Order of Business (Resumed).

I congratulate the Minister for Health and Children, Deputy Harney, on her fine contribution in the other House last night when she outlined the events of the past week and noted her inability to extract information from the Health Service Executive. I am pleased Senator Twomey has indicated his party is prepared to work with the Minister on the quality cancer care service.

My party has always worked with the Minister.

It is great to hear that, even if it is late in the day.

The information is more than two years old.

Last evening, I attended an all-party committee meeting chaired by Deputy John Cregan to discuss the role of the friends of the undocumented Irish in the United States and how best we can make progress on this issue. I commend Deputy Cregan's efforts in this regard. Members should press ahead with the current bipartisan approach. I have also discussed this issue with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Dermot Ahern, who has made a number of trips to the United States to lobby on behalf of the Irish in America. We should invite the Minister to the House to debate Deputy Cregan's initiative which has been debated in the Lower House. Such a debate would give Senators an opportunity to show support for the bipartisan approach and identify how best to proceed.

On the question of achieving consensus on health policy, it is not a lack of support from the Opposition which has led to the problems in the health service. I remind Senators that the Minister for Health and Children and her two most recent predecessors, the Ministers for Finance and Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Deputies Cowen and Martin, respectively, belong to parties which have had a majority in the House for the past ten years, during which time they had control of the Department. Lack of Opposition support was not the reason the Minister was unable, as she informed the media the other day, to obtain information from the Health Service Executive. She has effectively admitted she cannot get satisfaction from the organisation she created or the manager she appointed. This sounds like a case of hands-off politics. Patients deserve more and if the Minister wants to put them first, she must find out what is going on in the health service. It is ridiculous to hear Government Senators imply this is a problem created by the Opposition. It does not speak to the facts as they emerged at a recent committee meeting.

When I spoke last week about two further women being diagnosed with breast cancer, little did I think we would hear about 97 more women a few hours later. Responsibility must be put on those responsible, which is what is being said in the Dáil. We must have accountability and someone must be accountable. We cannot have two parallel structures where one person, particularly the person meant to be in charge, does not know what is happening within the HSE. It was the Minister who created the HSE.

Does the Senator seek a debate?

If she wants to reform the HSE, legislation to reform its structures should be brought to the House.

I agree with my colleague on the issue of road safety. Will the Leader raise the issue of poor signage on road works throughout the country with the Minister for Transport, particularly with regard to changes in road layout? We see this serious problem on a daily basis and must see more action from local authorities on the matter. I agree with Senator Keaveney that we need better signage where traffic layout is changed because the lack of adequate signage leads to serious accidents.

I support the call by Senator Ellis for a debate on the carving up of counties by the boundary commission and ask the Leader to arrange a debate on the issue.

I am bewildered by Senator Twomey's call for another debate on cancer services. This would be the third debate on cancer services in two months and the Minister's fifth time in the House in less than two months. Last week she was in the House for three hours. I was in the Dáil Chamber last night and listened to what she had to say. I remind Members that the Mullingar accord, which was agreed before the most recent general election between Fine Gael and the Labour Party — I am glad the Labour Party has not supported the Fine Gael call for a debate — had 12 priorities. Not one of them——

We can have this debate in a discussion on health services if that is what the Senator is seeking.

——listed cancer services.

We were backing the Government cancer strategy. There was no need to list it.

Order, please.

The Fine Gael Party is a Johnny-come-lately to all of this.

Try working with us.

It is no wonder——

(Interruptions).

On the Order of Business, please.

Ask the Minister of State what he wants from the cancer strategy.

People have had an opportunity to speak on the Order of Business and I ask them to let others speak now.

The junior Minister from Sligo is against his own Minister on the issue.

Ask the Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, Deputy Devins, what he wants from the cancer strategy.

Order, please.

It is no wonder Fine Gael Members come in here without any initiatives or bright ideas. They are bereft of ideas.

Where is the consensus between the Minister and the Minister of State on the issue?

The Senator has made her point.

The Government is for nothing and against everything.

Order, please. The Member is entitled to speak and people are given the opportunity to speak. If I have time, I will give those who wish to speak the opportunity to do so, but they should wait their turn. If they have spoken, they should have made their contribution on the issue at the time. I ask the Senator to be brief. Her point has been well made.

