Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Seanad Éireann díospóireacht -
Friday, 27 Feb 2009

Vol. 194 No. 4

Order of Business.

The Order of Business is No. 1, Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Bill 2009 — Committee and Remaining Stages, to be taken at the conclusion of the Order of Business and to conclude not later than 2 p.m.; and No. 2, earlier signature motion on Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Bill 2009, to be taken without debate at the conclusion of No. 1.

The poll in today's Irish Independent shows a total loss of confidence among the Irish people in the Taoiseach. I ask the Leader of the House to request the Taoiseach, Deputy Cowen, to address this House on why the framework document for dealing with this crisis is described by the European Commission as unclear and undeveloped. It is not the roadmap that we need for dealing with the financial and political crisis in which we find ourselves.

I also ask the Taoiseach to come in here to give us an update on the figures from the Department of Finance that were highlighted here last night by Senator Donohoe. Clearly, these are outdated and overly-optimistic, even though the report concerned was only published last month. That is contributing to the people's lack of confidence in the Taoiseach.

I would like the Taoiseach to explain the cutbacks announced intermittently since last October, which have been piecemeal and have disproportionately affected the poor and the vulnerable in society. I would like him to come into the House to make a clear and unambiguous statement on the Irish economy and what he will do about it. The current position has contributed to a collapse in confidence among the Irish people in the Taoiseach and the Government, as can be seen not only from today's opinion poll but from a succession of opinion polls. The position is stark when one reads the findings of today's opinion poll. I would like that to be done immediately on behalf of this House.

Without a doubt there is a crisis of confidence among the people in the Government. I have a simple question for the Leader. Given that the Members opposite have not listened to us for the past six months when we told them the people are very unhappy and do not have confidence in the Government, is there a possibility that today's opinion poll might be brought to the Government's attention, if Government members have not seen it already——

——with a view to taking appropriate action in response to it? They do not read the newspapers, as I heard one Minister say. We should propose the Minister, Deputy Batt O'Keeffe, for a star performance on "Morning Ireland" this morning. He clearly had not read the opinion poll, that is for sure.

That is serious and has gone beyond a joke, but on a more serious point, I would like to hear more about the movements on Anglo Irish Bank and I would like some evaluation of that situation. I would like to understand what is going on there. Is somebody outbidding the markets or is the decision based on information we do not already have? I would like to hear where we stand on that issue, what will happen next in Anglo Irish Bank and what the Government's position would be were there to be a clear bid for the bank.

People are interested in these kinds of issues and want to know where we go next. It is a positive sign that people want to put money into this country. The positive noises being made by Mr. Jean-Claude Trichet when he was here yesterday must be acknowledged. What does all this mean for the economy? Does it mean the Government does not now find itself in the same hole it thought it was in? Is it a good or a bad thing from the Government point of view? Has it discounted all the issues he mentioned, raised and discussed on where we stand?

Senator Norris mentioned the need for at least a weekly debate on the economy, to be taken immediately after the Order of Business. This is a classic example. We should be getting further information on this and discussing and understanding it so we can explain it to other people.

I have no difficulty supporting the call by Senator Norris for a regular debate on the economy. Perhaps it is something we could deal with at the Committee on Procedure and Privileges——

If it ever meets again.

——if we have a meeting of that body soon. I will vary Senator Norris's suggestion. I am not sure whether it would serve us to have a debate along the lines of an extended Order of Business on the subject of the economy. While it is valuable for us all to speak, very often motivated by the events of the particular day or crisis, it would be much better to have such a debate structured in a different way from the kinds of debates we have in the Seanad. I ask the Leader to consider that idea. I am not demeaning the debates in any sense, but people on the Government side are constantly complaining about the absence of alternatives from this side of the House. We are constantly stating — accurately — that the Government is failing lamentably to come forward with any kind of concrete proposals of its own.

There is a impasse in that both sides say the other is not coming forward with anything concrete. We could challenge each other to come forward in a more serious way in the course of such a debate with the kinds of proposals we in the Labour Party are developing and open them up to scrutiny in the House. Surely that would be a more useful and productive use of time rather than the opportunity, which many of us relish, to stand up for five or ten minutes and make a speech which can be unconnected in many ways to what is said on the other side. It is something which might be tabled for consideration.

