Waste Management (Collection Permit) (Amendment) Regulations 2016: Motion

I move:

That Seanad Éireann resolves that Statutory Instrument No. 24 of 2016 – Waste Management (Collection Permit) (Amendment) Regulations 2016 – be annulled.

Cuirim fáilte roimh an Aire Stáit, an Teachta Seán Kyne. Silim gurb é seo an chéad uair dúinn labhairt le chéile sa Teach seo. Ba mhaith liom tréaslú leis tar éis dó bheith ceaptha mar Aire Stáit na Gaeltachta. Is dócha go bhfuil sé ag déileáil le cúrsaí dramhaíola chomh maith céanna sa díospóireacht áirithe seo. Tá mé cinnte ón aithne atá agam air go ndéanfaidh sé a mhíle dícheall ó thaobh cúrsaí Gaeilge agus Gaeltachta agus tá mé ag súil go mbeidh cuid mhaith díospóireachta againn anseo ar na hábhair sin.

Mar is eol don Aire Stáit, is dócha gur tháinig an cheist seo chun solais i gceantair an iarthair - i gceantar na Gaillimhe, ach go háirithe - i bhfianaise an obair taighde an-mhaith a rinne Raidió na Gaeltachta maidir le cúrsaí dramhaíola. Tá a fhios againn gur thug an t-iar Aire, an Teachta Alan Kelly, isteach an ionstraim reachtúil seo nuair a bhí sé i mbun Aireachta chun athrú a dhéanamh ar an gcóras a bhaineann leis na ceadanna a fhaigheann na comhlachtaí bailithe bruscair ó thaobh bruscar a bhailiú. Is dócha gur tháinig sé seo isteach faoin radar nuair a raibh an oiread sin cainte ann faoi cé bheadh nó nach mbeadh i Rialtas. Bhí daoine ag iarraidh an mbeadh Micheál nó aon duine eile ann, nó pé rud é. Murach gur thosaigh dreamanna cosúil le "Iris Aniar" ar Raidió na Gaeltachta ag déanamh fiosruithe faoi seo, agus gur thosaigh daoine sa phobal ag ardú ceisteanna, ní bheadh sé tagtha chun solais chomh mór go raibh an rud seo le bheith chomh éagórach.

Tá riar mhaith comhlachtaí príobháideacha ar fud na tíre ag plé le cúrsaí dramhaíola i bhfianaise socruithe a rinneadh roimhe seo príobháidiú a dhéanamh ar an gcóras agus an fheidhm sin a bhaint de na húdaráis áitiúla, rud nach mbeimid ar a son go huile is go hiomlán. Bhí sé beartaithe sa scéal seo go dtosófaí ag athrú an chórais. Is dócha gurb é an rud is fearr le déanamh ná sampla Chonamara a thabhairt. Bhí sé i gceist táille seasta a thabhairt isteach ag an dream a bhí ag fáil réidh leis an dramhaíl i gConamara. Tuigtear go raibh sé sin le bheith suas le €224 in áiteanna áirithe sula raibh bosca bruscair ar bith pioctha suas. Bhí éagóir breise ansin ó thaobh cúrsaí dramhaíola chomh maith - sé sin go mbeidís siúd atá ina gcónaí níos faide ón baile mór ag íoc níos mó mar tháille seasta. Léiríonn an pointe sin go raibh na táillí a bhí an comhlacht áirithe seo ag iarraidh a bhaint de mhuintir Chonamara éagórach amach is amach. Ar an taobh eile, fuaireamar amach go bhfuil an comhlacht céanna atá ag feidhmiú ar an taobh sin tíre ag cur seirbhíse ar fáil i gContae Liatroma. Bhí muintir Liatroma ag fáil margaidh i bhfad níos fearr agus fair play dóibh. Bhí táille seasta de €80 á bhaint de mhuintir Liatroma ar an tseirbhís ceannann céanna sular ardaíodh aon araid bhruscair. Tá sé an-deacair oibriú amach cén chaoi a bhféadfadh comhlacht an méid sin a bhaint amach i gContae Liatroma agus i bhfad níos mó - beagnach trí oiread an méid céanna - a bhaint amach i gConamara.

I am sorry to interrupt the Senator, but there does not seem to be a translation service. My Irish is reasonable, but I am having a little difficulty in following the Senator. We should have the facility of a translation service.

Has the Senator turned on the headset? A service should be available.

I found one and switched it on, but it made damn all difference.

I understand there is a volume control on the headset.

I switched it right up to the top.

I understand the system is working, but I will certainly look into the matter for the Senator.

Hold on one minute. I beg the indulgence of the Chair to take one minute of Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh's time. I switched the volume control right up and right down. I also tried to use a different unit.

We will follow up the matter for the Senator. I invite Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh to continue. I am sorry about this.

I apologise to the Senator.

On a point of order, there are no headsets along this row. We cannot put on something that we do not have.

Can the Senator find them in another row?

There are no headsets in the other row either, but I see one that I might be able to use.

It would be helpful if the Senator could find a headset somewhere else. We will have to look into the matter. I again apologise to Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh who has been interrupted twice.

Tuigim an phointe atá déanta ag na Seanadóirí ó thaobh leagan Béarla a fháil. Ní dóigh liom go mbeadh sé ceart ná cóir dá mbéinn ag iompú ar an mBéarla agus Aire Stáit na Gaeltachta os mo chomhair, go háirithe nuair atá aistriúcháin ar fáil sa Teach.

Bhí mé ag déanamh comparáide idir chás Chonamara agus cás Contae Liatroma. Is é sin rud amháin a bhí i gceist. Chomh maith leis sin, bhí na táillí a bhí á mbaint amach ó thaobh an bosca bruscar glas, an bosca bruscar gorm agus an bosca bruscar dubh thar a bheith doiléir. Bhí sé deacair ar dhaoine éagsúla dul i dteagmháil leis na comhlachtaí. Ní raibh an córas áirithe a bhí i gceist i gConamara soiléir ó thaobh daoine a bhí ag úsáid málaí bruscair. Is é sin an sampla is mó a bhfuil eolas agam faoi. Tá daoine ann nach bailíonn mórán dramhaíola. Bhíodar ag úsáid córas málaí bruscair. Cheannódh siad málaí sa siopa áitiúil ar luach an mhála de réir mar a bhí málaí ag teastáil uathu. Ní raibh a leithéid d'fhéidearthacht le bheith ann faoin leagan amach nua a bhí le teacht i bhfeidhm - bhí ar dhaoine málaí a cheannach díreach ón gcomhlacht agus riar mhaith málaí a cheannach le chéile ag an am céanna. Cinéal bulk buying ón gcomhlacht a bhí i gceist, rud a chosnódh i bhfad níos mó airgid oraibh. Bhí ceisteanna eile ag daoine chomh maith maidir leis an bunachar sonraí agus an t-eolas a bhí na comhlachtaí éagsúla ag iarraidh a bhaint de dhaoine. Cá raibh an t-eolas agus na sonraí pearsanta a bhí á lorg an an gcomhlacht príobháideach seo, nuair a bhí daoine ag clárú, ag dul? Cén cumhacht a bhí acu an t-eolas sin a roinnt agus mar sin de? Nílim ag rá go raibh tada as bealach á dhéanamh acu, ach ní raibh sé soiléir céard a bheadh ag tarlú sa chomhthéacs áirithe sin.

Ar ndóigh, tá sé ráite ag riar mhaith daoine trasna an Tí agus sna meáin go raibh an córas a bhí le cur i bhfeidhm éagórach go huile is go hiomlán ar theaghlaigh, go háirithe teaghlaigh ina bhfuil páistí óga, a bhíonn ag úsáid clúidíní agus mar sin de, iontu. Bheadh níos mó costais orthu ós rud é go mbeadh an t-ábhar a bheidís ag cur sna málaí bruscair níos troime. Tá sé an-deacair feiceáil cén buntáiste a bheadh i gceist faoin scéim seo le athchúrsáil nó athúsáid a dhéanamh, nó do chuid bhruscair a laghdú ar an gcéad dul síos. Dá bhrí sin, bhí sé deacair dúinn i Sinn Féin feiceáil cén buntáiste ar chor ar bith a bhí ag baint leis an gcóras nua seo agus cén chaoi a raibh an tAire sásta cead a thabhairt do na comhlachtaí príobháideacha an rud seo a chur i bhfeidhm. Thugamar faoi deara go raibh an ionstraim reachtúil áirithe seo i gceist agus go raibh sé de cheart ag an Seanad í a tharraingt siar taobh istigh de mhéid áirithe laethanta ina mbeimid inár suí. Táimid ag iarraidh go dtarraingeofaí siar an ionstraim reachtúil seo. Nuair a bhí a leithéid á phlé againn ar an Déardaoin seo caite, ba léir go raibh daoine ó pháirtithe éagsúla ag tacú leis na moltaí a bhí á gcur chun cinn againn agus go raibh an imní céanna orthu faoin mhéid a bhí beartaithe. Dar leis na meáin, ní raibh sé i gceist ag an Aire bualadh leis na comhlachtaí dramhaíola go dtí am éigin an tseachtain seo, ach chomh luath agus a chuala sé go raibh an rún seo curtha chun cinn againn, bhí cruinniú aige leis na comhlachtaí. Tháinig siad ar mholtaí thar an deireadh seachtaine agus is cosúil go bhfuil na comhlachtaí dramhaíola ag brú na moltaí seo chun cinn.

Ní fheiceann muide i Sinn Féin cén fáth gurb iad na comhlachtaí dramhaíola atá ag casadh an phoirt agus gurb é an tAire atá ag damhsa de réir an phoirt sin. Tá an tAire i gceannas. Is léir go bhfuil an córas a bhí molta ina phraiseach agus nach bhfuil leath dóthain machnamh déanta faoi.

