Order of Business

Before calling the Leader to announce the Order of Business, I welcome Deputy Noel Grealish who is in the Visitors Gallery.

The Order of Business is No. 1, statements on growing tourism to 2025, to be taken at 1 p.m. and conclude not later than 3 p.m., with the contributions of group spokespersons not to exceed eight minutes and those of all other Senators not to exceed five minutes and a Minister or a Minister of State to be called on to reply to the debate not later than 2.50 p.m.; No. 2, Communications Regulation (Postal Services) (Amendment) Bill 2015 - Committee and Remaining Stages, to be taken at 3 p.m. and adjourned not later than 5 p.m., if not previously concluded; No. 2a, motion for earlier signature of the Communications Regulation (Postal Services) (Amendment) Bill 2015, to be taken without debate at the conclusion of No. 2; No. 3, Petroleum (Exploration and Extraction) Safety Bill 2015 - Committee and Remaining Stages, to be taken at 5 p.m. and adjourned not later than 7 p.m., if not previously concluded; No. 4, Private Members' business, Harmful and Malicious Electronic Communications Bill 2015 - Second Stage, to be taken at 7 p.m. and conclude not later than 9 p.m.; and No. 5, Statute Law Revision Bill 2015 - Report and Final Stages, to be taken at 9 p.m. and adjourned not later than 11 p.m., if not previously concluded.

Unfortunately, for the second day in a row I must, on behalf of the Fianna Fáil group, extend my deepest sympathy, this time with regard to the tragedy that occurred yesterday in Baltimore, with the loss of three lives. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Ryan and O'Connor families.

Last week I raised with the Leader and brought to the attention of colleagues the situation in regard to pancreas transplants in Ireland, which is extremely grave. I do not know if anybody read the interview with the retired surgeon, Dr. David Hickey, who has performed all 118 pancreas transplants completed to date. He effectively said Beaumont Hospital and the HSE could face corporate manslaughter charges over the closure of the pancreatic transplant programme. I am dealing with some families whose relatives are on the waiting list for pancreas transplants and they have no access to the transplant teams. They have been told that if there is a problem, they must go to an accident and emergency department. This is in the case for both pre-transplant and post-transplant patients. People who have received pancreas and kidney transplants are being told that if they have a problem, they should go to the accident and emergency department. That is the worst place a person in such a position should go because of the fear of infection, to which he or she would be much more prone.

I wrote to the Minister for Health nearly two weeks ago about this matter but he has not yet responded. I know that he has responded to Fine Gael colleagues who raised the issue with him. He has indicated that the service is moving from Beaumont Hospital to St. Vincent's University Hospital. That may be the case, but the problem is that we have not appointed a surgeon to carry out the duties.

I will not name those mentioned in the article in The Irish Times who outlined their cases. They have been left in limbo. Neither the Minister nor anyone in the Department of Health or the HSE is giving any guidance as to when this situation will be rectified. The operation in question is a lifesaving and life-changing one; therefore, time is of the essence. Dr. Hickey's retirement was well flagged in advance and that position is still vacant. For the HSE and the Minister to say to the service is being moved to St. Vincent's University Hospital means nothing because the position has not been filled and there is no one to carry out these operations. I am meeting families who have been affected by this issue at 5.30 p.m. It is not acceptable that the Minister has not answered me at this stage. It is also not acceptable that neither the HSE nor the Minister has arranged for the appointment of a replacement for Dr. Hickey to carry out these operations. Furthermore, it is unacceptable that citizens who are dependent on the health service to save their lives are being told to go to an accident and emergency department as there are no services available. It is wrong. I would like the Minister to come to the House today to explain what is happening and outline his plans for the carrying out of pancreatic transplant surgeries. When will the service be reinstated? If the service is to be moved to St. Vincent's University Hospital, when will a surgeon be in place to carry out these surgeries. With that in mind, I propose an amendment to the Order of Business that the Minister come to the House today to explain his plans for the filling of the vacancy in the pancreatic transplant programme in Ireland, as no such surgery is currently available here. It will be an opportunity for him to outline his plans.

As the leader of my group, I express my sympathy to those families who were bereaved so tragically yesterday as a result of the drownings in Baltimore. Most tragically, every summer, and particularly in the summer, drowning tragedies occur, and it is appalling. It reminds us all of the need for extreme care and caution around water, beaches, lakes and rivers.

