Order of Business

It is proposed to take No. 1, motion re arrangements for the address to Seanad Éireann on 23 June 2015 by Mr. Phil Hogan, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, to be taken without debate at the conclusion of the Order of Business; and No. 1a on the Supplementary Order Paper, Petroleum (Exploration and Extraction) Safety (Amendment) Bill 2015 - Order for Second Stage and Second Stage, to be taken at 12.45 p.m. and adjourned not later than 3 p.m., if not previously concluded, with the contributions of group spokespersons not to exceed eight minutes and those of all other Senators not to exceed five minutes.

To deal first with the immediate matter of the Petroleum (Exploration and Extraction) Safety (Amendment) Bill, there is no way we will accept the taking of this Bill on Second Stage today. The Bill has only just been published this morning. That is not acceptable, nor is it any way to do our business. I ask the Leader to withdraw the Bill. I do not understand the hurry with it. I ask that it be kicked back into next week because we will not accept it. On that basis we will not agree to the Order of Business. This is not the way to do our business. I am not saying we are necessarily opposed to the Bill itself, but we should not be doing our business that way.

I have a question for the Cathaoirleach about the procedure for Commencement matters. I lodged a Commencement matter on Tuesday which was taken this morning, for which I am grateful. When a Commencement matter is tabled, when is the Department concerned advised of the matter?

As soon as we receive it.

That is exactly as I thought. This morning I tabled a very important matter on the removal and reconfiguration of 33 acute surgical beds from Beaumont Hospital. The Minister of State, Deputy Simon Harris, is a decent guy and I have a lot of regard for him. He is a very good attender at this House. He is the Minister of State at the Department of Finance with responsibility for the Office of Public Works who comes in and reads a statement on behalf of the Minister for Health, Deputy Leo Varadkar, on the second busiest hospital in the country, a hospital in crisis, where 33 acute surgical beds for cancer patients have been removed. The Minister could not even be bothered to come to the House to take the debate. It is not just he who could not be bothered; the Minister of State at the Department of Health could not be bothered either. Instead, they have sent in the Minister of State with responsibility for the OPW who read a stock reply from the Minister. I do not know if it is something in the Fine Gael Party this week that its members are not able to write their own scripts. What the Minister of State read this morning was an exact copy of the statement from the management of Beaumont Hospital yesterday. The Minister of State reads a statement on behalf of the Minister for Health which is an exact copy of the statement issued by Beaumont Hospital management.

I received the response to my matter - a response I am not happy with - but to add insult to injury, the Minister tweeted: "Was in Seanad for two hours yesterday and no one mentioned this."

He is saying he did not know about the Commencement debate. He is using the excuse, which effectively is a lie, that he did not know about this.

I can confirm to the Senator that as soon as we receive the matters to be raised, they go to the Department.

I am certain of that from responses received from staff in the Seanad office, but why then is the Minister saying he did not know about this debate this morning and he expected to be told about it when he was in the House here yesterday? He has said he sat here for two hours and no one mentioned it to him. How long has he been here? The Minister has been a passenger in his Department or independent commentator who feels everyone else's pain and says, "God, is that not terrible?" Deputy Leo Varadkar is the Minister.

Does the Senator have a question for the Leader?

I am telling the Cathaoirleach that I am not accepting this from the Minister. I want him to come to the House today to debate the issue of 33 acute surgical-----

Is the Senator proposing an amendment to the Order of Business?

I propose an amendment to the Order of Business that the Minister for Health come to the House today to address the issue of 33 acute surgical beds in Beaumont Hospital which are being withdrawn without consultation with the staff. I also want the Minister to confirm when his Department was told about the Commencement debate because what he made public today is not true. He is hiding behind a lie on a serious issue. He is saying he was not aware of this debate and that is why he was not here today. It is nonsense. I am formally tabling an amendment to the Order of Business that the Minister come to the House today to clear up this matter immediately and withdraws the statement that he issued.

The Leader will respond to the Senator on the timing of the petroleum Bill, but we all agree with the Senator that it is not good legislative practice to have Second Stage scheduled immediately or soon after the publication of a Bill. That comment has been made often on both sides of the House previously.

It is an EU directive and the Government is running out of time to implement it.

