Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Seanad Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 22 Feb 1990

Vol. 124 No. 2

Order of Business.

It is proposed to take the all-party motion on South Africa, and the Bulding Control Bill in the afternoon.

On the Order of Business, I would like to make two points. First, in the other House some time ago the Government Whip provided all Members with a copy of the programme of legislation which it is intended to take in the other House during this session. We, on this side of the House, have consistently asked to be provided in written form with a similar programme of legislation for the session. We have asked and asked. We got some mumbled recitations from the Leader of the House. We have got nothing on paper. May I once more ask, even at this late stage, that we be given in documentary form, a programme of legislation for this session.

On the question raised by Senator Norris about the European Court motion, which he has raised consistently, he has given the Government sufficient time to come back with an answer. While we will not be pressing it today, next week we will be asking for a definite answer on that matter.

I would like clarification on the amount of time each speaker will have on the South African motion.

Again, I ask the Acting Leader of the House if he would be prepared to make time available for the Minister for Education to make a statement to us on the situation in relation to facilities for teenage girls with behavioural disorders. This is a pressing and immediate problem. The district justice has spoken in stark terms of avoiding a tragedy.

You have a motion on the Order Paper which is down for the Adjournment and may be taken at some time.

I hope that it will be soon. The matter is exceptionally urgent. It does not seem to me to be sub judice at this stage.

It cannot be raised on the Order of Business.

On the Order of Business, Second Stage of the Building Control Bill is being taken this afternoon. I would like to ask the acting Leader to confirm the plans for the continuation of that debate this afternoon. Does he intend concluding Second Stage? Does he intend adjourning Second Stage? When does he intend coming back to it? It is very important legislation and people should know precisely what he intends doing with the Bill this afternoon.

May I ask the Acting Leader of the House to consider making time available, either today or certainly at a very early opportunity, to allow the Minister for Defence to come here to update the House in relation to the present serious situation in Lebanon where several Irish officers were injured yesterday. I am sure we all send our good wishes to the officers for a speedy recovery.

Ba mhaith liom a fhiafraí den Cheannaire arís inniu an bhfuil aon dul chun cinn déanta maidir le córas aistriúcháin. Bhí cruinniú aréir ag an gComhchoiste don Ghaeilge agus tugadh le fios go bhfuil seomra á chur ar fáil. Rud maith é seo ach ba mhaith liom dá dtabharfadh an Ceannaire dáta don Teach ar a mbeidh an córas seo insealbhaithe sa Teach sa chaoi is go mbeidh sé ar mo chumas mo chuid ghnóthaí a dhéanamh ar an dóigh ar chóir iad a dhéanamh.

I wish to support Senator Upton in relation to the matter he raised about the girl who is before the court in Dún Laoghaire and who is coming before the court for the eighth time today. I am looking for clarification. Yesterday the Acting Leader of the House, Senator McGowan, stated that in his opinion the matter was sub judice. Today, the Cathaoirleach has stated he is going to allow the matter——

I did not say I was going to allow anything. I said it was not in order to raise the matter.

You said the motion was in order.

No, I did not. I said it was not in order to raise the matter today.

You said the motion was in order.

No. I did not. When I come to deal with the motion I will decide whether it is in order or not.

I want clarification from the Acting Leader of the House in relation to his remarks about the matter being sub judice. I am certainly of the opinion that the matter is not sub judice.

We cannot discuss it at this stage. I have pointed that out to Senator Norris.

I do not propose to discuss it, but I would like the Acting Leader of the House to make a statement and to clarify the statement he made yesterday.

It is not appropriate, Senator, to raise the matter on the Order of Business.

The matter is very pressing.

I appreciate that, but it still is not appropriate to raise it on the Order of Business.

I am asking that the matter to be clarified by the Acting Leader of the House.

It is not appropriate to raise it now.

It may be impossible to clarify it, but I do not see that what we are dealing with cannot be clarified. The matter that has come before the House——

I am trying to assist the Senator. It is not appropriate that it be raised at this point.

I really do not see how we can raise it if we cannot do so now.

You may have difficulty with that but I am telling you that it is not appropriate at this time.

The Acting Leader of the House says the matter cannot be raised. On the other hand a motion has been put forward here.

With no disrespect to the Acting Leader of the House, if I say it is not appropriate that concludes the matter.

May I ask the Acting Leader of the House would use his discretion, perhaps, at the end of the points that have been raised——

I have pointed out that it is not appropriate to discuss the matter at this time.

It is impossible if we cannot get clarification on a statement that has been made by the Acting Leader of the House in relation to a pressing matter.

You have made your point. I have told you the position. If the Leader of the House wants to take it up, that is another matter.

All I am looking for is clarification to see whether or not——

Even though you are in breach of a ruling, I am sure the Leader of the House will understand what you are seeking.

Will he respond to the point?

I must ask you to refrain from discussion of this matter.