I raised the issue of the commemoration of the Srebrenica massacre on the Order of Business yesterday and I am glad to report that, at my instigation, members of the Bosnian community have met officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade concerning the holding of an official commemorative event. I also want to inform colleagues that members of the Bosnian community in Ireland are organising a commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the genocide in Srebrenica, which will take place outside Leinster House on Kildare Street at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, 7 July. Anyone who is interested may attend and all are invited. I want to recall the appalling atrocity of the Srebrenica genocide, the worst atrocity on European soil since the Second World War, which occurred on 11 July 1995. This year marks the 20th anniversary of that atrocity. A range of events are being held across the water and in Belfast and we will have the event here next Tuesday.

I welcome the publication of the report on direct provision yesterday, which went to the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Frances Fitzgerald, and the Minister of State, Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin. There was a good deal of publicity around the recommendations made in it. I ask the Leader if a debate on that report can be arranged in early course. As the Minister of State said, we need to examine how best to implement the important recommendations contained within it, which would greatly improve the lives of those currently in direct provision accommodation. It is an issue on which we have had cross-party agreement in this House, namely, the need to ensure greater protections for those in direct provision and greater adherence to human rights, particularly for children who are in direct provision along with their families. I would like us to have a debate on the issue. I very much welcome the findings made in the report and welcome the recommendations made in it.

We might also have a general debate in due course on industrial relations with regard to business closures and having respect for workers. The Minister of State, Deputy Gerald Nash, was in the House yesterday dealing with the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Bill. With many colleagues, I met some of the former Clery's employees outside Leinster House yesterday. Those employees were treated with immense disrespect by the new owners of Clery's. With many colleagues, I signed a petition in support of the former employees who are seeking a meeting with Natrium, the new company with ownership of Clery's, and asking that it treat them with greater respect. We must ensure there is greater respect for both the employees and the concession holders who were also so badly treated in the very sudden closure of Clery's which was carried out without notice. I believe we can achieve cross-party consensus on the need to reform industrial relations in that area.

I second the amendment to the Order of Business proposed by Senator Darragh O'Brien. I am rather a fan of Mr. David Hickey. I remember him as a very useful Dublin footballer. He was extremely courageous in support of Cuba and he was a very fine surgeon. I do not see how that case for corporate manslaughter could be sustained in court - I just do not see it running - but that is a legal matter. I am happy to support the proposed amendment. The closure of the pancreatic transplant unit is a very serous business. It means that people are put in peril of their lives. Pancreatic cancer is almost universally fatal. We have the heroic example of the late Brian Lenihan to bear witness to this.

I would like to ask the Leader and the Deputy Leader about the Civil Registration (Marriage Equality) Bill 2013, which is on the Order Paper. I understand all moves in this area are being delayed because of legal action by two gentlemen. I wonder why this Bill is entirely in the names of those in the Labour Party. Does that suggest any disagreement?

On a point of order, that is a different Bill. That is a Private Members' Bill that I introduced, if it is the Bill to which the Senator is referring. It is not the Government Bill to give effect to the outcome of the referendum.

I see. I thank the Senator for that clarification.

With regard to direct provision, the House is more or less united on the issue, even though it voted down my legislation on a series of completely spurious grounds and we were promised that there would be movement on direct provision almost immediately, but we are still waiting for it. As we now have the report, for goodness' sake, let us act on it. I am happy to make available the Bill I prepared if the Government wants a model to work on and this time I hope it will be supported throughout the House.

I raise again the issue of the proposed greenway between Galway and Dublin, particularly the proposals concerning the route from Loughrea, Craughwell, Clarinbridge and Oranmore into Galway city. Following discussions between the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, a number of other Oireachtas Members and me, he instructed his Department to engage in further consultation on the matter, and it has now done this. The local authorities wrote to those landowners who are directly affected last week. While the authorities have said that they are flexible in the route chosen, I sincerely hope that proves to be the case. We are told that they have no interest in bisecting people's fields and that they are willing to look at going around areas that are going to cause farmers difficulty, which is very much to be welcomed. However, there are towns where the proposed greenway has to dock and these areas would require particular sensitivity. I urge all landowners in the area to engage with the local authorities and the National Roads Authority which will shortly begin the consultation process. This greenway would have very significant benefits for the areas concerned in terms of tourism, but it must be planned in a sensitive manner.

I join the Leader of the Opposition in expressing sympathy to the Ryan family on the tragedy that occurred in Baltimore as a result of a freak wave. What happened there was extremely tragic and we are aware of all the other tragic incidents.

I did not have an opportunity yesterday to join in the expressions of sympathy extended to the bereaved families of the 38 people who were slaughtered in the massacre in Tunisia. They were defenceless holidaymakers. Those who perpetuated the atrocity set out to destroy the economy of that region, and this will destroy it. Larry and Martina Hayes of Westlodge, Athlone, County Westmeath, died, with Lorna Carty who was holidaying with her husband, Declan, from Robinstown, County Meath. Martina Hayes, née Kelly, was from Kiltoom, County Roscommon, and was a member of a large and well respected family. I know her brother Billy and his wife, Carol, and the couple who died had one daughter, Sinead. It is a terrible tragedy.

