Skip to main content
Normal View

Seanad Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 1 Feb 2022

Vol. 283 No. 6

Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters

Departmental Funding

I welcome the Minister of State at the Department of Health, Deputy Butler. I invite Senator Pauline O'Reilly to address her Commencement matter.

I understand the Minister of State is taking this matter on behalf of the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Deputy Humphreys. If there are outstanding matters, I ask that the Minister, Deputy Humphreys, refer back to me. I understand she is not available today.

I wish to speak about an organisation called Green Sod Ireland. It is an amazing organisation which does its work voluntarily. Like many environmental organisations, it is scraping around in search of funding to keep itself going. One of the key issues this organisation and many others have is multi-annual core funding. Green Sod Ireland is disappointed that it has not been successful when it has applied previously to the scheme to support national organisations. I am told it has not been successful because of the criteria, which are addressing poverty and social exclusion and promoting equality. I believe much of the work the organisation does could qualify under these criteria. Apart from that, however, it is quite disappointing to see environmental organisations, which put so much into their local communities, being turned down for this type of funding. I ask that the Minister consider broadening the criteria if she does not feel they match.

I will give an outline of the organisation's work. It has over 100 acres at present. It has had to turn down donations of more acres. Its members are stewards and custodians of that land, ensuring that it is rewilded and that habitats are brought back to their natural state. It varies from place to place. The organisation has tracts of land in Ballinrobe in Mayo, in Connemara, Galway, Cavan and Donegal. It has areas all over the country and part of its function is to provide support for ecologists to do a report and then to maintain the land. Its members also visit schools and promote biodiversity. They work with communities to bring these tracts of land back to life.

As the Minister of State can understand, it is very much about equality of access to our wild spaces and equality in the broadest sense of equality for all species. I look forward to hearing the Minister of State and to hearing about what other schemes the Minister, Deputy Humphreys, could provide in this respect. While I am aware that there are other schemes, I believe the organisation also has not received funding from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, which was a great disappointment. Doors are being closed to it all the time. However, this scheme applies more generally and I am sure I am not alone in having organisations coming to me to seek multi-annual funding. It is time we stepped up because applying for a grant only gives funding for a small project, which means the organisation cannot retain a member of staff or plan for the long term. It is also a major burden to make grant applications year after year, and perhaps several in one year, to sustain the organisation.

I thank the Senator for raising this issue with regard to environmental organisations working in the community, including Green Sod Ireland. The Senator explained in detail the work it does and where it is located throughout the country.

With the publication of Climate Action Plan 2021, the Government recognises that there is an opportunity to create a cleaner, greener economy and society that can cut emissions, create jobs and protect both the planet and people. In keeping with Green Sod Ireland’s purpose to protect and conserve Irish land in perpetuity, for the sake of its indigenous inhabitants, cleaner air, warmer homes, less traffic congestion, a healthier population and greater biodiversity are among the many benefits Ireland will enjoy as a result of taking action. The Climate Action Plan 2021 sets out a pathway to reducing carbon emissions by 51% by 2030 and becoming a net zero and climate neutral economy by no later than 2050.

Although the targets are challenging and require fundamental changes in many parts of Irish life, standing still is not an option. The benefits to rural communities are many, including: new opportunities in sustainable industries; improved water and air quality; improved quality of land; increased biodiversity; and a climate-resilient, robust and profitable agrifood sector.

Climate Action Plan 2021 places specific emphasis on citizen engagement. To this end, Pobal and the Minister launched strand 2 of the community climate action programme, which focuses on climate education, capacity building and learning by doing. An overall budget for strand 2 is set at €5 million. Its aim is to build capacity and know-how of communities, enabling and empowering them to become low-carbon in an inclusive and collaborative manner. It is envisaged the strand will fund a mix of different types of projects that focus on providing climate education rather than awareness, and this will lead to tangible climate action within communities. The funding will facilitate eligible organisations to develop supports, tools, approaches and know-how with local communities to tackle climate change. The key point to note in that regard is that it will facilitate eligible organisations.

