The Order of Business is No. 1, Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Bill 2016 - Order for Second Stage and Second Stage, to be taken at 4.45 p.m., with the contributions of group spokespersons not to exceed eight minutes each and those of all other Senators not to exceed five minutes each.
Order of Business
I extend my deepest sympathy and that of the Fianna Fáil group to the people of Iraq, whom I understand are holding three days of mourning for the 215 people tragically killed and the hundreds injured in the latest spate of suicide bombings during the holy month of Ramadan in the name of Islamic State.
It is difficult to imagine the grief and the fear these families and communities are going through due to these cowardly and hateful acts.
Two weeks ago to the day, I raised in the House the shooting of a man on Monasterboice Road, Crumlin, which is in the very heart of my constituency. Today, I again have a sickening sense of déjà vu. Last Friday, David Douglas was shot on Bridgefoot Street in the south inner city. It is incredible to have three shootings a couple of weeks apart, two of them in my constituency of Dublin South Central, together with the tragic news that a man was critically injured this morning in Lusk. I cannot help but feel that if these shootings happened in the Taoiseach's or the Tánaiste's constituencies, there would be a much more robust reaction on the part of the Government to deal with these thugs who believe the only way to solve disputes is through the barrel of a gun. I extend my sympathy to the latest victims' families and the communities in which the shootings occurred.
The Government's performance on law and order is a matter of great concern to me. The Tánaiste recently allocated additional resources to help the Garda to tackle gangland activities and those resources were to go to a special armed response unit equipped to do so. The fact that more shootings and murders have taken place since the Tánaiste announced the resourcing is an indictment of her and her Department. How many more people need to die before the Government wakes up and realises that it is quickly losing any semblance of being in control? How many murders must take place in the same blatant fashion as that which occurred last Friday and today's shooting - both in broad daylight - before serious questions are posed as to the Tánaiste's credibility in dealing with murderous gangs?
Another deeply worrying twist in this worsening crisis was highlighted in newspaper reports yesterday to the effect that potential witnesses are being threatened in south inner city pubs and informed that they will get a bullet in the head if they testify in upcoming cases. This most recent development further highlights the challenges the Garda faces in dealing with the criminals behind these threats. The Tánaiste must wake up and realise that action and resources are required as a matter of urgency. A failure to provide them will result in many more deaths. If the Government does not tackle the gangs head-on, it will only be a matter of time before - as happened in Limerick - innocent people who have no connection with the warring families or criminality will be caught in the crossfire.
Further issues which buttress the argument to preserve the Special Criminal Court include the difficulty the State has in getting people to serve as jurors where gun crimes of this nature come to trial. In 2003, it was not possible to find 12 people in Limerick to act as jurors in the trial of six people who were charged with the murder of gangland figure, Kieran Keane. Where 729 were called to jury duty, 12 could not be found. The Tánaiste must outline publicly how she will tackle these criminals. No further delays in the establishment of the armed response unit can be tolerated. The Tánaiste must also set out how she will protect witnesses from criminals if they are to testify. She must introduce minimum mandatory sentencing for anyone caught in possession of an illegal firearm. Any person caught with such a firearm should know that he or she will serve a minimum of ten years behind bars. A sentence of that length is entirely proportionate given the worsening crisis. We must demonstrate that we are willing to take a very hard stance on serious crimes of this nature. I propose that the Order of Business be amended and that the Tánaiste be called on to address the Seanad in order that she might outline the measures she is taking to stem the escalation in gun crime and cold-blooded murder in cities.
In the context of the conference held by the Association of Irish Local Government last week, I wish to point out that more than 42 new Senators have been elected to the House and that many of us were elected by local authority members. The Association of Irish Local Government and the Local Authority Members Association have raised numerous concerns with each of us. I took the trouble last week to take out the literature that was circulated during the Seanad election campaign. Without exception, everyone elected here from that group gave commitments to highlight issues in relation to PRSI, allowances for councillors and their representational payments.
There is an expectation that there would be some debate on this issue in the Seanad before the recess. I fully understand and empathise with their concerns, frustration and disappointment and, now sadly, their anger. The challenge is what we will do on a cross-party basis. I do not want to do a solo run on this - I have left it for the past two weeks - but we need a cross-party commitment. It is not good enough to be told the leader of Fianna Fáil says something, the leader of Fine Gael says something else or the leader of the Labour Party says another thing. We need to do something. We need to use the craft of politics on the floor of this House. That is how politics is conducted. Will the Leader agree to have the Minister in the House for statements, discussion and debate in support of our colleagues who do an exceptional job, seven days a week in local government?
The Senator has made his point and his time is up.
I want to raise the issue of the recent comments by the chairman of the commission set up to review the charging for domestic water use. Like many others, I was shocked to hear the chairman express opinions, not only in favour of charging for domestic water but vilifying those who opposed charges.
I was shocked.
I was actually shocked because I had never before seen a chairperson-----
I hope the Senator is not going to name anyone who is not here to defend themselves.
I was shocked because it undermines the whole credibility of this commission. It is like the referee setting out the result of a football match before it starts. It should not be forgotten that this commission is in place during this hiatus and is meant to be independent so as to assure the public that whatever solution is eventually reached, it is impartial and independent. Impartiality and independence are what people need in dealing with this serious matter. There is no point in having this expert commission if its chairman has already made up his mind on the issue and seems to have no respect for those who have an alternative opinion. If these remarks are not withdrawn, we will be asking the Minister, Deputy Simon Coveney, to come to the Seanad to explain how the commission can carry out its work appropriately under the circumstances. It is a serious issue which affects thousands of families across the country. So as not to undermine the credibility of the commission, the Seanad has a responsibility to address this issue. It cannot be ignored.
Up to 187,112 family carers provide 6.2 million hours of care each week. This morning I attended an excellent briefing by Family Carers Ireland. The issue of carers has been discussed in the Seanad before, but several matters have come to a head recently. I know carers in my constituency who are mentally, physically and financially exhausted because of the care they are providing. It comes as no surprise that carers are a net contributor to the economy and the Health Service Executive budget. However, the figures of €4 billion to the economy and one third of the HSE budget are staggering, particularly given the difficulties they continue to face in providing such a vital service. With several months having passed since the programme for Government was published, will the Leader ascertain when phase 2 of the national carers strategy will be published with the associated ring-fenced funding? This is vitally important because there is no point in having the strategy unless the moneys are ring-fenced to resource it. It was said in 2012 that phase 2 would be revisited once the economy had recovered. We were told ad nauseam during the election campaign that the recovery was well under way. It is now time to set a date for the strategy’s publication. I support the call by Family Carers Ireland for its funding to be increased to meet the 25% increase in the population over 65 years. As legislators, we can arrange for a statutory entitlement to home care services similar to the entitlement to residential care. That is vitally important.