We will hear from the Senator in one minute. He will have his chance.

Senator Ivana Bacik to continue, without interruption.

On the issue of the Berkeley tragedy, I support the idea of having some form of ecumenical memorial service for the students that would involve both Deputies and Senators in some fashion. I note there is work being done on that issue.

I renew the call to the Leader for a debate on victims' rights which I made yesterday in the light of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre statistics released yesterday. The figures from Women's Aid released today in its 2014 impact report also emphasise the need to have a debate on this issue. The Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Frances Fitzgerald, will be introducing legislation dealing with sexual offences and offences of domestic violence later this year, but the Women's Aid figures make for chilling reading. It discloses that 13,655 contacts were made during 2014 with Women's Aid direct services and reminds us also in the report that since 1996, some 207 women have been murdered in Ireland, 54% of those by a partner or ex-partner. This is a serious matter. Women's Aid state, of the contacts made with it, that 16,464 disclosures of domestic violence against women were made last year and they conclude that one in five women experience domestic violence in Ireland. This is a serious and pressing issue, and we need to look again at it. The Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality has considered this matter but, as legislators, we need to look again at how best to address this serious problem.

On a lighter note, I want to let colleagues know that this afternoon there will be an unveiling of a bust in honour of the late Václav Havel, former President of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic, at 5 p.m. in Leinster House. This is an important event. Václav Havel, of course, was a real figurehead for democracy and democratic values across central Europe, but also internationally. It is fitting that we are unveiling this memorial. I have been involved somewhat in the plans to unveil it and as somebody with Czech-Irish heritage, I am glad that we will have this bust in place in Leinster House from this afternoon.

I support my colleague, Senator Darragh O'Brien, and second his amendment to the Order of Business to bring the Minister for Health, Deputy Leo Varadkar, who one would swear was not the Minister for Health and merely worked as a commentator condemning actions in his own Department, allowing his response to be dictated by Beaumont Hospital and then wondering why the issue was not brought up yesterday. If it had been brought up yesterday, it would have been ruled out of order because it was not related to the Bill under discussion. Not only does the Minister not know what is going on in his own Department, but Leo, the commentator, does not know how the Seanad works.

The Senator should call him "Minister".

I am sorry - the Minister does not know how the Seanad works.

I welcome the announcement by the Pope in the past half an hour on climate change and ask for a debate on it. Climate change is the most serious issue facing mankind. It is the most serious threat facing the world at this time. When one considers that half of the creatures of the Earth have disappeared since 1990, in China life expectancy has reduced by five years because of air pollution and the US army has stated that it is a more serious threat than terrorism, that is the level of threat the planet faces at this time. I ask that we have this debate. It is not about being optimistic or pessimistic, but about being determined. There is a UN conference coming up in Paris in the near future and many of the experts in the field of climate change have stated that those who will decide the outcome in Paris will decide who lives and who dies. That is how serious climate change is for the planet. It is an issue that does not affect Europe as much as it affects those in Africa and elsewhere in the developing world, but it affects them to a degree that is life-threatening. I ask the Leader to organise a debate in that regard.

I very much welcome the figures for tourism and travel published last week by the CSO which show that spending in the first quarter of 2015 by overseas visitors rose by 10.5% in comparison with the same period last year. The data also show that the number of trips to Ireland by holidaymakers rose by 13.3%, while spending by holidaymakers was up by 12.9% in quarter one when compared with the same period in 2014. The figures show the significant contribution that tourism and visitors to the country are making to the economic recovery. The revenue associated with visitors from Great Britain grew by 5.8%, and from North America by 16.8%. If one walks around the streets of Dublin, the number of American visitors in the capital city is obvious and that is very much to be welcomed. I ask for a debate with the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Paschal Donohue, on the progress we are making in the area of tourism to ensure that we keep our eye on the ball and that all stakeholders and players in this business are doing everything possible to maximise the benefits from tourism for hotels, guest houses and restaurants and that we are not doing anything that will damage the sector and enterprise in the future.

I also ask for a debate on how we can ensure the benefits that are obvious in Dublin city, Killarney, Galway city and Connemara spread out into the more peripheral regions of the country. We need a debate on how we might make these places more attractive by possibly looking at transport subsidies to bring the visitors to the less travelled parts of the country. I refer to places such as east Galway that has much to offer. We are not getting the same benefit and Fáilte Ireland needs to up its game to ensure the benefits of the increased visitor numbers spread into the regions.

