Order of Business.

The Order of Business is No. 1, earlier signature motion on the Enforcement of Court Orders (Amendment) Bill 2009; No. 2, Criminal Justice (Amendment) Bill – all Stages; No. 3, statements on Northern Ireland; and No. 4, Harbours (Amendment) Bill 2008 — report from Dáil. It is proposed that No. 1 shall be taken without debate at the conclusion of the Order of Business; No. 2, shall be taken at the conclusion of No. 1, with the contributions of spokespersons not to exceed 15 minutes and those of all other Senators not to exceed eight minutes and Senators may share time; Second Stage shall conclude not later than 3.45 p.m., with the Minister called for concluding comments not later than 3.35 p.m.; No. 3 shall be taken at the adjournment of No. 2 but not earlier than 4 p.m. and shall conclude not later than 5 p.m., with the contributions of Senators not exceeding five minutes and Senators may share time; No. 4 shall be taken at the conclusion of No. 3; with Committee and Remaining Stages of No. 2, to be taken at the conclusion of No. 4.

I condemn the riots in Northern Ireland that we saw on television screens last night. It is so disappointing to see this sporadic and unwanted violence. The people who behave like this have no mandate. We stand four square behind the Government and the police forces, North and South, in tackling this violence and ensuring the hard-won peace continues to reign and communities continue to benefit from the peace that was so hard won over many years. We will have the opportunity to discuss this with the Taoiseach when we have a debate on Northern Ireland.

I reiterate the absolute frustration on this side of the House at the manner in which legislation is being dealt with by a Government that is arrogant and contemptuous of parliamentary democracy in these Houses in respect of how this important legislation is dealt with. If the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Bill is found to be unconstitutional, it will not protect one family or citizen who has suffered at the hands of these gangs. We support the legislation but we sought proper discussion. It will be rushed through this House in the same manner as the Dáil. Serious statements about our courts are made in this legislation. Fine Gael tabled serious amendments in the Dáil. Once again it is being rushed through. The Dáil is in recess and therefore the Minister will be very reluctant to accept any amendments from the House. This is no way to handle the business of the Houses, particularly with legislation which has such implications and is so far-reaching. In recent weeks, we have had excellent debates in the House on legislation. Amendments have been taken on board and subsequently passed in the Dáil. We will not have that opportunity today. I will vote against the Order of Business on the basis that this is no way to run the business of the House.

We called for debates on job creation; we wanted to discuss the pharmacy issue and we wanted the Minister of State with responsibility for children to update the House on adoption legislation. None of this will happen. There is unfinished business in all of these areas and we should have continued to work on them instead of putting the business together in the way that has been done. Yesterday, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy Dermot Ahern, wrote inThe Irish Times that the Government had plenty of time to consider the legislation. The Government may have had plenty of time but reaching for discussion amendment No. 6 of 43 amendments did not provide the Dáil with much opportunity to tease out the legislation, consider its implications and improve it. That was denied to the Dáil and it will probably be denied to the Seanad today given the rushed nature of the legislation.

There have been a number of leaks from an bord snip nua and I note there was one with regard to the Ombudsman for Children. These leaks are selective. The Ombudsman for Children is appointed by the President and the Oireachtas. In light of the Ryan report it would seem extraordinary if the work of the Ombudsman for Children was to be one of the areas highlighted for cuts. Will the Leader take up this issue with the Government?

Táimid mar Oisín i ndiaidh na Fianna. Ní hamháin go bhfuil na Teachtaí Dála as láthar, ach tá sé mar a bheadh an sheriff anseo leis an ghanntanas troscán ar fud an tí. We are on our own today and it looks like the sheriff was here with a warrant judging by all the furniture that is missing from Leinster House.

They might come after Senator Mullen next.

We are on the Order of Business and the Senator should put questions to the Leader.

Normally, this should be the Seanad's opportunity to show the value of a second Chamber where we could interrogate legislation properly. However, as Senator Frances Fitzgerald stated, we will not have that opportunity because of the rushed nature of what is happening in these days. To see the phrase "all Stages" posted underneath legislation as important as the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Bill with all that it entails is ludicrous, as others have stated.

I watched Miriam O'Callaghan's television programme at the weekend and I am sure like others did I felt tremendous sympathy, powerlessness and anger listening to members of the Collins family describe what they have been through. There are sincere people with very legitimate opinions on both sides of the argument on what needs to be done in the criminal justice system to deal with the wave of criminality facing us. People rightly identify that there is a long-established and carefully crafted balance in our criminal justice system which should not be tampered with and that it would not be in the interests of the innocent in future to introduce draconian approaches that interfere with the normal checks and balances in criminal prosecutions. On the other hand, one listens to people who have suffered enormously and we all know that desperate times call for extraordinary measures. However, they should be good measures.

