Senators Fitzgerald, O'Toole, White, Twomey, MacSharry, Coghlan, Hannigan, Ó Brolcháin, O'Donohoe, Walsh, Mullen, Regan, John Paul Phelan and Bradford called for the Minister for Finance to come to the House to discuss the Government's €1.312 billion loan to Greece. The Minister will be in the House all day on Thursday of next week to discuss the proposal before us. Legislation is imminent and will be taken in the House in the next two weeks. We will leave the matter until it is clear on which day the legislation will be brought before us. It is possible that the date will be two weeks from today. The matter is urgent and I will allow the longest possible time on Second Stage for all Senators to make their views known to the House.
By agreement, I propose that we debate the Croke Park agreement on Thursday of next week. I endeavoured to ensure the debate would be held tomorrow, but the Minister of State, Deputy Mansergh, will be in the Dáil deputising for the Minister for Finance and, therefore, will not be available. Thursday, 13 May is the first available date.
Senator Coghlan called for an urgent debate on tourism. I have agreed that a debate will take place and will endeavour to hold it in the next few weeks. It will relate, in particular, to the closure of our airports and the difficulties experienced by aircraft due to the ash coming from Iceland. It is a difficult time for anyone who is involved in tourism or exports and dependent on air transport. We need a lot of luck on our side. The situation is unprecedented in most of our lifetimes.
Senator Prendergast referred to International Day for Midwives. I acknowledge the great work that has been done for generations and support anything we can do to help, including holding a debate in the House.
Senators Coghlan, Ó Brolcháin and Bradford referred to the poisoning of wildlife, which is most regrettable. I support the Senators' condemnation of what has taken place.
I note the concerns raised about the zoning of land, which involves a large acreage. The reality is that not all of this land is for sale. That is a dilemma for planners and local authority members. Often less than 5% of the land zoned is for sale. In accordance with the democratic rights of every person who is a landowner, only those portions of land for sale should be zoned, but that is the greatest fortune-telling trick one could hope to imagine, particularly for local authorities.
Senators MacSharry, Callely and Quinn called for a debate on the HSE, with a focus on the matters they outlined to the House. Senator Quinn spoke about bowel cancer and the 90% success rate of treatment. I will pass on the Senator's strong views. I gave a commitment in the House a few weeks ago to hold a lengthy debate on the up-to-date position with services and the service plan from the HSE, as well as the many issues that have been raised by colleagues on the Order of Business over recent weeks.
I will refer back to Senator Norris about the timing of the Privacy Bill as well as the family law guardianship Bill. The Senator pointed out that one in three children are born outside wedlock and mentioned what a champion John Waters is on these matters.
Senator Leyden asked for an urgent debate on head shops. I hope I will be able tomorrow to outline for the House the Government's up-to-date position on this issue and on pending legislation in that regard.
Senator Ormonde spoke about NAMA and the role of society in the future. She spoke in particular about Georgian and other heritage buildings and assets such as castles, beautiful gardens and so forth. I have no difficulty with arranging for a debate on this.
I have said previously I believe the House should be given an outline, perhaps every quarter, of the up-to-date position with the progress of NAMA. Perhaps this could take place when the Minister comes to the House next week.
Senator Cummins asked that the Minister be invited to the House to discuss people on low incomes having to wait up to ten weeks for their entitlements. This is unacceptable, especially for people who have lost their jobs, are rearing big families and have no other income. It is appalling and we should do everything we can about it. I will ask the Minister to come to the House to let us know what progress is taking place in this regard, particularly as the rise in unemployment levels is slowing down compared with last year.
Senators Walsh and Callely sought an urgent debate on competitiveness. Senator Walsh spoke in particular about the regulatory authorities and job creation in this regard. Such a debate would be very timely. The Senator also spoke about broadband. The availability of broadband was a dilemma in many rural areas but with the arrival of satellite broadband, on which the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation gave a briefing in Mullingar two weeks ago, there is nowhere in Ireland that it cannot reach at the strength of 3.6 Mbps.