An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business

The Order of Business is No. 1, motion of referral to Joint Committee on Justice and Equality of Regulation (EU) 2018/1727 of the European Parliament and the Council of 14 November 2018 on the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation, EuroJust, to replace and repeal Council Decision 2002/187/JHA, to be taken without debate at the conclusion of the Order of Business; No. 2, motion re Sectoral Employment Order (Electrical Contracting Sector) 2019, back from committee, to be taken without debate at the conclusion of No. 1; No. 3, Private Members' business, Farm Safety Agency Bill 2018 - Second Stage, to be taken at 12.45 p.m., with the time allocated for the debate not to exceed two hours; No. 4, Gaming and Lotteries (Amendment) Bill 2019 - Committee Stage, to be taken at 3.30 p.m.; and No. 83, non-Government motion No. 9 re mental health services, to be taken at the conclusion of No. 4, with the time allocated for the debate not to exceed two hours.

I would like to raise two issues, the first of which is about the elections. Like many other colleagues in this House, over the weekend I was involved in tallying and adjudicating on spoiled votes. What we have learned is that there were record numbers of spoiled votes in the European Parliament elections, while there were many spoiled votes in the local elections. Obviously, we all have a right to spoil our vote, but from what I viewed - I saw that many had written the word "Yes" or an "X" - people do not know how to vote. We all think it is straightforward and simple, but many people simply do not know what to do. It is incumbent on the Government, therefore, to ensure an education programme is put in place prior to the next election. Perhaps the Electoral Commission might place advertisements showing people how to vote. It is a real pity that there were thousands of spoiled votes across the country and the people concerned probably did not know that they had spoiled their votes. It is very unfair and undemocratic not to show people how to vote.

The second issue I would like to raise is related to services for young people, not just for those on the autism disorder spectrum but also for young people with mental health issues. We know that the number on the waiting list for child and adolescent mental health services, CAMHS, has jumped by 6%. At the end of March, the number on the waiting list was 2,738. When we consider what has happened in the case of speech and language therapy services, as well as other therapies, we know that the allocation of money actually works. In 2016 when an extra €4 million was allocated for speech and language therapy services, the number on the waiting list reduced by 10%. We need more than €4 million as there are 7,000 waiting to be assessed for speech and language therapy services and 11,444 to receive them. These are huge figures. These kids are our future and, as we all know, early intervention is critical. In the scheme of things and particularly when we consider the amount of money to be spent on the national children's hospital and under the broadband plan, €4 million is a pittance. If extra money can help to make a dent in the waiting list, let us give it because this is where it matters and there would be a positive impact.

The counts in the local elections have now been completed and 949 county councillors elected. I salute them because it takes courage to put one's name on a ballot paper, no matter what party one chooses to represent or whether one runs as an Independent candidate. We have learned something from the local and European Parliament elections and the referendum. We must acknowledge that voter turnout, at 50.2%, was disappointing and is an issue of concern for democrats and those who engage in the political system and process. As Senator Ardagh said, we need to consider not only educating the electorate but also assisting and supporting it. We cannot shy away from the fact that many people are disengaging from the political process. We must ask ourselves why that is the case and they do not think it is relevant to vote in local authority elections, a referendum or European Parliament elections. There are serious questions that we, as politicians, need to ask in that regard.

We also saw that electoral registers were in a mess. Yesterday we heard that people's names had been removed from them. I spoke to a person living in a row of terraced houses - Nos. 8, 9 and 10 - and all of the people living in multistorey flats had had their names removed from the electoral register. They were gravely disappointed and angry.

The counts started on Saturday at 9 a.m. and some were only completed last night. That is not an efficient way to count votes. It is unfair and we need to learn from it. There are many issues that we need to address in the administration and running of elections.

This is timely, and I hope we can have a speedier roll-out of the details of the proposed independent electoral commission. It is important work, and we should not delay it. I, therefore, ask the Leader to ask or arrange for the Minister of State with responsibility for electoral reform and local government - he has both briefs - to come before the House for an engagement and a discussion on this. We all have our own unique experiences of what is happening on the ground, and we need to consider this. Clearly, in legislative terms, it is important that the independent electoral reform commission be engaged. I again remind Members that legislation can be initiated in this House. If this means spending longer days and nights and more time in the House doing legislative work, let us do it. We have the willingness and the commitment to do so, and we might have more expertise on this legislation, given our electorate, than Deputies. I, therefore, ask the Leader to consider having a discussion with the Minister of State to see whether we can progress this legislation.

