The information I have from the Minister is that the public consultation on carbon budgets in general was concluded, but the sectoral consultation is still outstanding. I cannot accept the amendment to the Order of Business, but it is open to the Senator to raise the issue directly with the Minister today and ask that there be a delay in the work he is doing. I take on board the points Senator Higgins has made on public consultation and this having happened before it concludes. My information is that there are two aspects to the public consultation, one of which has concluded and the second of which has not. The Minister wants to proceed and I am happy to facilitate that happening today. As I said, if Senator Higgins wants to raise this directly with the Minister in the debate later today she can do so. I thank the Senators for their amendment.
Senator O'Loughlin spoke about the need for mental health reform and also welcomed Senator Clonan to the House. Senator Ward congratulated Raidió na Gaeltachta on its 50 years in operation. I have dealt with the issue raised by Senator Boyhan.
Senator Dooley spoke, as he often does, about Shannon Airport and the challenges the airport is facing. He raised particular concerns regarding practices between Dublin and Shannon airports. I have no further information on that particular issue, but I acknowledge that there are difficulties with Shannon Airport and its operation. The airport is important to the mid-west region and County Clare.
Senator Conway welcomed Senator Clonan to the House and acknowledged that it is great to have an additional voice in the House coming from an advocacy perspective on disabilities. He said he looked forward to working with the Senator on those issues.
Senator Sherlock spoke about the IPCC report. She raised in particular issues around cycle lanes in her constituency and the need to facilitate citizens having access to walking and cycle lanes. The Senator should spare a thought for those of us in rural Ireland where it is all but a pipe dream to have cycle lanes in and out of our towns and villages. It is something to which we aspire.
Senator Paul Daly spoke about seasonal work permits and has requested a debate with the Minister for Foreign Affairs around getting those work permits expedited, especially those for the agricultural sector where there is an annual demand for those types of permits.
Senator Carrigy spoke about the basic income for the arts and mentioned a good news story in his area, Longford, where a remote working hub has been established to link directly with the Technological University of the Shannon, TUS. It is working very well.
Senator Ruane spoke about the issue of dual diagnoses. She referred to Cherie Flynn, and we extend our condolences to her family. We were very moved by the story the Senator told on the floor of the House. Words are fine, but actions are what are needed. The Senator has been a tireless and fantastic advocate for those working in the homeless sector and addiction services. I take on board her comments on mental health. I was not aware of the issues she raised regarding homelessness and the potential for discrimination in terms of access to services. It is appalling to think that is happening. I will certainly request a debate in the House on mental health reform, in particular psychiatric services. The Senator can liaise with the Leader's office to make sure we get the title of the debate correct and the correct Minister to come to the House to deal with that. I extend our sincere sympathies to Cherie's family on the tragic passing of the young woman.
Senator Craughwell spoke about tomorrow's sitting, which I have dealt with. He referenced the suggestion by a Minister of State at the Department of Transport that the Defence Forces would provide free hours of work. I was shocked to read that. The defence community has responded. The Representative Association of Commissioned Officer, RACO, made a statement today and I am sure the Permanent Defence Force Other Ranks Representative Association, PDFORRA, will do the same. They are quite insulted by the suggestion that their members would be called upon. We have still not addressed pay and conditions in the Defence Forces, the major retention crisis and the fact that people do not feel properly valued or acknowledged for the work they do. To suggest that they would be dragged up to Dublin Airport to do this work on a voluntary basis without any consultation was not appropriate. I understand the intention of the Minister of State wants to solve one problem, but he was lacking in consideration for the personnel who would be required to do that work. Consultation with the Defence Forces was also lacking.
I take on board the comments of the defence organisations that they are very unhappy with the way that was dealt with. I agree with the remarks of Senator Craughwell in that regard.
Senator Dolan acknowledged the amazing fundraising for Ukraine of communities across the country, particularly a coffee morning in Ballinasloe that raised in excess of €600. I wish that community well.
Senator McGreehan raised the issue of a basic income for artists, but also the need for a basic income for carers. I think all Senators would support that.
Senator Gavan spoke about the safe access legislation that will come before the House on Thursday and asked for cross-party support for the Bill. He will be aware the Bill will not be opposed by the Government but the Minister for Health, Deputy Stephen Donnelly, and his Department are drafting legislation to do the exact same thing. We have raised that issue in the House previously. It is about getting to the point we all want to reach, that is, where there are safe access zones, but we must ensure that whatever legislation is on the Statute Book is watertight and stands up to scrutiny because it could be challenged before the courts. It is the intention of the Minister to provide for safe access zones. He has on numerous occasions commended the work of the group that published the Bill tabled by Senator Gavan which has cross-party support. The Minister wishes to reiterate his support for achieving that objective of safe zones that many of us in this House also support. We look forward to that debate on Thursday.
Senator Pauline O'Reilly spoke about the IPCC report. I will request that debate.
Senator Boylan also raised the issue of the IPCC report, as well as the Energy Charter Treaty. As that is a specific request, it would be suitable for tabling as a Commencement matter in order for the Senator to get a direct response on it. I do not have any further information to give her.