Until it is put on a statutory footing, we will not treat carers in the way they deserve to be treated. Nobody should be impacted on financially in choosing to care for a loved one at home, saving the State money in the long term. This is a serious issue on which I ask for support across the House. We have to put carers front and centre in this Seanad.
I join Senator Catherine Ardagh in extending condolences to the families and loved ones of those killed so tragically in Iraq.
I concur with Senator Rose Conway-Walsh in support of the Civil Engagement group for the proposals set out by Family Carers Ireland this morning in its pre-budget submission, in which it seeks to achieve fairness for family carers. It is undoubtedly the case that they are carrying the can for society. It is overdue that, as a state and a society, we weighed in with them. The need to put access to home care on a legislative footing was highlighted last week by the Alzheimer Society of Ireland and Family Carers Ireland has also called for this to happen, which we support.
I refer to the plight of people who are homeless. I worked for Cork Simon Community for eight years and it is a cause about which I care deeply. Since yesterday morning, a group of homeless persons have been occupying John's Lane West Hostel off Thomas Street, which is due to close this week. The group is protesting about the lack of replacement emergency beds. The hostel is closing because it is to be converted into apartments. However, the 42 residents of the hostel claim that no alternative accommodation has been provided for them and they are worried about their future. They have little and that little is disappearing. One of the residents is a woman by the name of Rosemary Hughes. She is visually impaired and has a guide dog. She has lived in the hostel for the past three months. Yesterday, she said:
I'm not going anywhere until this is sorted ... we want suitable accommodation; we want respect and we want to be treated like human beings ... people are really worried as they don't have a bed for tomorrow night.
Rosemary who said she had "slept in almost doorway in Grafton Street" was placed in the hostel after being attacked on the streets. In John's Lane she said: "It's the first time I've had my own room and it feels like forever." Asked what she would do if she lost her bed, she said she would have to "go back to sleeping in the doorway of BT2 with Quilla," her dog.
The hostel is owned by Focus Ireland and operated by the Peter McVerry Trust. It first opened in the winter of 2014 as part of the emergency response to the death of Mr. Jonathan Corrie who died on the streets outside Leinster House. The Government must do everything it can to provide suitable long-term housing for homeless persons like Rosemary. In the short term, with others, she must be provided with an alternative emergency bed this week. Similar to the closure of John's Lane West hostel, the Dublin Simon hostel on Harcourt Street is due to close and there are strong objections to the replacement service on Fitzwilliam Square, putting even more emergency beds at risk. In May 102 people were sleeping rough in Dublin, an increase of 12% since last November. This is on top of the 4,262 people in emergency beds, of whom approximately 1,800 are children.
Senators and Deputies must ensure the energy and momentum for change generated in the aftermath of the general election are not lost and that the recent recommendations of the Committee on Housing and Homelessness are implemented. They include the provision of 50,000 social housing units, rent certainty, security of tenure and ensuring no homeless shelters are closed until alternative accommodation is found. Before the John's Lane West and Harcourt Street hostels are closed permanently, Rosemary and other residents should be provided with safe and secure alternative accommodation. I would be grateful if the Leader raised this urgent issue directly with the Minister responsible before tomorrow.
The Protection of Life in Pregnancy (Amendment) (Fatal Foetal Abnormalities) (No. 2) Bill 2013 was introduced by Deputy Mick Wallace in the Dáil last week and I support it. Most Senators realise we need to "Repeal the Eighth" to make a substantial change in this regard.
However, we cannot cherry-pick the Constitution. We cannot say, "I like this bit of the Constitution and I don't like that." We are either democrats or we are not. We need to respect the people of the State and their decision as they make it in a referendum. We can work for and articulate and argue a case for change within the Constitution. I am deeply worried when I hear officeholders using terms such as, "I do not know whether the Bill is anti-constitutional and I do not care." Article 28 of the Constitution relates to collective Cabinet responsibility. I am concerned that members of the Cabinet now seem to cherry-pick regarding the advice they take from the Attorney General and whether it is okay to take the advice from the Attorney General on whether to pay one's water charges bill or whether one acts as part of the collective in the Cabinet. I greatly respect the decision of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Deputy Katherine Zappone, to accept the Attorney General's advice on the Bill to be voted on this week.
I do not think we should discuss matters that are more relevant to the other House. The Senator is naming people-----
This is relevant.
The Government is not responsible to the Seanad.
There is nothing more relevant to this House than upholding the Constitution. We can talk in this House about new politics-----
The Senator is entitled to his opinion, but he should not make assumptions.
-----or we can talk in this House about reckless politics. I ask the Leader of the House to request the Taoiseach to come and answer for his stewardship of the Cabinet in upholding Article 28 of the Constitution, given that there is collective Cabinet responsibility. The Ministers sitting around the Cabinet table have had the opportunity to hear the advice of the Attorney General and have avoided making a decision today on whether they should have collective Cabinet responsibility. There is a collective responsibility on the Cabinet to make a decision on whether the Bill before the Dáil is constitutional and they are now avoiding this. I fear this is a downgrading of what has pertained heretofore. The Cabinet has always upheld Article 28. I am not tabling a motion. I ask the Leader to ask the Taoiseach to come and answer for the role the Cabinet is taking in upholding the Constitution. The issue is far too important to allow members of the Cabinet to cherry-pick the advice they take. It is not good enough to seek the advice of the Attorney General on payment of water charges and then opt out on another issue of such importance. That is not acceptable.
The Senator has made his point.
I ask the Leader of the House to call on the Taoiseach to come and answer for his behaviour this week.
I ask the Leader to invite the newly appointed Minister for Health to come to the Seanad for a specific debate on the strategies that should be employed to ensure that more people are treated in their homes, thus reducing hospital waiting lists and unemployment. There is huge potential to increase the number of home help hours available. This should be, at worst, cost neutral and probably cost beneficial as it would keep people out of expensive care elsewhere. It is also where people are happiest. We need a debate on increasing the number of home help hours available and getting much more comprehensive home help packages, particularly in the case of people with Alzheimer's disease, dementia, etc., where there should be no age restrictions. Much can be done with home care packages.
