Order of Business (Resumed)

I would like to express my outrage, and that of the Fianna Fáil group, and condemn the actions of Israel and its use of force against unarmed Palestinian protestors, including unarmed children. An eight month old child was among the victims.

The killing of 59 Palestinians can only be described as a massacre and must be condemned by the Government in the strongest possible terms. We call on the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade to do what he can and outline our condemnation to the Israeli ambassador. Shooting live ammunition at demonstrators goes way beyond the realms of proportionality and I ask the Minister to urge the Israeli authorities to use restraint.

The second issue I wish to raise is the cervical screening controversy and the information deficit among senior management in the HSE, evidenced by when they became aware of the cervical cancer controversy, including when the Minister and his predecessors knew about the issue, which I say is questionable. In fact, it beggars belief. However, the Taoiseach was emphatic in the Dáil earlier that he was not aware of any issues with the programme, which I of course fully accept. The Taoiseach also confirmed, when asked by Deputy Micheál Martin, that no Minister for Health in recent times ever discussed or reviewed the progress of the cervical screening programme with senior management there, which in itself, in my opinion, is a dereliction of duty by a health Minister. The CervicalCheck programme is clearly within the brief of the Minister for Health, and failure to review or discuss it over the course of the last Government or this Government raises serious questions about competency. Ultimately, the women at the heart of this controversy must be the priority of the Government. To date, we have seen a serious lack of urgency in supporting them. Some 4,000 women have yet to receive a call back from the helpline. Moreover, six families of women who have sadly passed away and were the subject matter of the audit have not been contacted to date. If they were wanted for a crime or owed money to the State it would be very easy to find them. This alone beggars belief, and the manner in which families to date have been told has been insensitive and cruel. What we need to see is reform. We need to see competence in this programme and we need to see this as a matter of urgency.

The final item I would like to raise is unrelated. It concerns the dangers of cycling on Luas tracks. At 1.40 p.m. today I witnessed a man's tyre get trapped in the Luas tracks in St. Stephen's Green, causing him to fall. Thankfully he had a helmet on and was not injured. I know this matter has been raised before but there is a serious accident waiting to happen. More safety measures and warnings must be put in place to ensure that we do not learn of a tragedy on our doorstep arising from this.

I too want to point out that what went on yesterday in Gaza is beyond belief. This has been going on for so long with the Israelis that it is not funny. Children were shot yesterday. I have to ask the question: what were children doing there? I often have wondered whether I have the capacity to kill somebody and I think the only way I would ever kill anybody would be if he or she touched one of my children or grandchildren. I cannot for the life of me understand anybody bringing children to an organised protest when they know that those against whom they are protesting have no qualms whatsoever when it comes to using lethal force.

Blame the victims.

"Do not blame the victims".

That is what the Senator is doing.

That is too cheap and too easy an answer-----

It is too accurate.

-----to the situation. It is too cheap and too easy. They are children. I ask anybody here who has children to stand up here today and tell me that he or she would walk them into a situation where that person knows there was a possibility that they would get shot. That in no way excuses the disgusting behaviour of the Israeli defence forces. Their viciousness, their cruelty and their willingness to kill people is too well known. As for President Trump opening his embassy in Jerusalem, he knew God-damned well when he opened it exactly what it would cause. It is a terrible day. We stand here with 59 people dead, and I agree with my colleague, Senator Ardagh; we must object in the most strenuous terms.

The Leader also mentioned today that legislative items are to come before the House without debate, that is, two European directives pertaining to taxation. I refer to COM(2018)147 and COM(2018)148. I do not believe that any European legislation should pass through this House without debate. I believe that time should be found and set aside to debate this legislation before it goes through. That is one job the Seanad can do and can do well. I ask the Leader to reconsider that and to perhaps set time aside to debate both of those items of legislation.

I will leave it at that. There is not much more I want to say.

To be honest, I am finding it difficult to put into words how disgusted and horrified I am at the shameful disregard for human life in Gaza yesterday. I spent the last week in Palestine meeting both Israeli and Palestinian human rights organisations and other amazing people across Gaza and the West Bank. I came back into Leinster House yesterday morning ready to share their stories, just as news emerged of the horrific, mounting death toll.

It is almost surreal to be back in Dublin. Just days ago, I stood in Gaza at the exact same meeting point near the border fence where the protests are taking place and I got to speak to those living under a brutal, 11-year blockade and occupation. The sense of hopelessness was very clear. Israel's inhumane blockade has confined 2 million people to suffering in an open air prison. The lack of access to water, electricity and healthcare was difficult to take, but the very real despair in people's voices was even worse. They pleaded with us and asked why the international community is not doing anything for them. They asked why they were left there to deal with this situation. I saw it clearly. I am so upset. I felt the hopelessness of many people. They had just given up.

Senator Craughwell asked why people bring children to those demonstrations. They have no other choice. They do not know what else to do. They are feeling hopeless. They are choosing death because they do not know what else to do. Over 50% of the people in the region are unemployed. They are all young people. They are sick of life in an open air prison.

We hear that another life has been lost today. When I went to Hebron I spoke with a man from Breaking the Silence who said that when he was in the Israeli army, shooting the Palestinian people was like playing a video game. They all cheer and laugh when they shoot somebody. It is absolutely horrendous, and I am appalled.

It is time now for change, and this Government has to do something about that. The sad reality is that nothing will change until the European Union and the wider international community puts pressure on Netanyahu's Government. Years of empty condemnation simply has not worked.

We need to stand up for international law and stand against the blockade in Gaza and the expansion of illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank. We can recognise the Palestinian state and put peace negotiations on an equal footing, relying on the same parity of esteem enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement.

I look forward to introducing my legislation to end Irish involvement in the illegal settlements in the coming months and I am hopeful of seeing support across this House. I hope that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael will support us on this legislation.

To those disgusted by the actions of the Israeli state, I say there are tangible steps Ireland can take, vouched for in international human rights law if there is the political will. I am pleading with the House today to show leadership on this issue and let Ireland go forward and introduce those steps. We need to lead on this issue.

