Order Of Business

The Order of Business is No. 1, motion re appointment of members of the joint committee into the banking crisis, to be taken on the conclusion of the Order of Business without debate; No. 2, motion re the report of the Committee of Selection to be taken on the conclusion of No. 1 without debate; No. 3, address to Seanad Éireann by Ms Anne Brasseur, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, to be taken at 12 p.m. and to conclude no later than 1 p.m., with the contributions of all spokespersons and Members not to exceed five minutes and Ms Brasseur to be called on to reply to the debate no later than 12.55 p.m.; No. 4, State Airport (Shannon Group) Bill 2014 - Report Stage, to be taken at 1 p.m. and, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, the proceedings on Report and Final Stages shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 2.30 p.m. with one question that shall be put from the Chair which shall include only those amendments set down or accepted by the Government; and No. 5, Industrial Development (Forfás Dissolution) Bill 2013 - Committee and Remaining Stages to be taken at 2.30 p.m.

The Leader has raised fundamental questions about democratic accountability in setting out the Order of Business. When the Government came into power it stated it would usher in a new era of transparency, but the events of the past week have shown this was a hollow truth. We are now witnessing political skulduggery at the very highest level. Here is a situation where a democratically convened committee of selection, which adhered to all procedures, nominated two people onto the banking inquiry. When the Government could not get its way, it acted like a child who does not get his or her way on the football field and picks up the ball and runs home with it. It is bypassing the democratic process. We on this side of the House will not agree to having these matters put on the Order Paper and passed through without debate. We will table an amendment to the Order of Business that Nos. 1 and 2 be debated. When the reference to the inquiry was first brought before the House-----

On a point of clarification, are two separate amendments being tabled? The Senator can move one amendment.

I will move the amendment with regard to No. 1.

When the banking inquiry was first discussed, the Government Chief Whip came before the House and we had a debate. I call on the Leader to initiate further debate on this. I cannot understand what the Government hopes to achieve by this. It has already undermined the credibility of the banking inquiry. I wish to put on the record once more that Fianna Fáil is totally in support of the banking inquiry and we will co-operate in any way possible to ensure the real truth is got at under the terms of reference, whatever they may be. What I found astonishing about the Taoiseach's comments in recent days is that he plainly and openly stated on the record of the Dáil that he was not in favour, or was opposed to, the democratic decision arrived at by the committee of selection of this House because he wanted a Government majority to ensure the terms of reference would be according to what the Government wants the terms of reference to be. In other words, the committee members should be good little muppets and do what the Government tells them to do and come up with the type of conclusions the Government wants. This is essentially the message being sent out to the general public.

There is an old story about digging a hole. The Government has continued to dig the hole and has not stopped digging. By putting forward these proposals this morning, without debate to make it even worse, the Leader has, in my opinion, flouted the entire democratic process the House enjoys.

I ask Senator Mooney to clarify the amendment.

I move an amendment to the Order of Business that the Government Chief Whip come to the House to discuss No. 1.

I welcome the motion before the House proposed by the Leader. It will enable us-----

Shameful Labour Party.

If Senators do me the courtesy of listening-----

A final sell-out.

Senator Bacik without interruption.

It is being put before the Seanad-----

Democratic revolution.

If passed, it will enable us to move on with the banking inquiry-----

We do not need to have it passed to go on with the banking inquiry.

Senator Bacik without interruption.

-----and for a party which states it supports the banking inquiry Fianna Fáil has certainly done its best to play politics with it and politicise-----

Excuse me, you are the ones playing politics with the banking inquiry.

-----the appointment process-----

There is no point in putting the blame on Fianna Fáil.

That is an outrageous statement. It is disgraceful.

The Government wants an overall majority to have its own kangaroo court.

It is woeful to have to listen to this.

Senator Bacik without interruption.

If Senators look at the terms of the motion, they will see it will give the Seanad greater representation on the inquiry, which is a rather positive aspect to it-----

That is only a sham.

-----by having four Senators as opposed to the original two.

Sit down and stop digging.

It will also ensure some measure, not an adequate measure, of gender balance. It is unfortunate that of the seven members selected from the Dáil, no woman was selected.

Absolute rubbish.

Dear God Almighty, this is rubbish. That is a disgraceful comment-----

Allow Senator Bacik to make her point on the Order of Business.

-----indignation that women were not put on the banking inquiry.

I ask Senator Daly to allow Senator Bacik to make her point on the Order of Business.

In Senators O'Keeffe and Michael D'Arcy we will have two excellent additions to the banking inquiry and they will strengthen its work and bring expertise and experience to bear. Colleagues will know that at the selection committee last week the Government was ambushed-----

That is absolutely outrageous-----

-----and I use that word-----

On a point of order, I want the Senator to withdraw that remark. The democratic process was undertaken and the procedures were fully adhered to by the chairman of the committee. The democratic process was adhered to. Senator Bacik was present at the time and how dare she make that accusation.

If it has caused offence, I am happy to withdraw it.

She has left the allegation hanging in the air.

I ask Senator Bacik to withdraw it.

I am happy to withdraw it.

I thank Senator Bacik.

CPP issued a statement following its meeting yesterday that the inquiry which has been established on foot of the motion of 14 May is not a Part 2 inquiry and has no jurisdiction to deal with issues concerning allegations of conflicts of interest in respect of any member. It was helpful to all of us to establish legal certainty on this.

The smear did not work.

I ask the Leader for a debate on the ongoing situation in Iraq which is of such huge concern. We see insurgents beating-----

Another place having problems with democracy.

Even for Senator Daly, that is a somewhat ridiculous comment.

We see very worrying insurgency spreading throughout Iraq, coming within 80 km of Baghdad and taking over Mosul and other cities. It would be good to hear from the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade what it is proposed to do at EU level to join the international community in expressing outrage and seeking to prevent the spread of insurgency.

