The Order of Business is No. 1, motion re the arrangements for the sitting of the House on Tuesday, 20 December 2016, to be taken without debate at the conclusion of the Order of Business; No. 2, motion re report of the Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach on a reasoned opinion on proposals for a Council directive on a common consolidated corporate tax base and a Council directive on a common corporate tax base, to be taken without debate at the conclusion of No. 1; No. 3, Health Insurance (Amendment) Bill 2016 – Committee and Remaining Stages, to be taken at 1.30 p.m. and conclude not later than 2 p.m., if not previously concluded; No. 4, statements on the Be Winter Ready campaign, to be taken at the conclusion of No. 3 and conclude within 75 minutes, with the contributions of group spokespersons not to exceed eight minutes each and those of all other Senators not to exceed five minutes each and the Minister to be given five minutes in which to reply to the debate; No. 5, Appropriation Bill 2016 [Certified Money Bill] - all Stages, to be taken at the conclusion of No. 4, with the proceedings on Second Stage, if not previously concluded, to be brought to a conclusion after 45 minutes, the contributions of group spokespersons not to exceed five minutes each - time can be shared - the Minister to be given four minutes in which to reply to the debate, Committee and Remaining Stages to be taken immediately thereafter which shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 15 minutes by one question which shall, in relation to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Government; No. 6, Appropriation Bill 2016 - motion for earlier signature; and No. 7, Courts Bill 2016 - Second Stage, to be taken at the conclusion of No. 6, with the contributions of group spokespersons not to exceed eight minutes each and those of all other Senators not to exceed five minutes each.
Order of Business
I would like to address the House on the proposed new rent certainty legislation. We all know that many parts of the country and this city, in particular, are in the midst of a housing and rental crisis. Many of our clinics are attended by families one rent hike away from being out on the street and homeless. Arbitrary rent increases due to a complete failure by the Government to increase the supply of housing have caused a very serious rental bubble that directly affects the capital and many large urban areas. Fine Gael has ignored this crisis and always held the view that any interference with the rental market is untenable. In the last hours of this session, however, the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, Deputy Simon Coveney, presented ill-thought-out legislation and has attempted to railroad it through this House without any proper consultation. We all know that ill-thought-out and rushed legislation is never a good idea. We saw this with the disastrous creation of Irish Water in 2013 which, as we know, is the Achilles heel of the Government. The flippant manner of the introduction of the rent legislation is negligent when dealing with a serious policy issue that affects tens of thousands of people and that will have long-lasting effects on the housing market as a whole
Saying that, Fianna Fáil has always been a strong advocate of rent certainty. The legislation should have been introduced in a meaningful and considerate fashion in which long, medium and short-term effects were all considered. Fianna Fáil believes a 4% increase on top of other increases is far too high. We envisage increases of 1% to 2%, which would include wider geographical areas and a taxation policy that will actually encourage supply in order that once the housing market catches up, intervention in the rental market can be reviewed and dismantled.
Many struggling families are watching us in Leinster House this Christmas. I hope the Government can make serious efforts to break the impasse in order that families can take some comfort in the knowledge that they will not have to face any more rent hikes in 2017 and thereafter and in order that they can give their children the security they deserve this Christmas. Fianna Fáil is open to discussion. I hope this matter can be resolved by Christmas.
One of the most-----
There is nobody on the other benches.
They are never there when we need them, are they?
The Senator should appreciate that.
It would not be like the Fianna Fáil-----
The Senator should appreciate the priority she is being given.
I thank the Cathaoirleach. I feel very important.
I am here. I am an independent Independent.
Are you? Good. I am very happy for you.
One of the most important Bills to be produced since the election was initiated in the Seanad. It represented a great opportunity to show how a considered, thoughtful debate in this House could lead to better legislation, in this case to tackle one of the biggest problems facing the people. The Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Bill is in limbo. After hours of debate here and a long debate in the Dáil, the end of this great democratic process seems to be playing out between the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, Deputy Simon Coveney, and Deputy Barry Cowen. It is a mess. We do not even know this morning if it will be resuming at all. That shows that even when Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are in cahoots together, they still cannot get it right. The legislation was cobbled together far too fast, as was clear from the number of Government amendments to correct technical errors.
The only conclusion I can reach is that the Government was not serious about fixing the rental crisis until recently and now it is fumbling to get it over the line by Christmas. Homelessness and being without a home have a devastating affect on individuals and families. To lose a home for any reason is terrible but to lose it through theft is an outrage. Many people have lost a home through no fault of their own. They were victims of greed. They were told that they were not entitled to return to a tracker mortgage and were kept on higher rates. As many as 9,000 may have been charged higher rates than they should have been, with the full knowledge of the banks. In the case of AIB, 2,600 customers were involved; in the case of KBC, it was approximately 1,000; in the case of Ulster Bank, it was approximately 2,000; in the case of Bank of Ireland, it was approximately 1,800; and in the case of Permanent TSB, it was approximately 1,372. In response to a question from my colleague, Deputy Pearse Doherty, about the number of people who had lost their homes as a result of that robbery, the Department of Finance conveyed the following information - 22 people lost their homes owing to Permanent TSB lying to them, while 14 lost homes owing to AIB stealing their money. These are strong words - "robbery" and "lying", but they are appropriate. We should have a debate in the new year on the behaviour of banks towards their customers and how it feeds into homelessness. We must maintain pressure and help the victims, which is what they are. We must also ensure such robbery never happens again.