Whatever way this issue is resolved, it should not be resolved in a hurry. This is the exact type of clash of opinion between sincerely held, well-established and justified views on different sides of an argument that calls for extended debate. It is one thing to push through technical legislation at the end of term but it is another to push through legislation on an issue as important as this, when the issue needs to be interrogated fully and we need to go from having a gut reaction to having a more considered view that one would hope would accommodate the aspirations of all sides and protect the delicate balance in our criminal justice system. For this reason alone, this is very bad legislation. That is not the way we should be doing business and it will bring the Houses of the Oireachtas into disrepute.

I was talking to a former Seanadóir at the weekend who said that one of the frustrating aspects of being a Member of the Seanad, and I am sure it applies equally to Members of the Dáil, was the inversion of the way business should be done. Instead of the Executive proposing legislation which the Oireachtas must consider, we are a barely consulted body of people. It would be more likely to take heed of us if we were powerful figures in the media or wealthy lobby groups. That is not the way it should be. We should have a fully functioning, inquisitive Legislature that gets an opportunity to ask the hard questions, asks the hard questions and is not just heard but heeded when it is correct.

A Senator

Hear, hear.

I conclude on that important point and hope I will get other opportunities to speak later.

Leaving aside the question of the merits of the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Bill, I want to ask the Leader two questions. First, what would be the effect of any changes this Chamber might propose and have adopted in that Bill? Am I not right in saying they would have no effect whatsoever because the Dáil is in recess? There is not the slightest intention on the part of the Government to return this Bill to the Dáil when we have done with it in this Chamber. I ask the Leader to agree with me that the sad reality is that anything we do today, unfortunately and regrettably, despite all the talk about the relevance of the Seanad, will be entirely irrelevant. It is entirely regrettable that the people who are taking an interest in what will go on in this Chamber today might as well be told and are being told by the Government and by the Leader, who is colluding with them, not to bother paying attention to what happens here today because it will not have any impact.

That is not true.

How am I wrong in the assumption that I and others make that irrespective of what happens in this Chamber today, this matter will not be returning to the Dáil? The Dáil being in recess clearly points to that fact.

Second, it is a strange experience being on one's feet here day in, day out asking the Leader questions because he hardly ever answers them but I will ask them again anyway because that is what I am here to do. Why does the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform only appear to be able to bring forward legislation in the months of June and July in any given calendar year? What is the problem in the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform that it cannot bring forward legislation and pace itself throughout the year to allow some opportunity in the Houses and across the public to debate these extremely important items of legislation? I am leaving aside the issue of the merits of this legislation but clearly anything that has to do with the liberty of the individual requires at least some minimum level of scrutiny in any Parliament. Why can we not have that and why can the public not have access to that throughout a period longer than a few weeks? This legislation was published on 30 June and it is proposed that it will be disposed of in this Chamber today. That is wrong, and the Leader is colluding with the Government in rendering this Chamber irrelevant to the Irish people.

The Labour Party's position on this Bill is rather unique in that it calls for action but when the Government takes action, it criticises it and votes against it. One of its Members in the other House abstained because he could not stomach the hypocrisy on this particular issue and the way the party treated it.

What happened to zero tolerance?

I am not surprised by the——

Where is zero tolerance now?

We are not concerned about what happens in the Lower House. That is not of concern to us. We are on the Order of Business in Seanad Éireann.

The Labour Party is controlled by the former Workers' Party, Sinn Féin and I am not surprised——

(Interruptions).

Senator, I will move on to the next speaker if you do not put questions to the Leader.

As far as this House is concerned——

Senator Leyden has his own problems to worry about.

——if an amendment is made to this Bill, it is argued in this House and agreed by the Minister, speaking as one who served in that position, the Minister will have to bring it back to the other House either in the autumn or another time. That is a fact.

If Senators can bring forward a reasonable, well-argued amendment to this Bill the Minister will have no choice but to bring it back to the other House. That is a fact. We should be clear about that. That is no excuse for going on holidays, by the way.

A comment about someone going on holidays is not relevant to the Order of Business.

It is relevant. I ask the Leader to ask the Minister for Transport to come before this House in the September session to discuss the serious position regarding the number of taxi plates issued throughout the country. There are 27,429 taxis operating currently and this morning at Heuston Station, 45 taxis were lined up. Three passengers came off the train. In Dublin city, there are 14,000 taxis while there were 2,722 before regulation. In London, there are approximately 21,000 taxis and in New York approximately 12,000. That puts things in context.

Taxi drivers are having a tough time at present. The business is far too competitive. Taxis must line up, with not enough space to park. Outside Heuston Station there is not enough space for taxis to park. It must be soul destroying to sit in a taxi all day waiting for a fare and be completely undermined by the regulations.

Who is the Minister? Who is in government?

I ask that the Minister for Transport come to the House to speak on this matter. The taxi regulator must have some say in this matter. He should recommend a change in the rules in this regard. There must be a balanced approach to the number of taxis.

Does the Government not have responsibility for taxis?

There are 1,200 taxis in Galway, 2,500 in Cork and 1,100 in Limerick. This is too many. I ask the Leader to arrange a debate on this issue in a calm manner after the summer recess and before the Christmas period.