I agree with the sentiments of Senator Rose Conway-Walsh in regard to carers. Large-scale reform of the home carer scheme is required. The amount home carers receive and their fringe benefits should be increased and it should be made an attractive option for people to stay at home and care for loved ones because home is where people want to be. I believe the potential of home helps, home help packages and carers has not been fully exploited as a method of keeping people at home, eliminating waiting lists and increasing cost effectiveness. I ask the Leader to examine this issue. The Leader is a former distinguished chair of the health committee and will have an appreciation of the potential. We need to think outside the box; we need to spend a lot more money in this sphere and to take action urgently. It is a very important debate.
I propose an amendment to the Order of Business in line with non-Government motion No. 6 on the Order Paper. The Fianna Fáil group proposes: “That Seanad Éireann calls for a Seanad committee representative of all the political groups to be established in order to examine councillors’ terms and conditions, including PRSI class K status, pension rights and other related matters and that this committee would consult with representatives from both the Association of Irish Local Government (AILG) and the Local Authority Members Association (LAMA)”.
Is the Senator proposing that the motion be taken today?
Yes. Following the 2014 local government reforms, the areas served by councillors have expanded and their workload has increased. In counties with a small population such as Carlow councillors are faced with a shortage of funding to carry out even basic works like grass cutting, for example. This leads to a lot of frustration. Councillors have to deal directly with communities who are paying extra taxes, like the local property tax. The communities, therefore, have greater expectations of the work to be carried out by their local authority, when, in reality, the councils are doing more work. It is not only important but essential that the Minister sets up this committee to work with AILG, LAMA and all of the political groups here. Every councillor deserves a proper stamp and proper pension rights-----
On a point of order, I cannot hear what the Senator is saying with the amount of traffic in the House and I want to hear her point. The Senator is trying to get above the noise.
I take the Senator's point. Ciúnas.
Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell is correct that the noise was very loud.
It is not a train station.
Absolutely. It is not only important but essential that the Minister sets up this committee to liaise with AILG, LAMA and all of the political groups. Councillors deserve a proper stamp and pension rights. I was a councillor for 19 years on Carlow County Council and like other councillors and Senators who have been councillors previously, I was honoured to represent my community. However, councillors have been affected by what is called local government reform. There have been cutbacks everywhere and local authorities and councillors have been affected. I ask the Minister to address the House. It is essential that councillors receive their entitlements, which is what we in the Fianna Fáil group are looking for.
I ask the Leader to invite the Minister of State with responsibility for regional economic development, Deputy Michael Ring, to the House for a debate on retail planning in rural Ireland. We have all been on the Seanad campaign and have gone through large towns and villages in rural Ireland where we have seen many shops closed. Local planning authorities give planning permission for out-of-town shopping centres and supermarkets, while the local shopkeeper in the centre of town has to pay rates and insult is added to injury due to parking charges. How can anyone compete when there are 500 free parking spaces on the outskirts of a town? We want people to shop in the centre of town, but they have to pay these charges. This problem arose in England 20 years ago and it devastated towns. Even in bigger towns such as Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds, the centres became ghettos because of out-of-town shopping centres.
Some 20 years on planning authorities here are granting planning permission for shopping centres. In one town alone I counted 23 shops which had been closed on the main street. Planning authorities in rural Ireland are not taking this on board. They are granting planning permission to multinationals in order that they can draw in massive amounts in rates, while the ordinary shopkeeper who has survived through the recession is struggling. They then charge parking fees outside their doors. We need the Minister, all relevant groups and the local authorities to draw up a plan. From what I saw while travelling around rural Ireland during the Seanad election campaign, all we need now is tumbleweed in certain towns because no business is being conducted. This is happening all over Ireland. I would, therefore, like to see the Minister come into the House and planning authorities in rural Ireland considering this issue which represents a serious problem for retail businesses.
I am delighted to see that interest in our electorate, particularly county councillors, has come to the fore. I, therefore, ask the Leader to amend the Order of Business to take No. 11, non-Government motion No. 2, first today. There are three amendments to the motion tabled by my colleagues, Senators Denis Landy and Gerald Nash. The plight of county councillors has been spoken about in this Chamber, particularly in the past 18 months, but much lip service has been paid to this group. The way in which they are being treated is absolutely outrageous. I received an e-mail the other day from a councillor who in the 21st century has a broken black and white printer to deal with his administrative craft-----
Is the Senator also proposing an amendment to the Order of Business?
To be discussed today.
On a point of order, I did not hear the amendment Senator Gerard P. Craughwell said he was proposing. Will he repeat it, please?
It concerns No. 11, non-Government motion No. 2, the motion I had agreed to take in Private Members' time-----
To be taken before No. 1 today.
If amendments are to be moved to it - Senator Denis Landy has tabled three amendments to it - it should be the most comprehensive item-----
It is not on the Order Paper.
Does the Senator want No. 11, non-Government motion No. 2, to be taken today before No. 1?
That is the amendment proposed to the Order of Business.
It is not on the Order Paper.
We will clarify the matter now. It is.
All I can see is a motion on Seanad political reform.
Order, please. I will give Senators the page number. It is listed on page 316.
I refer to concerns about the need for urgent action on the N5, particularly between Frenchpark and Strokestown. Locals have informed me that there are black spots along this section of road. We understand there have been over 20 accidents at a particular one. I have raised this issue on several occasions in the past year with Roscommon County Council and ask that Transport Infrastructure Ireland, TII, deal with it urgently. We need to see a review of, or action taken on, the need for better signage, verges and road surfacing on the N5, particularly between Frenchpark and Strokestown. I am also very concerned about vehicles being driven at excessive speeds through the villages of Frenchpark, Bellanagare and Tulsk. We know that there is a plan for a new route between Scramogue and Tibohine, which will be a very positive development when it happens. However, in the interim I call for urgent action to deal with what is a major route to the west. I will be seeking a meeting with Transport Infrastructure Ireland and ask the Minister, Deputy Shane Ross, and the Minister of State, Deputy Patrick O'Donovan, to take this issue very seriously. As I have highlighted, there have been many accidents along this section of road and every accident is one too many. We need to reduce the risk as much as possible.
