The Order of Business is No. 1, Health and Social Care Professionals (Amendment) Bill 2018 - Order for Second Stage and Second Stage, to be taken at 12.45 p.m. with the time allocated to group spokespersons not to exceed eight minutes and all other Senators not to exceed five minutes; No. 2, Greyhound Racing Bill 2018 - Order for Second Stage and Second Stage, to be taken at 3 p.m. and to be adjourned at 5 p.m., if not previously concluded, with the time allocated to group spokespersons not to exceed eight minutes and all other Senators not to exceed five minutes; and No. 3, Private Members' business, Traveller Culture and History in Education Bill 2018 - Committee Stage, to be taken at 5 p.m. and with time allocated to this debate not to exceed two hours.
Order of Business
Will the Leader clarify the position if No. 1 is not concluded.
No. 1 is to be taken at 12.45 p.m. with the time allocated to group spokespersons not to exceed eight minutes and all other Senators not to exceed five minutes.
Is there any proposal to adjourn it?
No. Second Stage will conclude today.
What happens at 3 p.m. if it is not concluded?
We will adjourn it at 3 p.m.
We will adjourn it at 3 p.m.
Yes, but I do not envisage that happening. We will adjourn the debate at 3 p.m. if it is not concluded. I do not envisage that happening. If it is not concluded, we will adjourn the debate at 3 p.m. but I do not think we will reach that point.
Between the Cork accent and the Kerry accent, I cannot make it out.
What did Senator Wilson say?
With respect, I have no idea what either the Leader or the Leas-Chathaoirleach said.
I cannot hear either. The Senators are mumbling.
It is as clear as mud. It has been clarified.
Some people in particular parts of the House-----
Order, please. I call on Senator Ardagh.
There is a giddiness around the House. Senators are very loud today.
Other Senators will be called when I come to their groups. They will be called next.
I want to bring to the attention of the House the fact that immigrants from outside the EU who are seeking to renew their visas or obtain re-entry visas are suffering and being exploited due to the security levels relating to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service, INIS, website. The INIS website was hacked by a bot that has taken up all the slots for appointments for re-entry or renewal visas. The bot then sells them on Facebook for €25 to €30.
What is a bot?
A malware bot. It is a program that is able to pre-book all the slots.
That is disgraceful.
The security on the INIS website is low level. It has been reviewed by security academics. A website usually asks one to confirm that one is not a robot by asking how many cars are in a picture. The INIS website does not have any of these security provisions so a bot has been able to go in, buy up the slots and sell them on Facebook for €25 to €30. This is unfair and immigrants are being exploited. I have brought this to the attention of the Department of Justice and Equality and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, as have some of my colleagues from Fianna Fáil. I bring it to the attention of the House because it is something that could readily be fixed. Pragmatism and urgency are required in order to do so.
People have come to my clinic who are in receipt of asylum work permits. It looks like a grant of probate - it is a cream form. One person got a job, presented the asylum work permit and was told that the head office of the company will not accept it. It might be apt for the Government to consider putting this into the equality legislation. Refusing to accept work permits like this should be one of the equality grounds for discrimination. It is not acceptable that employers are refusing to accept these work permits if the Government is issuing them.
I welcome the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Mental Health that smartphone protocol be introduced, especially for young children and in schools. There should also be a protocol for adults. Addiction to smartphones can cause mental health and addiction issues. It can lead to overworking, and many Senators probably suffer from that. We need to have a debate on the proper use of smartphones. Our relationship with smart phones is unhealthy. I commend the recommendations of the joint committee.
Is Senator Ó Céidigh first to speak for his group?
No, I am not.
Who is first to speak for the group? Senator Ó Céidigh can move his amendment to the Order of Business when I come to him.
I am delighted Senator Ardagh referred to INIS. I did not realise that was the position. I am aware of the case of a student from California who is here to attend DCU for a semester and whose health coverage was not accepted when she arrived. That is right and proper. She sought an appointment and was due to be deported by 16 December. However, she could not get an appointment until January next. I did not realise what was going on, so I thank Senator Ardagh for bringing the matter to the attention of the House. It is serious.
It is disgraceful.
On Monday, I met Irish emigrant campaigners and leaders in London. They are seeking to secure the vote for Irish emigrants in next year's proposed referendum on voting rights for the Irish abroad. I look forward to working with the many emigrant groups to help win this referendum that the Government has proposed for May 2019. The Taoiseach and Government are committed to getting this referendum over the line. As I told my London audience, we will have to fight for every vote. We will seek to expand the home to vote movement for the third time in four years. We will put together a modern, 21st century political campaign to overcome the old-fashioned, 19th century attitude about who has the right to vote.
Opponents of the extension of voting rights will rise up and say that such people left Ireland, do not pay taxes here and are not connected to Ireland and if they vote in large numbers, they will swamp the home vote. However invalid those arguments may be, we must be ready to counter such concerns. It should be noted that our opponents always seem to forget that Thomas Clarke, who was the heart and soul of the Easter Rising, was a returned Irish emigrant and an American citizen.
The rest of them were English.
They also want to forget that the founders of the Republic called for a government elected by the suffrages of all of our men and woman, not one elected by a small group of taxpayers and landowners. Our demand for rightful equality - to have the immigrant vote counted - goes back to the founding democratic principle of this nation. We want to fulfil the promise of the Proclamation: one citizen, one vote.
Why are emigrants not allowed to vote? If one is not on the island or is on the wrong part of the island, one cannot vote. There are almost 100,000 Irish-born citizens living in greater London who cannot vote here. The entire political landscape of Ireland will undergo a profound transformation in the next 20 years driven by five factors: Brexit, the possibility of a referendum on a united Ireland, rising immigration, an increasing population and our demand that Irish citizens living overseas or in Northern Ireland be given the right to vote.
These issues should be front and centre in the current presidential campaign. I would like to hear the opinions of each of the candidates on these pressing matters.
Irish emigrants should have the right to vote in Irish presidential elections and referendums. They also need greater representation in the Seanad. Postal voting is well established as a means to achieve such aims in many European countries.
It also works in universities.
The Senator is correct. I have never heard a complaint about voting in the Seanad election by overseas alumni of Trinity College Dublin or the National University of Ireland.
There are no such complaints. However, there is some difficulty in keeping the register accurate because people change address.