Is léir go dtéann sé siar freisin go dtí aimsir an iar-Aire, Phil Hogan. De réir na tuairiscí a chuala mé ar chláracha raidió, bhí plé idir Phil Hogan agus na comhlachtaí dramhaíola tamaillín siar maidir leis an gcineál córais a bheadh i bhfeidhm - sé sin, an mbeadh iomaíocht taobh istigh den mhargadh i gceist nó an mbeadh iomaíocht le haghaidh tairiscintí, ina mbeadh comhlacht amháin buacach agus ina dhiaidh sin ag feidhmiú mar sórt soláthróir sna ceantair éagsúla, i gceist. Is léir ní hamháin go raibh lámh Phil Hogan sa rud seo ar fad, ach freisin go raibh an Teachta Kelly sásta an rud a chur i bhfeidhm le linn a thréimhse mar Aire.

Ag an bpointe seo, táimid ag iarraidh go dtarraingeofaí siar an ionstraim reachtúil seo. Sílim gurb é sin an rud ceart le déanamh. Ní ghlacann muid len méid atá á rá go poiblí ag an Aire, ná ag Fianna Fáil ach go háirithe, maidir leis na moltaí atá á gcur chun cinn ó thaobh na ceiste seo. Níl i gceist i bplean an Rialtais ach an scéal seo a bhrú ar aghaidh agus an chaora a chur thar abhainn. Tá siad ag iarraidh an fhadhb a fhágáil ag duine éigin eile. Tá an Rialtas ag tabhairt cineál "hospital pass" don Aire, an Teachta Naughten, ó thaobh cúrsaí dramhaíola. Tá siad ag loic ar an dualgas atá orthu déileáil leis an bhfadhb seo agus ag tabhairt mí-ádh dóibh siúd a gcaithfidh déileáil leis bliain síos an bóthar. Táimid ag rá nár chóir é a bhrú síos an bóthar ar an mbonn go bhfuil deis againn anois an ionstraim reachtúil seo a tharraingt siar taobh istigh de mhéid áirithe de laethanta. Má rachfaimid chun tosaigh leis an bplean atá curtha chun cinn, ní bheidh an chumhacht sin ag an Seanad. Is é sin an fáth go bhfuil sé tábhachtach go ndéanfaí é seo anois.

D'ardaigh mé an cheist seo Dé Céadaoin seo caite, agus bhí mé an-sásta an lá dár gcionn nuair a d'aontaigh ceannaire Fhianna Fáil sa Teach seo, an Seanadóir Ardagh, go bunúsach leis an méid a bhí le rá agam. Ba mhaith liom an méid a dúirt sí ar an Déardaoin a mheabhrú do dhaoine:

The policy change agreed by the former Minister, Deputy Kelly, to pay by weight could result in charges increasing from €200 to €400 per year. This is unrealistic and completely unfair.

Dúirt sí níos déanaí:

People are being faced with a double whammy of standard fees being increased under the pay-by-weight system, which will add extra costs.

Dúirt sí beagáinín eile ina dhiaidh sin:

The Government must listen to the concerns and must not keep ignoring the problem in the hope it will go away, as it will not. I call on the Minister, Deputy Coveney, to come to the House to explain what actions he intends to take to address this problem and to address the exorbitant bin charges that are being sold to Members as climate change measures. Personally, I do not buy that.

Ba léir dom ar an maidin sin go raibh Fianna Fáil ar bord leis na moltaí a bhí á ndéanamh againn agus gur aontaigh siad le mórán de na rudaí a bhí á rá againn. Bheinn ag súil inniu go mbeidh Fianna Fáil sásta tacaíocht a thabhairt don mholadh atá againn an ionstraim reachtúil seo a tharraingt siar.

Tá sé seo fíorthábhachtach ar fad ó thaobh pobal na hÉireann. Nuair a théann an tAire Stáit siar go Conamara, tuigfidh sé go maith go bhfuil daoine ar buile faoin gcostas atá ag baint leis na táillí seo agus na costais eile atá ag titim orthu. Is é sin bun agus barr an scéil seo. Tá daoine bánaithe le roinnt bliana anuas de bharr na beartais déine atá tugtha isteach ag na Rialtais roimhe seo. Tá an Rialtas seo ag leanacht leis sin. Tá daoine ag rá liom go bhfuil sé deacair orthu an muirear teaghlaigh a íoc. Tá costais brúite orthu ó thaobh cúrsaí uisce. Tá an méid airgid ina gcuid pócaí laghdaithe go mór. Tá cuid mhaith daoine a bhí ag obair dífhostaithe nó ar uaireanta laghdaithe anois, agus ag brath ar íocaíochtaí leasa shóisialaigh. Creideann siad nach bhfuil anseo ach cáin bhreise - cáin bhruscair - atá curtha anuas orthu ag an Rialtas. Is féidir a rá nach bhfuil an Rialtas ag baint amach an cáin seo go díreach, ach ní mór a rá go bhfuil an Rialtas ag tabhairt deiseanna d'áisíneachtaí príobháideacha a lámha a chur i bpócaí an phobail agus airgead a tharraingt amach astu. Nil sé sin ceart ná cóir. Tá ceist eile faoi seo. Cá bhfuil an t-airgead breise-----

The Senator's time is nearly up, but I will give him a little extra.

Go raibh míle maith agat, a Leas-Chathaoirligh. Tógfaidh sé nóiméad amháin an phointe seo a dhéanamh. Cá bhfuil an t-airgead ar fad ag dul? Má tá an comhlacht atá i gConamara anois chun a chuid táillí a chur suas thart ar 200%, cá rachfaidh an t-airgead breise sin? An bhfuil aon chuid de ag teacht ar ais chuig an Státchóras? Cá bhfuil sé i gceist go rachfaidh an t-airgead sin?

Ba mhaith liom a rá mar fhocal scoir go bhfuil mé an-sásta go bhfuil an deis seo faighte againn díriú ar an gceist áirithe seo. Is í seo an chéad uair go bhfuil Gnó Comhaltaí Príobháideacha curtha chun cinn ag Sinn Féin sa Seanad. Is féidir linn beart a dhéanamh de réir briathar anocht. Is féidir linn deireadh a chur leis an gcostas seo anocht. Táimid ag impí ar Fhianna Fáil seasamh leis an bpobal agus le Sinn Féin agus an táille seo a stopadh. Tá súil agam go dtiocfaidh Fine Gael agus na Neamhspleáigh ar bord linn chomh maith céanna. Fágfaidh mé an t-urlár anois ag mo chomhghleacaí, an Seanadóir Mac Lochlainn, atá ag cuidiú liom.

Go raibh maith agat, a Sheanadóir. I ask Senator Pádraig Mac Lochlainn to second the motion.

I second the motion. In the past few weeks there has been public discourse after it emerged that many of the waste collection companies would double or treble the cost of waste disposal services. That did not come from nowhere; it did not come from left field. Let us remember that the legislation was deferred for an entire year. I would have thought, therefore, that the then Minister, Deputy Alan Kelly, over the heads of his senior departmental officials, would have brought in representatives of the waste management companies and local authorities and said the following to them:

This is what we intend to do and these are the objectives. We are doing really well in the case of dry recyclables. We are doing well in recycling plastic, paper and cardboard. We are doing a really good job because years ago the necessary infrastructure was put in place, but we are not doing well in the case of organic waste. We are also not doing well in recycling food waste, garden cuttings and clippings and need to do a lot better. We need you to roll out a three bin system. In Dublin, for a certain type of recycling service, the bins are green, but in Donegal they are blue. The brown bins take organic waste; the black bins take whatever is left and their contents must go to landfill.

It has been a legal requirement for over one year, where one lives in a town with a population of over 1,500, to ensure one's waste is separated. One must ensure organic waste is put in a brown bin, that dry recyclables are put in a blue or a green bin and that the rest of the waste is put in a black bin. Tens of thousands of families have yet to see a brown bin. They cannot, therefore, comply with the law, even if they wanted to and most of them want to do so. In a week's time people who live in a town with a population of over 500 must comply with the legislation. Can one imagine the number of towns that will now join the list? Can one imagine the tens of thousands of households who are supposed to comply with the legislation but cannot do so?

Today the bin provider in my part of County Donegal received an inquiry. A member of staff said that not only could they not give a date when brown bins would be delivered but that they would not do so as the company did not have the capacity to do so. The infrastructure is not in place in the county to make such provision. In one week the new legislation will come into force, but not a single brown bin has been delivered in County Donegal. The council was then contacted and a member of its staff said: "We have people on leave, out sick, etc. and cannot oversee it." That shows that there is no oversight and regulation of waste companies in the State.

Many good citizens may be listening to this debate, or perhaps they have better things to do, but those listening may think to themselves: "I recycle plastic, paper and cardboard, so I am a good citizen." Despite this, significant amounts of recyclables are incinerated in waste energy plants instead of being recycled. There are big questions marks in that regard.

What is the level of oversight? If a local authority does not have oversight of waste management companies and they have no inclination to implement the law the Government is insisting on bringing forward, the entire initiative is a farce. That is why Sinn Féin has tabled the motion to have the statutory instrument annulled. We want the secondary legislation to give effect to the changes to be annulled and withdrawn and to go back to the drawing board. In so doing one would avoid the last minute panic in bringing in representatives of the waste management companies to ask them to freeze the charges for one year. I do not want the Minister to paper over the cracks.

The Minister must negotiate properly, which will mean speaking to departmental officials, managers of county councils and directors of services in local authorities. He must also tell the waste companies what they must do. If this is done properly, it will have the potential to increase recycling rates, which currently stand at between 40% and 50%. We can do better than that by minimising the amount of waste going to landfill and being incinerated. Those who came before us set this process in motion. They pursued laudable objectives but were failed by a lethargic Department and Ministers.

One would have expected the Fianna Fáil Party to embrace the motion on the basis that it was common sense and to have called on the Government to go back to the drawing board. I have read the Fianna Fáil amendment on the Order Paper and agree with most of it. However, the party has decided that the new politics in the Houses will be that its motions will be passed with the collusion of the Government and that the Government's agenda will be passed with the collusion of Fianna Fáil. God forbid that a Bill or a motion is tabled by any other part of the Opposition because Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael will vote it down. What we have is new politics for Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael and the same old politics for Sinn Féin and everybody else.

Sinn Féin is engaging in opposition for the sake of it.