What we have heard from the opposite side must be music to the ears of the banks and the failed bank regulator, the memory man who could not answer any questions. Why did the Government back them in the past month when we needed a banking inquiry? With Deputy Ciarán Lynch, the chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, who is held in great respect by all committee members, and other members such as Deputies Michael McGrath, Pearse Doherty, Stephen Donnelly and Kieran O'Donnell, the committee operates with a strong working relationship with the Minister, Deputy Noonan, and it could have done the job. The inquiry has been held up and brought into public ridicule by the type of speech we have just heard from Senator Bacik.

We are trying to deal with a national problem from 2008. I wish to draw attention to what the Chancellor, George Osborne, will state at the Mansion House tonight. He is calling for tougher laws against banks, including seven-year penalties and fines. The heading of the Chancellor's speech is that tougher penalties, including jail sentences of up to seven years, will be extended to parts of the financial services sector in the UK in an attempt to prevent more scandals.

The Government took its eye off the ball to have personal rows about Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. This is a much larger issue which has brought this country to its knees. The people opposite should address the real issue. It looks to me like the banks and the bank regulators who failed this country abysmally have been putting pressure on the Taoiseach. He has discredited the committee which could have done a splendid job for the country. It had splendid membership as it was. Those opposite have done the State no service by their conduct in the recent past.

The State has assembled a legal team to fight the Apple case with regard to the 12.5% corporate tax rate. I hope the emphasis will be on getting people to pay the 12.5% tax and not 2% as some are doing, and that we will tackle the tax lawyer and accountant industry in this country, the fiscal termites who have undermined the tax base of this country to the benefit of Starbucks and other companies which do not pay any taxes and which fail to discharge their duties to the wider society.

It is a major source of inequality growing in all the OECD countries that some companies have enough tax lawyers and tax accountants not to pay anything. We should bring companies up to the 12.5% rate, which is defended by every party in the House. It is a bargain for those who get it. Let us ensure they pay it.

I want to raise an issue which has nothing to do with banking inquiry but which is far more serious. At some stage, we must get back to the business of representing the people. Going back to the previous budget, in my view the health budget was cut to a point where it cannot function correctly. I ask the Leader of the House to bring in the Minister for Health, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform and the Minister for Finance in order that the Seanad would represent the people by requesting that a Supplementary Estimate be made available to the Department of Health. Senator Crown raised issues yesterday, but the Department of Health, the HSE and the new hospital groups, between them are starting to grind the health service to a halt. It is essential that we move now, not after the summer recess and not coming up to Christmas when one will probably see an enormous slashing of services and closing of wards that will put people in extreme distress. These are the real issues we need to be dealing with. I ask that this happen as quickly as possible and that we go through figures and facts, some of which were raised yesterday. I am sure, if one goes through this Chamber, we will all be able to itemise areas of services not just where there are waiting lists but which have stopped. The sooner we get back to real business of representing the people, the better.

I second the proposal to amend the Order of Business as set out by my colleague, Senator Mooney. I stayed in my seat, but I was extremely disturbed at the remark made by Senator Bacik using the word "ambush".

I dealt with that issue and Senator Bacik has withdrawn it.

I accept that, but, as Chairman of that Committee of Selection, I must put on record my serious disappointment with that remark.

It was outrageous.

It was not a question of ambush. I would remind Senator Bacik-----

The remark has been withdrawn.

-----that she might do well to reflect on the parable of the wise and foolish virgins. There were a few foolish virgins missing on that occasion and it was not my fault or that of the committee, and it is a disgrace to say there was an ambush.

I support the amendment to the Order of Business. This attempt to add Senators to the proposed banking inquiry is political engineering of a most cynical nature. It is appalling. What the Taoiseach stated in the other House the other day to the effect that he must have a Government majority, is a disgrace.

If this is what will happen, then the terms of reference will be suitably engineered along Government lines and also the result of the banking inquiry will have a political dimension before it starts, not so much to get to the truth of what happened but to have an outcome that will have the desired political twist as far as the Government is concerned. As I stated here previously, due to what has happened so far through no fault of some on this side of the House, there is structural damage done to the banking inquiry before it starts. How can the public at large have faith in this inquiry when at the outset there is hullabaloo with an attempt by the Government parties to ensure they have a political majority?

That is an unnecessary feature of the banking inquiry. In the previous Administration, the Government parties, which had a minority here in this House, were able to get legislation through and do their business successfully on almost all occasions. It is a disgrace what the Government is doing with this political engineering. It is cynical. It goes against the thrust of what the Taoiseach and the Government stated when they came into office three and a half years ago. It is an appalling turnaround and we are going back to the bad old days again.

I would remind Senators that we are on a timeframe and quite a number of Senators have indicated to speak. A Senator who takes too long eats into other Senators' time.

I take the opportunity to salute those who came to Leinster House last night and those who came to Galway and Cavan, to honour those babies who died and the mothers who have suffered. I salute the fact they took the time, even though they know the inquiry has already been announced, and I welcome that. They wanted to take the moment to remember the ones who have been lost, and we all have a stake in that.

I thank the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Deputy Charles Flanagan, for his time here yesterday evening and ask the Leader if he might extend the time for statements from this House because there were a number of Senators who indicated that they would like to contribute. If the Minister would have additional time for that, we would be grateful as it is a matter of enormous importance and there is much to discuss.

It is fair to say that what is happening here today in relation to No. 1 is a disgrace.

If the Government Senators vote for this motion, each and every one of them should be ashamed of themselves. I would ask not that the Chief Whip would come before the House, but that the Taoiseach would come before the House because he is the person who is pulling the strings here. He is the person who, in the Dáil, stated this was about getting a Government majority. This is about the Government wanting a partisan banking inquiry rather than an inquiry that gets down to the business of getting truth of what happened in the banking sector.

We have nothing to hide in a banking inquiry.

Senator Cullinane, without interruption.

The reality is they do not want the banking inquiry to get to the truth.

They are more interested in scoring political points.

It is happening.

I say that because the party they are scoring points off is Fianna Fáil. They are more interested in doing that than getting to the truth.

Has Senator Cullinane a question for the Leader?

It is shameful that this amendment is being put to us. It states, "notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders", that we will set aside Standing Orders to allow the Government to gerrymander the banking inquiry. That is what they are attempting to do-----

Senator Cullinane, without interruption.

