Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Seanad Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 10 Nov 2016

Vol. 248 No. 5

Order of Business

The Order of Business is No. 1, motion re the visit of the First Minister of Scotland to Seanad Éireann, to be taken on conclusion of the Order of Business, without debate; No. 2, National Tourism Development Authority (Amendment) Bill 2015 - all Stages to be taken at 12.45 p.m. and to conclude not later than 2.15 p.m., with the contributions of group spokespersons on the debate on Second Stage not to exceed six minutes, those of all other Senators not to exceed four minutes and the Minister to be given four minutes to reply, and Committee and Remaining Stages to be taken immediately thereafter; and No. 3, Competition (Amendment) Bill 2016 - Report and Final Stages, to be taken at 2.15 p.m. and to conclude not later than 3.30 p.m., if not previously concluded.

On behalf of my party, I wish to ask about the serious inequality with respect to the ordinary five-eights in Ireland, middle Ireland, the coping classes, the squeezed middle. This caring Government which claims to have prioritised social reform has done anything but that - it has bared its teeth on middle class Ireland. No longer can a garda or a teacher marry a bank clerk or a Dunnes Stores' worker and hope to settle down and raise a family. The moral fabric and generational right of the middle class is being unspun by a Government that cares only for big business, large enterprise and banking fat cats. The Government will quip about what it inherited two elections ago but with some will and a little vision middle Ireland, which it has sucked dry and left lifeless, could have hope. Get the councils off their backsides to service the sites they have in land banks and sell them on to first-time buyers at cost price. Middle Ireland will do the rest. They will beg, borrow and help each other to build and get our country moving again. Where there is only despair, let there be hope. Come on, Taoiseach, give the coping classes a break. Help them to help themselves.

I would like to move a motion calling on the Deputy Leader to invite the Minister for Health to come into the Seanad to enable us ask him two important questions. The first is why is there such dishonesty and lack of transparency over what moneys have been allocated to mental health services? We were told €35 million would be allocated but only €15 million will be allocated for 2017.

Why is there such dishonesty about that? Second, why is it that a month after the budget was announced we still do not know how and into what areas this money will be allocated? Why is it that only the mental health services receive this treatment? It makes me wonder whether it is because having this lack of transparency means the Government can move the money around when it suits it to whatever Department suits it instead of it being honest about where this money should be going. I call on the Deputy Leader to invite the Minister for Health to attend here at his earliest convenience.

Did I just hear right? Was Fianna Fáil giving out about banking fat cats? Seriously.

The Senator heard it.

That is a strange one.

Eight years ago when we were in power-----

One speaker only, and I ask the Senator Gavan to address his comments through the Chair. It is not allowed for Senators to interact with each other like that.

I just want to confirm that is what we heard. That was all.

-----there was no shortage houses. Nobody was living on the streets, not like here in Dublin where people are lying and dying on the streets.

Senator Gavan to continue without interruption.

In light of the Labour Court proposals on Garda pay, the ongoing and welcome negotiations between the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland, ASTI, and the Department of Education and Skills and the serious threat of industrial action that remains there, the impending action by our nurses and midwives, the anger of our public health workers, in particular, and Jack O'Connor's comments on radio the other day - I am a member of SIPTU, one of the architects of the Lansdowne Road agreement - when he said that agreement is dead, let us be clear, all of us in this Chamber know that this is the case.

We know the situation has moved on. We also know the Government is sleepwalking its way into further industrial relations chaos unless the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform does what he needs to do, as Mr. O'Connor spelt out, which is to confirm that the successor to the Lansdowne Road agreement needs to be negotiated and to give a firm and clear start date for those negotiations. The negotiations should start immediately after Christmas. Fine Gael is just not very good at industrial relations. Consistently, the party leaves things until the last moment or beyond and yet again, we have a silence from the Minister on this issue. What is worse is that he is saying the Lansdowne Road agreement is fine when all of us know it is not fine, times have moved on and the just grievances of public sector workers need to be addressed.