I am concerned, as every Member of the House should be, about the report of the Financial Services Ombudsman, Mr. Joe Meade. He says financial institutions have "preyed on the elderly". Elderly people have been focused upon by financial institutions with regard to investment in bonds, windfalls from the sale of property and retirement lump sums. This report is a further blow to the reputation of our banking institutions. Some 63% of complaints made to the Financial Services Ombudsman have been upheld. That is an indictment of our financial system and needs the full attention of the Government. I ask the Leader to raise this matter with the Government and the Minister for Finance and ask them to ensure that this type of preying on people in vulnerable situations does not continue. It does not do us, our economy or our reputation any good.

There is huge concern throughout rural Ireland at the discontinuation of the rural environmental protection scheme, REPS. The scheme is worth approximately €6,000 per farmer and contributes to the real viability of farms. Other countries are protecting the scheme and ensuring that the environment is protected and has the support of the State whereas we are discontinuing it. Meanwhile, we are talking about the need to get support for the Lisbon treaty. This will have a huge negative effect, not only on farmers but on agricultural stores, farmers' suppliers, contractors and agri-advisers. It will have a huge effect on rural employment in general.

The local rural economy will be devastated. I will propose an amendment to the Order of Business to call on the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to come to the House to debate this very important matter for rural Ireland. I ask the Leader to facilitate this amendment to the Order of Business and support it.

I agree with some of the points raised by Opposition Senators regarding the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Bill. Perhaps we do need more time to debate Committee Stage of the Bill. The fault lies with the Lower House. The process of legislating is not paced properly. Too much comes to this Chamber too quickly at the end of the session. Reform of the Seanad should take that matter into consideration.

It is caused by Government mismanagement.

A huge amount of legislation came to the Seanad in the last week. I would like to tease it out more thoroughly. I agree with the merits of the legislation and I am prepared to go along with it on that basis. However, there are points which should be raised with regard to it.

A recent study looked at nine year old children, who are the offspring of the boom years. The study examined their lifestyles, health, welfare and achievements at school. Young children, whose parents may now be out of work, will be affected by the recession. There is a call for a debate on changes in society. We should talk about the smart economy, which will be based on information, energy and environment, and a new emphasis in education. The future of the country needs a vision of humanity. Not only should we protect those who are doing well, but we should protect the vulnerable. A change is coming in those respects. I would like these challenges to be discussed in the Chamber in the autumn, as it would be a golden opportunity. Life is changing significantly and that change affects youths, teachers, professionals and all aspects of society. It requires a full debate in the House.

I second Senator Coffey's proposal for a debate on REPS. Germany and France take different approaches to their agriculture sectors, but each supports REPS-type schemes to protect its rural environment. Ireland abolishing the scheme would be a backwards step, not only from an agricultural point of view, but from the point of view of environmental protection.

Will the Leader remove the guillotine he wishes to apply to the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Bill? Senators are not so out of touch with reality that they do not understand the level of violence and intimidation to be found in many communities. However, recent years have shown us how absolute power corrupts so easily. We must strive for a balance at all times when discussing legislation, that is, we should not give absolute power to people who we consider to be the guardians of the State. All too often, they have readily abused their powers. At the same time, we must stamp out the violence and intimidation in communities that feel unprotected. If necessary, let us have that debate. It would not do us any harm. In fact, it may strengthen the legislation and the public's perception of what we do instead of appearing as a laughing stock. In some respects, the latter is of the Leader's making.

I call upon the Leader to convey the consensus that most Seanadóirí believe that an bord snip nua's report should be published. While he wants us to confine our points to this House, there is a certain sense of relief around Leinster House. It is like having noisy neighbours move out. There is a relief in the Chamber that we can breathe a bit and address ourselves to the issues that matter.

I will reserve my remarks on the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Bill, but I wish to make a point about an bord snip nua. It has been precluded from examining the most important aspect of its work, namely, the question of public sector pay. As a formerly active trade unionist, I do not understand how the trade union movement and the political class can contemplate axing 20,000 jobs instead of cutting public service pay and saving those jobs. I do not know why people should not think the unthinkable and why public servants should not work longer days and provide the same quality of public services for less money, given the revolutionary situation in which we are living.

I do not know how the political class, including Seanadóirí, can pontificate about the public sector or the economy when it has given such a contemptible example. The political class should have been at point position in giving up its pay and perks. Minor cosmetic changes have been made. Seanadóirí and Deputies, including former Ministers, have held on like grim death to their perks and privileges, setting a bad example for the people. I do not know why, from the point of view of survival and self-interest, Deputies and Senators do not see that the people are logging this information day in, day out and that there will be a terrible day of reckoning. Since I am a one-term Senator, I do not care. Out of self-interest, Deputies and Senators should have set a good example and taken cuts until the pips squeaked, so to speak.

Today is 14 July, Bastille Day, and it is not surprising that legislation is being guillotined.

Senator Regan must have been thinking about that one for the past week.

I am rather surprised——

Good man, Senator Regan. Fair play to him.

That is most appropriate.

Senator Leyden will be the first.

(Interruptions).

