It needs to be called out for exactly what it is. We need to move heaven and earth in this House and in the Dáil, along with our Government and Cabinet colleagues, to make sure that we do something about it in this year of everything else that has gone horribly wrong, so that we can have done something decent before the year ends. I thank my colleagues for bringing it up. The Minister for Justice will be in the House this afternoon and I am sure colleagues will raise the matter with her when she is here.
Senator Boyhan and others welcomed the ban on co-living. I do too, even though I come from the party that was instrumental in introducing the initiative in the first instance. It is timely, given that there are now a lorryload of people who seem to have jumped on the bandwagon of deciding that they can do something about an initiative that was only ever intended to be probably a 1% part solution of an overall housing plan. I welcome the decision by the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage to ban any future ones. Senator Moynihan asked what will happen to the projects that are currently in planning. I do not know the answer, so I will find out and come back here tomorrow.
To respond to Senator Boyhan, who raised the issue of 60 minutes that have been allocated for a debate on a Bill this afternoon, and to explain to colleagues, it is not a random number that I would have picked. It was based on the Bill when it was passed last year. It passed all Stages in this House in 45 minutes, so I assumed that 60 minutes would be plenty, but we seem to be having this debate back and forward.
I think this has come up in the context of statements as well. If a member of a Government party is in the House and we are having a debate or statements in which there is genuinely huge interest and we run out of time, all we have to do is extend the time for that business with the co-operation of the rest of the Members of the House. I have absolutely no problem doing that. All I am trying to do is schedule debates for times and lengths of time based on past interest. Perhaps interest has changed. I will be cognisant of that and make sure we try to be adaptable.
One of the first things I do in the morning, probably even before I get out of bed, is to open The Irish Times. The story on its front page today, in conjunction with the story in recent weeks of the young man in direct provision who had sores all over his body, paints a disgusting picture of how we treat vulnerable people in this country, and it needs to stop. One of the first things I will do for colleagues today is to request a debate on prisoner conditions and how we should deal with people who are very vulnerable. I think we all have a graphic image in our heads this morning of that young man. It is not acceptable, and there is no excuse or explanation that could square it away, so I will ask for that debate as a matter of urgency.
A number of colleagues have asked for a debate on the Dublin Well Woman Centre report published this morning. It is absolutely shocking to think that in 2020, young ones are having sex without contraceptives just because they cannot afford them when we committed a number of years ago through the Department of Health to provide free contraception. I know Covid has delayed a lot of things but it certainly should not delay the distribution of contraceptives through any medium or in any form. A lot of the venues we would have thought of using are probably closed at present but that does not mean we cannot find a way to ensure that our young people, and indeed perhaps our middle-aged and older people who are having sexual relations, are doing it safely. I will ask for an update and a debate on that.
Senator Ó Donnghaile requested earlier a debate on the economic feasibility of a united Ireland. I certainly will request such a debate. When he said what he said and outlined the reasons he thinks we should have a united Ireland, I was mindful that it is timely that he talked about the false positive messages that were given in respect of Brexit. I believe that anyone who voted against Brexit knows there is not a single positive outcome that will happen from 1 January or thereafter. I believe that all those people who voted in favour of Brexit are now starting to realise - if they do not by now, they definitely will by next year - that the positives they were promised were nothing but a fake political last grasp of trying to pull the wool over people's eyes. I really feel sorry for them, and I do not say that disrespectfully. The outcome and its negativity has not even begun to dawn on some people yet, not least on our own people, but it absolutely will. The economic impacts will be severe. The deal that, please God, will be done in the coming weeks will try to cushion those impacts, but there is no good in Brexit for anybody. I will ask for a debate on that also.
A number of colleagues mentioned living with Covid. I have a debate on that scheduled for this Thursday. I take on board what Senator Buttimer said about it probably being a little late, given that NPHET will meet tomorrow and the Cabinet will meet on Friday to sign off on any further measures and tell us what will happen over the coming weeks. I have been vocal on a number of issues in recent weeks because I feel very strongly that we have divided society and tried to justify why one activity is okay whereas an activity that would provide equally as much well-being and positivity for another section of our community is not okay because of our concern for their well-being. Irish people are incredibly intelligent and they have taken on board and have done everything we have asked of them when it has made sense. When it does not make sense, the relationship and the trust breaks down.
