An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business

The Order of Business is No. 1, motion re arrangements for the sitting of the House on Wednesday, 17 April 2019 and Thursday, 18 April 2019, to be taken on the conclusion of the Order of Business, without debate; No. 2, Gaming and Lotteries (Amendment) Bill 2019 – Order for Second Stage and Second Stage, to be taken at 4.45 p.m. and to adjourn at 6.30 p.m., with the contributions of group spokespersons not to exceed eight minutes and those of all other Senators not to exceed five minutes; and No. 3, Aircraft Noise (Dublin Airport) Bill 2018 – Committee and Remaining Stages, to be taken at 6.30 p.m.

First, I would like to extend my sympathy and that of the Fianna Fáil group to the residents of Paris and the people of France on the burning of Notre Dame cathedral last night.

I presume most of us have spent some time in Paris and photographed the cathedral which is one of the most iconic churches in the world. It is a real shame that it has burned down. I hope it will be rebuilt at speed.

I would like to comment on the announcement made by VHI that it will cover the cost of some high-tech drugs for its private cancer care patients. However, some of the drugs will not be available to cancer patients being treated in the public healthcare system. As someone whose family was struck by cancer, the announcement is sickening. It is unfair to think patients who are members of VHI will receive a different level of treatment. We have always held ourselves up as having one of the best cancer strategies and there was fairness when it came to cancer care. Oncologists are telling us that, from tomorrow, for patients suffering from the same illness, some will receive high-tech drugs, while others will not. That is hugely unfair. I ask the Minister for Health to comment on the matter as it is a source of huge concern.

I wish to discuss the issue of corporate governance. Obviously, we have all been fascinated by the goings on in the Football Association of Ireland, FAI. We learned that its own auditors had reported it to the Companies Registration Office, CRO, for breaches of accountancy reporting standards. The Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement, ODCE, probably will come on board. For other organisations, we must ensure the ODCE is properly resourced to deal with these issues when it comes to investigating individuals in the context of corporate governance. The spotlight is on the FAI, but there many organisations of this type in the country. The ODCE has a long list of cases to deal with, but it is incumbent on us to ensure it is properly resourced to deal with the fallout from the discrepancies in corporate governance.

I have a problem with the Order of Business in the time allocated for the Taoiseach's visit on Thursday. The nature of my problem is that an hour and a half has been allocated. Presumably, the Taoiseach will have the bones of half an hour to address us and a quarter of an hour at the end, with the remaining time to be divided between the spokespersons for the six groups represented in this House, who will have eight minutes each, leaving a pitiful amount of time for other Members of the House in which to contribute. I note that the schedule, as proposed, states Members may share time. How exactly can one share three minutes? I do not know. Even in being very economical in making speeches, it is not really dignified to expect Members of a House of Parliament to make a point in 90 seconds. I, therefore, object to the allocation of time proposed.

The other day I heard a member of the Government say on radio that the judicial council legislation and the capping of damages were being held up in this House in considering the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill. That is simply false. The Judicial Appointments Commission Bill has passed through Committee Stage and the only thing holding it back is the Government's consideration of Report Stage amendments. The Bill has had a fair wind in this House. It is completely false to give the public the impression that consideration of the question of civil liability and damages is being held up because of the length of time it is taking to consider the judicial appointments commission legislation. The time allocated to debate the Bill is a matter for the Government, as is the order of priority of legislation.

The third point I wish to make is that this House is now more than halfway through its expected term and we have made very little progress on its reform. The people of Ireland voted to retain this House and they were told by the then Taoiseach, Deputy Enda Kenny, that he would embark on a programme of reform. It was included in the programme for Government that he negotiated. That was nearly the end of the story because nothing was done about it until the Taoiseach established a group chaired by me, despite the opposition of the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Ross. The group produced a report. Appended to the report was legislation, drafted by a draftsman paid for by the Department of the Taoiseach, to implement the reform on a phased basis, with nothing rushed. Nobody in the House was likely to be affected by it for a term and a half at least. Most Members, if they are re-elected, are assured of two further terms in the House if they play their cards correctly.