I wish to follow on from Senator Rose Conway-Walsh's remarks. It is shocking what we are seeing in the Dáil Chamber today. The fight is causing greater uncertainty as we move into the Christmas period. I read this morning that people who are homeless are being exposed to violence, drug taking, mould, damp, bed bugs, scabies, blood stained mattresses, rats and abuse. It is disgraceful that coming up to Christmas there is such uncertainty when people are being evicted and thrown out of their homes into homelessness. I hope business in the Dáil will resume soon and that the Bill will be debated, amendments will be agreed to and some degree of certainty will be afforded to people as we come up to Christmas.
I have been very critical of what is being termed "new politics". Very few decisions have been made during the Government's term in office. We have had committees, studies and the Citizens' Assembly, but we have had very little legislation. That is the case for one clear reason. When the Government tries to make a decision, it must bring Fianna Fáil along with it. Fine Gael was re-elected into office and its members got the cars, but Fianna Fáil got the keys. Unfortunately, Fianna Fáil, as we saw from earlier contributions, has a record of driving the car off the cliff and crashing it. It has taken us seven to eight years to recover. If we are serious about new politics, let us put the rent certainty issue to the House. We should let the Bill be amended and allow contributions to be made on the floor of the House, but let us have legislation. I will accept the democratic decision of both Houses. The Taoiseach came to the Seanad at my request to talk about new politics. He said he would look forward to being back in the House before Christmas. I put the Leader on notice that I expect the Taoiseach to be in this House next Tuesday.
No, I will not go away. The Taoiseach made a commitment to do so. He has given 100% support to the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, Deputy Simon Coveney, for a possible withdrawal of the legislation. The country needs leadership. There is a housing crisis and a need to deal with the rental crisis, especially in the rent hot spot that is Dublin. A 4% increase is a very clear signal to landlords to increase rents by 4%. That would have enormous knock-on effects across many areas, not just for people who are in private rented accommodation but also those who are in receipt of the housing assistance payment, HAP, and rent allowance because one can guarantee that landlords who have tenants in receipt of rent allowance will also increase rents by 4%, as will those with tenants who receive the HAP. Once the leases come up for renewal, the rent will be increased by 4%.
We must be serious about new politics. The names who annoy me are always the same. Deputy Micheál Martin was a member of the previous Administration.
There are not as many Labour Party names around the place as there were previously. When the party was in government for five years, it did not do much about it.
We have a former Taoiseach who was at the Cabinet table when the country crashed.
Where are the rest of the Labour Party names?
We have the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Shane Ross, who wanted Sean Fitzpatrick at the table as Minister for Finance. Unfortunately, the Fianna Fáil spokesperson, Deputy Barry Cowen, has caused total uproar because of his lack of negotiation skills. Cowen is a familiar name that one can add to the list that contributed to the crash. We have a responsibility to call the Taoiseach into this House to make clear exactly what is happening on the issue of rent certainty.
Deputy Simon Coveney is the Minister.
The Leader can deal with the matter later.
The Minister went to the Taoiseach last evening. I put the Leader on notice that I will call for the Taoiseach to be present on Tuesday.
This is an important day. There is no point in saying it is not. The other House of this Parliament is having a debate about one of the key issues that affects society, namely, rent certainty and how we will move forward. The Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, Deputy Simon Coveney, has introduced a brave proposal and moved where many people would not go. I object to being lectured from the other side of the House about planning and how we failed to plan for the housing crisis. We were not the people in charge when the banking crisis collapsed the nation. The people who are sitting on the other side of the House must take responsibility for the car crash state in which they left the country. Now we are trying to put the wheels back on and move the country forward. We are trying to get the construction industry, the banking sector and the entire country moving again. The construction industry needs to provide 20,000 units and we are only providing a fraction of that number. We must realise where we are. Rent certainty is a key issue, not only in Dublin. Problems are not always just Dublin-based. The issue affects Cork also. We must not forget other areas. The Minister has said he is starting with these two cities, but he will look at areas outside of them in January. He has said he will focus on local authority wards because these areas are smaller demographic areas. He has thought through the legislation very well, but it is now up to all the parties - the Labour Party, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin - to put politics behind them and deliver something for the people. I have no problem being here up to Christmas Day if we need to be to do that, but we should not say the legislation is rushed. We will give it as much time as is wanted because the legislation is needed and must be delivered.
It is unfortunate that the Government is not able to proceed with the business in question of rent caps. I am a pragmatist and believe progress will be made on the issue before the day is over. Sinn Féin and the Labour Party are gas.
Gas. We would not have a homeless problem if we had our own gas and oil resources.
It is very low to go into political things-----
The Senator should proceed on the Order of Business.
-----but when Fianna Fáil was able to work with the Government to provide stability for the country, according to Sinn Féin, we were in bed with it and when we do not agree with it on an important issue, Sinn Féin states we cannot get our act together. What does it want? Sinn Féin reminds me of the punter at the racetrack whose horse is an also-ran and his or her only hope is the ones in front will all fall.
It is a howl. Sinn Féin has some excuse because it has no experience of being in government - down here anyway.
Down here. It is all the one island.
However, the Labour Party has been in and out so often, it would, as Seán Lemass said, go with anyone. It is like Mother Machree's dog - it would go a bit of the road with anyone.
We normally have to go in to fix Fianna Fáil's mess.
It cannot resist the siren call of the State cars.
The Senator is meandering through the Order of Business.
Given the season that is in it, I wish the Cathaoirleach, everyone in the House, our staff, the staff of the Cathaoirleach's office and the Seanad Office, all of the ushers and everyone else a very happy Christmas. I hope we will have many more of them here.
