We certainly have had a marathon session. I do not wish to reply to all of the comments made on the Seanad referendum and the issue of political reform because we will have another opportunity to do so later today. I am sure we will have a comprehensive debate, not only on the issue of Seanad reform but also on political reform in general.
Senator Ivana Bacik raised the issue of Priory Hall, as did other Members. I hope that matter will be resolved amicably in the coming days.
Senator Katherine Zappone referred to the issue of legislative change being required for reform. I agree with her that there is no appetite among the public for another referendum on the issue of how individuals should be elected to Seanad Éireann. Therefore, we must deal with that matter through legislative change.
Senator David Norris called for a permanent electoral commission. I will bring that matter to the attention of the Government. I note the Senator's points on the ballot papers. Many pointed out that the ballot papers for the referendums were less than clear and this matter will have to be addressed in future ballots.
Senators Paul Coghlan, Mark Daly, Marc MacSharry and others referred to EU directives. I am firmly of the view that this House should be involved in the scrutiny of EU directives, but there are very few due to be transposed into Irish law before the end of the year. We have already had two debates on different directives - the first on a health directive, in which four Members spoke, and the second on a directive on child exploitation, in which 12 Senators spoke. If anybody wishes to bring forward further suggestions for debate on directives, I will certainly facilitate them. I agree that scrutiny of EU legislation is an area in which this House should have a greater involvement.
Senator Paul Coghlan and others referred to the importance of ensuring the new Court of Appeal is established as a matter of urgency.
Senators Aideen Hayden, Jillian van Turnhout and Trevor Ó Clochartaigh raised the issue of direct provision for asylum seekers, with reference to a report in The Irish Times today. That report shows that the inspection regime put in place by the Reception and Integration Agency, within the remit of the Department of Justice and Equality, is working. Identifying problems and having them fixed is the purpose of a good inspection regime. Maintenance issues are an ongoing fact of life and dealt with on a comprehensive basis by that body. I hope to have the Minister in the House in early course for a debate on the issue. I had asked that he come on Thursday, but he indicated that he was unavailable. I assure Senators that I will ask him to come to the House soon to address the matters they have raised.
Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell sought details of the sale of the national lottery franchise. She might table the issue for discussion with the relevant Minister on the Adjournment.
Senators Colm Burke, Marc MacSharry and John Crown referred to the need to resolve the dispute between junior doctors and the Health Service Executive at the earliest possible date. All Members share that wish.
Senators John Crown and John Whelan referred to the 1979 referendum on Seanad reform, in respect of which no legislation has ever been implemented. I hope a motion will be put to the House urging the Government to implement the provisions of that referendum as soon as possible.
Senator David Cullinane referred to job creation. As I said, the Government's focus in the forthcoming budget and in general is on jobs and job creation. The Senator expressed his regret at the loss of 70 jobs in my home city. However, Honeywell has offered assurances regarding its continued confidence in Waterford, where 300 people remain employed.
Senator Catherine Noone raised the issue of submissions to the Minister for Finance on the sugar tax. I am sure he has received these submissions, but we will have to wait until next week to see whether he acts on them. The Senator welcomed the measures being taken by the European Union to tackle the abuse of tobacco. This initiative was led by the Government and, as I am sure everybody will accept, represents a win for all the people of Europe in taking on the tobacco industry.
Senator Ned O'Sullivan referred to political reform, an issue I have covered. With Senator John Gilroy, he has reminded the House that this is nurses week. We all agree with their comments lauding the important work of nurses and midwives.
Senator Jillian van Turnhout referred to the Health Information and Quality Authority's report on a facility in Monaghan.
I understand a decision has been taken by HIQA to close the unit by the end of October. There are two young people residing in the unit and the HSE is finding suitable alternative placements for them. All managers and staff in the unit will be redeployed.
Senator Mark Daly mentioned EU directives. With regard to pyrite legislation, I will find out for Senator Thomas Byrne the current status of the Bill.
On the point raised by Senator Denis Landy, we will have the local government Bill in the House in the next couple of weeks. I also note the Senator's point on medical cards, a matter I will bring to the attention of the Minister for Health. Compared to when the Government took office, 250,000 more people are eligible for free GP care, a point that should be highlighted.
Most of the other points concern reform of the House and the body politic. Senator Mary White mentioned her Bill on mandatory retirement, a point that will be addressed again in the House. On the point made by Senator Fidelma Healy Eames, I will listen to proposals for reform of the House from any quarter and bring these matters to the attention of the Government. Senator James Heffernan commented on the role of Sinn Féin in the campaign.