A few months ago I tabled a Bill which received some attention but which was not accepted. It had to do with essential services and to ban the willingness of workers to have a strike that would affect essential services. There was a good debate on the Bill and a good discussion about the various aspects of it, but it seems to be something on which the Government should keep its eye. It should be aware that this can be a significant threat.

We have a ban on striking in the Garda and the Army. It appears it is possible to consider a ban on that basis also. I am reminded of it because yesterday five of the larger airlines in Europe united to ensure air traffic controllers could not close down the airlines. It is not the airlines that were going on strike but the air traffic controllers. Michael O'Leary instanced the fact that there were 3,000 flight cancellations this year which affected 600,000 passengers. It is something we should consider. In the case of essential services we should be able to ensure certain strikes do not happen.

A point of interest is that Prime Minister Tsipras of Greece told us today that his wife threatened to leave him if he gave way on the economic front. It seems this is a powerful method. He said he was not going to give way solely because his wife would leave him. Perhaps it is something we should take into account.

He wants the drachma back.

We should discuss quite soon the challenge to us if Britain leaves the European Union. That will not happen until next year if it has a referendum, but it could happen. We should take contingency measures and watch what we should do to ensure the economy is protected if that happens.

I congratulate former President, Mrs. Mary McAleese, on her robust defence of Irish J1 visa students in the face of the scurrilous and deeply upsetting article in The New York Times. I draw a comparison with the Hillsborough disaster when The Sun newspaper represented the Liverpool fans as having been drunk and unruly and, in some way, responsible for the appalling disaster that befell them. I remind The New York Times that what followed was a 23 year ban and boycott of The Sun newspaper in Liverpool. Irish people, particularly Irish Americans, should consider their attitude towards The New York Times.

The second point relates to a PRTB rent index published today that again showed rents continue to rise, not just in the capital but all over the country. As I have said on previous occasions, a whole generation of Irish people are unlikely to own their own homes and will live in private rented accommodation for many decades, partly because they will be unable to access a bank loan to enable them to purchase and, partly, because it will take a considerable time to have the social housing necessary for people who will not be able to afford their own homes. The reality is that the private rented sector is not fit for purpose. There are spiralling rents, a chronic shortage of supply, a lack of real security for tenants and substandard accommodation. Yesterday I commended the remarks of the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Deputy Alan Kelly, who said at a Threshold conference earlier in the week that he would bring rent certainty measures to the Cabinet. I call on him, in the light of the best information we currently have which is being published today, to bring it to his Cabinet colleagues next week. This cannot wait. People are losing their homes and becoming homeless because they cannot afford to pay rent increases. I ask for an urgent debate on the issue.

Ba mhaith liom leasú ar Riar na hOibre a mholadh ar maidin. I call for an amendment to the Order of Business as I am extremely unhappy at the way in which the Petroleum (Exploration and Extraction) Safety (Amendment) Bill 2015 is being handled in this House. It was added to the agenda on Tuesday and was not signalled to us last week. The Bill was not available until 10 a.m. I acknowledge that we got a note or a memorandum from officials, but that is not sufficient for us to scrutinise legislation properly. The directive is a 40 page document, published on 12 June 2013. The sudden rush to push the legislation through is unacceptable. We do our best and we are not perfect, but to ask us to scrutinise the legislation, to match it against the directive and debate it today on Second Stage is unacceptable and makes a mockery of the House. I call on the Leader to amend the Order of Business in order that at the very least we have the weekend to study it. While the Bill may well be benign and may be badly needed, as legislators we cannot stand over it and we should not be asked to do so. I propose it be deferred at least until next week in order that we can give it proper and due consideration and do our job properly. There are people who would be concerned. We have had issues around the petroleum industry and the way Governments have handled petroleum legislation in the past. There are people who may think there is a sleight of hand here, that an attempt is being made to have legislation rushed through the Houses. I certainly would not want the Leader to be called on to do that or to be accused of taking part in that type of process because that is not his style. I am aware that in previous times he has deferred legislation such as this. I call for an amendment to the Order of Business that we do not debate the Petroleum (Exploration and Extraction) Safety (Amendment) Bill today, that it be deferred to at least next week.

