From this day on, I want to see the energy and experience of all Members of the House being reflected in their contributions. They have made their point about the banking inquiry, but solving the matter is far more important. When solved, we can have open inquiries. There are two inquiries taking place, including one very serious one under the auspices of the Garda Síochána. There must be due process. I have no doubt that everything that could be done is being done. The Minister for Finance assured the people in this regard yesterday.
I wish the Minister for Finance well. He is making a massive contribution to the country and showing real leadership. Thousands of people hope he will be able to turn the economy around. As I stated, unless the United States comes good, Ireland will not. To be honest and fair, there are very few countries that are able to come good without the assistance of the United States. The bottom line is that we have a brilliant Minister for Finance. Please God, he will get over his illness. We all wish him well.
Senators Fitzgerald and McFadden called for a debate on A Vision for Change. This is the fourth anniversary and I congratulate everyone concerned. The commitment I made stands. I hope the debate on mental health and A Vision for Change will take place within the next two weeks.
Senator MacSharry referred to the reformation of the EU framework and everything that concerns it. I will consider this issue and revert to the Senator.
Senators Leyden, Norris, Cummins and Wilson referred to the serious issue of head shops. Motion No. 22, tabled by Senators Norris and O'Toole, reads, "That Seanad Éireann urges the Government to introduce legislation aimed at regulating the sale of dangerous, non quality controlled and indeterminately compounded substances through so called ‘Head Shops' ". I will have no difficulty in agreeing to an all-party motion on the issue. I will give it top priority and discuss it with the leaders and Whips to determine how we can debate it in the House as soon as possible. I congratulate all my colleagues on bringing the matter to the attention of the House. I congratulate Senators Norris and O'Toole on placing the motion on the Order Paper.
Senators Norris and Quinn welcomed the George Mitchell Scholarship Fund Act 1998 (Amendment) Bill. I will inform the House when it is proposed to take it. It is listed to be taken this session, as we know from the legislative programme of the Chief Whip.
Senator Keaveney offered her condolences on the death of Cardinal Daly. I join her in acknowledging all the good and great work that the cardinal did in Ireland in his long life. I knew him reasonably well. He was in a neighbouring diocese, Ardagh and Clonmacnoise. He was in Longford for some considerable time and in charge of the papal visit to Clonmacnoise. It was unfortunate to see what happened to St. Mel's Cathedral over Christmas.
Senator Keaveney also referred to Mr. Peadar Heffron. We send him and his family a message of support and sympathy. Senator Cummins referred to the abhorrent and terrible beatings carried out in the name of republicans. I wish Mr. Heffron well. Please God, he will make a full recovery. He is certainly under serious pressure. I join Senator Keaveney in sending a message of goodwill to him and his family.
Senator Regan has referred to the procedures that apply when one dies in Denmark. I express sympathy to the Senator and his family on their recent bereavement. He stated deaths in Denmark were recorded in a central register. Thus, everyone knows who has passed on to his or her eternal reward and one cannot claim the pension of a deceased person for 23 years. In this regard, we must support the Minister for Social and Family Affairs in combating fraud. I support the Senator's expressions.
Senators Ellis, Quinn and Callely expressed disappointment at the air traffic controllers' strike. In these difficult times we would prefer, in the national interest, if it did not take place. Everyone should negotiate and express their difficulties at the conference table. Ireland plc should not be closed down by any organisation or group of people, however serious the cause, without thinking seriously about the implications. I hope common sense will prevail and that such a strike will not happen again.
Senators Bacik, Hanafin, Daly, Cummins, Mullen, Ó Brolcháin and Hannigan commended those who were assisting the poor, unfortunate people of Haiti. What we see repeatedly on news bulletins is unbelievable. I note the work Charlie Bird is doing in Haiti. We wish former US President Bill Clinton and the current US President, Barack Obama, well in their efforts. I note that Mr. Denis O'Brien was on the streets in Haiti and that he gave financial support amounting to €5 million to the people of the country. I commend all the Irish groups involved. They are a shining example of what can be done by communities. There is a great push by the Irish to raise funds. The entertainment industry is no exception. Colleagues of mine are organising concerts and everything is being done to raise funds to help the poor people of Haiti. The House sends its condolences to the family of Mr. Andrew Grene who lost his life in the earthquake. Next Wednesday, in the presence of the Minister, we will have statements on overseas development aid and what we can do to help the Haitians. In my lifetime I have never seen anything like what has occurred.
Senators O'Malley, Butler and O'Sullivan welcomed the announcement by the Minister for Health and Children on cervical cancer vaccinations. Great value for money has been achieved. The initiative will protect all young girls, the next generation. I wish the Minister well. The savings made have been considerable.
Senators Butler and Carroll called for the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to address in the House the difficulties experienced on foot of the inclement weather, particularly in rural areas. Last night we saw television footage of the damage done in the Mount Leinster area of Carlow. I understand the Minister has written to every local authority asking for an up-to-date estimate of the amount of emergency funding that will be necessary. Senator Carroll referred to the need for a co-ordinated national emergency plan. The Minister might update the House on the current position in this regard. I will make my request to him after the Order of Business. We will definitely have him in the House to discuss this issue in the next two weeks.
Senator Quinn referred to the various backup services needed for motor transportation. I fully agree with him.
Senator Daly asked for the up-to-date position on Kenmare hospital and asked that the Minister for Health and Children, Deputy Harney, state in the House when tender documents would be issued. I will pass on the views of the Senator Daly to the Minister after the Order of Business.
Senator Healy Eames requested the response of the Taoiseach on senior civil servants' pay. I will revert to the Senator directly on the issue. I understand the response is already available.