Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Seanad Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 7 May 1997

Vol. 151 No. 8

Order of Business.

Today's business is items 1, 2 and 3. We will take the Second Stage of item 1 from the end of the Order of Business until 7 p.m., the Minister to be called to conclude not later than 6.30 p.m. There will be 30 minutes per speaker and Members may share time. Item 2 will be taken from 7 p.m. until 11 p.m. The Whips may discuss whether Second Stage or all Stages of the Bill will be taken. Item 3, the Fisheries Amendment Bill, will be taken at 11 p.m.

I welcome sharing time on item 1 which will ensure that every Member who wants to contribute on the Finance Bill can do so. In relation to item 2, we on this side will facilitate matters in every way possible. Although we may have some differences with the Bill as passed by the Dáil, our party spokesperson initiated the first Bill on this matter.

Today's newspapers contain possibly leaked reports on a strategy relating to major changes in the Department of the Marine. The Leader might ask the Minister for the Marine to comment on those decisions as this is a young Department.

Finally, although this may be a difficult question for the Leader to answer, can he tell us what legislation he intends to deal with next week?

The Order of Business is agreed, and we too will facilitate the passing of the NonFatal Offences Against the Person Bill, 1997. Despite the conflicting statements——

I ask Members to observe the normal decorum.

——coming from the Great Lakes area of Africa, Irish people have been very generous in their response to the humanitarian problems there. Will the Leader ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs to make a statement on this matter to the House? We hear that Government aid should not be given to this group yet conflicting information is coming from the various humanitarian groups working there. Irish people are very concerned about the humanitarian issues in this area.

The Order of Business is agreed. It is important that item 3 — the Fisheries (Amendment) Bill, 1996 — be passed as soon as possible. It has been amended significantly to afford extra protection to our inland waterways and to ensure that fish farming is conducted in an environmentally friendly manner. Those amendments have been beneficial and the Bill should advance rapidly.

On the environment as a whole, last week we had an ESRI report on the economy and the Government side were quick to point to the favourable points made in that report about the future of the economy. I share their welcome for that favourable report. However, will they have the same approach to this week's report on the environment from the ESRI? It points out that there are no free lunches anymore.

With respect, last week several speeches were made on the more favourable report and they were not interrupted. This is not a speech but an important point. In addition to the report, the EU Commissioner responsible for the environment commented yesterday that we stand to lose EU money unless we implement the environmental policies for which that money is allocated. What is in the report published this week that is so undesirable compared to last week's report? In the past, Fine Gael had a very responsible attitude to this matter; it supported the idea of no free water during the previous general election and the Dublin West by-election. Why and when was that policy changed? Time should be made available for a debate on this report as it contains very serious implications for the country.

I am sure Members will be pleased to join me in congratulating one of my constituents, Ken Doherty, on winning the World Snooker Championships last Sunday. The manner in which he won has shown him to be a wonderful ambassador for the country and especially for our young people.

Will the Leader ask the Ministers for Justice, Health and Social Welfare to get together to form a task force to consider the problem of crimes committed by people who have been in care and who have been abused? As a result of the abuse they received as children or young adults, these people have become abusers and have appeared before the courts as the perpetrators of major crimes. Somebody who has been in care as a result of abuse, family problems, etc., should not be thrown out and expected to look after themselves.

Murders have been committed by people who have been the victims of abuse and have not been helped by society. These people should not be thrown on the scrap heap, as many have been. This social problem is growing at a considerable rate and unless it is tackled by a task force, we will see an escalation in abuse by people who themselves have been abused and were not cared for in the community. These people are becoming drop outs and are clogging the courts not because they want to be in trouble, but because they have been ignored by society and thrown on the scrap heap.

I agree with the sentiments expressed by Senator Henry that we should do whatever we can for the people in the Great Lakes region. There is no doubt conflicting statements are emerging from the region but the humanitarian issue must be addressed. No side, whether in Rwanda or Zaire, should be absolved of blame. I do not know how the international community can resolve these problems because it has tried and has failed. The European Union and other agencies must try to eliminate the chaos in the Great Lakes region, which is not only confined to Rwanda and Zaire.