We are calling clearly for a successor agreement with negotiations to begin as soon as possible. Key principles should come into play in the negotiations such as equal pay for equal work. It is shocking that the Government will not commit to that simple principle, which all of us know is correct. It is not right that new entrants to the Garda and the teaching profession are paid less than their colleagues, yet the Government will not come out clearly and say that and, more important, outline a timeline in respect of when those changes will happen. The FEMPI legislation needs to be unwound and there must be pay equalisation for post-2011 entrants. The public sector must become a living wage employer. It would not cost much to make that change and it would send a powerful statement in terms of a principled stance by our Government. Again, we have heard nothing to date. Pay increases are needed for low to middle income workers because simply unwinding FEMPI on a blanket basis will reward those at the top more than they deserve without giving decent pay increases to those at the bottom.

The principles we espouse are pay justice, equality, restoration and recognition for the Garda and the Defence Forces. I call on the Deputy Leader to bring the Minister to the House to debate these issues.

Yesterday, in the AV room, I viewed an informative and disturbing film by Risteárd Ó Domhnaill called "The Atlantic". The film is a reminder of the mismanagement of Irish natural resources. It highlights the devastation of our coastal communities by the fishing quotas imposed by Brussels and the exploitation of our waters by super-trawlers, which are permitted to operate without adequate scrutiny off our coast. A worrying feature was the contrast between the Norwegian Government's stance on maintaining control of its resources and doing deals for the benefit of its people and our natural resources being surrendered to big business. Jerry Early, a fisherman who featured in the documentary, said Irish fishermen feel unrepresented by politicians and see super-trawlers devastate fish stocks while they are tied up in port because of quotas. In one instance, 4,000 tonnes of fresh herring was dumped in the sea from a Dutch factory ship because they were not of the required size for processing. This is a criminal waste of perfectly good food and will lead to the devastation of our fish stocks. This can be contrasted with the arrest of Jerry Early from Arranmore Island, County Donegal, for having a net with the potential to catch salmon. The scrutiny of super-trawlers is needed and this should be done by insisting each boat has an inspector on board to ensure they adhere to the rules. In Newfoundland and Norway, Ó Domhnaill filmed politicians who were different compared to their Irish counterparts. They were strong on natural resources and had stood up against big, powerful interests to fight for their local communities. He said:

I don't know if it's a historical thing or a cultural thing in Ireland but we seem to turn our backs on the ocean and undervalue our coastal communities. I recommend that every single politician here in Leinster House makes it their business to see this film and see the devastation of our coastal communities and the loss of our fishing heritage.

This proud fishing tradition handed down through the generations is now in danger of being lost because of greed. Why was there not one representative of the Government parties at yesterday's presentation? Jerry Early was there and his father, an 84 year old fisherman, was also there. They talked about their culture and heritage and how in the old days the fishing tradition was passed down to the next generation. Jerry's 17 year old son is not a fisherman. It is a disgrace and this issue needs to be highlighted and addressed. More needs to be done for our fishermen. It is one of our top traditions and it is vital that we look after fishermen.

Edmund Burke once said that the only way evil can prosper is for good men to do nothing. America has just elected a fascist and the best thing that good people in Ireland can do is to ring him up and ask him if it is okay to still bring the shamrock on St. Patrick's Day. I am embarrassed by the reaction of the Government to what has happened in America. I cannot believe the reaction from An Taoiseach and the Government. I do not use the word "fascist" lightly. What else would one call somebody who threatens to imprison his political opponents? What else would one call somebody who threatens not to allow people of a certain religious faith into his country? How would one describe somebody who was threatening to deport 10 million people? What would one say about somebody who says that the media, the judiciary, and the political system is rigged? He then wins an election and the best we can come up with is a phone call asking if it still okay to bring the shamrock. I am appalled that a female Member of this House went on social media to congratulate this man.

