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.