I will be. I am not surprised by the daft ideas the Fine Gael Members come up with. Not one of them would hold a candle to the Minister for Health and Children.

What ideas are they?

I support Senator O'Toole's call for a debate on the HSE.

The Senator does not even know what they stand for.

Let us look at where this has gone wrong and stop going for the man instead of the ball.

It has been quite difficult to listen to some of this debate and I hope it is not broadcast on "Oireachtas Report" tonight. The debate should be about the victims of the flawed health policy the Minister has overseen. It would be hard for victims of the service that has been provided down the years across the State to listen to the political toing and froing taking place in this Chamber without any reference to them.

I call for a debate on an issue on which I have asked for a debate on a number of occasions and which has been supported in the House today, namely, the undocumented Irish. I believe there is cross-party consensus on adopting a motion in this Chamber, without debate if necessary. It is disrespectful to the undocumented Irish and to those who are lobbying that this Chamber has failed to introduce this motion three weeks after it has been requested. I have made such a request every week since. Senators from across the political divide have echoed that request. I ask, as a matter of urgency, that it be brought before the House.

I reiterate a call for the Minister for Transport to come into the House and discuss the infrastructural deficiencies in the west and north west, especially around the Atlantic road corridor, the status of the project and if it will be put on hold. There is also the issue of the western rail corridor, the Donegal-Sligo link and public transport in rural areas, particularly in the west and north west. Anyone who represents those areas has seen a withdrawal of services in recent months and years. In my county of Donegal we have seen such a withdrawal in Malin and west Donegal——

The Senator can raise those matters if he gets a debate. Time is running out.

I call for a debate on this issue because——

The Senator has sought that debate. If the Leader agrees to it, the Senator can make all those points. I ask Senators to make brief contributions.

In that debate I ask that we also address what Senator Coghlan has mentioned, namely, the issue of the marine rescue co-ordination centres in Malin Head and Valentia where jobs will be lost because of the Government's position on this issue.

No jobs will be lost.

Will the Leader seek clarity on an issue I have raised in this House regarding the Health Service Executive and the reimbursement prices to pharmacists? As late as last night I was advised that the HSE has deferred the implementation date of 1 December 2007 for the new reimbursement prices. When I contacted pharmacists I learned they were unaware of this deferral. This decision is unacceptable. All the HSE has said is that the decision has been deferred to a later date. I ask that clarity be sought from the HSE on whether it agrees that an independent chair be appointed, as I have sought, to work out an appropriate negotiation and on when such talks will commence.

I wish to raise an issue which has been referred to by many speakers, that is, the Department of Health and Children and the Health Service Executive. I have said previously that there is a great deal of confusion about who is responsible for what. I asked if we could have a briefing document. My understanding is that the Department of Health and Children is the policy Department and the Health Service Executive must ensure the provision of service. In regard to Senator O'Toole's point, the HSE is the issue.

We have moved from a situation of 14 health boards which had local democratic input by way of local public representatives who were doing a pretty good job. I accept there may have been room for improvement but to go from 14 health boards to an executive simply has not worked. I have stated that so far as I am concerned, the jury is out on the HSE but it is time to deliver the verdict because I believe the HSE is not working.

Would it be possible for the Leader to indicate if we have the power under standing orders to call the HSE before a sub-committee or a committee of this House and, if so, could he advise me how to go about it?

The Oireachtas joint committee is the forum on which there is representation by Deputies and Senators. I think that is the proper forum at which those people should attend. However, it is a matter for the Leader.

What is clear from what has been said in the discussion about the health service and the current crisis in Portlaoise in cancer care is that, for the sake of the women and their families who are suffering terribly at this time, the key question that must be asked in this House and elsewhere is who is responsible.

If nobody will take responsibility, why not? It is clear the Minister bears ultimate responsibility for a system which she set up and which appears to be responsible for failures in communication, diagnosis and treatment. If not the Minister, why has somebody lower down the hierarchy not resigned?

In Britain, the head of Revenue and Customs took the responsibility and resigned following an error of which he was clearly unaware. Nobody in the HSE, the Department of Health and Children, Portlaoise Hospital or anywhere else in the health care system has yet taken responsibility for the terrible situation in which these women find themselves.