I refer the Cathaoirleach and the Leader to the statement from Angela Merkel:

Germany and America are connected by values of democracy, freedom, and respect for the law and the dignity of man, independent of origin, skin colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or political views. I offer the next President of the United States close co-operation on the basis of these values.

Can the Government not understand what is happening? We are at an ugly international crossroads. What is happening in Britain and across Europe is appalling. It has echoes of the 1930s. America, the most powerful country in the world, has just elected a fascist and the best a Government spokesperson can come out with is, "We have to talk about foreign direct investment and we have to be conscious of American investments in Ireland". There are 50,000 undocumented Irish in America who I am sure are fearful for their futures. When will we have the moral courage to speak in terms other than economic all the time and to realise what is happening? If the Taoiseach of this country cannot stand as an Irishman at the crossroads of the ugly venture that the international political system is facing into and call it for what it is, then we are doing nothing. I am absolutely frightened by what is happening to our world and what is happening in respect of our inability to stand up against it.

I congratulate Colm Eastwood of the SDLP who said he will not participate in the charade on St. Patrick's Day. It is a clear challenge to other political leaders in the country who may be more interested in their fund-raising capacity in America so as not to insult potential American donors and the dollars that could come into their political coffers here in Ireland. Will the Deputy Leader invite the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade to the House to ask him how we are supposed to deal with this monster who has just been elected President of America because none of us in years to come should look back on this period and say we did not do everything in our power to call this out for what it is?

Will the Deputy Leader ask the Minister of State with responsibility for sport when there will be an announcement about a further round of sports capital funding? It has over the years enabled many sports clubs and organisations around the country to upgrade their facilities and provide opportunities for people of all ages, whether it be at leisure or competitive level, to participate in sport.

Over the years, it has enabled many sports clubs and organisations around the country to upgrade their facilities and provide opportunities for people of all ages to participate at whatever level, whether leisure or competitive level. We have seen particularly over the past week and months evidence of how sports can lift a nation at every level. It looks now as if there will not be any funding in 2016, but an announcement was imminent at one stage. I would like clarity in that regard because many clubs and organisations are contacting us about this. Many clubs have benefitted from this, as I said, but others, since it could not all be done at once, are waiting in the queue and need some clarification.

I echo the sentiments expressed by Senator Ó Ríordáin. I was not here yesterday, but we woke up to a very worrying world with the election of Donald Trump as President of the greatest democracy in the world. When I went to school I studied Greek. The word "democracy" comes from the Greek words demos and kratos, meaning the voice of the people, and the concept originated in Athens. I always had the ultimate faith in democracy as the only system, with all its flaws, but I am not so sure this morning.

It is extraordinary that a nation that could give us Jefferson, Lincoln, Roosevelt and Kennedy has finally given us someone like Trump. I sympathise with the womanhood of the world particularly. As a feminist, I think it is a gross insult to the female gender that that man should be elected President. I think Éamon de Valera famously - or infamously - said that the majority have no right to do wrong. He did not get an overall majority, but one would have to worry about democracy. I hope the people who will be handling Mr. Trump, if he can be handled, will be able to bring to bear on him the huge responsibility he has and that he must be careful about what he says and does and the way in which he refers to people like the handicapped, foreign nationals and so on. It is a bit depressing. I wanted to express my views on it as well.

I rise today to ask that we have a debate with the Minister for Social Protection about the contributory old age pension. Many people in the State will seek a contributory old age pension in their old age. Unlike the case for most other pension schemes, there is much disinformation and non-information out there about people's rights. Most people, such as us in the Oireachtas, can ring their pension providers and ask for a pension forecast, and they will get it. They will be told what they can expect to receive in terms of a lump sum or a pension if they are to retire next week, next year or whenever. That applies to most private pension schemes as well in so far as they can be predicted.