We have been admonished by the European Union on voting rights. In 2014, the European Commission stated that citizens exercising the right to free movement should not be disenfranchised in national elections. A few weeks ago, the European Parliament took up the issue of voting rights and Ireland was once again cited as having poor voting mechanisms. In the months ahead, I will appeal to the sense of fair play and commitment to equality of my fellow Irish citizens to advance the democratic principle of one citizen, one vote and give all Irish citizens, including emigrants, the right to vote.
I commend my colleague, Senator Swanick, for again raising the issue of the drug, Spinraza, as a Commencement matter this morning. However, the answer he was given by the Minister of State, Deputy Jim Daly, was wholly unsatisfactory. Some of the children in need of the drug are in intensive care units but we are given the nonsense of being told the drug is under consideration. It is cruel and dehumanising. It is beyond comprehension that the Minister cannot meet the families of those affected. I understand that there are statutory responsibilities but I want the Minister to meet these families to see the situation first-hand. The Minister of State stated that these decisions are made on objective scientific and economic grounds. What about humane grounds?
The Senator is re-entering an issue raised on Commencement Matters.
I am, but I wish to reiterate it because we are united across parties in trying to address the needs of these vulnerable families and the children who desperately need that drug.
Last Friday, roads and communities in County Mayo were once again cut off by flooding. The flooding is largely due to the lack of investment in local and regional roads. Some €40 million was announced in the budget in that regard but hundreds of millions of euro have been cut from the local and regional roads budgets in recent years while we nationalised the debt of the banks. This is vital infrastructure. Additional local authority staff are needed to address this problem.
I ask the Leader to bring the Minister to the House to have a full and proper discussion on regional and local roads and some honesty on the issue. Because a certain Minister takes it upon himself to announce every Leader grant allocated in County Mayo, the impression and illusion is given that lots of money is being committed to the county. However, there are no funds to clear drains in the county, which could have prevented much of the flooding last Friday. The flooding is serious because it led to entire communities being cut off from Mayo University Hospital. I ask the Leader to request that the Minister visit County Mayo. He has been to Crossmolina and other areas but I ask that he come to County Mayo.
Which Minister? Is the Senator referring to Deputy Ring?
No, the Minister, Deputy Ring, is in County Mayo, probably at a funeral. I ask the Leader to request that the Minister of State specifically responsible for flooding, Deputy Kevin Boxer Moran, visit County Mayo to see the problems caused by flooding, particularly on the Belmullet peninsula and in the surrounding area, to listen to the concerns of the community and put the funding in place to address these issues.
Today is International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. In Europe, the wealthiest continent in the world, some 25% of citizens are at risk of poverty or social exclusion. A large proportion of them are the great majority of the 80 million European people with disabilities. I applaud the work of the European Anti-Poverty Network and, in particular, its Irish branch in that regard.
On people with disabilities, our citizens have the right to vote in an election and referendum on Friday 26 October but not every citizen can exercise that right. Serious access issues remain for people with disabilities. We now have a hard-won template such that the visually impaired can for the first time vote privately and confidentially in a referendum, although not yet in other elections. That template was fought by the system through the courts The right to vote in confidentiality is a powerful and necessary expression of what democracy and a republic is about.
There are outstanding issues relating to access to polling stations in 11 constituencies or a quarter of constituencies nationwide, namely, Carlow-Kilkenny, Dublin Central, Dublin Mid-West, Dublin South-Central, Dublin South-West, Dún Laoghaire, Kerry, Limerick City, Limerick County, Tipperary, Waterford and Wexford. Although there are not issues in every polling station, it is a blight across the country.
I request that the Leader ask the Minister to come to the House at an early date and set out his plan to sweep away those barriers as quickly as possible. At least two elections will be held next year - local and European - and it is important that all citizens be able to cast their vote.
I raise concerns that have been expressed by many Members relating to ongoing delays in the processing of illness benefit payments. I am dealing with a case involving an individual who is not from my constituency and who contacted me having waited eight weeks a claim to be processed. I raised this issue two weeks ago in another context but it does not seem that the situation has improved since then. Members have been told in reply to parliamentary questions and in the most recent statement by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, which was published on its website on 21 September, that the delays result from the introduction of a computerised programme to process these payments. It is no longer good enough that people have to wait a significant number of weeks to claim a basic payment from the Department.
The illness benefit is a payment for a person who is sick and cannot work. Such people pay into the system and expect a service in return.
My understanding is that the delays arise from the lack of negotiations with GPs on the transition from a paper form to an online process. From talking to GPs, my understanding is that very little in the way of negotiations has taken place. The Department and the National Association of General Practitioners, NAGP, had looked at appointing a mediator to resolve the issues they had but the idea was pulled at the last minute. In the meantime, thousands of people are waiting for illness benefit payments to be made to them. These people are in very difficult circumstances but the only response from the Department is to go and see the community welfare officer. Nobody wants to have to go to see the community welfare officer to enable themselves to make ends meet while they await the processing of a payment. I ask for the Minister to ensure sufficient staff are allocated to the illness benefit processing section of the Department and to allow claims made on the old forms to be processed forthwith, because there are many people who have been living on the clippings of tin over the past few weeks awaiting their payment. This is something this House can unite on so I ask it to appeal to the Minister to ensure there are sufficient staff to process these payments. People have been waiting far too long for payments to which they are entitled through the stamps they have paid.
I want to refer to an issue raised by Senator Conway-Walsh and by Senator Swanick on a Commencement matter earlier relating to the drug Spinraza which could transform the lives of a small number of children and adults. No decision has been taken yet and I fully realise the Minister is not directly involved. The advice of the HSE and the NCCP is taken on board because new drugs come onto the market every day and the Minister cannot be involved in all of the decisions but the issue here is the vacuum and the delays for the parents of the children involved. I know some of the families involved in Mayo and they have told me of the uncertainty and the lack of information or timelines. I ask the Leader to emphasise to the Minister that there needs to be information for these families, who are in a very traumatic situation. I also ask the Leader to urge the Minister to get the HSE to give information to the families when a decision is made. It is available in 20 other countries and it would not compromise any negotiations to say that, if the drug companies are looking for a higher price for Ireland than in the other countries, it should be brought out into the open. Pressure should be put on those companies if that turns out to be the case.
I echo the points made about the drug Spinraza. I also echo the comments of Senator Conway-Walsh on coastal erosion in the Erris region. I put some harrowing footage on my social media pages last week. It was very scary and hopefully the Minister of State, Deputy Kevin Boxer Moran, will visit us on the topic.