I renew my call for a debate on the restoration of universal child benefit to children of asylum seekers who are in receipt of direct provision. When I called for such a debate on the Adjournment last week, the Minister for Social and Family Affairs responded by stating asylum seekers were receiving direct provision in lieu of child benefit. Direct provision is only €9.60 per week per child for the approximately 2,000 children of asylum seekers. By contrast, child benefit is €160 per month, or approximately €40 per week. Yesterday I spoke at an Irish Refugee Council launch to call for an increase in the amounts payable under direct provision in order that they would be at least equivalent to the amount paid in child benefit and close to the sum of €40 per week.

I again ask the Leader to convene a debate on the terrible situation of children of asylum seekers in particular, who are in real poverty and to whom we are simply not paying adequate social welfare.

I have listened to the debate on the Minister for Health and Children in this and the other House. She has my full confidence. She has more political guts than the combined anatomy of the entire Opposition.

And the Government, probably.

They were fairly short of consensus across the Chamber last night.

I spent many years in the health services. When there were operational difficulties, the person——

Is the Senator seeking a debate on health?

Yes. When there was an operational difficulty, the Minister for Health and Children was not responsible. She must have multi-locational and multifaceted talents. She can be here, there and everywhere. If there is a problem on a ward, it is that of the Minister for Health and Children.

This is nonsense.

What became of the operational staff who were discharging the responsibilities of the Minister for Health and Children?

The Senator cannot have it both ways.

A Senator

He does not understand political accountability.

People are paid to do those jobs. Let them do them.

Who is responsible?

The people who are being paid to do the job. The Senator knows that.

Who is responsible?

The Senator cannot have it both ways.

The Senator knows that.

Senator Glynn has made his point.

Who carried out the X-rays in Portlaoise? Was it the Minister for Health and Children? It was not.

Who is responsible?

There was not one mistake; there were nine of which we know.

The Senator should make up his mind who is responsible. He does not know and cannot say.

It is an operational matter.

The Senator should not mind operational matters. Someone is responsible.

The people who made the mistake should take the rap.

Senators should remember we are on the Order of Business.

I join Members in calling for a debate on cancer services. On this occasion, the Opposition cannot be blamed for the debacle and mess that has been created by the Members opposite and their colleagues in Government.

The Minister came to this House but the reality was she did not know what was going on. It is time we had a proper, fully informed debate. We need political accountability. Today, in my city of Cork, more people are in trouble because of the failure of the health system.

The Members opposite cannot defend it, and they know it. Shame on them.

The Minister is the one who will clean it up.

Senator Buttimer has made his point. I call Senator Harris.

I would like Members to take a quiet moment to reflect on the principle of a bipartisan approach, which was referred to by the Minister last night. One of the most esteemed names in modern Irish politics is that of Alan Dukes because of the Tallaght strategy. Before that, in the 1920s, de Valera allowed the facts to bring him into a bipartisan policy. We also had such a policy throughout the Troubles.

It is clear to all of us that difficulties in certain areas of Irish life and public life will be solved only by a bipartisan approach. While we might argue about what these are, there would not be any argument — if, for example, a major row were to break out about immigration in the middle of a recession — that the Upper and Lower Houses could not be turned into bear pits, with people's lives and the lives of those in marginalised communities being debated in a political roughhouse. We would have to adopt a bipartisan approach in such circumstances. We had to adopt one with regard to Northern Ireland and we will not reform the public sector without one.

I do not believe the Minister, Deputy Harney, was playing politics in seeking a bipartisan approach because the same systemic problems are in the health service that were in Northern Ireland. One cannot deal with the health service unless all parties are agreed that some tough measures will have to be taken to deal with the vested interests involved.

I strongly urge Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, the Labour Party and the Independent Senators to take some of the heat out of this debate. We have had weeks of debate in the media but at the end of it I do not think the public knows a lot more. People are angrier but not much more light has been cast on the matter. Deep down people get angry when politicians carry on partisan warfare as the public knows the problems are systemic. The public respects the Minister and knows she has taken on a terrible job. The public also knows there is a vested interest and I have repeatedly heard the Opposition closing with that issue, which is right, but every so often the Opposition and the Government again fall back into partisan rows. As a preparation for the forthcoming difficulties in dealing with immigration, I strongly recommend that we agree on areas where we can adopt a bipartisan approach. These include the public sector, immigration, Northern Ireland and health.