In keeping with the citizen engagement theme in Climate Action Plan 2021, the Department of Rural and Community Development has committed to complete a public participation networks, PPNs, structural review, with a focus on ensuring PPNs are fit for purpose for climate action as per the Programme for Government: Our Shared Future. In addition, the Department will facilitate consultation with communities on climate policy through the public participation networks in collaboration with the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications. Under the Climate Action Plan 2021, the Department of Rural and Community Development is also working with the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage to develop and include a module on climate change in the guidelines for the development of new local economic and community plans.

The mission of the Department of Rural and Community Development is to promote rural and community development and support vibrant, inclusive and sustainable communities. Funding is available under the rural regeneration and development fund to support job creation in rural areas, address depopulation of rural communities and support improvements in towns and villages with a population of fewer than 10,000 persons, as well as outlying areas. Initial funding of €315 million has been allocated to the fund on a phased basis for the period 2019-22. Category 1 applications for the fund are now open for submissions. Funding will support large-scale regeneration projects that are ready to commence.

All measures under outdoor recreation and infrastructure schemes are supported by the Department of Rural and Community Development in partnership with Fáilte Ireland. The aim is to promote the development of a sustainable outdoor recreation sector that leverages our natural environment for the benefit of local communities and Ireland’s tourism offering.

I thank the Minister of State. The type of language she is using is very welcome. It is a change from where we were a couple of years ago and that is very welcome, as is the amount of funding. However, I go back to my point on multi-annual funding, which is what these organisations are seeking. The Department has a key role in this regard. It is not just for other Departments. I ask the Minister of State to request that the Minister review that to ensure all organisations providing community engagement and community-based projects have equal access. Every part of the planet, including humans and all the different species, is inextricably linked, so we must consider them equally and place them all on an equal footing. I would like to hear the Minister of State commit to going back to the Minister, Deputy Humphreys, and making the argument that these groups need multi-annual funding.

To conclude, in November 2021, €15.5 million in funding was announced for 84 outdoor adventure projects. The projects chosen for investment include walking and cycling trails, cliffways, beaches, lakes, rivers, bogs, greenways, blueways and bridleways. This investment, which is a key part of Our Rural Future, will support rural economies and I know all present welcome this investment throughout the country.

I take on board the point the Senator is making in respect of multi-annual funding. We have discussed at length in the Department of Health how important multi-annual funding is in terms of facilitating planning. We saw this first hand last year in the context of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

For the first time, we had multi-annual funding, a commitment of €30 billion. We also saw such multi-annual funding for Irish Water. It means one can plan ahead. I know how important it is. I will relay the matter to the Minister's Department and let it know exactly how the Senator is feeling. I thank her for her interest.

Organ Donation

I welcome the Minister of State to the Chamber and thank her for coming here to speak on this matter. I am aware the issue is important to her, her colleagues and the Department. However, it is also an issue that is important to the Government, because it commits in the programme for Government to addressing this in its lifetime.

Instead of having our current system for people who wish to donate their organs when they pass away, whereby they must sign a donor card that allows for donation if something happens to them, I recommend what is done in Spain, where one has to opt out of donation. This is important for several reasons. One reason our current system fails is that the organs of those with organ donor cards may not be donated after their death if they have not had a conversation about donation with their next of kin. It happens quite often that the next of kin are uncomfortable with organ donation. Even when someone with an organ donor card tragically passes away, the next of kin still have to be asked if they are okay with donating his or her organs. Often this happens in very tragic circumstances. There are many things the next of kin have to worry about in addition to organ donation. Obviously, the decision has to be made extremely quickly. The next of kin may not be comfortable with donation and, most important, the conversation between a potential donor and his or her partner or next of kin may not have happened. If we introduce an opt-out system, it will be the choice of the next of kin not to have the organs of the deceased donated if they have a strong view on it. In Spain, about 14% of the population over 18 have opted out of donation.

It is obvious what an opt-out system does: it gives more opportunities to those who need an organ donation. In Ireland, about 650 people need an organ donation. I believe 270 organ donors died last year, affording an opportunity to donate, but only 190 transplants actually happened as a consequence. Of these, 123 were kidney transplants, 37 were liver transplants and 16 were lung transplants. Nine patients received a heart transplant. Some 650 people need an organ transplant but we have 190 transplants per year. That means 450 people are still waiting and going through very traumatic times, be it on dialysis or otherwise. Many of these are young kids. We do not want people waiting longer than necessary to receive a donation, be it of a kidney, lung or heart.