Fianna Fáil councillors across the State are wringing their hands and telling people that while this is terrible, there is nothing they can do about this awful and unfair mess. However, when a motion is tabled and the Seanad is in a position to exercise one of the few powers that would make it relevant, capture the imagination of citizens and act in their interests, it transpires that we will not be able to get it over the line because Fianna Fáil has done another deal with Fine Gael. If, as expected, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael unite again to vote down a sensible Opposition proposal that would have us go back to the drawing board for the reasons I have outlined, the Minister will have to tell householders in County Donegal and elsewhere who live in urban conglomerations with a population exceeding 500 what they should do with their organic waste. How will he ensure they will have the brown bins they need to separate their waste? Will he ensure they will not be punished under the legislation introduced by his Department which provides that inspectors may inspect bins to ensure waste has been separated and may issue fines to householders who do not comply with the law? Will he amend these elements of the relevant statutory instrument?

It is a complete mess. Why do households in some parts of the State pay between €5 and €7 to have a bin of recycled waste collected, while in others collection of the green bin is free of charge? Why are recyclable products being incinerated when people believe they are being recycled? The Minister knows tjat he should have withdrawn the statutory instrument. We have another case of last minute panic as he seeks to sort out the issue. If the motion is voted down, the Minister had better tell the tens of thousands of families who do not have a brown bin and do not have equality of access to recycling infrastructure how he proposes to solve the problem. If this "Fianna Gael" Government is to do another deal as part of its new politics, the Minister must address this issue and reassure the people who are following this debate.

I welcome the Minister. I know that he has been closely engaged with this issue since long before the recent events highlighted by the Opposition and others.

We need to examine how we behave and manage waste. The starting point was our unsustainable dependence on landfill sites. This has left many local authorities with major legacy issues, with which many Senators will be familiar. We are still paying the price for unsustainable practices in waste management. As a result of the various initiatives, including the green schools programme, we need only ask children what the solution to the waste problem is. "Reduce, reuse, recycle and compost" is how we will divert waste from landfill sites. However, we must also have in place a formal system that will allow us to manage waste in a responsible manner. We cannot afford to continue our dependence on landfill sites because it is unsustainable, costly and bad for the environment.

Waste collection systems have been introduced nationwide. As a former member of a local authority for eight years, I recall when change was first proposed in waste management. When we introduced recycling and charges, Sinn Féin engaged in populist opposition to the changes proposed. We are elected to be responsible. We cannot be populist all the time and while people have legitimate concerns about waste charges, Sinn Féin is not offering solutions. It engages in rhetoric that appeals to emotions and exploits distress without offering solutions. Over time, people will see through this.

I support the Minister in his endeavours, especially his efforts in recent days to engage with stakeholders and the waste management industry. As we know, this is not about increasing charges but about changing the behaviour of householders in how they manage their waste by encouraging and incentivising a reduction in waste going to landfill. Ultimately, this will be good for all of us, including future generations.

I remember trying to adopt waste management plans and introducing the first recycling bags in County Waterford, which I represented on the council. We introduced what I considered to be a fairly small charge. Even then, we faced major opposition from Sinn Féin because there was resistance to change. In the interim, it has been demonstrated that recycling, for which we charged initially, has been extremely successful.

It was privatisation.

I do not hear Sinn Féin acknowledging the significant progress made by local authorities in diverting waste from landfill sites. This success and progress should be acknowledged. Instead, the party acts opportunistically by jumping on people's fears and concerns and hyping up the issue to change it into something else. I am entitled to hold that opinion.

Statistics show that in 2011, when the most recent survey was carried out, 46% of households were paying a flat fee, 34% were paying for either a tag or on a per-lift basis and 20% were using the pay-by-weight charging system. Studies have shown that the introduction of a pay-by-weight system would mean the diversion of more than 450,000 tonnes of waste from landfill sites every year. That is the nub of the issue. The Minister's engagement with the waste companies and commitment to introduce a dual pricing policy will help to communicate and raise awareness of how to change behaviour to divert waste from landfill sites. If we are all being honest, we must ask whether we compost waste at home and engage in all of the actions we advocate in the Oireachtas. The home is where waste management starts, which leads me back to schoolchildren and how they could teach us all a lesson or two on sustainability, waste management and caring for the environment.

Hysteria is being stoked about something that is not an issue. A regulation is being introduced in accordance with the polluter-pays principle, with which, as has been shown by the support for the waste collection systems introduced ten or 15 years ago in the face of significant opposition from Sinn Féin, most people agree. The diversion of waste from landfill sites works. I urge politicians to behave responsibly and lead the way, as children are doing in schools, on sustainability and waste management.

As I stated, the fundamental issue is the polluter-pays principle which incentivises and encourages people to reduce the waste being placed in bins and transported to landfill sites. The pay-by-weight system is a means of achieving this and gives people more control over their waste collection costs. Those who try to manage their waste in a positive and progressive manner will find their charges will fall because they will send less waste to landfill sites. This will, in turn, reduce the costs to the State arising from landfill site management and remediation costs. We are building up a legacy for the future. Perhaps the Minister might clarify how many millions have been spent in the past ten or 20 years in remediating landfill sites. A number of such sites have been remediated in my local area at substantial cost. While some have been turned into beautiful amenities, all of this has come at a cost to the Exchequer and taxpayers. If we do not manage waste, we will ultimately pay the cost.

Ultimately, we will pay for it if we do not manage it. That is a fact. Ultimately, the taxpayer will pay the price. There are many private landfill sites around the country which must be managed and remediated. We have a long way to go in dealing with the legacy with which we were left in terms of bad practice and bad waste management for many years.

Another issue that must be reviewed is that of franchise bidding versus side-by-side kerb side collections. In the larger urban areas numerous competing bin collection companies are operating in the same areas which is causing frustration for householders. A review took place as part of the regulatory impact analysis in 2012 which recommended that we continue with the existing system. However, the next 12 months will provide an opportunity to review the system again to see if there is a more efficient and better way of doing things through franchise bidding in the market.

I reiterate that it was never the Government's intention to increase charges to householders. We all have a responsibility to be honest and open with the public. We are supposed to show the way; therefore, rather than creating hysteria, we should be communicating, as the Minister is proposing to do, what the proposed system can bring in benefits for householders if they manage their waste and reduce the amount going to landfill, thus reducing the cost. The open market can function by competing for household waste business which should also help to drive down the cost.

It is very important that we acknowledge the enormous progress made in the past ten to 15 years in recycling and the diversion of waste from landfill sites. It should be acknowledged by the Opposition that we have advanced significantly.

It is insulting to call people hysterical.

I welcome the Minister. Fianna Fáil supports the replacement of flat-rate bin charges with pay-by-weight bin charges for households. This will reduce the amount of residual waste going to landfill, give householders more control over their waste costs and reward those who recycle. However, we acknowledge that implementation of the new charging regime has been highly problematic owing to the opacity and lack of transparency of the new pricing models.

Fianna Fáil welcomes the price freeze for customers for the next 12 months, based on current pricing plans. During the second half of 2016 the waste industry will engage in an intensive public awareness, information and promotion campaign to promote the benefits of the pay-by-weight charging model, supporting customers in understanding how they can change their waste management behaviour to better manage their waste costs. No later than 1 January 2017, customers will receive a dual pricing plan detailing the costs under the current model and the pay-by-weight model of disposing of the waste they generate and be given the opportunity to switch to the pay-by-weight system. This is very productive and will give householders the chance to ensure they pay less for household waste disposal. Following the 12 month transition period, a review will take place which will inform decisions on arrangements from 1 July 2017, including the requirement for comprehensive billing information on the pay-by-weight system, through amendments to the relevant statutory instrument. It is intended to keep the operation of the price freeze under review, with further legislative interventions to be considered, if necessary. The waste industry has made a commitment to provide for a weight allowance for 60,000 HSE patients supplied with incontinence wear in order to reduce their waste charges and the Government has agreed to a 50% reduction in the landfill levy on waste companies for such waste.

Fianna Fáil calls on the Minister to introduce a waiver scheme for low-income households, those with special needs, larger households and those with babies who could be negatively affected by the new charging structure. This is a very important issue for Fianna Fáil and those who have attended our clinics and argued that the new system will be unfair to them. Fianna Fáil also calls for a mechanism to be put in place to ensure apartment dwellers and those who cannot store wheelie bins will be provided with a fair pricing system. We also need to examine the issue of bags because we were told that from 1 July this year bin bags would no longer be collected. The Government must introduce measures to increase the diversion of food and compostable waste from landfill sites and encourage the reuse and recycling of green waste. Such measures could include ministerial orders compelling waste collectors to provide separate compostable waste bins in areas in which householders do not currently have them and to enable householders to recycle glass in their green waste bins.

Sinn Féin never comes up with answers. Its members always say we should get rid of this or that-----

Fianna Fáil is so cynical. Cynicism drips off it.

-----but we must move forward and give people real answers.

(Interruptions).

There has been a lack of information and a growing sense of fear and frustration among families about the charges, which I understand. There has been a complete failure of communication on the part of the Department and the providers on the new charging structure. The issues of information provision and regulation must be addressed. Fianna Fáil is committed to promoting awareness of the value of recycling through education and information campaigns urging householders to reduce, reuse and recycle. That should be the motto for every household because such behaviour will enable consumers to save money and reduce their bills.

The motion is about providing value for money and making sure the most vulnerable in society will not pay more but less for the disposal of their household waste. Fianna Fáil wants to ensure that by next year every family will pay less for waste collection. We must encourage everyone to reduce, reuse and recycle.

Does the Minister wish to respond now?

I am happy to wait if others wish to contribute.

I wish to share my time with Senator David Norris.

On a point of information, some of what I will say in response to the debate might assuage some of the concerns expressed so far and may impact on Senators' contributions. It is up to Members to decide, but I can respond at the end of the debate or do so now.

We will finish the contributions-----

I ask Senator Victor Boyhan to make his contribution and will then call the Minister.

I welcome the Minister to this important debate and thank Sinn Féin for tabling the motion which, to be specific, calls for the annulment of a statutory instrument. During the debate Members have wandered off to discuss other issues mentioned on the Order Paper, dealt with in previous debates and debates we may have in the coming days. As I said a number of days ago, I am absolutely in favour of waste and water charges. I was first elected to Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council in 1999. Because of political posturing by all parties and none, we have never seriously tackled the issue or been advocates of the polluter pays principle, which principle is critically important. There have been many arguments for and against it, but the reality is we must pay for both waste collection and water. This debate is about waste collection.