In those circumstances we have surely reached a stage now where something should be done about this. It is cynical to the greatest extent to see this simply left aside and put on a shelf. It is about time we confronted the issue. I must now make it a public issue. I have been reluctant to do so but the only way to get action on it is to bring it to the attention of the public, which I intend to do. I have limited powers of attracting publicity but I will deploy such powers as I have in that respect to ensure some progress is made, one way or the other, with that legislation.

Your powers to attract public attention have not diminished much in the last 20 years, Senator. I call Senator Conway-Walsh.

You stole my line, a Chathaoirligh. That is what I had intended to say. I would not describe them as limited.

On behalf of the Sinn Féin team I send solidarity to the citizens of France on the destruction of Notre Dame cathedral. Everybody watched what was happening there last night with sadness.

I wish to propose a change to the Order of Business with regard to the Aircraft Noise (Dublin Airport) Bill 2018. This Bill is far too serious to be pushed through Committee and Remaining Stages. I propose that we take Committee Stage this evening and I ask Fianna Fáil, in particular, to support the Sinn Féin amendments. We should not proceed beyond Committee Stage of the Bill this evening due to its importance and the impact it will have on the lives of people who are living around Dublin Airport.

I also wish to commend the community employment, CE, supervisors who have once again gathered outside these Houses to put their case forward. Their case, which was agreed at the Labour Court ten years ago and in a cross-party motion last year, is to give simple pension entitlements to CE supervisors and workers. It is no more complicated than that. These are workers who have not had a wage increase for the last ten years. It is scandalous that they have to come here to protest for workers' rights. I am fearful of the impact that the threatened five-day strike which they feel compelled to carry out will have on communities throughout the country in the future.

I wish to speak on broadband and the betrayal of rural Ireland. It is an absolute betrayal, but it is not a betrayal that occurred today or yesterday. It is a betrayal of rural Ireland and everything to do with it by this Government, the last Government and the Fianna Fáil Government before that. I have said several times in the House that Fianna Fáil sold our main telecommunications company, leaving us at the mercy of French and Australian multimillionaires. The centralisation and privatisation policies of both Governments have betrayed rural Ireland for decades. It must stop.

We only have to look at the western rail corridor development, which is badly needed. My colleague, Matt Carthy, MEP, had secured the backing of the European Parliament to have the western rail corridor as a priority in the report for consideration. It then went into secret talks and the bureaucracy of the European Commission where it was blocked. Had the Irish Government wanted it, it could have ensured that the western rail corridor development remained on the table for the funding. When the questions were put to the Minister for Tourism, Transport and Sport, Deputy Ross, as to why the western rail corridor was removed, he cited confidentiality clauses. We see this time and time again, hiding behind supposed confidentiality clauses. Only last week, the Government was criticising a prominent public figure for not answering serious questions in front of the committee but when it comes to rural Ireland, the same behaviour is acceptable. MEPs from many other European countries saw the urgent need for the rail transport development in the west and voted in favour of it. Then behind closed doors and in full view of the Fine Gael-led Government, it disappeared.

I ask the people in the west to ask the candidates from Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael what exactly happened to the bid to have the rail corridor included in that round of funding. What is going on in respect of rural Ireland is disgraceful. It has to stop. Nice words do not cook the goose.

By way of clarification, is Senator Conway-Walsh proposing a formal amendment to No. 3 on the Order of Business that only Committee Stage of the Aircraft Noise (Dublin Airport) Regulation Bill 2018 be taken today?

That clarifies that. Next, I call Senator Norris.

If my Sinn Féin colleague, Senator Conway-Walsh would like it, I will very happily second her proposal, if I am not usurping Sinn Féin's place.

I wish to express my great sadness at the partial destruction of Notre Dame cathedral, one of the saddest aspects of which is the very large destruction of medieval glass in the rose windows. These can never be replaced and it is really sad. I know that some people have said there are plenty of poor people in Ireland and we should look after them but we should remember it is a monument to European spirituality - I am not Roman Catholic but it is part of my heritage - and we should all be proud to help in the restoration process.