From my experience, many are willing to be organ donors but have not applied. They all have busy lives and may not have had the conversation. If there were an opt-out system, they would be happy with it. There would be no need to do anything. This is about caring for and protecting people and making it as easy as possible for those in very difficult circumstances and who need a donation to receive one as quickly as possible. I look forward to the Minister of State's response.

I wish everyone a happy St. Brigid's Day, Lá Fhéile Bríde. The Cathaoirleach is a very strong advocate for St. Brigid, and I commend him on his mask; it is lovely. From next year on we will celebrate a bank holiday on Lá Fhéile Bríde. We can all look forward to that.

I thank the Senator for raising this issue and for the opportunity to speak on it on behalf of my colleague, the Minister for Health, Deputy Donnelly. I am very glad to get the opportunity to speak on this subject because I am a very strong advocate for organ donation. I remember as a teenager signing up to that particular card. The reason I did it was we lost a young girl in Portlaw many years ago and it was the first time I had heard of organ donation. At the time, when we heard her organs were being donated, it struck me how important it was. One person dying is a tragedy, but the gift of life could be given to so many other families. By coincidence, the girl's brother has been a Member of this House.

It is such an important thing and it is the most selfless act that we can bestow on each other. The improvement in the quality of life for organ recipients and their families cannot be overstated. We have a duty to do everything we can to ensure that as many people as possible benefit from organ donation. In that context, the Government allocated an additional €1 million in funding in 2022 to continue to improve organ donation and transplantation services in the State. This funding will support the ongoing development of transplant services, enhance our ability to access organ donors from abroad, and improve organ donation staffing and infrastructure. This funding will also ensure that our organ donation and transplantation services are equipped to meet the additional demands arising following the enactment of the human tissue Bill.

The programme for Government includes a commitment to "Enact the Human Tissue Bill, providing the legal basis for an opt-out system of organ donation and deliver a public information campaign." Reference was made to Spain, and I was struck by the fact that 14% of people in Spain have opted out. This means that 86% of people are included, which is a phenomenal figure. The aim with the Bill is to make organ donation the norm in Ireland in situations where the opportunity arises.

Under the soft opt-out system, consent for organ donation will be deemed unless the person has, while alive, registered their wish not to become an organ donor after death. It is proposed, however, that even though consent is deemed, the next-of-kin will always be consulted prior to removing any organ. If the next-of-kin objects to the organ donation, the donation will not proceed. The best way for a person to ensure that their wish to become an organ donor is realised is to have that conversation with their family, discuss their intention around organ donation and make their wishes clearly known to family members.

The proposed opt-out register for organ donation will create a clear and easily communicable choice to individuals to either opt-out of deceased organ donation entirely, or to allow deemed consent to apply. Signing up to the opt-out register will be a definitive expression of the person’s wish to not become an organ donor after death. An opt-out register will make organ donation the clear default option, and signal to citizens the move towards organ donation being the norm.

The enactment of the human tissue Bill is a priority for the Government. The Department of Health continues to engage closely with the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel to progress the drafting of the Bill with the objective of bringing a memorandum to Government to secure approval to publish the Bill as soon as possible in the 2022 spring legislative session.

I thank the Minister of State for her response and her support. The most important line in her response is "Signing up to the opt-out register will be a definitive expression of the person’s wish to not become an organ donor after death." This means that the current confusion will be gone. One organ donor can save eight lines. It is phenomenal.

She give an example of the case in her own county. Members may also have seen video footage of other families who have met the individuals who received organs donated from their loved ones. Each donation has saved the life of an individual. There is a sense of pride and amazement among the family when they hear the heartbeat of their loved one in the other person's body, or when they understand that a young child may be alive and living a normal life because of the contribution made by their loved one.

As the Minister of State said, 86% of people in Spain are in favour of it. I think the people of Ireland would be the same once we introduced it. The quicker we do it, the more lives we save and the more people who will be proud of the things they have done when they are deceased.

I welcome Senator Ahearn's support for our efforts to increase the rate of deceased organ donation. I do not want to pre-empt any Bill but I am confident that when the Bill comes before both Houses, it will get a lot of cross-party support.