I know this is a short Order of Business. It seems that much of the legislation we have been dealing with has been emergency legislation. Almost every week we are debating emergency legislation but other mainstream legislation is ongoing. I have seen the schedule for next week. The Legal Services Ombudsman Bill is due to be debated on Tuesday. That Bill has come from the Dáil, so there is some excuse for the debate on Tuesday.

Regarding the Adoption Bill, however, I ask the Leader not to order all Stages of that Bill for next Wednesday. It is entirely inappropriate for a Bill such as that to be approached in that manner. Perhaps it is an error and something the Leader can address because it is in the draft schedule we received. I ask the Leader not to order all Stages of such important legislation on Wednesday. By all means take Committee Stage next week but not all Stages.

On the Order of Business these days I am not sure whether we are talking about the need for a rolling debate on opinion polls or on the economy. Today's opinion poll shows the trend that was shown in two previous opinion polls and takes a snapshot of how Irish people are thinking at the moment. This House and the other House are meant to try to anticipate, describe and respond to such public feelings. We should not be having government by opinion poll. I defy anyone in the Opposition benches to name, outside of the United States where there is a new President who has a lot of goodwill directed towards him, a country where there is a popular government dealing with the circumstances that exist globally at the moment. It would be hard put to find one.

Regarding the demands for a rolling debate on the economy, if we are to have such a series of regular debates in this House, we should define it by the different aspects of the economy, such as those that deal with employment, fiscal policy and taxation, so that once or twice a week we are dealing with different aspects of the concerns that exist about the economy.

There was news today of a possible private investment in Anglo Irish Bank. I understand it is at a very early stage, but it indicates there is still a willingness, despite the difficulties within the Irish banking system and problems caused internally within that system, for people to invest privately. We should take it as a sign of where we might be going on this issue. The Government and everyone in this House should look openly towards the sharing of the risk and the better management, over time, of the risks which exist in Anglo Irish Bank and other banks as we have difficult decisions to make over the coming months.

One of the Government's and nation's key problems is our lack of revenue sources for the Exchequer. Revenue from stamp duty has gone and VAT, PRSI and PAYE receipts are down. In this context, I want an early debate with the Tánaiste to discuss the ways in which Irish companies working in the South of Ireland are being totally outpriced by their opposite numbers in the North. For example, builders providers and supermarkets in the South are buying their products 15% to 20% cheaper in the North than they are selling for here.

In the short term that may be good for the consumer but it is bad for Irish jobs and for the Exchequer which is badly in need of revenue sources at this time. We may have an all-Ireland nation politically in terms of the arrangements we have, but we certainly do not have an all-Ireland economy. The Tánaiste is failing by not acting and I ask the Leader to bring her to the House so that we can look at stopping these revenue sources being lost to the Irish Exchequer.

I support the call by the German Chancellor, Ms Angela Merkel, to the Government to give an honest report on our banking situation at Sunday's summit. It was a wonderful call and an offer of the hand of friendship and co-operation from the German Chancellor. Until we have the facts, how can the problem be solved? There is no doubt that more is known than is being said by the Cabinet. To support what Senator Twomey said, I would like the Leader to invite the Taoiseach to address this House with his plan for national recovery at this time.

I ask the Leader for a debate on competitiveness, which is necessary in terms of the Government's current emphasis on jobs. The reality is that the only safe job is a competitive job. Until we reach the stage where the majority of the jobs in this country are competitive in the international marketplace, we will have uncertainty. That is why I ask the Leader for a debate to encompass all aspects, including inputs, the price of electricity and labour and the cost of doing business here so we can again address, as we need to do quite quickly, the jobs situation.

I am also cognisant that there was a question in the House during the week in connection with claims made about stem cells and perhaps we could have a debate on the issue. There is a poster which claims the use of adult stem cells has a success rate and number of clinical applications of 73 to nil. That is inaccurate. It is higher than 73.

That is rubbish. The Senator should ask scientists for the information and not the Vatican.

Senator Hanafin, without interruption.

It is still nil on the embryonic stem cell side. It is unbelievable that we are even debating this issue. Imagine a situation where a stem cell can be taken from one's own body without——

Does the Senator have a question for the Leader?

People are being defrauded out of money and exposed to experiments which are cruel and unjustified.

Senator Hanafin, without interruption.

I am getting to the main point and I am looking forward to it.


Senator Hanafin, without interruption.

