Before I announce the Order of Business, it might be appropriate to pay tribute to everybody involved in the making of the film which won two Oscars. I read My Left Foot many years ago and thought the person who wrote it had a perception of the English language that might be appreciated by certain Members of this House who did not have the opportunity of going to educational establishments that would normally produce people who could write like that. I am glad that the second person who wrote a book of international acclaim, after Christy Browne's book, was another who did not have the opportunity to go to establishments which purported to teach people how to write English, namely Christy Nolan.
Order of Business.
I did not intend to say anything but could I point out that Christy Nolan, a very distinguished writer, attended Trinity College, Dublin? I thank the Leader of the House for his unintended compliment.
I would like to compliment everybody involved in the making of the film "My Left Foot". Thank you for your compliments to Trinity College. The making of this film is very important. It is of great importance that they won. I would like to compliment everybody involved.
On the Order of Business, it is proposed that we take item No. 1 today, all Stages. I cannot say until what time we will sit. For the information of the House, we will sit on Tuesday next to discuss the Social Welfare Bill. On Wednesday we will discuss the Defence (Amendment) Bill, the House Breeding Bill and a Fianna Fáil motion. On Thursday we will take the Marine Institute Bill — queries have been raised about the Bill and we will take all Stages on Thursday next, and the Dún Laoghaire Harbour Bill as well.
A Cheann Comhairle——
That would be one way of getting over our trouble.
You are not happy here. I wonder what that signifies.
I bow to that, Senator. I rise to concur with the well deserved compliments of the Leader of the House to all those involved with the production of "My Left Foot". I wondered why he hesitated for so long before he put a name to the movie that has brought us all such honour and of which we are all so proud.
I will not develop that any further. I noticed the Cathaoirleach had the grace to smile wryly as you hesitated over the title of the Bill. I will say no more.
I thought about all of you.
We are all basking in the glory and honour this great crew have brought to our country and particularly to the film industry. We are, after all, a very small country in the overall context of film production. We all share with Noel Pearson, Jim Sheridan, and particularly the two Oscar winners, Brenda Fricker and Daniel Day Lewis in their great moment of success. Long may they bask in it.
Could I ask, through you, a Chathaoirligh, if the Leader of the House is in a position to tell us this morning what the Government's intentions may be on the re-establishment of the Film Board they abolished in the last couple of years? If anything could be a catalyst in such a direction, the great success of "My Left Foot" must be. We await with interest the Government's intentions to support and aid the film industry. The recreation of the Film Board is a concept that is supported broadly, not only in this country but far and wide. I would very much like to know, as would my colleagues, what the Government's intentions are in this direction.
I, too, want to join in congratulating Brenda Fricker and Daniel Day Lewis on getting the awards for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress. It has been a unique occasion for us. It has brought tremendous honour to the entire film and music industry in Ireland. I want to congratulate also Jim Sheridan on an incredible job and my personal friend Noel Pearson who has very many friends on this side of the House.
On all sides.
Is he Fianna Fáil?
We are looking at what happened in Australia many years ago. With one success naturally enough there will follow many other films in the same vein.
I have to throw in some sort of "doom or gloom" remark, despite the fact that we are in a celebratory situation; why did the Irish financial institutions not back this film? It must be said that those in Ireland who had courage and got behind the team must be complimented and congratulated. I would like to include the Rehabilitation Institute in this. They must be commended and congratulated for their contribution and the money made available for the film. I am delighted to be able to stand with the Leader of the House and with everyone here to propose this vote of congratulation.
I support the contragulations to the people involved with the film "My Left Foot". We are particularly proud in my part of the country, of Shane Connaughton who wrote the screen play. He is a native of Red Hills, County Cavan——
——and the author of “The Border Station”. We are very proud of that achievement. It is a great achievement for the country. Not only does it enhance the arts in the country and increase our pride but ultimately it must benefit our tourist industry. I support strongly the view of Senator Doyle that we should re-establish the Film Board as a matter of urgency. We should recognise our talents in this area and develop that sector.