I again thank Sinn Féin for tabling the motion.

I have been involved far too long in local government to know that every time a representative of Sinn Féin speaks, everyone else opposes him or her, but that is not democracy. We keep talking about new politics, but there is none. There is simply a new reality: people have to do business and be civil with everyone. We can dress it up as new politics and I hope there will be an opportunity to be part of it, but I am not convinced by that new buzzword or phrase.

I wish to put three points to the Minister. It is important to have a fair national pay-by-weight collection system which must be in line with the polluter pays principle. It must also be based on fairness and ability and capacity to pay. It must have regard for those who cannot pay and may need to avail of a generous waiver scheme.

I have tried to think of how I can encapsulate in one sentence what I believe people want or what the people who have contacted my office say they want. The Government's objective should be to secure a reasonable and fair free allowance per person and a fair unit price for any excess waste. I have not heard too many people talk about this.

I thank Senator Victor Boyhan for sharing part of his time with me.

I welcome the Minister and wish him well in his new job. I wish to preface my remarks by saying, as I said on the Order of Business yesterday, the biggest mistake of all was providing for privatisation which was complete and utter nonsense. The waste business should be controlled by the city authorities. There is no reason for it to be hived off to these peculiar and rather squalid operations. I remember them operating like the Mafia, in burning out the lorries of competitors and so on. It was absolutely disgraceful.

They were sacking workers, too.

There are no unions either.

I did not understand the rationale behind privatising the service.

Let us look at the business of privatisation. Senator Victor Boyhan says he does not mind paying. I do not mind paying for things either. We pay for water through the water tax. We pay for bin collection services through the bin tax. We pay for roads through motor tax. Then we have the property tax. Hello - what is it for? If we are paying for everything else, why are we paying property tax? People's homes should be sacrosanct.

The real reason I am contributing to the debate is that I sent a letter to the Minister. I am not sure whether he has even caught sight of it. I sent it approximately one month ago and also sent a copy to Mr. Andrew Rae at the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission. In the letter I raised questions about the proposed merger of Panda and Greenstar. This raises serious questions. I have ten for the Minister. Is the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission satisfied that in this matter competition rules have been appropriately enforced? Is it true that Panda required and was given detailed operational information by Greenstar? Was the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission informed of this? Has the commission audited company e-mails and records as a result? That is an important point. Certain things would be revealed if such an audit was to be carried out. I call on the Minister to indicate to the House whether such an audit has taken or will take place. If the merger goes ahead, Panda will control the Dublin waste stream at the three biggest waste transfer stations: Greenstar, Millennium Park in north Dublin; Panda, Ballymount in west Dublin; and Greenstar, Bray which covers south Dublin and Bray, County Wicklow.

Waste is an asset, a point which is not fully understood outside the industry. Having control of disposal depots for sorting, recycling and bulking up for onward disposal after recycling means all small operators have to pay the waste in-take price. The price for all waste, including domestic waste, will be set by Panda. Does this not constitute a monopoly? In addition, I understand Panda has an agreement to supply the Dublin incinerator with 400,000 tonnes of waste to meet its annual requirement to deal with 600,000 tonnes of waste. Over time this will allow Panda to set the price for incinerator operators and, therefore, the taxpayer. A Greenstar-Panda merger would mean that the firm would have a monopoly in dealing with this waste stream. Without a Greenstar-Panda merger there is open competition for waste contracts and the waste stream required to supply them. This will drive down the price to European waste disposal levels. Is this a matter of concern to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission? After the proposed merger Panda will have control over 90% of domestic waste customers in the Dún Laoghaire area. It has been told that it will have to off-load a portion of these customers. Should Greenstar not have been required to off-load customers under supervision? Were data protection regulations taken into consideration during the process?

The new charging mechanism for green bin collections has recently been signed into law, allowing for charging by weight, etc. Does the market research not show that, with the new rules, waste volumes will drop by 25% initially due to consumer over-reaction to a perceived higher charge? As consumers get used to the charges, they will readjust and volumes will recover over a short period. Waste companies will factor in the reduction in volumes to recover their losses and increase their margins, but prices will not be readjusted as volumes recover. In practice, the real cost of waste disposal to the consumer is set to increase significantly. Is it not true that in acquiring Greenstar Panda will also gain 30% of the market in Cork and 40% of the market in the south east, making it the biggest waste operator in the country with an ability to crush its competition, as many waste collectors are small and unable to sustain the challenge in dealing with a major competitor?

In assessing the size of the merged entity I understand the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission took into consideration or included the Kildare and Wicklow regions, as well as parts of counties Westmeath and Louth, that is, all of the surrounding counties. Does this not dilute the real picture, as the analysis should have been based on the Dublin boroughs?

On a point of order, would you agree, a Leas-Chathaoirligh, that it would be fair if the leaders of the six groups were allowed to speak before the Minister? You have allowed the speakers for four groups to contribute, but there are two more groups.

The Minister is entitled to come in when he wishes to contribute to the debate. I am following a strict rota.

I have no issue with that suggestion.

I am asking the Leas-Chathaoirleach-----

I am asking the Minister to agree. Only two speakers remain.

I have no issue with that suggestion.

I am following the order. If the Minister does not wish to come in now, the next speaker will be from Fine Gael. Who is offering? Is it Senator Maria Byrne or Senator Kieran O'Donnell?

There are no takers.

Neither Senator wishes to speak. We are back to Sinn Féin. Senator Paul Gavan is to speak next.

On a point of order-----

The Leas-Chathaoirleach had better let the Minister in.

Prder, please. I am following the order.

Senator David Norris has had his say.

No, the Senator is out of order. I am following a strict rota.

I am trying to ask you a question.

I do not like all of these interruptions, but the Senator should carry on.

I am very sorry, but I am keen to see fair play.

Yes and I am trying to ensure it.

Sinn Féin which has seven Members has had one speaker.

We are dealing with a Sinn Féin motion. My hands are tied.

I wish to see them untied.

Will the Senator, please, obey the Chair?

I will accept your ruling.

All the Leas-Chathaoirleach had to do was to ask the Minister.

I wish to continue the point Senator David Norris was making. It is an important one, given the industry about which we are talking. It is a scandalous industry because of the privatisation which happened throughout the country with the active support of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. In fairness, that is and has always been their ideology, but it has been a disaster.

I ask the Minister to recall the dispute with Greyhound only two years ago. The strike continued for 14 weeks and workers were sacked unceremoniously, all because the company was trying to impose pay cuts. What we have seen in the waste industry since privatisation is a race to the bottom in terms and conditions to reduce costs. This has resulted in a squeezing of workers. I have heard people from Fine Gael talk about the waste industry, but I have yet to hear anyone from it ever talk about workers' rights. Is it ever going to happen? The answer is probably not because, to be fair, it is not on Fine Gael's agenda.

How dare the Senator say that? Sinn Féin does not have a monopoly when it comes to workers' rights.

Not once has anyone from Fine Gael mentioned the rights of workers in the waste industry and its disgraceful standards.

I was a union representative. Does the Senator believe me when I say that?

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions has called for a joint labour committee to be set up in the sector. Of course, in reality, it should be brought back into public ownership, as Senator David Norris pointed out. However, if we cannot achieve this because it is against Fine Gael's ideology, the Government should at least provide for decent standards in the industry, but, again, it is something about which we will never hear from Fine Gael. Having said that, I invite the Minister, if he so wishes, to make an announcement of providing support for the establishment of a joint labour committee, which all Members would welcome, but somehow that is unlikely to happen. It is a scandalous industry, one in which terms and conditions have been destroyed. There are appalling rates of pay and no permanency of tenure.

I will return to the key point. We had an opportunity to actually make a difference. Let us consider the phrase "new politics". There is new politics for Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael which are now joined at the hip, on which I congratulate them. However, it is old politics for the rest of us. We could, however, have made a real difference for struggling working families by annulling the statutory instrument.

We could have had legislative change to protect hard-pressed working families, but, unfortunately, our colleagues in Fianna Fáil chose not to do this. Instead, they have come up with long-winded waffle which kicks the can down the road and will enable waste companies to have a fresh cut at upping charges in 12 months time. Fianna Fáil has decided to duck legislative change and swap it instead for a wish list, of which there will be no legal enforcement. We know that the proposed hikes in charges were wrong and that this is what the bin companies planned to do. Does anyone seriously believe they will not make this move again at the first available opportunity?

Fianna Fáil, in particular, had a choice to make today. It could have stood with the people or the Government. However, it chose the latter. We are all the poorer in this Chamber for that lack of courage in facing down the Government on this issue. We had a chance to demonstrate the real relevance of this Chamber by standing together and annulling the statutory instrument. Fianna Fáil, however, would not do this. In fact, it has some cheek sitting on the Opposition side of the Chamber. Two weeks into this term, we can see that it is joined at the hip to Fine Gael. It seems to have adopted the words of Madonna, “True blue, baby, I love you”.

What is the Senator's proposal?

Our proposal is that the legislation be annulled.

Did the Senators not read it? At this point, our Fianna Fáil colleagues look more blue than Boris Johnson. While it is a huge disappointment that Fianna Fáil has stood with the bin companies, it is hardly a surprise. After all, that is what right-wing parties do.

(Interruptions).

Fine Gael does not have the courage to stand up against the private waste companies. Neither does Fianna Fáil, as we can see today. Sinn Féin wants to have the statutory instrument annulled and then we could have a wider debate on the issue, with a public model of waste collection being introduced to deliver an effective public service to all citizens of the State. We had a chance to make a start today, but, unfortunately, beyond the hot air and rhetoric of Fianna Fáil, beyond all of the concern we heard expressed last Thursday, it has decided to side with the Government, the new allies, Fianna Gael.

Does the Minister wish to contribute at this point?

On a point of order-----

No, I am calling the Minister. There is no point of order.

I am entitled to raise a point of order. We are talking about new politics.

I do not want to hear opinions now but a point of order.