I concur with Senator de Búrca's call for the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism to attend the House. I have lost count of the number of times I have made the same request — perhaps six or seven times. Yesterday, Mr. Seán Quinn commented specifically on the environment in Ireland and bringing people here under false pretences. Unfortunately, the self same chief executive has an area within his organisation for planning and the environment, which is totally underfunded and has been for a number of years. I take his comments with a grain of salt, however, because the resources are not there. I know the individuals concerned and I have worked with them; there is one person and an assistant.

Is the Senator seeking a debate on the matter?

I said that at the beginning. The environment is one of the biggest issues and the others are the access debacle, particularly in the mid-west, competitiveness, product development and the various marketing challenges facing us.

A number of Senators raised the issue of the undocumented in the United States. I was one of the few who attended an all-party meeting on this issue last night. It is a pity there was not a larger attendance but significant business was going on in the Dáil at the time. I took the liberty of getting in contact with some of those on the committee that is trying to promote the cause of the undocumented in America. I know some of them quite well personally. This is an area on which we must maintain a collective cross-party view. Unfortunately, however, the people who have been doing their best in recent years to help the undocumented through various strategies in many cases believe the current Minister is not doing all he can in order to achieve this.

That is not correct. It is a cover up and the Senator knows it. The Senator's brother would have told him that.

Unfortunately, that view has emanated but it can be changed quite quickly as the Minister will be visiting US government representatives soon. I welcome the fact that Northern Ireland's First Minister and Deputy First Minister will be raising the issue when they meet their counterparts in the United States on 7 December.

Senators Twomey, Norris, Ormonde, Fitzgerald, Feeney, Doherty, Callely, Bacik, Glynn, Buttimer and Harris all expressed serious concerns about events that have occurred since we met last Thursday. No one could have foretold what would happen following the Minister's address to the House, when she explained in minute detail the position concerning her portfolio. One could only admire her vast knowledge and grasp of her brief. We as public representatives, however, must acknowledge that the communications system that existed under the former health boards has completely changed since the move to the HSE structure. Is it any wonder, therefore, that the Minister could not find out the up-to-date information on this matter? All fair-minded people would say the buck must stop somewhere. If neither the Minister nor the CEO of the HSE is being supplied with information, then——

Someone is engaged in sabotage.

——someone is trying to sabotage the HSE, as established by legislation passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas.

It is disconnected.

We must invite the Minister back to the Seanad to inform us of the up-to-date position. We want to know what she is doing about those who will not let her know what she is entitled to know as the person who has been given responsibility by the Taoiseach and the taxpayer for the management of €14 billion per annum.

These people who have put themselves in this position in the HSE must be answerable and the patient must come first.

The special meeting of those involved in the midlands was a pitiful sight. I compliment the Minister and the consultants who went to Portlaoise last Saturday——

It should have been done in the first place.

——to give peace of mind to those 97 unfortunate women who had to be called back. Everyone in the country was gripped with concern for their well-being, as well as for the other nine women. We in this House want to do the right thing.

I saw the Minister, Deputy Harney — she and I are close personal friends — from time to time correctly brief the then Opposition spokesperson in the Dáil, Senator Liam Twomey, another good friend of mine, and give him as much information as she had to hand. Senator Twomey, a medical doctor of eminence, has much to contribute in this regard because there are culprits in his profession. If they were culprits in my former profession, we would not be too long about taking action. There is no point in hiding from this. If people have the required ability, they should be in these positions, but if they do not, they should not be given such positions.

I take the Senator Twomey's point about Dr. Ann O'Doherty. He clarified her position on the interview board, which was important information for Members of this House. She is an eminent person in her own right. I have read and heard comments in various branches of the media on her involvement in this issue.

I will endeavour to invite the Minister, Deputy Harney, to the House at the earliest possible time and to make time available to have another very meaningful contribution from her. On the last occasion here, she engaged in a question and answer session and Senators were responsible in their contributions. As Senator Harris said, there is no gain for anybody toing and froing on this issue and throwing allegations across the floor of the House. Most of us were members of health boards.

When the Hollywood report was published, if the truth were told we all, regardless of whether we are members of Fine Gael, the Labour Party or Fianna Fáil, battled as hard as we could to have specialised services located in our own areas. Perhaps with the benefit of hindsight that was not the right thing to do. The recommendation of the Hollywood report for specialist services to be located in one catchment location in each area may have been correct, but given the nature of politics and human beings, we battled with each other for those services to be located in our own towns. Therefore, we as politicians have had a responsibility in this regard for a long time under the former health board system. Let us be factual, honest and put the issues on the table.