However, the Department does not give pension forecasts. It makes it clear that it will not do so. What it does is refer people to a website where there is a plethora of information. One would need an actuarial qualification to go through all that detail to see one's average payments, the minimum payments one requires and so on. How many times I have met constituents who have just reached retirement age only to find out that had they done A, B or C in their working life, they would have qualified for a full contributory old age pension, which is in the order of €200 a week. However, because they were not aware of their rights or the fact that they could get credits or make voluntary contributions, they let matters fall and have no pension or a reduced pension. It is not unreasonable in this day and age to ask that our Government be able to advise people as they come close to retirement age how they stand and what options they may have to enhance or secure a pension. I look forward to the Leader's response.

I second the request by my colleague, Senator Freeman, for the Minister for Health to be brought here at his earliest convenience to discuss the cuts to the budgeted figure for mental health. Mental health problems are a plague in this country, and we must do something about them.

I had other things to say but I am afraid I cannot let the statements made by Senator Ó Ríordáin and my colleague, Senator Ned O'Sullivan, go unchallenged. We are standing in the heart and soul of democracy in this room. I congratulated Donald Trump yesterday and qualified it by saying we are now in the middle of a perfect storm. Donald Trump was elected by the people of the United States. A total of 4% of the black women, 26% of the Latino women and 52% of the white women of America voted for Donald Trump. What right has anybody in this room to criticise the democratic choice of another country?

Hitler was elected democratically as well.

I do not like anything about Donald Trump, I do not like anything about what he has said and I do not like anything he stands for, but he is the elected leader, soon to take office, of the United States, where there are tens of thousands of Irish people. By standing up and criticising him now, our Government puts those people who are at risk over there in much greater jeopardy than they are in already. We have a job to do, and that job is to be done by the mainstream political system. It has failed the people. Right across the world, mainstream politics has failed the people because it has not countered the populism of the Trumps of this world with empirical fact, which shoots their stories down into the gutter where they belong.

Mainstream politics has lost the people; the people have not lost mainstream politics. Donald Trump has been elected and, God help us, we must live with him for the next four years. Let us therefore not create a rocky road that we will regret. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth if that man decides to turn his anger on our citizens in the United States. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth in this country if he decides to offer a 5% corporate tax rate and brings all his companies home or to put them under pressure to pull out of this country. The House should look around Ireland and consider the number of United States companies working in this country. Yes, Hitler was brought to power by a similar system. God help us, that is what democracy is about. We have four years of this man. Let us learn to live with him and work with him.

I wish to raise an issue happening in my part of the world, and probably the Cathaoirleach's part of the world. I refer to Digital Week in Skibbereen, which is one of the most unique ventures that happened last year and which is now happening again this year. Last year, 80 world-class speakers came to Skibbereen, a rural town in west Cork. It was an unbelievable experience. This year, another 80 speakers are coming to Skibbereen. Last year, the three-day event generated nearly 12 million tweets and brought many people into Skibbereen. It was launched today and will take place today, tomorrow and Saturday. It is a great event for west Cork, and the Ludgate Hub in Skibbereen is one of the driving forces behind it. This is what we want to see. We want to see digital communication and the digital industry located in the heart of rural Ireland. It is a very worthy event, so I wish it well. We need to promote such events more. I look forward to going to the event over the week to see exactly how wonderful it is.

I am sure the Senator has the full imprimatur of Deputy Daly to raise that issue.

I want to raise a number of issues today, the first of which is the Irish Coast Guard service. There is significant concern among the members of the Coast Guard about a threat to their future and helicopters being moved away from their bases. They call for legislation to put the Coast Guard on a statutory footing. As the House knows, there are four primary response agencies in the State: the fire service, the ambulance service, the Garda and the Irish Coast Guard. The latter is the Cinderella in this arrangement, and we need to put it on a statutory footing and resource it adequately.