-----gerrymander the banking inquiry for their own interests.

I propose an amendment to the Order of Business, that the Taoiseach comes into the Seanad. I also appeal to all Independent Senators not to be part of this sham that is happening in the Seanad today, and to stand with Standing Orders and with democracy and not allow the Government to gerrymander the banking inquiry for its own interests.

It is the ultimate irony to hear Fianna Fáil talking about skulduggery and Sinn Féin talking about democracy.

The other point I would make is never to let the truth stand in the way of a good story. Let us be clear about what we are appointing Senators to. We are not appointing Senators to a banking inquiry. We are appointing them to a committee of inquiry to set terms of reference for a banking inquiry.

That is why the Taoiseach stated he needed a majority.

This may be too legally complex-----

(Interruptions).

Would you get real.

-----for some of the eminent minds on the other side of the House----

It might assist Senator Hayden-----

Senator Daly should resume his seat.

-----but that is the fact of the matter.

On a point of order.

If I may proceed-----

Senator Daly, on a point of order.

The Government is appointing Senators to a kangaroo court.

Is that a point of order?

That is not a point of order. Senator Daly should resume his seat.

That proves my point about the level of debate on the other side of this House.

They are gerrymandering the appointments to suit themselves and if Senator Hayden cannot see that, shame on her.

If Senator Daly does not resume his seat, I will not call him.

Wishing no disrespect, that is not a point of order and carries no content of any intellectual nature.

(Interruptions).

Has Senator Hayden a question for the Leader?

I have been interrupted. I should be entitled to make my point.

Has Senator Hayden a question for the Leader?

Senator Hayden should put her question.

Senator Hayden interrupted me several times.

It may seem unusual to have a two-tiered process where one has one committee setting terms of reference and another committee constituting the banking inquiry, but there is no guarantee that those who are on the committee set up to set out the terms of reference will, in fact, be those on the banking inquiry. Indeed, in response to Senator Barrett, it might be the decision of that committee that the Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform will conduct the banking inquiry.

Let us take one step backwards here. If I might just make a point here-----

Put away the shovel.

Senator Hayden, without interruption.

Is this a new committee?

----- it is my honest opinion that the number of members of the banking inquiry was too small and that it needed to be extended in any event. It is a lucky coincidence that we happen to have two additional Senators on it. For the record, Senator O'Keeffe has a well-deserved reputation internationally as an investigative journalist and while less may be known about our colleague, Senator Michael D'Arcy, as Labour Party finance spokesperson, it has been my experience of him as Fine Gael finance spokesperson that he is a calm, reflective individual-----

This is totally irrelevant.

----- who has displayed good judgment.

This has nothing to do with investigative journalism.

In the same way-----

Does Senator Hayden have a question for the Leader? She has gone way over time.

I have a question for the Leader that does not revolve around this matter. I ask that the issue of the U-turn by the Health Service Executive on executive top-up pay be brought forward-----

I call Senator Daly.

----- as a debate with the Minister for Health.

I call Senator Daly.

It is outrageous that legislation was passed preventing-----

Senator, you are way over time.

-----low-paid civil servants from getting increases while-----

Senator, we are on a timeframe here and you are way over time. I call Senator Daly.

-----HSE executives have had their increases protected.

I wish to support my colleagues regarding the amendment to the Order of Business and the proposal that the Taoiseach and Government Chief Whip should come into the House. Members are not seeing the democratic revolution promised by Fine Gael and the Labour Party when they came into government but are seeing an abandonment of the democratic process. The suspension of Standing Orders is the suspension of the rule of law in this House.

Tell that to Senator Crown.

It is a shameful event for any Government to use a process that should only be used in emergencies to get its own way and to ensure it has a majority. As the Taoiseach stated in the other House, we cannot proceed until the Government has a majority. As to the reason, it is because it wishes to predetermine the outcome, which already is written. This report could already have been written and left on some shelf. The committee will go through the process and then will have the result but it is a foregone conclusion. What is shameful about this, after what Members witnessed last week and today, is that the Government undoubtedly is pushing through its agenda and will make sure this kangaroo court, that is, this banking inquiry, will drag people in front of politicians-----

I thought the Senator was in favour of it.

-----and because the Government has now manufactured a majority on the committee, it will predetermine the outcome. Shame on all those Members opposite, because today they are abandoning the rule of law inside this House-----

The Government has a majority.

-----in order that the Whip opposite and the Leader opposite, who did not get their way-----

Senator Coghlan, you have indicated you wish to speak.

As for the democratically-convened meeting of this House in Select Committee, they have now abandoned it.

The Senator is over time.

As they do not like the outcome, they intend to change it.

I call Senator Paul Coghlan.

That is a disgrace to democracy.

Members have heard a lot about democracy here. I support the motion, which I hope will allow Members to move on. It is good for the House that there will be four Senators on the committee rather than two. Moreover, as Members will be aware on foot of the release by the Committee on Procedures and Privileges that was issued yesterday evening, this of necessity in its initial stages is a scoping inquiry, not a bank inquiry. While it is to be hoped that in due course it will become a banking inquiry seamlessly, apparently that is not scheduled to happen until late in the autumn in any event. This will allow both the committee and Members to move on and it will enable it to have its necessary initial meetings before the summer recess. In brief, I welcome it and I believe it has excellent members. It already had and I believe two further excellent members will be added.

That is according to the Senator's side of the House.

I ask Senator Daly to listen. The Government is the Government because the people put it there.

Does the Senator have a question for the Leader?

That is why it has the majority.

I propose an amendment to the Order of Business, "That No. 13 on the Order Paper be taken before No. 1." I also wish to state I am shocked by the disgraceful tampering on the part of the Government to try to fix this banking inquiry. Members should consider what they are trying to achieve in this regard. Is not the purpose of the banking inquiry to get to the truth of what happened? If that is its purpose, why can Members not move ahead and accept those who were nominated last week have the expertise to achieve that aim? This is exactly what the public hates about politics. It is about everything that is wrong with politics to try to tamper with an inquiry like this, because it is perceived to fix the result. I do not state that necessarily is what will happen but that is how it appears. I appeal to Members on the Government side to reconsider what they are doing here because they are reducing people's faith in the political process. Why must a Government always believe it needs a majority in everything? The purpose of this inquiry is to get to the truth and Members should accept the democratic outcome of last week's committee meeting.