I wish to refer briefly to the question of what is going on in the Joint Committee on Tourism, Transport and Sport. I understand that today, Deloitte & Touche has suddenly realised the FAI have broken sections 281 and 282 of the Companies Act 2014. Where was it when all of this was going on? The situation in the FAI was catastrophic. Where were these auditors, what were they doing and were they asleep on the job? Why did they not alert somebody to it? Why have they now just discovered that they cannot sign off because there are irregularities? This happened in 2017. We already know that the FAI treasurer thought there was only one bank account. There were 24 bank accounts. How could one possibly have anything other than completely chaotic financial reporting in those circumstances? I would like to ask the Deloitte people whether they were the crowd who were involved in auditing the banks just before the bank crash. I think somebody should audit Deloitte & Touche and see whether that firm is worth a damn, because it looks to me as if it is not and I do not think we should be employing that firm in the light of its appalling track record.

I thank Senator Norris for his brevity.

Before I raise the issue I wish to speak on, may I say that I am sick, sore and tired of Sinn Féin Members standing up with their mantra that rural Ireland is forgotten. Sinn Féin believes that if its Members say something often enough, it actually becomes true. That is not the case. Rural Ireland is not dead and gone but is very much alive.

The Senator's party closed the post offices.

What rural Ireland needs is strong representation to continue the progress that has been made thus far.

The Garda stations were closed.

When Deputy Varadkar was elected Taoiseach, the first thing he did was create a Ministry and appointed a Minister with responsibility for Rural and Community Development, Deputy Ring. There is nobody better to shout for rural Ireland. I think that Sinn Féin Members think if they keep saying the same thing over and over, it will actually become true. That is not the case.

I wish to raise the one-day strike in February by community employment supervisors and assistant supervisors. This action was taken by them because of a ten-year dispute over their pensions.

There are 1,250 community employment, CE, supervisors, with no access to any occupational pension scheme, despite a 2008 Labour Court recommendation in their favour. Before the strike in February, SIPTU wrote to the Minister asking him if he would meet with it to discuss the implementation of the Labour Court recommendation. Thus far, it has not received a reply so I ask the Deputy Leader to use the good office of the Leader to request that the Minister reply, perhaps meet these supervisors and find a way of fixing this for them. We all know about the wonderful work that is done in communities around the country, including in rural Ireland, by these supervisors.

There are 950 CE schemes around the country, 22,000 trainees and 1,250 supervisors who have been treated in the most appalling way. In 2005, there was an enhanced redundancy deal offered and accepted through a Labour Court agreement, which would have given the retiring supervisors statutory redundancy plus 3.35 weeks. What have we done with it? Nothing. Where are we with them? Nowhere. It is somewhat ironic to hear the Government side talk about the irony of what is going on here with the supervisors.

The Senator does not have a monopoly on it.

The Minister should meet these people. The Minister-----

Senator McFadden is very obstreperous today. Relax.

She is normally very calm.

The Minister is obliged to meet these people and fobbing them off is simply not good enough. There is a forum in place under the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, there is a chairman to that forum and that chairman should at least be available to them. I ask the Deputy Leader to ensure that the chairman contacts the union responsible for the CE supervisors to ensure that a meeting takes place.

I often speak on the Defence Forces. Some €92 million was returned to the Exchequer while soldiers cannot live. Next week we will see soldiers parade in O'Connell Street and we will all talk of our pride in our Defence Forces. Pride? We could not care less about them. We are allowing them to live in poverty so there is no pride in our Defence Forces and there is no respect for our Defence Forces. Giving back money at a time when people cannot afford to live on the miserable pittance they are paid is no respect for anybody in uniform. I wonder how we would feel if we finish up having to protect our borders again in this country? I wonder how we feel every time one of our soldiers, airmen or naval personnel is killed while serving overseas? The Irish Defence Forces have given an honourable and distinguished service to this country and what do we give them in return? Nothing. The Public Service Pay Commission is soon due to report and I sincerely hope it gives the Defence Forces the respect that countless Governments have failed to give it.

I would love somebody to explain to me what it means when a chief executive officer, CEO, or a vice president or whatever name was given to the man in the FAI stepped aside last night. What does that mean precisely?

Stepaside Garda station.

Hear, hear. The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Ross, is at it again.

What exactly does it mean? Will he step back in? Is this like Lanigan's ball and he will step out for a little while until all the dust settles and then he will step back in again? At the end of the day, somebody might explain it to me because God help me, I am a little bit slow and I do not understand.

I might ask the Senator to give way or step aside for the next speaker.

I will give way at this stage.

