I congratulate the Minister for Transport and the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources on ensuring that there will be an independent feasibility study to find the right way to proceed. As we all know, there is never a wrong time to do the right thing. I thank Senator Wilson for bringing the matter to the attention of the House today. All local communities will be consulted. It is the order of the day. A full independent analysis of the best way to proceed will be undertaken.
Senator Norris was right to express concern about alcohol abuse. I have no difficulty in having a future debate on that, particularly in respect of the free availability of alcohol in various outlets across the country. We should have another look at this issue, particularly in light of the abolition of the groceries order. I will try to set aside time for this debate.
Senators Norris and Kelly raised a number of issues such as the situation of workers in tourism destinations, including hotels. I have been in contact with the Minister's office about a full debate on tourism. As soon as I have a date for this, which could be by the end of this week, I will notify the Seanad. In respect of the inquiries made by Senator Norris and the monitoring through the Nigerian embassy, I can contact my office later today to see how that is progressing.
I agree with the views expressed by Senators Norris and Cummins about the statement by the Real IRA that it wishes to re-engage in violence. I make a strong appeal to that organisation on behalf of Seanad Éireann and in the interests of humanity and all that has been achieved. We are all republicans. Our forefathers in 1916 were on the same side. Regardless of whether one is from Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil or the Labour Party, we were all together in 1916. We are making historic progress. The Taoiseach visited Mullingar on Friday morning for a very important working breakfast with the organisation led by Senator Glynn. He then flew by helicopter to Ballymena to meet the First Minister of Northern Ireland, Ian Paisley. It was an historic day. Five or ten years ago, who would have thought this possible? We are all fighting to achieve the one goal and we all know what it is. It is happening far more quickly by peaceful means. The progress we have made could only have been achieved through peaceful means.
Senator O'Malley called for the Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Deputy Michael Kitt, to come to the House for a debate on the topic mentioned by her. I have no difficulty with putting that request before the Minister this afternoon.
Senator O'Reilly spoke about the HSE and services in Cavan and Monaghan. I will pass on his views to the Minister.
Senator Prendergast called for the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment to come to the House to discuss job creation. I welcome the Minister's announcement today of a new fund of €60 million to boost small and medium-sized firms. The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment had a three and a half hour meeting this morning where Mark Fielding from ISME spoke about the challenges facing small and medium-sized businesses. Some 98% of jobs in Ireland are created by small and medium-sized employers. These people must be respected. They are there for the long haul and to create sustainable jobs. That is where we will be able to make a contribution in the future. I have no difficulty in having a lengthy debate in the Seanad on what we have achieved in the past ten years and where we will go in the next ten years.
Senator Ned O'Sullivan raised the plight of Tralee General Hospital. I will pass on his strong views to the Minister after the Order of Business. I will discuss the matter with the Senator to determine how we can ascertain the position and the possibility of discussing it in the Seanad at a future date.
Senator Ross expressed his concern that the Seanad should debate more pressing issues. I agree with him and I am pleased to inform the House that from Tuesday week, 19 February, the House will sit three days. I will liaise with the leaders of the various groups. Senator O'Toole eminently represents Senator Ross's group at the leaders' group meeting, although some Senators in that group might believe he was not the leader. I would like the proposals to go before Senator O'Toole who can bring them before the leaders' meeting. We can then provide time for them and treat them as urgently as the request made to me by the father of the House, which I appreciate.
Senator Keaveney called for a debate on the success of the institutes of technology and their development in the future. As everyone knows, from Letterkenny in Donegal to Sligo, Athlone, Carlow and throughout the country, there has been a transformation in terms of boys and girls from lower and medium income earners who have been able to avail of third level education because of the institutes. I have no difficulty in setting aside time to debate the way that can take place.
Senator Cummins raised the question of the Rossiter report and the Health Service Executive report. I can contact the offices of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform and the Minister for Health and Children to determine the up-to-date position on those reports.
Senator Mary White was impressed by Senator John McCain's success in the United States last night. I stayed up most of the night because as Members are aware, blood is thicker than water. I have an old friendship with the Clintons. They all came from the Cassidys in Fermanagh. I cannot take sides in my position as Leader of the House but we must keep in touch with the old family tree. There should be no age limits in this regard.