I may be a contrarian, and this might not be popular, but I do not believe that a strategy of rolling lockdowns for the next six or 12 months is one we should pursue. I was dismayed when Anthony Staines yesterday told me that this is what living with Covid looks like because many people in our communities and our society are not living at the moment. I keep thinking about the lady Senator Dooley mentioned a number of weeks ago. I do not know why I cannot get her out of my head but I cannot and I keep telling people about her. We need to provide her with hope. We need to give her the opportunity to see her children this Christmas in order that she can get through the next couple of months because while some people in this country think six or seven months to wait for a vaccine is no time at all, six or seven weeks is a lifetime for some of our older generation and our younger generation who do not feel any of the hope or the positivity that many of us feel for the vaccines that are coming.
I really welcome those vaccines and I hope they work. Six weeks or six months is an awfully long time for people to be told to put up and shut up. We need a genuine debate about how we curtail our activities while opening society to allow people to have some freedoms and have a semblance of a life while we wait for the vaccine.
One of the downsides of the division of society is what happened in RTÉ last week. I agree with Senator Dooley that it was a human transgression more than a heinous sin. We have become a society that has set bars and RTÉ set its own bar very high. It is a pity. We are supposed to be all in this together. This means we can have differences of opinion but we must all look out for each other and recognise we are human, with frailties. Human beings are sociable creatures and we all have lapses. To bring down the hammer on a group of people because they happen to be public figures is a pity. We will have the debate on Thursday and I hope some of the gems of our wisdom will be heard by the Government before it makes the decision. The discussion will definitely feed into what will happen in the next couple of months.
We will have the planning Bill this week but there is still a standing request for the Minister with responsibility for housing to have a proper debate on housing here, not just on co-living but all developments. I will follow up with the office today to see what the date will be. To be fair to the Minister, he has been particularly busy and he is preparing a new report.
On the request for a debate on nursing home care, it is shocking that more than half of our deaths from Covid-19 have come from nursing homes. I do not quite agree with Senator Gavan, who raised the question, which is unsurprising, but I agree we must be mindful of the people in those nursing homes and our loved ones in all our communities. We must ensure to protect them as best we can and better than we did in March, April and May this year.
There have been mixed messages from different parts of the health service on the flu vaccine and they are a bit difficult to understand I suppose. Sometimes vaccines seem to be missing and then they are not missing. We encourage parents to bring their children for vaccination and yet when they go to the doctor, they are told there are no vaccines available. We need a clear and definitive statement from the Department of Health on where the 1.2 million vaccines for adults have gone and why there is such a shortage. Perhaps it is only anecdotal evidence. We must also consider what we will do with the vaccine for younger people between now and December because it would be criminal for us to find ourselves with vaccines going out of date in January this year and not being used.
I will come back to Senator Craughwell on his matter as I am not aware of what he raised this morning about pay talks. I will find it out today and raise it with him on the Order of Business tomorrow if not privately beforehand. I do not know anything other than that the tender for the search and rescue service will be open to all. I am not sure if it is open to the Defence Forces as it is a body of the State.
My remarks on the matter raised by Senator Bacik might leave me a hostage to fortune. I may have to find myself not agreeing with the Bill in the next couple of weeks but it is a testament to the hard work of Labour Youth. I say this with all our youth organisations in mind because sometimes they are overlooked. The campaign outlined by Senator Bacik is long overdue and is extremely welcome. Any child born and living here who has integrated with and enriched our communities with their diverse culture, knowledge and traditions should absolutely be recognised as part of their community and society. A pathway to citizenship should be a simple right available to them. I wholeheartedly welcome the campaign by the Labour Party and Labour Youth and I thank the Senator for bringing this back. The world seems like an awfully different place from when the country made that decision 16 years ago. We have become more compassionate, understanding and inclusive. I really hope we have. I commend and support the Senator personally, and I really hope I will be able to support her politically. I will do everything I can in my party to ensure this becomes a reality.