I call Senator Paul Gavan.
Now we will have gas.
If I came into the House demanding a 12% pay hike for public sector workers-----
We would all support the Senator.
I thank the Senator. Were I to go further and say that if they do not get the money, they will walk away from their work forever, I would be laughed out of it, rightly so, yet here we are with Fine Gael demanding just that - a 12% pay hike for landlords. However, that is the minimum. There is plenty of room for greater increases if one is living in Limerick, Galway or Waterford. That is considered to be not just acceptable but absolutely necessary. Otherwise, apparently, landlords will walk away from the market and, worse than that, take the houses with them. We do not know where they will hide them, but the Fine Gael mantra is that we will never see them again and no one will ever be able to live in them again. I know that it is Christmas and fairy tale time, but it is a bit rich to be going down that road, particularly when we have 174,000 landlords, or 2,000 more than we had at the beginning of the year. I would love to hear from my colleagues in Limerick. My heart goes out to them because it appears that Limerick people are not good enough for any kind of rent protection. Dublin and Cork people perhaps, but Limerick people? God no. There was a 15.9% increase in rents this year in Limerick, but we cannot have anything that might upset the landlords in Limerick or Galway, which is bizarre.
The key point is that Sinn Féin gave this House three opportunities to legislate for rent certainty, the first one being in June this year. To be frank with Fianna Fáil, the difference between what we were arguing for - a rate of inflation increase - and a 2% increase is virtually nothing. I really do not understand why Fianna Fáil did not agree with us at the time. Fianna Fáil is now complaining about Fine Gael, but when it had the opportunity to do something about rent certainty, it, unfortunately, blew it. It is a little late to come into the Chamber now to complain about this legislation. This is a theatre of the absurd. It is Fianna Fáil pretending to be different from Fine Gael. It is a bizarre spectacle. We are here to legislate-----
Sinn Féin did a good job at the theatre.
-----yet it is clear that no legislation is forthcoming today because of this spectacle of the absurd between the two conservative parties in the Chamber. Like my colleague, Senator Ned O'Sullivan, although I will be here on Tuesday, I wish all Senators a happy Christmas.
I had not intended to speak, but, having listened to what I can only describe as diatribe from the Leader of the Opposition, I wonder who wrote it for her. It is clear that whoever it was has a wonderful imagination. Fianna Fáil, of which Senator Catherine Ardagh is leader in this House, wrecked the country's economy and wrought havoc on all of the people.
She now has the temerity to stand up in this House and rewrite history. Her colleague used the word "gas", but-----
Fianna Fáil was egged on by the Senator's lot.
Let us return to the business of the day.
Senator David Norris loves to heckle others, but he does not tolerate any heckling himself.
I always tolerate heckling. I absolutely love it.
I put it to the House that the country is back on track thanks to the last Government. There has been a lot of pain for a lot of people and this Christmas we could give some people certainty about their tenancies and rents next year and the years to follow. Instead, however, we have Fianna Fáil brinkmanship - that is what I would call it - as operated by Deputy Barry Cowen. I remind the party across the floor that theirs is the party of Ray Burke and Bertie Ahern who made a comment on suicide about some people who were giving out about the economy at the time, who accused Deputy Bruton, when he warned about it, of economic treason and who encouraged people, in particular, young people, to get on the property ladder before they missed the boat. Let us get back to reality. Six months of work has gone into this strategy, in consultation with all stakeholders. That is from where the figure of 4% comes. However, Fianna Fáil and Deputy Barry Cowen have just pulled the figure of 2% out of the air. It sounds awfully like the language used by Anglo Irish Bank bankers, as I recall. Let us stop the brinkmanship if we can. Let us give people some certainty for next year. If we mean "Happy Christmas", let us try to make it a little happier for those who find face uncertaintyi n having a roof over the heads next year.
I propose an amendment to the Order of Business that No. 30, non-Government motion No. 13, be taken today and approved by the House. It is hoped that-----
What? We cannot hear the Senator. He is mumbling.
If there was silence in the Chamber, we might hear him.
Not all of us have the benefit of Senator David Norris's learned education in the hallowed halls of Trinity College Dublin.
The Senator should not be baited. Will he clarify the number?
It is voice projection, darling.
Please allow Senator Mark Daly the floor. I was going to call Senator David Norris early, but if he is being obstreperous, I will not.
I remind Senator David Norris that it is allegedly the season of goodwill towards all men.
And women too.
For the benefit of the Chair, please allow Senator Mark Daly to clarify his proposal. Please afford him that respect at least.
I propose that No. 30, non-Government motion No. 13, be approved by the House. I will have one of my colleagues second it.
Is it to be taken before No. 1?
Yes. I propose that the Cathaoirleach then send the necessary letters on behalf of the House.
This is the last month of the decade of commemorations of the 1916 Rising. The National Parks Service of the Department of the Interior in the United States has afforded Ireland a distinct honour by having a replica of the 1916 Proclamation placed inside the Washington Monument. It is one of only 17 countries to be given such an honour and only five plaques have been placed within the Washington Monument in the past 75 years. President Michael D. Higgins gave the plaque on behalf of the citizens of Ireland at home and abroad and it is hoped the Taoiseach, on behalf of the nation, will attend next March to formally dedicate it. I hope the Cathaoirleach, with the acceptance of the Leader, will send the letters to those in the United States who helped with the particular proposal.
I wish everyone a happy Christmas, including Senator David Norris.
It is the season of goodwill to all people.
On the issue of housing and the mismanagement of the Government-----
Tá an t-am istigh.
