The Order of Business is No. 1, Electricity Regulation (Amendment) (Carbon Revenue Levy) Bill 2010 — Second Stage, to be taken at the conclusion of the Order of Business and conclude not later than 2 p.m., on which spokespersons may speak for 12 minutes and all other Senators for seven minutes and Senators may share time, by agreement of the House, with the Minister to be called upon to reply not later than 1.50 p.m.; No. 2, Criminal Justice (Psychoactive Substances) Bill 2010 — Committee and Remaining Stages, to be taken at the conclusion of No. 1 but not before 1 p.m.
Order of Business
Yesterday during an interesting debate in this House on the environment the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Gormley, regrettably made an unprecedented attack on the political independence of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Climate Change and Energy Security. Senator O'Toole and I, with other Members of the House, are members of that committee which has acted in the best interests of improving our targets and objectives in respect of climate change. The committee has produced various reports on issues such as electric vehicles and foreshore licences. It proposed to Government a Bill to improve the mechanisms to allow the development of wind farms, to which the Government turned a blind eye. The Minister's attack on the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Climate Change and Energy Security is most regrettable.
More than 50,000 students are today sitting their final examinations in the leaving certificate. The junior certificate examinations finished yesterday. Thousands of other students have also just completed third level courses and have graduated. There are currently 85,620 people under the age of 25 years unemployed in the State, almost 3,000 of whom live in my constituency in Waterford. Some 70,000 people under 25 years have been on the live register for more than 12 months. I am concerned, as should be every other Member of this House, that we are at serious risk of losing a generation of young, talented, educated people who are disillusioned and feel abandoned. It is important we have a debate on the prospects for young people here. We need to give them hope and to come up with solutions. A debate on issues such as work sharing, apprenticeships and so on would be of benefit. As I stated yesterday, many apprentices employed in the construction industry were unable to complete their apprenticeships.
Currently thousands of houses under local authority management are abandoned because the local authorities do not have the resources to refurbish them. Surely, we can think outside the box and come up with new ideas in terms of employing people from the construction sector, master tradesmen and apprentices, to refurbish those houses which could then be let to the thousands of people on the housing waiting lists. Also, there is much construction work to be done in communities and schools and while resources may be scarce there are on the dole thousands of qualified trades people and apprentices who have served two or three years on apprenticeships with no prospect of work and whose only alternative is to emigrate. We must provide people with hope. I ask that the Leader provide time for an urgent debate on this matter. I propose by way of amendment to the Order of Business that we have that debate today.
Perhaps also the Leader will provide time prior to the recess for a debate on the democratic deficit here. Three constituencies, Waterford, Donegal South-West and Dublin South, are currently under-represented. People in these constituencies are entitled to full representation in the national Parliament. I ask that the Leader provide time for such a debate.
Senator Coffey raised the attack by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Gormley, on the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Climate Change and Energy Security. I do not have a problem with the Minister having a go at a committee if he wishes to do so. However, what he said was, in all fairness, completely wrong. The Minister said:
. . . the Oireachtas committee we set up has been used as a talking shop as a means to give adversarial comment and to knock the Government. That is not what it was set up for, which was to get a political consensus. I am very disappointed in this.
When I challenged the Minister to explain this, he went on to say:
Members of the Labour Party and other Opposition parties are using the committee not to achieve consensus but rather in the most adversarial way. Their only goal is to bash the Government . . . I had hoped it would develop a consensus on these major issues.
As an Independent Member disinterested in this argument, that is a completely unfair and an unjust criticism with no basis in fact. Far from existing to bash the Government, the committee has time and again produced consensus reports on issues such as the foreshore licensing Bill. It is the only joint committee in the history of the Houses to produce and present to Government legislation in support of Government policy.
It produced another — Fine Gael was the driving force — on electric cars, which supported the Government's position. A report on climate change, driven by the Labour Party in the main, also supported the Government. The committee has done ground-breaking work on emissions and other things. I hope Senator Boyle does not try to defend the Minister's remarks. If the Minister was wrong, he should be big enough to say so. His remarks were demoralising to a committee which already feels it is being ignored by Government. I ask for a debate on the work of Joint Committee on Climate Change and Energy Security when those of us who are members of the committee can show the Minister why we are disappointed that the Government has chosen to ignore the consensus worked out in the committee in support of Government policy.
I would also like to make passing reference to the proposed British royal visit. This occasion begs for a debate on nationalism and republicanism and on the narrow introspection of nationalism, which refuses to encompass the broader view of the world of Tone republicanism of Catholic, Protestant and dissenter. It appears we are about to invite the direct descendant of one of the founders of one of the great Protestant religions to visit this country.
