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Seanad Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 2 Feb 2016

Vol. 245 No. 9

Business of Seanad

Before we begin, I understand the Leader will clarify a problem with the availability of Ministers or Ministers of State to take Commencement matters.

Will the Leas-Chathaoirleach, please, repeat what he said?

My understanding is that a Minister or a Minister of State is not available to take the debates at this juncture.

I am sorry, but I cannot hear the Leas-Chathaoirleach. Will he, please, say it again?

There is a problem with the availability of a Minister or a Minister of State to take the first two Commencement matters at this juncture.

Last week I raised the serious case of Ms Carol Brill, who has Usher syndrome. I am sorry, but can Senator Ivana Bacik-----


Please do not try to stop me. I rang the Taoiseach to let him know what was happening here today.

I think there is a possibility-----

I am making my point. This is a democracy.

Just one second, please. There is a possibility that a Minister will be along in the next 15 or 20 minutes and that we will be able to deal with the matters then. It is not the case that no one is coming.

That sounds good, but I was informed-----

At this juncture, I do not know whether-----

Excuse me, please, but can I-----

Unfortunately, like the Senator-----

Will the Leas-Chathaoirleach, please, listen to me?

I received a call from Mr. Adrian McLaughlin in the office of the Minister of State, Damien English, who told me that the Minister of State would not be able to take my Commencement matter and that he had two of his own. I am saying exactly what happened. The Government cannot muster up a Minister in its last days to discuss the case of a lady who has Usher syndrome and fallen between the cracks in the health system.

Leaving aside the merits of the case, I am not doubting what the Senator said. Perhaps the Leader might consider suspending the sitting for a few minutes.

That is the first I have heard about the unavailability of Ministers. I was not informed about it whatsoever.

I was informed at approximately 2.20 p.m.

We can suspend the sitting for 20 minutes, during which time I will try to find out what the position is.

A Minister will be here later.

We will suspend the sitting until 2.45 p.m. at which time I believe the Minister of State, Deputy Damien English, will be available.

We will come back then.

I thank the Leader.

We can announce the Commencement matters to be debated.

I can go through them.

We need to know.

I am informed that the Minister of State, Deputy Damien English, is only prepared to take the third Commencement matter at 2.45 p.m. and that they are waiting for another Minister to take the other two matters, if possible, but it may not.

Will the Leas-Chathaoirleach announce the three Commencement matters that have been selected?

Yes. I have received notice from Senator Mary White that, on the motion for the Commencement of the House today, she proposes to raise the following matter:

The need for the Minister for Health to ensure deaf-blindness is formally recognised as a disability in Ireland.

I have also received notice from Senator Thomas Byrne of the following matter:

The need for the Minister for Health to regulate and prohibit car parking charges at public primary health care centres.

I have also received notice from Senator Cáit Keane of the following matter:

The need for the Minister for Education and Skills to outline the details of negotiations concerning Gaelscoil Chnoc Liamhna, Knocklyon, Dublin 16, in particular, to highlight the reasons for the hold-up of development at the school.

I regard the matters raised by the Senators as suitable for discussion and they will be taken in due course.

On a point of order, is there a suggestion a Minister will appear to debate the Fianna Fáil motions?

At this juncture, I have received no guarantees, except to say the Minister of State, Deputy Damien English, is due to take one and that-----

The Fine Gael motion.

Rather than jumping the gun, perhaps-----

I am just inquiring, as it seems-----

I understand the Senator's anxiety and concerns, as well as those of Senator Mary White. It is unfortunate, but we might have more information when we resume at 2.45 p.m. when the Leader might be able to update the House. I thank Members for their patience.

Sitting suspended at 2.40 p.m. and resumed at 2.45 p.m.