I have raised the restoration of the FEMPI cuts and the general practice contract many times before. FEMPI has destroyed general practice, particularly in remote areas and in deprived urban areas. It is not possible to take €2 billion out of general practice without it having devastating effects on the health service. Every €1 spent in primary care saves €5 in the rest of the health service. Almost 12 months ago, in November 2017, the Minister for Health signalled his intention to commence the reversal of the FEMPI cuts to GPs and announced that he would engage with GP representative bodies next year with the aim of establishing a new contract and an approach to multi-annual fees in 2019. I ask the Leader to ask the Minister, following his announcement last year that he would engage with GP representative bodies, how many meetings or engagements he has had and what progress there has been. In a response to Deputy Harty in August, the Minister said he had had only two face-to-face meetings with the IMO representatives this year and none with the NAGP. The NAGP has been excluded thus far and I want to see genuine action on these talks. They are emergency talks because general practice has been decimated over the past number of years. I want there to be inclusion to ensure the talks succeed and that means the NAGP being at the table.
I have had many discussions on Jadotville and the former Taoiseach, Deputy Enda Kenny, is to be commended on ensuring the Jadotville medal was struck. I also owe a great debt of thanks to the Leader for organising the parade to commemorate those fine men in Athlone barracks. It has always been said that there were no recommendations for medals or that, if there were, they were not to be found. Company Sergeant Jack Prendergast, Sergeant John Monaghan, Sergeant Walter Hegarty, Corporal Tadhg Quinn and Private Gerald Hennelly were each nominated for the military medal for gallantry in Jadotville. Captain Liam Donnelly, Lieutenant Kevin Knightly, Lieutenant Noel Carey, Lieutenant Tom Quinlan, Company Sergeant Jack Prendergast, Sergeant John Monaghan, Sergeant Walter Hegarty, Sergeant Tom Kelly, Corporal James Rea, Corporal James Lucey, Corporal Tom McDonnell, Corporal John Foley, Corporal John McDonagh, Corporal John McManus, Corporal Tadhg Quinn, Corporal Michael Lynch, Private Joe O’Kane, Private Robert Larkin, Private Michael McCormack, Private Tom Gunn, Private Charles Cooley, Private Thomas Flynn, Private Michael Tighe, Private Daniel Molloy, Private John Nicell, Private Jim Feerey, Private Noel Stanley, Private Michael Brennan, Private Gerald Hennelly, Private Matt Quinlan and Private Michael Galvin were all nominated for the distinguished service medal for their action in Jadotville.
Thankfully, due to the work of the Defence Forces, these names were found. Indeed, 196 nominations for distinguished service medals for action in the Congo were discovered in recent days and the Minister with responsibility for defence, the Taoiseach and the Government will want to honour each of these people. I believe these medals are long outstanding.
A number of these people have gone to their grave and, sadly, of the Jadotville group whose names I have read out, only nine are still alive. Walter Hegarty, the father-in-law of my niece, has one distinguished service medal but should have had two, as well as one for gallantry. The medal for gallantry is the Irish equivalent of the Victoria Cross and I ask the Leader to assist me, as he did for that wonderful parade in Athlone, in now honouring all the men who were there. Let us have a trawl to see how many more distinguished service medals were nominated but not delivered throughout the country. I commend the Defence Forces for uncovering the names. Now let us get the medals for the men in question.
The Eddie Fullerton dam, just north of Buncrana, is the biggest civil engineering project in the history of Donegal. It supplies water to a huge area and will now be extended. I rise today to ask the Leader to raise with the Minister for Housing, Planning and the Environment, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, the need for Irish Water to meet with Donegal's public representatives because the pipe network, which supplies water from the dam to the south Inishowen area, was not constructed to the required standard, something that is well known locally. It bursts again and again and private businesses, homeowners and public service providers are regularly affected by it. The matter has been raised with Irish Water but Irish Water has refused to even consider an investment programme to replace the pipes, even though it knows they were not constructed to the required standard.
Not only are they not agreeing to invest in the replacement of these pipes but they are proposing to extend that water supply from the Inishowen Peninsula to Letterkenny, the major town and urban centre in Donegal, which is incredible. They refuse to listen to the concerns of public representatives in Donegal so I am asking that the Leader ask the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, to say to Irish Water that it needs to meet the public representatives. The company arrogantly refused to meet us about another issue in the north Inishowen area earlier this year. Irish Water representatives need to meet us about this issue and they need to agree an investment programme before the company considers pushing the water further on to Letterkenny. This is becoming farcical at this stage and I ask for an intervention from the Minister to make sure that this time Irish Water listens to the concerns of public representatives in Donegal, acts on them and ends this farce relating to the water pipe supply to south Inishowen.
A couple of days ago, Senator McFadden raised a serious matter of which I was previously completely unaware, which is housing agents apparently charging up to €500 to people for the privilege of being allowed to view a property. It is absolutely outrageous.
This practice certainly should be stopped. It is nothing but absolute exploitation of the most vulnerable people. Very often these houses are oversubscribed so if €500 is being charged then how much money is being made? How could people afford to do this? I call on the Government to introduce a simple Bill addressing this issue to put this noxious practice out of favour. It should not be allowed.
Deputy Jan O'Sullivan has done it.
I beg the Senator's pardon. I understand that Deputy Jan O'Sullivan has introduced such legislation in the Dáil so let us have it here in the Seanad. If nobody else is prepare to do so I am certainly prepared to propose it and I am certain that there are plenty of Members who would second it but perhaps it would be better if the Government would take it up. I ask the Leader to do so as a matter of priority.
I welcome the great job news for Carlow. MSD announced 170 jobs with its expansion and J D Wetherspoon announced 50 new jobs for Carlow for 2019 so it is a great achievement and I am proud to be part of that achievement in Carlow. It is great for us-----
MSD poisoned half of Tipperary and J D Wetherspoon is just a cheap English booze supplier.
We are delighted to welcome these jobs to Carlow-----
Slot machines as well I am told.
I am delighted to welcome them. As a Senator working on behalf of the people of Carlow, it is great to see that coming and I am delighted.
Carlow should get decent companies, not scabs and lice.
Today the Joint Committee on the Future of Mental Health Care-----
I want to speak. I am so delighted to be working on behalf of Carlow.