I raise the issue of the election results in Northern Ireland. Will the Leader ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs to come to the House to give his views on what will happen in the North in the light of the high representation for Sinn Féin? As somebody who worked for the Labour cause in Northern Ireland, I have been told by Tony Blair that the SDLP is our sister party. This is the first time I have known a resurgence of Labour in Britain which did not associate itself with the Northern Ireland Labour Party or the equivalent in this country. The Labour Party always does well in Ireland and it is doing well in Northern Ireland.

Members will notice the red rose I am wearing. Although I will not become a member of the Labour Party in Britain, I attach myself to it. Will the Leader relay to the Minister for Foreign Affairs that the high vote for Sinn Féin has alarmed the Unionist community? It does not alarm me because we have been through this before when Sinn Féin received the high vote because of the poor organisation of the SDLP. Will the Leader ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs to come here so that all sides of this House can voice their views on what is happening in the North? It is an important matter which should occupy our minds.

Will the Leader convey to the Minister for Justice, and possibly the Minister for Social Welfare, the public disquiet about people, whom I understand to be North Africans, coming to the country, collecting social welfare benefits and then returning to the UK? It is especially annoying and outrageous that they are also given temporary accommodation when our citizens live rough on the streets of Dublin because they cannot be housed. The Department responsible, Social Welfare or Justice, should take drastic action to weed out these people. I am not opposed to needy people receiving social welfare benefits. However, people travelling over on the ferry, collecting benefits and returning that night is too much, as is their being given accommodation which they are subletting. I ask the Minister responsible to take the necessary action, and the more drastic the better.

Will the Leader set time aside to debate both reports to which Senator Dardis referred — the ESRI report on the booming and well managed economy and the second report? He makes a play on the word "free". There is no such thing as a free lunch; there are no free pensions, yet there are; there is no free transport, yet there is; there is no free fuel, yet people receive it. The State sometimes takes upon itself, as it should, the necessity, right and duty to provide things for people which they could not otherwise provide. The State has made a decision on water charges. Senator Dardis's problem is not with Government policy but with Deputies Bertie Ahern's and Dempsey's comments that this debate is over and not to be revisited. The Senator's problem is not with us but with his partners.

There is a danger the House will deteriorate into a party political broadcast.

Is the Senator apolitical?

I am highly political but I am not party political which is an important distinction. Public representatives are often critical of decisions taken by the Garda. We have acknowledged the difficulty of their task at various times. Last Saturday night, during the Eurovision Song Contest in Dublin, senior gardaí took what I believe was the most difficult of decisions. Will the Leader convey to the Minister for Justice our appreciation of people who take decisions which put their careers and futures on the line and at risk? If anything had gone wrong, they would have been the subject of negative comment this week. We should recognise that someone among senior gardaí took a hard but correct and laudatory decision and is a credit to their profession. We have had difficulties with decisions taken before but this is one where we do not and the Garda is to be congratulated for it.

Will the Leader raise with the appropriate Minister the extraordinary state of affairs published in a Sunday newspaper which pointed out that the current crop of Ministers are spending more taxpayers' money on photographs than Lorenzo Di Medici spent on all the art works he commissioned throughout his long life? It seems extraordinary that mugshots of Ministers now cost the taxpayer far in excess of £100,000. The press report in question only dealt with the cost for senior Ministers. A civil servant suggested to me that there was an oversight in the question in that it would have been nice to know the photographic expenses of some of our more flamboyant Ministers of State, such as Deputy Rabbitte.

The Senator is obsessed with prints.

Could we have a discussion on the way the tribunal has effectively been sidelined? There is serious public concern about the allegations of differences in evidence given on oath by the Taoiseach——

The Houses of the Oireachtas have no input into the running of the tribunal.

That may be true, but there is serious public concern about evidence given on oath by the Taoiseach to two different tribunals.