-----to bring forward this issue of rent certainty at the last hour of the last day of the sitting of the Dáil and to try to force all sides to come to an agreement with such little time available is nothing short of mismanagement of the highest order. I agree with my colleague, Senator Ned O'Sullivan, and others who have raised the issue. If this is the best Fine Gael can do in managing a crisis-----
I call Senator Fintan Warfield.
The Labour Party now seems, through its leader, to have a new line, which is, "If only we had been allowed to do this when we were in government."
It blamed Fine Gael when it was in government and is blaming Fianna Fáil now that it is in opposition.
The Senator is over the limit. Will he, please, sit down? He should resume his seat. I presume we are sitting next week. That was my understanding. Will no one turn up? I hope Senators do.
Please allow Senator Fintan Warfield to contribute. When he does contribute, he is very much to the point and brief, which I respect.
Last week Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council passed a motion calling for its chief executive to convene an early meeting of the board of the Genealogical Society of Ireland to discuss the decision of the Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company to acquire the premises that houses the unique archives and research facility of the society and explore the assistance the council could provide in keeping the valuable cultural and educational facility in Dún Laoghaire. It was proposed by Councillor Shane O'Brien of Sinn Féin and seconded by Councillor Patricia Stewart of Fine Gael. I should note that I am a nominee of the Genealogical Society of Ireland. The background to the motion is the imminent closure of the society's archives on the pier.
It is set to close on 14 February following the delivery of a notice to quit from the Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company. I would like to see the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Shane Ross, intervening to address this issue in the light of the proposed transfer to the harbour company by February 2017. I ask the Minister to address the issue.
I welcome the negotiations that have commenced between Vertex and the HSE on the price of Orkambi, with a view to making it available to suitable cystic fibrosis patients. On the basis of the 25% success rate for patients in clinical trials, the best approach for the HSE and the one it wishes to take is to seek payment based on patient outcome. The outcome of the negotiations may well be a watershed and an opportunity to draw a line under the rogue and unethical behaviour in which drug companies have engaged. The drug companies should not be making a corporate game out of making life-saving and life-enhancing drugs available to the sick and dying, knowing well that governments like ours are trying to do the best for their citizens. In this case, asking for €160,000 per patient, while the CEO is earning €25 million per annum, can be described as shameless greed and highly unethical.
Drug companies have a track record. They have denied life-saving drugs to people in developing countries, including HIV-AIDS drugs and antiretroviral drugs in Africa, while people in some of the same countries have been used as guinea pigs and lost their lives. Corporate social responsibility is an in-vogue concept for these multinational companies. The challenge is for the drug companies to pay more than lip-service to it in order that it actually means something. Drug companies would do well to remember that they would not be in a position to make their big profits without the environment of relative political stability provided, in particular, by western governments. I refer, in particular, to our respect for the rule of law which protects their intellectual property and patents and provides them with the protection of the corporate veil under which they can trade and take risks. They have a great deal for which to thank western governments. As such, a line must be drawn under the unacceptable unethical behaviour in which they have a long track record of engaging.
I call Senator David Norris.
Can I remind the Senator that I am the Protestant Tweedledum? I am Senator David Norris. Senator Shane Ross is now in the other House.
Sometimes the Senator does not listen to me. I am allowing him to speak.
He has a problem with his hearing apparently.
I note that the first three speakers and several subsequent ones read prepared statements. I just note the fact.
What is wrong with that?
It is against the tradition of the House.
I did not do so.
I do not think the Senator has spoken yet.
There you are. How could she possibly have read a statement? Really, the intelligence level in the House is going down and down.
It is the season of goodwill.
It is not appropriate for the Senator to question my intelligence level.
I love interruptions, but I cannot hear them.
I ask Senator David Norris to let me correct one thing. This matter was brought before the Committee on Procedure and Privileges at the request of the Senator some months ago and it was agreed unanimously by the committee that those who wished to read statements or from documents and those who, like the Senator, pronounced their contributions very eloquently without same were all entitled to be here and contribute in the manner they wished. It is unfair to say what the Senator said. It may have been the way things were done historically. It was the case when I was here 25 or 30 years ago but not any more. That has been agreed to.
I just noted the fact.
The Senator should not refer to intelligence levels either.
I want to see what is on Senator David Norris's white paper.
It is the Order of Business. There are about three words on it.
I ask Members to, please, allow Senator David Norris to speak. He is running out of time and I do not want him to run out of steam also.
As the only Independent Member present, I will oppose the Order of Business. I note in recent years the habit of meeting without an Order of Business, of which I do not approve. I see no reason we should not have an Order of Business on Tuesday.
We are going to have one.
Why does it state there shall be no Order of Business?
It has been proposed.
It states there shall be no Order of Business. That is what it states in black and white.
To clarify, there will be an Order of Business. Perhaps it is sometimes good to refer to notes.
It is in the official Order of Business, but I have only just received the amendment this second. I have it in my hand.
On the rent issue, we should not castigate all landlords. I spent a huge amount of money on the basement of my house which I rent out. I have not put up the rent for about ten years because I have decent tenants. It suits me very well. They are nice people who leave me alone and I do not have to bother too much with them. However, one is charged approximately 50% on the rent because it is deemed to be "unearned income". I am thinking of giving it up, as it is just not worth it. It is a waste of time. Why should I be earning money for the Government? I cannot see why.
There we are. It was rather an unruly spot, but I am very glad I pointed that out to Senator James Reilly. I delighted in the highly intelligent heckling which is all part of parliamentary business.