A stem cell can be taken from the adult body and without fear of rejection, it can be used. Not every one will be successful but they are realistic and truthful. The reality is that there are clinical applications——

Unsuccessful experiments on human patients are——

Senator Hanafin, without interruption.


Does Senator Hanafin have a question for the Leader?

Is it not really distorted that an embryo would be created to destroy it and to use it as a stem cell? That is wrong.

I would also like to comment on this morning's opinion poll. We are all well aware that we are not in a Greek city state where everybody can come together for every decision that must be made. We are in a republic and a democracy and we are here to govern. There are times when opinion polls can be useful if something is going wrong. However, if one is doing something which is right and which needs to be done——

Does the Senator believe there is nothing going wrong here?

Senator Hanafin, without interruption. Does the Senator have a question for the Leader on the opinion polls?

I do. When will the Committee on Procedure and Privileges meet to stop people interrupting?


There is a rule on interruptions.

Does the Senator have a question for the Leader?

I do. Will the Leader have an ongoing debate on what the Government is doing? No matter what the consequences of the polls, if we are doing what is right, it will come right in the polls and for the country.

Following on from the previous speaker, I am a big advocate of polls. We ought to pay attention to them.

We are not discussing opinion polls this morning.

I have a question for the Leader. When will the Government get off its backside and do something about the domestic partnership Bill in the light of the poll in today's The Irish Times conducted by Lansdowne Market Research which shows that despite the gutlessness of this Administration——

Who conducted the poll?

——62% of the people would vote in a referendum in favour of full civil marriage for gay people——

Who conducted the poll?

——despite the backward people on the Government side of the House?

The Senator should speak through the Chair. Does he have a question for the Leader?

I am speaking through the Chair but I am waving to the other side. The feminine side of my brain allows me to multi-task.

I refer to the debate on the economy. I am very happy to accept Senator Alex White's excellent suggestion on the way this debate should be taken. It is remarkable that the Government voted against having a debate on the economy even though it takes up most of the time each day. I am not confined in terms of the way it should happen but we need to be able to answer people like this lad, Donal Casey, writing in today's The Irish Times who, as the former chief executive of corporate business in Irish Life——

On a point of order, there is a precedent in this House that Members may not read from newspapers.

I am quoting from the newspaper, and I insist on doing so. The Leader is quite wrong.

On a genuine point of order, because the Leader has raised this point on a number of occasions, there is a provision that Members may not physically read a newspaper in the House but the suggestion that one cannot read a newspaper before one comes in and quote from it is absurd.

That is not the point of order I was making.

It is. I will tell Senator Cassidy the point of order since he does not know it——

The point of order I was making is that one may not physically read a newspaper in this House, irrespective of who one is.

The Senator can quote from an article in the House and identify the source.

I am quoting from an article by Donal Casey in today's The Irish Times. He said we have a defective gene in our national DNA and the painful truth is that we have all given tacit permission for the behaviour at the heart of our banking crisis. We have not. I did not nor did the vast majority of people in this House. We were strongly critical all the time. How dare he say that. He went on to say we should——

We are on the Order of Business. Does the Senator have a question for the Leader?

When will we debate these issues and give a reply to people who say, for example, that we must apologise to the European Union for voting against the Lisbon treaty?

When will we hold the Government, which has poured at €7 billion into Anglo Irish Bank, accountable? Now it is considering flogging part of it off to some Australian crowd called abrekebabra or something like that. It will make money out of it but what about the Irish taxpayers? When will they reap some benefits out of the money poured into the bank?

When will we discuss the fact that business in this city and in this country is spancelled because rent reviews are only allowed upwards? People are going out of business every day because unaffordable rents are being charged. I will call for a debate on the economy every day because we will get into another situation like we did with Eircom. It was flogged off to Tony O'Reilly, Lord O'Reilly or whatever he calls himself. Lord Kilclooney, writing in The Irish Times, said we ought to rejoin sterling. The cheek of him. The UK ought to be kicked out of the European Union for going on its own and devaluing its currency to our disadvantage.

I compliment the main Opposition party for not having gloated over this morning's opinion poll. I mean that genuinely

We are not discussing the opinion poll this morning.

The reason I say that is that it is particularly important for us not to take our eye off the ball, which is the economy. I say genuinely that I regard those same polls as a very sobering experience for this side of the House. There is a temptation for the weak-kneed, when they come under fire, to retreat and to run but the real test of leadership is to hold one's nerve and stand one's ground. That would be the real test of leadership at this time.

