Order of Business.

The Order of Business is No. 1, Criminal Law (Insanity) Bill 2002 — Report Stage, to be taken on the conclusion of the Order of Business until 6 p.m.

Senators are not supposed to congratulate a certain organisation but I congratulate Senator Ross for receiving a signal honour from Magill magazine. When I telephoned to congratulate him he was not available.

He was out celebrating.

I, too, congratulate Senator Ross on receiving an award. As the father of the House, he is leading by example.

He is not the father of the House.

I apologise, I understood he had accumulated longer service than all other Senators together. Will the Leader arrange for a resumed debate on No. 14, statements on the provision of national sporting facilities? It would be proper for the House to reflect on the important decision taken by the GAA over the weekend.

The House may not discuss the issue.

Senators may refer to matters on the Order Paper.

The lid has been lifted.

The House is almost as secretive as the papal conclave. Does the Leader agree that the decision taken by the GAA over the weekend was not only historic——

While Senators may refer to the Order Paper, they may not debate the matter.

I do not seek a debate but there is a context to this issue. The important decision taken over the weekend allows the House to debate No. 14 in a more complete way. In west Dublin, my part of the city and a place not recognised by northsiders and southsiders alike, the GAA is the only organisation to have delivered quality youth facilities and services from the ground up, parish by parish. Senators, whether from rural or urban areas, should recognise the importance of the recent decision. I ask the Leader to make time available for a debate, particularly given the rather sulky remarks made by the Taoiseach in the past 24 hours, in which he appears to have poured cold water on Lansdowne Road as a potential venue. They were unsporting.

The Senator should not refer to comments made by the Taoiseach in such terms.

I ask for the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism to come before the House to inform Senators on developments on this issue.

Last week, I raised with the Leader the issue of cash in transit vans and the initiative taken by the Minister for Defence. A report in one of today's newspaper indicates that up to 40% of the security cost of transporting large sums of money is borne by the State through the Department of Defence. I note the Minister for Defence wishes to make progress in this area and wants the banks to pay their fair share. Will he come to the House to outline what agreement, if any, he has struck with the banking industry on the issue? The banks have made profits of €3 billion in the past 12 months, yet the State must pay almost 60% of security costs arising from the movement of money. This is ridiculous in this day and age and I ask for a Government response.

On behalf of my colleagues, I welcome the fact that the Leader of the House is to stand in the Westmeath constituency at the next general election.

This is not appropriate to the Order of Business.

Let me put it this way. I seek a debate on accident and emergency wards because it will be needed in County Westmeath by the time the election is over.

That is completely irrelevant and out of order.

The Senator should look after himself.

Despite the convention, it would be churlish of us on this side of the House not to recognise the decision of the Leader of the House to set about regaining her Dáil seat and we wish her well.

I thank the Senator.

The Cathaoirleach will be aware that today we are in the presence of greatness on these benches.

I am aware of it.

We have had this greatness thrust on us, but we have always been aware of it. We wish to put on the record of the House our congratulations to Senator Ross on achieving the distinct and signal honour of being chosen as Senator of the year. We are not surprised, although of course we are all disappointed ourselves.

We did not try hard enough.

We wish him well as someone who has declared war on many establishment groups including——

Including ICTU.

And toll roads.

Including ICTU, IBEC, the banks and, in recent times, National Toll Roads. On that point, we have noted his move to the left in seeking to have the last remaining private road in the country nationalised ——

I do not think——

We see that he is inclusive of all different groups. We congratulate him.

Hear, hear.

We know that he will serve with dignity and distinction as both father of the House and as Senator of the year. The man is running out of titles.

Lord Ross.

Approximately two months ago, I raised the report on the western rail corridor with the Leader and she gave an undertaking that we would have a debate in the House on it. Despite the urgings of Senator Ross and others for the State to spend €400 million on buying out a few hundred metres of roadway on the M50, we should look at investing properly in the western rail corridor. I ask that the report be published as soon as possible and that the Government gives a commitment to investing in it sufficiently to make it worthwhile. The publication and launch of the report should also take place in Ennis or some other place along the western rail corridor area. We should give some attention to this issue and move it forward.

The issue raised by Senator Brian Hayes about the cost of cash transference is a significant problem. It is exacerbated by the amount of cash business that is still conducted. A number of other countries, particularly New Zealand, which is the same size as Ireland, have enormous money transfers at point of sale. Even children get their pocket money into an account which can be used to buy a bottle of Coke or something larger, with no additional cost. It means that bulk movements of money from one part of the country to the other do not take place.