I will wait to see if the Acting Leader of the House makes a response later on. Secondly, I raised a question yesterday in relation to the Derelict Sites Bill. I would like, again, to seek clarification from the Acting Leader of the House as to when this Bill will come before us. As I said before, it is a matter that has been on the top of the agenda before but it has now gone way down the agenda. It would seem there is some deliberate intention not to deal with this particular matter. It is just impossible to understand why a matter so important in relation to the law, which is at present inadequate, has not been dealt with with the expedition we would expect. That is where it was on the Order of Business. As we know this city is full of cowboys——

You are making a speech again.

I ask the Acting Leader of the House to clarify when this Bill will come before the House. Finally, in relation to the sad matter that occurred in Lebanon yesterday, where the Irish soldiers were wounded and two militiamen were killed, we would like to extend our sympathy to the families of those concerned, and to point out once again the need for a foreign affairs committee in this House so that we could deal with all of those very serious matters that are in the world news at present.

I would like to ask the Acting Leader of the House if he would indicate to us when the promised debate on Northern Ireland is likely to take place?

Ba mhaith liom taobhú leis an Seanadóir Pól Ó Foighil maidir le soláthar an chóras aistriúcháin i Seanad Éireann. It is important that the questions he asked this morning regarding the setting of a date, a time and a place and space to be made available, should continue to be urged because of the Constitutional prominence given to the first national language. I welcome his persistence in this matter.

I am very pleased that the leader of the Fine Gael group, Senator Manning, has agreed to support me in the request to have Item No. 30 taken. This will be repeated next week. For that reason I will not today be moving an alteration to the Order of Business, I do not want to become tedious. It is a serious matter and I urge the Acting Leader of the House to take it on board.

I also would like to urge that the Derelict Sites Bill be treated as a matter of urgency. Unless it is amended in this House, it is not going to do the slightest thing to improve the situation, because it is a defective Bill. Regarding the debate on Nelson Mandela, will there be an agreement with regard to the time? A considerable number of people wish to get in on this debate and it is important that we know where we are on this matter, technically.

Finally, I would like to ask if there could be agreement on an all party basis that there could be some time made available for statements with regard to Item No. 65. I am not really been tendentious here. It is a very important matter. It is a question of the return of the aboriginal head to its rightful place in Australia. This was a matter of considerable controversy recently during the Nelson Mandela episode. I am coming under pressure from constituents in Australia. It could be a matter of international embarrassment.

There are a few heads here which we could send over.

I have a few constituents in Australia and they are very interested in this matter. It could become a matter of embarrassment between the Irish and Australian Governments. It is a sensitive issue and it is important that we address it, particularly since we are so concerned about the issues of black people in South Africa. We should be sensitive to this issue as well.

I would like to ask the Acting Leader of the House what specific plans he has — and I am sure he must have specific plans in the light of the gravity of the situation — for a comprehensive debate on the health services. Given that Dáil Éireann has addressed this question, it would be an absolute absurdity if it is not addressed by the Upper House immediately.

I am slightly threatened by Senator Norris's tying up with Australian constituents. Maybe I should say something on the aboriginal head, but I am not going to. I want to repeat a question which I asked last week and to which I did not get a satisfactory answer. I would like an assurance from the Acting Leader of the House on this. Ministers who come in here should, first, be the relevant Minister for the Bill in question. We in the Seanad, should not have to accept a Minister or a junior Minister who is not appropriate to the Bill in question coming to the House.

Secondly, because of what happened yesterday, Ministers before they come here should be fully briefed on what is happening here. I was not in the House yesterday when this happened, but apparently a Minister came here who did not even know what Stage of the Bill we were dealing with. He did not even know which Bill was involved. That is contempt of this House. I ask the Acting Leader of the House to ensure that the Minister knows what Bill is before the House, what it is about and that we get the right Minister. It is not too much to ask.

In relation to the Order of Business and the would-be-attempt by Senator Norris to raise the issue of the return of the aboriginal head, is it appropriate for a Senator to raise a matter in which he clearly has little knowledge of the actual circumstances concerned? I am sure that when an official request comes from the Australian Government to this Government and to the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland it will be dealt with in a very appropriate and correct manner.

In reply to Senator Manning's request that we should get a written programme of legislation, this is something that we can discuss at the Whips' meeting. Every Thursday, so far, in this session we have had a Whips' meeting and because I was speaking in the House I had to adjourn the Whips' meeting last Thursday. I came in for some criticism because that happened. That is unfair and I am not going to comment, but I can assure Senator Manning and all other Members in this House that our intention is to be helpful, co-operative and to submit in advance as far as it is practical our knowledge of pending legislation. The Seanad sat two days every week in this session. There has been no lack of co-operation and I have had not one complaint from any of the Members attending the Whips' meeting.

Some of us do not attend those meetings.

I cannot comment further on that remark.

You can, indeed.