Will the Senator, please, clarify whether he is proposing an amendment to the Order of Business? Is he asking the Leader to oppose bringing in the legislation or what exactly is he proposing?

Is the Senator asking the Leader to amend the Order of Business?

Yes, to defer No. 1a.

Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh is proposing that No. 1a be deferred.

I am proposing that No. 1a be deferred.

I second Senator Aideen Hayden's call for a debate on the issue of rental accommodation. The issue is demand driven and the greater the demand, the higher the rents. Landlords are aware that people are seeking accommodation and that they will pay whatever they can to get it because of the scarcity. I reiterate a call for a debate on rent caps for rent supplement which are inadequate. Accommodation cannot be found under the cap provided for. I ask the Leader to invite the Minister for Social Protection to come in for a debate on rent caps which are far too low in particular areas. Around the country it is very difficult to find accommodation under the rent cap. People are paying cash under the counter to landlords to bring down the cap. They will bring down the cap and get the balance in cash. I call for a debate on that issue.

I second Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh's amendment to the Order of Business. It seems extraordinary that things should be done in such a rush. I do not blame the Leader. This has come about because we were late in transposing an EU directive and that it was stuck in at the last minute. This shows very bad administration on the part of the Government. The Government should be strongly criticised for this and also the civil servants for not alerting the establishment. The Bill, so far as it goes, and in as far as I can understand it, is welcome. I have here the Order Paper for the day and there is no mention of it, not a whisper.

There is a Supplementary Order Paper.

I am well aware of that.

It is totally unacceptable.

This is the printed Order Paper for the day. There is not a whisper of it. It only came through at 10 a.m. The Bill is welcome. This is a response to the Deepwater Horizon environmental tragedy that took place in the Gulf of Mexico. When dealing with people such as Shell Oil one certainly needs to be up to date in terms of safety provisions as it will skimp on every single thing. It has been involved in accidents of various kinds all over the world so we need to monitor it. The Irish Government should be doing so and not at the behest of the European Commission. As we should be monitoring the operation of this company, I am very happy to second Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh's amendment.

I propose an amendment to the Order of Business to request the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Deputy Heather Humphreys, to come to the House to outline the position on the sale of valuable paintings, including a Rubens, at Christie's of London on 9 July.

Under section 49 of the National Cultural Institutions Act 1997, the Minister has to give permission. Why was this power delegated to the National Gallery of Ireland, the director of which is Mr. Sean Rainbird and who is also a trustee of the Sir Alfred Beit-Russborough House collection? I commend An Taisce and Mr. Ian Lumley for taking the matter to the High Court, represented by Tim Smith of law firm, Phelim O'Neill. They were granted permission in the High Court by Mr. Justice Nicholas Kearns to challenge the granting of an export licence for the artworks. The case will come before the High Court on 3 July when the sale is proposed for 9 July. The interesting point is An Taisce also has a representative on the Beit Foundation, namely, Consuelo O’Connor. This is intriguing. I believe the Minister is negligent in her responsibilities in this regard. Under section 49, the licence granted by the governors and guardian of the National Gallery of Ireland was, therefore, granted without any statutory authority and the purported sale of delegation by the Minister is ultra vires. The issue is extremely grave. We can see the cranes outside over the National Gallery of Ireland. To think it would approve the sale of these invaluable and priceless works of art in Britain and elsewhere and to deprive this country of the wishes of Sir Alfred Beit who provided those paintings for the State under trusteeship is absolutely disgraceful. Will the Leader request the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Deputy Heather Humphreys, come to the House to explain why she, like Pontius Pilate, is washing her hands of this particular matter, even though she has the full legal responsibility under the Act?

That is not true.

Those are the facts. She has no authority to delegate these powers to anybody else. It shows a complete lack of responsibility. How could she call herself the Minister for the bloody arts?

There is no Minister for the bloody arts.

I do not think the arts are bloody, in fairness.

(Interruptions).

Could any other arts Minister in any other country stand over the sale of a Rubens?

The Senator can make these points during the debate later.