We are one of the first group of individuals who down through the years have admitted when we got something wrong or something right. No one is infallible in such circumstances. However, when people's lives are at stake let us put up our hands and say that whatever must be done should be done to improve matters.

The person responsible should also put up his or her hands.

Allow the Leader to continue without interruption.

Senator Cummins's party was in power also.

On that issue, there is not a local authority in a county in Ireland in which Fianna Fáil is in power at present.

It is in power in County Donegal.

I have heard that the unfortunate accident——

Fianna Fáil has a majority in Donegal County Council.

It also has a majority in Cork City Council.

The Leader without interruption.

The 40 or 41 councils that are under the control of most of Opposition parties——

There are not that many counties.

——should, over the coming three or four weeks, make a special allocation for road safety in their Estimates. The Joint Committee on Enterprise and Small Business, of which I was a member, the Joint Committee on Transport, which was chaired by Senator Ellis, and the Road Safety Authority have done considerable work in this regard. We have come a long way in that 100 people are alive today who would not be alive had we not implemented the proposals made over the past 18 months. Two thousand or 3,000 people would have been in serious accidents or maimed for life.

The unfortunate tragedy that took place two days ago only 15 miles from my home, in which two young lives were lost, is most regrettable. I express my sympathy to the two families involved. The National Roads Authority must ensure that reasonable distances are maintained where major route changes are made. I refer to the need to have at least a quarter of a mile of roadway fully visible.

Senators O'Toole and Alex White expressed the need to address the issue of risk management in hospitals. Senators can debate this when the Minister is present.

Senators O'Toole, Coghlan, Keaveney and Doherty called for a debate on planning regulations in areas where holiday homes are purchased in vast numbers. Their request to invite the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to the House is valid.

Senator Alex White asked that the Minister for Finance be invited to the House to discuss public services. I will have no problem allocating time for this debate but it will not take place until early in the new year because of the budgetary constraints on the Minister.

Senator Keaveney called for a debate on animal welfare. We are endeavouring to have this debate take place and have been in contact with the Minister's office. When I hear further news, I will relay it to the House.

Senator Coghlan questioned the position regarding the coast guard stations at Valentia and Malin. It is proposed by the relevant Minister that there will be two centres. I understand the difficulties in Valentia and Malin concern broadband, the continuity of electricity supply and other matters. One station is to be in the east, in the Drogheda area, and the other location is to be agreed with the Minister. Since Senators asked me about the stations, I have been assured that no jobs will be lost. If Senator Coghlan wishes to discuss this during Private Members' time, he can table an appropriate motion. Perhaps he can pursue the matter on the Adjournment tomorrow evening.

Senators de Búrca and Kelly called for a debate on the portfolio of the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Deputy Brennan. This is very timely at the start of the term of the new Seanad, bearing in mind the five-year or seven-year plan for the Department. The Minister has been very effective in every portfolio he has had so far and I look forward to his visit to the House. We will try to have the debate as early as possible.

Senators Norris and Hannigan called for a debate on Seanad reform. Senator Norris referred to his elitist panel. We can discuss this in the House along with all the other panels.

There was no reference to elitism. I ask the Leader to withdraw that remark.

I did not hear any reference to it.

I apologise to the Senator but I understood someone mentioned an elitist panel. Perhaps I read it in the newspaper today.

Perhaps the Leader did or perhaps it was a figment of his fertile imagination. He should withdraw his remark.

I have no difficulty in having a discussion on all panels but, as I stated previously, we are coming under serious pressure because there was a 34% turnout of voters in respect of the University Panel. This must be addressed.

Having 50,000 votes is a bit better than having less than 1,000.

It will be one of the issues under discussion. Senator Norris stated on the first sitting day that he and Senator Ross got approximately 4,500 votes between them. I was eliminated with 7,555 votes, which is nearly double what the Senators got. They got two seats and I did not even get one.

On a point of fact, the Leader is wrong again. He cannot do arithmetic and should go back to school.

The Senators should address the Order of Business.

When it comes to simple arithmetic, I believe I am first in the class in the Seanad.

It is a pretty funny class that the Senator was in.