I, too, condemn the slaughter of the Palestinian women, men and children over the weekend. This is nothing new, but those atrocities have focused people's minds. For that reason, I propose an amendment to the Order of Business that the House would get a full report from the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade on his meeting with the Israeli ambassador. It is not good enough to just have a chat with him. Senator Black and the other Senators who have spoken are right. Action must be taken now. I want to see the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade come before this House to outline the leadership measures and actions that will be taken to address this atrocity.

We often talk in this House about atrocities that happened and things over which we have no control. We cannot change the past but can change things now. Obviously, Ireland is a small state but addressing this requires not only international support but also international action. Ireland must play its part in that. We must show leadership and tangible actions to make that happen. It will not happen just through UN agreement. Specific actions are required. For our part, we have called for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador from Ireland in response to what has happened. Sinn Féin has called repeatedly for the international community to stand in defence of the Palestinian people. What occurred is the antithesis of all universal democratic norms. The failure of the international community to take a stand against the multiple injustices being inflicted on the Palestinian people by Israel is shameful and outrageous and has to stop. We must do absolutely everything in our power to ensure it stops. Otherwise it is to our shame.

I presume the Senator wants the Minister to come to the House today to explain his position.

Like others, I express my utter condemnation of the appalling killings and maiming by the Israeli defence forces of so many civilians in Gaza, particularly a number of children. It is appalling to see carnage of this level. It is a new low. The Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade had a session on Palestine with Omar Barghouti last week. Even at that point, it was not apparent just how much worse the situation would get. It was particularly chilling to see the US Administration suggesting this was somehow a positive move. Its siting of the embassy in Jerusalem led to the protests.

It is beyond time for empty words. We need to move on and look at the concrete action Ireland can take on this. We should call on the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Deputy Simon Coveney, to take action on behalf of Ireland, recognising that, as a small state, we work best collectively. Today the Labour Party leader, Deputy Brendan Howlin, called on the Tánaiste to request an urgent convening of the EU Council of Foreign Ministers to discuss what action can be taken against Israel at EU level on this issue, and to convene an independent investigation into the killings. If the UN will not conduct such an investigation, which is likely given the Security Council veto, the EU should then step in and conduct an independent inquiry into the conduct of the Israeli defence forces.

To those who ask what role the EU has, I say it has a major role, as we heard last week at a meeting of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade. It has a role as a major donor, as an entity, and as a bloc that has invested a huge amount of money in the rebuilding of buildings in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. Senator Black will have seen this. The buildings were subsequently demolished by Israeli action. Therefore, the EU has a stake in this. We all have a stake in this on a humanitarian basis.

Deputy Brendan Howlin has also called for the Government to recognise the state of Palestine.

I support Senator Conway-Walsh's call for the Tánaiste to come in here because we need to put it to him that he should implement the motion already passed by the Oireachtas that the state of Palestine should be recognised by Ireland. That is one unilateral action we can take and that will put pressure on our European colleagues and Federica Mogherini.

That is the sort of concrete action we need to take. I would be careful about expressing any words that blame or sound like blaming of any of the individuals involved in the peaceful protests.

Doing so is problematic because there is no question but that the picking off of civilians by Israeli defence forces' snipers is an outrageous act of war, a crime, an international humanitarian crime. We need to be careful about saying anything that would in any way sound as if we were seeking to cast blame elsewhere.

I commend the dynamic and dignified group of grandfathers I met outside Leinster House earlier. They have set up a group called Grandfathers for Yes to campaign for a "Yes" vote in the forthcoming referendum on behalf of their grandchildren and future generations. Colleagues may have met the group. It was a wonderful group. I have asked the Leader to have a debate after the referendum on the conduct of referenda and electoral reform but we also need to debate the conduct of the debate itself and the use of respectful language. Unfortunately last night on "Claire Byrne Live" we saw the first real descent into name calling and abusive language, particularly an unfortunate series of personal attacks on the eminent consultant, Dr. Peter Boylan.

It was unforgivable and should have been stopped by the chairperson, whatever one’s view of the referendum debate. I am glad to say that in this House, we conducted ourselves with dignity and respect for one another's views in the debate on the referendum Bill. I hope we will see future debates in the media conducted in that way. RTÉ is to blame for failing to intervene to prevent the debate descending as it did last night.

I raise two matters today, both of which relate to education. First is Gaelcholáiste Luimnigh, which is an Apple distinguished school. Today, it hosted an event selling its message to other schools about what it means to have that distinction. It is the only school in Ireland with that accolade and I congratulate it in that regard. Second, ESB has announced a number of bursaries to work with PhD students on electricity generation. It is most welcome to see a company like ESB get involved in research and the funding of PhD students to research future developments.

Like many, I watched the gathering last night in County Kerry of those who support women like Emma Mhic Mhathúna and Vicky Phelan, who are enduring such difficult times. I presume everyone watched it. It was heartbreaking. I saw their anger and the continued lack of accountability. More marches in solidarity are planned for this week. We must all support these women and get to the bottom of this and heads must roll in this regard.

The Government seems still to be playing catch-up on this scandal and was, most worryingly, kept in the dark about a strategy that was dangerous and sinister in the extreme. It worries me that the Taoiseach and the Minister for Health were kept out of the conversation and shielded from documents which resulted in harm to women. We are here to make good rules to protect our society and if we are not given all of the information, we must ask why. I echo calls made in the Dáil by my colleague, Deputy Marc MacSharry, for clarification on outsourcing of smears to UK laboratories at busy times from CervicalCheck. Women need certainty that smears are being read carefully and that they can trust, once again, a vital screening service.

Over the past few days, I was heartened to hear that measures had been taken to help women. However, it is still the case that not enough is being done. We have all heard the saying that it takes a village to raise a child. I call on the Minister to consider that and to ensure that not only are expenses covered but that real, tangible supports are put in place for these women and their families. A discretionary medical card should be provided to anyone with a terminal or chronic illness. I have brought this up several times before. It should be a straightforward matter to claim expenses which should be reimbursed without quibble. Counsellors, childcare services and transportation should be made available to these families without obstacle. A simple request for services should be made and granted in the same conversation. I do not want to read that months down the line, families are still waiting for receipts to be cleared. I suggest these families' names be put on a VIP list circulated to all services. If they make a call for a taxi at night or for a nurse, a service should be provided straight away. The last thing anyone with a terminal illness needs to be doing is checking receipts and collecting dates and times. I encourage a debate on the introduction of care teams for all families suffering at this time. We should have a system whereby the essential village is brought in to support these families, including someone to cook for them, someone to look after their children and someone to look after the women and administer their medications. This should never have happened. We need to ensure it never happens again.