Would it be appropriate for the Leader to give consideration to amending the Standing Orders of the House to ensure that when committees are called, at least two days' notice would be provided to bring order and procedure into the methodology of selection of members-----

Deputy Kehoe demanded that the meeting in question should take place and no one else.

Senator Keane, without interruption, please.

(Interruptions).

Allow Senator Keane to make her point, please.

It is my understanding that for most committees, even when I was on the county council, there is order and procedure regarding days of notice for appointments or membership-----

When one was obliged to attend a committee meeting, one had to plan for that. People have families as well-----

On a point of order, I am not prepared to allow the decision of a Committee of Selection-----

The Senator is not prepared. The Cathaoirleach-----

Senator, please let him finish. He is making a point of order.

I do not believe the decision of the Committee of Selection should be rubbished in this House by the Government side.

I am not rubbishing the-----

The Senator is now the second person who has tried to do this. She can withdraw that remark.

Senator, please.

No, I do not wish to be taken out of context. I am not rubbishing the methodology of selection. I am asking for a change of Standing Orders to ensure the notification of any committee, including the methodology of procedure of selection, be examined to ensure-----

That is what the Government does. There is no need for any committees-----

Please, allow Senator Keane, without interruption.

-----people get at least two days.

There is no need for any committees. The Government should suspend everything.

People should be given at least two days' notice to plan. If one is talking about a family-friendly Dáil and Oireachtas, how in the name of God can one order one's life, if one must jump at the drop of a hat? I ask that this issue be examined and I ask the Leader for a discussion on it.

How many others were here last Wednesday?

There is an old saying in Ireland that one cannot make a silk purse out of a sow's ear and that is precisely what some people are endeavouring to do here this morning. There is a whiff of communist Russia in what is being heard this morning. As big as the banking inquiry may be, this is a much bigger issue altogether because it strikes at the foundation of democracy. Many people in Europe marvelled at why Ireland did not have more anti-social street protests over the economic collapse. When one considers what people suffered, people in Ireland are still getting up in the morning and wondering whether they will have a roof over their heads - because they cannot pay their mortgage - next week. People are still trying to raise a family, send them to school, clothe them, feed them and do the best for them on a couple of hundred euro each week. That is the reason the question was put as to why they have not reacted. The reason they did not was because they put some faith in a sundered political system. In addition, they put some faith in a flawed political system. What if they were to get the gist of what is happening here this morning, which is that Members are putting together the elements of a political show trial, the idea of which is to try to regenerate the failing fortunes of some political parties?

I do not know how an eminent Senator such as Senator Bacik, who has a crusading spirit, could stand up here this morning and justify what is happening.

I must ask the Senator to conclude.

It must be humiliating for her.

Not at all, Senator.

There is still an opportunity-----

I ask the Senator to conclude.

-----to step back from the precipice.

I call Senator Wilson.

I do not speak on behalf of any political party or even on behalf of the Oireachtas, but on behalf of the people of Ireland.

Senator Ó Murchú, resume your seat.

This could be the end if it goes through this morning. I appeal to every Senator with any sense of decency or generosity to pull back from the precipice.

It is ironic that a few months ago the Taoiseach tried to abolish this House on a single minded crusade. Thanks to democracy and the people of this country, he was not allowed to do so. I congratulate the Leader in this regard because we had to fight to have representation on the so-called banking inquiry. We got approval, by Government motion, to select two Members of this House. The motion did not state that one Member had to be from the Government side and the other had to be from this side. It did not state that one Member had to be male and the other had to be female. It stated that two Members of this House would be selected under a democratic process.

Two Members were selected less than a week ago but because the outcome of that democratic process did not suit the Taoiseach, the Chief Whip or the Labour Party, a gun was put to the head of the Leader of this House, who is an honourable and decent man. When every process was tried and failed, including the character assassination of a Senator from my party, an amendment was prepared under the cover of darkness and put on the Order Paper. I have the height of respect for the two people concerned but they were not selected in a democratic fashion. The Committee of Selection selected two Members according to a Government under Standing Order No. 89 and now this Government is trying to ram through two other people because it could not get rid of an upstanding and decent Member from my party.

The Senator is over time.

Four are better than two.

I want to put it on the record of this House that we will not co-operate with the smooth running of business in this House -----

You never do anyway.

That is an outrageous statement.

Senator, resume your seat.

You are a disgrace.

I withdraw it.

I am sorry to have to say that. Until we stand up and realise what is happening in this country, with -----

The Senator is way over time.

-----one man surrounded by a couple of advisers.

The Senator has made his point.

I advise him to get rid of them. Until we stand up in this House and in this country for democracy, we will go nowhere.

I call Senator Power.

I have the height of respect for the Cathaoirleach but I have -----

The Senator is over time.

I appreciate that but this country is nearly out of time.

You are eating into your colleague's time.

In relation to democracy, we are running out of time in this House. We will not stand for it.

I call Senator Power.

I wanted to make that clear.

I, too, object in the strongest terms to what is being pushed through the House today. It is an absolute farce. The people of Ireland deserve a proper banking inquiry that can get to the bottom-----

-----of the practices that led to the financial crisis. People deserve the truth but what they are getting instead is the Taoiseach's own little puppet court, for which he appoints the chairman-----

What is Fianna Fáil afraid of?

-----and dictates the terms of reference. The conclusions have been drafted and are sitting in the Taoiseach's office, and he is just waiting for the committee to do its business so the members can sign their names to it. It is a farce. Shame on everyone on that side of the House who supports this motion. It is a disgrace.

People can see what is going on. Instead of getting a proper banking inquiry, we are seeing politics being played on an incredibly important issue in order to serve the narrow and petty political interests of Fine Gael and the Labour Party ahead of the next general election.