It is not a matter for this House. I ask the Senator not to stray into an area which has already caused difficulties in the House.

Was it not set up by this House?

I appreciate the reluctance about this——

The conduct of the tribunal has nothing to do with this House.

When will the Kinsealy man come to the tribunal?

Had the conflicts of sworn evidence been given by a Member of this side of the House, we would have heard much more about it. With regard to tribunals, it would be worthwhile establishing a tribunal to look beyond the largesse of one named individual to politicians. I would like to find out about printing presses in offices and illegal and extra-legal activities in a neighbouring jurisdiction to fund political parties.

The polls must not be good.

The matters raised by the Senator are not relevant to the Order of Business.

They should be. They are of grave public concern. It is a matter of grave concern when the Taoiseach gives sworn evidence to two different tribunals and newspapers can point out that there are serious——

In fairness, the other Taoiseach will not show up.

I do not support that either. However, there are serious allegations that the Taoiseach has given conflicting evidence under oath to two different tribunals. That is a matter of public concern. The other side of the House might try to sweep it under the carpet but the journalists who wrote the stories in last week's Sunday Independent did us a great service.

Will the Leader of the House ask the Minister for Education to make a statement on a number of pressing issues relating to second level education? I have raised these issues on the Adjournment on several occasions and I was given the usual positive soundings. There is a serious need for a second level school in north-east Wicklow and the roof of the community college in Arklow is ready to fall off. In addition, Coláiste Bríd in Carnew——

Those matters are more appropriate for the Adjournment and they will be considered favourably if the Senator submits them.

The staff of the House can confirm that I tried to raise a number of them on the Adjournment today. However, I will raise one of them tomorrow. Perhaps my requests were excessive.

Can the House examine the operation of the Child Care Act? As all sides of the House will confirm, there is serious concern about in camera proceedings and what is happening to cases that are continually referred back to the courts when children are in the care of the health boards. There are 1,400 children currently in the care of the Eastern Health Board and, to say the least, a leisurely attitude is adopted to the processing of a number of cases. This is causing great concern. Clearly, if children are in danger nobody would wish to intervene in the matter. However, if the danger comes from statutory operations——

This is a speech.

It is not a speech; it is a serious matter.

It is a party political broadcast.

I am surprised at the Leader of the House.

It might be another suitable matter for an Adjournment debate.

There is reason to be concerned — the concern crosses party lines — about certain aspects of the operation of the Child Care Act. Perhaps the Minister responsible for these matters would examine this area.

On a point of clarification, when I signal to the Cathaoirleach that I wish to raise a matter on the Order of Business, I do not seek to be called at the end of the list. Today I signalled that I wished to raise a matter on the Order of Business before my colleagues signalled; I did so by arrangement with them. When I make such a signal I do not seek to be called at the end of the list. That must be understood because there appears to be misunderstanding in that regard on the part of the Cathaoirleach.

That is unfair.

The order in which people are called is a matter for the Chair. The list is far from complete so Senator O'Kennedy is not at the end.

Clearly it is a matter for the Chair even if I signal long before any of my colleagues.

Respect the Chair.

That is unfair.

It is not unfair, it is a fact.

We all do that.

It has happened consistently.

Respect the Chair; do not bring the House into disrepute. The Opposition are in disrepute themselves.

I have been reasonable so far.

I signalled that I wished to raise a matter on the Order of Business before any other Opposition Member.

The Senator should be dealt with first tomorrow to please him.

The Cathaoirleach still saw fit, in the exercise of his discretion to leave my matter to be discussed until after those of other Members. That is a strange exercise of discretion.

I cannot call every Member first.

I appreciate that but you cannot always ensure someone is called last either. I would expect something better from someone who has a distinguished family record in public life.

Will the Senator make a contribution on the Order of Business?

On a point of order, I do not have any party political allegiance. However, Senator O'Kennedy's comment referring to the Cathaoirleach's family is unacceptable. He is bringing shame on this House.