I want no interruptions.
The Leas-Chathaoirleach is right. Today the Joint Committee on Future of Mental Health Care, which I sit on, will launch its final report. I commend the Chairman, Senator Joan Freeman, for spearheading the work of the committee. She has done tremendous work and I want to say "Well done" to her. The committee deserves praise for its joined-up thinking with all parties together which I want to emphasise. Every party took part in this-----
That is a first for the Senator in fairness.
-----and we worked together as a team for the future of mental health.
The Senator is out of time.
I have only started; the Leas-Chathaoirleach has to allow me more time.
The Senator is only allowed to address one issue. I made this clear yesterday.
One area that has been identified as having serious barriers is the area of young adult and teenage mental health. There are not enough services for that age group and we lose real people in the statistics.
How many issues is the Senator raising? She is only allowed one.
This is it. I have been interrupted.
It does not matter. Listen-----
That is why today I especially want to talk about three young people-----
Order. I want to make this clear because I said it yesterday. The leaders are allowed two issues and three minutes. Every other Senator is allowed two minutes and one issue. Is that clear? Please finish up.
We are all leaders in our own way.
That is why I especially want to talk about three young people who I had the pleasure of spending some time with recently and it was in kick-boxing. Kick-boxing is thriving as a sport around the world. In the WAKO world kickboxing championship in Italy, Kickboxing Ireland competitors won 12 gold, 11 silver and 29 bronze medals on the global stage. Three of these gold medalists were from Larry's Kickboxing Club in Carlow-----
The Senator has gone to four issues and she is out of order.
Let me mention this.
The Senator may smile but she is out of order.
They are a 14 year old girl, Jack Dawson a 14 year old boy and Jamie Walker a 12 year old boy from Carlow. They all won gold medals-----
I am calling the next Senator-----
-----and we are so proud of them.
I call Senator Pádraig Ó Céidigh.
I have more to say but I will be back again tomorrow.
The Senator can reserve that until tomorrow.
I had three or four issues to raise but I will just refer to one quickly. I propose an amendment to the Order of Business that No. 18 be taken before No. 1.
I second the Senator's amendment.
On jobs growth in Ireland, we are entering challenging times with Brexit coming down the road and it is good news to see the announcement of new jobs. For instance, this morning Voxpro announced 400 new jobs in Cork. The company started off in Cork with a small number of staff. It was built by people from Cork and it now employs more than 3,000 people in Cork and Dublin. Overall it has more than 5,000 employees. That started off with two or three people and it has now grown substantially. It shows the positive way in which the economy has been managed over the past seven years because, despite the threat of Brexit people, feel confident that they can invest in new jobs in Ireland.
There are many challenges in Dublin because of the cost of accommodation and the cost of setting up but Cork is an attractive place for companies to locate in. For example, 1 Albert Quay is a building that has been completed beside the railway station and it accommodates more than 1,700 office workers. When all the other projects are completed in the area, there will be more than 10,000 people working in offices within five minutes walking distance of the train station in Cork, which shows the confidence that people have in the region. One of the challenges that we now need to deal with is to make sure that we have adequate residential accommodation for those people who want to take up employment in Cork. We need to work on that area. One of the significant complaints at the moment relates to residential accommodation. The cost of building apartments is way in excess of what can be recovered from their sale. I call on the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government to come to the House to debate what we can do to help deal with that issue and to make sure that building apartments for this new spurt in population is a viable proposition and that they can be built in a timely manner.
The report that came out today entitled, Growing Up in Ireland: The lives of 13 year olds, informs us about what we need to do in policymaking, legislation and collecting data on a range of issues in the areas of health, physical development, social and emotional well being, schooling and learning, etc. Of significance in that report is obesity among children. Some 20% of children in that age group are considered overweight with more than 6% being clinically obese. Most notable is the disparity between the children's weight and how they perceive themselves. It is often termed weight insightlessness. I bring this up because, as Senator Dolan alluded to, today is UN International Day for the Eradication of Poverty and poverty is highlighted in this report. Children from a background of significant inequality and social disadvantage were found to be at much higher risk of poor health and being diagnosed as clinically obese.
We could all do with reading this report and reflecting on what further policies, legislation and education are required. I also wish to promote the launch of the report of the Joint Committee on Future of Mental Health Care. It will be launched in the audiovisual room at 1 p.m. today. Smart phones and so on caught the headlines but really what is most important for the mental health services in this country is the retention and recruitment of appropriately trained staff. Suggestions, objectives and proposals will be put forward in this report.
Today I raise the issue of the bus services - or perhaps I should say the lack of services - provided by Bus Éireann to the people of Monaghan. For people in Monaghan who wish to use Bus Éireann, the main bus travelling to Dublin is the Letterkenny to Dublin express, which stops in Monaghan. Last week an 84 year old lady was planning on going to Dublin Airport using Bus Éireann services to catch a flight. She stood at the side of the road along with a few others and waited for the bus to come for almost an hour. When the bus eventually arrived, the bus driver pulled up to inform her that there were no seats available on the bus. In a panic she had to ring a neighbour to rush her to the airport in order to catch her flight. I can only imagine the stress and annoyance that would have caused that 84 year old lady. For the people of Monaghan, the only show in town for those using public transport is buses. Surely the Leader will agree that some form of update should be provided to people, or some form of tracking device should be used, in order that people would know whether the bus is going to be five minutes late or, in some cases, over an hour late and whether there is any space on the bus. We can imagine that if people are using bus services to catch a flight or, like many people at present, to travel to hospital appointments in Dublin, or are among the many students who travel to college daily, it is important to know whether there is space available on a bus or whether it will appear at all.
It is an issue that needs to be tackled. I met the chief executive officer recently, who informed me that Bus Éireann planned to increase the daily services from Letterkenny to Dublin, which would have facilitated the people of Monaghan. He told me those services would be in place by September at the latest. It is now heading towards November and there is still no sign of those services. Clearly people are losing confidence in Bus Éireann and in the service it provides to the public. With that in mind I ask that the Leader invite the Minister into the House in order that we can address the issue to ensure that the people of Monaghan who wish to travel to Dublin and who have no other choice but to use buses can at least be sure the bus will arrive when it is meant to arrive.
I call on Senator Derek Warfield.
Did the Leas-Chathaoirleach say "Derek"?
I am sorry; I meant "Fintan".