They are being asked to save lives around our coast every year and they are not getting the support they need. Will the Deputy Leader bring this to the attention of the Minister? What is interestingly is that the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Shane Ross, who is responsible, is in this Chamber next week. When he makes his statement to the Chamber, I ask that he would address the issue of the Coast Guard service to reassure us on that.

I support the comments of Senator Frances Black. I also viewed the documentary "The Atlantic" last night. There is also huge food for thought in regard to the map presented recently to the Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine by BIM. The map showed British waters in the context of the post-Brexit scenario and it can be seen that Irish waters will be squeezed further. It is potentially a calamity for our fishing community who are extremely angry at how they have been squeezed over the years. Will the Deputy Leader bring that matter to the attention of the Minister, Deputy Michael Creed, who I hope has watched the documentary, in particular the issue of Ireland's territorial waters and how our fishing community will be affected by Brexit.

To those who are devastated by the election of Donald Trump, I would say they have to ask themselves why working class communities in their droves backed Boris Johnson on Brexit in England and why they have backed Donald Trump in their droves in the United States. It is because of the failure of mainstream politics to address the concerns of those communities, which have been raised repeatedly. Rather than all of us making statements such as have been made today, given we all feel deeply concerned about what is evolving due to the two votes on Brexit and the US presidential election, the challenge for all of us is to reassure working class communities, communities who have been left behind and minority communities as to what we are going to do to help them and how we are going to put in place policies. Rather than looking at Donald Trump, we need to look at ourselves collectively and see how we change the direction we are heading in.

Following on from that, we have to look at the relevance of the budget that has recently been passed. It was said that Brexit was future proofed but a mushroom farmer or a worker in the mushroom industry has not been future proofed. A person working in the agriculture sector whose main export market is the UK has not been future proofed. A person working in the retail sector will only need to look at the roads to Newry and Belfast to see the effect on the retail sector, so that person is not future proofed.

We need to engage very quickly with our EU partners in regard to a derogation for investment and the protection of rural Ireland. In many ways there is a balance in that Dublin may possibly gain investment due to Brexit but rural Ireland will certainly lose out because its main export market is the UK. We need to engage urgently with our EU partners about a derogation or we will see a huge loss in the workforce.

While we talk about future-proofing for Brexit, we have not future-proofed for Trump, although his election will have a major impact on global growth. It would be timely to schedule the Minister for Finance, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform and the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine to come to the House. These are the three main areas that will have most influence on how we deal with what I believe will be a global crisis. President-elect Trump spoke about a trade war with Canada, Mexico and China, and we would be caught very badly by that. We are the piggy in the middle. We are squeezed between the EU and the United States. With regard to dealing with this as mainstream parties, we see that what is happening socially in the UK and the US is enormous. However, if we ignore what could possibly be an economic crisis that puts this country back into recession, and we do not have a debate with the relevant Ministers, we have no right to be here. Will the Deputy Leader schedule a meeting with the Ministers or, if they are scheduled, will she notify us when they will come to the House?

In July and August my office sent out more than 940 confidential mental health questionnaires to all local authority members throughout the country, from all parties and none. This was the first comprehensive anonymous mental health questionnaire to be circulated to councillors. To tell the truth, the findings, which I presented at an AILG conference in Gorey recently, were stark and startling. Some 79% of councillors said their role as a public representative impinges on their personal life, 82% said their responsibilities had increased in recent years, 47% experienced low mood and, worryingly, 5% expressed thoughts of self-harm. This is a very serious and real issue. We forwarded the results to the Minister for Health, Deputy Harris, and the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, Deputy Coveney. Mental health is a big issue. We lost one of our councillor colleagues earlier in the year. It is important that we have the Minister to the House to discuss and debate this further. I ask the Deputy Leader to invite him in as soon as possible.

I spoke two weeks ago about planning in my local town of Trim where planning permission has been granted for 400 houses. As the economy changes, planning permission will be sought for developments. Just two days ago, a water mains burst in the middle of Trim resulting in something akin to a lake in the middle of the town. The issue ended up as a story on the front page of the Meath Chronicle. Some €1.3 million was supposed to be spent on the 35 year old water plant and on water issues in the area, but that money is gone since the debacle of Irish Water.