We have a situation where four groups have been allowed to make their contributions to the debate. However, two groups have been excluded.

The Minister has precedence.

Through no fault of his own, the Minister may have to leave the Chamber, as I have seen many times before.

He is entitled to come in when he wants to do so. The Senator is out of order. There are two speakers before him.

I may be out of order, but I am going to seek to have Standing Orders changed on this point.

Of course, the Senator can; that is his right. However, this is not the place to do so.

Thank you for allowing me in. It is much appreciated.

I have ruled on the matter.

My understanding is there are two more speakers before Senator Denis Landy.

My point was about the debate.

I think it might have been helpful if I had made a contribution in the middle of the debate. I am, however, staying to the end and will listen to what Members have to say. It may influence what some Members will say if they hear the Government’s perspective and build on some of the matters referred to by Senator Paudie Coffey. I also want to clarify some of the issues raised because the concerns are not valid, although they might be honestly held.

Senator Pádraig Mac Lochlainn referred to the roll-out of brown bins. The requirement to roll out brown bins to households in urban areas is dealt with under a separate regulation, not the statutory instrument Sinn Féin is seeking to annul today.

I know; it is Statutory Instrument No. 81.

The European Union (Household Food Waste and Bio-Waste) Regulations 2015 require waste collectors to provide brown bins on a phased basis in areas designated for brown bin collections. If waste collectors fail to provide such a bin service in a designated area, the regulation can and will be enforced by local authorities. Whether the statutory instrument is annulled today, it will make no difference in dealing with the issue of brown bins as raised by Sinn Féin. We need to talk about the facts.

The Minister should check the statutory instrument.

Senator David Norris referred to the State’s role in dealing with waste collection companies. It concerns assessing permit applications. Mergers of companies are not matters for local authorities or me. The consequences of a merger may well impact on waste collection, but it is a competition and mergers issue. There has yet to be a decision or ruling from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission on the proposed merger referred by the Senator. Perhaps he raised a genuine issue, but I have confidence that the commission will look at it and rule in time. I certainly cannot intervene in that process.

Will the Minister get the commission to reply on the matter?

Order, please. The Minister to continue, without interruption.

Senators should be aware that Statutory Instrument No. 24/2016 which Sinn Féin is proposing be annulled does not deal simply with the introduction of mandatory pay-by-weight charging but includes a range of other vital provisions and reforms for household waste collection permits and requirements. There would be serious consequences in annulling the statutory instrument, for whatever reason. The provisions include the application of fixed penalty notices or on-the-spot fines for specific breaches of waste collection permits for household waste collectors. Do Senators believe it would be in the interests of waste collectors to annul this regulation? They would probably be happy if we were to do so.

The provisions also include the automatic review of waste collection permits for specific offences such as not weighing waste or not making the weight available to householders. A review may conclude with amending or revoking the permit. Again, it is trying to ensure that, if people involved in the waste industry are stepping out of line, there will be a response to it. This regulation is about enforcing the rules and ensuring there will be a level playing field for everybody. These are the facts, rather than emotion.

There is also a provision for the automatic review of waste collection permits where there have been three contraventions of specific permit conditions within a five-year period, where the review may conclude with amending or revoking the permit. Again, this is about enforcement of the rules and ensuring there will be no cowboy approach to waste collection. That is what the statutory instrument does, as well as providing for the introduction of pay-by-weight.

The Minister already has it.

On a point of order, I want to correct the record. The Minister said-----

That is not a point of order.

Will you just hear me out? The Minister made a direct reference to the fact that the statutory instrument has no bearing on the collection of brown bins.

I said the provision of brown bins.

Let me quote the statutory instrument that clearly gives effect to the legislation. The Minister needs to correct the record.

The Minister is responding to the motion.

I did not say that.

I am asking the Minister to correct the record. I clearly interpreted the legislation, but the Minister has intentionally danced around the issue.

Order, please. The Minister must be allowed to continue.

We know what the statutory instrument does. It gives effect to the legislation to which he referred.

Will the Senator, please, obey the Chair?

Will the Minister correct the record? I can quote Statutory Instrument No. 24 of 2016.

The Senator will have the right to respond as the motion in his name. In the meantime, we will hear the Minister.

The Minister has misled the House on an important issue central to the debate.

Please allow the Minister to continue, without interruption.

He has misled the House. I will provide the reference in the statutory instrument for anyone who wants to see it. It gives effect to the provisions for the collection and separation of waste in brown bins.

We have heard the Senator.

The Minister should not try to mislead the House.

On a point of order, surely we are entitled to receive a copy of the Minister’s speech.

That is not a point of order.

Senators should show the Chair some respect.

Exactly. The Minister to continue, without interruption.

I am trying to be helpful. If Members will, please, allow me to-----

The Minister intentionally misled the House on the issue of brown bins. I can show it to him in black and white. Does he want me to read his own statutory instrument?

The Senator cannot argue across the floor. He will get a chance to respond later.

What I said clearly - the Senator does not like it because it does not suit his argument, which is why he is trying to be aggressive-----

The Minister intentionally misled the House.

What I said was that the requirement to roll out brown bins to households in urban areas was dealt with in separate regulations, namely, the European Union (Household Food Waste and Bio-waste) Regulations 2015. It has nothing to do with the collection-----

Paragraph 20(a) of the statutory instrument gives effect to that legislation.

I must rule the Senator out of order. He will have a chance to respond.

What Senator Pádraig Mac Lochlainn is talking about is the obligation to collect and separate waste, but that is not what I am talking about. What the Senator said concerns the obligation to give households brown bins-----

To separate their waste.

We cannot argue about the matter now. The Senator can make the points he wishes to make when he responds.

Senator Pádraig Mac Lochlainn made his point earlier. I listened to him and I am trying to respond to explain-----

The Minister is potentially misleading the House.

-----that the statutory instrument he is seeking to have annulled does not concern the roll-out of brown bins. There is a separate regulation-----

Can I have the Minister's response clarified-----

The Senator must address his remarks through the Chair.

Senator Pádraig Mac Lochlainn does not want to hear me. That is the problem.

He cannot address the Minister directly.

He does not want to hear me. That is the reality.

He will have a chance to respond. The Minister to carry on, without interruption.

Of course, the regulation about which we are talking and which the Senator proposes be annulled relates to the separation of waste, with which nobody is disagreeing. What I am talking about is households being given a brown bin in the first place and rolling out the relevant provision. Will the Senator, please, accept that that is a separate regulation? He does not want to do so because it would not suit his argument.

The Minister is wilfully misleading the House. He can continue with his misleading.

With respect, I am not seeking the Senator's permission to continue.

Please allow the Minister to make his contribution. Every time he is delayed, I will add one minute to his time and somebody else will lose out as da result.

People are talking about new politics and being cynical about it. Issues have been raised which I accept are genuine. I am seeking to give accurate answers, but the Senator does not want to hear them. That is what is happening.

(Interruptions).

I am making the point that if we choose to annul the statutory instrument, there will be consequences. The consequences are that one will essentially annul a series of rules that actually hold waste operators to account and ensure a level playing field to avoid the cowboy behaviour about which some Senators are concerned. If we make a choice to annul the statutory instrument, we will actually facilitate those operators who want to break the rules and we will not be able to hold them to account. That is the point I am making and it is valid. I am not misleading anybody.

On the issue of pay by weight, about which Members of all parties and Independents have raised genuine concerns, whether they be members of the Anti-Austerity Alliance, People Before Profit, Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, the Green Party, the Labour Party-----

Yes, absolutely. Last week I answered questions in the Dáil about the concern that was understandably building about the mandatory switch-over to a new charging structure linked with a statutory instrument introduced last January for all the right reasons, in an effort to encourage a shift-over for about 80% of people who had bins collected and were not yet using a pay-by-weight pricing model. Most of them would not have seen a change in their pricing structure. For what it is worth, most people who have switched to a pay-by-weight model in the past few years do not want to switch back as they see the benefits. They have been encouraged to adopt - they have done so willingly - a different approach to waste management that involves separation at source in the home using three different coloured bins. I accept what Senator Padraig Mac Lochlainn has been saying. In some parts of the country brown bins are not available. We need to ensure we correct this before people will be required to separate their waste. What I have done is change the approach because many people have protested and expressed genuine concerns about the fact that they may be forced-----

Why did the Minister call them hysterical?

Let us not get too precious. We have responded as a Government to the genuine concerns expressed last week. People from all parties and none asked me to engage with the industry to ensure no household would be ripped off as we moved to a pay-by-weight charging structure. That is exactly what I did. Last Friday, the day after the questions had been raised, we met representatives of the waste industry for at least three hours. I had a very direct discussion with them. I told them that in no circumstance would the Government allow a situation where households would be mandated to switch over to a new charging system that would result in dramatic increases for many of them. That has not happened, but Members are talking in this debate as if it will. It will not. There is an acceptance by the Government that we are not prepared to make the transition on a mandatory basis to a charging structure based on pay by weight. Clearly, some companies are seeking to hike charges during the period of confusion in the change of structure and pointing to the fact that the Government is requiring them to do so. I made it very clear that that was not acceptable. What we have is an agreement and a deal with the industry that there will be no increases in waste fees or charges for the next 12 months. For the first six months we will focus on raising awareness, education and promotion to demonstrate why it is good to consider switching to a pay by weight system, while in the second period of six months waste companies will be required to offer what is called a dual billing system, under which people will be able to see what they are paying and what they would pay if they chose to switch to the pay-by-weight model. On top of this, we have an agreement with the industry that anybody who wants to opt for the pay-by-weight system can do so. Therefore, instead of requiring households to change their behaviour through a mandated charging system, we are encouraging them to do so of their own accord and the industry to facilitate a changeover.

The Minister has one minute left, but I will allow him two minutes because he was interrupted on a number of occasions.

The point I am making is that the approach proposed that caused such a negative reaction from many households who had genuine concerns is no longer being followed. Instead there is a different approach that incorporates a 12-month price freeze. Therefore, no one need worry about being ripped off. While they are considering in a serious way switching to a pay-by-weight system, they will be given all of the information they need and will then have the option of opting in. We have committed to engaging in a full structural review of the waste industry which will incorporate many of the issues Senators have raised, including whether we should have a regulator and whether the market is functioning in the way it should in the interests of households in recycling, reducing and minimising waste through composting and so on-----

Will the Minister include in the review rates of pay for workers?