The Leas-Chathaoirleach is a secret Wolfe Tones fan.
The Senator understands the slip.
I did not think the Leas-Chathaoirleach was a Wolfe Tones fan.
I have indeed been known to tune in.
I always enjoyed my time in the Gleneagle. I will speak briefly. I am very disappointed this morning to hear that the plan for a civic plaza at College Green has been turned down by An Bord Pleanála. This issue is about the €10 million proposal to pedestrianise the space in front of Trinity College, to the side of Bank of Ireland and up Dame Street and to turn the area into a vibrant, car-free, child-friendly central plaza for Dublin city. The space was identified as potentially the most important civic space in Dublin by Dublin City Council's public realms strategy in 2012. It is hugely important in terms of building Dublin as a liveable city. I have not yet read the report in full, only the reasons and considerations. The report was released this morning. It throws it back to Dublin City Council to go back to the drawing board again to sort out what An Bord Pleanála considered to be significant shortcomings associated with the traffic modelling and the effects of bus rerouting. The people of Dublin deserve a city that flows, in that they can get where they want to go, but it should be a liveable, child-friendly, pedestrian city. This is a project I passionately support but we need to get it right.
I wanted to raise one issue but I will very briefly support my colleague, Senator Gallagher, in calling for the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport to come to the House to discuss Bus Éireann. It provides an excellent service in the main but there are some difficulties.
Last August, An Post announced the names of 156 post offices which were to be closed in the Twenty-Six Counties over a period of months. It also announced an appeal mechanism and the criteria such post offices had to meet to appeal that decision. In spite of a detailed submission by Killeshandra Community Council, which clearly outlined the huge range of business activities in the town and the wide diversity in commerce and enterprise, its appeal was turned down. The council was informed of that in recent days. Like any rural community, there is a large cohort of older people. Unfortunately, in many instances, they do not have their own transport or access to technology. At a recent public meeting held in the town, which was attended by my colleagues, Councillors Sean Smith and John Paul Feeley, there was a determination in that community that its post office should remain open. It was doing excellent business and the local community was, and is, using it to a large extent. The community felt that its post office met the criteria for an appeal but unfortunately, as I said, it was turned down in recent days. In a recent Dáil debate my colleague, Deputy Brendan Smith, outlined clearly to the Minister that in assessing the need for a post office facility, An Post should factor in the population of the town and its hinterland. I believe that Killeshandra meets and met all of the necessary criteria. Unfortunately it was unsuccessful.
I appeal to the Leader to facilitate the new Minister to come to the House in order for us to outline to him our views, and to get his views, in respect of the appeals process because it is obviously not adhering to its own criteria. I would appreciate it if we could look to the future of our post offices and not the past, as is normally the response from Government representatives in both Houses. Unfortunately, the Leader meets those criteria. I would like to look to the future and, if there are criteria set aside for appeals and communities meet them, those communities should be successful, not unsuccessful. We want the Minister in here to discuss that process in detail.
Like other colleagues, I am very disappointed that the plaza on College Green is not going ahead. In many other European cities, one sees that the centre of the city has a plaza. I often reflect on decisions made by An Bord Pleanála. I believe it needs to be radically reshaped. Political accountability is a good thing, not a bad thing. There is no political accountability for An Bord Pleanála. I am open to correction but I do not believe An Bord Pleanála has ever come into the Houses of the Oireachtas to answer questions on some of the decisions it makes. Perhaps it is precluded from doing so. If that is the case perhaps we need to change the legislation in that area.
I wish to speak on another issue I know will be close to an Leas-Chathaoirleach's heart, because he comes from a county that benefits greatly from tourism, which creates thousands of jobs throughout the west coast. We have done so well from initiatives like the Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland's Ancient East and so on. The Government's commitment to investing in greenways is the new way to go in terms of developing a year-round weather-resistant tourism product. There are now many people who do not come for the weather.
They come because they want to get involved in activities and be on the move. It is what we call healthy tourism.
I request that the Leader invite the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport to come before the House in order that he might provide an update on the greenways programme. Additional resources for the programme were announced in the budget, which is very welcome. We could be doing more to promote the greenways. In County Clare, we have a walk along the Cliffs of Moher that goes from Hag's Head as far as Doolin. It is between 8 km and 10 km in length and thousands of people do it every year. The walk requires significant investment. Some 1.5 million people frequent the Cliffs of Moher visitor experience each year. A proportion of the resources generated by the facility needs to be redirected into upgrading the cliff walk and enhancing the partnership that already exists between the local community and farmers and the State agencies which promote the walk. The farmers need to see a greater dividend. The walkway needs to be upgraded and significant money needs to be spent on it. The Minister needs to come before the House and provide an overall presentation on greenways and walkways. In the course of that, he might be kind enough to outline his plans for the future of the Cliffs of Moher walk in County Clare.
I also want to mention College Green. It is certainly disappointing that a pedestrian plaza will not be developed at that location. I would have liked the plans to have gone much further, including for the Bank of Ireland building there, which has a long history, to be taken into State ownership.. I have always believed that part of the dividend of the bank bailout should have been Bank of Ireland handing over the building at College Green. I have heard the Leader state on many occasions that he agrees this should be done.
There is a trend with An Bord Pleanála's decisions. Today, this major infrastructural proposal has fallen. A development in Poolbeg West, which would provide 3,500 units to house up to 8,500 people, has been delayed until January at least. The previous Minister with responsibility for housing and current Tánaiste, Deputy Coveney, promised that ground would be broken on the Poolbeg West site in 2017 and that residents would move in by 2019. This will not happen. An Bord Pleanála must be resourced properly, it must be independent and it should not be answerable to the House. We established it as an independent authority. Many Senators were elected by local authority members. An Bord Pleanála upholds the development plans of local authorities. This is its key role. I certainly would not like to see-----
Politicians should not interfere with cases.
I certainly would not like to see any political interference-----
Oversight, not interference.
-----regarding An Bord Pleanála. The terms of reference of An Bord Pleanála include that it must uphold the development plans signed off by local councillors and take into consideration Government policy. Any move to interfere with this would be to go back to the dark ages when it was normal that the largest parties in the State constantly interfered with planning decisions. I will uphold the independence of An Bord Pleanála but I want to see it properly resourced whereby it can make decisions in a timely manner.