I am glad that the protest at lunchtime today was raised. I have a particular personal interest in this because it was the first campaign I worked on as a SIPTU trade union official. It frankly beggars belief that 11 years on, successive Governments have ignored the recommendations from their own Labour Court, the highest industrial court in the country. This Government is very happy to lecture people for ignoring Labour Court recommendations.

It lectured the nurses on that for months. Despite this, it has ignored this Labour Court recommendation for eight years. Before that, Fianna Fáil ignored it for three years.

Here is the thing. These people are not well-paid. When they retire, they have nothing to fall back on. Having spoken to the workers outside the gates of this building, I cannot underestimate their anger. They know, unfortunately, it is a fact that under this Government, this place is a cold house for working people and trade unions. They cannot even get a meeting with the Minister. The Minister for Finance did not even have the decency to reply or acknowledge that they have asked for a meeting after 11 years. They are absolutely right to go on strike. They have no choice. They have tried every method. They have tried everything. A high-level forum was set up under the Lansdowne Road agreement to deal with this but this Government immediately ignored the agreement and has ignored it consistently since.

The Leader is not here today but, unfortunately, when I raised this issue back in February, he said that we cannot implement the recommendation because it would have financial implications that would be disastrous for the country. This is the view from the Government that spent billions on the children's hospital, so it is nonsense. It goes to reinforce that this Government in particular has contempt for working people and trade unions. They are left outside the doors. They cannot even get an acknowledgement from the Minister on this issue. I am calling on the Government to act immediately, bring those decent people from the union, SIPTU, into this building, and treat them with respect for the first time in 11 years.

The first thing I would like to do is send out some kind of energy, even from a small space, to France and the beautiful Notre-Dame de Paris, which was up in flames last night. It reminded me of the great line by Milton from "Paradise Lost", because if I ever witnessed awe in my life, I witnessed it in Notre-Dame. I also witnessed reverence. I witnessed reverence from all walks of life and all peoples, colours, creeds and religions. I know the French are a great race and they will rebuild it. I think we should all help them, because if we want an example of elevation, magnificence, what it is to see magnificence and maybe have it in our lives, then it is Notre Dame.

I want to talk about something else this afternoon: the new cultural body of the banks. When I read this great article by Michelle Hennessy, I thought I was going to pass out. I was seriously going to pass out. The banks are now going to have a new body to improve their culture. The new body comprises themselves, including KBC, Ulster Bank, financial advisers, Permanent TSB, AIB, Bank of Ireland and representatives from financial services. There are many young people in the Public Gallery today. I do not see any young people in their 20s or 30s who cannot afford a tree house or a barn or who cannot afford to live under the stairs and yet who have studied and have jobs. I do not see any of them on the great board, which will be the new cultural way forward for our banks. I do not see any artists on this new great cultural board that is made up of the banks themselves.

They are con artists.

They are not going to restore trust in me, although I do not know about the young people. They are a joke. They brought us into the red even though they are now back in the black. There is no one there. I was in a bank yesterday but I had to talk to machines. If they are going to restore my faith in machines, it is not going to happen.

I very much believe the people have to stand up against the banks once and for all. People should take all their money out of the bank, bar their salary, and put it in the post office, a plastic bag or maybe in a biscuit tin, because it is likely to be there when they go looking for it in several years. They beggared us and we are paying for the beggaring. We are choked every day by their inadequacies and profits. Someone needs to start taking this seriously and stand up to them. Also, we might question how much they paid for their awful building down on the docks. To me, the idea of the banks having a cultural committee to change the sense of their own profiteering energy is simply the joke of jokes.

I think we have collectively dismissed the idea of using a single-use plastic bag for our money. A biscuit tin is a far better idea than a plastic bag. I am keen to put that on the record in terms of climate action.

I support Senator Gavan in what he said about CE supervisors.

If it has not already been seconded, I second the proposal that we do not take Committee and Remaining Stages of the Aircraft Noise (Dublin Airport) Regulation Bill 2018 today. It is not necessary to ram through the legislation this evening. It is not fair; not right and not good parliamentary procedure, as the legislation needs to be teased out over a prolonged period.