The Kildare Nationalist on 14 May 2001 carried an article that stated, "Widespread availability of drugs in rural Ireland is one of the most frightening developments of recent years." That was 19 years ago. Since then, availability has increased, and now I sincerely believe the supply and use of drugs in rural Ireland has become an epidemic. When I say "rural Ireland", I do not just mean the major towns in the counties; I mean a penetration right into rural areas. In most pubs in rural Ireland one will find some kind of drug activity. This is of enormous concern. The reason I believe this is happening is that there are far too few drugs arrests in rural Ireland and, when arrests are made, the sanctions are too lenient, with people often just getting off with supplying drugs. There are various reasons this happens. Cocaine is the drug of choice. Instead of people going into a pub and having a couple of vodka and tonics, a glass of wine, a couple of pints or whatever it may be, they fill up on cocaine at the weekends. It is a serious problem for young people, older people and parents. We have spent more than 100 hours on the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill in this House but these are the types of issues we need to discuss. I want the Minister for Justice and Equality to come before the House to discuss rural crime and the drugs aspect to it.

On the wider issue of rural crime, I commend my colleague, Deputy Ó Laoghaire, who produced a document on tackling rural crime. As he states in the document, people deserve to be safe in their communities but, unfortunately, in recent times, due to the reduction in Garda visibility and increases in certain crimes, many do not and they feel isolated and vulnerable. We need to tackle crime in rural areas, but the cutbacks in policing and Garda numbers, stations and resources mean that families and elderly people feel isolated and in danger. Deputy Ó Laoghaire has come up with a number of recommendations to tackle rural crime, including an increase in the number serving in the force to more than 16,000; a request for 550 civilian staff per annum to free gardaí from office work; a reform of the joint policing committees, JPCs, to give them more powers to give local communities more influence on policing; the putting in place of restorative justice schemes; and access to broadband in all Garda stations. There are many recommendations in the document. I ask that the Minister come before the House to discuss the issue of rural crime and drugs in rural Ireland in a meaningful way.

Before Senator Higgins commences, I wish in one sense to commiserate with her but also to acknowledge her huge courage in going for election and taking on the European challenge. She is a very brave woman, even though she did not get over the line. I know what defeat tastes like. I ran for the Dáil seven times. Beidh lá eile aici.

Go raibh maith agat. At least I have the opportunity to continue as a European parliamentarian in the Seanad, if not in the European Parliament. I thank the Cathaoirleach very much for his kind thoughts. I am very happy to be still in this House and to be able to use this Chamber.

I agree with the sentiments expressed by Senator Ardagh, who raised concerns about spoiled votes. They would not have affected my results, but there was clear confusion among many voters. In addition, issues with the EP1 form denied many European citizens from other European countries who live here in Ireland their vote. The case for an electoral commission has never been clearer.

I also refer to the issuing of licences to drill off the south coast - drilling which, as we know, is happening this week, even in the wake of a green wave and the declaration of a climate emergency. The former Minister, Deputy Naughten, has made it clear that he believes there should be a cessation of the issuing of licences. During my travels in recent weeks, I had the opportunity to sit on panels with a number of members of the current and former Governments who were grilled and questioned about their decisions regarding the issuing of oil exploration licences or the expansion of oil and gas exploration. The responses often rang very hollow, but however hollow they were, they will be nothing compared with the justification by anyone in this Government, in some future room, in response to some question from his or her constituents, of the decision to continue with, and to expand drilling, after what we know now. Frankly, there will be no justification. Deputy Naughten is rightly coming out to say we need to hold off and stop these licences because he knows they are not justifiable, and every member of this Government and all those who agree to these decisions will have to stand over the indefensible.

I have previously stated the issues of biodiversity and climate change are linked, and this is one of the clearest examples of how a divide-and-conquer approach can be used to set us backwards. As I understand it, in deciding to issue the licence to drill, no climate assessment was carried out; there was simply an assessment of the impact on the marine biology of the Porcupine Basin. Of course the significant impact on marine biology is bad, but it was not considered bad enough to delay drilling. Climate impact will be assessed later, when extraction begins, but of course the environmental damage will have been done by then. It is very simple. In making a decision about oil and gas exploration, the obvious answer should be "No", but if one proceeds, an environmental assessment should assess both the ecology and the climate impact at every stage. I say this as someone who is very passionate about these issues, as the House will be aware. These will be debating points in the future, and I urge the Leader to convey to the Government at this point that it is not too late for it to reconsider these options. Let us not double down on this. As Deputy Naughten said, we know that the arguments regarding our resilience and our vulnerability no longer stand up. Let us take action on this. It is a small action to take and an opportunity to send a signal this week that the Government has listened to the people.