There are identified safety risks on this section and I ask for action to be taken as quickly as possible.
I refer ti the alarming report by Social Justice Ireland today which highlights that we now have 750,000 people living in poverty in the State, an increase of over 100,000 since the onset of the austerity policies. Within that figure are 230,000 children living in poverty. It is a huge indictment of Government policies. I have to ask the question as to how this happened. Was it by accident? Did we suddenly miss that we had so much poverty and inequality in the country? Of course, it was not by accident. It was as a direct result of policy choices made by both the last Fine Gael-Labour Party Government and by the Fianna Fáil Government that bankrupted the State. Rather than choosing to increase taxes on those who can afford to pay more, both Governments chose to cut child benefit, jobseeker's allowance, one-parent family allowance, carer's allowance, means-tested fuel allowance and pension payments. That is how it has happened. It is an absolute disgrace. I am calling for a debate on the issue. I ask the Leader to bring the Minister with responsibility for social welfare into the House. If we care about people living in poverty, all of us need to ensure the upcoming budget is equality-proofed. That way, rather than just talking about the problem, we can ensure we do something concrete to make sure this inequality is not exacerbated further.
Is the Senator looking for a debate or proposing an amendment?
I am asking the Leader to arrange a debate.
Coming from the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly plenary in the past two days, the Brexit issue is of huge importance to this country, the United Kingdom and the European Union. I am disappointed that an all-Ireland forum has not been set up both North and South to address the implications of this serious issue. It has gone unnoticed in this Chamber, but the North-South Interparliamentary Association has met in this Chamber every six months for the last three years. Many issues have been discussed, including cross-border tourism and infrastructure. It has gone unnoticed. There have been politicians of different hues in this Chamber and from different parties in Stormont involved. After the most important decision that could affect this country in the past 50 years, we really need to look at it from a cross-border, all-Ireland basis. I call on the Minister to come into the House to explain what exactly is being done and what can be done. In the past five years this country has been at the heart of Europe and we can do a lot. However, we cannot do things in silos when dealing with Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, the island of Ireland, the United Kingdom and the European Union. We need an all-Ireland approach. I ask the Minister to come into the House to try to see if we could have all-Ireland co-operation on this very important matter.
I ask the Leader whether he will take on board the many issues surrounding Brexit. The one I wish to discuss today is the issue of third level students and the Brexit vote. As everybody in this room knows, many students from all over Ireland, particularly from Border counties, attend universities both in Northern Ireland and elsewhere in the United Kingdom. There is a reciprocal arrangement for students from Great Britain and Northern Ireland who come here to the South of Ireland to go to college to study for their degrees. The outcome of the referendum could have a major impact on these students, particularly those from this jurisdiction who are heading either to the North of Ireland or elsewhere in the United Kingdom to further their studies. It is an issue, among many others, that needs to be addressed and taken on board.
This vacuum is causing many families concern. During the negotiations which are estimated to last two years this will probably not be an immediate issue, but it needs to be addressed. Students who sat their leaving certificates or are in the middle of courses are facing the uncertainty of not knowing whether their fees will increase in a couple of years time. This issue affects a large number of students and it is essential that it be given priority during the negotiations between Britain, Ireland and the European Union.
Regarding councillors' terms and conditions, I was a councillor for more than 15 years. It is important that the House speaks with one voice on this issue. Our ambition is to improve the terms and conditions of councillors. If we do not, we will find it difficult to get people to enter into local government at a time when we are encouraging many to do so.
I raise the issue of where we are going with the tourism industry. It is going well in some locations, for example, in my part of the world in Kinsale, Cork, but I am concerned about the change in strategy and policy. In Kinsale, approximately 2,500 people passed through the tourist office in the past six months, but its staff numbers have been reduced. It had three staff last year but only two this year. The main factor in the tourism industry is the people involved in it. They are key. The front face is important. The people involved are the friendly faces that guide our tourists. We must invest in our front face. There has been major investment in roots tourism and digital media, but we cannot forget what it is that Ireland is trying to sell, namely, our people. This is the key marketing goal that we need to push. We must debate with the Minister the focus that must be placed on the front-line staff of, in particular, Fáilte Ireland. They must be supported and have the resources necessary to show tourists around the country. When one goes to any other part of the world, the first place one visits is the tourist office. We must support our infrastructure and the people on the ground. A debate on this matter would be appropriate and helpful for our tourists and the tourism industry.
I am delighted that the issue of councillors' terms and conditions has been raised. I have been raising it regularly and was the only Oireachtas Member on the review group on local government set up by the former Minister, Deputy Alan Kelly. We surveyed councillors' terms and conditions, including their work conditions. The Association of Irish Local Government, AILG, also conducted a survey. Both surveys showed that, on average, a councillor spent 35 hours per week on council work. The case is well made for councillors' terms and conditions to be improved. In my amendment to Senators Gerard P. Craughwell and Victor Boyhan's motion, I spelled out what was proposed by the then Minister but which did not get through the process. One element was to increase councillors' annual allowance from €2,286 to €4,500. This measure has been proposed and is there to be implemented. With my amendment, I second Senator Gerard P. Craughwell's motion. I support Senator Jennifer Murnane O'Connor. In the previous Seanad there was a group on which Senator Diarmuid Wilson represented the Fianna Fáil Party. We met the Minister. It worked well and caused the review to happen, but this is an ongoing process. It has nearly been brought to finality-----
On a point of order, the Senator can only second one amendment.
I said I was supporting it, not seconding it.
I am sorry.
I was conscious of that. I support Senator Jennifer Murnane O'Connor's amendment. We can do this without any ministerial approval. The Whip of each group just needs to nominate someone, be it himself or herself. We should do it this evening. It would progress the case for councillors further. There are many new Senators. Those who are returning and those who were councillors previously know the importance to society and our communities of councillors and the work that they do.
This is a good day for councillors. We seem to be receiving cross-party and cross-group support so far today. We can make progress on this issue and bring it to finality by way of making improvements for councillors.
