Today's Order of Business is Item 1, the Committee Stage of the Road Traffic Bill until 6 p.m. and from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Item 33 will be taken from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The Adjournment Matters will be taken at the conclusion of business.
Order of Business.
We accept the Order of Business. In view of the developments over the weekend and statements by the Ulster Unionist Party, I ask for an early resumption of Item 9, Statements on Northern Ireland.
I also ask for time tomorrow or early next week for a discussion on the National Development Plan and its redrafting in view of the crisis which has arisen. One paper this morning described the Government as occupying its own version of cloud cuckooland in relation to the allocation of Structural Funds. I ask the Leader to provide time for an early debate to clarify the situation and allow the House to express its views on the redrafted national plan.
Last week I raised the need for a debate on a number of issues, including the Programme for Competitiveness and Work and a commitment was given that this would take place, probably late this week or next week. I wish to have this confirmed.
There is a need for a discussion on Bosnia. It is interesting that the major players around the world are now welcoming the proposals for a federated state in Bosnia. Of all countries, we should recognise that the partitioning of a country on a sectarian basis can never be welcomed and reflects nothing but defeat on the best efforts of the world. I ask for an early discussion of this issue and for a recognition that we sought intervention by the UN, not by NATO. Bosnia has been ignored by the West and the situation there is getting worse. We should have learned from our history that partition on a sectarian basis does not work and creates a problem worse than the existing one.
I ask the Leader to provide time at the earliest opportunity to debate the National Development Plan. My state of confusion on this matter is such that I am in urgent need of clarification — if that is the word one may use in this context. It would be useful if the Taoiseach came to the House and told us exactly how much is in the bag, having previously told us there was £8 billion there.
The bag is lighter.
It would be useful if we could establish how much is involved; it would be a useful beginning in terms of submitting the plan. I also support Senator O'Toole's call for a debate on Item 7 which refers to the Programme for Competitiveness and Work. I was under the impression we were to debate it this week.
I also support the call for a debate on Northern Ireland given the change in circumstances and, given the fact that over the weekend it seemed that people who have only 2 per cent of the national vote could command so great a percentage of our national airwaves.
I ask the Leader for an early debate on the upsurge of violence over the weekend in the Middle East. This has put back the peace process. The Leader should make overtures to the American Ambassador in Ireland urging the Americans to put pressure on their citizens in Israel. Everybody involved in the attacks on the Palestinians in Hebron carries American and Israeli passports. It is necessary to have an early debate on that matter. Every pressure should be put on the United States to try to resolve the problems in that area.
Senator Neville referred to cloud cuckooland and the redeployment of money in the national plan.
Does the Senator have a question?
I presume there has been a certain redeployment of figures in cloud cuckooland on the other side of the House also.
I am astonished and distressed by Senator Dardis's accusations of "baggery" against members of the Government which I am sure are misplaced. With regard to the situation in the Middle East, I agree with Senator Lanigan and would support a debate on that subject. I fully agree with him about the identity of the attackers. As soon as I heard of this outrage in Hebron I felt it was a member of Meir Kahane's grouping.
The Leader kindly gave an undertaking that we would have a discussion of the situation in East Timor. Could he give us a date? I understand there may be some news on that issue for the House, particularly in light of the criminal involvement of the Australian Government in this genocide.
Would the Leader inform the House whether the Government intends to be represented at the St. Patrick's Day parade in New York, which has been declared by a court in the United States to be a sectarian event controlled entirely by the Roman Catholic archdiocese of New York——
This is not appropriate to the Order of Business.
——which continues to discriminate? If this is the case, could we have a full debate——
The Senator is out of order. There is not a word about that matter on the Order Paper, as he knows.
I will make sure it is there for tomorrow or next week.
I join with other Members in again requesting the Leader to arrange an early debate on the problems in the North. We have passed a few markers, such as the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis and the unionists have issued a document. This House should have an opportunity to respond because Members are aware that the situation on the ground has not been improving. While negotiations are going on and the Downing Street declaration is being considered, lives are being lost. The movement of the population in the North is very restricted. Business is not coming to the North; even my county is being seriously affected by the trouble in the North.
The Senator is making a speech.
I ask the Leader to put this item as high as possible on his agenda because there is no other issue on this island which merits discussion more. I am prepared to support the Taoiseach in saying that we will wait if we believe there is a hope of peace at the end of the road. However, every sign indicates——
The Senator has had a great deal of leeway and has put his question which I am sure the Leader will take on board.
I believe a debate on this topic would be helpful.
I assure the Chair that I will not make a speech but I strongly support Senator Neville's appeal for another day of statements on Northern Ireland in the near future. The position is deteriorating by the day, and not just in Northern Ireland. The weekend's news from Tallaght in itself demands a debate in this House. I urge the Leader to put it on the agenda.
There is already evidence in my area of plans for the development of roads or sanitary services being shelved. In view of that, it is urgent that there should be a debate on the revised National Development Plan.
The Union of Students in Ireland are currently protesting outside the gates of this House about the appointment of a receiver to pay the SPUC legal fees, which come to £29,000. This matter cannot be ignored. The union brought this issue to the attention of the public. Any test case that does that deserves credit. We had a referendum as a result of it.
Whatever the view of the public or the Members of the House, the Union of Students in Ireland provide good services for those coming from the country by helping them get their grants, to find accommodation, etc. I am concerned for the future of the union if it is forced to pay that money. Therefore, I ask for a debate on the benefit of test cases and how they are to be funded in the future.
I am sure my colleagues will join with me in wishing Senator Neville well in his new position as Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
Would the Leader agree to a debate on the Structural Funds so that we can lift the Celtic mists of depression, as expressed by Senator Dardis and Senator Sherlock? Any help this Government can get to spend over £7 billion will be more than welcome.
I hope some positive thoughts will emerge from the other side of the House at some stage during that debate.
I am glad to have the opportunity to speak after Senator Magner, because I——
Welcome to the House, Senator Reynolds.
I would prefer if you would put your question to the Leader of the House, Senator.
I urgently ask the Leader to arrange for a debate on the Structural Funds. If the Taoiseach cannot attend, I hope the Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Deputy E. Fitzgerald will. This reminds me of the film "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids"; in this case it should be "honey, she shrunk the billions". There is an urgent need for a debate on the matter.
I have asked for a debate on the enlargement of the European Union on a few occasions. As the process is now almost complete, perhaps we could have this debate as soon as possible. I am surprised a Senator from the Progressive Democrats does not even know about it.
The protest by the Union of Students in Ireland was raised by Senator Gallagher. It would be better for those students if they studied and stopped wasting their parents' time and taxpayers' money.
Could the Leader give time to debate the Structural Funds débâcle? Senator Dardis said he does not know what is left in the bag. Maybe the Government is using large nets which are letting all the fish through and this may be where the money went. It may be of benefit if the Tánaiste brought a monofilament net with him. He might then at least be able to catch and hold all he has got. It was obvious that £1 billion was lost when Senator Magner was away.
First, I add my congratulations to Senator Neville on his appointment as Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
A debate on Northern Ireland will be held as soon as possible; it is currently under discussion. This side of the House would welcome an opportunity to debate the current state of the National Development Plan but I am sure the Opposition will have Private Members' time to arrange for such a debate.
The Whips will arrange a debate on the PCW and on Bosnia for next week. Many other issues were raised which could be taken up at other times and I will come back to them.
What about East Timor?
I will come back to it.