Last week, I raised a Commencement matter on labour shortages and the real difficulty for people in the horticultural sector, including the mushroom and soft-root sectors, dairying and meat production. The farming and horticulture community has difficulty getting people to come from outside the European Union due to issues around work permits. There was some discussion with the Minister in the House. I am very happy to acknowledge the great work the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Humphreys, has done. Today, she announced a pilot scheme whereby 800 people will come in. She intends to expand that but will start initially with 800 people. This is a hugely positive boost for people in the horticulture sector and agriculture generally. She has clearly responded to their extensive representations in the last few days. It is important to acknowledge her good work.

Second, I come back to the old chestnut of the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dún Laoghaire. Since I last spoke to the Leader, I have received a letter from the private secretary of the Minister of State with responsibility for disabilities to clarify that the hospital made submissions seeking 12 beds in January 2017 and that while six beds had been opened, there was no funding for the other six.

The excuse is that the National Rehabilitation Hospital has made a submission to the HSE and it is telling the Minister that it will not be in a position to fund these beds possibly until the end-of-winter planning process of 2018-19. That is for six beds. These people are in acute beds in our hospitals. I went to the Minister of State and to the Minister, I wrote to the Taoiseach and received correspondence from him last week. We have now exhausted everything, apart from having public meetings in the constituency of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown and asking for people's support. That may be the next strand of the campaign because I am determined to get these beds open. I spoke to the hospital today.

Can we ask the Minister to come back to the House for a debate? I ask anyone in the House who has contacts with the Joint Committee on Health to put this matter on its agenda and to have the Minister appear before that committee to explain why there is a shortage in these beds.

I now call on Senator Lawlor. I congratulate him on his election to the House and wish him well.

I thank the Cathaoirleach. I hope there will be many pleasantries between us in the future. I also wish to condemn the murders by the Israeli defence forces and the Government of Israel for its actions in recent days. It is not only the last number of days but has been ongoing since 1947 when Palestinians were evicted from their homes close to Jerusalem. Those of us who have been to the West Bank and to the Gaza Strip have seen the hardship that these people go through. It is not only the community in Gaza, where farmers and fishermen are curtailed in their everyday work, but also in the West Bank. It is Israel's policy not to have a two-state solution. Israel's policy is to have one state that ends at the border with Jordan, at the Golan Heights and in the Sinai desert, and they want to push the Palestinians out of Gaza in order that the sea can be their other boundary. We must be strong in our condemnation of that. I welcome that the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade summoned the ambassador today. We should bring the Minister to the House to report on what he said to the ambassador on this matter.

People have asked what we can do. I recall some years ago, writing to the European Commission on produce coming from Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Israeli settlers continue to push Palestinian farmers out of the West Bank. I ask that we would label produce from Israeli settlements in the West Bank and that we ban that settlement produce.

We, as the Seanad, could write to the Commission and encourage its adoption. Last Saturday, Israel won the Eurovision song contest. Some of us in this House are involved in the music industry. If things do not improve there, we should give consideration to not participating in the Eurovision Song Contest when it is held in Israel next year. The music industry could decide not to put forward anyone from this country to represent us in Israel next year.

I thank the Cathaoirleach and the Leader for the opportunity to observe that minute's silence for the people slaughtered in Gaza over recent days. I also second the amendment to the Order of Business by Senator Conway-Walsh. I wish to add to the calls by others for the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade should come before the House. I have listened to a number of his statements on this matter and on Senator Black's Bill on settlement goods.

I have heard the Tánaiste and some of his colleagues in government advocate for a diplomatic approach to this issue as if Israel heeds diplomacy or has observed any diplomatic approach to this issue and as if we are dealing with a conventional war or conflict between two states when what we see being inflicted on the Palestinian people on the streets of Gaza constitutes genocide. It is calculated and deliberate slaughter and it is policy. There is no diplomatic response to this because, in the first instance, a willingness to work towards one is needed and there appears to be no willingness on the part of Israel, as Senator Lawlor said, to engage in conflict resolution. Israel's only aim is the ultimate removal of the Palestinian people. The Tánaiste said that he would pursue a response through the UN, as if the US will not block - if it has not already done so - any option to pursue a resolution to this or a reproach to Israel.

We have exercised our options and I appreciate fully the effort put in by the Tánaiste and his departmental officials. We are a small country with a small presence in respect of this issue, which has such geopolitical magnitude. I do not doubt that we have tried sincerely and valiantly in this regard but yesterday's events did not happen in isolation. This is not a one-off; it is a consistent, calculated, deliberate approach by Israel. Israel does not adhere to international law and, therefore, why should it be treated like another ordinary state? Israel engages in the practice of apartheid. It is a rogue state that is slaughtering people who are peacefully protesting. We should follow the example set by ourselves in the past and boycott apartheid as we did in respect of South Africa. In addition, we should follow the South African Government's example of expelling the Israeli ambassador. We should take that step and expel the Israeli ambassador. There is a time for dialogue and conflict resolution, which we know better than most, but there is also a time for action. The time for action has passed and we need to send a message to the Palestinian people who know all too well the consequences of conflict and colonialism that we stand by them and that we stand for justice, rights and, ultimately, peace. Israel does not.