I support my colleagues with regard to councillors. There was a review of local government carried out in respect of the 2014 local elections. We reduced the number of councillors and expanded their jurisdictions but did not make the appropriate adjustments to allowances and expenses. In fairness to councillors, they are providing local leadership in their communities and work extremely hard. If one wants to survive as a councillor, one must put in the hard work. They are doing so. In fairness to the Minister, the matter is under review, but it is important that we have some indication from him as to the timeline. This is the issue about which I am concerned. It was raised over 12 months ago. The local elections were held in June 2014. Two years on, we are nearly half way through councillors’ term. It is now that the review should be carried out and delivered on. I have come across a number of councillors, with young families or children in third level education, who are now finding it extremely difficult to make ends meet. That must be taken into account. Will the Minister indicate when the review will be completed? It is a question of delivering on a comprehensive package and not just a question of a little tweak here and there.
On the issue of Console and the charity regulator, we need to grasp the extent of this matter. Some 2,600 organisations receive funding from the HSE, amounting to €3.6 billion per annum. We need to have proper structures in place to ensure proper auditing mechanisms. I ask the Leader to acquire some clarification to ensure all these procedures are put in place.
On a point of order, I would like the record to be clear on the fact that the review started by the former Minister, Deputy Alan Kelly, has been completed.
I am afraid that is not a point of order.
There is no need for any other review. It is only stalling the horse.
That has nothing to do with procedure.
The review has been completed and the recommendations have been made.
I must rule the Senator out of order. He has already spoken.
Some 266 people were handed the gift of life in 2015 through organ donation. This figure has increased substantially owing to the diligent work of Organ Donation and Transplant Ireland which is headed by Professor Jim Egan. Outcomes for transplant recipients in Ireland continue to rank among the best in Europe. Currently, organ donation in Ireland is based on a voluntary donation system and occurs in 32 intensive care units throughout the country. The National Organ Procurement Service operates a 24-hour service 365 days a year. Its highly trained and motivated staff travel to the relevant hospital and guide the family through the very traumatic experience. All stakeholders are treated with dignity and respect. The service does good work and I ask the Leader to ask the Minister to ensure its funding is secured and maintained.
I support a good Senator in front of me, Senator Ray Butler, on the matter of rates on commercial buildings. Small businesses are under enormous pressure. The Senator is correct in saying out-of-town shopping centres could affect the life and soul of many towns throughout the country. Even small towns have been sucked into the bigger urban areas.
It is important for the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Minister for Finance to find a way forward to get cheaper money for farmers and small businesses to carry them over at crisis time. There is no doubt that there is a crisis taking place in farming and that farmers need a certain amount of funding at different times of the year to carry them over. We see clearly our counterparts in Spain, Portugal and other European member states who have access to interest rates of 2% and 3% on short term or overdraft borrowings to tide farmers and small businesses over at crunch times whether it is to buy in stock or while they wait for cash crops to mature and be sold. I ask the Leader to arrange at some stage for the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine to put at the top of their agendas the need for a special financial arrangement for farmers and small businesses, in particular to tide them over at crucial times throughout the year. That is what happens in certain countries throughout the year and I have no doubt that it can be done here with a little ingenuity.
These days there is very little in the way of real politics. It is all entertainment. We have people like Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage and this afternoon we were treated to an extraordinary concentration on the doings of local authorities and grass cutting. For a national parliament, it is obviously just naked electioneering. We have had the odd laugh out of this mongrel Government, but nothing in the wildest extremes of my imagination could conjure up a situation where there would be a Cabinet crisis over the conscience of Shane Ross. It calls to mind the resonance of the War of Jenkins' Ear. It has a lot more to do with Shane Ross trying to take a poke at the Taoiseach.
The Senator is out of order. Will he pay attention, please? He should refer to the Minister properly by his title.
I am sorry.
The person to whom the Senator refers is now a Minister. Will he, please, refer to him correctly?
I beg his pardon. It is the conscience of the Minister, Deputy Shane Ross. We have had this fabulous - I use the word in its correct application - resonance with the War of Jenkins' Ear. It seems that it is avoiding the issue altogether, which is the repeal of the eighth amendment. The Attorney General is usually quite cautious and says things are unconstitutional and we have to take her word. There is such a thing as Cabinet confidentiality. All the medical experts in charge of maternity hospitals tell us this is defective. Unlike Mr. Cabinet Minister Gove, I would be rather inclined to listen to the experts from time to time on the odd chance that they might have something informed to say on the subject.
I welcome the strides being made on the roll-out of the national broadband plan and, in particular, the fact that the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Deputy Denis Naughten, has brought to the Cabinet today firm proposals as to how it might proceed and how we might see it delivered on the ground. This issue needs to be driven forward and the Minister should be commended for hitting the ground running.
On the issue of broadband and job creation, I note that we have a state-of-the-art transatlantic fibre-optic cable from New York, which makes landfall at Killala, County Mayo, and goes on to connect New York with London. It is state-of-the-art in that the data and information capacity of the cable is equivalent to that of all current cables under sea or on the seabed between North America and Europe. It is significant. The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor, is anxious to implement the regional Action Plan for Jobs to see jobs created on the ground. There is a golden opportunity with this technology.
With all the capacity of this high-speed cable, one particular area on which we need to focus is data centres. We know that we have an ideal climate for such centres. At the location where the cable makes landfall, a combined heat-and-power biomass plant is being developed. One key consideration for developers of data centres is that there would be a source of renewable energy close to hand because they are energy guzzlers.
The Senator's time is up.
In achieving the objective of delivering jobs and investment in the west, including County Mayo, under the regional Action Plan for Jobs, will the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation look at the development of data centres at the former Asahi site and Knock Airport? Will she also ensure all Government agencies are moving in that direction, be it the county council, IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and the Western Development Commission, in dealing with that particular task?
I seek leave to introduce the Coroners (Amendment) Bill 2016, Jake’s (amendment) Bill. I discussed this issue with the Leader previously. I hope it can be placed on the Order Paper and taken next Tuesday.
It is still with the Bills Office.
I hope it can be progressed. Will the Leas-Chathaoirleach advise me on the process?
The Senator cannot move the Bill now because it is not on the Order Paper.
Do I give notice to the Seanad Office?
Yes, but the Senator should wait until it appears on the Order Paper. He cannot make any move until it appears on the Order Paper.
What is the normal timeframe? I submitted the Bill weeks ago.
The Senator can discuss it with us afterwards.
Okay, that is fine. I will discuss it later.