Even the President is expected to-----
I support Senator Ardagh's comments on the INIS website. I did not realise that there had been such problems with it. It is only right that Members of the Oireachtas have full confidence in the INIS website and I fully support her in this regard.
On the issue raised by Senator Conway-Walsh, one would think by what she said that there had been no investment in our road network. The road network is in the very best state I have ever seen in the context of surfacing, signposting, etc. I remember an occasion in the late 1990s when Senators, as public representatives, had to propose that the Government introduce a 10p increase in the price of a gallon of fuel to be ring-fenced for filling potholes throughout the country. I have never seen the roads I travel in as good a state of repair as they are at present.
On quite a number of occasions, my colleague, Senator Mulherin, has referred to obligations of the National Parks and Wildlife Service. The latter has delayed a number of projects in County Mayo. It has delayed a bridge at Cloongullane in Swinford. A bridge over the River Moy was proposed for a new road from Ballina to Swinford but the project was refused. Recently, funding of €500,000 to develop and widen the Castlebar to Belmullet road was held up by the National Parks and Wildlife Service. I hope the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht will come to the House at some point to discuss the role of the National Parks and Wildlife Service. The freshwater pearl mussel has cropped up all over County Mayo. I am sure it is also the case in other counties. It has prohibited some farmers from draining their land. Senator Conway-Walsh alluded to situations where some drains were not opened. Many farmers are not allowed to open drains and this freshwater pearl mussel is causing some problems. I support the call that the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht come to the House to discuss the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
Did somebody want to raise a point of order?
Yes, I did. I want clarification on timing.
The Senator is not allowed clarification.
Excuse me, the previous speaker raised five different matters, with which I have no problem, but I raised two and the Leas-Chathaoirleach made me sit down.
The Senator raised four matters and she was way over time.
I have the four matters brought up by Senator-----
That is not a point of order. The Senator should resume her seat.
It is a point of order.
Last, but certainly not least-----
The Leas-Chathaoirleach is not timing it right. He needs to get it right.
-----is Senator Ned O'Sullivan.
What about the father the House?
Does he want to contribute as well?
I accept that I coming to this matter a bit late. I have no comment to make on the circumstances of the resignation of the former Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Deputy Naughten. In his capacity as Minister, I found Deputy Naughten very forthcoming, available and engaging and I want to give him credit, particularly for the hands-on approach he took to trying to secure energy supply and security in the Shannon Estuary. He was very involved in a project that is close to my heart, namely, that relating to liquefied natural gas, LNG. Unfortunately, that project has once again been delayed by an objection. I hope that when there is an outcome in that regard, the new Minister, Deputy Bruton, might come to the House and take up from where the former Minister, Deputy Naughten, left off.
I want to bring the attention of the House to an article by Simon Carswell in today's edition of The Irish Times. It includes an interview with Mary Casey of Inniskeen, County Monaghan, regarding the death of her father, Johnny, in a tragic appalling murderous act carried out by the IRA on August 22, 1972, when it exploded a bomb at a Border crossing in Newry. The explosion resulted in the deaths of eight people, including Mary's father, who was an innocent lorry driver who had stopped to get his documents in order. The article is very interesting. It brings to mind all of the atrocities committed by the IRA and its equally mad counterparts on the extreme unionist side. It is important that we dwell on these things, especially at a time when there is a lot of loose talk about Brexit. I have heard some outrageous comments by Neanderthal British politicians about letting the Irish shoot it out among themselves. There have been equally irresponsible comments from the other side, with people stating that it is time to take advantage, have a Border poll and get a united Ireland.
They should read the newspaper article in question today. I commend it to every Member of every party. We do not want to go back to those murderous mad days. The IRA finally realised the futility of its activities and moved on. Thanks be to God, it perished in the dustbins of history. However, there are equally mad people up there who still think they can do the murderous things the IRA thought it had authority to do. Now is the time to reflect on that before it gets any further and let saner voices prevail in the Brexit debate.
Where did Fianna Fáil come from? Has the Senator ever read a history book about 1919 to 1921?
Is the Senator supporting that wrong? Is he supporting that incident in question where the IRA killed eight people?
I profoundly regret every act of violence that ever took place on this island.
I am delighted to hear that.
However, I cannot stand hypocrites who glorify the violence-----
The Senator has to stand up to this.
Order. Allow Senator Davitt to make his contribution.
Sinn Féin has to have a conscience.
I cannot stand hypocrites who stand up in this Chamber and glorify those people who engaged in violence in the War of Independence.
We know what Sinn Féin did.
Order. Senator Mac Lochlainn, please.
We know what they did in the North and we know what they would do in the South if they could get away with it.
We know what Sinn Féin did.
Order. Allow Senator Davitt to make his contribution.
I can give both Senators another couple of minutes.
Senator Ned O’Sullivan is an absolutely pathetic excuse for a parliamentarian.
The Minister for Finance carried out a review of the betting industry and revenues from it. The thrust of his report’s recommendations was a proposed tax on winnings from bets. There was a call for a further tax on and regulation of online betting. With the problem we have with gambling, I feel these would have been prudent moves and more effective than the proposed 2% levy. Will the Leader consider a debate on this?
I thank the 21 Members who contributed to the Order of Business.
There were 22 Members who contributed. Some were telling us where they were from.
I join with Senators Ardagh and Paddy Burke regarding the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service, INIS, website.
Were you referring to me, a Leas-Chathaoirligh?
You are out of order again, Senator. We know you are from Carlow. No more needed.
That is very poor, a Leas-Chathaoirligh.
The Leader to continue, without interruption.
It is unacceptable that the website could be hacked so easily. This can be addressed as a matter of urgency but also as a matter of ease. There are technologies which can be put in place which will ensure information is secure and people can have their information protected. Technology can also ensure the system can be overridden to protect applicants who are looking for important visa interviews and want to get their paperwork processed quickly.
I agree with Senator Ardagh that it is unacceptable that some employers are not accepting the asylum work permit. We should work collectively to ensure people's applications are accepted as it is important.
Senator Lawless raised the issue of voting rights. It is part of a national conversation, leading to a referendum next year. I look forward to having many a healthy debate both here in the House and in wider forums.
Senators Murnane O'Connor and Devine referred to the Oireachtas committee on mental health and welcomed its impending report. Equally, it is important to recognise the work being done by Professor James O'Higgins Norman in DCU who has now joined up the National Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre with Facebook to put in place a new anti-bullying and online safety training programme. We all welcome this. The report being published today by the cross-party committee will be an important step in this area.