I thank the Cathaoirleach for his kind words.

I would like to raise the issue of funding for the various community healthcare organisations, CHOs. I would like us to ask the Minister for Health to come before the House to have a debate on this. I myself live in CHO 8, which includes Laois, Offaly, Longford, Westmeath, Louth and Meath. Recently I have constantly been told there is not enough funding for CHO 8 and that it has less funding than other CHOs. I would like to know how this funding is determined and worked out. I acknowledge there is no additional money for disability services. I know of a case of a young man with a disability who is in an acute bed in Tullamore hospital.

They say that this is costing approximately €1,000 per day. I know there is a service elsewhere available for that chap for about €110,000 per year but the funding is not there. There is something fundamentally wrong if we can pay €1,000 per day on one side but cannot pay €110,000 per year on the other side. How is this all determined? It is appropriate that we ask the Minister for Health to come to the House to debate the issue with, explain it to us and hear from the different CHOs about how it is affecting our constituents.

We all know well that the life of a farmer is a tough one. Farmers work long hours, many work seven days a week, and much of that time is spent working on their own. The HSE recently conducted a survey, on which I compliment it, on farmers' health generally. It conducted a pilot scheme in livestock marts throughout the country. The findings are very worrying. Farmers are more inclined to suffer from stress, social exclusion and isolation. They are also more susceptible to cancer and heart conditions. Clearly, there is help available but, unfortunately, many farmers are unaware of it. It would be very worthwhile to ask the Minister for Health and, at some future point, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine to come to the House to debate this subject. It is very worrying that the farming community and farmers are susceptible to serious mental and physical health issues. I would welcome it if the Leader organised a debate on this at the earliest opportunity so we can clearly outline to the farming community what benefits and help are available to it and so we can identify shortcomings in the system so that we can rectify them so that help will be available to all members of our farming community who work very hard and put in many hours every day, seven days a week, with much of that time being spent on their own.

I propose an amendment to the Order to Business, that No. 4, Gaming and Lotteries (Amendment) Bill 2019 - Committee Stage, be adjourned at 5 p.m. and that No. 83, motion 9, which is Private Members' business, be taken at that stage. This is just to give certainty and clarity to those who wish to speak on it.

What is the Senator referring to?

No. 83, motion 9, which is Private Members' business.

What is it that the Senator wants clarity and certainty about?

I want clarity so that people who wish to engage in that debate will have certainty about the starting time. Last night, the Taoiseach uttered the famous words that many a football manager has been awarded, namely, "I have full confidence". He has full confidence in the Minister of State at the Department of Defence, yet the Defence Forces are falling apart. The Taoiseach threw out a figure of €50 million yesterday that was being invested by the Defence Forces in buying ships, aircraft and hardware with some for pay. The Taoiseach needs to take responsibility for the Department he awarded himself. He is the Minister for Defence, the de facto Minister for Defence, and he cannot abdicate that responsibility to a junior Minister no matter how much he would like to.

Tomorrow morning at 9.30, the Representative Association of Commissioned Officers, RACO, will appear before the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Defence, and it will put forward the situation as it stands. Nobody likes hearing every day of the week about the problems of the Defence Forces but yesterday was an onslaught in all of the media. A retired brigadier general discussed the current situation, the wife of a soldier discussed a situation, while a brave young commandant threw his Sam Brown on the table and said he wants no more. The Taoiseach needs to step up to the plate. It is his Department, not that of the Minister of State, Deputy Kehoe.

My colleague, Senator Ardagh, addressed the issue of speech therapy. It is important that we bring the Minister for Health to this House to discuss speech therapy because I am being told that instead of delivering speech therapy on a one-to-one basis with children, we are delivering speech therapy practice or theory to teachers and special needs assistants and asking them to deliver the actual speech therapy to children. It is a highly specialised game, not something that we should try to amateurise, so to speak, over time. The Minister should come to the House to discuss the matter, which I thank Senator Ardagh for raising.