Tunisia, Morocco and the other countries in that region are in a state of crisis. When referring to the Egyptian coastal resort of Sharm el-Sheik on the Sinai Peninsula, I note that the website of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade advises Irish citizens to exercise caution, arrive and depart by air and avoid travelling outside the resort.

They almost become prisoners in the resort they choose. It would be advisable at this time for people not to travel to these countries when they are in such a state of chaos. There is not a great deal of security in operation on the part of the Tunisians. Also, I hope they release the bodies shortly. People should be advised also not to wear any emblem that would identify them as being Christians because they might become targets for assassination in these areas. The situation is very serious and, unfortunately, it all goes back to the disruption of that region caused by President Bush and Mr. Blair. Anyone who reads history will know what happened. It is no excuse but the entire region has been destabilised and in the circumstances the Department should advise Irish citizens not to holiday in those countries when security is so lax. There was no security on the beach in Tunisia when one person, or more, was able to bomb, shoot and kill so many people in such a short period. It is a warning to everyone. It is also a wake-up call for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade which might consider advising people on its website that they should not travel unless it is necessary for business purposes, which is different. I am reluctant to travel to Morocco or countries in the area when there is so much instability stemming from Libya, Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the region.

I, too, convey my sympathy to the families of those who lost their lives yesterday in Baltimore. These incidents occur during the summer months, in particular, when all of us need to be careful. Incidents occur which we do not expect and this was one of those tragedies. We should encourage people to be mindful in these circumstances. We cannot control everything that happens to us, but this was one of those incidents in which a tragedy occurred.

I agree with Senator Darragh O'Brien's comments about the lack of long-term planning in the health service. Last October I sought details of all the consultant vacancies in the Health Service Executive, HSE, and was told that information could not be provided for me. At the time I suggested it might give me the name of a porter in each hospital whom I could ring for the information. It took a further six months before I received the information that 325 consultant posts were either vacant or occupied by locums.

Another issue that I raised at the time I received that information was the number who will retire in the next 12 months in order that we can start doing long-term planning. There seems to be a policy within the HSE to wait for the vacancy to arise before it advertises for the post to be filled. Ten or 15 years ago there was a far more effective system in place in that long-term planning was done. Up to two years before a consultant retired the vacancy was advertised. If an appointment is confirmed today, it takes anything up to 12 months before a person is able to take up the appointment because he or she cannot walk out of their job. Whether they are in Canada, Australia or the United Kingdom, they have to give notice to their current employers but that does not seem to have been taken on board by the HSE. I agree with Senator Darragh O'Brien about the lack of planning in this area. It is an issue I have highlighted in the health committee and it appears to be going unnoticed. It is an issue that needs to be brought to the attention of the Minister who should take it up with the HSE because it is crucial. There are 300 positions vacant. At least another 100 will become vacant in the next 12 months and no long-term planning is being done. That is a major issue that must be tackled immediately.

Will the Leader tell us when the civil debt Bill will be brought before the Seanad? It has worked its way through the Dáil this week. This is the fourth item of legislation this Government has brought forward regarding water charges. Essentially, that is what the civil debt Bill is about. The Minister is dressing it up as a Bill which allows all utility companies to recover debts but it is being brought forward to penalise people who either cannot or will not pay the Government's water charges. We have debated three previous water services Bills and this is a water services Bill mark 4. In the discussion we had on the first one we were told by Ministers that there would not be any dipping into people's pockets, that this was not a tax and that Irish Water would not be given the power to take money from people's bank accounts, wages or welfare. We now have a Bill that allows it to do that through the back door and with the permission of the courts, which is essentially what the Bill will allow the courts and Irish Water to do. It does not offer protections, as the Government's propaganda states, for those not in a position to pay their water charges because they cannot afford to pay them. This is a punitive Bill brought forward by a Government which is desperate to get people to sign up to a charge many have already taken a decision not to pay because either they cannot or will not pay. Is the Leader in a position to inform us when the Bill will be brought into the Seanad in order that we can have that debate again? Unfortunately, we were misled when the previous water services Bills were brought forward. When those of us who opposed those Bills said this would happen, we were told "No", and shouted down at the time by Ministers who were in the House, including, on the last occasion, the Minister of State, Deputy Paudie Coffey, who said that would not happen. Here we are again with the Government having to backtrack and bring forward a Bill I believe is punitive. I look forward to the Bill coming before the House quickly to allow us have that debate.

