the €20 fee for planning objections judged by the European Union to be incorrect to be reimbursed. Senator Jim Walsh requested a transport debate which I hope we can have. He also referred to State employees commandeering assets and that, if this was the result of partnership, he did not want it. I must speak to the Senator about this because I do not know to whom he referred.

Senator O'Meara referred to conditions in Crumlin Children's Hospital. I note that a specialist said that, when the new operating theatres were in place, they would make a huge change to how procedures were carried out, but that there were still problems with cancer facilities and in other areas. The Government is working on a plan for the hospital. The sooner it happens, the better.

Order of Business agreed to.