I would like to raise an issue I raised previously regarding Dublin Port. We have seen how the port will either limit or stop tourist cruise ships from coming into the port. This is because of space at Dublin Port. It is worse than that, and we need the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Ross, to come to the House to discuss Dublin Port. The port does not start loading lorries until 6.30 a.m. to 7 a.m. and finishes at 6 p.m. It is possible to go into any of the English ports like Liverpool or Manchester and load a container at any hour of the day, any day of the week. This is not the case in Dublin, which starts at 6.30 a.m and closes at 6 p.m. On Saturday, it operates from about 8 a.m. to noon while no work is done on a Sunday. This country might be facing a hard Brexit in the not too distant future. We have a port that is in crisis. As a matter of urgency, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport must address this issue. There is no reason Dublin Port should not operate around the clock. It would have many benefits for this city from the point of view of traffic. When the lorries are loaded at 7 a.m., they go straight onto the M50, so they are clogging up the M50 during the day, whereas if these lorries were loaded at night-time, it would have a major benefit in terms of traffic in Dublin city because the traffic would be moving into the port and onto the M50 after 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. I ask that the Minister would come to the House to discuss Dublin Port.

Last week, on the Order of Business, Senator Mullen raised issues arising from an unnecessary abortion that took place in a Dublin hospital. He spoke in a modulated and reasonable voice and his tone was perfectly appropriate but he was heckled and barracked in a concerted fashion until he had to stop. He was told among other things that it was disgraceful that he was raising issues arising from a tragedy, but we all do that. We do it in the wake of tsunamis, the murder of families and so on. I do not agree with Senator Mullen's views on many issues, including abortion, but it is very important that a voice like Senator Mullen's be heard in this House and heard with respect, unless and until he makes, as he sometimes does, inflammatory comments. Then it is fine to go after him, but to try to stop somebody speaking in this House is quite wrong.

I think I did my utmost on that occasion to defend Senator Mullen.

The Cathaoirleach certainly did.

I have a toss of a coin between Senators Ó Céidigh and Mullen but seeing as Senator Mullen is in the limelight, we will let him go first.

I thank Senator Norris for what he just said. As I mentioned last week, I did not ask it for myself. I am well able to defend myself but I think there is an issue about where public discourse is going. We must set an example in here. I acknowledge that the Cathaoirleach chaired that incident very properly.

I second Senator Craughwell's amendment to the Order of Business. I do so in the context of the motion I brought forward on the important issue of mental health, which was kindly supported by Senator Norris, a number of other Independent Senators and, I am sure, some party people as well. Generally speaking, it is better for the running of our business if we know when debates begin and end, not least when, as I expect today, people may be coming from outside to listen to debates, as I understand there may be.

I would be grateful if the Leader would accept that proposed amendment to the Order of Business, which I second.

In regard to what was said earlier by a number of Senators, including Senator Boyhan, about the confusion in the voting at last weekend's elections, the remarkable thing was not so much the confusion about voting, although that continues to be a problem, but the confusion about counting. I was and am astounded that, at this point in our democracy, we found ourselves with an imbroglio such as arose in the context of the counting of the European election votes. It is not merely out of possible future or other-world self-interest that I think we would probably be served better by having one constituency for the entire island of Ireland because we have unrealistically drawn boundaries based on seat allocations that might not, in fact, come to pass.

The most important point is that if three people from a particular constituency are competing to go to Brussels now, the quota should reflect that and, if necessary, there ought to be a parallel counting of votes, whereby one would be on the basis of the fact that three candidates will be elected, and where there is an additional candidate to be elected, as is the case in Dublin, there would be a separate counting of the votes - this would not involve the same amount of work again - on the basis that there are four candidates, because, as we know, it could produce two completely different results. There could be a situation under a quota for three seats where one person would be elected whereas, under a quota for four seats, a person who might have been elected under the quota for three might not get elected at all under the other quota. No matter which way we went yesterday, we were doomed to possible inaccuracy, and that has to do with the question of the distribution of surpluses. It is an issue we need to look at.

Tá díreach cúpla pointe agam. I strongly support my colleague, Senator Craughwell, on his points in regard to the members of Óglaigh na hÉireann and the work they do in protecting our people and our country, which, unfortunately, is very undervalued. We are having a huge issue because, with unemployment at just above 5.2%, it is very difficult to keep them and we need those people. We never see 99% of their work and it is only when we have floods around the midlands that we see what these people do. They are protecting our seas and our country. I am very proud we have those people doing what they do for us. Well done to the Senator and long may he keep that flag flying. Go raibh maith aige.