Please allow the Minister to respond-----

No, he will not.

The Senator's side of the House will have five minutes in which to respond at the end of the debate. He should not keep interjecting.

Workers' rights is a broader issue that is receiving attention from the Government. We actually increased the national minimum wage twice during the term of the last Government and also introduced a series of other labour support measures-----

-----but what we are talking about is ensuring the concerns expressed by many households last week can be addressed by the Government in a comprehensive way. That is happening.

We have also got from the industry an absolute commitment on the treatment of incontinence wear. Some 60,000 people in Ireland require incontinence wear from the HSE which gives rise to about 40,000 tonnes of waste a year. If households had to pay for this waste at, say, a charge of €30 or €35 a tonne, the cost would be €12 million. The industry has made it quite clear that it will not charge for this waste but will consider introducing a credit system to support households to ensure they will not incur this cost.

One can call it new politics or whatever one wants, but the support we have received for these proposals from Fianna Fáil does not form part of some kind of political alliance.

(Interruptions).

Fianna Fáil enabled Fine Gael to get into government.

Senator Pádraig Mac Lochlainn does not want to hear about solutions. He only wants to hear about politics-----

The Minister is so cynical.

Holier than thou.

-----because for him this is all about politics and trying to manoeuvre for political gain. What I am interested in is dealing with the concerns of households and homeowners.

Let me say very clearly that the issues-----

Neither of you respects ordinary people.

We are making the changes because we respect ordinary people.

You made a faux pas. That is what you did.

Through the Chair, please. Will the Senator, please, respect the Chair?

Senator Máire Devine seems to think Sinn Féin is the only party which cares about ordinary people.

Fine Gael thinks it is the only party-----

No, I do not. What I am saying is if that Senators choose to annul the statutory instrument today, it will do nothing to change the bills of households for waste collection. It will remove a statutory instrument that provides for the introduction of a series of enforcement regulations-----

It would be a huge faux pas.

-----to ensure a functioning industry and a level playing pitch and that people will not be ripped off.

Enforcement - seriously.

I am afraid the Senator has-----

I call Senator Grace O'Sullivan.

I thank the Minister; that was very useful. I still find it shocking that the country lacks an effective and responsible waste management policy in the 21st century. We need a waste management policy that will operate in the best interests of the economy, citizens and the environment, one that treats waste as a potential valuable resource that can be turned around to create indigenous employment and support local sustainable jobs. The goodwill on the part of citizens has been absolutely ruined by events such as those of recent months. The trust that prices will not shoot up suddenly has been undermined and eroded. There is so much outrage, which I completely understand. Many citizens are well aware of their responsibilities in the disposal of their household waste and know the benefits of recycling, not only the economic benefits but also the feel good factor in doing the right thing. Citizens are prepared to pay a fair and reasonable charge to ensure their waste is disposed of properly.

A pay-by-weight system is, in principle, a good way to ensure those generating excessive amounts of waste pay for what they generate, leaving the average householder to pay a fair price. This principle should not be undermined by an excessive hike in service charges, but once again the Government has landed us in a dilemma owing to its failure to recognise the importance of the issue. It is blatantly obvious that it should have intervened earlier to properly regulate the waste services market, but it failed to consult the industry, one of the key stakeholders. It should have negotiated a capping of service charges at a much earlier stage. I understand the Minister has had very fruitful talks in recent days, but it is very late in the day and has caused much concern among citizens. The Government failed not only to consult in a timely manner with the industry but also with all stakeholders involved. As a result, citizens find themselves having to take to the streets once again.

Earlier this week I had the honour to raise the sixth green flag at Glór Na Mara primary school in Tramore, County Waterford where pupils received their global citizen award for litter and waste management. I cannot help but think it is the green schoolchildren of Ireland who are showing us real leadership on how to handle our waste. The Government should not fail future generations and should lead by example.

I welcome as a first step the freezing of annual service charges announced yesterday as it gives time to work out a proper response to fixing the challenges in waste management policy. Some may see this as kicking the can down the road, but I see it as recognising the concerns of citizens and taking the time to prepare an effective solution in consultation with all of the key stakeholders and as being in the best interests of the public and the environment.

We need greater regulation of the waste market. The Government should consider establishing a waste market regulator to ensure fairer outcomes for citizens. We need to explore and examine ways to overcome the legal obstacles to introducing a franchise bidding model of waste collection. This would allow companies to compete for a single contract covering a set area for a set time. Like many EU countries, we need to examine ways to reduce the amount of unnecessary packaging that enters the market in the first place. We need to use this time to build a public awareness campaign on the best ways to reduce the amount of waste generated in homes.

We need to find ways to encourage and incentivise enterprise and industry to create sustainable Irish jobs using this potentially valuable resource. I ask the Government to stop wasting our time. Let us use this time to find right solutions in waste management in Ireland. I understand very well why my colleagues in Sinn Féin have tabled the motion seeking the annulment of the statutory instrument. Even though I share their concerns about the impact of higher charges on ordinary householders, I cannot support the motion. However, I look forward to working with them in the Chamber to try to put forward real solutions that will result in an affordable, effective and environmentally sound waste management policy.

Yesterday I congratulated the Cathaoirleach on his appointment and do so again today. I also congratulate Senator Gabrielle McFadden on becoming the Whip in the Seanad.

I congratulate the Minister, not only on his appointment but also on brokering this deal which will give comfort while we have an opportunity to tease out the problems and people's fears about this issue. I will not reiterate what the Minister said about the motivation behind the motion, but it is important to reiterate that what is envisaged is not a new charge but a new way of charging and that we need, as my colleague has just said, more recycling to reduce the volume of waste going to landfill and to make householders more conscious of how they can help in this regard. The main purpose of the pay-by-weight system is to encourage householders to recycle and compost more. I know that some households do not have the capacity to compost, but many do and very often it is underutilised. I am reassured that there is no charge for the green bin because many households are only coming to terms with learning how to recycle and we need to keep this incentive for them. I commend the Minister for this. He has mentioned those with specific medical problems and needs, particularly for incontinence wear, an issue which will be addressed, which is welcome.

At the end of the price freeze the Government will do all in its power to keep prices down. In my area of Fingal Mr. Stephen Peppard is responsible for recycling plants, one of which is located in the estuary. It accepts all types of waste, including electrical, plastic and wood.

I wish to speak about the need for transparency. I am very pleased that the National Standards Authority of Ireland, the NSAI, has a role in ensuring the equipment used to weigh bins will be properly monitored, as fuel outlets are to ensure pumps are accurate rather than interfered with. However, there is an issue which needs to be addressed and it may fall within the Minister's remit. I am referring to the fact that so many of the companies involved are owned offshore, meaning that there is no transparency when it comes to their profits. If we want trust, their profit figures should be open to us to inspect. If they are trying to make a case for increased charges, I do not see why we should not know what their current profit margins are. They will argue, as they did to Mr. Shane Phelan in an excellent article he wrote on 13 July 2015, that they want to protect sensitive commercial information.

Let us call a spade a spade. If every company was required to open its profit figures to inspection, it would create a level playing pitch. Given our history on these issues, the Government must pay particular attention to ensuring profit figures will be available for inspection, which would mean having companies registered here rather than abroad and as limited rather than unlimited companies.

I commend the amendment and oppose annulling the statutory instrument for the reasons the Minister outlined.

There is no amendment.

The motion is based primarily on opportunism and populism. From an organisation and a political party the leader of which commends as a good republican a person who had certain associations with diesel and other fuel laundering-----

What relevance does that have?

Senator James Reilly is talking rubbish.

It may be rubbish to the Senator, but I am talking about the reality. If Sinn Féin's approach is to interrupt every speaker, so be it. That is its form of democracy.

If the Senator checks the blacks, he will see that Fine Gael Senators repeatedly interrupted Sinn Féin speakers. Perhaps he might correct his statement later.

The debate is so robust that I am afraid to speak. Thankfully, my hearing in one ear is poor such that I will not hear interruptions the Senators opposite may make.

I welcome the Minister and agree with his comment that if the statutory instrument were to be annulled, it would be open season for operators. They were not his words, but that was the nub of his argument. A previous speaker suggested to him that research was needed on this issue. The previous Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Deputy Alan Kelly, carried out research before introducing the statutory instrument. Based on this research and three pilot projects in three local authority areas, 83% of citizens would be better off if the statutory instrument were to be implemented as intended. However, the service providers viewed the interregnum after the general election and before the appointment of a new Government as an opportunity to increase standing charges.

The pay-by-weight system is the fairest available. Providers do not have a right to increase standing charges and I commend the Minister for seeing them off on that issue, but I have no doubt that they will try it on again. The previous Minister specifically informed service providers that if they attempted to change standing charges, he would rescind the other elements of the statutory instrument. The industry made its move and attempted to introduce unacceptable charges in the vacuum created by the absence of a Government. That is the nub of the problem.

Like Senator Paudie Coffey, I propose to delve into history a little. In the mid-1990s local authorities provided an efficient and effective waste service nationwide. Staff were gainfully employed; trade unions were recognised; there were proper rates of pay and, most importantly, a waiver scheme was in place in every local authority area. Across the country, however, the Trots and certain elements within Sinn Féin started a protest campaign against waste charges and successfully closed down every local authority waste collection system. Yesterday one of the leading representatives of the waste companies stated Cork County Council's waste management service was €12 million in the red. Before the waste management service in my small local authority of Carrick-on-Suir closed, its share of the market stood at approximately 30%, with the remainder held by the private sector. Some 60% of its users were availing of a waiver scheme at the time of its closure. The service was closed down as a result of protests by the Trots and Sinn Féin elements. What happened to the protesters when the private sector entered the market? They disappeared and were never heard from again. Local authority waste collection services were closed down and transferred to an unregulated private sector that was cherry-picking the best areas and refused to provide services in rural areas. We have to fight to get it to operate in rural areas.