Also a direct descendant of Brian Boru and Hugh O'Neill.
This is causing extraordinary difficulty for some members of Irish society. We should be proud enough to stand up and endorse our own republic, show ourselves to be grown up, stand toe to toe with our neighbours and invite the monarch of a neighbouring state to come visit us as a neighbour and simply say "we are proud of what we are and we respect what you are".
Hear, hear. Well said.
It is time we had that debate to allow people to come out and say what it is they have to say. We in County Kerry have profited from royal visits in the past, as I have no doubt Senator Coghlan will explain to us.
Get her down to Killarney.
An article in the business section ofThe Irish Times yesterday reported that in 2009, an additional 1,800 Irish people entered the high net worth individual category. These are people who have $1 million of investable cash.
Most of them are Labour Party voters.
Perhaps in the United Kingdom but not here.
This is an indication that there is wealth in some sections of society, yet the Taoiseach flatly refused to rule out a property tax. Many thousands are struggling to pay their mortgages, thousands have lost their jobs, we see the slate of cuts in public sector spending and the Taoiseach admits he will need to save another €3 billion in public sector spending this year. The property tax could be anything between €250 and €3,000 depending on where one lives and the size of one's house. The media did not pick this story off the ground. There must have been a briefing of journalists in order that the idea would circulate before the summer and we would have got used to it by the time the budget arrives.
Are the Taoiseach and the Government not ashamed to inflict more pain on the thousands who are already struggling to survive? This is the Government party that abolished domestic rates and car tax in 1977, plunging the country into recession in the 1980s. The manner in which the boom was squandered has resulted in another recession and it is the ordinary people of the Republic, about which Senator O'Toole spoke so eloquently, who are being held responsible for funding the way out of the recession. Can the Leader bring the Taoiseach to the House to tell us whether there will be a property tax? While he is here, he might apologise for the botched condition in which he left the State after his reign in the Department of Finance.
I welcome the belated apology by Mr. Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, relating to the Air India disaster. The apology is 25 years too late and will be of little solace to relatives of the 329 people killed on the plane and of the two baggage handlers killed in Japan. This was the worst single act of terrorism in Canadian history. The apology is of little comfort to some but it must be welcomed nevertheless.
I think I have heard it all when I hear the Labour Party defending the right of millionaires not to pay property tax. It is particularly rich when the last residential property tax we had was introduced by a Labour Party Minister. However, if the Labour Party wants to have that debate we can have it.
The Green Party should stick to their principles and leave government. They should do the decent thing and call an election.
If this continues, I will be obliged to suspend the sitting.
In response to the comments made by Senators Coffey and O'Toole, the Minister believes individual members of the Joint Committee on Climate Change and Energy Security have used their positions in a partisan way.
That is not the accusation he made. He condemned the entire committee.
I have seen written contributions that confirm the Minister's view. I accept that the Minister's remarks gave a sense of the committee as a whole acting in a partisan way. That needs to be clarified and I will be happy to ask the Minister to do so.
A debate on school leaving and employment levels is necessary and I hope it can be held in the short time we have left before the summer recess. The last lost generation, as expressed by Senator Coffey, was my own generation in the 1980s, when unemployment and emigration rates were higher. An exercise in comparing and contrasting and in examining what we can do to avoid this happening again is something the House would be well served in doing.
Like Senator O'Toole, I welcome yesterday's announcement that the British monarch will pay a state visit to Ireland next year. I trust the visit will afford her the opportunity to experience the beauty and heritage of Ireland. That will, of course, involve a visit to the Lakes of Killarney. This event will be a significant milestone in the history of our two neighbouring states and I am sure we welcome it.
It should be noted that Queen Elizabeth's great great grandmother, Queen Victoria, visited Killarney in 1861 and was warmly welcomed in Killarney House and Muckross House. Queen Elizabeth's itinerary, as well as including the capital city of course, should include Killarney and the south west.
I am sure Cork could be included also.
The Rebel County.
Next year will be the 150th anniversary of Queen Victoria's visit in 1861.
To the Kingdom.
She travelled by train from Dublin. The train was running then. The visit put Killarney on the map as a destination for discerning Victorian travellers and others at the time. As we know, Killarney has gone on to become a world renowned tourism centre and the tourism centre of Ireland.
Is the Senator requesting a debate on tourism?
He wants the Queen to come to Killarney.
It would be entirely fitting for the State visit to include "beauty's home ... heaven's reflex".
Will the Senator clarify his request on the Order of Business?
He wants the Queen to come to Killarney.
He wants to put her up for a few days.
I want to establish that the House is agreed and mature.