When we talk about politics in this House, football may not be regarded as very important, but it does touch the lives of many people. I have just come from a briefing I hosted with Niall Quinn and others from the football family. One of the statistics that jumped out at me was that 30% of players in the League of Ireland had no qualifications beyond the junior certificate. That brought home to me why football was perhaps not powerful politically because the people who played the game were not powerful politically. They do not have a high level of education, as shown by the statistic I have given, and do not have many friends in the Houses. Other sports are more powerful politically as seen, for example, in the guaranteed and ring-fenced €55 million a year for the horse and greyhound sector. I think it received €89 million last year. While we argue over Sport Ireland's withdrawal of €2.7 million, it is nothing when compared with the millions and billions funnelled through Departments and these Houses. Once the circus moves on from the controversy over the Football Association of Ireland, FAI, its board and its former chief executive officer who is in the spotlight, politically we need to mind this sport because it is not being minded by those who are entrusted with the task of minding it. It needs many more political friends. Those who play the game generally come from disadvantaged communities and are more vulnerable; they are people whom politics does not necessarily reach or touch or represent, as well as others. While today's news about the board is welcome, we need to take a new direction to have a fresh start for a sport that is so important to so many in this country.

I am concerned about the charges imposed by local authorities on voluntary organisations, especially sports clubs, in developing new facilities. Where a club seeks planning permission for the development of playing pitches or a clubhouse, charges are imposed on it. Local authorities now seem to be requiring sports clubs to complete roadworks on the public road. In a pre-planning meeting one club recently had with a local authority it was told that it would have to complete the footpath from the village to the sports facility. The estimated cost of the work is €100,000. I am shocked that local authorities are collecting charges from developers to provide backup supports which include playing and recreational facilities. It is wrong that money raised by a sports club from the local community is being used to put in place infrastructure the local authority should be putting in place. We need to consider this issue and change the legislation to the effect that if a voluntary organisation, whether it be a GAA club or a soccer club, is providing facilities for a community, it should not have to pay planning charges as now required. The local authority is requiring such organisations to carry out infrastructural works which is its responsibility.

I am asking that this matter be debated and that the Minister would come here. I was recently at a playground opening where the local community put in €100,000, a lot of it raised voluntarily, and a lot of it through the LEADER programme. The total sum paid by the local authority for that playground facility was €8,000 out of €100,000. I do not think that is good enough. It is wrong that facilities like this are being built 15 or 20 years after the housing development rather than at the same time, and then the local authorities are penalising the people who work voluntarily to provide these facilities. We should have a debate on this matter in the House.

I commend Deputy Hildegarde Naughton and the Joint Committee on Climate Action. They published a very robust response and a report in respect of the Citizens' Assembly and climate change. It is a very effective report which shows that the Oireachtas is listening to the many young people who have protested in recent times about climate change. This has been an ongoing issue. The Oireachtas has responded to that. As an Oireachtas, we can collaborate well and prove to the citizens that we are responsive and we do listen. This committee has done amazing work and needs to be congratulated across the board. I particularly acknowledge the work in chapter 8, which deals with agriculture, forestry and the peatlands. It makes some very strong recommendations, especially on the issue of incentivising farmers, who are in the main custodians of our environment, through financial incentives under the Common Agricultural Policy. That is a very welcome move. I ask every Senator to pick up a copy of the report. I was there at the launch.

I wish to raise the issue of the Taoiseach coming to the House this Thursday. I welcome him and respect that he is the Taoiseach and Leader of the Government. It is always a good opportunity to listen to what he has to say. Having done some preparatory work in anticipation of his visit, I want to address a number of the issues he touched on and the commitments and promises he made to this House. It appears that there will be a shortage of time in terms of the allocation for Members to speak. People can share but it is very tight. The motion proposes that the Taoiseach will address the House, as is right and proper. It also proposes that he will have 15 minutes to conclude. One does not need to be a mathematician to deduce the time remaining for a 60 Member Seanad. It is important that we have an opportunity to listen to what the Taoiseach has to say, but I also know him to be a man who likes to listen and hear back. We may be constrained in this House today by Standing Orders, and I respect those too. I appeal to the Taoiseach that he may listen in and he himself may use an opportunity to seek to extend his period of engagement on Thursday. It is my intention this afternoon, as leader of the Independent Seanad group, to write to him to this effect. I respectfully ask the Deputy Leader to use her good office to have discussions with the Taoiseach's office to see if it is practically possible to extend his engagement by one hour. That is a matter for him, the Deputy Leader and the House, and I respect that. It is also a matter for the Clerk of the Seanad. It is important that we have a positive engagement with the Taoiseach and that he is open and receptive to listening to and engaging with us.