I will be brief. I refer to the long awaited public health (alcohol) Bill 2015, aspects of which we have discussed on numerous occasions in the House, including below-cost selling of alcohol, health labelling etc. I was expecting it to come before the Houses of the Oireachtas in advance of them going into recess in July, but I am interested to know if the Leader has any idea when we will see the Bill which is urgent and long anticipated.

I concur with the remarks of other Senators and offer my deep sympathy and condolences to those who lost dear ones in my home territory off Baltimore yesterday evening. It is very difficult to understand the plight of those who are suffering the loss of three family members and I note the search for the missing body. I have been involved in two such rescues, one of which resulted in a body not being recovered from a tragedy that occurred in Bantry Bay. In another incident, when the body of somebody very close to me was recovered, the divers handed me the body to bring it back into the boat. When one goes through that experience one feels the deep emotion, tragedy and loss, and no words of mine will be sufficiently adequate to console those suffering, particularly the teenage girl who lost her brother, her brother's girlfriend and her father. She saw it unfold and I wish the Lord will calm her and give her some consolation in this desperate situation. It is important to say it was a freak incident. We hear talk of safety at sea, the need to wear life jackets and all sorts of gadgets whereby if one falls overboard, a signal will be sent to the lifeguard station and so on. That does not apply in this situation. It was a rogue wave. People were walking along the shoreline on a lovely afternoon, something many other people and I would do. When somebody is washed out to sea, the normal reaction is for the father, son, girlfriend or boyfriend, as the case may be, to jump in to rescue that person. That is what happened. I hope the community as a whole will bear that suffering and that they will bond together. Unfortunately, tragedies of this nature, whether they are fishing or drowning tragedies, are commonplace in west Cork or off the coast.

I hope the other body will be recovered because the recovery of a body is a huge consolation and brings some sort of closure.

I ask the Leader to ascertain from the Minister with responsibility for the marine and fisheries, Deputy Simon Coveney, the reason he has not met a group of 60 razor fishermen from the east coast who have implored and beseeched him to meet them on certain issues they wish to raise. This request is reasonable and I urge the Leader to convey my annoyance and displeasure at the Minister's refusal to meet this group. They can meet him in Dublin in Leinster House or anywhere that is convenient to him. It is a very basic request on issues they have and it is a very democratic request. I urge the Leader that the Minister should attend to this issue as soon as possible. If not, I will table amendments to the Order of Business next week to compel the Minister to come to the House to explain his reasons for not meeting these fishermen.

I join colleagues in expressing our deepest sympathy to the families who have lost loved ones in one of the most beautiful parts of the world, Baltimore, County Cork. Senator Denis O'Donovan explained matters very movingly. It is difficult to comprehend that something like this should happen; such a freak accident. It is a message we need to get out from here today to all our citizens that as the fine weather sets in and people are tempted to take to the waters at beaches and rivers, they must exercise extreme caution at all times.

I join Senator Ivana Bacik in encouraging all colleagues to stand with the Bosnian community next Tuesday at Leinster House to mark the 20th anniversary of the appalling genocide at Srebrenica. We must never lose sight of what happened there and keep our eyes on the ball to ensure we never see a repeat of that, albeit there is evidence that atrocities almost as grave are happening in other parts of the world.

I ask the Leader to organise a debate in the House with the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Richard Bruton, at the start of the next term on the Action Plan for Jobs. It is very welcome that figures published yesterday show the unemployment rate at its lowest since 2009. According to the CSO, the unemployment rate now stands at 9.7% down from 11.4% at the same time last year. There are now 335,900 more people at work than in June 2014. The percentage of male unemployed is still very high at 10.8% while the percentage of unemployed females is at 8.3%. There was a very significant development during the week when the first of the regional plans under the Action Plan for Jobs was launched. The plan is for the midlands and it is the first of a series of eight regional plans, which is the element we really need to discuss with the Minister. We want to see how each of the regions can build on their strengths and determine how we can have seamless collaboration between all agencies, local authorities and the private sector to secure quality jobs right around the country. What was announced in the midlands during the week included the establishment of a midlands manufacturing technology campus. It will have a major spin off. I want to ensure that when the western regional plan is launched, towns such as Ballinasloe which have been particularly badly hit in the last decade will start to see some worthwhile jobs being created. I would like a debate with the Minister on the very successful Action Plan for Jobs to discuss how we can give it a little bit more momentum to reduce the unemployment figure which is still too high at 9%.