It was an own goal.
Despite what Senator James Reilly says, I enjoy the interruptions.
We aim to please.
The Senator does.
The Senator contributed slightly to the disorder on the Order of Business.
I am going to read from notes. Is that okay?
It is allowed.
Yes, it is.
Senator David Norris's remiss was a case in point.
I note the launch today of the HSE's campaign to lure nurses back in an appeal to their sentimental side at Christmas. The plan is to hold three open recruitment days, with walk-in interviews, at the HSE's Dublin headquarters where up to 1,000 full and part-time positions are on offer. The message from the Minister is going to be, "We need you back". This is going to take place over the Christmas break. As a registered nurse who has served on the front line all of my working life, I would like nothing more than to see the young graduates we nurtured and mentored return to work in the country. This, however, is a desperate attempt by the HSE to pull on the heartstrings of our brightest and best at a time of high emotion to get them to come back and save a health system that is on its knees and which the HSE has run into the ground. The measure is an admission of the grave mistakes the Government and Fianna Fáil have made since 2008 in regard to the health service and its staff. We sold nurses and other front-line workers down the river to pay back billions to the speculators. Yesterday, 536 citizens lay on trolleys in corridors and wards across the country. It is a damning indictment of the failed policy in scattering our young nurses all over the world. We now have the audacity to crawl back to them, pleading with them to come home. On top of this, the INMO is releasing the results of a ballot which is expected to favour industrial action.
I will end on a positive note. I extend the very best Christmas wishes to all my nursing colleagues, including the ones at home and those who are on their way home. They do fantastic and admirable work in trying circumstances. I am particularly conscious of those nurses who will be away from their families working on Christmas Day. All I can say is, "Go raibh míle, míle maith agaibh go léir".
University Hospital Limerick is always receiving negative publicity around here, but there was good news in the announcement yesterday that the opening date of the new emergency department might be brought forward following the significant upgrade of the software systems. It includes the integration of the patient and clinical management systems which allow consultants and their teams to maximise the operation of the emergency department. This is a good news story, given the fact that University Hospital Limerick covers the entire mid-west region with the other hospitals in its group. As we are always knocking it here, it is good to welcome good news.
I do not know if the Leader has yet watched the movie "The Siege of Jadotville", but many Members have.
For many years, the men were betrayed by their Government and the State and their heroism was turned into cowardice by people in political leadership in the State. What they went through in Jadotville was one of the most remarkable military feats in history. Rather than it being presented to young members of the Defence Forces as the standard to which to adhere, it was presented as the standard from which to walk away and as cowardice. The betrayal was tremendous. Some people took their own lives or died in despair and their families dealt with all this during the years.
My colleague, Senator Gerard P. Craughwell, and I have asked the Minister for a presentation of medals in Áras an Uachtaráin. In this centenary year members of the Defence Forces were rightfully paraded and presented with medals. Why can we not bring the surviving members of the events in Jadotville, whose numbers are dwindling every year, and their families to Áras an Uachtaráin to be presented with medals by the President? If they cannot be presented with medals for gallantry, they should be given medals to acknowledge their service to the State and the United Nations and the honour they brought on the people by their actions in those days. The manner in which they were betrayed by those in UN and Irish political leadership at the time was disgrace. I assume everybody in the House agrees that the Leader should communicate, on behalf of the entire House, our wishes and firm view that the heroes of Jadotville, the surviving members and their families should be brought to Áras an Uachtaráin at the earliest opportunity to have medals pinned on their chests on behalf of the people. I urge the Leader to ask the Minister to listen to the views of the House.
I agree with Senator Pádraig Mac Lochlainn on the heroes of Jadotville. I was probably one of the first Members of the Oireachtas who highlighted the fact that the men had been forgotten about. I was delighted when the Government recognised their heroism. I was in Custume Barracks to see the men being presented certificates. I agree that they should be recognised in a much more significant fashion. In Custume Barracks it was a great day of emotion and thanks. Their sacrifice and heroism had been forgotten about. Let us not discuss history. We will not go there because what happened was wrong and I am glad that we have now reached a situation where we can recognise the sacrifices made.
I am intrigued that Lloyds of London could now become Lloyds of Dublin. It is moving an office which deals with tens of millions of pounds to Dublin. This is good news for the country following Brexit which normally involves bad news for Ireland. I note that the European Medicines Agency and the European Banking Authority will move to different locations. Given what the Government and country did to save the European Union and the euro, the two should move to Dublin. Some 900 jobs in Canary Wharf are moving out of London. There up to 200 jobs in the European Banking Authority. We need and deserve these jobs which should come to Dublin. I was the first to highlight the fact that the European Medicines Agency would move if Brexit happened. It needs to move to a place such as Carrick-on-Shannon or Dublin. We need and deserve these jobs.
Ba mhaith liom ceist a ardú ar maidin atá ag teacht chun cinn sna ceantair tuaithe agus atá ag cur imní orm.
The new JobPath scheme has been rolled out, about which many other people and I in rural areas are concerned. Community employment and other employment schemes across the country have been seriously affected by the implementation of JobPath. Private companies working on behalf of the State are signing up people to the JobPath scheme, which means that they are then ineligible to take part in community employment and other schemes. The latest turn of events is that Seetec, a company working my area, is opening offices in rural areas and signing up people who are in receipt of social welfare payments. A number of schemes in Connemara have been unable to recruit people this year because all of the people who would have been eligible are now on JobPath lists and, therefore, ineligible to take part in other schemes. There is a fear that the opening of new clinics in rural areas by companies such as Seetec will result in more people being put on lists, which will lead to social employment schemes in rural areas no longer being viable. These schemes are very important to local communities.