As foreign affairs spokesperson for my party, I would like to address the atrocities of the past few days. We utterly condemn as outrageous, inhumane and unacceptable the firing on protesters and the mass killings that have resulted from such action. A total of 60 were killed yesterday and, as I understand from earlier remarks, more people have died today. There has been a multitude of injuries as well. This has been going on for weeks. It is horrendous and outside human norms. It is just unacceptable on every front and I would be remiss in my duty, having the honour and privilege of being spokesperson in this area, not to say that. I commend the Leader on beginning today's proceedings with a minute's silence, which was apt and appropriate. This is not a partisan issue and I commend the fact that the Tánaiste called in the Israeli ambassador and that he was unequivocal in his condemnation, which is what the people of Ireland would request in this instance. There should be an international investigation under the auspices of the UN and if that is vetoed, I will raise the issue in the European context in my capacity as leader of the Irish delegation to the Council of Europe at the next available opportunity. It will be raised by a number of people at that forum. It should also be raised at EU level to ensure there is an international investigation.

Unquestionably we should have an international investigation. While it is very difficult in the midst of such tragedy and in such a dismal situation, we should look to peace and to a two-state solution. A peace conference is an immediate requirement. Out of this horror, evil and wrong, the prospect for peace may arise somehow.

There was a jubilant celebration of President Trump's ill-advised move of the American Embassy to Jerusalem yesterday, at which the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said that Jerusalem had been the capital of Israel for 3,000 years. We have had fake news; now we have fake history. That is absolute, utter rubbish. Sixty people were mown down. These were peaceful civilians protesting. The use of dumdum bullets, which should be internationally outlawed, was another part of this outrage. I do not know why they do not declare Israel to be the 51st state of the US, because that is basically what it is; it is a US colony in the Middle East.

It was nothing other than murder. We need action, not words. I call for the withdrawal of the Irish ambassador to Israel; for the stopping of the acceptance of settlement-produced goods and for the recognition of the state of Palestine. We really need action. There are decent Israelis. I was listening to the former head of the Israeli foreign office on the wireless the other day. He said the Israeli policy towards the Palestinians is an outrage and he is 100% right.

Some 2 million people are confined in an area that is ten miles wide by 40 miles long with inadequate water and sewerage services. These are actively bombed by the Israelis. What is the point in bombing a sewerage system unless they really want to degrade the people to the position of animals? There is enormous unemployment there. If they would only share the land, with Israeli technology they could bring some of these areas up to full agricultural production. I just do not know why the hell they do not just share the land.

One of the saddest aspects is that is a gross violation of the Jewish ethic which says that "If you save one life, you save a universe." The corollary of that is that "If you kill one person, you kill a universe of people."

If the Sinn Féin Members will allow it, I would like to second the Sinn Féin amendment.

I think it has been done already.

I join other Senators in absolutely condemning without question yesterday's murders in Gaza. To put things in context, there are 2 million Palestinian prisoners in an area of about 365 sq. km. It is the third most densely occupied part of the world.

The Israelis must realise that a revolution will take place and more deaths will come because this is only a start; this is not the end of the situation. They literally could technically move into Israel and Israel needs to be very careful. It would take some army to control 2 million people and that is what they are trying to do. That is why they shot dead in cold blood young people, middle-aged people and children with sharpshooters shooting into the area. It is one of the most outrageous atrocities. It brought back memories to most of us of Bloody Sunday, when the British army mowed down 14 people in the Bogside. As we felt then, we feel now the same sense of outrage over what is happening in Gaza and Israel. We have to condemn it outright. While condemnation is fine, we need to ask what other action we can take to ensure the issue is further highlighted.

We in this House warned of the fallout from the opening of the American Embassy in Jerusalem. It was obvious, as those of us who have been in Jerusalem realise. Jerusalem is the centre of all international faiths and is also the capital for Palestine.

If the Israelis want to make it their capital, it can be shared in some form or other as an international city. That being said, I just feel that all we can do is condemn the activities. Seventy years ago yesterday, the State of Israel was established by international agreement without any concern whatsoever for the faith of the Palestinians living there. Now it is the West Bank and Gaza. I am not too impressed by Hamas's activities. It does not recognise the State of Israel. This is provocative, quite frankly. The other side, the West Bank, is controlled by Fatah. It is more reasonable - too reasonable, obviously, because what is happening in that region is that Hamas is getting backing because of its militaristic approach. Let us be quite clear about this: Hamas's commitment is to wipe out the State of Israel. If it wants to sit down and negotiate, let it sit down and remove those kinds of threats against any other country. We are for the two-state solution. The late Brian Lenihan Snr. was the first Minister in Europe to recognise the two-state solution many years ago, and we are very proud of his commitment. Fianna Fáil supports utterly Palestine and we condemn these activities.

I appreciate the weighty tones of many Senators and hope they will indulge me as I raise the slightly more domestic matter of my ongoing call to the Leader to bring the Minister of State with responsibility for sport and tourism before the House to have a real debate on the future of sport in this country, the provision of facilities and the encouragement of so many more people to remain actively involved. We have had a fantastic sporting weekend. I am sure many Senators, especially the Leader, welcome Leinster's fourth European title and the first ever test match for the Irish cricket team. While it finished in a very narrow defeat in Malahide this afternoon-----

A maiden century.

There was a maiden century by Sandymount's Kevin O'Brien, only the fifth person in history to score a century on their debut. He is a home-grown player who is able to play his cricket in Ireland due to the level of funding provided. We need to have this debate to discuss facilities for every sport, but particularly the national cricket stadium that is committed to. I ask that the Minister of State come before the House as soon as possible.

I join my colleagues in condemning the murderous actions of Israel over the weekend. Senator David Norris is right about using drones to kill the Palestinians. I had the privilege of visiting Jenin, Hebron and Ramallah a year ago. I think it was the greatest education the Seanad has offered me, given what I saw and who I met. The Palestinians are a great people, a brilliant people, but a people living normally in captivity - that is the only way I can describe it - with walls the size of those of the Seanad in between their farms, their trees, their houses and their businesses. There is no electricity, or very little, during the day and no running water. I remember thinking it was like an open prison, and we have called it an open prison. I agree with Senator Ivana Bacik who says Europe has a huge part to play. The EU has an enormous part to play but it seems to be living in a kind of inactivity on the matter. I agree with other colleagues across the House and I would like the Tánaiste to come before the House. I never agree with Sinn Féin because of its past, which has ended in peace, but I have experience of having lived through its military past, none of which I agreed with. However, I agree with Sinn Féin that the Tánaiste should come before the House. Perhaps he might tell us what exactly the Israeli ambassador said to him and what he intends to do now.