This matter is not only concerned with security, although I agree with the points raised by Senator Brian Hayes in that regard. It is also concerned with the way we organise money. We should look carefully at the idea of greater usage of cards which do not create further millionaires in the banking community, but which are simply mechanisms for point of sale transference of price and payment.

On behalf of my Labour Party colleagues, I add to the congratulations to Senator Ross. The award is well-deserved.

New research to be published today by the Minister of State at the Department of Education and Science, Deputy Brian Lenihan, concerns a local study that was carried out by the Tallaght west childhood development initiative. The research has relevance and broader application to communities throughout Ireland. Basically, it involved a study of the concerns of 140 fifth class children and what they thought should be done to address them. The big issue for them was anti-social behaviour. The research has shown that children even at that young age are concerned and disturbed by anti-social behaviour. The research demonstrates the wisdom that can come from the mouths of children and the importance of making them central to policy making and consulting with them about issues such as anti-social behaviour. The measures these children feel are necessary to address anti-social behaviour are common sense approaches and do not involve anything like anti-social behaviour orders. Rather, they involve investing in communities, providing facilities, including play facilities, making neighbourhoods safe and providing resources to schools. It would be very interesting if the Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, Deputy Brian Lenihan, could discuss this research in the House in the future.

I would like to address the transport of large amounts of money around the State and the onus this places on the Garda and the Army. We all agree the bulk of the cost should be borne by financial institutions themselves. It would be desirable for Ireland to move towards becoming a cash-free society but we must accept that cash is at the heart of retail. As Senator Mansergh said to me a moment ago, people get very impatient when they are forced to queue at checkouts when cards are being taken. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform indicated in the Dáil on 12 April 2005 that he had secured the agreement of the banks to increase their contribution towards the cost of transporting money to €3 million per annum, following consultations with the Department. This represents a very significant and welcome increase as the banks had paid €952,000 in previous years. The Minister has also indicated to the security industry that it has 120 days in which to reach a voluntary code of practice otherwise a legislative framework will be introduced. It is worth noting these developments since the very serious robbery which took place some weeks ago.

Many of us over the weekend were touched by the very poignant circumstances in which a three year old child with an Irish passport wound up in an Indonesian orphanage. I would like the Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, Deputy Brian Lenihan, to examine this case and, if possible, to at least send a social worker to Indonesia to find out what is happening. We should remember that many children have been adopted in Ireland and the abandonment of this child in a country whose language he does not speak casts a certain cloud over the area of adoption. Nobody could be anything other than touched by the photographs of this child in the newspapers. We should demonstrate our compassion as a nation by investigating and attempting to resolve his situation. There must be loving parents out there who would welcome the opportunity to adopt this child. I am aware it is a delicate situation but I hope it can be investigated and resolved.

I congratulate the Garda on arresting three suspects for one of these security van heists. The reason the State paid for some of the cost of transporting money around the country was because there was a definite public interest in preventing what at one time was an absolute spate of robberies during the Troubles. Times have changed, the Troubles are over and bank profits have rocketed. As Senator Dardis mentioned, I would not be quite so enthusiastic about the ubiquitous use of credit cards. If one is waiting in a queue behind people using cards, the queue takes twice as long to clear. Cards clearly have a value for larger transactions. Senator Dardis mentioned discussions involving the Private Security Authority. We welcome this as the first decentralised office is in Tipperary town.

I join in congratulating my colleague, Senator Ross. I was unsure about going to the dinner this evening but I now think I must go to enjoy his success.

I support the comments of colleagues on the issue of Tristan Dowse. This is a regrettable situation as it is terrible to think an Irish citizen child should be tied up in legal red tape. There are anomalies the House should address. Will the Leader ask the Minister to examine these anomalies? For example, the Adoption Board does not analyse the actual material of the foreign adoption but the equivalent and does not examine the circumstances or the legal details.

Another anomalous situation is that foreign and inter-country adoptions can be neutralised or reneged upon whereas Irish adoptions cannot. Ireland signed the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-Country Adoption in 1993 but the Government has failed to ratify it, leading to some of these anomalies. We are entitled to know when this important international instrument will be ratified. It places at the centre of the issue the best interests of the child and not the human feelings of infertile parents with a desire for children, which should be paramount in all matters of adoption.

I congratulate the Garda on today's seizure of a quantity of drugs, cash and guns in the north of Dublin city. It is one of a number of recent seizures but its significance is that it highlights the link with organised crime and the blurring of the line between so-called paramilitarism and drug dealing, or death dealing as it is called around town. Will the Leader organise a debate on the matter, particularly on the links between drugs and organised crime?