I hope we get a debate and the Cathaoirleach uses his influence to bring that woman into this House.

I have no role in that matter.

I second Senator Terry Leyden’s amendment to the Order of Business. It is simply unbelievable that we would start to sell off the assets of the State and the people.

I compliment the former president, Mary McAleese, on her robust attack on The New York Times. How dare they use a tragedy to sell their newspaper by twisting the story on J1 visas?

Following on from our debate yesterday on councillors, ten minutes ago I received a most distressing telephone call from a councillor, a woman in her 40s who has just been diagnosed with breast cancer. She is a single parent and about to lose €86 a week because of legislation brought in here regarding single parents. She told me she has been in contact with her council and the Department of Social Protection but to no avail. She is absolutely distressed beyond belief. She has no idea of how her income is going to be sorted out as she goes through her cancer treatment. She told me the answer she has been given by some is that she is not an employee. I have legal advice, as I said yesterday, and know the employment status of a councillor. We will have to examine introducing sick pay and a point of reference for those we elect to the lowest level of political life where they can go to a one-stop shop to get all the information they need regarding their entitlements. We are paying the people concerned less than the minimum wage. It is outrageous to think the woman in question, with two children, will lose €86 a week and has no idea whether she will be entitled to anything from the council after several months out sick. I have had a daughter who has had cancer and know the trauma that caused us. I cannot imagine what the woman who was on to me is feeling today. It behoves all of us in this Chamber to do everything we can before we rise next month. I do not want to make this a cheap shot, but it was distressing to receive a call like that.

I welcome today’s bilateral meeting between the Taoiseach and the UK Prime Minister, Mr. David Cameron. This is their third annual summit to review progress since their joint statement of March 2012. As we know, they have many important matters, economic and otherwise, to discuss such as the proposed British referendum on membership of the European Union and the situation in Northern Ireland, including a number of important legacy issues, not least of which is the question of collusion. We look forward to this meeting and we wish the Taoiseach well.

We all have sympathy with the points made by Senator Gerard P. Craughwell. As regards the wider issues, we all are waiting, in a united fashion, for the outcome of the meetings between the representative associations, namely, LAMA, the Local Authorities Members Association, and AILG, the Association of Irish Local Government, with the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Governmen t, Deputy Alan Kelly. It behoves us all to hold our whist while these meetings take place. Councillors know that we are backing them and will be ready when they call on us for a meeting or whatever further support will be necessary.

Will the Leader organise a debate on the National Ambulance Service? There are different issues regarding the ambulance service across the country. I was recently contacted regarding a bedbound 87-year old lady who was being cared for at home by her daughter. However, her daughter is due to go into hospital for surgery. She looked for an ambulance to bring her mother to the community hospital for a week’s respite care but none was available. We listen every day here to Opposition Members and the public about this, that and the other. How we treat people is how we judge our society. If we cannot provide an ambulance for an 87-year old lady in such a case, then it is not a good reflection of our society. I would like a full, frank and open debate on the National Ambulance Service. Some of the information that came from the ambulance services in Cork and Dublin stated that the intermediate care service ambulance is not guaranteed for such patients in the community and is the responsibility of local services. Local services might be different in Dublin. In County Kerry, however, they are not available. The ambulance service stated this was new policy. I would like to know what this policy involves. Will the Leader organise a debate on the National Ambulance Service?

The Cathaoirleach clarified the question raised by Senator Darragh O’Brien on Commencement matters. I will bring the reply received to the attention of the Minister for Health and his office. I cannot do anything further.

At a meeting of the Government on 16 June it was agreed that a petroleum (exploration and extraction) safety (amendment) Bill would be published. This technical Bill will transpose EU Directive 2013/30/EU, also known as the offshore safety directive. The deadline for its transposition is 19 July. The Government is anxious for this deadline to be met. I understand fully the points made by Members on the other side of the House about this legislation. I do not think it is acceptable to expect the House to deal with a Bill that is only being published today. In view of the strong representations made by Members, I am proposing to defer our consideration of the Bill until an opportune time next week.

I know that departmental officials made themselves available for oral briefings on the Bill yesterday. Nevertheless, I think Members of the House have been given insufficient time to deal with this technical legislation.

We will deal with it next week. Unfortunately, that leaves us with just one motion to deal with today.