There is indoctrination in the acceptance of the dehumanising of the Palestinian people and of genocide. We stand here and say these words and it goes on and on. I am not sure if anyone heard the RTÉ news last night, but the station interviewed an Israeli Government spokeswoman and asked her why Israel was shooting dead Palestinians. I thought I was hearing things, but she responded that they did not have enough prison space for them.

Did anybody else pick up on this? Also, did the Irish ambassador attend the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem?

I do not think so.

In February, this House unanimously passed a motion to the effect that a non-HSE parent representative be appointed to the HSE primary care national steering group for children with complex medical needs. The HSE has disregarded the will of the Seanad and proceeded with side-lining parents from this decision-making process. The HSE wants to set up a reference group, a proposal which this House and, more important, the parental stakeholders involved, explicitly rejected. Participation is a no-brainer. There have been many scandals and fatal events in this country. This most recent horrific cover-up would not have been possible if there had been stakeholders, service-users, at the table. They would be much more responsible and less interested in protecting their careers because they would be responding to the people of this country and, in this instance, to their children's needs. We must have service-user participation at the table. If the Minister, Deputy Harris, is serious about change in the HSE and addressing the toxic environment of secrecy therein, he needs to allow parental stakeholders to represent their children. Following on from the letters sent to Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Independent Members of the Dáil and Seanad by the head of operations providing the same bland response about a parental group, I hope they will all stand up for change in the HSE and that this will commence with looking after children with complex needs.

I join with my colleagues in condemning the atrocity perpetrated on Palestinians. The use of live ammunition to gun down civilians is unforgivable.

And dumdum bullets.

It is an atrocity beyond all proportion. What is required now is an international response. The UN should seek an investigation and a solution. I have read some of the preliminary discussions. I would like to see the US coming on board.

Senator O'Donnell will be waiting a long time for that to happen.

People speak about President Trump and so forth. He appears to make most of his decisions based on domestic criteria in terms of the popular vote, as a result of which there are a lot of unintended consequences. People will speak about individual situations but what we are speaking about now is an international crisis. The UN now needs to carry out an investigation and put in place structures to ensure we get a solution.

President Trump will block it.

We must get a solution.

The second issue I want to raise is that of hoax calls, which, as my colleagues from Limerick will be aware, are becoming a feature in Limerick. More than half of all calls to emergency services are hoax calls. I ask that when the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment is next before the House we would have a detailed debate on what preventative measures we can put in place in this regard. Modern technology is so advanced that people can make calls to emergency services with no traceability. This happens repeatedly around Thomond Bridge in the city.

The emergency services rang me. They are very frustrated because they can get calls elsewhere and it could incur the loss of human life. I would like to see a detailed debate. They are both elements of the same area. One is a more extreme cost in human life. The hoax calls are, however, in that area as well.

Like many other speakers, I sympathise with the families of those who died and those who were injured in the awful situation in Israel yesterday.

I wish to speak in respect of Senator Craughwell's contribution. I was going to speak on it anyway but the Senator has raised the EU and the reasoned opinion from the committee of which I am Vice Chairman. Other members of the committee include Senators Kieran O'Donnell, Conway-Walsh and Paddy Burke. We met on three different occasions. We met first to consider whether we would be required to have scrutiny. We then brought in witnesses from the Department, the Revenue Commissioners, the Irish Tax Institute and Christian Aid. The Irish MEPs also came in on this issue.

It is important to realise that the deadline for the receipt by the EU of any reasoned opinion is next Thursday, 17 May 2018. We only deliberated and came to our conclusion last Thursday, 10 May. It is being brought forward and it is important that we bring to the EU our consideration of this matter. We considered it in a very serious, deliberate and measured way. I will provide Members with some of the highlights of that consideration. The committee deems that the proposals are in breach of the principles of subsidiarity. It goes beyond taxation being a sovereign right and a competence for each individual state. Those proposals impinge on that right. The committee agrees that technology and digitalisation is transforming the global economy but a global response is required to devise a taxation framework and not just an EU-specific proposal. That is what is mentioned in these two proposals, COM (2018) 147 and COM (2018) 148.

The committee supports the ongoing work of the OECD. I have visited the OECD and discussed many of the things that Ireland has done in respect of the "Double Irish", country-by-country reporting, automatic exchange of information and many other things that have been going on worldwide. There needs to be an OECD or G20-type broad approach, such as the base erosion and profit shifting, BEPS, process. I am sure Senator Conway-Walsh is familiar with it. This particular proposal is a direct challenge and a risk to our corporation tax base. It is not even easy to define the digital economy but many of the proposals refer to moving it to where the populations are. We would lose and the countries with larger populations would benefit from any shifting of profits. It is a global problem. We need to look at it but we do not consider these measures appropriate. I urge the House to adopt the reasoned opinion today. We need to have it in Brussels by Thursday.

I thought I misheard the last time. Last week at the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health, I welcomed the commitment to going down the route of mandatory disclosure. It is an idea whose time is long overdue. Any more information on the when and the how of that will be welcome. I know there is legislation planned in that area. I am concerned about those women who have not been diagnosed with cancer but who may be fearful that there may be information in wrongly-read scans that could affect them and their case.

When I asked the question about the near 12,000 telephone calls that have been made so far to the helpline, I gathered that about 50% of those calls relate to people who have not been diagnosed with cancer. If that is the case, it is a real measure of the fear out there. It is very important that people get answers as soon as possible.

I was also concerned to read that the gentleman in charge of the scoping inquiry, Dr. Gabriel Scally, is concerned that there is a fevered atmosphere within the Department of Health as people scramble to be ready for the grilling by the Committee of Public Accounts. That might pose some threat to the scoping inquiry and simply must not be allowed to happen.

I will briefly advert to what Senator Ivana Bacik had to say about last night's programme. She is right to deplore anybody calling anybody else a liar. The Senator, however, would be on stronger ground if she took the sauce for the goose as sauce for the gander approach and recalled that there were people on both sides last night who were subject to that particular accusation. It is important to not just pick our own side and sing that grievance. Dr. Peter Boylan-----


With respect, I did not. On a point of order-----

Here we go again with the points of order, a Chathaoirligh.