I agree with some of the points made by Senator Coffey on how we can help school leavers. On Tuesday evening last, we debated job creation initiatives. Perhaps that debate should be ongoing. Many school leavers and third level graduates will be in difficulty and initiatives such as courses and work experience programmes will be necessary. These programmes are in place but they must be relevant. We must have a vision of where jobs will be in the future. Coupled with that debate should be a vision of our society in the future. The whole country is changing hugely.
The Government states we must cut €3 billion from public spending next year. The Seanad must begin to debate how we can make these cuts. We must work constructively in this regard and not constantly knock our opponents' suggestions, whether they are good, bad or indifferent. We should adopt a different approach. I agree that there must be opposition, but let us try to be constructive.
New planning guidelines are to be proposed to lift the ban on one-off housing, which would be welcome. We may have an opportunity to examine and discuss the proposals in this Chamber because a planning Bill is to be introduced and the two matters are closely linked. I, therefore, ask the Leader to arrange a discussion on the proposed guidelines before the planning legislation is brought before the House.
Yesterday Senator Ó Murchú complained about being subjected to verbal abuse by a Member. As the record will show, I have frequently paid tribute to the Senator for his honourable defence of human rights in areas ranging from Palestine to Iraq and rendition. For that reason, I was astonished and appalled when on 3 June he suggested in the House that his party in government was, once again, inflicting the Penal Laws on the people through the introduction of the civil partnership legislation. I was particularly upset because my own family had suffered because of the Penal Laws. I had an ancestor, of whom I am extremely proud who was a Roman Catholic bishop during the Penal Laws period when my family lost considerable amounts of land and property. It was very offensive. Senator Ó Murchú was magisterially rebuffed by Senator Donohue. On another day I asked that this comment which I had found deeply offensive and inaccurate be withdrawn but nothing happened. I was met by silence. Senator Ó Murchú spoke with controlled anger which I understand. I spoke to him during a lull in business while a vote was taking place when I indicated how offensive I had found his remarks, particularly given the heightened feelings expressed daily by ignorant people outside the gates of Leinster House. He said he could explain and attempted to do so factually, suggesting people would be imprisoned and so on. This is an accurate account. I indicated that although nothing remotely like this was contained in the provisions of the Civil Partnership Bill, it was to be found in equality legislation, against which the church, shamefully, had sought and been granted an exemption from equality provisions. Senator Ó Murchú did not accept this and I indicated that his position was a strongly bigoted one. I say with regret that he has indicated he has received support from some of his colleagues. Some other colleagues have indicated their support for what I said and I do not relish such a dispute. If my tone was inappropriate and hectoring, I unreservedly apologise to Senator Ó Murchú, but I do not retract a single word. I would not be so presumptuous as to suggest I am Rosa Parks, but I will not be sent to the back of a bus by anyone. It is very sinister that a small group of Members in this House, on both sides, is attempting to co-opt the language of liberation, tolerance and conscience to defend positions that are, in fact, deeply reactionary. In the future I will confine my disputes with Senator Ó Murchú to the debate in the House and hope he accepts what I say. I certainly understand his anger but wish he had the imagination to understand the depth of mine and the offence I felt at the remarks passed.
I ruled on previous occasions that the withdrawal of comments made should not be raised on the Order of Business in following days.
I share the views of Senator O'Toole who asked the Leader to arrange a debate in the light of the invitation extended to the British monarch. Those of us in County Leitrim and the north west are living in the least spoiled and the most beautiful part of Ireland, nothwithstanding the pleas made by my good friend, Senator Coghlan, to divert the monarch towards Killarney. The Queen visited County Kerry in 1861 and it should give the rest of the country some chance 150 years later.
Questions to the Leader, please. We are not getting involved in where the monarch should go on her visit.
My wife comes from west Cork which is perhaps even more beautiful than Killarney and I come from County Leitrim which is probably even more beautiful than the Beara Peninsula. There is a need to extend this invitation. Perhaps when it is formally conveyed, it will afford an opportunity to discuss the matter. As Members know, the Minister for Social Protection, Deputy Ó Cuív, has repeatedly stated his view that Ireland should consider rejoining the Commonwealth. I do not advocate this for one moment, but certain benefits would flow from having a closer relationship between Britain and Ireland on an economic as well as a sporting level.
We need more of them to visit more often.
Members on all sides of the House agree that it is shameful that soccer, the only organised sport on the island of Ireland which is enjoyed and supported by the broad masses on both sides of the Border, is divided. I have called repeatedly for a debate on the issue. It would be wonderful to see a team representing the island of Ireland, as happens in the case of rugby, cricket, tennis and boxing.
