Order of Business.

Today's Order of Business is Item 1, the Criminal Justice (No. 3) Bill, Report and Final Stages, between now and 6 p.m., and Item 41 between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.

My party and I are very happy that there is a delegation of colleagues from the Parliament of Poland. They are very welcome. On the question of the stick, a Chathaoirligh, you are more used to leading with a carrot. That works well here.

The Leader of the House is very clever. He pre-empted a lot of the flak that would have fallen on his head today by producing that long overdue list. It also draws attention to the extremely bad way in which the Government is organising its business at present in this House.

Every year we have weeks in the middle of the session with very little happening, such as this week; we are not sitting tomorrow. Then we have a rush of Bills at the end of the session. While I appreciate the number of Bills which the Leader of the House has read out to us today, Senator O'Toole, myself and others have also been asking for some sort of timetable. We now know what Bills are to be taken, we will have time to prepare for them. For his next piece of homework the Leader might indicate dates when he intends to bring in these Bills. Perhaps he would give us a work schedule.

He will get a first class honour mark for that.

I have raised the question of a debate on Northern Ireland on many occasions in the past, and it was not on the list of topics to which the Leader of the House referred. There is an enormous sense of urgency and desperation about things at present and Members on all sides have asked that we have a debate here as soon as possible. I know the Leader is trying to organise that and I ask him to convey to the Tánaiste the very strong feeling from all sides of the House that such a debate is necessary.

It would also be very helpful if we could get clarification from the Minister for Justice on the current security situation. There is genuine concern about this, not least of which derives from some of the incidents yesterday. I do not intend to say any more about that but all Members of the House, certainly those on this side, would welcome a debate on the current security situation.

I also welcome the delegation from Poland. Many years ago when I was a member of the Irish Solidarnosc Society we drew the attention of some of the security forces in this State who kept an eye on our business. Poland has moved on a long way since then. The delegation is very welcome.

In the context of the European elections it would be wise to have a debate on developments in the European Union before the election to allow a focused debate take place that will also lead to a greater awareness of the need to keep an eye on things in Europe.

I wish to raise two issues of concern. Since the Finance Bill was passed here last week, the Minister for Enterprise and Employment raised a proposal about the Government guaranteeing venture capital being supplied by the banks. I am confused about that and I would like clarification from the Leader of the House. Up to about three years ago venture capital invested by ordinary punters through BES schemes which was guaranteed by the banks was ruled out of order by the Government as not coming under the terms of the scheme. At that stage the banks were guaranteeing it and I had no difficulty with the banks taking the risk. The banks are now refusing to take the risk and the Government is going to underwrite the investments. I would have thought the previous arrangement was better. Perhaps I do not understand it but it needs to be spelled out in some detail to us.

I recently raised with the Leader of the House the need to have a debate on the input of elected public representatives to the development of an education policy. It is important that such a debate takes place before that Minister brings forward proposals on the regional education council, for example, and Members say they never had an input. Such a debate would be useful and should take place in the near future.

I am sure Senators are aware that there is a problem with regard to the staffing of the sexual assault unit in the Rotunda Hospital. As one of those involved in setting up this unit I ask the Leader of the House to express our concern not just to the Minister for Health but also to the Minister for Justice. While the unit has been important for the treatment of women and young male children, it has also been particularly important in getting the good forensic evidence necessary for the Garda to get convictions. Many people will be extremely sorry to see any diminution in the good service given by the unit.

I ask the Leader of the House to add to the long list he has outlined the new Local Government (Planning) Regulations, 1994. It would be appropriate for this House to debate those regulations brought in recently by the Minister — they are welcome changes as far as I am concerned — because our electorate is, by and large, comprised of local authority members. Direct contact with the local authority system by Members of this House is an ongoing process. As the local authorities will be implementing the regulations nationally a should debate them. If we are to implement those regulations nationally a proper public debate should take place about them so that there is no confusion. Such a debate would be in the public interest.

I do not normally comment publicly when there is loss of life in Ireland. That is not to suggest that I do not care and that I do not feel diminished by every death. I want to refer to a killing in Dublin in recent days; there is no such thing as just another killing. Life is precious no matter whose life it may be and whatever family may be left to grieve.