She did not mention it at all.

Dr. Boylan got a mention but I think Ms Maria Steen did not.

Senator Mullen, I thought Senator Bacik was very balanced in her comments. She was not mentioning one over another.

She mentioned Dr. Boylan in particular but she did not mention Ms Maria Steen. I bring that up because a very eminent person not aligned to either side, Dr. Mary Holohan-----

She did not tell the truth. It was she who-----

-----is a former dean of professional-----

-----said there was no definition of viability-----

-----in the draft legislation, which there clearly is. So that was an untruth from a lawyer.

Please could we have order? Senator Mullen is over his time so let him continue with no more interruption.

Thank you. I was thinking of Dr. Holohan, a former dean of professional competence and a current practising obstetrician in the Rotunda, who says "the medical needs of the mother do not require the removal of the Eighth Amendment". It is a really strong statement from somebody in her position, as she regrets that "there appears to be a campaign strategy" to suggest otherwise. That is very worrying. I heard Dr. Boylan was on, unopposed, with Pat Kenny on Newstalk yet again this morning. It is now a fact that there are approximately ten or 11 obstetricians in Cork who are asking Dr. Boylan to step aside from his role as chair in light of his campaigning.

That is a personal attack.

I have no interest in calling the man a liar but he has serious questions to answer at this stage.

We should not be making personal comments about people not here to defend themselves. That is inappropriate.

I must defend myself. I had attacked no individual but I regretted that attacks were being made against one individual.

On a point of order-----

Let us be factual.

Please. I have already ruled on this and we are moving to Senator Gavan. For the record, whatever the debate, I do not want people who are not here to defend themselves being called liars or anything else. It is inappropriate and we should be more balanced in this Chamber.

Like others, I wanted to speak on the horrendous atrocities in Palestine over the past number of days and weeks. Nobody has a monopoly on the topic and there have been genuine comments from all sides of the Chamber on Palestine. We must recognise that. My frustration, if I am honest, comes from the fact that I have spent time there and seen how horrific conditions are for people in Palestine. One can see at first hand it is an apartheid state and we should be clear that is what it is. For a Palestinian on the West Bank, it is illegal to be a member of a political party, for God's sake. That is the extent of the discrimination.

My frustration is it looks as if the Government is not going to take any constructive action. Surely to God, this Chamber can come together on the Palestine issue. We have the opportunity to do so in a few weeks, as we have Senator Black's Bill. We did not get there the last time but we all know this is an ongoing atrocity of the worst kind. We can either be a talking shop about it, saying it is terrible, shaking our heads and moving on, or we can do something about it. If people do not support full boycott, divestment and sanctions, as I do, they should at least go as far as Senator Black's Bill.

I remind the Leader, who I think is a similar vintage to me - I hope I am not doing him a disservice - that we defeated apartheid in South Africa not through dialogue but through a powerful boycott campaign across the world that drove the regime to the table.

It was led by the Dunnes Stores workers.

It was absolutely led by the Dunnes Stores strikers. If we check the records, unfortunately, not all the politicians at the time came out to support those people. Only a few of them did so, in fairness, from a few parties, including our own party and Labour. Let us not be a talking shop about this as otherwise all these sweet words mean absolutely nothing. We have an opportunity in a few weeks to support Senator Black's Bill but we either do that or, frankly, we are hypocrites.

Unfortunately, in this House we are all aware of the ongoing waiting lists for our citizens, many of them elderly, who are seeking outpatient procedures or surgeries. These include hip or knee replacements etc.

Unfortunately, people have languished on the waiting lists for years and many of them have suffered pain and discomfort, which interfered with their quality of life.

The cross-border health directive is one avenue that has been pursued by many citizens and it has proved quite successful. People can avail of the option to get their procedure carried out much sooner north of the Border or, indeed, abroad. Like many of my colleagues in this House, I have been contacted many times on the cross-border health directive. The initiative has received more air time and more people have availed of it in recent times, so much so that it has been estimated that the workload of the people working in that office has increased by 1,200%. I was shocked to learn that there are only 11 people working on all of the applications made to the office by people living in this country. Clearly, more staff must be recruited to ensure that the scheme functions properly. Our focus should be on the people who have waited years for medical procedures. We must ensure that the scheme runs efficiently and that the people who wish to avail of the scheme can do so in a timely manner.

I understand that the staffing shortage has been raised with the HSE management at national level. I respectively ask the Leader to bring the matter to the attention of the Minister for Health. As I have said, the people on the lists have waited and suffered in silence for years, many of whom are elderly. I ask the Leader to urge the Minister to deploy more staff to the office, thus ensuring that more citizens can have medical procedures carried out as efficiently as possible.

I want to raise an issue related to CervicalCheck and the human papillomavirus, or HPV, vaccine. It is unfortunate that some of the people who were to the forefront criticising the HPV vaccine programme are now to the forefront in criticising the errors in the CervicalCheck scheme. Interestingly, two of the individuals concerned appeared on a television programme recently, yet neither of them replied to the questions asked about this very issue. It is not good to have people talk out of two sides of their mouths on health issues. On the one hand, supporting people without medical evidence to support what they are saying, and on the other hand, criticising every time an issue arises when not all of the facts have been brought to the fore.

On a positive note, there is a proposal to roll out HPV testing. I believe it is important that the scheme is brought forward. Cervical smear tests will be done in the normal way but the analysis will be conducted in an automated fashion and, therefore, the risk of human error will be completely removed. The testing has the potential to reduce false negatives by between 10% and 15% and increase the detection rate for cervical cancer by 30%. The Minister for Health has talked about the positive aspects of HPV testing. I ask the Leader to invite the Minister to the House so that he can outline the timeline for introducing HPV testing. I want the Minister to also ensure that we have enough skilled people in place in this country to roll out the scheme and that we fast-track its introduction, thus restoring confidence in the health programme. I urge the Leader to give the issue an airing in this House at an early date.

