Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Seanad Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 10 Feb 1988

Vol. 118 No. 9

Order of Business.

It is proposed to take Item No. 1 to the conclusion of Second Stage, Item No. 2, the Companies (No 2) Bill, 1987 and Item No. 3.

May I ask the Leader of the House when does he propose to provide time for Item No. 12, the Housing (Homeless Persons) Bill, 1987? The House is aware, or many Members are aware, of the 15 broken promises. Can he give the House any information on when the Government intend to introduce the long-promised legislation to deal with this matter which would be far preferable to any attempts to pursue a Private Members' Bill? I would also, again, ask for information as to what is happening to the Adoption Bill? We have waited and waited and waited and I cannot believe that the simple reason is the indifference of the Minister or the Government. Can the Leader of the House please tell us when it is proposed to take the Committee Stage of the Adoption Bill?

I would also ask the Leader of the House to consider following the precedent set by his predecessor and allow Government time to deal with Item No. 58 which is a motion in the names of myself and three other Independent Members to annual a direction under section 31 of the Broadcasting Act. It is the first time that a group large enough to have a debate has raised this issue. It would be very useful to have the issue discussed. It is the view of many Members on the Government side that section 31 needs to be looked at and we would welcome the opportunity to have it discussed. I would ask the Leader of the House to provide time for it.

Bring on the Provos and we will take them on.

As you can see, people can have different motives for putting down these motions. On a slightly more personal basis, I would like to compliment the Leader of the House on his statement on Palestine on his return from there. I would like to ask him at some stage if he would consider providing time in the House for some statements from Members on the continuing appalling situation in the illegally occupied territories in Palestine.

Finally, on the Order of Business, may I ask the Leader of the House to convey out congratulations to the Congress of the United States on their exemplary decision to cease supporting terrorism in Central America? This is to be welcomed, and it is a fine gesture in the interests of democracy.

I do not think that arises.

I support Senator Ryan's request for an urgent introduction of a Homeless Persons Bill for the reasons he specified. Although I welcome some indications of goodwill in the budget on this matter, it is clear that this needs to be done and the Leader of the House ought to indicate now to the House when this will happen. I would like also to ask the Leader of the House when it is intended to take Item No. 45? I raised this last week on the Order of Business and was told that some reply would be given this week. Senator Lanigan was not available at that stage and I was told I would be given some indication. I, likewise, had a number of undertakings from Senator Lanigan on this matter. Finally, I wish to support what Senator Ryan said about the necessity of providing some time for discussion of the situation obtaining in the Middle East, particularly in relation to the State of Israel which is legally recognised by this country because I consider this is——

Senator Ryan already made the case. I am trying to clear the Order of Business and the Senator cannot make a speech.

I would not dream of making a speech. I simply wish to do what Senator Ryan did as well——

He got away with it; you are not going to.

I never do. I think that is wrong and unfair.

I wish to add an explanatory gloss to what Senator Norris has said. It is simply he wants to convey that Dublin University does not recognise the State of Israel.

On the question of the Order of Business, I wish to support Senators Ryan and Norris on the question of the Homeless Persons Bill. When one has regard to the fact that people who served in the Emergency during the war are found dead on the street for want of a home, it gives greater urgency to the need to bring in the Homeless Persons Bill as soon as possible and I support that move.

Over the past number of weeks we have had some excellent debates on issues on which there was general agreement: I recall the statements and discussion on the Nuclear Energy Bill and the current debate on the Constitution. May I put it to the Leader of the House that perhaps Item No. 59 on the Order Paper, which is also a development in the area of nuclear industry is an issue on which there is very little difference between Senators in the House? I raised it last week and it was favourably received by the acting Leader of the House. I raise it again this week. Perhaps the leader of the House would consider finding time for a debate on Item No. 59 which calls on the Government to declare Ireland a nuclear free zone. There is no great difficulty with it. It is not opposed to Government policy but it would be an important matter to establish for the record.

The Leader of the House to reply and conclude.

A number of questions have been asked. First of all, I will begin with Senator O'Toole's question. It is not possible this week that we take any of the motions that are put down. I think there would be almost universal approval to have Item No. 59 brought forward as soon as possible. With the Worker Participation Bill and the Companies Bill and the debate on the Constitution it is not possible to take it this week but we will try to arrange for an early debate on that matter. In the next few weeks I shall endeavour to see if the motions on the Order Paper can be taken on Thursdays. We will devote Thursdays to a number of motions which have been on the Order Paper for quite some time.

Senator Harte, with Senator Norris, Senator Ryan and Senator O'Toole referred to the Homeless Persons Bill. I shall talk to the Minister this afternoon on this. There is in the Government a wish that this should be brought forward as soon as possible. I agree with Senator Ryan that it would be better if this were discussed as part of a Government Bill rather than, as on the Order Paper, as part of a Private Member's Bill. I shall inform the House tomorrow morning when we will be able to bring forward that Bill. I shall endeavour to do that and I hope I will have a reasonable reply for the House in the morning.

I must apologise, I did give an indication that we would have an early debate on the Adoption Bill. Last week the call was reiterated and Senator Ryan given an indication that we would have an early debate. The indications are that we will have an early debate on this item but there have been many delays since this matter was debated here in July last year. Since then the Department of Health have been in consultation with the Attorney General on a vast range of complex issues involving costs and the constitutional rights of the child which have been raised because of this Bill. The Minister has assured me that they will have full resolution of those problems within the next week or ten days and that we will have the Bill here within the next fortnight. That is as far as I can go. It is not our fault that the Bill is not here. Indeed, the Bill would have been here but because of constitutional issues it might have created more problems had it not been dealt with in detail at Attorney General level.

As regards the call for the debate on the universal declaration of human rights by Senator Norris, we will try to bring that debate into the House as soon as possible. As regards a debate on the situation in Palestine, if the Whips get together I think that debate could take place in the context of the report on the EC which we will try to take as soon as possible, "Developments in the European Communities since January 1986". This is a debate that should take place in any event. We can decide on a basis on which a debate can take place on the question of Palestine. If the Whips can get together today perhaps we can finalise arrangements for an early debate on that.

Is the Order of Business agreed?

I do not recall the Leader of the House referring to Motion No. 58, on section 31.

The situation there is that the Independent Senators can bring forward that motion as their next Independent motion if they so wish.

I would like to ask the Leader of the House if it is his intention to take the question of developments in the Middle East under the subject of "Developments in the European Community"? Will this debate be wide enough to allow discussion of the important matter of the absence of proper diplomatic representation by the State of Israel in this country to counter the irresponsible elements in some statements made recently by Senator Lanigan?

I would like to tell the House that I specifically stated that the Leader of the House should now reply and conclude. Now we seem to swing back into several questions.

Just to reply to Senator Norris. I would not consider any remarks I have made in the past about the situation in Palestine to be in any other way addressed except responsibly and as a result of my intimate knowledge of the area and of the fact that I saw at very close quarters what is happening to innocent children on the streets. I do not want to get into an argument about that but Senator Norris asked a specific question, namely, if "Developments in the European Community" could take in the development of ambassadorial relationships. Reports on developments in the European Community since 1986 have taken in the totality of our arrangements with Israel and the situation in the Middle East in general. I would suggest that that may be one vehicle for a discussion but if somebody feels there is another way — I do not want to hog that particular item — if they feel that there are other vehicles available that matter can be raised.

Will Senator Lanigan confirm that we go to Item No. 3 at 6.30 p.m.?

Is it proposed to have a break?

Not unless we get through the first two items.

Order of Business agreed to.