Graeme McDowell who plays at Royal Portrush Golf Club is referred to as an Irishman because the sport of golf is also united on the island. It is shameful that the one sport which could unite and have a deep impact on both traditions on this island is separated.
I ask the Leader to bring the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation, Deputy O'Keeffe, to the House to address an issue which is becoming scandalous, as reported on the back page of theIrish Independent today, namely, the increasing percentage charged by Ticketmaster in purchasing tickets for various sports and music events. Its outrageous justification, quoted in the newspaper, is that the service charge which it is alleged will rise to one third of the price of a ticket is to meet the cost of manufacture and despatch of tickets. As somebody who has been involved in concerts promotion for most of my working life — other Members, including the Leader, have also been so involved — if I were to suggest that an extra few euro should be added and that people should be told it was to meet the cost of printing and conveying tickets to wherever they were to be sold, I would be laughed out of court by some. This is a scandal and I ask the Leader to consider bringing the Minister to the House in order that we can inquire whether legislation can be passed to stop this insidious practice.
I second Senator Coffey's amendment in seeking a debate to discuss the prospects of our young people. He hit the nail on the head when he highlighted that much work needed to be done in our country at a time when so many young people were being paid, many to do nothing. We need to integrate these two elements and be imaginative in our response. On a day when 56,000 students are nearing the end of the leaving certificate examination Senator Coffey's proposal is well timed and should be debated in the Chamber today.
I also call for a debate on respite care services. Increasingly, areas of the country are being affected by the cancellation or withdrawal of services. I am involved in an issue in my constituency concerning the Ard Cuan centre, an 80 patient unit which was given two weeks' notice that it was to be closed down. It is unacceptable that people who are vulnerable and those who do such fine work should be treated in this manner.
I refer to the proposals made following the extension of an invitation to Queen Elizabeth to visit Ireland. I underscore an important point made by Senator O'Toole. This is a proud and vigorous republic and our best days still lie ahead of us.
Although we do not need a visit by the Queen to confirm this, it is proof that our identity is evolving and strengthening that even in these difficult times that such a visit has been proposed. It is appropriate that we should have a broad debate on all the issues affecting this republic from its national identity to sport, an issue on which Senator Mooney touched, to a visit by the Queen. Our best days await us and a debate on the issues surrounding this visit is appropriate.
I welcome the proposed 500 new jobs at Dublin Airport. The developments there will bring it into the 21st century in terms of its facilities for travellers and so forth. We have not taken much stock recently of how well the economy has been performing in the last quarter. Those proposed jobs will bring the total number of jobs for this quarter up to approximately 4,500, which will be the biggest increase in jobs in more than two and half years. While jobs have been lost, it is important to bear in mind that there will be 440 new jobs in the retail and supply industry in the airport, which will bring the total number of new jobs for the airport up to 1,000. That will be mean a great deal for the many people who are unemployed in the area.
I would like the Leader to arrange for a debate on the energy industry — which is the next biggest employer that would provide a substantial number of jobs — and for the Minister to be in attendance. A number of people engaged in new projects in the energy industry have them almost capitalised and are ready to move on them. We should have a fast-track system for granting planning permission for major projects such as those which will create a massive number of new jobs. Some 2,000 or 3,000 jobs will be created in the construction stages and 700 or 800 permanent jobs will be created in the energy industry. It is important to have such a debate and I ask the Leader to try to arrange it before the summer recess.
I welcome the proposed visit of the Queen. It is wonderful that the Queen has now decided to visit to this country which has friendly relations with Britain. Many of the problems which arose in the past have been ironed out in the past ten years. The apology made by the Prime Minister of Britain for Bloody Sunday was a wonderful gesture, albeit long overdue. The Queen would be welcome here and we should do everything we can to make her visit a success.
I join other Senators in welcoming the news that the Queen may visit these shores. I was around when Prince Charles visited here in 1995 and remember that although the vast majority of people I saw welcomed him, there were some protests. Things have moved on since. Our relationship with Britain has matured. As previous Senators said, last week's announcement of the findings of the Bloody Sunday inquiry have helped, as have the maturing political allegiances in the North of Ireland. Therefore, the proposed visit is welcome. I do not mind whether the Queen goes to County Leitrim or to County Kerry as long as she starts off in County Meath. Racing is the sport of kings and we have the Queen's Plate on Bellewstown hill. It would be wonderful to see the Queen turn up at Bellewstown and enjoy the races there.
This will be between the wild country and the Kingdom.
I extend an invitation to Bellewstown to everyone in this House. The races start there next week and it is a fantastic location.
She may come to visit us for a month, if she is to get to go to all these places.