That is a petty view.

What are you afraid of?

It is an absolute disgrace. The bankers are laughing at us and at the people of Ireland because they will walk away scot free. The Government has no interest in getting to the bottom of this or in finding out the truth. It simply wants to play politics. Shame on all of you who support this motion. It is an absolute farce.

It is everything that is wrong with politics.

It is appropriate that we also devote some of our parliamentary attention to other weighty matters. I apologise if I sound like a broken record but this is yet another day without a dermatologist in the part of the country with the highest incidence of skin cancer, despite months of advance notice. I hope this issue is being addressed as a matter of extreme urgency.

This is the third day since a letter informed the surgeons in St. Vincent's hospital that they are not to carry out any further weight reduction surgeries despite a huge public relations effort to emphasise the need for this society to tackle the problem of obesity. I would be grateful to the Leader if he could use his good office to find out the chain of events because I am hearing different versions. According to one version, no funding was made available but other versions suggest that limited funding was made available or that the funding had been spent. The reality is while the surgeons were previously allowed two budgeted cases per week to work down a waiting list of 180 patients, which is now two years long and on which many people die, that waiting list is being lengthened further.

With respect to the other matter, I am conflicted because I think the banking inquiry will probably be stronger due to the involvement of additional inquisitors with expertise and life experience and that the two Members mentioned will probably do a good job. However, it has been a bad week for democracy. For the record, let us be blunt and ensure this is well annotated. What happened was that some people missed the meeting. They may have had good reasons for missing the meeting but this meant that the result did not go the way that might have been anticipated if there had been a large majority for the Government coalition. As a result, the selection was not agreeable to the Government and the first strategy embarked on was to try to discredit one of the people who had been elected. I acknowledge that the allegation in question has been withdrawn and I am not personalising this because I believe-----

The Senator's time is up.

Members will understand how one can be troubled in deciding how to vote on this issue.

I want to be associated with the remarks of our acting leader, Senator Mooney. I second the amendment to the Order Business proposed by Senator Healy Eames. What has happened over the past week in regard to the establishment of the banking inquiry is nothing short of a disgrace. We have seen a character assassination against one of our colleagues and an attempt to dismantle a Senator's character simply because it did not suit to have him on the banking inquiry. There is a saying that absolute power corrupts absolutely. That is exactly what has happened here. When a decision taken democratically by a committee of this House was not acceptable or did not fit, it was dismantled and the rules were thrown out of the window so that new people could be added to provide a Government majority when it comes time to drawing up terms of reference that are suitable to the top bankers in consultation with the Taoiseach. There is a conspiracy theory -----

On a point of order, is Senator Ó Domhnaill suggesting this coalition Government-----

-----which did not participate in the collapse of the banking system in this country -----

That is a point of procedure.

-----would set up terms of reference deliberately-----

-----to let bankers off the hook?

I think we are looking at the wrong side of the House.

On a point of order, I remind the Government side that the Taoiseach said there was an axis of collusion between the bankers and Fianna Fáil. How political was that charge?

The answer to the question from Senator Hayden is "Yes".

Is that not an irony?

This Government allowed the bankers to decide that mortgages holders are not co-operating if they do not respond to banks in the manner demanded.

Let us confuse the issue.

It is an absolute disgrace. The Government is facilitating the bankers by creating a cloud of smoke around this inquiry.

The only people who will benefit are the bankers who will get away.

Does the Senator have a question for the Leader?

I do have a question for the Leader. I know he is an excellent Leader of this House. I ask him to bring the Taoiseach and the Government Chief Whip to this House today in order that we can question them.

The Senator is way over time and should resume his seat. I call Senator Bradford.

This House has a democratic right to question both those men for the decisions they have taken.

The Senator is way over time. I call Senator Bradford.

I was the first Senator to propose formally that Senators be appointed to the banking inquiry. I am speaking as a member of the 11 person Committee of Selection. Much has been rewritten over the past week as to what happened last Wednesday night. It is important to put on the record once again that of the 11 members of the Committee of Selection, five represent the Government side of this House and six represent the non-government side. It was not extraordinary, therefore, that the Committee of Selection made the decision it did, but the Government is now attempting to rewrite that result.

When the annals of Oireachtas history are written, if the business proceeds as planned without debate, and I appeal to the Leader, in particular, to reflect on that lack of debate, it will be noted that on Thursday, 12 June 2014, the moral authority of the current Government completely disappeared and Seanad Éireann entered into a place of total disrepute.

This House is made up of members of all parties and none. People stood for election to Seanad Éireann believing in high principles and purpose, but what is happening this morning is deeply disturbing. The Taoiseach made an extraordinary contribution to Dáil Éireann two evenings ago. It is worth reflecting on what he said. It was not a quip in front of a microphone or a so-called doorstep interview. He put on the record of the House that, as far as he was concerned, the inquiry could not go ahead without a Government majority.

Does the Senator have a question for the Leader?

My request to the Leader is that, at a minimum, we would debate these motions before us. I want to note my concern-----

The Senator is out of time. I call Senator O'Sullivan.

Yes, but I just want to note my concern that we are entering a new GUBU period and we should proceed with extreme caution.

I do not normally get involved in argy-bargy across the floor. I have tried to avoid that all my life, even in the county council, and I got away with it. Today is different, however. Today is a very dangerous day for us and for democracy in the country. In the previous Seanad, when I was on the Government benches, my Whips made sure that I voted for a couple of items that I was not too happy about, but I would not vote for this. It is too important. The Taoiseach has now become a bit of a danger himself. He tried to abolish this House and thanks to the courage of our Leader, Senator Maurice Cummins, and others who stood up to him, he did not succeed. Now, however, he is coming in to dump down on the House again by asking us to introduce something that Hitler himself, with the enabling act, would have been ashamed of.

(Interruptions).

Listen to yourselves.

Quite clearly-----

Withdraw that.

(Interruptions).

Senator O'Sullivan, without interruption.