Senator Jackman asked would there be time available. We only can suggest 15 minutes each on the motion on South Africa. That is to give everybody a fair chance. It is an all party motion and I believe 15 minutes is the usual time. Senators Upton and Joe Costello raised the question of the Derelict Sites Bill. Senator Costello complained and suggested there might be some background reason. There is no background reason. In fact, if it is agreed at the Whips' meeting, it will be the first item next week. I have a rough agenda for the meeting and that is the first item on it. There is no reluctance whatsoever to deal with it.

Senator Liam Cosgrave mentioned the question of the tragedies in Lebanon. We all join with him in his sentiments but I think it is not appropriate to comment any further on that matter. We will take the Derelict Sites Bill again. Senator Daniel Neville raised the question of the debate that will take place on Northern Ireland. Again, there is no difficulty that I know of in having a debate on Northern Ireland. I am prepared to discuss this at the Whips' meeting and if there is general agreement, we can bring this forward. It had been our intention to have a debate on Northern Ireland before Christmas. If there is a general wish for it among all the Members and all the different party representatives, then we can have a debate on Northern Ireland if it is considered that such a debate would make a useful contribution to the situation. From my practical experience, the people in the North of Ireland are tired listening to debates among people who are far removed from the problems on the ground.

Senator Joe O'Reilly requested a debate on the health services. We have had quite a lot of debate on the health services and I do not know what further debate we could have on them. I suggest he uses his party motion in Private Members' time to bring that matter forward.

Senator Shane Ross complained that we do not have the right Minister here very often. The procedure of the House has not changed dramatically. I have been here and have sat on the Opposition benches for years. Any working arrangements must have the full co-operation of all of the parties in the House. If we have a subject on the agenda for discussion and the Minister concerned is called away on some other duty — even with the best intentions and the best made plans — he has to ask a Minister or a Minister of State to stand in for him. That has been the procedure during the years. There is nothing new in it. Any Whip or any Government party leader tries his best to have the appropriate Minister but the Minister in the appropriate Department is not always available. Certainly I could not stand accused of not trying very hard to contribute to this House and to have the appropriate Minister in. It is my intention to continue to offer the utmost co-operation to all the parties in this House.

On a point of order, perhaps I have some sympathy with the Acting Leader of the House on this, but there are a number of items raised to which he did not address himself, including the point raised by Senator Ó Foighil and the request made by Senator Cosgrave. These were at least two points to which he did not address himself.

I take it the Acting Leader of the House has concluded? Is the Order of Business agreed?

I asked a simple question about Second Stage of the Building Control Bill today. If we do not know what the situation is regarding that Bill, how can we do our business today? With respect, I would say that we need to know whether he intends concluding Second Stage today, or what is the position?

I want to point out to Senators that I have no control over the replies given by the Leader of the House. When he indicates he has concluded, then I take it that is the position. Accordingly, I ask the question: is the the Order of Business agreed?

I am proposing an amendment to the Order of Business.

I cannot allow any further discussion. It is too late to propose an amendment because the debate is over on the Order of Business.

Chuir mé ceist shimplí agus tá mé ag lorg freagra simplí air. Cén mhaitheas domsa é a bheith ag teacht isteach anseo munar féidir liom freagra a fháil ar mo cheist shimplí?

Tá an Seanadóir as ordú.

D'fhiafraigh mé den Cheannaire an mbeadl dáta socraithe ar a mbeidh an córas ais riúcháin ar fáil. Tá mé ag teacht anseo lá i ndiaidh lae, seachtain i ndiaidh seachtaine agus níl duine ar bith ag tabhairt airde orm. Ní chuirfidh mé suas le níos mó muna bhfaighim freagra ón gCathaoirleach.

Tá an Seanadóir as ordú. Is the Order of Business agreed?



Question put: "That the Order of Business be Items No. 12, Motion 79, and Item No. 1."
The Seanad divided: Tá, 22; Níl, 19.

  • Bennett, Olga.
  • Bohan, Eddie.
  • Cassidy, Donie.
  • Conroy, Richard.
  • Fallon, Sean.
  • Farrell, Willie.
  • Finneran, Michael.
  • Fitzgerald, Tom.
  • Foley, Denis.
  • Honan, Tras.
  • Hussey, Thomas.
  • Keogh, Helen.
  • Kiely, Rory.
  • Lydon, Don.
  • McCarthy, Seán.
  • McGowan, Paddy.
  • Mooney, Paschal.
  • Mullooly, Brian.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • O'Keeffe, Batt.
  • Ryan, Eoin David.
  • Wright, G.V.


  • Cosgrave, Liam.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Harte, John.
  • Hourigan, Richard V.
  • Howard, Michael.
  • Jackman, Mary.
  • McMahon, Larry.
  • Manning, Maurice.
  • Naughten, Liam.
  • Neville, Daniel.
  • Norris, David.
  • Ó Foighil, Pól.
  • O'Reilly, Joe.
  • O'Toole, Joe.
  • Raftery, Tom.
  • Ross, Shane P.N.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Ryan, John.
  • Upton, Pat.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Wright and Farrell; Níl, Senators Howard and O'Toole.
Question declared carried.
Order of Business agreed to.