Most Senators would have been circulated with the concerns of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association, ICSA, about the recent comments by the German Vice Chancellor indicating that in his opinion there would have to be cutbacks to the Common Agricultural Policy, following the Brexit vote. We need to see a strong response from the Government. The Taoiseach needs to rebuff these comments and reassure the farming community. Accordingly, will the Leader consider amending tomorrow’s statements on farm safety with the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine to widen the debate to deal with the concerns of the farming community following these comments? We cannot just dismiss these because it is the German Vice Chancellor and not some minor political representative.
I express my party’s support for other Members on councillors’ pay and conditions. We need to address this issue as they are not paid enough nor do they have the entitlements they deserve for the work they put in. They do not get the respect at national level anyway for the work they put in. This needs to be addressed and we support whatever efforts are being made to do this.
I support other councillors-----
I am sorry; we are Senators.
The Senator used the word “councillors”.
I meant to say “Senators”.
There is very little difference these days in this House.
Senator Catherine Noone to continue, without interruption.
I apologise for the error. I think everyone knew what I meant.
I support Senator Jennifer Murnane O'Connor. I am delighted we have cross-party support because with new politics, it will require the support of all the political parties to get it through. It is not exactly a popular move in how the public might perceive it. The Minister for Social Protection, Deputy :Leo Varadkar, has already shown a willingness to improve the class K contribution, which is important. I am glad that the issue is on the agenda.
For several weeks I conducted a survey at supermarkets around the Dublin area on the issue of sugar and food labelling. Among parents, it seems there is some deception as to how food producers put the content of sugar, salt and other ingredients on labels.
With regard to one yoghurt, in particular, of the people questioned, 61% incorrectly believed that the product was a healthy choice for their child. It is worrying that even though parents are trying hard to decipher their labels, food companies are making it difficult for them. I compliment an initiative by Q102, a Dublin radio station, which has been good at highlighting matters such as this. It gives a Sugar Savvy Card to listeners which outlines basic facts such as 4g of sugar equalling one teaspoon and sugar consumption per day, which should be no more than 12 teaspoons for an adult. The card also highlights the different ways sugar can be described on a menu, including syrup, honey, malt, cane, molasses and so on. I raise this issue frequently and I am sure I sound like a killjoy, but this is important. I would be grateful if the Leader would agree to bring the Minister of State at the Department of Health, Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy, to the House discuss this issue in the near future. There are issues relating to EU law when it comes to traffic light labelling which would make life simpler for consumers.
Senators Frank Feighan and Robbie Gallagher raised the issue of Brexit. When the British Government triggers Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty, the House should have a rolling debate about Brexit because it is the most significant event in the history of the State. We will face nothing as serious as this. The British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly completed its most recent plenary earlier. The House was represented by Senators Paul Coghlan, Diarmuid Wilson, Denis Landy, Frank Feighan, Catherine Noone, Victor Boyhan, Gerry Horkan and me. We have a team to represent the House in discussions with members of the British, Welsh, Scottish, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man and Guernsey parliaments. I am delighted Ms Arlene Foster has not agreed to set up another body to represent-----
We have run out of time. I cannot allow the Senator to ramble on, unfortunately.
I am not rambling on.
We are up against the clock.
The Leas-Chathaoirleach is a member of the assembly and will recognise the fact-----
Is the Senator seconding an amendment?
One of my colleagues has seconded an amendment.
I am up against the clock. If the Senator wishes to second something, I would like him to do it.
I am not finished yet. I understand there is no time limit.
There is. The Senator is a long-standing Member of the House and should co-operate. His time is up.
It is vital that Senators and all elected representatives work together and the BIPA is the body that should discuss and negotiate issues relating to Brexit.
If the discussions at BIPA are anything like the comments the Senator has just made, they will not get far.
I second the amendment regarding non-Government motion No. 6. Having come through town and county councils with Senator Jennifer Murnane O'Connor, I am acutely aware of the distressing circumstances in which many councillors find themselves. This is a level headed motion which will engage with the AILG and LAMA-----
The Senator will have the opportunity to make these points when the matter is dealt with.
I second Senator Catherine Ardagh's amendment to the Order of Business to bring the Minister for Justice and Equality to the House in the light of the shooting earlier in Lusk in my constituency.
It is not the Senator's constituency. She is a Member of the Seanad.
I live close by and the people of Lusk and the general area are concerned about the escalation in gun crime.
I would like to mention the shooting in Lusk. I have been a GP in the town for 33 years and we have never had such an incident.
I have been a GP there for 33 years and we have never had an incident such as this.
It is an estate of very young families.
It is very difficult to hear the Senator.
Yes, it is. Please, everyone, ciúnas.
The danger to them that is manifest by today's episode is one I hope the Tánaiste will address when she comes to the House later today to debate a Bill in which it is proposed to increase the powers of the CAB in seizing the assets of criminal gangs.
I also support Senator Ray Butler's call for the Minister of State, Deputy Michael Ring, to come to the House. There is donutting in places such as Balbriggan. The main street in Rush is full of derelict buildings.
The Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Bill 2016 is the next item on the agenda and the Senator will have the opportunity to discuss it then.
I thank the Leas-Chathaoirligh.
I apologise to the following Senators who will be called first on the Order of Business tomorrow, Senators Martin Conway, Brian Ó Domhnaill, Ned O'Sullivan and Kieran O'Donnell.
There are only a couple-----
I am sorry, but we have run out of time.
I thank the 26 Senators who spoke. We need to take a collective deep breath as Members of the Upper House. I know that we all still have the "L" plates. However, this is Parliament and we should all behave accordingly. If we need to look at how we do our business, let us do so, but the comments of Senator Rose Conway-Walsh came true today. I believe that on the Order of Business it should be a case of one item per person.
Three amendments have been proposed to the Order of Business. On the two motions on councillors' pay and conditions, I make the following genuine appeal. Despite what Senator David Norris may think, councillors form part of the electorate that elects Members of the House. Therefore, it is important, as their representatives, to represent and voice their views. I will accept Senator Diarmuid Wilson's-----
I thought the Leader and his colleagues were elected by the people by delegated suffrage. I am glad to be told the truth.