It sounds like we had better get that train out.
I have a question on the Order of Business concerning the proposed election for a mayor of Dublin. What is the position? I am glad that the Leader and the deputy leader are here today because the deputy leader told this House on 19 May that the Cabinet had agreed to hold an election in 2010 and that the legislation would be before this House by the end of this session. Two weeks remain until the end of this session and that legislation has not come before us. I asked the Leader on 19 May to confirm the situation and I ask him again today what is the position regarding the Dublin mayoral election? Is this a case of the tail wagging the dog, given that Senator Boyle has promised this legislation which we have yet to see? I want to know what the Leader will do about this?
I asked about that legislation yesterday.
No interruptions, please. I call Senator Ó Murchú.
It seems that the Queen will have to stay for a year if she is to go to all the places to which she will be invited.
I wonder if she would be happy about that.
I wish her a very pleasant time. She comes across as a very nice lady. I will not extend an invitation from Cashel — I will leave it to the town council to do it.
I very definitely accept the apology from Senator Norris. I also accept that in future we will confine our debate to the Chamber. I thank him for his kind comments which I can return. He is an exceptionally distinguished Senator. I have a sense that there will be a perception that we will set up a mutual admiration society.
I wish to make a few points on this matter because it is important. I believe the Senator has taken my views on the Order of Business out of context. If he checks the record, he will note that I spoke in favour of the substantive thrust of the Civil Partnership Bill.
I did so at length and believe the Senator welcomed that on the day. Nothing has changed in that regard. I still hold exactly that position. The Senator referred to people who want to refer to the Bill in a derogatory sense and that was the reason I spoke yesterday morning. I felt we must have freedom of speech. If people speak, I hope they speak genuinely, sincerely and generously. I have had the feeling for some time past that we were stifling debate on this issue. The only point I was making was on the conscience issue, which I hold very strongly, not the point about my conscience regarding the vote but regarding some of the elements where other people will suffer as a result of their actions. I look forward to the Second Stage of the Bill.
So do I and I will rebut the Senator's comments there.
We will have a good debate at that time. I bear no personal animosity towards the Senator, absolutely none. He is one of the finest contributors in the Seanad. I seem to agree with him 90% of the time. I certainly hope that after this morning's interaction we can express our views genuinely, but I assure the Senator of this much, with regard to the references he made about the back of the bus and all that, I will support him on these issues.
And for the Presidency.
He need not have any doubt in that regard.
I thank the Cathaoirleach for allowing me to make those comments——
Will the Senator second Senator Norris's nomination for the Presidency?
——because I believe it is in the interests of democracy——
I will accept the Senator's nomination for the park.
——to make those points. Perhaps we have cleared the air and perhaps people who want to express a view will have the courage and feel free to do it. Bail ó Dhia ar on obair.
I would normally not allow such comment on the Order of Business. If people have a dispute on the Order of Business, I do not want it to be settled the following morning here in any shape or form. There are other fora where they can meet and discuss the issues. I would prefer if such a matter was not raised again on the Order of Business. I am happy that the Senators have put to bed their differences.
I do not know how one could follow that.
Follow that one, Jerry.
I am glad that Senator is on the road that leads to the park.
I remind the Senator that we are dealing with the Order of Business.
I support the comments made by Senator Coffey. This morning 50,000 students are finishing their leaving certificate and they are bereft of hope. They see a Government with no vision and no plan and their future as one of idleness from which they will be forced to emigrate. That is not what we want for them or the Ireland we want to have in the 21st century.
Senator McCarthy spoke this morning about the proposed €3 billion cuts. Will the Leader invite the Taoiseach, who has not been to this House, to come to this House to outline where he intends to find the €3 billion cuts? We should have an honest debate on that and start the pre-budget debate in this House, as there are important issues to be addressed. The Government does not have a jobs plan. The number of people under the age of 25 who are unemployed is staggering. That is a sad indictment on the Green Party and on Fianna Fáil, in particular. That is the reality. If one canvasses any day and talks to young people, they will say they are at home, watching television, that they cannot go anywhere, that they see no future for themselves and they will ask why should they bother. It is a disgrace.
Is the Senator seeking a debate?
I am. It is a disgrace that there are so many apprentices who are now unable to finish their training and who are unable to get a proper qualification when they could be put to work either on houses that need to be finished or upgraded, or on our roads. The Government must start showing leadership and I want that debate urgently.
I refer to the impending visit of the Queen. I support Senator O'Toole. I am a republican and a nationalist and I do not have a narrow introspective viewpoint, but let us have a debate about what it means to be in a republic in the 21st century. Let us not start waving the flags with the impending arrival of the Queen. Let us have an honest debate about our relationship with England and the future we have for a united Ireland also.