Last week, to mark World Parkinson's Day, a demonstration was held outside the gates of Leinster House. The people there were calling for more support and a right to access specialist care. Research clearly shows that there should be one Parkinson's nurse specialist for every 300 patients, yet in Ireland in 2019, there are only five specialist nurses for 12,000 people. Parkinson's patients are expected to travel abroad for deep brain stimulation surgery, a life-changing procedure that should be available in this country but, sadly, is not. Despite the fact that there is no cure for these people, they are not automatically eligible for the long-term illness scheme. The association itself is not in receipt of any core funding from the State.

It shows that more needs to be done to assist these people suffering from this life-changing disease. The Minister for Health should be asked to look at this issue so that funding can be provided for these people.

I support the amendment to the Order of Business. As Easter is almost upon us I wish everyone here a happy Easter. I will be here for the next two days but may not be able to be at the Order of Business. Senator Ó Ríordáin spoke about nurses. The deal that has been done is being put before the nurses by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, INMO, and the Psychiatric Nurses Association, PNA, to see whether it will be accepted and whether they will agree to call off the industrial action they are entitled to take.

Easter is almost here, and I pay tribute to nurse Margaret Keogh, who was the first casualty of the 1916 Rising in the South Dublin union, now St. James' Hospital. I will also pay tribute, as I do every year, to nurse Elizabeth O'Farrell, who surrendered on behalf of the Irish Citizen Army on Moore Street. It is important to recognise the rebel nurses we have had and still have in the country.

Except that they were rebels and traitors.

Before I call the Leader to respond, I would like to be associated with the expressions of sympathy and remorse in terms of the terrible fire that took place in Paris late yesterday evening and this morning. As Cathaoirleach I met Ms Hélène Conway-Mouret, who is Vice President of the French Senate, and expressed on behalf of all Senators here the concern of this State.

As has been said, this is not just a loss to France but a loss for the whole of Europe and the entire world. More than 800 years of history has gone up in flames, and it is very sad. As Senator Norris said, some of the medieval architecture-----

I referred to the medieval glass.

-----can never be replaced. I want to put that on the record.

I join the Cathaoirleach in expressing my sadness at events in Notre-Dame. What we saw last night in Paris was surreal. There was some talk about how good it was that nobody died, but to me the 800 years of history and beauty and the sheer human skill that went into creating that iconic beauty means that this is a very sad event for Paris, and for anyone who has been lucky enough to be in Paris to visit what was and will be again a very beautiful cultural institution. Senator Ardagh, among others, raised that issue.

The VHI and the cancer drug issue is certainly of concern, but it is important to point out that when it comes to the availability and the use of medicines in public hospitals, there is no distinction between public and private patients. The system in operation in public hospitals run by the HSE ensures that a situation can never arise where a private patient gets a drug that a public patient would not get. This has come about as a result of the VHI's policy on private patients, which is small comfort to those who would like access to the drug, or indeed those whose lives depend on receiving that drug. I assume that the system, which I believe is flawed in many ways in terms of how it reviews drugs to be funded, will review this drug for public patients. I am very strongly of the view that if a drug is available that can improve the lives of cancer patients, then it should be made available to all patients.

Many Senators raised the issue of the FAI and the fallout there has been in terms of corporate governance. As a lawyer it seems to me that there are very serious allegations about breaches of the Companies Act. Breaches of this kind occur very rarely.

I imagine there will be continuing fallout from this. As Senator Ó Ríordáin said, one would be concerned about the effect on the ordinary player and it must be very disillusioning for small clubs around the country to watch this unfold. A natural progression would be a renewed focus on improving the game, from the point of view of funding and from a structural point of view in terms of how it is managed. Some questions Senators have raised are being answered. Senator Craughwell asked what stepping aside would mean. New terms are being brought into use each day regarding this fiasco. We need to watch and wait and ensure this does not happen again.

What about the accountants? Are they any use?

I cannot comment on Deloitte, Touche or any other accountants. I imagine that any accountants would have been able to spot these glaring inadequacies in the structure. It seems unorthodox, to say the least, that there were 24 bank accounts but I cannot comment because I do not know the full details.