Perhaps the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Deputy Heather Humphreys, might come to the House.

The Senator might let me reply. He has had his say. I will come to what he said.

Senator Ivana Bacik raised a number of items, including the unveiling of a bust of Václav Havel in Leinster House this afternoon.

Senator Mark Daly spoke about the papal encyclical on climate change and the Pope's comments on the matter this morning. I prefer not to reply to points made by Senators on the Order of Business if they are not present when I am responding because they have not stayed in the Chamber. I will, however, disregard that policy on this occasion to remind Senator Mark Daly that the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill 2015 has reached Committee Stage in the other House. As soon as the Bill completes its passage through that House, we will have a comprehensive debate on it here. Many Members, including the Deputy Leader, have sought such a debate on several occasions in order that we can deal with the issue of climate change.

The tourism and travel statistics referred to by Senator Michael Mullins certainly make for positive reading. The sector is a vital cog in the wheel of economic recovery. The Senator called for a further debate on tourism with the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Paschal Donohoe. We will try to facilitate it.

I note Senator Feargal Quinn's points about air traffic controllers. For whatever reason, we hear about strikes practically every summer. It is an inconvenience to the airlines and passengers. As the Senator pointed out, the airlines are not responsible.

I also note the Senator's points about the proposed referendum in Britain on leaving the European Union. I am sure that issue will be a subject of conversation at the meeting taking place today between the Taoiseach and the British Prime Minister.

I do not know what I can say in response to the Senator's assertion that the Greek Prime Minister's wife intends to leave him if the Greek Government accepts certain terms. I think that is a matter for the Prime Minister, but I am sure we all hope a solution can be found.

Senators Aideen Hayden and Gerard P. Craughwell, among others, commended the former President, Mrs. Mary McAleese, for her letter in response to a deeply upsetting article in The New York Times about students with J1 visas. I agree that Irish-Americans should reconsider their attitude towards The New York Times as a result of this scurrilous article which has rightly been condemned by the Government and the former President.

Senators Aideen Hayden and Marie Moloney spoke about the private rented sector, in particular rent caps. They called on the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government to take action immediately to provide certainty for tenants. The Minister had indicated that he would be bringing the matter to the attention of the Cabinet. I am sure that will happen soon. As soon as that is done, I hope he will come to this House to explain the position in that regard.

Senator Terry Leyden spoke about Russborough House, an issue which was raised yesterday by a number of Senators. I gave a reply on that occasion which I will give again today. It is worth noting that the foundation did not consult the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in advance of deciding to sell nine paintings from the Beit collection. The Minister was informed after the decision had been taken and an export licence had been granted by the National Gallery of Ireland. It is a devolved function of the gallery.

Therefore, the sale of the paintings was presented to the Minister as a fait accompli. The Senator is right in his assertion that a member of the National Gallery of Ireland and a member of An Taisce were on the board that made the decision.

I am puzzled by it. It is incredible that the board made such a decision without informing the Minister. It is absolutely disgraceful. The Minister was told that as a contract had been entered into with Christie's, it was a fait accompli. The trustees have said they could have been caught for £1.4 million if they had opted out.

It would be unenforceable.

The Minister should bang the table and say she is not happy with this.

She has met the chairman. As I mentioned, this is what she was told.

She should sack the board.

That might happen. One never knows what might happen. I am not the Minister, but it is ludicrous-----

The same happened to Mr. McNulty in County Donegal.

The Senator has had his say and made his point. There is no point in chirping in like a peacock at every opportunity.

I like to respond to points made by the Leader.

I have replied to the best of my ability with a factual reply which I hope the Senator will take on board.

May I reply to the Leader?

The Senator can speak during the debate on the issue.

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell spoke about the employment status of councillors and mentioned a specific case. There is no doubt that the employment status of councillors needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency. They are told that they are paid an allowance, rather than a salary, and that they have to pay tax, PRSI and USC on that allowance. Senator Paul Coghlan has mentioned that the Local Authority Members Association and the Association of Irish Local Government will meet the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government in early course to address a number of items of concern to them. It is right that the representative associations should meet the Minister to make their case. I assure them that the vast majority of Members of this House support them in their efforts to secure proper employment conditions for councillors. Such conditions are not currently available to them.