I am surprised that the Leader has not learned his lesson. He tried this stunt last week with the Enforcement of Court Orders (Amendment) Bill. He tried to have all Stages on the same day, but was forced to take them over two days.

That is right.

I do not understand why he is trying this again today. This is important legislation. We all agree with it in principle, given the problems associated with law enforcement, but the procedure being applied is unacceptable and brings the whole House into disrepute.

InThe Irish Times today, Fintan O’Toole has a very good article entitled “Politicians prove they have no self-respect”. He should be more discerning in making that kind of statement because at least Fianna Fáil is barefaced about the fact that it is rushing through legislation and that, in setting out the procedure, it does not care what amendments are tabled. The Green Party is acquiescing in this and acquiesced in supporting the legislation on the medieval offence of blasphemy. Last week, Mr. Jason O’Mahony’s blog stated that Senator de Búrca put on record during her European election campaign that she and the Green Party are against the legislation on blasphemy. Senator Dan Boyle spoke in this House against the law of blasphemy, yet voted with the Government. The Green Party could have prevented the law on blasphemy being ensconced in the Defamation Bill. If it had done so, we would all have supported it.

Let me take up the point made by Senator Francis Fitzgerald on the recent violence in Northern Ireland, which was absolutely shocking. The violence comes as a great disappointment to all those who have invested so much hope in our newly found peace and who believed we had entered an era in which people could sit down and settle their differences as equals. In this regard, one can only hope the bringing back into play of the petrol bomb and rocks will not have an ongoing effect on another generation of young Irish people.

It is not so long since we saw several immigrants driven out of Northern Ireland by violence. There is an underlying problem that must be addressed. We should not regard the violence as a once-off occurrence because it is evident that it is orchestrated and intended to cause disruption and undermine what has been achieved in Northern Ireland. One can only imagine the pictures of the violence of recent days that have been broadcast on satellite television throughout the world.

We are currently trying to grapple with a recession and stimulate tourism, yet everything we achieve will be undermined by the violence. All I can see emerging from the violence is more hatred — I can sense it already. I hope we give the leaders, particularly the community leaders, every possible support because there is always a danger the violence will escalate. When one sees ten year olds, in particular, involved in this type of violence, it indicates there is manipulation behind the scenes. I hope that when the Taoiseach is in the House today, he will have the opportunity to address the problem. We need leadership from the highest level.

We are in the middle of what is probably the worst economic crisis we have witnessed in our lives and, in the middle of the tourism season, in respect of which everybody is focused on saving and protecting jobs, on the second day of the week-long Killarney races festival, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Gormley, has decided to lock people out of Killarney National Park. This step on his part, regardless of its environmental merits, is sheer lunacy. It is a question of so-called equine sanitary devices, dung catchers or, in the simplest terms, horse nappies.

They were caught napping.

Regardless of the merits of the Minister's argument, if he has important health and safety issues to address, he needs to make them known. As I stated previously, we cannot have one law for the park and another for the streets of the town and all its connecting roadways. Consultation and dialogue are required that must also involve the licensing authority, the local authority. I call on the Minister to reverse immediately this lunatic policy, resolve this matter and get involved. The mayor of Killarney has offered to mediate.

Why does the Senator not mediate?

I am available as well.

It was a good suggestion.

The mayor has made this serious offer. I will speak to the Minister but I would like the Leader to use his good influence with him.

All the other important matters have been mentioned. This mishandling of our business is most serious. We have other matters to discuss. The Ombudsman has released an important press release which we need to discuss and we also need to discuss the standards in public office report, but we are trying to squash everything into a day or two. It is absolutely ridiculous.

On the 125th anniversary of the GAA, which is a great institution, it is disappointing to read in the newspapers that for the first time ever the all-Ireland hurling and football finals will be played on British soil.

The Senator should stop.

That is rubbish.

That is typical of a small, bigoted mind.

The Senator should go away out of that.

The funny part of this relates to the economic issue——

The Senator should put a question to the Leader on the Order of Business.

The Senator should be ashamed of himself.

That is typical bigotry.

Senator Daly should withdraw that remark. It ill-behoves this House.

The Senator should put questions to the Leader with no interruption.

Will the Cathaoirleach please remind Senator Buttimer that he is not chairing a Bishopstown GAA meeting?

The Senator should not address Members on the other side of the House.

I hope the Senator is not driving a British car.

In the past few months I have been in contact about this with a number of contractors around the country who construct GAA pitches and I have been working with the Fine Gael Deputy who trains the Mayo football team, and the consultants in the GAA appear to have a bias towards a particular contract. This is all the more disturbing because the taxpayer has provided millions of euro for Croke Park.

It is not a matter for the Order of Business whom the GAA engages as consultants.

It does not appear there was any tendering process for the €1.2 million contract. In a time——

This House has no responsibility for the GAA.

The Government sends contracts abroad day and night.

Senator Daly has a short memory.

This concerns the tendering process and money being spent by the GAA, to which the taxpayer has given money for this and other matters. Will the Leader ask the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism to examine this issue urgently because all contracts with sporting organisations should be seen to be transparent?