The other side of the coin is that most of the people who are signed up to Seetec are not gaining any gainful employment from JobPath. A review of the scheme has been called for on a number of occasions and it is urgently needed, given how the two private companies contracted by the Government to roll out the scheme are acting. What is happening is cynical. I do not think the companies involved are acting in the best interests of the people taking part in schemes or the local communities they serve. We need a review of the system. I call for a debate on it as soon as possible in the new year in order that we can review the programme.
I wish everyone a happy Christmas.
I agree with Senator Máire Devine and extend my compliments to the public and private sector workers who will be working over the Christmas period in Limerick and other areas. Senator David Norris referred to intelligence. I thought, given the large influx of females into the House, that average intelligence would have been brought way up. I thought he would have reflected on the matter.
Obviously, there are-----
I am sorry, but I cannot hear Senator Kieran O'Donnell because Radio Luxembourg is butting in.
I refer to rents. I am glad to see that common sense has prevailed in the Dáil and that the Bill will be debated later today and tomorrow. My area, Limerick city, has not been included, but I would have liked it to have been. I have spoken to the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, Deputy Simon Coveney, about the matter. He has agreed that it will be prioritised. There is a long way to go. We do not always need to talk to Fianna Fáil; we can actually talk among ourselves. The Residential Tenancies Board has been charged with providing evidence. I have asked the Minister to fast-track the evidence. I hope Limerick city will be included quite quickly and that the timeframe for the inclusion of other areas will be virtually coterminous.
I second the amendment to the Order of Business proposed by Senator Mark Daly whom I commend for his achievement in tabling the motion.
It is a pity that Senator David Norris was not asked to speak before Senators Kevin Humphreys and James Reilly. I will forgive Senator Tim Lombard because he is new to the House. The word "intelligence" was used by Senator David Norris. If it had been used prior to the contributions of those Senators, perhaps he might have been intelligent enough not to speak. If we want to rehearse history and the economic downturn, we can and have no difficulty in so doing. Senator Kevin Humphreys and what is left of his party were in government for five years and the people gave their verdict.
For five years the Senator's party, predominantly, talked about my party and what it had done to the economy. The people are brighter and more intelligent than that and gave the Government its verdict. Any day the Senator's party wants to come into this House to debate the issue my party will do so. We have no difficulty in doing so.
It is welcome that the Committee on Procedure and Privileges has agreed that any Member of this House can come in and read from a script. Not all of us have had an opportunity to lecture big crowds, participate in television programmes or take to the stage as Senator David Norris and other individuals have done. In particular, I am delighted for one reason, that is, for the 35 or so people who are employed by Sinn Féin. I do not want to see them disappear and lose their jobs. If they have to be employed, so be it. I am glad to see them employed. It is welcome-----
At lease we have something to say.
In response to the criticism of the health service, we need to be careful because over 100,000 very dedicated and committed people work in the health service. We need to keep in mind the fact that they must work over Christmas, while the rest of us are at home. Every week 61,500 people attend outpatient departments and a further 23,000 attend emergency departments. That means that over 84,000 go through the hospitals system every week and that is in addition to the number who go through the system and are in beds. To suggest the health service is crumbling is unfair on the people who work in it because they provide a comprehensive service and work extremely hard. It is wrong to suggest 100,000 people are not doing their jobs.
Who suggested it? On a point of order, I want to know if Senator Colm Burke is targeting me with his claim.
I suggest Senator Colm Burke be allowed to conclude as his time is nearly up.
An additional 5,000 people now work in the health service when compared with the number in 2014. We are making huge progress. It is important to give credit where credit is due for the service that is delivered.
Many people have been caught up in the rental market. I am talking about tenants, in particular. We need to give security and do everything possible for them. We need to all work together to deal with the issue. Unfortunately, many people will not get on the property ladder. Therefore, we need to ensure they have security and do not have to worry about when the next notice to quit will be delivered to their door compared with what happened before. Let us all be careful in the way we handle the issue. Many people are very worried. We need to be conscious of their plight and make sure we will not play politics on the issue. That is why it is important that we agree on a comprehensive plan to tackle the issue.
My mother always told me when I was growing up that empty vessels made the most noise. I ask Senators to reflect on the proverb in the context of today's contributions. Senator Diarmuid Wilson has returned to the Chamber. I advise him that no one has written notes for me. I am very lucky to have someone employed to work for me. They are a political activist of the calibre that Senator Diarmuid Wilson can only dream about achieving.
Muna miste leis an gCeannaire, ba mhaith liom a lua go mbeidh agóid taobh amuigh den Teach ag 1.30 p.m. ag an ngrúpa Misneach faoi chúrsaí Gaeilge. Tá a fhios ag an gCeannaire go bhfuil sé ardaithe agamsa, ag an Seanadóir Ó Clochartaigh agus ag roinnt mhaith daoine eile gur chóir go mbeadh díospóireacht againn leis an Aire Stáit faoi chúrsaí Gaeilge agus faoin slad atá déanta ar bhuiséad na Gaeilge agus ar shaol na Gaeilge fud fad an Stáit seo.