Senator Tom Sheahan spoke about ambulance services and called for a debate with the Ministrer for Health on the National Ambulance Service. I will try to facilitate that debate.

Senator Darragh O'Brien has proposed an amendment to the Order of Business: "That a debate with the Minister for Health on his management of a response to a Commencement matter concerning Beaumont Hospital be taken today." Is the amendment being pressed?

Amendment put:
The Seanad divided: Tá, 13; Níl, 19.

  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Craughwell, Gerard P.
  • Crown, John.
  • Daly, Mark.
  • Heffernan, James.
  • Leyden, Terry.
  • Norris, David.
  • Ó Clochartaigh, Trevor.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • Power, Averil.
  • Quinn, Feargal.
  • White, Mary M.
  • Wilson, Diarmuid.

Níl

  • Bacik, Ivana.
  • Burke, Colm.
  • Coghlan, Paul.
  • Conway, Martin.
  • Cummins, Maurice.
  • Higgins, Lorraine.
  • Keane, Cáit.
  • Kelly, John.
  • Landy, Denis.
  • Moloney, Marie.
  • Mulcahy, Tony.
  • Mullins, Michael.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • O'Donnell, Marie-Louise.
  • O'Neill, Pat.
  • Sheahan, Tom.
  • van Turnhout, Jillian.
  • Whelan, John.
  • Zappone, Katherine.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Terry Leyden and Diarmuid Wilson; Níl, Senators Ivana Bacik and Paul Coghlan.
Amendment declared lost.

Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh has proposed an amendment to the Order of Business: "That No. 1a, Petroleum (Exploration and Extraction) Safety (Amendment) Bill 2015 - Order for Second Stage, not be taken today." Is the amendment agreed to? Agreed.

Senator Terry Leyden has proposed an amendment to the Order of Business: "That a debate with the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht on the imminent sale of paintings from the Beit collection be taken today." Is the amendment being pressed?

May I elaborate on it?

Amendment put.
The Seanad divided by electronic means.

As a teller, I request that the division be taken again other than by electronic means.

The Senator's request is granted.

Amendment put:
The Seanad divided: Tá, 17; Níl, 18.

  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Craughwell, Gerard P.
  • Crown, John.
  • Daly, Mark.
  • Heffernan, James.
  • Leyden, Terry.
  • Norris, David.
  • Ó Clochartaigh, Trevor.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Donnell, Marie-Louise.
  • Power, Averil.
  • Quinn, Feargal.
  • Reilly, Kathryn.
  • van Turnhout, Jillian.
  • White, Mary M.
  • Wilson, Diarmuid.
  • Zappone, Katherine.

Níl

  • Bacik, Ivana.
  • Burke, Colm.
  • Burke, Paddy.
  • Coghlan, Paul.
  • Conway, Martin.
  • Cummins, Maurice.
  • Hayden, Aideen.
  • Higgins, Lorraine.
  • Keane, Cáit.
  • Kelly, John.
  • Landy, Denis.
  • Moloney, Marie.
  • Mulcahy, Tony.
  • Mullins, Michael.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • O'Neill, Pat.
  • Sheahan, Tom.
  • Whelan, John.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Terry Leyden and Diarmuid Wilson; Níl, Senators Paul Coghlan and Aideen Hayden.
Amendment declared lost.

The result of the vote was tied. Where there is an equality of votes, pursuant to Article 15.11.2° of the Constitution, I must exercise my casting vote. In this case, I voted against the question. Is the Order of Business, as amended, agreed to?

Question put: "That the Order of Business be agreed to."
The Seanad divided: Tá, 17; Níl, 18.

  • Bacik, Ivana.
  • Burke, Colm.
  • Coghlan, Paul.
  • Conway, Martin.
  • Cummins, Maurice.
  • Hayden, Aideen.
  • Higgins, Lorraine.
  • Keane, Cáit.
  • Kelly, John.
  • Landy, Denis.
  • Moloney, Marie.
  • Mulcahy, Tony.
  • Mullins, Michael.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • O'Neill, Pat.
  • Sheahan, Tom.
  • Whelan, John.