I am happy to accept the proposal made by Senator Jennifer Murnane O'Connor in that regard. However, as we have done with other elements of Government policy, if there is a serious willingness to acknowledge that the role of councillors, their terms and conditions, work rate and remit have changed, let us not play political games. Let us collectively form an all-party, cross-party, group, to include Independents of all views, including Senator David Norris, members of the Independent group formed from the Taoiseach's nominees, Senator Gerard P. Craughwell's group and the political parties. Let us do this and not play politics with the role of councillors. We hear about the role of local government and talk about reform of local government. The most important people are those who work within it - the officials and public representatives. I am happy to work with everyone here, provided there is no political gamesmanship and no attempts to score political points to try to get votes. We want to bring about reform and improve the role, remuneration and conditions of councillors. Senator Denis Landy made a very good point the last day about the mental health issue, one we need to discuss. If we are serious about doing this, let us deal with it in a manner that befits this Chamber. I will be happy to take the amendment on board in the spirit of all Members of the House, if that is agreeable to Members opposite.
In particular, Members on this side.
It applies particularly to Government Members. On the first or second day of this Seanad, Senator Paddy Burke had a motion on K class contributions.
There was a debate on the issue last December.
Order, please. The Leader to continue, without interruption.
It is my intention to take the Bill on Seanad reform next week when there will be an opportunity to have this issue form part of that discussion. I know that the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, Deputy Simon Coveney, is working on the very serious issue of the terms and conditions and role of local authority members. He is putting a plan in place, with a package of measures. In fairness to him, he has had to deal with the issues of waste and water services and now has to deal with the housing strategy which we all agree is the most important issue in performing our role as public representatives. The Minister is working on it and is very serious about dealing with it.
The proposal made by Senator Catherine Ardagh about the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Frances Fitzgerald, is very important, not least because there is the loss of and the threat to human life. It concerns us all to hear this morning about another serious incident in which a person was critically injured. The Minister was in the House this afternoon to take the Commencement matter on Console which was raised by Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell and will be in the House again later today to deal with legislation on the Criminal Assets Bureau and the proceeds of crime. I again make the point that the safety of residents, whether they are in north Dublin, south Dublin or any other part of the country, is important. The Minister will not come to the House to discuss this issue today, for obvious reasons. I, therefore, ask Senator Catherine Ardagh to withdraw her amendment to the Order of Business. I will work with her to ensure the Minister will come to the House to deal with the specific issue of gangland crime. It is one we need to address, as a country. However, let us put it in context. An additional €55 million is being given to the Garda this year-----
Excuse me, I cannot hear the Leader speaking.
We have also seen the Garda overtime budget increase to €90 million. It is the Government that reopened the Garda College in Templemore, that has provided more resources for the Garda and recruited more gardaí. I hope it is recognised that it is not the case that the Government is doing nothing; to be fair, it is doing a lot, as is the Minister for Justice and Equality with the Garda Commissioner. We have seen the Garda special crime task force being put in place, with a dedicated armed support unit in the Dublin area. Therefore, it is incorrect to say nothing is happening. Resources are being provided; legislation is being drafted and recruitment is under way. If Senator Catherine Ardagh will withdraw her proposed amendment to the Order of Business, I will be happy to ensure the Minister will come to the House to discuss the issue.
On the issue of water charges, I understand former Senator Joe O'Toole has announced to the Government his resignation as chairman of the independent body.
That is a great pity.
It is a pity that he has had to resign. I have known him for a long time-----
We cannot discuss personalities.
In the context of the Order of Business, I am making the point that new politics means one thing one day and something slightly different on another. Former Senator Joe O'Toole is a very astute, good public servant who has done a lot of work for the State on many issues and in many roles. I understand he has resigned.
Senators Rose Conway-Walsh, Collette Kelleher and Joe O'Reilly referred to family carers. I agree with them that implementation of the national strategy for carers needs to be a priority in the Department of Social Protection. I hope we will have the Minister for Social Protection, Deputy Leo Varadkar, in the House to discuss the matter in the coming weeks. He has agreed to come to discuss social protection issues ahead of the budget. If we can do it next week, I will be happy to do so because the issue of carers is important and one that we need to see addressed. Carers do a huge amount of work that the State could never do. These are our family members and friends in our communities. Therefore, I fully concur with the Senators on the issue.
Senator Collette Kelleher also referred to the situation in John's Lane hostel. I understand from the agencies involved that alternative accommodation has been provided. It is, however, an important matter that should be addressed. I hope this will happen in dealing with the issues of housing and homelessness. I know that the Minister, Deputy Simon Coveney, is working on his strategy which he intends to bring forward before the summer recess.
Senator Kevin Humphreys referred to the eighth amendment of the Constitution and the matter of collective Cabinet responsibility. The Cabinet is not taking a position on the Bill. However, I agree with the Deputy that the eighth amendment is a very sensitive issue and one we need to see addressed. The Taoiseach has proposed the establishment of a citizens' assembly. I am told that the Bill will be brought before the Oireachtas before the summer recess, which will provide an opportunity to have the debate the Senator has sought. To be fair, the Taoiseach has never misled the House about his opinions on the issue.
I share his view that establishing the citizens' assembly is the way forward in handling the issue because it will allow space to have that discussion. Cabinet members have collective responsibility; there is no halfway house in that regard. The problem we have, however, is that there is no Cabinet undertaking or no collective Cabinet decision on the Bill in question.
On a point of order, the Leader-----
No, I will not entertain it.
I ask that the Taoiseach come to answer-----
The Senator is out of order.
The last time we saw-----
I must ask the Senator to resume his seat.
The Leader's answer is not acceptable-----
The Senator is being deliberately disruptive.
Will the Leader ask the Taoiseach to come to the House to address us on Article 28 of the Constitution?
That is not a point of order. The Senator is totally out of order.
I do not accept-----
The Senator should sit down.
I do not accept that I am out of order. I raised the issue of Article 28 of the Constitution-----
The purpose in raising a point of order is to clarify something and the Senator is not doing that. He is being deliberately disruptive. I am telling him to sit down and we will hear the Leader respond.
The Leader has avoided the issue that I raised by misrepresenting it-----
I am not responsible for how the Leader handles matters raised. The Senator is out of order.
I am happy to reiterate to Senator Kevin Humphreys-----
-----that the example to which I referred earlier concerning the manner in which councillors' pay and conditions is handled also applies to the eighth amendment and other sensitive social issues. On two occasions in this Chamber we were able to produce a report and a Bill to have the issue addressed. As I understand it - I am not in the Cabinet-----
We will not get into an argument about it now.
