Senators Bacik, Mark Daly, Devine, Feighan, Gavan, Lawless, Reilly and Ruane raised the immigration policy of the United States Administration, which separates children from their parents as part of border controls. As Leader of this House, I thank all the Members for their contributions on this, although I single out Senator Lawless for his contribution. The policy is immoral, wrong and disgraceful. It goes against everything for which the US stands. Many Members have family members, going back generations, who travelled to the United States in pursuit of the American dream. They helped to build an America, as Senator Reilly rightly said, which we all look up to and, as Senator Mark Daly said, with which we work and stand with on so many different fronts.
The most vulnerable people are being discriminated against. I watched the images last night of young children and families being separated and listened to the recording of young children crying and looking for their parents.
It certainly sends the wrong signal and the policy is wrong. As many Members have said here today, friends must speak out. The remarks of the Tánaiste last night should be echoed today. This kind of leadership gives licence to other countries to follow inhumane policies towards vulnerable refugees. Is this making America great? It is the question the Trump Administration must listen to and answer. Many Members have said it is unusual that two former First Ladies and the current First Lady have spoken out against the policy. We respect the right of any country to protect its borders but it should be done in a humane way. As the current First Lady said, they should govern with heart. I have not yet seen Senator Daly's motion but I would be happy to liaise with the Tánaiste and I hope we can have an all-party motion to support the matter raised this afternoon.
Senator Ruane raised the matter of CURA being closed and the different files and details of women who have gone through its offices. She is right to raise the matter and although I do not have an answer, I am sure that in the course of time we will deal with the need to have those women protected, and particularly their information. It would be important that those files are handed to the State as a matter of urgency. Senator Gavan raised the matter of LloydsPharmacy and I join him in calling on the company to protect workers and allow them the right to collective bargaining and to have their views heard in a legitimate way. I certainly stand in solidarity with the workers in this case.
Senator Bacik raised the matter of teaching principals, which was raised last week. The Minister and the Government are committed to developing leadership roles in schools and that is why we see 2,600 assistant principals. Almost all smaller schools have assistant principals and extra day release has been given to teaching principals from two to four days. A group of approximately 50 schools have come together to ensure principals are released, and there is also postgraduate training. This is about investment in education and how we spend money in the Department. I would be happy to have the Minister come to the House to discuss the matter, as Members mentioned it last week as well. I do not have the information on the Government's amendments to the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill but I hope they will be published as soon as possible so Members can have sight of them and work on them. It is an important point.
Senator Reilly raised the matter of insurance, as did Senator Murnane O'Connor. The Minister of State with responsibility for insurance, Deputy D'Arcy, has been in the House and he would be happy to come back. We have seen the working group established and had a debate in the House. We will have a debate later on small and medium enterprises and Senator Reilly will be able to make the points he has eloquently raised here regarding insurance. The fundamental point is we must all work together to ensure fraudulent claims are eradicated or reduced considerably. They are a scourge for everybody, whether people are involved with a festival, a small or medium enterprise, a school or a sporting club. We must all do our best to ensure people who claim do not do so fraudulently and that we cut this out.
Senator Murnane O'Connor raised taxi insurance specifically and I am sure she is aware the National Transport Authority launched a campaign to recruit more taxi drivers last year. That is ongoing. The Government of which her party was part, under a former Minister, Mr. Bobby Molloy, increased the number of taxi drivers significantly, and that flooded the market. We can have that debate again. It is important to recognise there has been a reduction in car insurance but she makes the point about insurance for taxi drivers, and we must work to reduce that.
Senator Ó Céidigh raised the very important matter of Dublin Airport, its growth and its potential as a hub. Capacity has been reached and the Senator makes an interesting point about Baldonnel. Senator Byrne mentioned Shannon and like her, I would very much welcome it if Cork could be used more by Dublin Airport Authority as a gateway to our country. I am sure Senator Byrne will continue to fly the flag for Shannon.
She made the point that the volume of aviation traffic at Dublin Airport has increased. I am not sure that Baldonnel Airport would find favour with the Dublin Airport Authority. She called for a debate on aviation policy, in particular to find ways to grow business for other airports apart from Dublin Airport. I am happy to invite the Minister to debate these matters in this House.