The Leader without interruption.

He is provoking interruption.

The debate on Seanad reform will take place in the House from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. this evening. I regret it is only a two-hour debate because it could last for an entire day. I ask that the Clerk present the 25 Members of the 23rd Seanad who were not Members of the Dáil or Seanad heretofore, and the ten Members who had been Members of the Dáil — 35 in all — with the last two reports on Seanad reform so they can read them over the coming two or three weeks, or over Christmas. Bearing in mind that there is some urgent legislation to come before the House in addition to the budget debate, which will be followed by the Christmas recess, perhaps we can have a full-day debate on Seanad reform in the first or second week of February.

There are many good ideas on Seanad reform. As one who played a central role in the process, in addition to the present Cathaoirleach, who was a Whip, I note that 30% of all legislation is initiated in this House. This is an excellent means of assisting the Government and it results in much better scrutiny of legislation. The Seanad has always been referred to as the Upper House. Ministers look forward to coming to this Chamber because they know that on most occasions, legislation can be scrutinised here according to its merits in a non-partisan way.

Why is there no legislation at all this entire week?

I refer to all panels in this House and not just to the one whose representatives seem to be the most vocal. That is the nature of their panel but ultimately we are all Members in our own right and all have individual and collective responsibility.

Senators Ellis and Feeney called for the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to come to the House to discuss the decisions of the Constituency Commission and the difficult position of the electorate in Leitrim and in many constituencies, including my own. Senator Ellis and I would not be Members of Seanad Éireann were it not for a commission that disenfranchised the people who wanted to come out in their hundreds to re-elect us to Dáil Éireann. Had Senator Ellis and I not been appointed to the Seanad, it is quite possible that they would not be as well represented as they are at present. Having taken this into account, one must conclude that no county should be left without a Member in Dáil Éireann. That is what this proposal is about and I will have no difficulty inviting the Minister to the House to discuss it.

Senators Hannigan and Doherty referred to the Irish community in the United Kingdom. The British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body met at the weekend and discussed Irish emigrants. People who went to work in these destinations have grown old and have little support. During his 20 year membership of the Seanad, Paschal Mooney was a champion of the emigrant and I acknowledge that today. I will be briefed by him from time to time in regard to what we should do. As Leader, I am lucky to have his friendship. I have no difficulty in setting aside time for such a debate.

Senator Pearse Doherty raised the issue of transport to, and matters in, the west. Perhaps we can have a debate on the Border, midlands and west region, which would very welcome. The BMW region covers nearly all the Connacht-Ulster constituency and Longford-Westmeath, which has now been included for the European Parliament elections. I cannot let the occasion pass without saying that never has as much money been spent on infrastructure in the west as is being spent at present.

There is massive underspending.

The facts speak for themselves. Young Senators coming into the House with very good reputations should not get caught up in the political rhetoric of councillors or Members of the Dáil. We come to this House to discuss facts. There will be a major expansion of the rail network to the west, although that may not occur in Derry, Donegal or in counties to which we would like to see it extended. Let the prosperity continue and let us see how we can enhance and improve matters. The general election is over for five years, so let us deal with the facts.

Our job is to represent the people.

Senator Ivor Callely asked about the up-to-date position on the pharmacy dispute. As Senators know, many public representatives from the Taoiseach down were very involved in this matter last week because we were all concerned. Meetings took place over two or three days with Ministers and opposition leaders and the Taoiseach met the pharmacy organisation at the weekend.

I have a letter from Mr. Pat O'Dowd, who is well known to us from the HSE in the midland region, in which he states that in view of the considerable progress in this regard, the HSE has decided to defer to a later date implementation of the new reimbursement rates planned to take effect for community pharmacists on 1 December 2007. He went on to state that the HSE would keep community pharmacists informed of its intention regarding the implementation of the new arrangements and that individual community pharmacists had been informed by letter. The requests genuinely made by Members of both Houses and acted on by the Minister and the Taoiseach have been listened to.

I read a suggestion in a newspaper that the pharmacy people would appoint an independent arbitrator, which is unacceptable. The person appointed must be totally independent if that is the route we take. Many Senators would be moreau fait than I with this.

Senator Ivana Bacik raised the question of asylum seekers and their children. I will pass on her view to the Minister to determine if we can have a debate on that issue.

Order of Business agreed to.