I regret some of the earlier interchanges. I know it is early in the new Seanad. I am grateful to the Cathaoirleach for sending material on the conduct and business of the House to all Members, new and old. We should all reflect on that. We should remember that we are on trial. Certain things are precluded under the Order of Business. The Cathaoirleach handles situations very well. I will always support him in that regard. We all need to refresh our minds about this.
I am opposing the Order of Business because I believe what the Leader has proposed regarding the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill 2011 is, in fact, a guillotine. Guillotines are not part of the tradition of this House, nor should they be. For that reason, I will vote against the Order of Business. I will ask my colleagues on the Independent benches or somebody else to second me on this.
Would the Leader raise directly with the Government the case of some Irish soldiers who fought in the Second World War? The House will remember that I and others here raised the case of the so-called Shot at Dawn, who were terrified youngsters, many of whom came from the Irish countryside who, when they got involved in places like Passchendaele, had shell-shock but were still shot by court martial. In the Second World War, many people throughout Europe felt horrified by the emergence of the Nazi party, with its racial policies and extermination camps. Nearly 5,000 Irish soldiers left the Army and joined the allied forces to fight against Hitler. Some 4,983 died on the Normandy beaches. After the war, in an extraordinary act of vengeance, they were court-martialedin absentia, which, I believe, is not legal but it was done. This was wrong. They were presented with no opportunity to defend themselves. Natural and constitutional justice was violated and these men were court-martialed, including, astonishingly, even those who had died defending democracy on the Normandy beaches. I ask the Leader to bring this to the attention of the Government and ask that it might consider advising the President to issue a retrospective pardon because, apart from anything else, there is still a small number of these survivors left alive and we should honour them.
Will the Leader investigate the position of Glencree Reconciliation Centre? I have been advised by the secretary of the National Association of Compass, which is the Co-operation of Minority Religions and Protestant Parent Associations (Post-Primary), that they have traditionally, approximately for the past ten years, brought students on a three-day course to Glencree and have just been informed that due to budget cutbacks Glencree will be closed to such courses from July. That is a matter of great regret. Glencree is something of which we all can be proud. Training young people is valuable and I ask the Leader to bring this to the attention of the Minister as well.