Senator Honan's passing remark was perhaps the most eloquent speech on yesterday's business that I have ever heard, and I am glad she said it. I thought for a second that Senator Cassidy was going to claim that Christy Browne was a member of the Crumlin Cumann. All the congratulations are well earned. It was a magnificent achievement. We are all very proud of them. Talk about the Film Board should not divert us from the fact that Noel Pearson found it almost impossible to get anyone in the Irish financial sector or in the Irish investment sector who was prepared to put a penny into this venture. It is a matter of considerable regret that apparently no matter how many incentives are offered Irish entrepreneurs will not take a risk.
That is right.
That is the disgraceful thing about it. The fact that nobody in Ireland with money was prepared to invest in a creative, imaginative Irish film is a disgrace.
The proportion of funding that came from the Irish private sector was about £150,000. A sum of £1.2 million came from Granada Television, £150,000 from RTÉ, £100,000 from the Rehabilitation Institute and about £150,000 from Irish private funding. That is a disgrace and a terrible reflection on people who were prepared to put £6 million into a yacht to sail around the world.
It is a matter for considerable congratulations and I would like to be associated with those congratulations. I hope now that Hollywood has recognised it, that the Irish private sector will do something they are singularly incapable of doing and take a risk by investing some money in a film industry which could do so much for this country.
I, too, would very much like to join with other Senators in offering my congratulations to everybody involved in the success. Senator O'Reilly decided to introduce a touch of the old "local stuff" into it so it might not be any harm if I reminded the House that Noel Pearson comes from the Liberties. He lived in Crumlin. Christy Browne also had considerable involvement with this area. Not only that, and seeing that some people were talking in terms of this being a Fianna Fáil film, I imagine that the "Left" in the title, of course, refers to the Labour Party which is, of course, the Left in this country. Those people who were talking about being personal friends of Noel Pearson — and indeed, I have no doubt they are — should know that my good friend, Senator Jack Harte, is an old drinking buddy of his since long before the days that Mr. Pearson became an international celebrity. Senator Harte reassures me that he will continue to drink with him when they meet up again in the Francis Street and Thomas Street areas.
Francis Street and Thomas Street areas——
Senator, you shock me and frighten me. The other thing I find extremely encouraging is that the film moguls are now beginning to take Ireland seriously as a centre of the film industry. That is of great encouragement to me, primarily because I imagine they will be looking for great acting talent. No doubt they will come to have a look at our own House here. I am sure that sooner or later some of our Members must be serious contenders for Oscar awards. Indeed, a Chathaoirligh, I thought from some of the papers you had won one yourself the other day, but I suppose this is in jest.
I will try to be serious for a change and say that I hope we will now go on to exploit the great opportunity which arises from this win, and that we will make the necessary investment in what appears to be this crucial six month period after the awards have been won. Again, I offer my congratulations to everyone involved.
I would like to join in the tributes and congratulations to the people who made the film "My Left Foot" and also to say that it should not be forgotten that it is a story of indomitable courage. We should honour today also, as the actors who were honoured in Hollywood did, the spirit of Christy Browne which is once more being liberated by this great film of which we are all proud. Our pride is demonstrated by the fact that so many people are trying to claim some part of it.
I had not intended to do so, but I would like to make a particular point in response to the Leader of the House which I do not mean in a partisan sense, and I hope we are not going to get into university bashing. We should all be proud of all our universities. May I say — and it is a very important point — that the second of the two very important writers who was mentioned did attend university? He was in particular taught by colleagues of mine and wrote a very warm tribute to the experience he had as a student of theirs in university. In the tribute to the film we ought to remember that Christy Browne was disabled. There is a responsibility, if we are going to give emotional tributes, to ensure that we do all we can. I would respectfully draw the attention of this House to the fact that there is not even, as yet, full access available to this very Chamber for the disabled. If we are serious, rather than just being sentimental, it is required that we do something practical.
I wish to make one further point about the Film Board. I would be reproved, I am sure, for trying to reopen a discussion we had some time ago, but those students of the formal record of the discussions of this House will be able to do some research and to read the Adjournment matter which was taken by the late Senator Jackie Daly some years ago about the abolition of the Film Board, in which he awarded me a few minutes to make points on which I was briefed by the film industry. Anybody who is seriously interested might like to consider what the Seanad had to say on that occasion.