As Senator James Reilly noted, almost half of the 13 major waste collection companies are offshore entities unregulated by Revenue. Despite this, the companies are securing contracts and licences through two regional authorities and local authorities. Regulation is needed not only of the prices paid by customers, although this is extremely important, but also of staff in the private waste collection companies who are required to work at low rates of pay and in atrocious conditions. The industry must be pulled together and registered employment agreements introduced, if necessary by the State or by a regulator under the collective bargaining system introduced by Senator Gerald Nash when a Minister of State in the previous Dáil.

In 1997 the then Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Martin Cullen, transferred responsibility for waste collection services to county managers because he believed elected local authority members would not take decisions on the matter. County managers determined the waste management policy that would apply in the various regions and subsequently decided - correctly because the system was impossible to run - to allow the service to be privatised. That is a little history lesson for certain Senators on whom the history of the issue may have been lost and for some genuine Senators. In this regard, I commend Senator Paul Gavan for his bona fides. In a previous life he represented workers in SIPTU, particularly Greyhound workers in Dublin who had been forced to work in poor conditions.

A regulator is needed to regulate prices, ensure uniform standards apply nationwide and provide for proper terms and conditions for workers. These three issues are paramount. We must study this issue in the next 12 months in order that the Minister or his successor will be ready to act when the suspension period concludes. We should not start to review the system at that point.

I propose to share time with Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill.

As a new Senator, I thought I had a good grasp of politics, but it seems I will have to go back to the drawing board. I thought I had an understanding of the word "socialism" and a grasp of the left-wing, right-wing and centrist political model. Little did I know that in one of my first contributions I would oppose a motion tabled by Sinn Féin which, if carried, would benefit a large industry at the expense of ordinary working class people and cause great pain, grief and sacrifice for elderly people and young families. I find it hard to get my ahead around this.

Will the Senator explain that comment?

I followed the debate on the monitor and in fairness to Senator Paul Daly, he did not interrupt any other speaker. Please give him a chance as he only has four minutes.

While I do not have a problem with the statutory instrument the motion proposes to annul, I have a difficulty with the manner in which it was introduced. It is most unfortunate that the previous Minister, Deputy Alan Kelly, signed the relevant ministerial order two days before the general election, with little interaction with the waste collection companies.

On a point of order, the Senator is incorrect. The former Minister interacted with the companies for at least six months before he signed the statutory instrument.

As the Senator is well aware, that is not a point of order.

The record must be correct.

There was little interaction with the companies or members of the public whom this affects most since the signing of the ministerial order two days prior to the calling of the general election. That is where the problems arose that have us here today. I commend Sinn Féin for raising the issue, but, as ever, it is seen as an opportunity to grab headlines such as "We will ban bin charges". It can do this in the Seanad and has done so. What would it put in the place of bin charges?

The Senator would do nothing about it.

Sinn Féin has no solutions, answers or proposals as to what should be done if the statutory instrument was to be annulled.

The Senator's solution is a wish list.

I commend Senator Jennifer Murnane O'Connor; our representative in the Dáil, Deputy Barry Cowen, and the Minister who, when the problem was flagged, sat down with industry representatives, came up with solutions and negotiated a model. It is not the ideal solution and there will be problems in the forthcoming year, but in that solution he has taken the opportunity to monitor developments and provided for a scenario where the statutory instrument or legislation can be amended if other problems arise. If the statutory instrument is annulled today, the industry operators will be the winners at the expense of the people. They have hiked charges, but thanks to the Minister, following negotiations with them, they have agreed to freeze them. If we annul the statutory instrument, they will resume their hikes. I cannot believe I have to oppose a Sinn Féin motion that favours the industry over ordinary people.

I concur with Senator Paul Daly. This has been an interesting debate. I acknowledge the work of the Minister, Deputy Simon Coveney. I grew to know him when he was Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine in the past five years in my role as agriculture spokesperson in the House and always found him to be hands on and that he dealt with issues efficiently and effectively in the public interest. He has done so in this case also.

The statutory instrument was not ideal and the circumstances in which it was introduced were wrong. It was rushed through. There may have been consultation with the industry operators, but that is not what they are saying. Nonetheless, we found ourselves in a precarious position which had to be dealt with swiftly. The negotiations between our spokesperson, Deputy Barry Cowen, the Minister and his officials have resulted in the best solution to this dilemma. The alternative before us, if we were to vote in favour of it, is to annul Statutory Instrument No. 24. However, as previous speakers said, it covers much more than what some Members would like people to believe. The Minister alluded to this. For example, it deals with permits for the collection of waste, a central pillar of the waste management strategy, the tax clearance certification of those who collect waste, fines, local authority powers and the national hazardous waste management plan, the provisions relating to which would all be annulled if we were to vote in favour of the Sinn Féin motion. That would do a disservice to the environment, the industry and, more importantly, consumers because every rogue dealer up and down the country would be able to collect waste and fleece them from tomorrow morning. We could not stand over this and support that position. We engage in realistic politics. I got into politics to engage with others of different political persuasions to try to ensure a better outcome for the citizens we all represent. That is the new politics the House is seeing tonight. It is about responsibility and trying to sit down with those of a different political persuasion to hammer out a deal that will benefit the vast majority of the people.

A study was carried out in 2009 of waste management and how to move forward. The most efficient and effective way to collect waste for the consumer, the industry, the environment and the State is by using a pay-by-weight system. We cannot row back on this and even to annul that provision in the statutory instrument would be wrong. There is a road map for the next 12 months, but serious dialogue must be engaged in. The Fianna Fáil group in this House and the Dáil will not be found wanting in that regard. We must have the transparency the window of the next 12 months will open up. It is not about creating grey areas. This move will bring about the necessary transparency. When a Minister should be commended, there is an obligation on all of us to do so. I commend the Minister for his engagement in the past week on this issue.

I apologise I was not present earlier. I was in County Mayo to greet and welcome the US Vice President Joe Biden who received a huge Mayo welcome when Air Force One landed at Knock airport.

I missed the Minister's contribution. Is he saying that if the proposed legislation had not been amended, a total of €12 million would have been imposed in charges on carers, people with disabilities and other vulnerable persons? I am concerned by this. I am sure, therefore, that we are doing the right thing in tabling the motion to have the legislation annulled.

They are entirely separate issues. The negotiations on incontinence waste have been ongoing for weeks and that issue would have been finalised one way or the other. The issue of increased charges which is separate is what we acted on last week.

I will have to take the Minister's word for it. I also take Senator Denis Landy's point about privatisation and what happened, but that is not what happened in County Mayo. Sinn Féin only had one member on the council at the time and he could not get another councillor to second his motion to stop the privatisation of waste collection services in the county because we knew that was the wrong thing to do. If county managers cannot deliver essential services such as this effectively and efficiently, they need to examine their own management skills and how they run some county councils, but that is probably an issue for another day.

The Government is stating all of these regulations and the legislation are needed to protect people because waste operators are running riot. I wonder whether any of them has been in place in the past 15 years. I would be greatly concerned if they have not been. What is the position on waste operators who did not even bother to show up for the meeting with the Minister? Were they abroad counting their money? It is ridiculous, but it is also indicative of the attitude of the industry we are dealing with that they have set up offshore companies in order that they can avoid paying tax in this country.

Why has legislation not been introduced to address the issue of packaging? Surely that should be the first action taken to help people to reduce waste. Are there so many vested interests that this cannot be done or that the Government does not have the will to do it? I know carers and people with disabilities and others who are crippled by bills. They are watching television and being told we are doing well and that we are on a roll, with money being put away for a rainy day. However, it has been a rainy day for them for a number of years and they have been crucified by the additional charges.

In seeking to have the statutory instrument annulled we are trying to protect them. I would be failing in my duties and commitment to the ordinary people of the country if I did not use every mechanism possible to prevent the instrument from commencing.

Senators Terry Leyden and Gerry Horkan indicated. As there are only ten minutes left, do they want to share time?

Yes. I welcome the Minister, Deputy Simon Coveney. He used his skills to bring about a solution.

Wanting to have the statutory instrument annulled makes for a popular soundbite and is attractive when seeking support from the electorate. When Sinn Féin's spokesperson appeared on "Tonight with Vincent Browne", he went on about this great achievement, but what would be achieved? There would be chaos. I examined this issue from a political and Fianna Fáil point of view. I have a certain sympathy for Sinn Féin's position in that it is trying to garner more support and take out Fianna Fáil. By God, it would have to get up early in the morning to take out Fianna Fáil.

That is what the party-----

Sinn Féin can try it anywhere it likes.

That is not an asset.

That is what Deputy Micheál Martin said too.

I was a Member of this House before the Senators were. Sinn Féin can use every instrument, strategy and technology to try to do it.

Fine Gael's pet.

At the end of the day we represent the ordinary people of the country, working-class people-----

-----to ensure new regulations are introduced in consultation. So be it if some call this "new politics", but in the old politics prior to the general election this statutory instrument would have been rammed through without debate. Now, in consultation with Fianna Fáil and our spokesman, Deputy Barry Cowen, who tabled progressive policy suggestions-----

The Deputy said nothing about it before last Thursday.

-----a Minister who negotiated the programme for Government has adopted a constructive approach. We have an opportunity. The statutory instrument process has been abused by all Governments. The provisions of the statutory instrument should have been included in primary legislation in the first instance, not as an amendment to an Act. It is a long document and many of those who oppose it probably have not even read it. It requires study. As the Minister stated, it would be a free-for-all on 1 July if the document were to be opposed. I want Sinn Féin to explain what it is offering as an alternative to the statutory instrument and what the Minister, in consultation with Deputy Barry Cowen and others, is doing. What is its proposal?

Was the Senator not present at the beginning?

Did the Senator not listen?

I have been listening intently. This is not like recycling oil. I know about the problems with diesel laundering and smuggling in the North. I know what is happening north of the Border.

(Interruptions).

Stick to the motion, please.