Senator Daly's disgraceful comment does not warrant further comment.

The Leader's colleagues came in here this morning looking jaded, demoralised and seeking the summer break. I am amused by Senators Leyden, Ormonde and others——

The Senator should put a question to the Leader and not mind what other Members of the House said.

I have a preamble to the question. They come in here every morning——

The Senator is not allowed preambles to questions, he is allowed questions. What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

We are dealing with today's Order of Business and that means questions to the Leader.

They come in here every morning——

Senator Buttimer is giving a preamble.

I will ask the next Senator who interrupts to leave the Chamber.

They come in here every morning and talk like Rambo and act like Bambi. It is time they voted for the people and supported this side of the House——

On a point of order, that is not a question.

That is not a point of order.

My question is——

It is a point of order. The Senator is supposed to put a question.

Senator Daly is like a baby in the playpen who has lost his little rattle.

We know where Mighty Mouse is and where Mickey Mouse is.

That does not sound like a question to me.

There should be no comments across the House. I will have to call the next speaker. Senator Buttimer should put questions to the Leader.

I am being interrupted and I cannot speak.

The Senator will speak. He may go ahead but his time is almost up.

The Senator cannot speak up for Fine Gael because he would be expelled.

Will the Leader——

The Senator has half a minute to make his point.

I spoke for only half a minute.

He has used up almost two minutes.

Sinn Féin is allowed to speak up as well.

Will the Leader facilitate the Green Party Members who are probably now at an eco-conference on how to survive U-turns? Where are they again today? Where are the Green Party Members? We need a debate, as Senator Fitzgerald——

The Senator should put questions to the Leader.

I am coming to the question now. We need a debate——

I think the Senator's time is up.

I am in no rush.

I am tired of talking to Members about referring to any Member of the House who is not in the Chamber.

With respect, I did not mention any Member of the House.

The Senator mentioned my name. How dare he do so.

I appreciate the Cathaoirleach's ruling.

Has the Senator a question?

My question is that the Leader promised to have a debate on the bilateral agreement with Vietnam, on the pharmacists issue, on small and medium-sized enterprises and to resume the debate on the Ryan report. We have not had any of those debates during the past two weeks of this session.

There is a great road sign in Senator Daly's area in Kerry instructing motorists to "taisteal go mall" which means travel slowly. Rushed legislation is bad legislation. Finally——

No, the Senator's time is up.

Will the Leader say when——

Is this the Jerry show?

——the debate on the Ryan report will resume? The debate on that report was guillotined.

The Senator's time is up. I call Senator Glynn. I ask Senator Buttimer to resume his seat.

When will that debate resume?

I request the Leader to arrange for a debate on road safety and noise pollution as early as possible in the next session. I heard a locally elected representative complain about boy racers on a midlands radio programme today. We do not want to be killjoys. I have raised this matter previously and a journalist has contacted me about it.

These young people drive cars in some cases with the silencer removed. Ramps do not pose a problem for them as they have removed the ramps. Elderly people and young parents who are trying to get their young children to sleep find such activity intolerable. There is also a safety aspect to be considered. Something must be done about it. I request a debate on this matter as early as possible in the next session.

When the former Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform introduced the Criminal Justice Bill 2006 in this House he spent several weeks dealing with it and was here for the taking of all Stages. We spent weeks dealing with Committee and Report Stages of that Bill. The Minister accepted several amendments to the Bill from this side of the House. That is in marked contrast to what is proposed regarding the criminal justice legislation that we will deal with later. All Stages of that legislation are to be rammed through. That is disgraceful.

Such treatment of legislation happens on a regular basis in this House and that is down to the way the Leader orders the business of this House. He is not doing his business properly and he is not treating this House with the respect that it deserves. The least that can be done is that Second and Committee Stages would be taken today and Report Stage would be taken tomorrow. There would be some sense to that approach. I ask the Leader to consider that proposal when replying to the Order of Business and to co-operate in some way with the Members who wish to contribute to the debate on this legislation. Some 12 speakers are offering to speak on Second Stage of this Bill but given what the Leader proposes, only two or three at the most will be able to contribute. Does the Leader think that represents democracy?

I welcome the announcement by the Minister for Transport yesterday that more than 200 km of dual carriageway has now been upgraded to motorway standard. I raised this matter in the House previously. This upgrade will bring the speed limit on such roads up to 120 km/h. It is only right that the huge investment we are making in our road network will benefit the economy. Time is money in that respect. I welcome this upgrade.

I request that the Leader arranges a debate on a review of all speed limits with the Minister in attendance early in the autumn. They are set artificially low throughout the country. Even the AA has ridiculed the fact that they are set artificially low. This will give rise to serious public disquiet when the rolling out of the private camera system becomes operational.

It is good that we will have a debate on Northern Ireland today. What happened last night is regrettable. We need to recognise in these Houses that if we were to contact people in Northern Ireland, particularly in Nationalist and republican areas, we would find that there is considerable concern that the reciprocity that they expected from Unionism has not been forthcoming. Since the Good Friday Agreement there has been very little recognition of the North-South element of the Agreement. That needs to happen if we are to ensure that the peace process, which everybody wants to continue, is fully bedded down.