A Chathaoirligh, you clarified that it is your discretion to call Members, despite the order in which they signal by arrangement with our Party Leader.

Standing Orders provide for that. There are a number of your colleagues waiting to contribute.

I want to raise two matters.

The Senator should apologise and withdraw his remarks.

The Shannon River Council Bill passed Second Stage by agreement of all parties in the House and is important for that reason. Can the Leader indicate whether Committee and Final Stages of this Bill will be taken next week? At the end of Second Stage, Senator Belton, who was the only Member representing the Opposition, said, I thought in jest, that the next Stage would be taken on 6 June. I note from the Order Paper that Committee Stage is ordered for 6 June. That cannot be a serious proposal. Can the Leader take Committee and Final Stages——

The House agreed Committee Stage would be taken on 6 June.

I thought Senator Belton said that in jest.

I am sure the Leader will indicate when it is to be taken.

It is on the Order Paper. The Senator should accept that.

When a tribunal is established by resolution of the Houses of the Oireachtas by definition every Member is obliged to treat it with the respect to which it is entitled. The evidence given to that tribunal should be treated as the equivalent of evidence given to a court of law. It should be ensured that evidence given is in accordance with the highest standards of bona fide conduct in a court of law. It is essential that the Taoiseach comes to the House, rather than communicating his views through newspapers and treating both Houses with contempt. Will he come before the Houses which gave him authority?

The terms of reference were agreed by this House, but the tribunal is totally independent of it.

A Chathaoirligh, you misunderstand me. I am not inquiring into the conduct of the tribunal but into the conduct of the Taoiseach who is treating the tribunal and these Houses with contempt.

What about the former Taoiseach?

He is engaging in public correspondence with the media and commentators to try to explain contradictions——

Does the Senator have a question for the Leader?

For the third week in succession, which perhaps explains the reluctance to call me on the Order of Business, I ask the Leader——

That is outrageous. On a point of order, Senator O'Kennedy has made a direct attack on the integrity and honour of the Cathaoirleach. He said the Cathaoirleach has refused to call him on the Order of Business. I ask him to withdraw his remarks immediately. The comment is not worthy of the Senator and it is a lie.

My comments have touched a very sensitive nerve.

Whenever the Senator has asked to participate in the Order of Business he has always been called on.

I am not inquiring into the conduct of the tribunal. I am inquiring as to the answerability of the Taoiseach.

The Senator has alleged that the Cathaoirleach would ignore him on the basis that the Senator's contribution might embarrass me. That is an outrageous attack on the integrity of the Cathaoirleach.

The Cathaoirleach has said that——

Will the Senator revert to his usual good manners and withdraw the allegation against the Cathaoirleach?

The Cathaoirleach has already explained that it is entirely at his discretion when he calls Senators, irrespective of when they have signalled to him. I accept that.

The remark should be withdrawn; reference to the Cathaoirleach's family is not relevant——

The Senator has impugned the Cathaoirleach's integrity.

I accept that the Cathaoirleach has discretion in these matters but I question the manner in which he exercises that discretion.

The Senator should respect the Chair.

The remark should be withdrawn.

I cannot withdraw something when the Cathaoirleach has acknowledged that he is entitled to exercise discretion.

On a point of order, the Senator did not imply anything. He said that the Cathaoirleach did not call on him as he was going to raise something which might cause me embarrassment. That is a direct, full frontal attack on the integrity and the impartiality of the Cathaoirleach.

I obviously cannot know the exact basis on which the Cathaoirleach decides to call people.

I would like to think I am always impartial and ensure that everybody gets a fair hearing. I would like to move on now.

Senator O'Kennedy made it absolutely clear that the Cathaoirleach had an ulterior motive in not allowing him to speak first.

The Senator alleged that there was collusion in this matter and that is a lie.

The Senator should withdraw his remarks. This situation has never arisen before.