Finally, I would like to ask the Leader of the House — I know all of us have had a lot on our minds recently — if he could give me some indication within the next day or so with regard to the matters I asked him about: DDI and the Control of Clinical Trials Bills amendments.
I wish to ask the Leader of the House, with regard to Item No. 7 on the Order of Business, which is a Bill to amend the Intermediate Education Act for the purposes of removing a statutory obstacle to free access to secondary education for girls and of deleting a discriminatory subsection regarding the education of girls. That has now been on the Order Paper, under my name, for quite a while. I would ask the Leader of the House to give permission to have the Bill printed and introduced. I would like to hear the Leader's views on that.
I would like to join in the tributes in regard to our Oscar winners. I believe that for many reasons money invested in the film industry in this country can be extremely valuable. There are a great number of jobs available because there is an enormous amount of talent in this country which does not get recognition. As has been said here, in this instance the funding largely had to come from outside. There is another aspect which is also very beneficial for the country. Other films which were made here in Ireland —"Educating Rita", "Ryan's Daughter", "Taxi" and many others — have an enormous impact on the tourism business of this country. I said on a previous occasion here that there were certain derelict parts of the city which were most suitable for the set when they wanted to show Berlin bombed after the war. Let me also say that films like "Educating Rita" show the very best parts of this city, the beauty of this city and, indeed, of the country. That is an aspect which should be borne in mind when we are looking at money invested in the film industry. It has that dimension as well as many others.
I would like to join in the tributes to the successful film "My Left Foot". It is great to see the Seanad taking the time to congratulate such an achievement.
I would like to ask the Leader of the House when it is intended to take the Report Stage of the Larceny Bill, which was scheduled for yesterday, and also if he has a reply for me on Item No. 89, which he promised last week? He promised he would consult the Minister for Justice on the position regarding the Supreme Court's decision on the Shelly v. Justice Mahon decision. I would like to ask the Leader if he has a report back on that for me.
I hope this is the last time I will have to stand up asking the Leader of the House when he is going to establish the committee of the various groups in the Seanad to examine the extension of voting rights to the new universities and to other third level institutions as may be deemed suitable. That motion has been on the Order Paper since August. It has been changed when it needed secondary legislation at one particular stage. I would hope that he would have an answer for me next week because I do not think it is very efficient to be standing up week in week out, day in day out, asking for the establishment of a committee. Seeing that the House is back to a semblance of order and proper negotiation of our business, I would hope that this would happen next week. I hope it will be my last time asking.
I want to congratulate Telefís Éireann on the showing of the film last night on the Birmingham Six. It just served to show, I believe, what we believed from the very beginning, that these men were framed and were innocent.
I would also like to congratulate them on their showing of the marvellously moving film about two nights ago on the systematic torture and eventual murder of Guiseppe Conlon and other innocents in British jails.
May I refer all questions on future business to the Whips who will be meeting immediately afterwards? It is appropriate that any questions in future on the ordering of business or on future legislation that is coming through the House should be referred to the Whips who meet on a regular basis. I would prefer that they order what is going to happen in the House. Otherwise, we will have a situation here where I will be asked other questions I do not have answers for. If there are queries I have to refer to Government, I will do so. From now on I intend to refer all matters of future business to the Whips who will be meeting on a regular basis every Thursday morning. I think that is the appropriate way to deal with the matter from now on.
On the matter of Clinical Trials Bill, may I just say that I refer all these matters to the Whips.
On the question of the congratulatory remarks, there is a certain type of censure being passed on the fact that the Film Board was disestablished. I suppose the fact that "My Left Foot" won all these awards is a tribute to the people who made the film without having the benefit of the Film Board. Irish enterprise can overcome a lot of obstacles. The fact that this film was made without intervention by Government is a tribute to everybody involved. I could not care less where the money came from. It is a matter of no importance. The film was made in Ireland. It was an Irish enterprise. On this side of the House I do not think we can claim anything from that except that Irish enterprise produced a film of international importance.
On the question of having the amendment to the Intermediate Certificate Act printed, I do not understand that to be a function of the Whips.
That question was only asked of me this morning. I will address myself to Senator O'Toole's question.