I want the Leader to implore the Minister to come here to debate the Irish Language. The Irish Language lobby group, Misneach, will hold a protest at the front gates of Leinster House at 1.30 p.m. today. The group wishes to highlight two facts. First, the Minister has been unable to come into this House, for whatever reason, to discuss the very important issue of Irish language rights, development and investment. Second, she has not spoke to the media, Irish language organisations or representative groups. I know that the Leader, with the vast majority of Members of this House, cherish the Irish language for all of the economic, social, cultural and artistic benefits it bestows on our lives. It is about time that we heard the Minister's explanation for the cut in budget for the Irish language. I want to know why there is almost disdain for the language at a time when we should invest in, promote and develop it like never before.
Recently the Scottish First Minister, Ms Nicola Sturgeon, MSP, addressed the Chamber. It was a great day and we were delighted to have her in Ireland. She visited the Book of Kells that is housed in Trinity College Dublin. I called for her support in asking for the Book of Kells to be returned to the people of Kells in County Meath.
I ask Senator David Norris to have a word with his friends in Trinity College Dublin. I would like to make a few points about the Book of Kells. It comprises four volumes by the four Evangelists - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Two of the volumes are never displayed by the university but kept in storage. The Book of Kells fell into the hands of the Protestant ascendency class and subsequently Trinity College Dublin as a direct result of the Cromwellian wars in Ireland.
No, Norris took it.
The Book of Kells was kept safely in Kells for over 600 years.
And then they lost it.
The Book of Kells belongs to the people of Ireland, not Trinity College Dublin.
And then they let it fall into the bog.
It belongs to the people.
I would like Senator David Norris to thank Trinity College Dublin and its librarians for taking good care of the book. Let us remember that the people of Kells took care of it during the 600 years it was in the Columban monastery.
And then they lost it.
We want it back.
The people are not getting it.
I thank Senator Ray Butler for his history lesson.
How does one follow the last few contributions? I thank the 22 Members who spoke for their vigorous contributions.
They were intelligent contributions.
Yes, they were. Reference was made to the use of language and scripts. I noted all of the comments made in my Notebook.
I urge the Leader not to be caught in any snare.
My best reply to the contributions made on the Order of Business is to bring the vibes down an octave or two. I ask Members to reflect wisely on what we have discussed.
Thirteen Senators referred to the Bill before the Dáil. As Senator Kieran O'Donnell said, thankfully, the Dáil will debate it today and tomorrow and I hope it will reach us on Tuesday. It is important that we put the matter in context and park all of our political ideology. There are 132,000 tenants in Dublin and 18,000 in Cork who are awaiting the legislation. It is important, therefore, that the Bill progress. The Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, Deputy Simon Coveney, is determined to work with all sides to bring about certainty and achieve security for tenants and landlords. The job of this House is to decide its own business and do an effective job. I am confident that we will do so in a timely and positive manner. Like me, Senator Ned O'Sullivan is a pragmatist. We were both right to wait for a resolution to take place this afternoon. Let us put the matter in context because some Members have a misguided notion of the rental market. There are more tenants than landlords. The legislation represents a major and radical intervention in the rental market. Senators have stood on the mountain and talked about the landlord class and the lack of an intervention by the Government. I urge them to read the statement issued by the ESRI yesterday. I outline for Members, Sinn Féin Party Members in particular, that if one was to intervene too aggressively, the supply of housing would be shut off. We must have supply. I am confident that the Minister who has worked with Deputy Barry Cowen of Fianna Fáil and, to be fair, Deputy Eoin Ó Broin of Sinn Féin will get the legislation right. It has not been rushed. Let me put the matter in context. We gave it a long, detailed and considered hearing in this House. Deputy Simon Coveney has been one of most willing Ministers to come to the House and has engaged with Members on all sides. In his contributions on Second, Committee and Report Stages he flagged that he would table amendments and deal with the issue of rent certainty. The process was agreed to by all of us.
We opposed it.
No, we agreed to it in group meetings.
The process was agreed to. The Senator cannot have it both ways.
I was not here. The Leader should check the vote register.
You cannot talk out of both sides of your mouth.
The Leader should speak through the Chair.
The legislation has been subject to three months of consultation, as well as being the subject of more than 500 written submissions. I appeal to Members. The language we use is important. If we have learned anything from Brexit and the American election, it is that our language and what we say are critical. Let us not undermine the strategy or the process. Let us ensure we have a Bill that tenants and landlords will want to see passed in order that we can reach an outcome that will provide certainty and security. The last thing we, as Members of the House who are charged with the responsibility of enacting legislation, want is to have flawed legislation passed. That would not make sense and would be wrong. Let us have calm and reflection.
On what Senator Rose Conway-Walsh said about the banks, I do not like to hear her use words such as "robbery", "theft" and "lies". I would much prefer if we had a debate about the banking system letting people down. I would be very happy to arrange such a debate in the new year. We should all look at the report on the banking inquiry and what is stated in it and the other associated reports.
Senator Kevin Humphreys spoke about new politics. I remind him that what people do not want to see is old style Punch and Judy politics, to which he resorted. What they want to see is action being taken by all of us. I would be happy to have the Taoiseach come to the House at any time, but he is not the line Minister with responsibility for the Bill. The responsible Minister is Deputy Simon Coveney who I hope will be in the House on Tuesday to discuss the Bill. I would be happy for the Taoiseach to come to the House in the new year to discuss the issue of Seanad reform or any matter pertaining to his Department, but, please, let us put things in context.
I will not go through the contributions of all Senators on the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Bill.
