I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."
I am quite distraught. At 5.30 p.m. yesterday, I got notice from the Minister's office that he wished to decline the Second Reading. Micro-beads and micro-plastics are of great concern not only here in Ireland but also across Europe and the world. I cannot believe that only hours before its Second Reading, the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government serves notice that the Bill will not be read a Second Time. That shows lack of leadership and management because this Bill has been on the Order Paper for the past number of weeks during which time the Minister, and the Department, had every opportunity to consult with me if there was any part of it he felt was not above board.
This Bill was prepared by a colleague of mine, Aengus Ó Corráin, who is from the Minister, Deputy Coveney's county of Cork. We looked at the Bill in terms of making it straightforward and its objectives easy to achieve. We recognised that there are many other issues on the Minister's agenda but this is an issue on which momentum is building already across Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Italy, which are already proceeding with legislation to ban micro-beads and micro-plastics in the marine environment. The fact that legislation is already under way in those countries I felt, being a new Green Senator in the Seanad, that we could bring forward a straightforward Bill on this issue and get a ban introduced as soon as possible, which will be to the benefit not only of the marine environment but for the common good.
Currently, in supermarkets, corner stores and pharmacies there are bottles of product on the shelves for exfoliating, which I do not do much myself, shaving creams and toothpastes which contain tiny beads of plastic. They are in multiples of cosmetic products on every counter in Ireland. What happens when people use facial cream? Those small, round plastic beads go down the drain because the infiltration system does not stop them. Trillions of these micro-plastics are seeping into our lakes, rivers and seas, which is shameful. Molluscs, cockles, mussels, crustaceans such as shrimp and other little fish ingest this plastic into their systems and then die because they have no nutritional value. If caught in nets, they end up on Senator Norris's or Senator Alice Mary Higgins's plates, and they ingest them.
We are concerned about this issue. Science is showing that pesticides are attaching to these micro-beads and micro-plastic so when we drive our cars, some of the diesel fumes attach to the beads.
There is no nutritional value for the species ingesting these micro-beads and micro-plastic. There is the potential of a detrimental effect on our ecosystems and the lives of different creatures, be it fish, crustaceans or whatever. We cannot allow that to continue. Every time someone exfoliates or puts cream on their face, these little particles get into our marine environment. We are causing that problem. This is pollution at a very basic level.
The reason I referred to Canada, the US, Holland, the UK and Italy is because momentum is building in those countries in terms of addressing this problem. It is on that point that I query the Minister. He stated that this Bill is not rigorous enough. It is a start. If we always sit back and wait until we dot every "i", we will lose time. That is why I am so upset that the Minister has literally shut down the debate. He is stopping us having the Bill read a Second Time and moving it forward. That is undemocratic and fundamentally unfair. This is something that should have happened without objection. If the Minister believed in putting forward an amendment or if Fianna Fáil, whose members are sitting on the opposite side of the House and with their huge interest in the environment-----