What is the difference between stepping aside and side-stepping?

We could have a debate all day on that. Senator McDowell asked about the time allocated for the Taoiseach's address on Thursday. That has been a long-standing arrangement and the Taoiseach's diary is arranged well in advance. I can understand why Senators might like to make a contribution but the Leader's office has been in touch and it is not possible to have an extension to the meeting on Thursday. We will seek another opportunity to interact with the Taoiseach in early course and whenever he can make himself available.

Perhaps Government Senators could desist from speaking, leaving time for others.

Please allow the Acting Leader to respond.

Perhaps Senators could talk to one another about how to get succinct questions across. As Senator Boyhan pointed out, the Taoiseach is a very listening person and if people do not make lots of statements and avoid repetition, it could be possible to get more time. I have the impression that we generally want to say what we have to say here. The Taoiseach could come back to us if he does not have enough time, as Ministers do on a regular basis. It is not possible to extend the time on Thursday but I imagine it will be quite adequate to get through a good number of issues.

The point on the Judicial Council Bill was well made. There will be an opportunity to speak to the boss man about Seanad reform on Thursday.

Loud laughter ensues.

Senator Conway-Walsh moved an amendment to the Order of Business regarding Committee Stage of the Aircraft Noise (Dublin Airport) Bill 2018. There is no end time on the Bill this evening and we can continue speaking as long as Members wish. There is no suggestion of guillotining it.

What about amendments for Report Stage?

We need time to submit amendments on Report Stage.

I am not willing to accept the amendment. I understand the point about amendments on Report Stage but the order of the House which I have moved envisages us sitting until whatever time we wish this evening for Committee and Remaining Stages.

It is highly undemocratic.

Will there be provision for a break to allow us to-----

The Leader can come in and arrange for a break for Senators.

It is a typical Ross mess.

It does a terrible disservice to the people living in the proximity of the airport.

The Acting Leader has outlined the position and if Senators are not happy, they can vote on it.

This is my position. There is no wish on the part of the Government to stymie any debate on it. If Senators wish to stay here until 12 midnight, that can be facilitated.

Senator Conway-Walsh, along with other Senators, raised the issue with CE supervisors. I will relay the comments of Senators to the Minister on that. There should be interaction between the Minister and those workers and, as Senator McFadden said, it would be reasonable to meet at least, to allow a discussion to be had.

I do not think a reply has been received regarding meeting with the Minister, which is something that should happen. I will pass on the Senator's comments in that regard to the Minister.

Senator Norris also raised Notre Dame. We are all very sad about that. He also raised the FAI. I responded to his comments about the accountants that were in place since 2017, and I understand the reason for those remarks.

Senator McFadden also raised the CE supervisors issue on which she has been working. I made my response to that. Senator Craughwell also raised the CE schemes and the Defence Forces, as he does regularly in the House. He indicated that the Public Service Pay Commission is due to report. Senator McFadden has been in touch with the Taoiseach whom she has asked to speed up the process so that the report would come sooner rather than later. We will have to await the outcome of that.

Senator Gavan also raised the CE supervisors, an issue to which I have responded. Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell also eloquently expressed her sadness on Notre Dame. I understand her frustration when speaking about the banks. One needs to pick a particular bank to be able to interact with a person. That is very frustrating. Perhaps there is something positive in the fact that the banks have recognised they have problems that they need to address but who knows if they will improve their behaviour towards people who use their services.

I am finding it difficult to hear the Acting Leader. Radio Luxembourg seems to be butting in.

Senator Ó Ríordáin also referred to the CE supervisors and the Aircraft Noise (Dublin Airport) Regulation Bill. I referred to the valid points he made about the FAI, ordinary soccer players and the funding that should rightly be improved.

Senator Colm Burke raised an interesting point about voluntary organisations being charged large fees, up to €100,000, for carrying out works on a public road. That would be useful legislation for him to introduce in consultation with the Department. It is an important issue to highlight and it is one we could also debate in the House.

Senator Boyhan complimented the Joint Committee on Climate Action. We compliment all colleagues, especially those in this House, who partook in that very useful and worthwhile committee. It shows the effect of cross-party committees in these Houses. We have much work to do and the committee highlights a roadmap for that. He also expressed his dissatisfaction with the length of the Taoiseach's visit on Thursday, which I addressed.