I once again ask the Leader to amend the Order of Business to take No. 71, motion No. 17 dealing with lone parents, before No. 1 on the Order Paper today. I cannot understand for the life of me why the penny has not dropped with the Minister that the policy she is bringing in will wreak havoc on at least one third of lone parents. Time and again, I have asked that we bring the Minister to the House to let her set it out for me because she has failed steadfastly to set out for anybody how this will benefit parents. There is no Scandinavian child care system in this country. There is no way one can force people into changing their lifestyles by cutting their money and bringing them to starvation levels. This morning, the Minister spoke with Sean O'Rourke. If she has time to go to him, surely she has time to come to the House.

She should explain the policy to the House which is the democratic forum to explain her position. She should set out the numbers for us. Let us take a number of examples, set them out here and debate them in the House. She has not convinced the lone parents of the country and she has not convinced the social commentators. Let her try to convince us and perhaps we can then assist her in convincing others.

The one thing that has come across today is that the Government is hell-bent on forcing through things that are fundamentally wrong. My colleague, Senator David Cullinane, adverted to the water services Bill and the fact that we are going to have legislation to allow what is for all intents and purposes a private utility company to stick its hand in my pocket, take my wallet out and take a payment from me. This is a retrograde step for Ireland. I was delighted to be able to advert to the fact of social media and the Minister's presence on Sean O'Rourke because if the Bill that is before the House tonight passes, we will no longer be able to go on social media. I ask for an amendment to the Order of Business to discuss that issue.

Like others, I offer my sincere sympathy to all the families who lost loved ones in the Tunisian massacre and in particular to the families of Lorna Carty in County Meath and Larry and Martina Hayes in Athlone. Martina hailed from Kiltoom in County Roscommon and was a namesake of my own having the maiden name of Kelly. I cannot imagine what the families are going through.

On a separate note, I raise the issue that people are always very critical of politicians. Sometimes they say politics does not work, yet when they have a problem, it is to politicians they come. Sometimes, we are in a position to solve problems and sometimes we are not. We had a serious issue in my county in the past few months where the HSE was proposing to close a psychiatric unit that was home to 23 psychiatric patients. I took a particular stance on that issue and said I would not stand for it or allow it to happen. Many of my Oireachtas colleagues felt similarly about the issue. Following a meeting with the Minister of State at the Department of Health, Deputy Kathleen Lynch, last night, I confirm that the unit will not close. The patients will be left there for the rest of their lives. I was encouraged at the meeting when the HSE put its hands up and said the way it tried to do its business in this case by clinically assessing patients without family involvement was something for which it apologised. For many years, I have had an issue with the way the word "consultation" is built into everything we do in this country. We have consultation when it comes to windfarm developments, but unfortunately consultation appears merely to be a matter of saying "We are just telling you what we are doing and not listening to one word of what you are saying". It is the same with pylons. The consultation involves a statement to the effect that "This is where we are putting them. We are listening to you, but not acting on what you are saying". We had consultation when it came to the patients of the Rosalie unit in Castlerea where every one of them was consulted. Every one of them told the HSE that they did not want to leave, but the HSE still planned to move them out. All I can say is that thanks in particular to my own stance on this issue, it proves that politics can work. I am pleased about this.

I second Senator Gerard P. Craughwell's proposal to amend the Order of Business.

I join Senator Terry Leyden in extending sympathy to the families of Larry and Martina Hayes from Athlone and Lorna Carty from County Meath who were so tragically killed in Tunisia.

I echo his call for anybody intending on going on holidays to these regions to think again. It is very volatile and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade should increase the risk analysis for these areas.

I join colleagues in extending my sympathy to the three people who so tragically lost their lives in west Cork. Senator Denis O'Donovan brought home to us the reality of such a situation and the trauma it causes to those involved, as well as to the communities involved.

Like the other speakers, I extend my sympathy to the Ryan and O'Connor families which have lost their loved ones.

I welcome the report on direct provision published yesterday and the certainty the Minister for Justice and Equality has now brought to the very uncertain and unsavoury situation in which many residents find themselves. Implementation of the report is a necessity.

Senator Darragh O'Brien raised the issue of pancreatic cancer. There are eight people on the list. Every year for the past number of years eight pancreatic operations were carried out in Ireland. I agree with Senator Colm Burke who said that planning for consultants is necessary. In this situation, however, the post was advertised quite a number of times but they failed to fill the vacancy on the national kidney and pancreatic transplant programme. It was said that no one with the required skills has been found. As an interim measure, a surgeon from the North of Ireland is working one in four days, which is not enough. It is a very complex and quite costly operation but could patients be transferred to hospitals in the European Union until such time as a surgeon with the skills is found? There are surgeons with skills but oversight is required. The State saves €700,000 per operation as people to not have to receive dialysis over a 15 year period. Given the cost of dialysis versus the cost of transfer to another EU country, could that be looked at? I am asking the question because I do not know the answer. It may solve a problem in the short to medium term. It is not for the want of trying in that the HSE has advertised the post. I am reading the report on it.