The Senator nailed it on the head when he said the proposal is to introduce a soft opt-out system of consent. Nobody will be forced and everyone will have the opportunity to opt out. It is important that message goes out there. The Department continues to work with the HSE's organ donation transplant Ireland, the intensive care units and the transplant hospitals, namely, Beaumont, Mater and St. Vincent's, in building a better future for organ donation in Ireland as we continue to recover from the pandemic.

The Bill will be accompanied by a campaign which will aim to ensure individuals understand the opt-out system and encourage individuals to have the conversation and make their wishes in relation to organ donation known to their next of kin and other family members. We look forward to the Bill coming before the Houses soon.

Apprenticeship Programmes

I welcome the Minister of State at the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Deputy Niall Collins, to the Seanad to take this Commencement matter.

I am delighted to welcome the Minister of State. He is a hard-working Minister and well known to this House. I have discussed this with the Minister of State already and am delighted he agreed to come to the House to flesh out the figures and the details. There has been a concern that there are not enough places in some of the courses at present, or qualified staff to teach these apprenticeship courses. It seems to be an issue. They are the two big concerns I am hearing.

I am well aware of how the apprenticeship scheme works. We have had several apprentices through our hands over the years. It has always been a great system, particularly in the auctioneering sector. Nearly anyone who got through the system went on to achieve good things in their line of business. It allowed them to work and earn some money at the same time. They gained vital experience on the job, which I firmly believe is the best way to learn. The Minister of State might be able to enlighten us about the teachers or lack of same and the placements or lack of same.

I thank the Senator for his question on an important issue for apprentices and for my Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science. The Senator will know that craft apprenticeships account for 25 of the existing available apprenticeship programmes. Given the practical nature of off-the-job training for craft apprentices, the Covid-related shutdown of on-site learning activity over the past two years has had a significant impact on their ability to access such training. The remaining 37 apprenticeships have not been delayed but may have had disruption to recruitment in, for example, hospitality.

While I appreciate the frustration these delays are causing, I reassure the Senator that the education and training sector is doing everything possible to ensure all waiting lists for craft apprentices are cleared as soon as possible. SOLAS, the Higher Education Authority and the education and training providers work together to deliver craft apprenticeship off-the-job training places and have worked closely to change how training is delivered.

The apprenticeships with the longest waiting lists, namely, electrical, plumbing and carpentry, have seen significant reform measures.

These changes are now running through the system, with more apprentices being called for their off-the-job training than before. In addition, classes that had been running at half capacity due to Covid-19 distancing measures are now back at full intake of 14 to 16 apprentices per phase.

An amount of €20 million in capital funding was provided in 2020 to extend and upgrade craft apprenticeship facilities across the further and higher education institutions. Some €17 million of additional funding was provided under budget 2022 to facilitate the response to the backlogs across SOLAS and the higher education sector. This included a significant recruitment campaign to increase the number of trainers. The delivery structures for phase 2 off-the-job training have been changed to facilitate a third intake of apprentices per annum and an opt-in rapid employer assessment is being piloted for the final phase of craft apprenticeships.

At the end of December, 8,797 craft apprentices were waiting for access to phases 2, 4 and 6 off-the-job training. This is down from the 12,000 apprentices that were on the list last August. Subject to continuing access to workshops and training facilities, and in addition to the roll-out of more places, it is expected that the majority of craft apprentices waiting for off-the-job training at phases 4 and 6 will be called in the early months of this year. It is expected that the phase 2 waiting list will be completely cleared by the end of the year.

I thank the Minister of State for his comprehensive answer. Undoubtedly, he will work on this as hard as he can to try to speed matters up. I appreciate that.

I will outline for the House some other pertinent sources of information that may be of assistance to Senators, their offices and their constituents. I encourage all Senators and everyone interested in apprenticeships to keep an eye on two portals - and the interactive website. They are one-stop shops for information that people may want to access in order to discover and learn about apprenticeships.

We have 62 formalised apprenticeship programmes, a further 15 are in an advanced state of development and there are expressions of interest regarding 15 more. Under our Action Plan for Apprenticeship, we have also established the National Apprenticeship Office, to which we have appointed a new director, to oversee the entire apprenticeship offering from the 62 current programmes to the emerging programmes. We have modified the Central Applications Office, CAO, portal to allow students and interested people who want to apply for apprenticeships to resource themselves through it.