We are at a T-junction where we either turn left and start a civil war, or we turn right and try to encourage Sinn Féin to say "yes" to peace and we support Jim Molyneaux as he encourages the loyalist paramilitaries to also say "yes". We are at a crisis. I support Senator Manning's call that this House should discuss Northern Ireland very soon.

I was disappointed to discover that the House will sit only one day this week. It seems the Government has no legislation for this House but that is no reason for us to shut up shop. Only a few weeks ago, I spoke about the value of this House in handling debates on topics that were not of immediate urgency. The three examples to which I referred were the peace-keeping versus the peacemaking role of the United Nations, the enlargement of the European Union and the possibility of debating what we wanted from our banks. The reason I asked for a debate on those issues at that stage was to ensure they would not be debated in the heat of a crisis.

If the Leader of the House is looking for a suggestion of other topics the currency situation could be debated at this stage. It is causing some concern but is not yet a crisis. We could decide what we want our currency to do and at what level we wish it to be. This House is not being used as it should. The Irish punt is causing some concern to our exporters, but we should decide what we want it to do by having a debate. Should it be perched at 3 per cent above the Deutsche Mark rate on the EMS grid? I am not sure, but that is the sort of work this House could debate. I urge the Leader to use these occasions when no work is forthcoming to find time to debate long term subjects away from the heat of the moment.

I strongly support the call by Senator O'Toole for a debate on the education process. It is obviously a historic time for Irish education and momentum for change is gaining strength every day. The publication of the White Paper is coming closer and there should be a discussion in this Chamber on the issue. Many issues still have to be clarified and much more talking still needs to be done. Senators should get the chance to discuss the education process and the changes that are likely to ensue. I hope such a debate will take place in the near future.

I support Senator Wilson's comment on the need for a continuing debate on Northern Ireland. I am glad he referred to this recent death. This House, and especially persons like myself who have condemned atrocities committed by the Provisional IRA in the North, should have the opportunity to strongly condemn the murder of this young man. I pay tribute to him for his courage and bravery in saving the lives of several hundred people, although it transpired he was a member of the IRA. If the rest of that organisation would follow his example and save lives instead of killing, this country would be a great deal better off. I could not help experiencing a sense of irony when I saw photographs of a demonstration outside that public house. People there were holding placards saying "Another Victim of Britain's Dirty War".

I was not here, a Chathaoirligh, for the first part of the Order of Business. I assume some of my colleagues referred to the regrettable situation in the sexual assault unit of the Rotunda Hospital. I hope that will be a matter of concern to this House. Perhaps the Leader could arrange for a debate at some stage on that subject?

Before calling on the Leader to reply, may I inform the House that former Senator John A. Murphy is in the Public Gallery. I welcome him back to what I hope were past scenes of delight.

I never interrupted him once, a Chathaoirligh.

First, I add my welcome to the Polish delegation. They have been in this country since last Monday and I hope they will enjoy the rest of their stay.

We will try to put a time frame on the forthcoming legislative programme. We have given a commitment to have a debate as soon as possible on several of the issues raised today, such as Northern Ireland, education and the enlargement of the EU. Senator Quinn added another issue which ties in with Senator O'Toole's issue of loan currency and small businesses. Hopefully, the Minister for Finance or another Minister will come to the House to discuss this most important issue.

It is not healthy to have the Order Paper full one week and a lack of Bills the next. This may be due to the new committee system, although I understood that under this system matters would be different. I have also noticed over the years that once the Finance Bill is introduced into the Dáil other matters appear to dry up; until this Bill has been enacted the remainder of the Government's legislative programme appears to come to a halt. Perhaps the powers that be should consider this.

Regarding the lack of staff at the Rotunda Hospital sexual assault unit, I assure Senator Henry and Senator Norris that I will pass on the concerns of the House on the matter. I assure Senator Finneran that the Whip is making every effort to have the new local planning regulations debated in the House as soon as possible.

Order of Business agreed to.