I support Senator Buttimer on that point. It is good to have a debate on the republic, but I also think it is good that we can feel confident to invite heads of foreign states to this country, especially the Queen of England. It is fantastic that we can put our differences aside and the symbolism involved will be very positive.
It would be remiss of me not to add my voice to those who want to invite the Queen to Galway.
The city of the tribes.
It will be quite a tour of the country for her, but Galway is a fantastic location and I understand that her mother wanted to come to the Galway Races in the past. The Volvo Ocean Race is also coming to Galway.
The tent is gone, unfortunately.
Will she get an invite to the tent?
Questions to the Leader, please.
It is important to look at the possibility of the Queen addressing the Houses of the Oireachtas. It is something that Heads of State from other countries have done. There are photographs downstairs of many great leaders from around the world who have addressed the Houses. It would be appropriate for the Queen to do that if she visited this country.
Senator Ross called for a debate on opinion polls. I got some disturbing information last night that members of particular political parties have been canvassed for these opinions in large numbers. If that is occurring, then the methodology used in these opinion polls need to be seriously examined. If we are only having opinion polls so that the media can manipulate politics and create stories, there is something wrong here. Newspapers and media organisations can use whatever methodology they like and that is absolutely wrong.
The Minister for Finance has created a commission of investigation into the advice given in banking in recent years. I draw his attention to an effort being made in Britain to copy the American Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act 2006. This Act has led to creation of a website in which any expenditure above $25,000 by the Federal Government in the United States and a number of states is open to the public at no cost. In an age of transparency, this is the sort of thing we should examine. The British effort will require the Treasury to create a government expenditure website as well as giving the British Government the power to extend it to other public sector bodies. This seems to be a perfect way to ensure the citizens know what the Government spends. We are not talking about every penny; it is only for anything above $25,000 in the United States. The cost of putting this into operation in the United States was $1 million for the Federal Government, while it only cost $25,000 for some states such as Missouri.
This is something towards which the Minister should work. Instead of having investigations into what happened in the past, we would all be able to watch this. We could have pie charts and bar charts and we would be able to see exactly what type of Government expenditure is taking place. There will be no enthusiasm for this inside the public sector, but it is something the citizens would welcome and is something that would benefit all of us involved in trying to control public expenditure.
I support the call by Senator Coffey and others for a debate on the future for young people. As a parent of a young person who has just completed the leaving certificate, I am delighted to say that most young people go on to third level education, unlike in my time. I have another son who is coming out of college and he is asking the questions that we are asking in this House. That is why I support the call for a debate. Such a debate should be meaningful, with appropriate briefing documents available to us and the appropriate personnel available to participate in that debate. It should be done in a structured manner.
With the global depression, there are not great opportunities for young people today. What can we do and what innovative incentives can we put in place? Can we come up with a national plan on how we go about this? Is it to be done by solving the banking crisis first? Is it to be done by ensuring credit will be available for people who want to take risks and be rewarded accordingly? Is it to be done by creating the smart economy or by creating areas of environmentally friendly policies? There is a range of issues and I would support such a debate.
I would like the Leader to reconsider his response to me on yesterday's Order of Business, when I asked for a debate on carers. His previous response was somewhat different, and I think he agrees that we need an appropriate debate on carers.
Can the Leader arrange appropriate documents for a debate to be held at a later stage on State supports and all matters relating to domestic violence?
The Queen is certainly welcome to Galway.
There is no need for a Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport at all, with all the Members in here promoting the country.
Indeed. She is certainly welcome.
The prospect of a property tax has certainly put fear into people's hearts. The feedback I get is that there will not be enough places in jail for the number of people willing to go there if a property tax is introduced now.
It is very important that we start the pre-budget debate on how to find the €3 billion. The Minster for Social Protection should pursue the misappropriation and abuse of social welfare, which is estimated at 10%. Ten per cent of €20 billion is €2 billion, and even if we got half that amount of money, it would go a long way towards resolving our problems. We also have 5,000 people working in the HSE without any job description, and it is time to pension them off.
I offer my sympathies and commiserate with the family of Dermot Earley. He held the highest office in the Defence Forces.
That is not appropriate to the Order of Business this morning.
In doing so, it has called to mind the role of the Defence Forces. We are very aware of the valid role they play abroad, but it is time we had a debate on the role of the Army. I have learned recently that the Defence Forces have about 1,200 civil servants working for it, which is a great number. We need to look at everything in this country right now; therefore, a debate with the Minister for Defence would be most worthwhile.