I also welcome the announcement that all children diagnosed with cancer will have the medical card today. We might as well get in a little of the good news with the bad news. That is very welcome. In August, everybody over 70 years of age will get the medical card. We are looking after the most vulnerable - the children and the elderly - and I hope the people in the middle in time. We cannot do it all in a day.

How about four years?

Senator Cáit is Keane way over time.

When will the water Bill be brought before the House?

The Senator should sit down.

People have to pay for services and have to make choices.

The Senator should tell that to the people outside.

Cuirim le focail mo chomhghleacaithe i dtaca leis na daoine a chaill a saolta tráthnóna inné i dtimpiste ar an uisce in iarthar Chorcaí - another tragedy at sea. Unfortunately, this time of year brings an increase in the number of such occurrences and it is extremely sad, particularly for those involved and their extended families. It is most unfortunate that west Cork has again been hit with this sort of tragedy. Our sympathy goes to those families today.

I wish to address the Greek issue and the question of the founding principles of the European Union and where they are today. The founding principles go back to the Treaty of Rome and involve issues of integration and solidarity with other member states and citizens. Those principles are being quickly eroded. Solidarity means assisting other people. When we see the pictures of people trying to get food and scraps from rubbish bins in Greece, particularly elderly pensioners, and hear stories of schoolchildren fainting in the classroom because they have no food, it is apparent that the founding principles of solidarity are being challenged. An international protectionist system is being used, through democratic institutions of government, where international financial speculators and the capital markets are being protected by democracies. That is wrong.

We must have a debate about this issue because the central pillar of the European Union in its founding form, together with the euro, is under threat. At what cost do we protect the euro? Is it at the cost of lives or of children dying? How dare the German Finance Minister ask or instruct the ECB not to intervene?

The ECB was supposed to be independent but the Germans seem to think they control it. How dare the Taoiseach stand up to protect capitalism in a world where hunger is allowing people to die. If we believe in the Europe that was founded by the Treaty of Rome, there should be solidarity and integration at Europe's core. That is not happening and, as democrats, we need to stand up for it.

Our Greek colleagues are in desperate shape. I am very friendly with a Member of Parliament there who wrote to me on Monday saying she could not believe this was happening so quickly and that she might not be a European by the weekend. Of course, she will still be a European, but this is the result of reckless leadership by the Greeks themselves----

By the European Union, the European banks and the German and French banks that presented the Greeks and Cypriots with their gambling debts.

The Senator is so right, but I am talking about today. Since the new Greek Government was elected, a high-wire strategy is being played which is risking everything for all of us. We paid the price for the entire European banking system. We never got it back, but that is another day's work. What I am talking about right now is the need to re-stabilise things.

I want to check with the Leader if the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade has arranged for the repatriation of Irish tourists and families in Tunisia. I listened to many of them yesterday. They are literally trapped in their hotels. A mother with four children plus a baby cannot leave the hotel. Given what has happened there, how could they risk going out? I understand the United Kingdom has repatriated its citizens using the RAF. These are times when people need their country, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and quick action. Some of this was known before these people left Dublin Airport last Friday and they were not stopped from going. I understand the travel companies are not playing ball quick enough and are forcing these people to stay out their term. That is not a holiday.

I would like to bring up the question of Seanad reform. It is a long time since we had the referendum, after which the Taoiseach came back almost immediately and talked about having had a wallop and that we would have to do something about it. Eventually, last October, I think, he set up a committee consider it. It reported, to the best of my knowledge, in April and we were given a guarantee that action would take place. It is now 1 July and I fear that all these promises of Seanad reform are going to die.

Will the Leader ask the Taoiseach when something can be done about this issue?

Senator Darragh O'Brien and many other Senators expressed their deepest sympathy to the Ryan and O'Connor families following the dreadful tragedy which occurred in Baltimore yesterday. As Senator Denis O'Donovan, a resident of the area, said, it was a freak accident caused by a freak wave, for which no one could legislate. Our hearts go out to the families concerned and we all pray that God will console them in their grief in the days ahead.

Senator Darragh O'Brien and a number of other Senators referred to people who required pancreatic transplants and others who had experienced problems following such transplants. Senator Cáit Keane pointed out that a consultant post had been advertised on several occasions in the past year and that a suitable candidate had not been found to fill it. The health service is not attracting a sufficient number of consultants. Senator Colm Burke said information he had received recently indicated that there were 300 consultant posts vacant. Some of these positions are currently covered by locums. The Minister for Health will have to address the serious problem of the continued failure to attract consultants to the health service. It is not possible to pluck surgeons out of the air.