I join the Senator in congratulating the Savoy Hotel Group in Limerick on the wonderful news yesterday that it had been granted planning permission for an extension. I welcome the new jobs and I congratulate all involved in the new apprenticeship programme. The Senator champions issues that concern Limerick and today she has raised two good news stories for the city.
Senator Devine asked about an amendment to the Civil Liability Acts. Unfortunately, I do not have an answer for her because I do not have the information to hand. As she said, it is important that the legislation is fast-tracked in order that women with cervical cancer get answers and full accountability. I am happy to work with anyone to resolve the matter quickly.
Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell raised the issue of public libraries. As a former member and chairman of the Cork city library committee, I join her in commending the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Deputy Michael Ring, on the fine document entitled Our Public Libraries 2022. Like Senator Ned O'Sullivan, we must ensure that libraries receive much deserved funding and prominence. As Senator O'Donnell rightly said, libraries connect and empower people because they are a source of information and education. I am happy to arrange a debate on the report before the summer recess.
We must keep the issue of the post offices to the forefront in the House. Again, I fully concur with Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell that post offices must be seen to be at the heart of rural Ireland. I reiterate that if people do not use post offices, they will no longer form part of the social fabric of rural Ireland. I know of one post office located in a rural part of County Cork that closed this year when the postmaster retired because no one would take it over. It was not seen as a viable entity. I do not have an answer on the decision by Government about the German bank but I am happy to invite the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment to the House to debate the matter. We must keep the issue of post offices to the forefront because they are important for the survival of rural Ireland and small towns.
Senator Norris raised the issue of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015, which has also been raised by Senators Nash, Warfield and myself in the House. There is an issue regarding the amendments. The Department is working with the Office of the Attorney General to bridge the deficit regarding the enactment of the legislation. The legislation deserves to be enacted as expeditiously as possible. It is important that we get it right, notwithstanding the fact that a delay of three years is unacceptable. I hope that there will be action soon on the matter.
Senator Boyhan raised the issue of the National Rehabilitation Hospital. I do not have an answer for him. It is inexcusable that the beds have not been opened. It is clearly a matter for the HSE at local level in the Dún Laoghaire area. I am happy to communicate his comments to the Minister.
Senator Rose Conway-Walsh again raised the issue of prescribing the drug, valproate. The European Medicines Agency and the European Commission have taken a stance on the matter. The Senator might get an answer quicker if she tabled a Commencement matter on the subject. Given the schedule, I will endeavour to arrange for the line Minister to come to the House for a debate in the coming weeks. We need continued action on the matter.
The Senator also raised the HIQA report on Tusla. Every Member should read the report. HIQA has made 11 recommendations - four relating to the Department and seven to Tusla. The recommendations need to be enacted as a matter of urgency. Tusla demonstrated serious shortcomings in how it handled allegations of serious abuse. The HIQA report has catalogued a list of failures and shortcomings, which has left some children vulnerable, and there was also a failure at an operational level. I do not subscribe to the Senator's view that it is all about shortcomings in terms of resources and staffing. Perhaps that is part of the problem. We are committed to ensuring the independent expert group, which is being set up to oversee the implementation of the HIQA recommendations, do its work. We all need to have confidence in the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015. Fine people work for Tusla both on the ground and at an administrative level.
We must continue to ensure that we have robust and strong child protection systems in place. I would be happy to have the Minister come to the House. I have put a request in to the Minister to have her come to the House to debate the report.
Senator Gallagher raised the issue of children travelling to and from college after finishing the leaving certificate. It is important that we realise that the leaving certificate examinations are coming to a conclusion this week, if not today or tomorrow. We thank all the students for their endeavour, patience and hard work and we commend their teachers and families for their support and commitment to the students. It is a very stressful time.
We have seen the point the Senator made regarding student accommodation acknowledged by many different colleges, but also by the Government. We need to build more. I would be happy to have the Minister come to the House in that regard. In my own city of Cork, University College Cork is building student accommodation. If one looks at the building programmes of many different institutions one sees that being replicated across the country. Part of the student experience is, of course, the move away from home and living in various degrees of student accommodation, but it is also to be recognised that in today's modern world, the commute from Dublin to Carlow, which the Senator cited, takes less than an hour at off-peak time. That is not exactly a strenuous commute. Equally, there are more and more people commuting from many parts of west Cork to Cork city. The Senator makes the point that we should encourage the development of student accommodation but also that we should see more people living in student accommodation. I would be happy to have the Minister come to the House in that regard.