We need a debate in this House on the way forward for planning, facilities, services and even schools. I believe local authorities are not looking at the issues when they give planning permission. Two years ago the school in my area was 60 places short yet, although we do not have enough schools, we are now talking about the development of 400 houses in the Trim area. We need a debate in the House on planning and the development of facilities. We had this during the Celtic tiger, when we built continually without putting any facilities whatsoever in place. That left people in a terrible state. The debate on planning should include Irish Water and how we view the role of either the local authorities or Irish Water, if it still exists as we move forward.

Given the passion and emotion that Trump caused and the shock we all felt in the pit of our stomach yesterday morning, I echo Senator Ó Ríordáin's view. However, a knee-jerk reaction is not positive. I think he is a bit naive, as is the SDLP leader, in saying we will not cross any threshold there. We need to be involved and we need to make sure we can do the best for this country.

I raise the issue of the bizarre HSE memo sent to acute hospitals encouraging nurses to use force to remove patients from beds. It was rightly labelled by the unions and the Minister, Deputy Harris, as utterly offensive and unacceptable. This memo was issued on 11 October and came to nurses' attention earlier this week. It stated that nurses should use minimum force to remove trespassers, that is, patients, who are incapable or unwilling to give up beds.

This is incredible and repugnant. Nurses' first professional obligation is to their patients and adherence to the code of professional conduct and ethics of An Bord Altranais. Nurses are gobsmacked by the coldness and callousness of this memorandum. It confirms the loss of compassion and respect for the public that the HSE is supposed to serve. I demand a written formal apology from those responsible. People in senior managerial positions must carry out a root cause analysis and hold those responsible to account. There are numerous reasons for some patients being unable to vacate beds. For example, a young, wheelchair-bound 18 year old man from Crumlin cannot leave the acute bed because it will take a year for the adaptations in the house to be carried out. He must use the back garden as his toilet.

I urge the Deputy Leader to follow up on this and demand an apology. We have gone from trolleys to chairs to forcible ousting. Perhaps the next instruction to nurses will be to taser these trespassers, our patients.

Senators raised a variety of issues on the Order of Business. Senator Davitt made a number of comments about the squeezed middle, with which I agree. Certainly, when canvassing during the general election campaign, I met a huge number of people who are feeling very squeezed by cuts that have been made over recent years. However, ours is a recovering economy and a job is the best way to deal with the inequality the Senator mentioned. Unemployment has decreased from 15% to 8% under this Government. There is still work to be done and I accept the Senator's comments, but since the previous Government took office huge strides have been made.

Senator Freeman raised-----

It is the housing. People who are working cannot get a house.

Allow the Deputy Leader to respond.

Another Senator also raised the issue of housing. I will be happy to invite the Minister, Deputy Coveney, to the House to discuss it. As I said, I share Senator Davitt's concerns about that.

Senators Freeman, Craughwell and Swanick raised the issue of mental health. I would welcome if the Minister, Deputy Harris, or the Minister of State, Deputy McEntee, could come to the House to discuss it. I doubt that either of them would have a problem doing that to clarify the position. A total of €35 million in new services will be initiated in 2017, to add to the €35 million provided in 2016. It remains in the base funding of mental health services. I will invite the Minister as requested.

Senator Gavan spoke about the Lansdowne Road agreement and strike action. In light of recent developments, we are all concerned about the various strikes that have been threatened. I will be happy to suggest that we invite the Minister to the House to discuss these matters, which are of great concern to most citizens.

Senator Black raised fishing quotas, natural resources and super-trawlers. It is a matter that has not been discussed in the House during this term and I am sure the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine will be happy to come to the House to discuss it. Senator Mac Lochlainn raised that issue too. I will invite the Minister to the House.