I accept that it may not have been on the Leader's mind that I was going to raise an issue which I had raised on many previous occasions. If my remark caused personal offence to the Leader I withdraw it.

The Senator's remark caused offence to the House.

I would ask the Senator to move on. Perhaps Senator Wright might agree to allow the Senator to speak first some day.

This matter is of fundamental importance since this House and this Oireachtas set up this tribunal and gave it its mandate. We, above all people, are obliged to make full and consistent statements to this and other tribunals. When that does not happen I am——

There is one judge presiding over the tribunal. The Senator is not its judge. We should await the verdict of the judge.

The tribunal is independent of this House.

The Taoiseach, rather than engaging in public correspondence, should come into the House and clarify the position.

Why does the Senator not ask his former Leader to attend the tribunal?

I am sure the Leader understands the point Senator O'Kennedy is making.

Will the Leader arrange for the Taoiseach to come into this House which gave him the power to set up the tribunal? He should not engage in correspondence and try to justify the unjustifiable.

If the Senator had answered the questions put to him in the Dáil, there would have been no need for the beef tribunal——

——at a cost of £42 million.

I would like to be associated with Senator O'Toole's vote of congratulations to the Garda Síochána and to everyone associated with the Eurovision Song Contest. We are all very proud of Ken Doherty's magnificent achievement.

During the debate on the Organisation of Working Time Bill, Senator Mooney and Senator Fitzgerald tabled an amendment to the Bill. The media and public reaction to Senator Mooney's contribution suggests that there is enormous opposition to Sunday trading. It is against our culture and many things that are Irish. There is no need for it and there is nobody looking for it except the multinational supermarkets.

Has the Senator a question for the Leader? We had a full debate on this matter last week.

In the light of the issues I have raised, can a debate be arranged on Sunday trading?

Will the Leader arrange for a debate or statements on the cost of insurance for young people? Recently I came across a case where a young man starting to drive had to pay £1,400 for insurance. He was persuaded to buy a 20 year old, high horsepower motorcycle which he insured for £450. This is sheer insanity. The unfortunate person was forced to buy a motorcycle instead of a car. I do not see the sense in this and I ask that time be made available for statements or a debate on this issue and that we contact insurance companies.

I also wish to raise the situation of small Protestant schools in the southern Border counties and I ask the Leader to bring the Minister for Education to the House to discuss this matter. The people involved sent a deputation to meet the Taoiseach, my party leader and members of every other party. They are looking for a clear statement and commitment — which they got from my party leader — that the Government will recognise the special case of small Protestant schools in the southern Border counties that are now down to one or two teachers. The lack of funding for the schools must also be taken into account.

I am sure the Leader wants to be helpful but it does not look very good if spokespersons from the North of Ireland look to the South and point out what is happening to Protestants here. I do not want this situation to prevail and I am certain the Leader does not want it either. We do not want this perception to go out from this Administration. There is a special place for all Protestants in this island and I want it to be recognised that there is no campaign to diminish the number of small Protestant schools.

I ask the assistance of the Leader to bring the Minister for Education to the House to make a clear statement of her intentions on the position of small Protestant schools in relation to school transport, finance and support.

The Senator has made his point.

I hope I have. I am counting on the support of the Leader for this delicate and important matter.

I wish to bring to the attention of the Leader a problem throughout Ireland particularly evident in summer months, namely, the manner in which bars, hotels and restaurants are inclined to take on young people, work them to the bone, call it work experience and pay them very little. This practice is going from strength to strength, particularly in many resort areas. It is a problem that needs to be addressed.

I join with Senator McAughtry in his call for a debate on recent events in Britain and Northern Ireland. It is astonishing that there has not been much comment in this House on the election result of cataclysmic proportions and the very significant result in the Nationalist community in Northern Ireland. There are significant issues for consideration and I ask the Leader to have a debate on what has happened in the last week in Britain and Northern Ireland and what may happen at Drumcree in July.