I raised last week the prospect of having a debate on infrastructure and infrastructural investment. In view of the Taoiseach's statement that €6 billion will be spent on investment, it is imperative that we debate the various items that we feel may be a benefit to the State if they were funded as projects.
Speakers mentioned a debate about the budget cuts. That is the best thing we could have. I want to hear those on the other side of the House say where they will make the cuts.
They all admit cuts have to be made but do not want to cut their corner. Let us all admit that this has to be done and let us all sit down and work it out. Otherwise people should not whinge and cry after a budget is introduced on the basis they would not have done this or that.
The Government side has rubbished every proposal we made.
What about Deputy John McGuinness?
Senator Buttimer is the nearest thing to a microphone I have ever found in the House; he is switched on and switched off.
Nothing across the floor.
Senator Ellis should not lecture me. People in glasshouses should not throw stones.
I will give the Opposition one piece of advice; it should see how the Labour Party in Australia dealt with its business yesterday in comparison with how Fine Gael dealt with its business.
We do not need Senator Ellis's advice.
When we gave the Government advice prior to 2007 it did not take it and look where that got us.
Was that before the Senator joined up?
Read the record of both Houses.
Questions to the Leader, please.
The Government was being well advised but unfortunately it was blinded by hubris and its own ignorance.
Questions, please. to the Leader on the Order of Business.
The Government has made its bed and must sleep on it. It is its problem to deal with.
We will give it the best advice we can but that is the most we can do for it.
It has no advice to offer. That is the problem.
As we are on the issue, we should have a debate on the economy because there is much positive sentiment to the effect that we may have growth of 2% next year. This must be balanced with the acknowledgement that we will borrow €20 billion for the foreseeable future to balance the Government's spending. This is the equivalent to approximately 15% of our GDP. We need this debate to show people where we are going with the economy. We should not get over-enthusiastic that we have somehow come out of the mess we were walked into by the Government.
I was taken by the gushing sentiments from Fianna Fáil for a royal visit. It is very touching. We may need to put a queen of our own in Áras an Uachtaráin to counteract all the gushing sentiment towards the UK royal family.
We have one there already.
It is appropriate that we welcome the proposed visit of the British Queen. It shows a maturity in the nation——
She has not agreed to come yet.
——and it has happened at just the right time in light of the Saville report and a new beginning. During the visit there will be an interest in seeing how the horse racing fraternity does its business in Ireland. I hope a trip to Coolmore might be included. It just happens to be in Tipperary.
Or a stag hunt.
The Government will have it banned by then.
It will be a sign of maturity if the visit goes ahead and it is about time.
On the call for a debate on the economy, for fear that history will be rewritten, the calls made week in and week out by the Opposition for extra spending — not on one area but in every Department — during the run-up to 2007 show it really did not believe the good times were coming to an end.
I ask the Cathaoirleach's indulgence as I express our sympathy to the Earley family on the death of a great Irishman, sportsman and public servant. A very courteous and decent man died yesterday.
Senators Coffey, O'Toole, Ormonde, O'Donohoe and Callely expressed their serious concerns about the young generation and their hopes for its future. It is probably the best prepared young generation in the history of our country. It is a confident generation and I hope some of them will join the ranks of the Opposition and lift its spirit because its continuous——
Senator Cassidy is patronising the young people and it is most unfair of him.
No interruptions, please. The Leader is replying to the Order of Business.
The Leader is losing confidence by the day.
I did not interrupt Senator Coffey.
Senator Cassidy's ancestors were members of Fine Gael and he should come home to us.
Senator Cassidy should talk to the young people and they will tell him.
Senator Cassidy is patronising and inviting comment.
I will suspend the sitting if Members do not allow the Leader to reply to the Order of Business.
He is being most unfair.
The Leader is replying to the Order of Business.
This morning, senior Senators in the House gave an education to the newer Members.
Senator Cassidy is being patronising again.
Senators Norris and Ó Murchú——
He will not learn.
Senator Coffey has been in the chair of the Acting Leader of the Opposition for one day.
Senator Cassidy should learn to listen to the people. He has been around too long and does not listen. That is his problem. I will not be patronised. Some people have been around this House for too long and they do not listen and I will tell them so.
I ask the Leader to reply to the questions raised on the Order of Business.
On a point of order——
What is the point of order?
The point of order is on the tone, manner, talking down and disparaging way——
I ask Senator Healy Eames to resume her seat. That is not relevant.
It is inappropriate——
I will not discuss anyone's tone.
——and he continues to do it.
I ask the Leader to reply to the questions raised on the Order of Business.
The conduct is unprecedented. I have never seen anything like, never in my long years in this House. Talking about tone, people should listen back to the recordings of their contributions.