I am somewhat disappointed by recent events in the debate on the eighth amendment. I had felt and hoped all along that we would have a disciplined, moderate and civilised debate. I felt that we had that up to now but there has definitely been a huge dip in standards over the past weekend and in recent days.

Last night's debate was most unedifying and was a setback for reasoned thinking. I do not believe any side gained ground, to be honest. We finished with the debate in this Chamber and in the Lower House. We did our job, which was to make a decision and hand it over to the people. That is the reason I have refrained from speaking on the issue in the Chamber since then. However, in football terms, when one sees a team playing the man and not the ball one knows that team is losing. I object very strongly to the attempted vilification of one medical expert, Dr. Peter Boylan.

That is obviously part of the game plan for the remainder of the debate. It is most unfair. Medical opinion is divided on this, as is legal opinion, political opinion and family opinions. However, we do not attack the opposite person, try to vilify him in a personal way and try to bring his character and credentials into dispute. That should not happen.

I love to listen to reasoned debate from the people on the opposite side to me. If I hear that Professor Binchy is on the television I will make every effort to listen to him with respect, even though I do not agree with him. There was a great exchange of letters between him and Senator Bacik in The Irish Times which was really edifying. That is the level of debate I like.

I hope Members will not use the next two weeks as an opportunity to come into the Chamber to take pot shots at individuals who are not here to defend themselves. Let us leave it to the people. They have enough information at this stage and I believe they know what they are doing.

I thank the 24 Members for their contributions on the Order of Business. Some 16 Members - Senators Ardagh, Craughwell, Black, Conway-Walsh, Bacik, Lawlor, Ó Donnghaile, Reilly, Norris, Leyden, Marie-Louise O'Donnell, Devine, Kieran O'Donnell, Horkan, Gavan and Colm Burke - raised the atrocities that took place yesterday in Gaza and the killing of innocent human life. Each of us, irrespective of the viewpoints we hold, is shocked, dismayed and extremely upset by what we saw. The one thing we must learn from history, particularly the history of this country, is that we must all work together to reach a solution, whether that is a two-state solution or otherwise. It is important to recognise that human life was lost yesterday and we must condemn it out of hand.

The international independent investigation called for by the UN Secretary General must take place. Whether Europe plays a role, as Senator Bacik mentioned, or it is carried out by the UN does not matter. There is a need for all involved in moderating, peacekeeping and reconciliation building to come together and to ensure that Ireland plays a role in supporting whatever endeavour can be brought forward to arrive at a peaceful solution. The Government is clear about its commitment in the programme for Government. The Taoiseach spoke earlier about being profoundly shocked. I commend the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade on his proactivity yesterday in his statement, on calling in the Israeli ambassador this morning and on his work in recent weeks in his capacity as Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade. I am happy to invite him to the House. Rather than divide the House, perhaps Senator Conway-Walsh will let me endeavour to get him to the House today, tomorrow or next week. Prior to the Order of Business today I put forward a request to him to come to the House. All Members of the House condemn the killings and wish to see an end to the bloodbath.

Senator Kieran O'Donnell remarked on the opening ceremony yesterday. There was a very good article in The Irish Times this morning contrasting the celebration at one level with the killing and the loss of innocent life at another. Senator Kieran O'Donnell is right. The opening of the American Embassy in Jerusalem was divisive from day 1. It was intended to send a particular message. However, there was an unintended consequence, which was the loss of life.

I commend Senators Black and O'Donnell and all Members of the House on their words today and on their work in trying to bridge the gap - and I hate using the word "gap" because it is the wrong word - in trying to bring about reconciliation and in trying to bring both sides together. This is about two sets of people. As Senator Leyden said, it is about people sharing Jerusalem for example. While we had the euphoria of Israel winning the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday night, it is tarnished today. It is a bit like sport. I do not believe we should mix politics with sport nor should we mix it with entertainment and music. I do not believe they should be mixed and I would not support Senator Lawlor's call to boycott the Eurovision Song Contest. However, at the same time, there is a need to do something. In response to Senator Conway-Walsh, I hope we will have the Minister to the House tomorrow or next week. I ask for her co-operation in that. I am endeavouring to have him come to the House on that matter.

Senators Ardagh, Murnane O'Connor, Mullen, Colm Burke and, indirectly, Senator Ned O'Sullivan raised the issues of cervical cancer and the eighth amendment. Although they are not linked, they can be grouped under the headings of health and the Department of Health. The words of the eminent Professor Scally are worth looking at. He said that there is a "fevered atmosphere" and that he is running into problems in being able to get information and to further his investigation. We must put that into context. I remind Senator Murnane O'Connor in her absence that last Friday the Government was, as it has always been, about the women in this case. I have been very clear, both as the Leader and in my own capacity as a Member of the House, in condemning the obfuscation and the Chinese walls which were erected. The health system must always be about the patients who require services or medical interventions, in this case the women. That is why Government put a care package in place for the women affected. That is why the Scally investigation was established. That is why we are very much of the view, as I said here every day last week, that we must hold people to account but that we must get all the facts before we do so.

As Senator Colm Burke rightly said, let us restore confidence in this cancer screening programme because cancer screening is so important, as is the vaccination programme. The HPV vaccination does work and it is important that we collectively send a message with regard to showing that it does work. That is why Senator Burke's point was probably the most salient point of all made today when he said that the introduction of HPV testing should be brought forward. He is right. It is about reducing the incidence of false negatives and about forensically getting the information and reducing the likelihood of the human error which we saw in this case. Automation does work. It is also about ensuring a higher detection rate. It is about women and it is about people's lives.

That is why all of us, on this side of the House and on the other side of the House, are absolutely disgusted by what has transpired. There is no excuse whatsoever for what happened to the women and their families. As I did last week, I condemn it again here today. All of us who are involved in politics serve to bring good to the people for whom we work and represent in our communities and in our cities and counties. That is what we must be doing at all times. I hope that the Scally investigation will get to the bottom of this matter and to the truth. We all want to ensure that the women and their families are supported to the fullest. That is what Government is about.