Quite clearly, the Government has no real interest in a real, meaningful and productive banking inquiry at all.

The people made their decision on Fianna Fáil in 2011 and we got hammered. We accepted it and got on with the business. The Government is not finished with that business, however. Quite clearly, by seeking to have a built-in majority in this inquiry, it is going to ensure the late Brian Lenihan, Brian Cowen and all they did will be blamed for all the ills of the country. That is what this is about this morning and nothing else.

Does the Senator have a question for the Leader?

I have. One could put on ten or 15 more people on that committee, yet Brian Cowen will come before it and will answer the questions.

That is not relevant to the Order of Business.

It will show that the blueprint of Mr. Lenihan is the one that, under Deputy Michael Noonan, has got this country out of the mess.

That is not relevant at all. I call Senator Ó Clochartaigh.

I have not finished yet.

The Senator is out of time.

I never overdo things.

The Senator is out of time and some of his colleagues will not get in.

To conclude, I am appealing to Members opposite, especially the Independent Members, not to stand for this.

I am calling Senator Ó Clochartaigh.

It is going to be the worst day in the history of this Seanad and probably one of the worst days for democracy since the Blueshirts.

Tacaím leis an leasú atá molta ag mo chomhghleacaí, an Seanadóir Cullinane. I second Senator Cullinane's amendment that the Taoiseach be called in for a debate today. We are hoping that would be a two hour debate, at least. It is obvious that the Taoiseach is the puppet master pulling the strings on this issue. I do not think that people watching this debate today would be too impressed by the pantomime antics that are going on.

I wish to raise a different issue. Late last night we heard of the resignation of Mr. Noel Daly as the chair of the west north-west hospital group. It is something we called for last week. The Minister did not give us the full information regarding Mr. Daly's position as chair. It is quite obvious to us that there was a conflict of interest in the awarding of a contract, ostensibly to his own company. It is important that he did step down because there was a certain conflict of interest there. Mr. Daly's resignation also raises further questions that the Minister has to ask himself.

The Minister should attend this House to answer our questions. How was Mr. Daly appointed? Why was the Minister not more cognisant that there was a potential conflict of interest when appointing Mr. Daly to the board? Why was the public appointments process not used to appoint the chair of a board which manages seven hospitals and has a budget of hundreds of millions of euro?

Most important, the review of maternity services, which is where this debacle started, should be scrapped at this stage. It is quite obvious that it must be a tainted document if the procurement process was not undertaken properly. I also think that the board and CEO of the hospitals' group have questions to answer as to how they also colluded in the procurement of this document.

I am calling on the Leader to invite the Minister for Health to attend the House as soon as possible to answer these questions. This is another debacle on his watch. I think he should resign before the reshuffle in order that somebody can be put in there who might be able to make a better fist of the job.

I ask Senator Cullinane to clarify his proposed amendment. The House cannot decide who will come in to debate issues. Is Senator Cullinane supporting Senator Mooney's proposal?

We are calling for the motion to be taken with debate for two hours. That is the amendment.

That is Senator Mooney's amendment.

That is okay. We will support that so.

You are supporting that amendment. I call Senator Walsh.

I concur with everything that Senator Crown has said. There are people in serious medical situations who cannot access the services they require. As we have seen in recent weeks, there are people who require medical attention but cannot afford it because their medical cards have been withdrawn. Serious lessons should have been learned from the debacle that has gone on over recent years with regard to the dysfunctionality of many public services. Unfortunately, that lesson seems to have been completely lost on the Government parties. Many people have suffered as a result of the banking collapse and the manner in which prudential banking was abandoned by people who were really greasing their own palms with bonuses. As a consequence, many people are in distress and some have committed suicide. We owe it to those we represent to have a banking inquiry that has integrity and public confidence. This approach, however, has totally undermined that, particularly with the comments of the Taoiseach. It is obvious - people everywhere will see it, including Members of this House - that this is purely an exercise in trying to gain some perceived political advantage out of what has been the most serious economic collapse in our history.

I appeal for Members on the opposite side to listen to what the people have said. The people have no confidence in the political establishment because they feel their interests are not protected and are superseded by the perceived interests of the parties themselves. This is a prime example of that.

Does the Senator have a question for the Leader?

Yes. I support the debate that has been called for. I will conclude on this point. In my opinion, it undermines the make-up of our Seanad. It highlights something I have argued for some time, that an in-built artificial Government majority in this particular House is unnecessary and certainly unhelpful for our democratic process. The sooner the 11 Taoiseach's nominations are abolished the better, in order that this House will reflect the will and proportionality of the people at large rather than this partisan approach to politics here.

I wholeheartedly agree with the points made by Senator Ó Clochartaigh. Having brought forward the maternity report in the first instance and having been accused of all sorts of things to do with its publication, I am very pleased by the fact that it has been discredited.

We have uncovered the conflict of interest involving individuals in the Health Service Executive who are feathering their nest while carrying out the will of the Government, which appears to be to downgrade maternity services nationwide. The House must debate that issue.

One aspect of this controversy that pleases me is that it will no longer be about Marc MacSharry. I invite the Leader, the Deputy Leader and their colleagues to take this opportunity to restore my good name and to do so with the same vigour with which they sought to smear me in the past week, both in the House-----

That is not relevant to the Order of Business.

-----and in private media briefings outside the House.

It is outrageous to propose that the House pass a motion without debate when it could result in flaws in the banking inquiry. We held full debates on the establishment of the banking inquiry and the Government side is now proposing to amend the motion that established the inquiry. The motion should be the subject of a full debate in the Dáil because it is related to the previous motion discussed in the Houses. I presume the other House will have a full debate on the proposed change.

The amended motion should also be added to the Order Paper and Senators should be allowed to vote on it. We should not only vote on a single paragraph of the motion on the banking inquiry but on the entire amended motion. If the Government side succeeds in passing this motion, the entire revised text must be placed on the Order Paper. This is a big "if" because if Independent Senators vote with the Opposition, I am not sure the Government will succeed in its anti-democratic endeavour. I concur with the comments made by Senators on this side. The proposal is outrageous and, if it succeeds, it will not be the end of the matter because the Government side will still have to put the amended motion to the House.