I was touched by Senator Buttimer's concern about people on this side of the House. I seek an early debate on swine flu, which is becoming quite serious in the neighbouring jurisdiction. A number of people who have died from it had no other illness, which confirms the concerns of the World Health Organisation in classifying swine flu as a pandemic. I seek a debate on it some time in September when the Minister can fully set out the plans and procedures that are in place with the HSE in order to contain what will be a serious health situation for the population.

I agree with Senator Walsh's comment about swine flu. My concern is that September is a long time away to have a mere debate on the matter at a time when 133 people have died in Ireland — God forgive me, they are not dead, but have contracted swine flu. Yesterday a child in the United Kingdom who had only a sore throat died from swine flu. Urgent action is required on swine flu, which is a pandemic.

The reason I rise is to support all my colleagues who have referred to the manner in which legislation is being rushed through this House today. The Minister indicated inThe Irish Times yesterday that knee-jerk reaction has no place in responding to legislative proposals. I agree with him. The tone of his newspaper article was measured. While we all support the need for legislation, this House should be the forum where we have the opportunity to debate and discuss serious legislation such as the Bill.

Last week lawyers wrote toThe Irish Times and expressed their astonishment that we were jettisoning ancient rights. I have similar concerns. I listen to people who are better informed than me. The Garda has today expressed serious concerns about the legislation. It is not too late. We do have powers in the Seanad. We can extend the time for debate and allow for serious contributions from both sides of the House. I am aware that the concerns of colleagues on the other side of the House are as deep and serious as those of Members on this side.

The Well Woman Centres' serious survey on cervical cancer revealed the sad situation that the underprivileged and poor are not availing of free cervical smear tests. No more than Senator Walsh seeking a debate on swine flu, I call on the Leader to invite the Minister to the House to discuss the cervical cancer vaccine. That is what the Well Woman Centres said yesterday, that the cervical cancer vaccine must be administered to 12 year olds because we have such a high rate of cervical cancer.

I thank the Leader for his response on Friday to my request for a debate on child protection and the second interim report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children. I seek clarification on my request for a second debate on the 420 plus children who remain missing from the care of the Health Service Executive, HSE. I have tabled the matter on the Adjournment on a number of occasions. The latest response from the Minister indicates that there are still 420 children missing from the care of the HSE. One of the missing children was Melissa Mahon, whose body was found last year. She had been missing for 18 months. As Members of the Oireachtas we have a particular responsibility to ensure that every step is taken to find those children. All of them bar three are non-national. Three children are Irish and the remainder are non-national, unaccompanied minors. In other words, from the moment they entered the country, they were in the care of the State. There was nobody to speak up for them. Nobody will contact the Garda to ask what steps have been taken to find them. It is up to us to ensure everything is done to account for each of these children. That would be a fitting legacy to the Ryan report and the other reports on child abuse. It is of utmost importance that we send a message that Ireland is not a soft target for child trafficking. Disturbing accounts are emerging that some of these children have been exploited for the purposes of child labour and the sex trade. We must have a debate on this important issue.

When we do not pay attention to particular issues, there is a danger that they simply fall off the agenda. Two issues caught my attention in the past week. First, it emerged that Galway County Council is spending €3,000 per week on supplies of bottled water to areas where the water supply continues to be considered unsafe for human consumption. This is the type of issue to which we should give more attention. We do not appreciate our clean water supply until something goes wrong with it. Second, a report has indicated that one quarter of ice samples, mainly in public houses, that were tested by the Food Safety Authority were found to be contaminated with bacteria. These ice cubes are produced from a machine but have clearly deteriorated in some way. These two issues serve as a reminder of how we may take certain matters for granted. It is important to be aware of the problems that exist and the need to address them.

In the event that the report from an bord snip nua is published, will the Leader arrange for a debate on its contents when we return in September to debate the NAMA legislation? There may be merits and demerits in publishing the report, which I understand proposes a suite of options for achieving reductions in public expenditure of €5 billion. As we are all aware, there are people who say we must all be prepared to make sacrifices and to endure cutbacks and job losses, but that is only true if the pain is imposed at somebody else's expense. Such persons will use the suite of options as a stick to undermine the necessary work of the Government. That is why this debate is essential.

I am aware of Opposition requests for more time for the debate on the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Bill 2009 and of the strong legal objections that have come from the Law Library. In the mid-west, where I am from, there is a dark evil in the form of gangland violence. The people involved have made enormous sums of money from the drugs trade, with anecdotal evidence of wheelie bins full of cash. There is often a difficulty in getting rid of the money because of the huge sums involved. People's lives are at risk from this activity, with the price of a life set at €10,000 or €20,000, amounts which those intent on committing these crimes have readily to hand. They are despised by the community. Short of internment, we must do something to impede the activities of those people, who are managing to get around legislation by using eight year olds to burn down premises and hiring contract killers. We must act now to address this problem.