Senator Craughwell raised the issue of the motion on the reasoned opinion which is before the House today. I thank Senator Horkan for his very enlightened contribution to the Order of Business which outlined what the Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach has done. He outlined the number of meetings, the speakers who have been invited in and what it is trying to achieve. The function of the scrutiny of this legislation has, as Senator Horkan rightly said, been done by the committee. The motion before the House is based on its scrutiny of the directive's proposals. The Cathaoirleach of the committee, Deputy John McGuinness, and the clerk to the committee, Bríd Dunne, have written to me as Leader of the House. I have put it on the Order Paper for today at the earliest possible time. This function has been delegated by the Seanad to the joint committee under Standing Orders and the Seanad is represented by a number of Members, including Senators Conway-Walsh, Kieran O'Donnell, Horkan and Paddy Burke.

If the Seanad does not pass this motion before Thursday, which, as Senator Horkan has said, is the deadline for submission of a reasoned opinion in this case, then it will not be using its powers under the Lisbon treaty to express a reasoned opinion. The Dáil has already passed the motion and while it is not obligatory for the two Houses to work together, it is certainly most unusual in the issue of what is being asked of us. Before the House makes a decision today, I would like Members to understand there is a limited time that we can discuss this further. The committee has done its work. If the motion is not agreed before Thursday to allow time for the reasoned opinion to be turned into the European Parliament, Commission and Council, we will miss the opportunity but I will be happy to put this matter before the House tomorrow for a debate, rather than have any uncertainty.

I do not think there is a need. Senator Horkan has made the position quite clear.

I am quite happy to have the matter debated tomorrow at the conclusion of Private Members' time. The question I pose to Senator Craughwell is which Minister does he want to come before us? Lest people think this a matter the Government-----

Senator Craughwell said there is no need. I am not sure procedurally and the Leader may have to put to the House.

In order that Senator Craughwell and Members have understood, I am certainly happy to have the debate and I thank Senator Horkan for his intervention. If there is any degree of uncertainty, then I would not wish that to be the preserve of just a few. I have nothing to hide.

Senator Boyhan feels that you may be able to deal with it on the Order Paper without having a debate about it.

That is fine. I am happy to proceed along the lines suggested in the Order of Business. I am happy to do that.

Senator Ardagh also raised the important issue of the need for safety on the Luas tracks, in particular by cyclists and she highlighted a dangerous situation that could potentially lead to loss of life and severe injury. That is a matter we should take up with the Minister and I commend her on bringing it forward to the House.

Senators Bacik, Ned O'Sullivan and Mullen raised the issue of the eighth amendment, the debate last night and the issue around the commentary for the next ten days. I think Senator Ned O'Sullivan is correct and I know the Cathaoirleach has made an intervention this morning himself. I do not want to see Members coming into the House impugning people who are not here to defend themselves. Last night on the "Claire Byrne Live" debate, I believe there was a scurrilous attack on the professional and personal integrity of Dr. Peter Boylan. I say that having watched the programme. I am not in any way casting aspersions on Members of the House who spoke here in the debates, who spoke last Saturday at a rally, or who were out canvassing on a different side to me, none whatsoever. As Senator Ned O'Sullivan rightly said, this referendum is a personal one, it is a public one, there are divergent views and never perhaps the two shall meet. I hope that we do not allow for television or radio programmes to become a cheerleading, Hill 16-type of event like we saw last night. I did not think it was a spectacle. I did not think it helped the debate. It caused more confusion and probably did not do a service to the people who wanted to watch and listen and make up their minds accordingly. I hope that those who are not here to defend themselves will not be impugned. Senators Bacik, Mullen and Ned O'Sullivan have made their contributions. Some 81% of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists have taken a position regarding the eighth amendment and that is a fair majority. As a former Chairman of the Joint Committee on Health and Children, which dealt with the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013, we had Professor Monaghan, Senator Mullen and Dr. Boylan before the committee and I hope that for the next ten days, we will have a respectful debate on the facts. Let that be the debate, rather than a debate on personality. I condemn forcefully the attack on Dr. Boylan last night.

I congratulate Senator Byrne on raising the issue of Gaelcholáiste Luimnigh and its Apple award and the need to highlight the ESB bursaries for Ph.D. students. They are two important events and I commend all involved. Senator Boyhan raised the issue of the National Rehabilitation Hospital. I would be happy to have that debate next week.

I congratulate all involved in the Leinster team on winning their fourth European title. It was a tremendous success. Last week the Minister of State with special responsibility for sport, Deputy Griffin, launched the report of Sport Ireland on the sports monitor which showed that 43% of people participate in active sport and 86% now feel they have more opportunity to be involved in sport, and the gender deficit has been closed, which is important. I would be happy to have that debate in the House. I congratulate Kevin O'Brien on his magnificent achievement of a test century yesterday and commend all involved in Irish cricket in Malahide for what was a wonderful day for Irish sport.

Senator Kieran O'Donnell raised the issue of the hoax calls. We all deplore the illegal, dangerous waste of time and resources by people making hoax phone calls and I would be happy to invite the Minister to come to the House to debate that matter.

Senator Devine raised the issue of parental involvement. The House passed a motion on the matter and we have not demurred from our response to that. It is a matter for the Health Service Executive, HSE. It gave an opinion on foot of the motion that she put forward. All we can do here is reinforce our support for the motion which we have done. It is important that there is outreach to people involved in the matter she raised and I have no issue with that.

Senator Gallagher raised the issue of waiting lists and I would be happy to invite the Minister to the House in that regard. If Senator Conway-Walsh will allow me I will endeavour to bring the Minister to the House. I have put the request in and I know he is not available today but we are endeavouring to bring him in sometime this week or next week.

Rather than divide the House I accept the Leader's bona fides and that the Minister will be in here as soon as possible to have this serious debate.

Senator Conway-Walsh has moved an amendment to the Order of Business: "That a debate with the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade on his meeting with the Israeli ambassador and the killing by the Israeli defence forces of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip be taken today." I understand she is not pressing the amendment.

I will endeavour to bring the Minister to the House this week but I may not be able to do that. I have put in the request - that is my bona fides.

The Senator can resubmit the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Order of Business agreed to.