There have been disgraceful and outrageous scenes around the House in recent days, including privately, as Senator MacSharry noted. Many Labour Party and Fine Gael Members have privately expressed shame about what has taken place. I am pleased to note a statement by one Government Member, Deputy Dominic Hannigan, on LMFM radio that he was ashamed of the way in which the selection process for the banking inquiry has been handled. The Deputy added that the Members who had been selected could do a very good job and the current membership should not be changed. It appears, however, that Labour Party Senators are determined to do whatever the Taoiseach wants them to do.

One of the motifs of the referendum campaign on the future of the Seanad was an argument that the Government was showing a dictatorial streak.

Does the Senator have a question for the Leader?

This streak has been in evidence in the decision being made on membership of the banking inquiry and in the case of the former Garda Commissioner. The Minister of State, Deputy Alex White, has accused the Taoiseach of illegality in the latter matter. Labour Party Senators are determined to stand behind the Government and remain in coalition despite a serious allegation being made by a Labour Party Minister. Why is the Minister of State still in government?

Does the Senator have a question for the Leader?

If the Government side succeeds in having the motion before us passed, will the amended motion come before the House? Will a related motion come before the Dáil? Senator Aideen Hayden should note that the title is the joint committee on certain aspects of the banking crisis. While the Senator is technically correct, there is no doubt that this is the committee that will discuss the banking inquiry.

While I do not know about its composition, I would hold the inquiry in the Galway tent because that is where one will find most of the old bankers.

That is not relevant to the Order of Business. Does the Senator have a question for the Leader?

The tent will be reopened in Leopardstown.

I have great respect for Brian Cowen and the late Brian Lenihan.

Does the Senator have a question for the Leader?

They did their best at the time.

I will ask the Senator to resume his seat if he does not put a question to the Leader.

I am pleased to note that Senator MacSharry will remain on the committee.

I welcome the first ever higher education system performance report, which was published yesterday. It notes that half of those aged between 30 and 34 years have third level qualifications, the highest proportion in Europe; Irish universities are in the top 1% of research institutions in the world across 18 academic disciplines; Ireland is first in the world in terms of the availability of skilled labour; we have the fourth highest percentage of mathematics, science and computing graduates in the European Union; and 75% of Irish employers are satisfied with graduate skills.

Does the Senator have a question for the Leader?

This is a very important result because the education system has been criticised repeatedly in recent years. I congratulate the Higher Education Authority and its affiliate colleges on rising to the challenges they faced.

I propose to comment on the banking inquiry as it is turning into a fiasco. The Government has treated the Seanad and democratic institutions of the State in a reprehensible manner. A decision was made and the Government decided to change the rules and move the goalposts because it did not like it. If we are to be treated in this fashion, we have no place being here. It is a disgrace and we should go home and close the doors. What is the point in having a democratic institution if it is to be treated in this fashion? The Government wanted a Nuremburg style trial. It now has a stacked deck, which will result in a show trial whose outcome will not be upheld by anyone. The Government has made a complete and utter balls of this; it is a mess.

That is unparliamentary language. Does the Senator have a question for the Leader?

No, I wanted to make a comment. The Senators on the other side may call themselves democrats but they are à la carte democrats. This proposal is a complete joke.

Calm is needed on this matter. We are engaging in a blame game. I am not part of this.

The Senator will vote for the motion.

My attitude is that the banking inquiry must find out how decisions were made and ensure that similar decisions are never made again. The inquiry is about ensuring taxpayers-----

No, that is what it should be about.

I did not interrupt previous speakers and I ask that they do not interrupt me.

Does the Senator have a question for the Leader?

The Senator knows that is not what the inquiry will be about.

Please allow Senator Burke to continue without interruption.

We must ensure that, as a result of the banking inquiry, taxpayers will never again have to pick up the tab for bad decisions taken by people in the financial world.

Does the Senator have a question for the Leader?

My question relates to the report on the reorganisation of maternity services in the north west, which was leaked bit by bit. I concur with colleagues who stated it was outrageous that the report was commissioned. I will explain the reason.

Is the Senator seeking a debate on the report?

Yes. I am from a legal background. Those who wrote a report setting out a reorganisation of maternity services, an area with a high level of litigation, did not have a clue what they were talking about. It is outrageous that the report has caused so much alarm.

Is the Senator seeking a debate on the issue?

Yes. It is also outrageous that a public institution would commission a report without considering the consequences of doing so. It is important that the House receives a full report on the matter.

To get away from the banking inquiry momentarily-----

Will we hear more about ice cream?

I deserved that remark.

I refer to a serious issue, one that is related to the issue about which I am being slagged, Senator Crown referred to bariatric services in St. Vincent's Hospital yesterday. Cutting these services is a step too far as it is akin to removing cancer care services from those who have terminal cancer. While there are cost and management issues in the health service, people's lives are at stake in this case. Will the Leader ask the Minister for Health to come to the House to discuss this extremely serious issue?

I welcome the decision of the chair of the west-north west hospitals group to resign. I hope the report commissioned with the company with which the chairman was associated will not feed into the review of maternity services. While we all accept the need to review maternity services nationally in light of some of the tragedies that occurred in recent years, in light of the comments made by Senator Colm Burke, I hope the report in question will not form part of the review.

I ask the Leader to request that the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Deputy Simon Coveney, come to the House next week to discuss his announcement of a significant investment in the fishing industry.

Almost €150 million is being granted under the Common Fisheries Policy, which is double what we managed to achieve in the past seven years. It is a very significant day for the Irish fishing industry and everybody associated with it in coastal communities around the country. This development warrants a debate with the Minister in this House.

Senator Mooney referred to motions before the House. It is the intent of the Government to accept the decision of the Committee of Selection and give further representation to Seanad Éireann-----

The usual arrogance.

I do not intend to accept the relevant amendments to the Order of Business.

No debate is allowed.

Democracy is thrown out the window.

This decision will come back to haunt the Government.

The Leader, without interruption, please.