Níl

  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Craughwell, Gerard P.
  • Crown, John.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Daly, Mark.
  • Heffernan, James.
  • Leyden, Terry.
  • Norris, David.
  • Ó Clochartaigh, Trevor.
  • O'Brien, Mary Ann.
  • O'Donnell, Marie-Louise.
  • Power, Averil.
  • Quinn, Feargal.
  • Reilly, Kathryn.
  • van Turnhout, Jillian.
  • White, Mary M.
  • Wilson, Diarmuid.
  • Zappone, Katherine.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Paul Coghlan and Aideen Hayden; Níl, Senators Terry Leyden and Diarmuid Wilson.
Question declared lost.

I propose a suspension of the sitting for approximately 15 minutes. The decision not to adopt the Order of Business, as amended, has a bearing on the business to be conducted next Tuesday when No. 1 on the agenda was to be the address to the House by the European Commissioner. Perhaps I might return in 15 minutes with a suggestion to deal with the matter.

I propose an amendment to the Leader's proposal to the effect that the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Deputy Heather Humphreys, be called to the House to-----

The proposal is not about the Minister but about the ordering of business.

It is about-----

We are only dealing with a suspension of the sitting.

(Interruptions).

I want to clarify the procedure.

The proposal is that there be a suspension of the sitting for 15 minutes.

A full suspension of the sitting for the day is not being proposed.

I can revert to this issue.

It is just about a suspension of the sitting for 15 minutes.

(Interruptions).

The House will resume in 15 minutes.

May I have a moment to speak to my colleague, please?

A Senator

This is not a council meeting.

We are seeking legal advice.

Senator Darragh O'Brien to continue, without interruption.

We need to be clear on the procedure. The Leader's proposal does not involve the formal suspension of the sitting for the day.

I have no difficulty with a 15-minute suspension of the sitting. I am certain everyone wants the European Commissioner to attend the House next week. No one wants to block that happening. However, we will propose an amendment, on foot of a further proposal from the Leader, to the effect that the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht attend the House after the suspension for a one-hour debate-----

I can only deal with the proposal that there be a suspension of the sitting for 15 minutes.

-----on the serious issues raised by a number of colleagues.

A number of colleagues across the House.

Yes, that is what I said.

The Leader's proposal is that the sitting be suspended for 15 minutes until 1.30 p.m.

Will the Leader amend that proposal?

Is the proposal agreed to?

No, it is not agreed to.

Get your ducks in a row, Darragh.

Please, Senators.

I do not see why something cannot be agreed to dealing with next Tuesday's invitation. The Leader might make such a proposal immediately by way of an amendment to the Order of Business. It could read: "We agree to have Commissioner Hogan here next week."

We can certainly do that.

That would deal with the Leader's issue.

That is the amendment I will return with at 1.30 p.m.

That is settled. We will all agree to it.

Also, my office is trying to ascertain whether the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Deputy Heather Humphreys, will be available today. I cannot propose an amendment until we receive that information from her office. That is what I will be doing during the next 15 minutes.

Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell wants to speak.

I am proposing to suspend the sitting of the House.

The Leader has proposed that it be suspended until 1.30 p.m.

I propose an amendment to the Leader's proposal to the effect that the sitting be suspended until 1.30 p.m. and that the Minister be requested to attend the House afterwards.

The proposal only concerns a suspension of the sitting.

That is okay. It is to be suspended for 15 minutes. That is agreed to.

Is it agreed that the sitting be suspended until 1.30 p.m.? Agreed.

Sitting suspended at 1.15 p.m. and resumed at 1.30 p.m.

It is proposed that No. 1, motion re arrangements for the address to Seanad Éireann on 23 June by Mr. Phil Hogan, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, be taken now without debate; and that No. 1b on the Supplementary Order Paper, statements on the Beit collection, as requested, be taken at 4.30 p.m. and conclude not later than 5.30 p.m., with the contributions of all Senators not to exceed five minutes and the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht to be called on to reply to the debate not later than 5.20 p.m. Owing to the Minister's schedule today, this is the earliest time at which she can attend.

I thank the Leader. I know that much of this had to be arranged at short notice. On behalf of my group, I am agreeable to the Leader's proposal for the amended Order of Business for today.

Is the proposal agreed to? Agreed.