The polls have given the people an opportunity to express their anger and frustration which, in fairness to the Opposition, it has echoed in this House on many occasions. I am not into polls because I believe they sway back and forth all the time. Perhaps this is a good poll for the Opposition; I do not know. However, it is interesting that there is an 86% dissatisfaction rate with the Government but that almost 50% of people did not favour an election at this time. That must be analysed.

Is the Senator looking for a debate on this issue?

I am and I look forward to it when we have it but by then, there will probably be another poll.

What is coming out of this poll is that the Opposition and I hope the Government, in terms of the statistic I have given, are both getting through to the electorate.

I will come back to what I have said since the beginning of this crisis. I am not calling for a national Government but we had a bipartisan approach on Northern Ireland. If we had not had that bipartisan approach, we would not have made the progress we made. Let us start using the word "bipartisan". I do not mind if we have to meet outside the House to discuss how that could come about. It does not mean the Opposition should not oppose or that the Opposition——

The Government is refusing the help.

Senator Ó Murchú, without interruption.

——should not put forward alternatives. What it means is that we should try to identify the central elements and ingredients that are vital and which can be common cause. Let us leave the poll aside and deal with the economy.

That is what Fine Gael has been offering for months.

I raise an issue I have raised over the past number of weeks. The Government has consistently ignored offers of constructive co-operation from the Opposition in regard to reaching a consensus on a national recovery plan. I said last night that a national recovery plan is needed and that at the heart of that plan should be fairness and equity but that is not happening. That is reflected in the opinion poll, about which I will not gloat.

This poll and the last opinion poll indicate a trend that Fianna Fáil's core vote is quickly evaporating. As I said yesterday, if it will not listen to the Opposition, it should listen to its own people. Penalising thousands of gardaí, teachers, nurses and midwives is not the solution to our economic crisis. A national recovery plan is needed and it is about time the Government started to listen to the Opposition.

I wish to ask the Leader a question about the many calls he has made for a constructive contribution from this side of the House on the challenges facing the country. I refer specifically to the contribution Deputy Enda Kenny made today on what our party believes should be done to tackle the challenges facing our country. This morning, he stated that public expenditure cuts must be made to bring our borrowing under control more quickly. He advocated a new higher rate of tax for high income earners, far greater scrutiny of capital infrastructure projects, a cutback on the number of Oireachtas committees by ten and a carbon tax. These are constructive detailed proposals from this side of the House.

If any Member of the Government asks where are our ideas, they are laid out in detail here.

Does the Senator seek a debate on the issue?

I ask the Leader for a debate on these proposals because we hear repeatedly a call for our party to wear the green jersey — an appropriate call given the weekend that is in it. The question is not whether we are willing to wear the green jersey. We have shown we are. The question is whether the Government side is willing to wear it.


Hear, hear.

We saw yesterday an example of this when Deputy Enda Kenny said he would support the setting up of ——

Does the Senator seek a debate on this issue?

I am asking the Leader to respond to this question. Deputy Kenny said he would support and provide people to set up an all-party committee on banking regulation that would draw on the best minds and expertise in the Oireachtas, but the Government response was "No". Therefore, the question is not whether we have the ideas and attitude to tackle the problems facing us. Our ideas are here in black and white. Let us now hear the answers from the Government side.

Come to Citywest tonight.

The Galway tent will fall down around the Government side.


I call Senator Callely, without interruption.

In the context of some of the contributions, the public expects Members of this House and those elected to the Lower House to work together to help address and solve the serious——


——economic and financial difficulties we face.

The Senator is off again. The Government side does not listen.

Senator Callely, without interruption.

I welcome, even if it was a blank sheet of paper Senator Donohoe was waving——


Senator Callely, without interruption. Unless we have some order, I will have to suspend the House.

The Government, led by the Taoiseach, has a determined and ambitious plan to resolve and address the issues and bring the country and its people out of this difficult time.

Senator Callely, without interruption.

The response to the question on input from Members is that their input is welcome. There are procedures and committees in the House that allow Members to provide input, whether — as the previous speaker mentioned — it is a suggestion on banking regulation or something else.

Does the Senator support the call for a debate on this issue?