I will not mention any sporting bodies but will acknowledge the input of my neighbour, Mr. Seán Kelly, in an historic decision.

I would prefer if the Senator did not mention any sporting bodies——

I did not do so.

——or individuals.

I am naming no one. As we are all in a certain frame of mind, I congratulate our colleague Senator Ross. He has been a challenging Senator and unafraid to take on any issue.

Challenged or challenging?

Both. He was challenged but challenged in return. We must admire him for this. He did not draw back and was not afraid to say——

Through the Chair.

I wish the Leader well in her quest.

Hear, hear.

Will the Senator please abridge his comments to those on the Order of Business?

A collective one.

That is quite a cauldron and I wish her well. There has been news in regard to the Great Southern Hotels group.

There has.

The Minister for Transport, Deputy Cullen, went on the record in County Kerry but will the Leader arrange for him to go on the record in this House? As reported on the front page of The Kingdom of 19 April 2005, he stated the hotels are not for sale and that this is not on the Government’s agenda.

Was that last week?

When will the Government get off the fence? Is this statement definitive? Only the Minister is backing this approach. I would appreciate it if the Leader could arrange for such a debate.

The Leader and I had an understanding recently——

The Senator should tell us more.

——on opinion polls. We share a certain view——

Of the Lakes of Killarney.

——as the Leader explained that the Longford Leader carried her view. A proper count is important. I am seeking that the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government ensures there is a proper count of the native red deer herd in Killarney in south County Kerry. There is continuing talk of a cull but the last thing we in that part of the country wish to see is an indiscriminate, wild west-type slaughter of red deer. I call for a proper count and the Leader might arrange it for us.

It must be true, so.

The Senator is welcome to visit Dinis where there are many red deer. I know people have written to the Minister and it has been acknowledged. I call on the Minister to come to the House to discuss the issue. Perhaps I should table an Adjournment matter.

Yes, that would be in order.

A report on prisons was published recently by the Inspector of Prisons. I ask the Leader if we could debate it as soon as possible.

As a lifelong member of the GAA, I welcome the progressive decision taken by congress last week. It is important for the future of sport in this country.

The Senator will have an opportunity to debate that under No. 14 on the Order Paper.

Will the Leader invite the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to the House to debate the Government's lack of funding for waste water treatment facilities throughout the country? The European Commission is taking Ireland to the European Court of Justice on this issue. It is a significant embarrassment for the Government.

The Leader, who will contest the next general election in the Longford-Westmeath constituency, knows that sewerage schemes in the constituency have been waiting for approval for the past four years. It proves this Government has promised much but delivered little. The health and safety of the people are at risk due to the Government's handling of sewage treatment plants. There are serious problems in many towns and villages. We must have proper standards to protect people's health. I hope this will be achieved. The latest move by the European Commission is a clear indication to the Government that it is not doing its job in this area. My colleagues have congratulated the Leader on her announcement this week but if I am nominated by my party, I am prepared to meet her head on on those issues.

I wish to raise an issue which is not an election one as yet.

It was raised by Comhlámh last week when it had what it called a "lotto lunch" at which some Members of the Oireachtas got very good meals while most others got slim pickings. Comhlámh requested a debate in both Houses on the question of food aid and trade. Now that discussions have taken place at international level, I hope the Minister for Foreign Affairs or the Minister of State will come to the House to discuss the issue of food aid and trade talks.

I welcome the fact the banks will pay the full cost of providing Army escorts for cash in transit. We should not clap ourselves on the back. This situation has been going on for ten years since the Good Friday Agreement. If an ordinary citizen does not pay his or her tax, Revenue has a claw back. Therefore, this Government should rightfully seek a claw back of up to €4 million for each of the past ten years. Somebody in the Department of Defence or the Department of Finance has made a significant mistake by not ensuring the banks pay their dues.

I call on the Minister for Transport to come to the House to debate infrastructure and transport. We eagerly await a debate on the western rail corridor. There has been an increase in the price of diesel and many hauliers have informed me this is the latest blow to their industry and they may go out of business. It highlights the rising costs in that industry. We must ensure hauliers are protected.

I agree with Senator Bannon on the pollution problems. In Carlow town there is a problem due to cryptosporidium in the water supply, which is directly related to the point made by Senator Bannon. That is a real problem facing people who must boil water. The Government should take this issue on board given that people have been hospitalised because of it.