Senator Gallagher raised World Parkinson's Day. Until last week I did not realise one could not access brain stimulation therapy in this country.

No, one cannot. One has to go to Bristol.

It is shocking. That is something we should debate in this House with the Minister, following on from the protests of the Parkinson's organisations last week. Senator Devine, as a nurse, rightly wants to pay tribute to Margaret Keogh and others who were trailblazers in their field. I bid her a happy Easter now in case I do not get to say it to her in advance of Easter.

Senator Conway-Walsh has moved an amendment to the Order of Business, which was seconded by Senator Norris: "That Committee Stage only of the Aircraft Noise (Dublin Airport) Regulation Bill 2018 be taken today." Is the amendment being pressed?

Amendment put.
The Seanad divided by electronic means.

Under Standing Order 62(3)(b) I request that the division be taken again other than by electronic means.

Amendment put:
The Seanad divided: Tá, 14; Níl, 22.

  • Bacik, Ivana.
  • Boyhan, Victor.
  • Conway-Walsh, Rose.
  • Craughwell, Gerard P.
  • Devine, Máire.
  • Gavan, Paul.
  • Humphreys, Kevin.
  • Marshall, Ian.
  • McDowell, Michael.
  • Nash, Gerald.
  • Norris, David.
  • Ó Donnghaile, Niall.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • Warfield, Fintan.

Níl

  • Ardagh, Catherine.
  • Burke, Colm.
  • Burke, Paddy.
  • Butler, Ray.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Maria.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Coghlan, Paul.
  • Conway, Martin.
  • Daly, Mark.
  • Daly, Paul.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • Gallagher, Robbie.
  • Hopkins, Maura.
  • Leyden, Terry.
  • Lombard, Tim.
  • McFadden, Gabrielle.
  • Noone, Catherine.
  • O'Donnell, Marie-Louise.
  • O'Mahony, John.
  • O'Reilly, Joe.
  • Reilly, James.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Máire Devine and Paul Gavan; Níl, Senators Gabrielle McFadden and John O'Mahony.
Amendment declared lost.

Is the Order of Business agreed?

No. 1 is a motion regarding arrangements-----

The Order of Business is not agreed.

I thought it was agreed.

There is too much noise in the Senate. If people want to chat they should move out.

Question, "That the Order of Business be agreed to", put.
The Seanad divided by electronic means.

I call for a walk-through vote.

Anyone who calls a walk-through vote and is not a teller I am disallowing it. I am moving on, please.

(Interruptions).

I called for a vote.

The Senator is not a teller.

We called for a walk-through vote.

No, the Senator did not call it.

I called for a walk-through vote.

The Senator cannot do so.

I asked for a walk-through vote.

The Senator cannot do so as she is not a teller.

Senators should know the rules of the House.

A Senator must get more than five Senators to stand up so I just cannot allow this.

It is a case of people making up the rules as they go along.

One might-----

Proceed as it is two and one. The rules are that one of the tellers must decide if he or she wants a walk-through vote or not.

It has to be done spontaneously as the result is announced.

Question again put:
The Seanad divided: Tá, 19; Níl, 16.

  • Ardagh, Catherine.
  • Burke, Colm.
  • Burke, Paddy.
  • Butler, Ray.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Maria.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Coghlan, Paul.
  • Conway, Martin.
  • Daly, Paul.
  • Gallagher, Robbie.
  • Hopkins, Maura.
  • Leyden, Terry.
  • Lombard, Tim.
  • McFadden, Gabrielle.
  • Noone, Catherine.
  • O'Reilly, Joe.
  • Reilly, James.
  • Wilson, Diarmuid.

Níl

  • Bacik, Ivana.
  • Boyhan, Victor.
  • Conway-Walsh, Rose.
  • Craughwell, Gerard P.
  • Devine, Máire.
  • Freeman, Joan.
  • Gavan, Paul.
  • Humphreys, Kevin.
  • Marshall, Ian.
  • McDowell, Michael.
  • Norris, David.
  • O'Donnell, Marie-Louise.
  • Ó Céidigh, Pádraig.
  • Ó Donnghaile, Niall.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • Warfield, Fintan.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Gabrielle McFadden and James Reilly; Níl, Senators Victor Boyhan and Michael McDowell.
Question declared carried.