Inniu táim ag iarraidh labhairt leis an Teach seo mar gheall ar "shadow banking". Has the House ever heard of shadow banking, which is a major issue? In fact, it could be the single biggest reason that this world goes into another recession. We do not have figures for this in Ireland, the UK or Europe. In the US, however, the traditional, normal commercial banks that we are used to have a turnover of in the region of $12 trillion per year, whereas shadow banking has in the region of $18 trillion per year, or about 50% more. I ask the Leader to ask the Minister to come to the House to talk to us about shadow banking and explain it to us because the public need to know and they are not aware of it.

The traditional, normal banks are regulated by the central bank in all countries. Regulation means there is a safety net for the public - for people who have loans and people who pay in deposits. Shadow banking is, by and large, totally unregulated. In the US, and it is probably similar in Europe, shadow banking is 50% larger than traditional banking, so the unregulated sector is 50% larger than the regulated.

I will give a straightforward example of how one key part of shadow banking operates. Let us say a person goes for a loan of €200,000 to buy an apartment and, although the person will not get an apartment in Dublin or Galway for that amount, there are some places where they might where people are leaving rural Ireland. The person goes to the bank, which says it will give a loan and will charge the person 6% interest, and that is regulated. If the person goes to an unregulated bank and asks for a loan, it will give the loan at 4.5% or 5% interest. Why can it do it cheaper? It is because regulation costs money. It is probably making the same profit, if not more. What happens? The person goes with whoever they get the best deal from. What does the shadow bank do? It has a couple of thousand people, like the Leader and myself, who get these loans, it bundles the loans and it sells them on. There are good loans and bad loans. Does that remind anyone of the recession, and of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae? That is exactly what happened. An organisation like Lehman Brothers was totally unregulated.

Time, please.

I am sorry about the time. This is very important for our economy and our people. Will the Leader ask the Minister to come to the House to give us an outline of shadow banking in Ireland?

Unfortunately, while it is an interesting tale, I have to abide by the time.

That is just one small element and there is a lot more to it than that. I understand the constraints on time but I would explain it a bit more if I could.

The beauty of this Chamber is that so many varied topics are raised by various people, many of them very interesting. Long may that openness of debate continue. I ask the Leader to respond to the varied topics of today.

I thank the ten Members of the House for their contributions. I commend and thank Senator Higgins for her participation in the European elections. As the Cathaoirleach said, beidh lá eile aici. She had a good result and she had the courage to run. She may have been unsuccessful but, to be fair, she was and is an excellent parliamentarian and, as she said, she can be a European in this Chamber as well. We wish her well and thank her.

A number of Senators, including Senators Ardagh, Boyhan and Craughwell, raised the issue of the election in the context of turnout. On the issue around the spoiled ballots, it is interesting that in Ireland South, 5% of the votes were deemed invalid, in Dublin, it was 4%, and in Midlands-North-West, it was 3.5%. Therefore, I am not sure it is an unusual figure in terms of the volume of spoiled votes. However, I agree that, as Senator Boyhan said, we need an electoral commission to be established and to be up and running. It is important, as part of a functioning democracy, that we have an independent electoral commission because there are issues around education and the dissemination of information, for example, in a plebiscite or a referendum campaign.

I will support anybody on the need to increase and enhance education. At a time when we have civic, social and political education, CSPE, and policy modules in our schools, there is an onus on people to be au fait themselves with how to vote. We cannot lose that element of personal responsibility. Nonetheless, anything that can enhance the democratic process is something we should all support. I would be happy to have the Minister come to the House.

Senators Craughwell and Ardagh raised the issue of child and adolescent mental health services, CAMHS. In the area of mental health, we need to see a continuing improvement of access to waiting lists, and that is a priority for Government. The number of people waiting is 2,738, which has declined marginally from this time last year. The number of those waiting longer than 12 months is currently 336, which is 56 fewer than last year. In saying that, both Senator McFadden and Senator Ardagh have made the case for the need for funding in the HSE service plan for the different community healthcare organisation, CHO, regions. I hope the Minister of State, Deputy Jim Daly, who I would be happy to have come to the House, will look at the issue of CAMHS in the context of out-of-hours services, seven days a week cover, eating disorders, specialist services, prevention and early intervention. In tandem with an improvement in the number of acute beds and the issue of access to services and referrals, I hope we will see an improvement in the service.

I will be happy for the Minister of State, Deputy Jim Daly, to come to the House to discuss the issue.