Senators Conway-Walsh, O’Mahony and Swanick raised the issue of Spinraza. The response of the Minister of State to this issue on Commencement matters earlier recognises the serious potential benefits of the drug for people with a serious illness. I accept it is frustrating. The HSE will examine all the evidence. I hope it will look favourably on the request.
Senators Conway-Walsh and Paddy Burke raised the issue of flooding and roads in Mayo. I do not want to get into a particular argument but I am not sure where Senator Conway-Walsh is in terms of investment in our regional and national roads. As Senator Paddy Burke rightly said, an extra €286 million has been made available in the national planning framework for roads. Part of the difficulty we have with the opening of drains is due to issues with the freshwater pearl mussel. It is also about local authorities, farmers and landowners being proactive. I would be happy for the Minister to come to the House to discuss the matter.
Senators Dolan and Devine raised the issue of child poverty and that today is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. The Ministers for Children and Youth Affairs and Employment Affairs and Social Protection are acutely conscious of the need to have more young people out of poverty. That is why we have seen an increase across the board in social welfare payments. Changes have been made to a plethora of schemes such as the back-to-school allowance, access to childcare, school meals, lone-parent's allowance and jobseeker’s benefits. The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs has an allocation of €127 million for affordable childcare and €89 million in addition to being able to change access routes for childcare. I would be happy to have a debate on the matter. One person in poverty is one too many.
Senator Dolan raised the important issue of access to voting and that there are outstanding issues relating to access to polling stations in 11 constituencies. We should welcome the independence given to people who are visually impaired when voting. It should be extended to all elections. We need to see returning officers making decisions at a local level with regard to where they locate polling stations. If they are not wheelchair accessible or disabled person friendly, then they should not be used as a polling station. Extending the voting franchise through the postal system for people who are housebound or who may find it difficult to get to a polling stations should be looked at. If other countries can do it, I do not see why we cannot.
I requested that the Minister might attend the House on that matter.
I am happy to facilitate that request.
Senator Nash raised the problems with illness benefit payments. My own office has had several cases where people have had issues with the payment of illness benefit. It is a matter on which I am happy to ask the Minister to attend the House.
Senator Swanick raised the issue of FEMPI. Today talks are taking place between the HSE, the Department and the medical unions. Central to healthcare reform under the overarching umbrella of Sláintecare is a new GP contract. We all recognise the centrality and the importance of primary care in our healthcare system.
That is why today's talks at the beginning are welcome. Equally, I commend the Minister on reaching an agreement with the Departments of Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform on new multi-annual budgeting for the provision of GP services. The Minister for Health has made the point that there are three prongs to the stool. One is increasing access to the existing GP primary care. The second is disease management and the third is to make existing GP practices sustainable, which is what we hope to do. I remind Senator Swanick that it was his own party, when in government, that introduced the FEMPI legislation. It was the Fine Gael-led Government that reduced FEMPI in the past number of budgets with a view to phasing it out completely.
I did not catch all of the names that Senator Craughwell read into the record of the House. I am happy to assist him in any way I can in ensuring that we honour and commemorate their service. I am happy to talk to him at a later date about the matter.
I thank the Leader.
Senator Mac Lochlainn raised the issue of the dam in County Donegal. Again, I did not catch the name. Is it Eddie?
The dam was named after a councillor who was assassinated in 1991 by pro-British forces. Of course, Ned would not be bothered by that kind of thing. The dam was named after Eddie Fullerton. The likes of Ned would not bother with stuff like that.
Eddie Fullerton is the name that the Leader needs to grasp.
I am sorry that I did not catch the name of the bridge. I thank Senator Mac Lochlainn.
Senator Ned O'Sullivan is the name.
One will never hear Eddie Fullerton-----
Let us be formal about it.
-----mentioned by Ned.
I must have struck a real nerve today.
I will call the Senator his name when I think that he is worthy of it.
I struck a real nerve today.
You were in there, Senator. You would not be left out, do not worry
I struck a real nerve today.
Some of the most violent men in Irish history-----
I have my phone in my hand on which one can see a pamphlet by Senator Ned O'Sullivan on some of the most violent men in Irish history-----
A four-page pamphlet has been circulated on some of the most violent men in Irish history.
Both Senators must desist.
They give it but they cannot take it.
The Senator is a historian. I urge him to tell us the history of those men. What did they do?
We are listening to the Leader who will respond to both Senators.
What did they do? Is Senator O'Sullivan an historian?
The Senator is an historian.
Please, Senator Mac Lochlainn.
Senator Ned O'Sullivan is a so-called historian. I urge him to tell us about the men.
Please, Senator Mac Lochlainn can show us the pamphlet and Senators can view it afterwards.
Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi did not use violence apparently.
The Senator cannot display the pamphlet on his phone in the Chamber.
My God. The Senator should be ashamed of himself.
The Leader without interruption, please. He is responding. He will deal with both Senators.
Sinn Féin does not know the meaning of the word "shame".
I apologise, a Leas-Chathaoirligh. I was trying to-----
I urge the Leader not to invite comments.
Is Senator Ned O'Sullivan a Tory historian? He is like one of the Tories. He is probably campaigning for Brexit along with Mr. Jacob Rees-Mogg, MP, and people like that.
Sinn Féin are very bad today.
The Senator is nothing like these people.
The Sinn Féin Senators are a bit touchy today.
It is too long a distance for them to see this.
The Sinn Féin Senators are very touchy today.
The Senator has fallen far from the republican tree.
The Senator must put away his phone.
I will keep my phone on the floor for a few minutes.
No phones can be displayed.
Senator Ned O'Sullivan has fallen far from the republican tree.
I apologise that I asked Senator Mac Lochlainn for the name of the bridge.
Do not ask. Carry on, Leader.
To be of assistance to Senator Mac Lochlainn, I find it extraordinary that Irish Water would not meet public representatives. It is unique that it has not met public representatives. In any of my dealings with Irish Water it has always been available and has met public representatives in a variety of places.
Irish Water is normally good.
I suggest that the Senator submits a Commencement matter on the subject, as I do not have the information.