I support my colleagues in their absolute and unanimous condemnation of the Government's handling of the debate on the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Bill 2009. This major legislation will make a number of seminal changes in respect of such issues as the inferences that may be drawn from a failure to co-operate in court, Garda testimony and bail. Its implications are enormous. While I acknowledge the need for this legislation, it is of such monumental and ground-breaking proportions in terms of our entire system of jurisprudence that it is criminally wrong for it to be dealt with in this fashion. The Government must stand indicted for trying to rush it through. The fact that the Dáil has risen means no amendments can be made in this House and that the Minister has no intention of accepting amendments. It is clear therefore that this will not be a legislative process, but rather a pantomime or a pageant.

It is wrong to deal with such important legislation in this manner. The Bill proposes to suspend important human liberties, although in a considered fashion because of extraordinary events in extraordinary times. However, the suspension of central civil liberties, which were fought for and achieved over years of evolution towards justice and democracy, cannot be undertaken lightly. The legislation needs days of thought and consideration to tease out and modify the proposals. It is a criminal indictment of our legislative assembly, including this House, that the Government is attempting to deal with this Bill in such a cavalier fashion. We are talking about individual people and we must be very careful before we diminish their liberties and change the entire operation of our courts. Tragically the need is there, but it requires consideration and not in a few hours of debate without amendments.

Senators

Hear, hear.

I join in the condemnation by Senators Fitzgerald and Ó Murchú of the riots that took place in Northern Ireland last night in front of our eyes on our television screens. It is to be regretted and it is certainly not being done in the name of the majority of people in Northern Ireland and everyone in the South. Those involved in the rioting should desist in the interests of future generations. The present generation has given them an opportunity that the preceding generation did not have for the previous 30 or 35 years. I look forward to the Taoiseach attending this House later to discuss and hear the views of party leaders and spokespersons on Northern Ireland.

Senators Fitzgerald, Mullen, Alex White, Leyden, Ormonde, Twomey, Regan, Coghlan, Cummins, Walsh, McFadden and O'Reilly expressed their views on the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Bill. It is one of the most important Bills to have come before us for consideration. I confirm that there is no time limit whatsoever on Committee and Remaining Stages. There will be all the time in the world for colleagues to make their views known during the debate, with the Minister present. He will be in the House all day and into the early hours of tomorrow morning for all sections of the Bill.

That will soften your cough.

Second Stage is to finish at 3.45 p.m.

Every section and line of the Bill will be discussed in this House, as is always the case.

What the Leader is saying is not accurate.

The Leader misled the House last week and is doing it again.

I call on the Leader to continue, without interruption, please.

Senator Alex White raised matters pertaining to an bord snip nua, as did Senators Harris and Hanafin. I, too, would like to see the findings of the McCarthy report published, but this is a sensitive decision for the Government and we must respect that. We must support the Government concerning what matters in that report will assist us regarding the current global economic downturn.

Senator Leyden correctly pointed out the dilemma facing taxi drivers. One's heart would go out to these poor unfortunate taxi drivers. Every day we come into this House, we see queues of taxis whose drivers are trying to make a living. One wonders what time of the day they will get a fare. After the recess, I will arrange a debate on the taxi industry with the relevant Minister present.

Government action would be better.

Something should be done about this issue——

Who in the Government will do something?

——which the Senator has brought to the attention of the House.

Senator Cassidy, without interruption, please.

Senator Coffey referred to the Financial Services Ombudsman, Mr. Meade, who upheld 63% of complaints. I will see if time can be left aside to discuss this issue on our return. Senators Coffey and Twomey also referred to the rural environment protection scheme, REPS 4 as we know it. We will have to get an up-to-date position on that issue and I will revert to the House on the Order of Business tomorrow morning. It is certainly exercising the minds of everyone in the agriculture sector. We want to play our part as representatives in assisting the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in any way we possibly can.

Senator Ormonde called for a debate, in view of the recession, on the situation facing those who were born in the boom years. I will arrange to have time left aside to discuss this matter after the recess.

Senator Harris correctly pointed out the need for everyone to play their part, including Members of the Oireachtas. He has given a good example and Senators have accepted a 25% reduction in our travelling allowances, as well as a 10% levy, which is substantial. It represents about €20,000 to most Senators living outside the Dublin area, which is a large amount of money because a Senator's salary is a humble one in a sense. When one takes into consideration the cost of running a car and everything to do with being a Senator at present, the allowances only cover what is really necessary. I fully support the Senator's view that if everyone in the public service is playing their part, we, as Members of the Oireachtas, should do so also, and we are playing our part.

Senator Coghlan referred to the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Gormley, in respect of issues concerning his native town of Killarney that he has been highlighting and outlining to the House. He asked the Cathaoirlech to have this issue discussed on the Adjournment. I listen to his views with great interest every time he brings them to the attention of the House.