Senator Conway-Walsh raised the issue of drug use in rural Ireland. I am a member of the JPC for Cork city and county. While the figures show that crime levels have reduced, the increase in the incidence of drug-driving is alarming. We need to be more vigilant in that regard. I will be happy to have the issue discussed again in the House.

Senators Higgins and Conway-Walsh raised the issues of exploration, drilling and the climate emergency. We all recognise the need to take significant steps to respond to climate change. The Government has committed to publishing the climate action plan, with actions in every sector, one of which will be looking at our reliance on fossil fuels and increasing our use of renewable energy sources in electricity generation from 30% to 70% by 2030. A debate on the matter is badly needed, but it is interesting to note that neither the Oireachtas committee nor the Citizens' Assembly made any recommendation that exploration be banned, as contained in a Bill on the subject. We must ensure we have a back-up supply when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shining. If we do not have energy and electricity supplies, we will have another argument. I ask those Members who support the Bill from where are we going to source our power supply in the future.

Senators Craughwell and Ó Céidigh referred to the Defence Forces, as Senator McFadden did yesterday. As this is International Peacekeepers Day, we should all pay tribute to and salute the men and women in the Defence Forces. It is not only about floods but the security they provide and the peacekeeping in which they engage. The Government values the Defence Forces and holds their members in high esteem. That is why the Minister of State, Deputy Kehoe, established a pay commission to look at their pay and conditions. When its report is published, Senator Craughwell will see further action being taken. Let us wait for it to be published.

It was leaked last week. I d6id not leak it.

I know. The Senator would not dare do so.

Will Senator Craughwell, please, allow the Leader to conclude?

There is an independent body was set up by the Minister of State who sits and participates at the Cabinet table.

He is not a Minister.

The Minister of State sits at the Cabinet table.

Who holds the portfolio?

That is an academic exercise, as the Senator knows, no matter how much he throws his eyes up to Heaven. The Minister of State sits at the Cabinet table and is at the heart of the decision-making of the Government. We must await publication of the report, in tandem with, as I said yesterday, the restoration of pay and the withdrawal of the FEMPI legislation. We have seen pay increases, from 6.2% to 7.4%, for those with salaries under €70,000. As a committed former member of the Defence Forces, the nominating body he is representing in this Chamber, the Senator should not pre-empt what will be contained in the report. When we have it, we can have another debate on the issue. All of us on this side of the House, including Senator McFadden, speak to the Minister of State. I meet members of the Defence Forces every day, some of whom are my friends and former classmates. I understand the situation and we are committed to implementing the report. I am happy, therefore, to accept the amendment proposed to the Order of Business as the Senator has a genuine motivation for bringing it forward.

That is very kind of the Leader.

I, too, thank the Leader.

Senator Paddy Burke referred to the very important issue of Dublin Port and cruise liners. The decision made by the port could have a knock-on effect on economic activity throughout the country, not just in Dublin. I hope it will reconsider its decision. The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Ross, should demand that it do so. Cobh and Cork have benefited from the great work done by the Port of Cork. Cruise liners should not be discouraged from coming to the capital city; rather, they should be encouraged. I hope we will send that message from this Chamber. I will be happy for the Minister to come to the House to discuss the matter.

Senator Norris spoke about the response to what Senator Mullen had said last week. That matter has been dealt with.

Senator Mullen spoke about the elections.

That is the issue I raised today.

Senator Ó Céidigh raised the important issue of shadow banking. It is a source of concern. I read an article on the matter in the Irish Examiner during the week in which it was stated this was the sixth largest centre in the world for shadow banking, which is incredible. Therefore, it has an impact. Oversight and regulation need to be improved as it can have an effect on the traditional banking system. The Senator said it was worth trillions of dollars in the USA and I understand Bank of America was involved in it. The Senator also said we must act to deal with it and educate and inform people of it. I will be happy for the Minister responsible to come to the House to discuss it because it is such an important issue. The Cathaoirleach said that while the Senator's piece was interesting, we had to be careful about it. Some of the commentary on the issue is interesting and a Google search throws up a high number of articles on it. We sleepwalked into the banking crash.

I welcome the members of the Castledaly branch to the House. They are guests of Senator McFadden. I hope they will all have a very pleasant visit.

Senator Craughwell has proposed an amendment to the Order of Business: "That No. 4 be adjourned at 5 p.m., if not previously concluded, and that No. 83, non-Government motion No. 9, be taken at 5 p.m." Is the amendment agreed? Agreed.

Order of Business, as amended, agreed to.