Will the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform come to the House to explain his policy on the proposed alcohol cafés? Such alcohol cafés may make sense in an urban area but they would have devastating consequences in a rural setting. Rural publicans in small villages are feeling the pinch because of the smoking ban and other issues and this would be the death knell. We must have some system of fairness. The Minister should explain whether such licences will be allocated in terms of population density and only in urban areas.

I support Senator Henry's call for a debate on Mr. Justice Dermot Kinlen's recent report on St. Patrick's Institution as soon as possible.

I ask that the Minister for Transport be invited to the House to discuss the question of delays in driving tests. In my constituency in Dungarvan town the waiting time for driving tests is 61 weeks. It is estimated these delays cost young drivers in excess of €50 million in extra premiums. Given that it is an ongoing problem that has not been addressed to date, what does the Minister intend to do to rectify it?

Senator Brian Hayes raised No. 14 — statements on the provision of national sporting facilities. The debate on that matter was adjourned. The Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Deputy O'Donoghue, is away this week but will be back next week when we can seek to have the debate. He raised also the topic he raised last week, that of cash transfers and associated costs.

Senator O'Toole congratulated Senator Ross. I telephoned Senator Ross to congratulate him but he was not available. The Senator asked for a report on the western rail corridor but that report has not yet been published. I know the Senator asked for a debate on it two months ago but we cannot debate it when it has not been published.

The Government said it would be ready in April.

Yes, but it has not been published yet. The Senator said the launch should take place in a suitable geographic area which would have the proper connections. He said also the debate on security has opened up the whole question of how we organise our money. Senator Tuffy asked about the research on arrested childhood development and anti-social behaviour and said it involved asking children what should be done.

Senator Dardis said the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform asked the banks to contribute more for the transport of large amounts of money and €4 million was the amount set. He gave the security industry 120 days in which to reach a voluntary code of practice, otherwise he would have to do so by law.

Senator Finucane asked if the Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children would look into the case of the three year old child who has ended up in an Indonesian orphanage. As I understand it, this is happening and perhaps the matter would be a suitable topic for an Adjournment debate. It is the most extraordinary case I have come across for a long time and it is right that the Deputy should raise it. The child did not bond and the reaction to that appears to have been quite heartless.

Senator Mansergh congratulated the Garda on arresting some of the suspects involved in security van robberies. He said also that the Private Security Authority had its office in Tipperary. Senator Norris raised the issue of the abandoned child and asked why the Government has not ratified the Hague Convention 1993. We have signed it but not ratified it. Senator Brady raised the issue of the haul of drugs, cash and guns confiscated by the Garda in the north side of the city and asked for a debate on drugs linked to organised crime. We will have such a debate. Senator Coghlan congratulated Senator Ross. I note that all Senator Ross's colleagues are present.

I will vote for them all in the next election.

I hope the Senator voted for himself.

Senator Coghlan referred to a statement by the Minister, Deputy Cullen. I stated in the House last week that the Taoiseach was very keen on the Great Southern Hotels and wished to keep the group intact and under State ownership. The Minister was obviously echoing that sentiment when he stated the hotels are not for sale. The Senator also asked that the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government come to the House to discuss the culling of red deer.

Senator Henry seeks a debate on the report on prisons. Senator Bannon congratulated the GAA. We are all afraid of saying the word in the presence of the Cathaoirleach — we are afraid of him. He asked that the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government come to the House to discuss funding for waste water treatment. Senator Kitt referred to Comhlámh. I was at that function and he and I were the ones served rice while other Senators were served meat and potatoes and vegetables.

A debate on fair trade and allied matters was requested and we will seek to have it.

Senator Feighan suggested that the Government should seek a clawback of the cost of security from the financial institutions as they are using cheap security. He also asked for a debate on infrastructure and transport. Senator Browne referred to water pollution. This matter was also raised by Senator Bannon and I apologise for not attributing it to him.

Senator Browne spoke about the proposals for café-style bars. That Bill was debated in this House and the Minister spoke at length about the continental style where there is less emphasis on drinking and more on conversation and food. Senator Browne asked for clarification on the issuing of licences.

Particularly in rural areas.

It will depend on population and on the market. People will not set them up if they do not think the clientele will use them. I think it is a good idea.

Senator White supported Senator Henry's call for a debate on St. Patrick's Institution. Senator Cummins referred to the delay of 61 weeks for driving tests in the Dungarvan area. I thank all Senators for their kind wishes, tongue in cheek, I am sure.

Order of Business agreed to.