I know how many cars have been destroyed, with very little being done about it. I want to clamp down on that activity, as well as illegal dumping. If the statutory instrument is not passed tonight, there will be further illegal dumping. That does not and will never suit Fianna Fail. We abide by and support the law. We want people to be tax compliant, as set out in the regulations, and the industry to be controlled. At home, we pay €320 a year for the collection of two bins every two weeks. If the Minister finds after the assessment that pay-by-weight costs are in excess of what has obtained, he will be entitled to introduce a further statutory instrument. This is a time for study. It is a wake-up call for the industry which seems to be unregulated. A good aspect of the debate is that the issue is being brought to the fore. We will have a regulator who will ensure the industry is properly organised.

I congratulate the Minister on his appointment and wish him well in the new ministry with responsibility for housing, planning and local government.

It was Deputy Dara Calleary of Fianna Fáil who raised this matter during Leaders' Questions last Thursday and I commend the Minister for his swift action in addressing it.

We raised it on Wednesday.

The Minister met representatives of the industry for negotiations and we have this resolution. I come from a local authority background, having been a councillor from October 2003 until my recent election to the Seanad. Other colleagues from Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, Senators Victor Boyhan and Neale Richmond, are also present in the Chamber. Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council introduced a pay-by-weight system in 2005. Prior to that, one paid €300 a year and could dump as much as one liked in any bin. I do not think we even had green bins at the time. We must acknowledge the progress that has been made. Initially, one could not put plastic in green bins. Therefore, much has changed for the better. When people are monitored, they behave in a certain way. They examined bin weights and started to buy compost bins. They discovered that there was a benefit, not just in reducing waste by composting but also in using the compost in a garden.

The scaremongering has been outrageous. Of course, we must take into account people with medical issues and those who may produce large amounts of waste. In the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown area there is a flat standing charge of €64 a year with Panda. One is then charged per lift and kilo. Will the Minister consider introducing this system? Since it is a per lift and kilo charge, people only present a bin when it is full, which makes the system more efficient, instead of everyone putting out bins that are 80% empty. Routes are now longer, with only one bin in every ten being collected. Most people have discovered that they hardly ever put out their black bin unless, for example, they have young children or medical issues. By and large, a significant quantity of what we dispose is recyclable, for example, paper, Tetra Pak and plastic. Some operators accept glass in green bins, while others do not. Either way, there are numerous bottle banks. We should also consider this issue. I was surprised to learn that many local authorities did not use a pay-by-weight system. It is a positive step. I would not recommend hikes in the standing charge which should be as low as possible. One should be charged based on what one puts into a bin and how often one presents it. This would help people to change their approach.

It is important that civic recycling facilities be available to accept, for example, fluorescent tubes, light bulbs, aerosol cans, etc. There is a landfill levy to try to stop people from putting material into landfill. The more a pay-by-weight system is implemented, the better it will be for consumers. Assuming the standing charge is fair, few people should end up paying more. If they have not considered using this system, they should talk to people who have used it, for example, those living in the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown area who have been very happy with the outcome. When the bin collection service was finally privatised, 80% of customers had already left of their own will and signed up with Panda and Greenstar which were offering a cheaper and better service. We had been left with hardly anyone. That happened in 2010 and Panda applied a price freeze for four years.

I am sure there are some, but not all bin collectors are rogue, cowboy or fly-by-night operators.

Fianna Fáil is cheerleading privatisation.

It worked in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown and I am sure it can work elsewhere.

I have been listening to the conversation in which the need to change consumer behaviour has been mentioned. It is positive reinforcement, not attaching charges to recycling, that will change behaviour, for example, having a weight related monetary incentive at the end of the year. Something must be done to incentivise people. The issue is being handled the wrong way round. The Journal of Economic Surveys has indicated that monetary incentives have a greater impact on the level of household recycling than any other initiative.

In terms of their behaviour, when people are charged for or taxed on something, they view it as negative, regardless of whether they will save money as a result of it later. They just see it as a charge and as a result regard recycling as a negative rather than a positive process that will result in a gain for them.

On having two and three bins, in Tallaght the position is very difficult. If a pay-by-weight system is introduced, it will make the problem of illegal dumping worse because in a housing estate like Killinarden we all live on top of each other. As our sitting room is also our kitchen, we cannot have three bins to dispose of our waste. The structures are not in place to enable us to do it. If we have a brown bin, a green bin and a black bin outside our door - some of us live in very small apartments and flats - they will be robbed and we cannot afford to replace them. We also cannot bring them inside the house and do not have back and front gardens. Regardless of what system is introduced, the necessary structures are not in place for residents on many estates to enable them to recycle; therefore, it is counter-productive. Also, we live at the foot of the Dublin mountains. I could bring the Minister along any trail when he would see evidence of illegal dumping, a problem which would only get worse. Most of us have got rid of our green bin, if it has not been robbed or burned at Halloween. I am saying to the Minister that there are other solutions which would be regarded as positive reinforcement measures. When this debate commenced a number of years ago, I knew a man who was living in extreme poverty in Cushlawn. At the time the aluminium factory in Tallaght village paid for cans which were returned and he would spend the entire day collecting cans to deposit. In Germany people get money back when they deposit empty bottles. That type of positive reinforcement measure would be much more productive than charging for waste.

Is léir, ar aon nós, gur tharraing an díospóireacht seo neart cainte. It has been a robust debate, if nothing else. On a point of clarification, we understand the issue in the roll-out of brown bins. I thank the Library and Research Service for the great work it does for us, but even in its explanatory note it has been made quite clear that its independent reading, not that of Sinn Féin or anybody else, is that the waste management regulations introduce new rules which will take effect from 1 July. They include an obligation on all householders, with some exceptions, to segregate food waste from other household waste and an obligation on waste collectors to provide separate receptacles such as wheelie bins for food waste, to be collected at least once a fortnight using a pay-by-weight charging system.

I have no problem with that.

It backs up what Senator Pádraig Mac Lochlainn has been saying.

I want to address some of the issues which have been raised. A number of Senators have bandied around the idea that we believe people should pay. I do not know of anybody who is not paying for waste collection other than someone who is brilliant at recycling. I know of one or two people who make compost. They separate their waste and once or twice a month or every couple of months bring a very small bag of waste to a landfill site, but from what I can see, everybody else is paying. The issue is not about people paying but about being fleeced, which is what would happen if the system was to be introduced on 1 July. We are all agreed on that point. We cannot fool anybody. In Connemara, for example, the standing charge would be much higher than what people are currently paying on an annual basis. They were going to be asked to pay double the cost.

In fairness to Fianna Fáil, nothing it is suggesting would be affected by our proposal. Everything it is proposing could be done even if we were to rescind the statutory instrument. We have seen Ministers come and go with statutory instruments and must call on the Government to rescind the statutory instrument. If the Minister wants to come back next week with the elements with which we do not have an issue, we will agree to that, but the problem is we have concerns about transparency and the moneys involved. It is a bit rich for Senator James Reilly to talk about the transparency of the profits of companies when, as Minister for Health, he did so little to tackle many of the drugs companies which were making massive profits and costing the State a great deal of money.

He actually saved €100 million.

There are issues in policing the dumping of rubbish. It is my understanding the local authorities and community wardens have been asked to police the dumping of rubbish.

The question I asked was where would the extra money the companies wanted to charge go. If they wish to increase costs to increase their income by 200% to 300% from a service they have been providing for a number of years - I did not see any go out of business in Galway - where will the money go? Was the money going straight into their bank accounts offshore? Was any of it being put back into the community? Why were local authorities being charged to employ staff to police dumping in areas in which there was a shortage of community wardens? We are told there has been great investment in recycling centres, etc., something to which Senator Paudie Coffey alluded, but in Casla in south Connemara we have been campaigning for well over ten years for a recycling centre, for which the county council has constantly asked the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government for money. However, it has been turned down by both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael-led Governments. Communities are trying to do the right thing in reducing, reusing and recycling waste, but the State has not supported them.

I understand the Green Party's position, but I call on it to reconsider. We want to do what it has called for almost verbatim, but the private companies are ruling the roost. They are driving the agenda, not the State and the Government. We need to turn this on its head and send them a strong message by rescinding the statutory instrument. If the Minister wants to come back with an amended statutory instrument next week, he can do so. Fianna Fáil could then bring forward its motion. As we proposed previously, an independent commission should be appointed to proof the measures, assess the impact on carers and other groups such as people on low incomes, those in receipt of State benefits and those who suffer from ill health or a disability and make its findings known. Let us do this right. The cart is being put before the horse. The privatisation agenda is ruling the roost again. We have to oppose it and have a chance to do so in the Seanad today. We will not get this chance again. It only happens once in a blue moon.

Another important point is that waste is not being recycled by many of the companies; rather it is being burned. If individual citizens were to burn their bags at the back of a field, they would be fined, rightly so. We have to tackle this industry.

I can assure the Senator that the companies can be fined, too.

Why should we believe them when they told us that 80% of people would pay less, but the opposite is the case in that they would pay up to 200% more? I implore the Minister to support Sinn Féin's motion.

He could not support it.

The Senator probably could not support it.

Question put:
The Seanad divided: Tá, 9; Níl, 27.

  • Boyhan, Victor.
  • Conway-Walsh, Rose.
  • Devine, Máire.
  • Gavan, Paul.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • Norris, David.
  • Ó Clochartaigh, Trevor.
  • Ó Donnghaile, Niall.
  • Ruane, Lynn.

Níl

  • Burke, Colm.
  • Butler, Ray.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Maria.
  • Clifford-Lee, Lorraine.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Coghlan, Paul.
  • Conway, Martin.
  • Daly, Mark.
  • Daly, Paul.
  • Davitt, Aidan.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • Gallagher, Robbie.
  • Hopkins, Maura.
  • Horkan, Gerry.
  • Kelleher, Colette.
  • Leyden, Terry.
  • McFadden, Gabrielle.
  • Murnane O'Connor, Jennifer.
  • Noone, Catherine.
  • Ó Domhnaill, Brian.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donnell, Marie-Louise.
  • O'Sullivan, Grace.
  • O'Sullivan, Ned.
  • Reilly, James.
  • Richmond, Neale.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Pádraig Mac Lochlainn and Trevor Ó Clochartaigh; Níl, Senators Paudie Coffey and Gabrielle McFadden.
Question declared lost.

When is it proposed to sit again?

At 10.30 a.m. tomorrow.

The Seanad adjourned at 6.15 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Thursday, 23 June 2016.