Senator Ó Domhnaill raised the issue of the health service. We will try to arrange for the Minister for Health to come to the House for a comprehensive debate on the health service but I doubt we will get him at such short notice. The matters raised by the Senator were also raised yesterday on the Order of Business, when it was noted that up to 20% of advertised consultant posts have not been filled. This is a cause for concern and it will have to be addressed. The Senator suggested that the health service is under resourced and over staffed but in the same breath he contradicted his claims by referring to an overspend of €500 million. He cannot have his bread buttered on both sides.
Senator Hayden spoke about rent regulations as a way of preventing homelessness. Fr. McVerry commented favourably on that subject recently. The Senator noted the success of the tenancy protection service in helping people to stay in their homes. I commend the service on its efforts. The Senator also noted the significant increase in building starts but called for the construction of quality homes and the avoidance of a rush on planning applications in advance of the introduction of proper building regulations.
Senator Quinn spoke about rates for sporting clubs. That is a matter for local authorities but the valuation process will also have to be considered. We continue to await the valuation Bill. I understand it is almost ready but it will be September before it is before us. We can consider the issue of rates in the context of the valuation process and the Bill. In regard to companies offering special deals for new customers, we saw how the Senator overcame that issue. It is something that should be considered by others but I note the points he made.
Senator Naughton spoke about cyber bullying and safer use of technology. This issue is of paramount importance. The Minister for Education and Skills discussed the issue with us previously but it is something we should review on a regular basis and I will ask the Minister to come back to the House. Senator Wilson asked for a debate with the Minister on the amalgamation of VECs and a progress report on the education and training boards. I will ask the Minister to agree to a discussion on these matters.
Senator Landy spoke about television coverage of GAA games, including in particular next week's game. There is some confusion as to whether the game can be broadcast. I note his point on ash dieback disease. We had a comprehensive debate on ash dieback some time ago. I am sure that counties Tipperary and Kilkenny will be able to produce sufficient hurleys for Croke Park in September if they manage to get that far. Senator Cullinane referred to the pre-budget submission by St. Vincent de Paul. The Minister for Finance has assured us that he will examine every submission he receives but we will try to arrange a pre-budget debate in September, although we will not have much time in September and October for such a debate.
Senator Paul Coghlan referred to the seizure of illegal tobacco products and called for closer co-operation between the police, the customs service and Revenue and greater vigilance of fuel laundering. This is a matter that Ministers and their counterparts in Northern Ireland and the UK have been working on for quite some time, and they are now making significant progress on it.
Senators Mooney and Mullins referred to the imprisonment of al-Jazeera journalists, a matter which was raised by a number of Senators on yesterday's Order of Business. Senator Brennan commended Fota Island on the Irish golf open and spoke about the importance of such events for tourism. Senators Bradford and Mullen referred to No. 22, on Ireland's appointment of a European Commissioner. This is a Government decision and I do not doubt that the interests of the country will be the paramount consideration when the Commissioner is appointed.
Senator Mullen raised the possible removal of CSPE as an examination subject. I believe this is a very important subject which should be studied and retained as an examination subject. I will invite the Minister for Education and Skills to attend the House to discuss that matter.
Senator Mullins called for a debate on the report by the Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas, CEDRA. I have requested a Minister to attend the House to debate the recommendations in that report.
Senator Mary Ann O'Brien referred to alcohol consumption and alcohol abuse, which was also addressed by a number of Senators on the Order of Business yesterday. I have invited the Minister of State at the Department of Health, Deputy Alex White, to come here to discuss that. However, I have not yet received confirmation of a date for a debate on measures to combat alcohol abuse.
Senator Noone asked that a sugar tax be considered in the next budget. I am sure that is one of many items the Minister for Finance will be considering in the context of October's budget.