-----the Attorney General said the Bill, as presented to the Lower House, was unconstitutional. My view is that if someone is a member of the Cabinet and a Bill is deemed to be unconstitutional, he or she should not proceed to vote for it, on two bases-----
No interruptions, please.
First, one is putting forward a Bill that cannot be enacted and, second, giving false hope and playing politics on a very sensitive issue-----
I will be happy to ask the Taoiseach to come, but I will not play politics on the issue.
I do not play politics on Article 28-----
The Senator is out of order. The Leader might address the Chair, rather than look across at other Senators.
I apologise; I am still learning.
It is all right.
I have dealt with the issue of councillors' pay raised by Senator Jennifer Murnane O'Connor.
Senators Ray Butler, Paddy Burke and James Reilly raised the very important issue of rates in our local towns, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises. I agree with Senator Paddy Burke, in particular, that there is a need for the Ministers for Agriculture, Food and the Marine and Finance, with the banks, to come up with a way to get extra money and credit for those businesses that require investment and flexibility in seeking capital. The Minister for Finance, Deputy Michael Noonan, will be in the House next week to hear statements on the summer economic statement and I hope this very important issue can form part of that debate.
Senator Maura Hopkins referred to the N5 in County Roscommon. It is a very important issue, not least because it relates to public health and safety, which comes within the remit of Transport Infrastructure Ireland and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. I will be happy to ask the Minister to address it.
Senator Paul Gavan raised the issue of poverty in which context he referred to the report of Social Justice Ireland. The record shows that the country is moving forward. The previous Government which included the Labour Party twice increased the national minimum wage and there are now more people back at work. There is also more optimism about our balance of pay and GDP rate which is the fastest growing in the European Union-----
From where did the extra 100,000 people living in poverty come?
I reiterate that the Minister for Social Protection is to come before the House and this matter can form part of the discussion with him. Let us have a balanced and fair discussion.
Senator Frank Feighan referred to the all-Ireland forum, while Senator Terry Leyden referred to the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly which is meeting today. The Taoiseach is right that we need an all-Ireland forum, post-Brexit, to ensure that, as an island nation, we will have a roadmap and a plan to protect our interests. We can work with the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly, at which I spoke today, the Northern Ireland Assembly and the North-South Ministerial Council to ensure this happens. Senator Robbie Gallagher also referred to Brexit in the context of education. This is something we might consider again after the summer recess.
Senator Tim Lombard referred to tourism. I will be happy to invite the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Shane Ross, to come to the House to discuss the issue.
Senator Colm Burke referred to Console and the impact of what had happened there. In replying to a Commencement matter the Tánaiste addressed the issue of the enforcement of regulations under the Charities Act. I hope we will be able to debate the matter before the summer recess.
Senator Keith Swanick discussed organ donations, an important issue which is close to my heart. In the previous Dáil I was Chairman of the Joint Committee on Health and Children which produced a fine report on organ donation. We must keep the issue to the forefront and change how people opt out of donating organs. We can support the work of Professor Jim Egan and his staff. He is a tremendous person and has done a significant amount of work on the issue, as has the former surgeon, Mr. David Hickey. I will be happy to work with Senator Keith Swanick in pursuing the issue in the House.
I am not sure what Senator David Norris raised in his very fine contribution.
The Leader should look at the Chair, not Senator David Norris.
The War of Jenkins' Ear.
I will be happy to talk to the Senator-----
The Leader asked me what issues I had raised.
He should not have.
On the one point I know the Senator raised, I assure him this is no mongrel government.
Senator Michelle Mulherin referred to broadband provision. I will be happy for the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Deputy Denis Naughten, to attend the House to discuss the issue or for the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor, to discuss its importance in job creation. The House has heard a sequence of statements on job creation which I hope to continue.
Senator Pádraig Mac Lochlainn referred to the Coroners (Amendment) Bill. There would be no objection from this side of the House in that regard. I will ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Deputy Michael Creed, to discuss the CAP during the statements on farming.
Senator Catherine Noone raised the important issue of obesity. I hope the Minister of State, Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy, will be able to attend the House to discuss that matter.
Several Senators mentioned Brexit.
I am happy to accept the amendment to the Order of Business on councillors' pay and conditions in the assumption that Senator Catherine Ardagh will withdraw her motion.
The Leader might sit down. Senator Catherine Ardagh has proposed an amendment to the Order of Business: "That the Tánaiste address the House on the escalation in gun crime."
In view of the Leader's comments, does Senator Catherine Ardagh wish to withdraw her amendment?
I will withdraw it on the basis that the Minister will attend the House today.
I cannot guarantee that, as the Minister will be present for two hours to deal with a particular issue, but I will be happy to try to arrange for her to attend either this week or next week.
I thank the Leader. That is perfect.
May I apologise to the Leas-Chathaoirleach for being awkward earlier?
No, the Senator is out of order. I am dealing with the amendments proposed to the Order of Business. The Senator has already spoken.
I thank the Leader for inviting the Taoiseach to come to the House.
The Senator had his opportunity. Will he now, please, stay quiet?
Senator Jennifer Murnane O'Connor has proposed an amendment to the Order of Business: "That No. 11, non-Government motion No. 6, be taken today." What did the Leader say about this amendment?
I am happy to accept it.
Is the amendment agreed to? Agreed.
Senator Gerard P. Craughwell has proposed an amendment to the Order of Business: "That No. 11, non-Government motion No. 2, be taken before No. 1." Is the amendment agreed to?
I am agreeable to it.
The love that dare not speak its name has agreed to pursue-----
The Leader is accepting the amendment.
That is great.
I want to clarify the position. Is it agreed that No. 11, non-Government motion No. 2, be taken before No. 1?
I am happy for us to work collectively in the spirit of the two motions. It was my understanding that we had agreed to a roadmap.
Is the amendment agreed to?
I will offer clarity. I withdraw my amendment on the understanding the committee which has been called for by my colleagues will be set up and that the first issue on its agenda will be the establishment of a timeline. I will not engage in a talking shop.
That will be a matter for the committee.
Is the Leader happy with the withdrawal of the amendment?
When will the motion be taken?
The Leader has just agreed to take it today. Is it to be taken after the next item?
Yes. For the information of the House, we are agreeing to the amendment to the Order of Business on the basis that we can pursue the motion at a later time. It will not be taken today.
It has to be taken today. The Leader said it would be taken at the conclusion of No. 1.