Senator Norris raised a matter that Senator McFadden raised yesterday regarding landlords demanding a fee of potential rental clients or people. It is extraordinary and unacceptable that a landlord would have the audacity to ask and expect to receive a payment. I completely abhor any such attempt to extract a payment from people seeking to rent an apartment or a property and join with Senators McFadden and Norris in condemning the practice. I am not sure that the legislation spoken about by Senator Nash is relevant or correct but certainly such a practice should not be accepted.
I join with Senators Murnane O'Connor and Colm Burke in welcoming yesterday's announcement of jobs in Carlow and today's announcement of jobs in Voxpro in Cork. It is a sign of a growing economy. As Senator Colm Burke rightly said, investment is now taking place outside of Dublin. I know that both the Senators will welcome, as they have done, the new jobs announced for Carlow and Cork.
Senator Murnane O'Connor mentioned the report by the Joint Committee on the Future of Mental Health Care, which I have addressed. Equally, I join with her in congratulating all those involved in kickboxing and their massive haul of medals. Sport is a wonderful gift that unites communities and greatly benefits young people and all those involved. I did not catch the name of the sports club in Carlow but commend all involved. I also did not catch the fourth item that she raised and apologise.
That is all right. I was not allowed to talk. I will raise the matter tomorrow, A Leas-Chathaoirligh, and I thank the Leader.
I accept Senator Ó Céidigh's amendment to the Order of Business in terms of No. 18.
Senator Colm Burke mentioned the growth of Cork city and the needs to build viable apartments. As he said, the management of a growing economy with its expectations and demands needs to be met by both central and local government. Housing is the central issue that we must face in this term and the points made by him were well made.
Senators Gallagher and Wilson raised the issue of the bus service in Monaghan. I am afraid that I have not got the answers to that particular matter. If they choose to table a Commencement matter they might get the answer. I will invite the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport to this House to discuss transport matters in the coming weeks.
Senators Warfield, Conway and Humphreys raised the issue of the plaza on College Green. I fully accept that the need for a plaza is self-evident. I regret the decision made by An Bord Pleanála and hope that Dublin City Council will resubmit a planning application. I believe that Bank of Ireland should have been asked to give the building back to the State in the fallout of the bank bailout but that did not happen.
Senator Wilson raised the issue of Killeshandra post office and the fact that the appeals process or mechanism for its re-opening has run its course, which is disappointing. I am happy to invite the new Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Deputy Bruton, to the House to discuss the issues of post offices. Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell made that request yesterday.
Senator Conway raised the issue of greenways and walkways. I am happy to have the Minister come to the House for that discussion. Equally, Senator Paddy Burke asked for the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht to come to the House to discuss an issue.
Senator Paddy Burke asked about four items. He mentioned Senator Ardagh's point on a website, he referred to Senator Conway-Walsh's point and he raised the issues of roads, and parks and wildlife. Did the Leader note the four items raised by Senator Paddy Burke?
The Senator is out of order and unruly.
I am just correcting the record.
The Senator is not allowed to correct anything at this stage.
There were four items.
The Senator has interrupted the Leader, who has the floor. He is responding in his own way.
It would be a pity if Carlow was not liked in this Chamber.
Senator Wilson mentioned that and not me. Sorry, Leader.
The Leas-Chathaoirleach is okay. I would not rise to the provocation, a Leas-Chathaoirligh. If he was in my place, he would get it every day. He would be used to getting it if he were on this side of the House.
I am smiling at it. I urge the Leader to carry on.
Senator Paddy Burke actually had two items, for the record of the House.
I noted them in writing and there were four.
The Senator is keeping track of everybody. I urge the Leader to carry on.
The Senator would want to mind herself, in fairness. A native loves their own shore. In fairness to Senator Murnane O'Connor, she does a good job in representing Carlow as best she can.
I thank the Leader.
I would not fault her for doing so. The Senator and I might have the odd barney. She has to mind Deputy Deering as well.
I do not know whether Senator Ned O'Sullivan touched a nerve or detonated some type of whatever in the House but he certainly raised the issue of Simon Carswell's newspaper article this morning on Mary Casey and her father, Jack, and the atrocities of August 1972. Earlier Senator Mac Lochlainn got very animated. I must say to him that all of us who are republicans and who want to see a peaceful Ireland, as Senator Ned O'Sullivan does and as I am sure does Senator Mac Lochlainn as well, recognise there were atrocities that are wrong.
Over 100 years, yes.
Senators, please be calm.
To be fair to Senator Ned O'Sullivan, who is a very balanced person,-----
Were there atrocities in the War of Independence?
I am asking questions.
No, but the Senator is not to-----
I have a serious question. Did atrocities take place in the War of Independence?
I have asked a serious question.
No. The Senator is entitled to ask at this stage.
Did atrocities take place in the War of Independence? Okay, I am not going to be responded to.
The Senator is not entitled to ask at this stage.
Did atrocities take place?
The Leader, please.
Did anybody study the history of the War of Independence?
I ask the Leader to stand without inviting any more questions.
Senator Mac Lochlainn is not entitled to make-----
How many people were buried in Jerry Buttimer's home county?
Senator Mac Lochlainn is out of order.
How many Protestants were killed in Jerry Buttimer's home county of Cork? Hundreds.
Please, Senator. I ask him to respect the Chair.
The hypocrisy is unbelievable.
The Leader to respond and I do not want anybody else commenting.
Order, respect the Chair. The Leader to respond. I do not want anybody else commenting.
The point I was going to make in reply to Senator Ned O'Sullivan concerned the article he raised, the fact that we are in the midst of a very tense Brexit negotiation and the need for all of us north, south, east, west, green, white and orange to uphold the Good Friday Agreement and never go back to the days of violence.
That was not his contribution.
I cannot speak for anyone other than myself.
The Leader to respond with no comments from anybody else.
What I am responding to is-----
The Leader does not have to tell anybody what he is responding to.
In these delicate Brexit negotiations, it is critical that we on the island of Ireland north, south, east, west, green, white and orange understand the importance of the next couple of days and weeks. We can never allow our country to go back to the days before the Good Friday Agreement was brought into being. That is the point I am making.
Senator Davitt raised the issue of betting and changes in the budget. The Minister for Finance will be in the House to take the finance Bill and we can have a discussion on the matter then.
I accept Senator Ó Céidigh's amendment to the Order of Business.
Senator Ó Céidigh has proposed an amendment to the Order of Business, "That No. 18 be taken before No. 1". The Leader has indicated that he is prepared to accept the amendment. Is the amendment agreed? Agreed.