I would welcome a debate on this issue. The more we debate and the more information we provide the better.

Has the Senator a question for the Leader?

Yes, it is important that I, along with other Members, ask the Leader to ensure we ease the anxiety and uncertainty of people outside the House by presenting them with a clear picture of the current difficulty and how we hope to bring ourselves out of this crisis. We can only do this through all Members working together.

It is a bit rich to hear those on the Government side of the House lecturing those on this side on the need for bipartisanship, unity and solidarity. My understanding is there have been many offers from this side of co-operation but those have not been taken up by the Government. It is most inappropriate of the Government not to try to achieve with the main Opposition parties a common understanding of what is needed to build an economic recovery. The real problem is that we are in the dark on this side with regard to the Government's plans. Most of those on the Government side are also in the dark as to its plans.

Tune in to RTE tomorrow night at 8 p.m. and hear them live.

I would love to be enlightened on those plans.

The Senator is welcome to come to Citywest.

Senator Bacik, without interruption.

The one in ten figure demonstrates that the country as a whole is waiting to hear the Government's plans for economic recovery. We have not been given a package of measures. The reason we saw more than 100,000 people protest last weekend is because the Government's measures are piecemeal. All we are getting is a little tinkering at the edges but no real change.

I ask the Leader for a debate on taxation. Senators Norris and Alex White are right about the need for a rolling debate on the economy. In effect, the Order of Business has become the rolling debate on the economy. However, what we really need is a debate on taxation. The former Taoiseach, Garret FitzGerald, has said that in the past Governments used to make changes in the taxation area. Our Government appears to be afraid of speaking the word "taxation". It has been ingrained and influenced by the Progressive Democrats for so long on the need for a low tax culture that it is afraid to say "taxes". Therefore, it will impose levies ——

Does the Senator seek a debate?

I want an early debate on taxation. I want the Minister of Finance, not a Minister of State, to come to the House to explain to Members why the Commission on Taxation will not report until September. The commission has said it is bringing its report forward by a number of weeks, but that is not good enough. We need a decision from the Government on taxation and to hear when the Minister proposes to make changes in taxes. He said yesterday that he will not make changes this year, but he told a committee he might do so. People are in the dark. We will see even more of a crisis in confidence unless people are given some certainty and indication of what is proposed to get us out of economic depression.

It is always amusing to hear self-confessed experts on embryology speak about the need for a debate on stem cell research. I am very happy to have a debate on this issue. When we had a debate on this issue previously, I brought in a recognised international expert to speak to us and enlighten us on the science behind stem cell research and the reason so many scientists want to explore embryonic stem cell research. We need such well-informed debate and I fully support it.

I call for the Committee on Procedure and Privileges, CPP, to examine the manner in which the Order of Business is conducted. It has tended to descend into a shambles, but that was not the case in the past.

What about when the Senator was thrown out for bad behaviour?

This issue was discussed at a meeting of the CPP on 18 December.

I was not aware of that.

It was discussed in December and established that the Chair is the sole decider of order in the House.

Since December, the Order of Business has been an even greater shambles than heretofore. There is urgent need for another meeting of the CPP.

Is the Senator criticising the Chair?

The reason I suggest this is because people have serious concerns and issues they expect us to take seriously. I ask that we do this.

I agree with the Senator on the disorder in the House.

I am trying to support the Chair.

Senators have some control over the disorder themselves. Has the Senator a question for the Leader?

I have. I ask the Leader to ensure CPP steps up to the mark on this issue.

Will the Leader accede to the request made by Senator Donohoe for a debate on the issues he raised? I compliment the Senator on his constructive contribution to the debate in the House last night. There is a need for us to address the issues, including the ten-point plan of Congress. We must look at the structures of this House so we can deal with these issues in a manner that will yield concrete, positive proposals. That is what people want. I suggest we do it through the various finance spokespersons whereby individual constructive suggestions can be fed in and we deal with them individually in a Committee Stage type debate rather than a Second Stage debate, during which there are many interruptions. This is a positive suggestion on how we might do this. This House can play a real leadership role in bridging the communications gap with the public, and I urge that we do so.

With regard to the opinion poll, which I do not believe was done independently, I will support Senator Norris if he suggests that the Civil Partnership Bill should be decided by way of plebiscite and referendum.

I have no problem with that.