The rationalisation of the CAO portal is very welcome. I checked out and was amazed by its information and the number of courses on it, which any of us can take at any stage.

Northern Ireland

Cuirim fáilte roimh an Aire Stáit. The nationalist people of the North in particular look to the Taoiseach, the Irish Government, this Chamber and the Dáil to protect and defend their national, human and civil rights, and none more so than the thousands of people whose rights, including the right to life, have been trampled over by successive British Governments.

None more so than the thousands of people whose rights, including the right to life, have been trampled over by successive British Governments. Hundreds of nationalists and Catholics were killed as a result of collusion by the British Government's armed forces and loyalist paramilitary groups. Thousands of confidential files were handed over to loyalists by various intelligence agencies, all of the British Government. Directly and through loyalist proxies, the British Government could be responsible for approximately one third of all deaths in the conflict.

The Operation Greenwich report deals with the British Government's armed forces colluding with loyalists to kill 19 people, including Councillor Eddie Fullerton, a Sinn Féin councillor in Donegal, and Councillor Bernard O'Hagan, a Sinn Féin councillor in south Derry. This report follows other official reports into collusion, including: the Oireachtas report into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, which was described as state-sponsored terrorism; Stalker and Sampson investigations; the three inquiries carried out by Lord Stevens, the former commissioner of the London Metropolitan Police Service; Justice Cory's report; and the de Silva report.

Former British Prime Minister, David Cameron, apologised to the family of the murdered human rights lawyer, Pat Finucane, for collusion in his murder. The Minister of State, Deputy Byrne, will know that this House recently unanimously passed a motion calling for a full public inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane. Relatives organisations, such as Relatives for Justice and the Pat Finucane Centre, published reports on the collusion, including Collusion 1990-1994: Loyalist Paramilitary Murders in Northern Ireland and the book Lethal Allies: British Collusion in Ireland by Anne Cadwallader.

All of these reports demonstrate clearly that there is an irrefutable paper trail of collusion leading to the front door of 10 Downing Street. What is the British Government's response to this overwhelming evidence? A proposed amnesty - a pardon, if you will - for all those involved in collusion. The Irish Government must ensure that this does not happen by supporting actions by relatives of those killed through collusion, by supporting the Stormont House Agreement and by lobbying governments and human rights organisations across the world. The British Government should abandon its amnesty plan, stop running away from the truth and implement the all-party agreed Stormont House legacy agreement, which is an independent process, is human rights compliant and can deliver what the families seek. That is the truth.

I would like to finish on this before the Minister of State, Deputy Byrne, addresses the House. Next week marks the 30th anniversary of the awful massacre at the Sean Graham bookmakers' shop on the Ormeau Road. I raised that incident in this House last year. Families will gather, as they always do, to recite a rosary and lay flowers at the bookmakers' shop. Those families are expecting a further report from the police ombudsman which I have no doubt in its breadth and depth will go even further in highlighting the stark level of murderous collusion that existed between loyalist paramilitary gunmen and the British Government.

It is important that the community in the North hear responses from the Irish Government. As I said in my opening remarks, it is crucial that the Irish Government's voice on this issue continues to be heard on the international stage. I note and commend the work of the Minister of State, Deputy Byrne, on this up until now. This is where we are at. It seems now one cannot go a week without another ombudsman's report or another case in the Belfast High Court, where families are, unfortunately, being forced to take the British Government to court because of the lack of truth and justice. This is having a traumatic impact. People are looking to the Irish Government to lead and to take actions. I look forward to hearing the Minister outlining what actions he proposes to take regarding the Operation Greenwich report.

Tá áthas orm bheith anseo inniu ar son an Rialtais chun an díospóireacht seo a fhreagairt. Gabhaim mo bhuíochas leis an Seanadóir Ó Donnghaile as a smaointe a thabhairt dúinn maidir leis an ábhar tábhachtach seo.

The Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland, Marie Anderson, last month published a report concerning the RUC's handling of paramilitary attacks carried out by the Ulster Defence Association, UDA, and Ulster Freedom Fighters, UFF, between 1989 and 1993, which resulted in murders and multiple attempted murders. The report, as the Deputy well knows, has identified collusive behaviours and raised significant concerns about police conduct during this time. Ms Anderson held that the concerns on the part of the families of those killed regarding collusive activity were legitimate and justified. A range of factors included intelligence and surveillance failings, the failure to warn people about threats to their lives, the passing of information by members of the security forces to paramilitaries, the deliberate destruction of files related to informants and the passive turning a blind eye to apparent criminal activity.