I am aware of that, but they are not being given priority.

I am surprised that the Senator has not sought to raise the issue in a Commencement debate, as I am aware that he has written to the Minister about it. I suggest he seek to raise it in a Commencement to ensure all relevant information is provided by the Minister.

I will receive the same answer. I want action.

Senator Ivana Bacik, among other Senators, referred to the commemoration event proposed by members of the Bosnian community. I believe all Senators would want to support that event.

The Senator also called for a debate on the recently published report on direct provision. I will try to arrange such a debate before the recess.

The Senator also referred to the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Bill which was before the House yesterday and will be brought before us again. I imagine amendments on any of the issues to which she referred would be most welcome and I am sure the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation would consider them on Committee and Report Stages.

The Senator also clarified the position on the Bill mentioned by Senator David Norris, the Government's civil marriage equality Bill, which has been held up.

Senator Hildegarde Naughton referred to the greenway project in east County Galway, a matter Senator Rónán Mullen discussed at length yesterday. Engagement and consultation are the only solutions in dealing with these issues. I hope consultation will continue and that an amicable agreement will be reached.

Senator Terry Leyden referred to a number of matters that were raised yesterday and offered some advice to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Officials in the Department have done a terrific job in recent weeks in response to a number of tragedies. It deserves our praise and would I am sure welcome suggestions people might have to make.

Senator David Cullinane asked me a question about the civil debt Bill, but he is not present to hear the answer. While dates have not been confirmed, the legislation will more than likely be brought before the House before the recess.

The Senator also spoke about speakers being shouted down. Nobody is shouted down in this House, although there appears to be a great deal of shouting and bullying in Sinn Féin in east Cork. I will not refer further to that matter.

It is not only in east Cork that it is happening.

I will try to find out for Senator Catherine Noone when the public health (alcohol) Bill will be brought before the House.

Senator Denis O'Donovan referred to a group of razor clam fishermen who wish to meet the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine. I am sure they have written to the Minister to express their concerns. If not, I suggest they do so, but I will also raise the matter with the Minister.

Senator Michael Mullins called for the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Richard Bruton, to come to the House to debate the review of the Action Plan for Jobs. He also noted that the unemployment rate had declined to 9.7%, which marks a significant improvement in recent years, although the figure remains high. The Senator also welcomed IDA Ireland's focus on regional policy. While I will try to ensure the Minister will come to the House again, we have had a number of debates on the Action Plan for Jobs.

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell has proposed an amendment to the Order of Business, that No. 71, non-Government motion No. 17, be taken before No. 1. I do not propose to accept the amendment. The measure has been flagged for more than two years and was discussed in the House on several occasions when social welfare legislation was being debated.

Senator John Kelly confirmed that a unit for elderly people in County Roscommon would not close, which is a welcome decision. An all-party motion on the position in this regard was accepted.

Senator Diarmuid Wilson expressed sympathy to the families of the victims of events in Tunisia and Baltimore.

As I stated, Senator Cáit Keane responded to Senators who had raised issues related to pancreatic transplants. From today, children under 18 years with cancer will automatically receive a medical card. This measure will be welcomed by all right-thinking individuals. While it should have been in place many years ago, Senators will agree that it is a major step in the right direction. It is also welcome that medical cards for persons aged over 70 years will be in place by August. These are good news stories, especially for older people.

Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill referred to the situation in Greece, a matter on which I made a comprehensive statement yesterday. The Government is continuing to urge the Greek Prime Minister to return to negotiations in order that an amicable settlement that suits all parties can be reached.

Senator Fidelma Healy Eames referred to the repatriation of Irish families from Tunisia. As she indicated, the relevant travel company has responsibilities in this regard. The ambassador to Tunisia, Mr. David Cooney, is on site and has met the families affected who will probably return home on Friday.

That is not repatriation.

Senator Feargal Quinn raised the issue of Seanad reform, on which we had a short debate recently. At the time I indicated that I would arrange a further debate on the matter and provide for every Senator who wished to contribute to have ten minutes speaking time. I hope to arrange this debate before the recess to allow everyone to comment on the proposals made. I am not aware of the Government's stance on the draft Bill. I will, however, try to arrange the debate in the next couple of weeks. I am sure the authors of the report will welcome the comments of Senators on it as we have had sufficient time to digest its contents. Those Senators who disagree with its contents will be able to voice their reservations in the debate.