Senator Bacik called for a debate on the situation in Iraq and the EU's response to it. I will endeavour to bring the Tánaiste to the House to discuss that matter.

Senator Barrett referred to the Apple case. The Government is committed to defending and retaining our corporation tax rate at 12.5%.

Senator Michael D'Arcy referred to certain budgetary matters. I will try to bring the relevant Ministers to the House to discuss these matters, particularly those relating to the health services. As Senators know, the Government is responsible under the Constitution to Dáil Éireann, but we certainly will try to arrange those debates.

Senator O'Keeffe saluted the women who attended the dignified and humbling protest which took place yesterday evening outside Leinster House and called for a further debate on mother and baby homes. I thank the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Deputy Charles Flanagan, for his statement to the House yesterday regarding the forthcoming inquiry. He gave 45 minutes to the Seanad, which is exactly what he gave to the Dáil, and indicated his willingness to return at a later stage to discuss the issue further with Senators.

Senator Hayden called for a debate on executive pay in the Health Service Executive, which I will try to accommodate.

Senator Healy Eames proposed that No. 13 be taken before No. 1. I am agreeable to that amendment to the Order of Business.

Senator Keane referred to amendments to Standing Orders. Any such amendments will be considered by the Committee on Procedure and Privileges.

Senator Crown raised issues in regard to dermatology and skin cancer services. I understand a recruitment process is under way in respect of the consultant position to which he referred. On the issue regarding St. Vincent's Hospital, I suggested when he raised it yesterday that he table it for debate on the Adjournment, which would ensure a comprehensive response. I urge him again to do so.

Senators Ó Clochartaigh, MacSharry, Colm Burke and Mullins referred to the resignation of the chairman of the north-north west hospitals group. I have suggested to Senator Ó Clochartaigh that he put forward this matter for debate on the Adjournment. We have already discussed the issue with the Minister in the Chamber, but an Adjournment debate would allow Members to get answers to any further questions they have.

Senator Jim D'Arcy referred to the recently published report on higher education, which contained very positive findings. I am sure the Minister for Education and Skills will be willing to debate that report in the House.

Finally, Senator Mullins referred to issues relating to the fishing industry. We are overdue a debate on this matter, as Senator O'Donovan has pointed out on many occasions. I will renew my representations to have the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine come to the House for that purpose.

Senator Paschal Mooney has moved an amendment to the Order of Business: "That No. 1 be taken with debate." Is the amendment being pressed?

Amendment put.
The Seanad divided by electronic means.

In the interests of democracy and under Standing Order 62(3)(b) I request that the division be taken again other than by electronic means.

Amendment put:
The Seanad divided: Tá, 20; Níl, 26.

  • Barrett, Sean D.
  • Bradford, Paul.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Crown, John.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Daly, Mark.
  • Healy Eames, Fidelma.
  • Heffernan, James.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • Mooney, Paschal.
  • O'Donovan, Denis.
  • O'Sullivan, Ned.
  • Ó Clochartaigh, Trevor.
  • Ó Domhnaill, Brian.
  • Ó Murchú, Labhrás.
  • Power, Averil.
  • Quinn, Feargal.
  • Walsh, Jim.
  • White, Mary M.
  • Wilson, Diarmuid.

Níl

  • Bacik, Ivana.
  • Brennan, Terry.
  • Burke, Colm.
  • Coghlan, Eamonn.
  • Coghlan, Paul.
  • Comiskey, Michael.
  • Cummins, Maurice.
  • D'Arcy, Jim.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Gilroy, John.
  • Hayden, Aideen.
  • Henry, Imelda.
  • Higgins, Lorraine.
  • Keane, Cáit.
  • Kelly, John.
  • Moloney, Marie.
  • Moran, Mary.
  • Mullins, Michael.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Noone, Catherine.
  • O'Donnell, Marie-Louise.
  • O'Keeffe, Susan.
  • O'Neill, Pat.
  • Sheahan, Tom.
  • van Turnhout, Jillian.
  • Whelan, John.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Ned O'Sullivan and Diarmuid Wilson; Níl, Senators Paul Coghlan and Aideen Hayden.
Amendment declared lost.

Senator Healy Eames has proposed an amendment to the Order of Business, "That No. 13 be taken before No. 1." The Leader has indicated that he will accept the amendment. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Question put: "That the Order of Business, as amended, be agreed to."
The Seanad divided by electronic means.

In the interests of democracy and under Standing Order 62(3)(b) I request that the division be taken again other than by electronic means.

Question put:
The Seanad divided: Tá, 26; Níl, 21.

  • Bacik, Ivana.
  • Brennan, Terry.
  • Burke, Colm.
  • Coghlan, Eamonn.
  • Coghlan, Paul.
  • Comiskey, Michael.
  • Cummins, Maurice.
  • D'Arcy, Jim.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Gilroy, John.
  • Hayden, Aideen.
  • Henry, Imelda.
  • Higgins, Lorraine.
  • Keane, Cáit.
  • Kelly, John.
  • Moloney, Marie.
  • Moran, Mary.
  • Mullins, Michael.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Noone, Catherine.
  • O'Donnell, Marie-Louise.
  • O'Keeffe, Susan.
  • O'Neill, Pat.
  • Sheahan, Tom.
  • van Turnhout, Jillian.
  • Whelan, John.

Níl

  • Barrett, Sean D.
  • Bradford, Paul.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Crown, John.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Daly, Mark.
  • Healy Eames, Fidelma.
  • Heffernan, James.
  • Mac Conghail, Fiach.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • Mooney, Paschal.
  • O'Donovan, Denis.
  • O'Sullivan, Ned.
  • Ó Clochartaigh, Trevor.
  • Ó Domhnaill, Brian.
  • Ó Murchú, Labhrás.
  • Power, Averil.
  • Quinn, Feargal.
  • Walsh, Jim.
  • White, Mary M.
  • Wilson, Diarmuid.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Paul Coghlan and Aideen Hayden; Níl, Senators Ned O'Sullivan and Diarmuid Wilson.
Question declared carried.