It is undoubtedly a significant report and the Government will study its findings carefully.

It is of course a deeply impactful moment for those families whose loved ones were killed in these acts of violence. Our thoughts must be first and foremost with those families as they read and process the findings.

The report, however, serves to highlight the vital work of the office of the Police Ombudsman as an independent system for the handling of complaints about the conduct of police officers. This is a work of great sensitivity and importance that is essential in order for society to have confidence in policing and the rule of law into the future. Those families who are impacted by the report and every family who lost somebody in the Troubles deserve to know the truth about what happened to their loved one, to have access to effective investigations and to a process of justice, regardless of the perpetrator.

Addressing the legacy of the conflict on the island is a complex and sensitive task, but in 2014 the two Governments and the parties reached an agreement that mapped out a fair and balanced framework designed to do so, which would see the establishment of a historic investigations unit, an independent commission for information recovery and an oral history archive. The Stormont House Agreement was based on the fundamental principles of facilitating the pursuit of justice, upholding the rule of law, meeting the legitimate needs of victims and survivors, and fulfilling our shared human rights obligations. We have been working for the implementation of that agreement for families who need to see a system in place and a clear road they can take to access truth and justice. Progress is essential and too much time has passed.

The UK Government, as the Senator knows, has put forward proposals, including a statute of limitations, that constitute a significant departure from that agreement into which it entered. We have made it clear this is not something we can support. We are totally opposed to it. The proposals have faced strong and almost universal opposition from victims, civil society and every political party. We have cautioned the British Government strongly against any unilateral action in this space. We are ready to engage to find a collective and agreed way forward but it must be won based on access to justice, rule of law and one that has the needs of victims and survivors at heart.

Gabhaim buíochas leis an Aire Stáit as an bhfreagra cuimsitheach a thug sé dúinn. Admhaíonn sé go bhfuil an Rialtas chun staidéir a dhéanamh ar an ábhar seo agus tuigim go mbeidh an staidéir sin de dhíth. I appreciate the comprehensive response of the Minister of State. While I appreciate his Department may need the time to absorb the full ramifications of this report, it is something that needs to be addressed because there is no hierarchy of victims, nor should there be. All of these killings, as he said, impact deeply on the victims' families and indeed the survivors who were attacked or whose information was passed on for them to be attacked. This has a slightly different edge in the sense that in this report we are dealing with British intelligence agencies handing over intelligence relating to an elected representative in this jurisdiction who was subsequently murdered by a UDA gang which crossed the Border and came into this jurisdiction to murder him.

I appreciate the Minister of State has laid out his response at this stage. I look forward to engaging with him as the Department studies this report and in regard to laying out what specific actions it plans to take. That is what the families expect and want to hear.

I thank Senator Ó Donnghaile for his remarks, which are well noted. The position of the Government is clear and consistent. No matter where you are from, whether the shot was fired by a state actor or a non-state actor, everyone deserves access to justice. Every family deserves the truth on what happened to their loved one. The truth cannot be hidden away or written off as something that happened too long ago.

The Minister, Deputy Coveney, has underlined in his regular contacts with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis, that we must make progress on this issue and the approach must collectively be agreed between the two Governments and the political parties, and the Taoiseach has conveyed this message directly to Prime Minister Johnson. Indeed, in my bilateral engagements this week, I will also be making that point. I assure the Cathaoirleach and Seanadóirí anseo inniu that the Government will continue to engage with the British Government on this and to pursue all possible avenues until a resolution is found.

As the Senator has rightly said, there is no hierarchy of victims. Specifically in the case of Councillor Fullerton who was murdered in this jurisdiction, it is a matter of regret that no person has been convicted of this brutal murder. We have no Statute of Limitations in respect of crimes of that nature and the Garda investigation remains open and active. Any new information from any quarter will be pursued fully by An Garda Síochána. Any other crimes of that nature in this jurisdiction are not and never will be subject to the Statute of Limitations.

Sitting suspended at 3.20 p.m. and resumed at 3.30 p.m.