The people should decide and I fully support this. Let us get the real decision of the people on steps being taken which may have a serious social impact in the future. This is a decision which the electorate is entitled to make.

I will respect whatever decision is made in that regard. It is up to us all to advocate our strong points of view in so far as how we feel society should be shaped for future generations.

Will the Leader go to the Taoiseach and ask him to call a general election? It is important that we clear the decks.

Senator Buttimer would get the fright of his life if the Leader did so.

In light of this morning's comments by the leader of Fine Gael and Members of this House, when will the Taoiseach take seriously the issues of bipartisanship and support from all political parties? I ask this in the context of the comments made by Senators Ó Murchú and Boyle. The difficulty this side of the House has is that 10% of the people have confidence in the Government. President Obama has an opinion poll rating of 68%. More importantly, he has reached across the aisle and has taken the offer of help from a number of Republican Senators, unlike the position here. This is not the time for adversarial politics. We have offered policies. I have a folder containing the Fine Gael nine-point plan, recovery through reform and proposals on the banking crisis and recapitalisation.

Senators Hanafin, Walsh and Ó Murchú should listen to me.

Can we have order in the House, please.

The Government has rebuked them and has not taken on board their suggestions. On occasions it has refused briefings for the leader of the main Opposition party. That is not good enough. We want to see our country prosper. We must give the people of Ireland hope and confidence. They have surrendered hope in many cases. We should instill and imbue in them the spirit of hope and looking to the future.

Speaking of the future, in light of the Genesis report on Ireland's participation and performance in the Beijing Olympics, sport is a great uplifter for all of us, which binds and unites the people, and we need a debate on the funding of sport which is being denied to sporting community groups through the abolition of the sports capital programme. It is very important that we debate the Genesis report and the relationship between the Sports Council of Ireland and the Olympic Council of Ireland.

Fine Gael got rid of Alan Dukes when he helped the Government. We know what Alan Dukes got.

Senator Leyden is inviting trouble from across the House.

We saw what happened to Fianna Fáil leaders too and we do not need to go back that far. A man in St. Luke's got a few phone calls too.

The Leas-Chathaoirleach knows what happened to Alan Dukes.

Senator Coffey should be allowed to contribute without interruption.

Senator Leyden thinks he is at the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting this morning.

I call for silence in the House. There are conversations taking place on all sides of the House and it is not fair to the Member who is speaking.

I support the call for a rolling debate on the economy. Senator Ó Murchú referred to this morning's opinion poll and he complimented those on this side of the House for not gloating. It is not a matter of opinion polls, it is much more serious than that. As a parent of three small children under the age of five, I am seriously concerned about their future. Last night, I attended a meeting where there were more than 60 parents and there is real concern about the future of the country. It behoves all of us as representatives to stop the tick-tacking and flaky talk and let us get down to the serious brass tacks of how we will get out of this crisis. I ask that of all sides of the House. Genuine offers are being made on this side of the House to engage with the Government parties to try to find a way out of this crisis.

The opinion poll reflects that the Government is not listening to the people. This weekend in City West, you will find, Senator Leyden, that you are not listening to your own members.

The Senator should speak through the Chair.

It seems that on a daily basis the Government is trying to take a step forward, but instead it is taking five steps backwards. It is not inspiring confidence in our economy and that is of great concern because the Government is in denial. We seem to be a little insulated from reality in this House and in the Lower House.

Will the Government seriously consider producing a detailed road map to find our way out of this economic crisis, with specific attention to fiscal policy and how we can redress the public finances. As Senator Donohoe stated, we need to outline specific areas such as taxation, borrowings, savings and finding efficiencies in our public service. These are the areas we need to debate and flesh out as the Upper House in this Parliament, and I ask the Leader to facilitate that. Competitiveness has gone down the tubes.

Does Senator Coffey have a question for the Leader?

I seek a rolling debate on the economy with specific attention on competitiveness and employment, while addressing the huge deficits in our public finances.

I share Senator Coffey's sentiment that there is no glory in opinion polls when people are losing their jobs, children with special needs do not have facilities, there are no psychiatric beds for youngsters and it is possible that there will be no money in the coffers next year to pay social welfare or civil servants. There is no glory in the opinion poll today.