Less of the lectures.
I am giving the House the benefit of my experience and that is to be appreciated.
With regard to the comments on climate change, I would like to think that all committees make a very useful contribution to the proceedings of the House. The way forward for our political system must be through committees. They will save the countries tens of millions of euros having regard to events taking place in tribunals.
That is not what the Minister said.
I strongly support the committee system.
We had a debate on job creation and innovation in the House on Tuesday.
Where was the Minister? He was not here.
Please, no interruptions.
I noted everyone who made a contribution. Senator Coffey called for a debate on the democratic deficit. We will have no difficulty with having a debate on the matter. It will be after the summer recess because so much legislation is coming before the Houses, which will sit four days next week and the week after, and will sit for at least two days the following week.
That is the week we took off.
Are we in the bunker?
Senators O'Toole, Coghlan, Mooney, Donohoe, Butler, Hannigan, Ó Murchú, Buttimer, Ó Brolcháin, McCarthy, Ormonde, Healy Eames, Twomey and Hanafin expressed a welcome for Her Majesty's visit to Ireland and the historic occasion it will be. As was correctly stated, it is another step forward in the peace process that is so precious to us all. I wholeheartedly welcome it and look forward to her visit.
With regard to calls for a debate on issues relating to the budget I will certainly endeavour to see how this can be facilitated in the timeframe of the diary of the House. Senator Ann Ormonde called for a debate on planning guidelines and I understand a Bill may be before the House for its consideration prior to the summer recess.
I welcome the tone and expression of Senators Norris and Ó Murchú, both long-standing and very well respected Senators. Senator Mooney called for an urgent debate on the large amounts charged by Ticketmaster. This is a very timely call for a debate of this nature and I have no difficulty in agreeing to its taking place.
Senator Donohoe called for a debate on respite care and I have no difficulty with this. The Minister will be in the House next week to discuss the HSE and the health portfolio. The Senator could raise his concerns on that occasion.
Senator Larry Butler welcomed the announcement of the 500 new jobs at the new terminal at Dublin Airport. I wholeheartedly join him in this and I have a vested interest. Senator Butler also called for a debate on the energy industry and on wind power. We could become exporters of energy in the long term. I will have no difficulty in having a debate on this after the summer recess.
Senator Hannigan called for the publication of the Bill on the election of a Dublin mayor. I will come to the House next Tuesday with the timeframe.
Senator Quinn outlined to the House the good procedures followed in the United States of America, whereby any expenditure figure over $25,000 is published and the cost is met by Government agencies. It is a very good proposal which I will pass on to the Minister for Finance.
Senator Callely called for an urgent debate on carers. I gave a commitment on the matter in the House eight or nine weeks ago and will endeavour to arrange a debate on it before the summer recess. I fully support the Senator in his call. There was also a call for a debate on domestic violence. I have made a commitment on the matter and the debate will take place on the earliest possible date.
Senator Healy Eames called for a debate on the Defence Forces. I will have no difficulty in arranging such a debate.
Senator Ellis welcomed the Taoiseach's announcement that €6 billion was to be expended on infrastructural projects. This should be welcomed wholeheartedly, as it is one of the highest levels of expenditure in any state in Europe.
Senator Coffey has proposed an amendment to the Order of Business that a debate on youth employment be taken today. Is the amendment being pressed?
- Bradford, Paul.
- Burke, Paddy.
- Buttimer, Jerry.
- Cannon, Ciaran.
- Coffey, Paudie.
- Coghlan, Paul.
- Cummins, Maurice.
- Donohoe, Paschal.
- Healy Eames, Fidelma.
- McCarthy, Michael.
- McFadden, Nicky.
- Norris, David.
- O’Toole, Joe.
- Phelan, John Paul.
- Quinn, Feargal.
- Ryan, Brendan.
- Twomey, Liam.
- Boyle, Dan.
- Brady, Martin.
- Butler, Larry.
- Callely, Ivor.
- Carroll, James.
- Carty, John.
- Cassidy, Donie.
- Corrigan, Maria.
- Daly, Mark.
- Ellis, John.
- Feeney, Geraldine.
- Glynn, Camillus.
- Hanafin, John.
- McDonald, Lisa.
- Mooney, Paschal.
- Ó Brolcháin, Niall.
- Ó Domhnaill, Brian.
- Ó Murchú, Labhrás.
- O’Brien, Francis.
- O’Donovan, Denis.
- O’Malley, Fiona.
- O’Sullivan, Ned.
- Ormonde, Ann.
- Walsh, Jim.
- White, Mary M.
- Wilson, Diarmuid.