I already have to amend the Order of Business that we take No. 2 at 5 p.m. rather than after No. 1 because the Minister is not available until 5 p.m. I propose this amendment.
Senators Mooney, Hayden and Cullinane spoke on housing and rent supplement. Although we have had two debates on housing during the past 12 months, I agree there is an urgent need for a further debate soon. The Minister, Deputy Alan Kelly, will have further proposals on homelessness and a housing plan in the next two weeks. Hopefully, we will have a debate on it then. The Government has put aside €3.8 billion to build more than 100,000 housing units in the coming years. We are to install modular housing as an emergency measure in Dublin and more of those modular units will be installed in the coming months in order to tackle homelessness. I am sure the Minister will come to the House within the coming weeks, after all the new proposals have been put in place. The Government is treating the matter very seriously and I will ask the Minister to come to the House as soon as the new and further proposals have been announced in the coming weeks.
Senator Mooney raised the question of the Garda. He suffered from a little amnesia. The previous Government closed down the Garda college in Templemore, and as a result we had no recruitment of gardaí. This Government has put 500 new gardaí on the streets and the budget provides for an additional 600 gardaí. Law and order is of paramount importance to the Government, and will continue to be during the coming months.
Senator Bacik welcomed the fact that unemployment has decreased to 9.3% from 15% when the Government took office. As she said, while it is a great improvement, the figure is still too high. The Government recognises this and job creation is the Government's top priority, and will continue to be. The more people we can get back to work, the more taxes will come in and the more services we can provide for the people, which is what we want.
Senator Bacik welcomed the signing into law of the Marriage Bill and expressed regret at the DUP's move. Senator Norris also commented on it and welcomed the fact that the Northern Ireland Assembly voted in favour of a change in the marriage law, which is a first in Northern Ireland.
Senators Bacik and O'Keeffe spoke about the use of migrant workers in the fisheries sector and welcomed the Minister's action on this issue. I agree with both Senators that the exploitation of workers is totally unacceptable, regardless of the countries the workers in question come from, and will have to be stamped out in the fisheries industry and in all other industries.
Senator Norris expressed his regret at the passing of a student leader, Dean McCarron. I have read about this excellent young man, who took part in student politics and in the recent marriage referendum. I would like to express our sympathy to his family on his very early passing.
Senators Brennan and Jim D'Arcy wished Chief Superintendent Pat Magee well on his forthcoming retirement. Senator Brennan also made some good comments about the railway station in Dundalk.
Senator Quinn spoke about the tagging of criminals, which is an issue that has been raised recently. I am informed that legislation to allow tagging was introduced in 2007. Based on comments in recent times, there is obviously a need to revamp the mechanism that is in place. As Bills relating to burglaries, bail and victims of crime will be considered in this House before Christmas, Senators will have ample opportunity to discuss the matters raised by Senator Mullins in particular. I am sure Operation Thor can be debated when the Bills in question come before the House in the coming weeks.
Senator Quinn raised the issue of best-before and use-by dates, as he has done on several previous occasions. I would agree with him. I understand there are supermarkets in Ireland that are giving waste food to charities. Perhaps this could be organised on a national basis. I think this is being done in Cork, in particular, at present. I suggest that it could be expanded nationwide.
Senator Hayden suggested that inadequate protection is being afforded to tenants. She also commented on the study on zero-hour contracts. I will certainly invite the Minister of State, Deputy Nash, to come to this House to discuss that study.
Senator Paul Coghlan referred to the possible establishment of a task force with responsibility for tackling organised crime. This matter was raised by Senator Jim D'Arcy during the Commencement Debate before the Order of Business. Senator Coghlan mentioned the involvement of the Provisional IRA in the crime that is ongoing in Border areas and expressed support for the Minister, Deputy Charles Flanagan, who has called for the creation of a task force. This issue was raised at the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly over 12 months ago. I am hopeful that this task force will be up and running soon because it is of paramount importance to tackle such crime, as can be seen by anyone living in Border areas. As Senator Jim D'Arcy mentioned earlier this afternoon, the deployment of extra gardaí is already bearing fruit. There is a need to build on the good relations that exist between the Garda and the PSNI to stamp out the criminality that has been clearly evident in Border areas over the last ten years or more.
Senators Craughwell and Colm Burke spoke about the great success of the Web Summit and wished it continued success in the future. I understand that Lisbon has signed up to host the summit for the next three years. I hope there may be a possibility of bringing it back to Ireland after that. I listened with interest this morning to the comments of a number of people from South Africa and many other countries who are attending the Web Summit. They said that Ireland, as an English-speaking country, is the key place to have such a summit.
They spoke little of the problems enunciated by Mr. Cosgrave whom I wish well in his efforts.