I have very serious concerns that the public is not aware of how bad the situation is. I ask the Leader, through the Government, to spell out to the public how bad things are because they might realise it and consider ways other than demonstrating and protesting against the unfairness of it. The Government should take on board the very good suggestion we made this morning of taxing the people who have money rather than the lower paid and the unfortunate people who have no money.

What does the Government intend to do with the apartments we own in Manhattan through Anglo Irish Bank? What rent will be charged? Will they be sold?

Is Senator McFadden interested?

The Leader probably does not have the answer to that off the top of his head but he might be able to find out for next week.

I wish Fianna Fáil a very good conference. I hope it goes well and that perhaps something good, such as leadership, will come out of it.

As the Minister of State is waiting, I will respond as briefly as possible. All Senators made their views known to the House on rolling debates on the economy. Every week since we returned in September we have had a debate on financial and banking issues. All the issues with regard to the economy are being discussed. On Wednesday of this week we had a very good discussion during Fine Gael's Private Members' time on financial and banking issues and the economy. Yesterday, on Second Stage of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Bill, the economy was discussed and it will be discussed until 2 p.m. today. We are discussing it here on a weekly basis. On how we might conduct ourselves on the Order of Business — the word "conduct" must be underlined — yes, changes can be made and will be supported by this side of the House if we have confidence that the House will conduct itself if we introduce live television, as was done in the US Congress. I will support it if each Member is allowed one minute to ask one question per day and proceed in an organised fashion, as is done in the US Congress. This would make this House more meaningful to the people of Ireland who will then know it is not just about clichés or one-liners, that this is the Upper House of Parliament, and they will see the good work we do. However, Senators will have to undertake that they will conduct themselves when making contributions and abide by Standing Orders. I want change in this area and to make the Seanad more relevant provided all colleagues sign up to the process and see how it operates for the first 12 months. With a view to making the House more meaningful, I am prepared to make a proposal to the Committee on Procedure and Privileges and colleagues to change the time of the Order of Business, if necessary, so it will not clash with that in the Dáil. I want an undertaking from each colleague that we can achieve this in an orderly fashion so we can enhance the House and let the people know about the good work taking place here daily.

With regard to Anglo Irish Bank and the announcement thereon, investors must believe there is value for money to be obtained. The bank possibly has a clientele that played a major role in creating and maintaining the Celtic tiger and who employed 100,000 people over the past ten or 12 years. This is quite possibly the positive aspect of the bank. Names of investors are being mentioned and we all hear them daily. They are captains of industry. They are men and women who played a great part in our economic success and they did have accounts with the Anglo Irish Bank, just as such people had accounts with the Bank of Ireland, Allied Irish Banks, Ulster Bank and all our established banks. It is in this light that investors may see value in Anglo Irish Bank. This is a good news story.

While the opinion polls have been referred to and while there is certainly an uphill battle, we must ask ourselves who we remember from 1987. We remember Charles J. Haughey, Ray MacSharry——

We remember them well. We remember Charles J. Haughey very well.

We remember Michael Mullen.

We remember them well for the mess they made.

I remind Senators of the word "orderly". The three people to whom I referred made hard decisions at the time in question. Senator Leyden, who was then a Minister of State, will confirm they were not popular for doing so, but they are the ones that were remembered. Quite possibly, the Taoiseach, Deputy Cowen, the Minister for Finance, Deputy Brian Lenihan, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Gormley, the Minister for Health and Children, Deputy Harney, and their partners in Government will be remembered for the hard decisions taken this week, last week——

They will be remembered for the mess they made of the Celtic tiger.

Let us establish our priorities and work from the experience of history such that future generations may benefit from our decisions. These decisions are unpopular but must be taken in the national interest.

Senator Alex White asked me to take only Committee Stage of the Adoption Bill 2009 next week and I am acceding to that request. As the Bill is being initiated in the House, it is the wish of all colleagues, particularly the leaders, that Second Stage be taken one week and Committee Stage the following week. Unless it is crucial to do otherwise, we will take the Remaining Stages the week thereafter, with the agreement of the House.

Senator Healy Eames called for a debate on jobs with the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment. Senators Hanafin and Coffey referred to competitiveness. I have already asked the Minister to come to the House to discuss these matters.

Senators Hanafin and Bacik referred to stem cell research and called for an update. I have no difficulty in arranging a debate on it. Senator Buttimer called for a debate on sport and I have no difficulty in leaving time aside for it.

Order of Business agreed to.