Senator Daly referred to the GAA and it is a matter of pride and joy for our country to see the achievements of the Gaelic Athletic Association. This year marks the 125th anniversary of the greatest amateur athletic organisation, possibly in Europe. Every weekend we celebrate those achievements. Those of us who have had the benefit of being life-long members of the association know the value of the GAA to Ireland and what it did for us, as Senator Ó Murchú outlined to the House last year, concerning the reunification of our country and where it is today.

Senator Buttimer raised certain issues. I am endeavouring to provide an update on the bilateral adoption agreement with Vietnam and hopefully I will be able to do so on the Order of Business tomorrow morning.

Senator Glynn sought an urgent debate on road safety, particularly concerning young drivers with souped-up cars. There are many such distractions for young people today. Years ago, however, we did not have motor cars. We would be over the moon if we had an old bicycle.

Was the Leader doing wheelies on his bicycle outside Mullingar?

It shows how times have changed in Ireland, and thank God they have. I see a reverend representative in the Visitors Gallery. We will certainly allow time to debate this matter with Senator Walsh's call for a discussion on speed limits. We welcome the Minister's announcement yesterday that 300 km of roads are to be assigned as motorways.

Senators Walsh and McFadden called for an update on the position relating to the swine flu. I will endeavour to have an updated position on this tomorrow morning from the Minister for Health and Children, Deputy Harney. It is a serious challenge. Many people were shocked when they saw on television last night a report that a doctor had died within days of contracting swine flu. It just goes to show how serious this challenge is and how difficult it is to combat this type of influenza pandemic.

I fully agree with Senator McFadden's sentiments concerning the Well Woman clinic. Everyone should be able to avail of the vaccine to which she referred.

Senator Corrigan called for a debate on child protection. She outlined once again her concerns about the 420 missing children who were in the care of the HSE. I will pass on the Senator's strong concerns to the Minister this week.

Senator Quinn referred to the €3,000 per week it costs to supply bottled water in Galway. He also mentioned that 25% of ice cubes are made from contaminated water. It is a matter of serious concern and I have noted his comments in that regard.

Senator Coffey has moved an amendment to the Order of Business: "That statements with the Minister for Agriculture and Food on the proposed abolition of the rural environment protection scheme and the consequences of this decision for farm viability and rural employment be taken today." Is the amendment being pressed?

Amendment put.
The Seanad divided: Tá, 18; Níl, 28.

  • Bradford, Paul.
  • Burke, Paddy.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Coghlan, Paul.
  • Cummins, Maurice.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • McFadden, Nicky.
  • Mullen, Rónán.
  • O’Reilly, Joe.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Prendergast, Phil.
  • Regan, Eugene.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Twomey, Liam.
  • White, Alex.

Níl

  • Boyle, Dan.
  • Brady, Martin.
  • Butler, Larry.
  • Callanan, Peter.
  • Callely, Ivor.
  • Carty, John.
  • Cassidy, Donie.
  • Corrigan, Maria.
  • Daly, Mark.
  • de Búrca, Déirdre.
  • Ellis, John.
  • Feeney, Geraldine.
  • Glynn, Camillus.
  • Hanafin, John.
  • Harris, Eoghan.
  • Leyden, Terry.
  • Ó Domhnaill, Brian.
  • Ó Murchú, Labhrás.
  • O’Brien, Francis.
  • O’Donovan, Denis.
  • O’Sullivan, Ned.
  • Ormonde, Ann.
  • Phelan, Kieran.
  • Quinn, Feargal.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Walsh, Jim.
  • White, Mary M.
  • Wilson, Diarmuid.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Maurice Cummins and Paudie Coffey; Níl, Senators Diarmuid Wilson and Camillus Glynn.
Amendment declared lost.
Question put: "That the Order of Business be agreed to."
The Seanad divided: Tá, 28; Níl, 19.

  • Boyle, Dan.
  • Brady, Martin.
  • Butler, Larry.
  • Callanan, Peter.
  • Callely, Ivor.
  • Carty, John.
  • Cassidy, Donie.
  • Corrigan, Maria.
  • Daly, Mark.
  • de Búrca, Déirdre.
  • Ellis, John.
  • Feeney, Geraldine.
  • Glynn, Camillus.
  • Hanafin, John.
  • Harris, Eoghan.
  • Leyden, Terry.
  • Ó Domhnaill, Brian.
  • Ó Murchú, Labhrás.
  • O’Brien, Francis.
  • O’Donovan, Denis.
  • O’Sullivan, Ned.
  • Ormonde, Ann.
  • Phelan, Kieran.
  • Quinn, Feargal.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Walsh, Jim.
  • White, Mary M.
  • Wilson, Diarmuid.

Níl

  • Bacik, Ivana.
  • Bradford, Paul.
  • Burke, Paddy.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Coghlan, Paul.
  • Cummins, Maurice.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • McFadden, Nicky.
  • Mullen, Rónán.
  • O’Reilly, Joe.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Prendergast, Phil.
  • Regan, Eugene.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Twomey, Liam.
  • White, Alex.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Déirdre de Búrca and Diarmuid Wilson; Níl, Senators Paudie Coffey and Maurice Cummins.
Question declared carried.