I raise the matter because we are now embarking on a very serious period that will affect this part of the country as much as the North if things get out of hand. My information is that the Orange Order is looking for a window of opportunity and I am sure Senator McAughtry would agree with that. It comes as some surprise to learn, from my own contacts, that Mr. Trimble is not exactly flavour of the month, particularly among the Armagh brethren.

Will the Leader convey to the Minister for Foreign Affairs that there is a real need to have the newly elected Sinn Féin MPs involved in trying to avoid another episode on the Garvahy Road? There is a need for them to get involved and there is a window of opportunity through which to do so. Without going into specific details, we are now literally on the brink. Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness could specifically progress the marching issue and help to avoid confrontation. They would be much more effective on the Nationalist side than Mr. Trimble would be on the Unionist side.

It would be appreciated by all sides of the House if the Leader could find the time for some short statements on Northern Ireland.

I thank the Leader of the Opposition for his support for item 2 and other Senators for agreeing today's Order of Business. I have noted the report on restructuring the Department of the Marine. I am sure that, in view of the excellent relationship between the Opposition spokesman on Fisheries and the Minister, we could make time available informally tonight. I will speak to the Minister about that. I am sure that if that cannot be done something suitable could be done.

I do not have the list of next week's business with me but later today I will give Senators a schedule of the business it is proposed to take next week. Among the items to be taken are the Youth Work Bill, the Local Government Finance Bill, and water charges. I will give all Opposition groups the exact details later today. A substantial amount of work remains to be done next week and there could be a four day sitting. On the other hand there might not; I do not know.

I take the point made by Senator Henry about the Great Lakes area. The Minister of State, Deputy Burton, has a special interest in that issue and I will ask her if time can be made available, perhaps tomorrow, for a short series of statements. It could perhaps be done during the lunchtime break, with a half an hour being devoted to it. People would like to have an update on what is happening in the region.

Senator Dardis mentioned the two ESRI reports and I would be delighted to have them debated together. There is a great tendency, of which the Senator would never be guilty, to cherry pick bits and pieces from the reports. From what I have seen of the second ESRI report, it contains many useful ideas that would be worth ventilating in the House. I have no difficulty having both ESRI reports debated together, although it might be a long debate.

I congratulate Senator Doyle that the new world snooker champion comes from the village of Ranelagh in his constituency. Senator Lanigan's point is well made and I will refer it to the Ministers concerned.

Senator McAughtry and Senator Mooney raised the future of Northern policy. I would certainly like to see a debate. Some very worrying developments are coming up and it would be useful if we could discuss them. We all hope that the meeting between the Taoiseach and the new British Prime Minister, as well as the Tánaiste and the new Northern Secretary, which are taking place tomorrow, will be successful. We all wish them well going into the talks.

Senator Bohan raised an interesting question but I am not aware of the facts. If he can give them to me I will refer them to the Minister straightaway. I thank the Senator for raising the matter.

Senator O'Toole and Senator Cassidy raised the exemplary policing by the Garda of the major event last weekend. By and large, the Garda Síochána is superb when it comes to crowd control and traffic management at major events. It was a tough call last Saturday night and the Assistant Commissioner who made the decision must be complimented for his preparatory work which meant everything worked out well.

Senator Roche — I thought this was a new Senator Roche but I was wrong — raised a number of issues. As regards photographs, if the Senator wants to play tacky politics he is welcome to do so. However, my information is that the amount of money spent by Fianna Fáil Ministers in the previous two years was greater. We can publish the figures if he so wishes.

There were more of them.

I deprecate such tacky politics which is not good for any politician.

What about the cost of special advisers?

The Senator raised a number of other issues. This tribunal is independent; we do not interfere in it.

We did not say we should.

The tribunal will issue its full report. Anyone from our side of the House who is called to the tribunal will give evidence. I can give the Senator a guarantee.

On a point of order, no one suggested we would interfere with the tribunal.

I ask the Senator to resume his seat. That is not a point of order.