Senator Ó Ríordáin spoke about Mr. Trump. I believe it is the only issue people in the country have been talking about since yesterday. We are trying to come to terms with what has happened. I share the concerns about Mr. Trump. I would have preferred to be speaking about a President Clinton but I agree with comments that Ireland and the US, regardless of the president in office, will have to work to ensure they have a relationship. We have citizens in the United States who need our protection. People can make whatever comments they wish about St. Patrick's Day but it is a useful time for us to be in the US and to promote Ireland. Bernie Sanders said a few hours ago:

To the degree that Mr. Trump is serious about pursuing policies that improve the lives of working families in the country, I and other progressives are prepared to work with him. To the degree that he pursues racist, sexist, xenophobic and anti-environment policies, we will vigorously oppose him.

It would be wonderful if the Taoiseach had said that. Will it happen?

The Taoiseach said very little, in fairness. He said that he will go to the United States for St. Patrick's Day. There would be more criticism if we did not continue that relationship. That is all he has said. I agree with Angela Merkel's comments and I agree with the Senator raising the matter. I found yesterday very depressing. Many people did. Senator Ned O'Sullivan used the word "depressing". I believe it was depressing, but that is as much as I am willing to say today.

Senator O'Mahony asked about sports capital funding. It is very important for clubs and organisations in rural and urban communities. I will seek clarification from the Minister of State, Deputy O'Donovan, on when the funding is likely to be disbursed again.

As I said, Senator Ned O'Sullivan spoke about Mr. Trump. He also raised the contributory old age pension and made a very relevant point. The Minister for Social Protection, Deputy Varadkar, has not been to the House previously to discuss the old age pension so I will be happy to invite him to do so.

Senator Craughwell also spoke about Mr. Trump and I agree, for once, with some of his comments.

Senator Lombard mentioned Digital Week in Skibbereen. I commend him on highlighting it. It is a very positive week for Skibbereen and west Cork.

Senator Mac Lochlainn spoke on the natural resources issue which had been raised earlier by Senator Black. He also commented on Mr. Trump. The Senator raised the Coast Guard service. The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport will be in the House next week and that will be a good opportunity for him to raise that issue.

Senator Humphreys questioned the relevance of the budget in the context of Brexit and the US election. It would be a good idea to have a series of debates in the House with each of the Ministers in charge of the potential developments with Brexit and our relationship with the US. I would be happy to suggest that we invite the three Ministers concerned, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Deputy Creed, the Minister for Finance, Deputy Noonan, and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Donohoe, to the House, not just to discuss it and raise issues but in order that we can come up with some ideas as to how we can maximise our ongoing relationships with these countries.

Senator Swanick raised the important issue of mental health for our councillors. I have already suggested that we invite the Minister of State, Deputy McEntee, to the House. I am sure she will be happy to address the Senator's concerns about local representatives.

Senator Butler spoke about planning, particularly in Trim. A debate on planning, Irish Water and housing would be very useful. It is to be hoped we can arrange it before Christmas.

I agree with Senator Devine's comments on Mr. Trump. I was appalled when I read about that statement on using minimum force to remove patients from beds. The Minister was as well. I commend the Senator on raising issues pertaining to nurses.

Will we get an apology?

Nurses' jobs are difficult enough without being given such directives from the powers that be. I wholeheartedly agree with the Senator, as would the Minister. An apology would be called for. As I said, the Minister agrees and has criticised it.

Call for an apology.

I will certainly ask the Minister and mention the Senator's comments to him.

I rarely comment on issues from the Chair. Much of the Irish public and many Members are animated by the result in America, but that is outside our control. America has its own democratic system. We may or may not like it but we must accept what happens there.

To make another brief comment, as somebody whose father, grandfather and great-grandfather were fishermen, I have raised the plight of fishermen in this House for more than 20 years. I wish the Members who are raising it more success than I had.

Order of Business agreed to.