I am very happy to accept Senator Mark Daly's amendment to the Order of Business. On a very serious note, I recognise the significance of the motion which conveys our thanks to the National Parks Service of the United States. As Senator Mark Daly rightly said, Ireland is just one of 17 countries to be given this distinction and unless I am mistaken, it is one of only five plaques to be placed at the Washington Monument, which is an indication of the significant contribution made by the State in the eyes of the United States of America. I thank the men and women of the National Parks Service of the United States which is part of the US Department of the Interior as it is an acknowledgement of the huge contribution made in the 1916 Rising, following which many people emigrated to the United States where they played a role in civic life. The motion is important and I am happy for it to be taken today.
Senator Fintan Warfield referred to the Genealogical Society of Ireland in Dún Laoghaire. I am not familiar with the case mentioned, but I would be happy for the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Shane Ross, to come to the House to discuss the matter, most likely in the new year.
Senator Michelle Mulherin referred to the drug Orkambi. We all welcome the engagement of the drug company with the HSE and hope to see a positive outcome.
Senators Máire Devine, Kieran O'Donnell and Colm Burke raised the issue of staff in the Health Service Executive and the health system. I join Senator Máire Devine in thanking the men and women who work on the front line in the health service and all those who will be working on Christmas Day on behalf of the State. As someone who had the pleasure of working on Christmas Day when I worked in Cork University Hospital, I am aware that it is a day on which many people are separated from their loved ones, but they act in the spirit of serving others. I congratulate the Senator on raising the issue. However, I disagree with her assessment of the HSE's recruitment campaign which I believe is a good one. It is great that we are encouraging nurses to come home to work in the health system. The Senator should welcome people back into the health system with open arms. As we are crying out for people to work in the health system, we should encourage them to come back to work and live here. This has become a great country which we have rebuilt once again.
We live in the real world.
Let us welcome the campaign.
Unless they come back to work in private nursing homes.
Senators Padráig Mac Lochlainn and Frank Feighan referred to the events which occurred in Jadotville in the Congo in 1961. I have seen the film and one cannot but be struck by the bravery of the men involved and the fact that no Irish soldier was lost in the battle. The Minister organised an event in Custume Barracks in which she presented a citation to the men of A Company of the 35th Infantry Battalion. As Senator Gabrielle McFadden outlined previously, it was the first time a citation was awarded to a unit of the Defence Forces. The Minister has commissioned an insignia to recognise the professional performance of the men of A Company, but like Senator Frank Feighan and others, I agree that it is important that we try to make more progress if we can. We are always reacting to historical and various other events. The soldiers referred to were treated badly; they were treated as outcasts when, in fact, they were not. I encourage all Members who have not seen the film to watch it over Christmas because it is an extraordinary portrayal of the bravery of the men in question who deserve our thanks and appreciation.
Senator Frank Feighan also referred to the possibility of Lloyds of London becoming Lloyds of Dublin. I hope that will come to fruition. Equally, he mentioned the possibility of the European Banking Authority and the European Medicines Agency coming to Dublin. I hope that, too, will come to fruition.
Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh referred to the JobPath scheme. The Minister for Social Protection, Deputy Leo Varadkar, has been holding meetings with representatives of community employment schemes and is looking into the matter. Many of us have spoken to him about it. He acknowledges and values the work being done across many schemes and is anxious to find a positive solution to improve communities. I would be happy for him to come to the House in the new year to speak about the issue.
I will not engage in a discussion on economics back and forth with Senator Diarmuid Wilson.
Senator Colm Burke again referred to the health service. I would be happy for the matter to be discussed in the new year.
Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile raised the issue of Misneach, mar gheall ar chúrsaí Gaeilge. It is my fault that the Minister of State, Deputy Seán Kyne, will not be in the House before Christmas; it is not his. He is willing to come to the House, but I will hold him off until the new year because of the pending legislation we want to have passed. However, I assure Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh who raised the matter previously that the Minister of State will be in the House in the new year.
I wish Senator Ray Butler well in his quest to have the Book of Kells returned to County Meath.
It is just one of the gospels.
I am sure there will be strong resistance from many arms of the State in that regard. I remind Senator David Norris that there will be an Order of Business on Tuesday morning.
Let me remind the Leader that an amended Order of Business was circulated while the House was sitting.
It was not.
The time on it is 10.30 a.m.
It was circulated before the Order of Business.
It was circulated by electronic means before 10 a.m.
The time stated in black and white is 10.30 a.m.
To clarify for the House, it was circulated electronically before the Order of Business. The Senator should be fair.
That is the time indicated on it.
It is important that we be accurate and do not impugn those who work very hard. I wish to be very clear that it was circulted electronically prior to the Order of Business.
The Leader has corrected the record.
Yes. Next Tuesday on the Order of Business - an intelligent one - at 11 a.m. we will have an opportunity to wish people a happy Christmas. I apologise to Members that we did not have an opportunity to engage in a longer debate because of the state of flux in the Dáil, but there is a timetable to which we agreed at the leaders' meeting last week for the business to be conducted. It will be a long day.
I thank the leaders of all the groups for their co-operation during this term. There has been a very positive working relationship. We can put the swords back in the scabbards for a moment while I thank all of the leaders and the Whips for their co-operation. I also thank the staff in the Seanad Office. There was very positive engagement at the Committee on Procedure and Privileges on the need to reinforce and strengthen the Seanad Office because we have dedicated individuals who do extraordinary work on behalf of the people and who sometimes do not receive the credit they deserve. They are under the watch of Mr. Martin Groves and do Trojan work, for which they should be acknowledged and thanked.
Senator Mark Daly has proposed an amendment to the Order of Business: "That No. 30, non-Government motion No. 13 re National Parks Service of the United States, be taken before No. 1." The Leader has indicated that he is prepared to accept the amendment. Is it agreed to? Agreed.