Senator Darragh O'Brien has proposed an amendment to the Order of Business, "That a debate to allow the Minister for Health to outline his plans to fill the vacancy for a pancreatic transplant surgeon in Ireland be taken today." Is the amendment being pressed?

Amendment put:
The Seanad divided: Tá, 17; Níl, 22.

  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Craughwell, Gerard P.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Daly, Mark.
  • Healy Eames, Fidelma.
  • Heffernan, James.
  • Leyden, Terry.
  • Mooney, Paschal.
  • Norris, David.
  • Ó Domhnaill, Brian.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Brien, Mary Ann.
  • O'Donovan, Denis.
  • Power, Averil.
  • Quinn, Feargal.
  • Reilly, Kathryn.
  • Wilson, Diarmuid.

Níl

  • Bacik, Ivana.
  • Brennan, Terry.
  • Burke, Colm.
  • Coghlan, Eamonn.
  • Coghlan, Paul.
  • Comiskey, Michael.
  • Cummins, Maurice.
  • D'Arcy, Jim.
  • Henry, Imelda.
  • Higgins, Lorraine.
  • Keane, Cáit.
  • Kelly, John.
  • Landy, Denis.
  • Moloney, Marie.
  • Moran, Mary.
  • Mulcahy, Tony.
  • Mullins, Michael.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Noone, Catherine.
  • O'Neill, Pat.
  • Sheahan, Tom.
  • van Turnhout, Jillian.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Paschal Mooney and Diarmuid Wilson; Níl, Senators Ivana Bacik and Paul Coghlan.
Amendment declared lost.

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell has proposed an amendment to the Order of Business, "That No. 71, non-Government motion No. 17, be taken before No. 1." Is the amendment being pressed?

Amendment put.
The Seanad divided by electronic means.

Under Standing Order 62(3)(b), I request that the division be taken again other than by electronic means. I would like Senators to remember what they are voting on.

The Senator is on record.

Amendment put:
The Seanad divided: Tá, 18; Níl, 21.

  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Craughwell, Gerard P.
  • Crown, John.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Daly, Mark.
  • Healy Eames, Fidelma.
  • Leyden, Terry.
  • Mooney, Paschal.
  • Norris, David.
  • Ó Domhnaill, Brian.
  • Ó Murchú, Labhrás.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Donovan, Denis.
  • Power, Averil.
  • Quinn, Feargal.
  • Reilly, Kathryn.
  • van Turnhout, Jillian.
  • Wilson, Diarmuid.

Níl

  • Bacik, Ivana.
  • Brennan, Terry.
  • Burke, Colm.
  • Coghlan, Eamonn.
  • Coghlan, Paul.
  • Comiskey, Michael.
  • Cummins, Maurice.
  • D'Arcy, Jim.
  • Henry, Imelda.
  • Higgins, Lorraine.
  • Keane, Cáit.
  • Kelly, John.
  • Moloney, Marie.
  • Moran, Mary.
  • Mulcahy, Tony.
  • Mullins, Michael.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Noone, Catherine.
  • O'Brien, Mary Ann.
  • O'Neill, Pat.
  • Sheahan, Tom.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Gerard P. Craughwell and Diarmuid Wilson; Níl, Senators Ivana Bacik and Paul Coghlan.
Amendment declared lost.
Question put: "That the Order of Business be agreed to."
The Seanad divided: Tá, 24; Níl, 14.

  • Bacik, Ivana.
  • Brennan, Terry.
  • Burke, Colm.
  • Coghlan, Eamonn.
  • Coghlan, Paul.
  • Comiskey, Michael.
  • Cummins, Maurice.
  • D'Arcy, Jim.
  • Healy Eames, Fidelma.
  • Heffernan, James.
  • Henry, Imelda.
  • Higgins, Lorraine.
  • Keane, Cáit.
  • Kelly, John.
  • Moloney, Marie.
  • Moran, Mary.
  • Mulcahy, Tony.
  • Mullins, Michael.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Noone, Catherine.
  • O'Brien, Mary Ann.
  • O'Neill, Pat.
  • Sheahan, Tom.
  • van Turnhout, Jillian.

Níl

  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Craughwell, Gerard P.
  • Crown, John.
  • Daly, Mark.
  • Leyden, Terry.
  • Mooney, Paschal.
  • Norris, David.
  • Ó Domhnaill, Brian.
  • Ó Murchú, Labhrás.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Donovan, Denis.
  • Power, Averil.
  • Quinn, Feargal.
  • Wilson, Diarmuid.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Ivana Bacik and Paul Coghlan; Níl, Senators Paschal Mooney and Diarmuid Wilson.
Question declared carried.