The Senator was suggesting that this House, on foot of his perception of something happening at the tribunal, should summon someone who had given evidence to the tribunal, to come before this House. That is interference. In spite of the Senator's best efforts today, I can guarantee him one thing: the probity and integrity of the Taoiseach stands four square and will when this tribunal is over and that is seen by the people of Ireland to be the case. The Senator can do his best, but it will not work.

Can the Leader guarantee his attendance here instead of writing to the newspapers?

Senator Roche raised a number of other issues. I did not intend saying this but a few weeks ago the Senator greatly embarrassed this House and his colleagues by making allegations against a judge and the conduct of a court case which necessitated that case being abandoned at great expense to the taxpayer.

On a point of order, the Leader of the House is not even aware of the details of the case.

We are not discussing that matter now.

That is totally unwarranted. The judge dismissed himself from the case and I asked the Committee on Procedure and Privileges to examine the issue.

I ask the Senator to resume his seat.

The Senator should respect the Chair.

I also asked it to examine comments made about public representatives. The Leader's comments are totally unworthy of him.

I ask the Senator to resume his seat.

I did not mean to say no. The Leader is engaging in a disingenuous misrepresentation of the facts. My respect for Senator Manning is such that all I can suggest is that he is ignorant of the facts, otherwise he would not behave in this manner.

I have seen the files.

That could not be true.

Senator Manning, without interruption.

I have seen the correspondence.

If the Leader has seen the files of this court case, then I, as chairman of the community care branch of the Eastern Health Board, want to know why since Senator Doyle and I have been denied access to that information.

The Leader said he saw the files of the court case.

I have corrected that statement.

He said he saw the correspondence.

He said he saw the files.

Unlike others, I am prepared to retract that statement. I have seen the correspondence, as have all Members.

The Leader knows what he said to this House is untrue.

Senator Manning, without interruption. I ask Senator Roche to resume his seat.

It is way below the Leader's normal standard.

How can the Leader get access to correspondence in a law case which is part of the proceedings?

Senator Manning, without interruption.

It is silly to suggest it is not interfering with the tribunal to ask someone to go before it.

On a point of order, the life and well being of a child is not a silly matter.

I was not referring to what Senator Roche said but to what senior counsel said — that to get somebody before the tribunal would be interference.

I did not say that.

That is the thrust of what the Senator said.

I will raise this matter tomorrow on the Order of Business.

I did not say somebody should be called to a tribunal; I said he should be called here.

Senator O'Kennedy, please resume your seat.

I will put the record straight about Senator Roche. On foot of allegations made by Senator Roche in this House, a court case had to be abandoned. A judge disqualified himself because of——

That is not true.

This matter was discussed at the Committee on Procedure and Privileges. We are not discussing it here.

I was not present at the Committee on Procedure and Privileges. What Senator Manning is saying is totally untrue because the case is ongoing. The judge dismissed himself from the case.

Because of allegations made by Senator Roche.

No. Again, Senator Manning is wrong. His accusations are false. I will present him with the facts——

Senator Roche, please resume your seat. Senator Manning, please move on.

——and ask him to put the record of this House straight. I am sorry to be disorderly on this matter. It is an important and significant case and it goes to the heart of the way we operate——

We are not discussing that case now.

I am surprised at the Leader.

I have seen the correspondence.

Senator Manning, without further interruption.

Senator O'Kennedy raised the question of the Shannon River Council Bill, 1997, which is ordered for 6 June. This House will be in session at that time. It may be possible to take remaining Stages next week but I am not making any promise on that.

The point which Senator Cassidy raised about Sunday trading has been well made on a number of occasions.

Senator McGowan raised the cost of insurance. I have no plans at present to debate that matter. I will convey his points about the plight of small Protestant schools to the authorities but I am sure everybody would have that consideration at heart.

Senator Kelly raised the question of resorts and bars and I take that point.

With regard to Senator Mooney's point, it is not normal to have a discussion on election results in another area but there are implications for Northern Ireland and what is happening at present. If there is time, we will debate the matter.

Order of Business agreed to.