Gnó an tSeanaid - Business of Seanad

I have received notice from Senator John Cummins that, on the motion for the Commencement of the House today, he proposes to raise the following matter:

The need for the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage to broaden the commercial to residential planning exemption to include former pubs.

I have also received notice from Senator Mary Fitzpatrick of the following matter:

The need for the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage to provide an update on the restoration of the National Monument Museum on Moore Street, Dublin, and the regeneration of trading on that street.

I have also received notice from Senator Lynn Boylan of the following matter:

The need for Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage to make a statement on blockages in the planning system associated with solar panel installation and microgeneration.

I have also received notice from Senator Paddy Burke of the following matter:

The need for the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine to make a statement on the penalties imposed on farmers in respect of farmland that has been damaged by fire.

I have also received notice from Senator Barry Ward of the following matter:

The need for the Minister for Education to make a statement on the lack of parity between the use of traditional and simplified Chinese characters in leaving certificate Mandarin Chinese.

The matters raised by the Senators are suitable for discussion. I have selected the matters raised by Senators Cummins, Fitzpatrick, Boylan and Burke and they will be taken now. Senator Ward may give notice on another day of the matter he wishes to raise.

As today is near out last sitting day, and as next week is Austria's national day, I will mark the occasion of that day. The relationship between Ireland and Austria has deep roots in history. The Irishman Fearghal was Bishop of Salzburg in the eighth century and died there in 784. The Irish monk Colmán was martyred at Stockerau near Vienna in 1012 and for centuries was venerated as Austria's national saint. In 1155, Irish monks founded the Schottenstift Abbey which still exists in the centre of Vienna.

Austria also gave refuge to a number of Wild Geese, and names like O'Donnell, Lacy, Kavanagh and Laudon have their place in Austrian military history. Maximilian O'Donnell saved the life of Emperor Franz Josef from an assassination attempt in 1853 and received the title of Count of the Emperor. The longest serving Prime Minister under Emperor Franz Josef was Eduard Taaffe, a descendant of an Irish exile.

We have also enjoyed shared academic and literary links, from Wittgenstein in Dublin to Oliver St. John Gogarty's time in Vienna. Professor Erwin Schrodinger of the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies lived for longer in Dublin than in any other city. Our two countries enjoy excellent relations, have much in common and cooperate in international jointly achieved common goals. We wish all Austrians, including Austrians living in Ireland, a happy national day, einen schonen osterreichischen Nationalfeiertag. If I got that right it will have been a small miracle. I wish all Austrians a happy national day.