Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Seanad Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 20 Feb 2019

Vol. 263 No. 15

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business

The Order of Business is No. 1, motion regarding report of the Committee on Procedure and Privileges concerning amendments to Standing Orders 19, 20, 51 and 65, to be taken on the conclusion of the Order of Business without debate; Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) (Amendment) Bill 2018, Committee and Remaining Stages, to be taken at 12.45 p.m.; No. 3, Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2017, Committee Stage, resumed, to be taken at 3 p.m. and to adjourn at 5.45 p.m. if not previously concluded; and No. 4, National Minimum Wage (Protection of Employee Tips Bill) 2017, Committee Stage, to be taken at 6.15 p.m. and to adjourn after two hours, if not previously concluded.

I commend my colleagues in Sinn Féin, who are not here today, on their colleague Deputy John Brady's questioning of the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection on JobPath. It is quite shocking that out of 206,000 JobPath applicants, only 11,333 remained in sustainable employment. Many colleagues in this House have raised issues with JobPath. We are aware that, to date, Turas Nua and Seetec have each been paid more than €70 million. It is now time that the Minister accepted that this labour activation programme is not working and must be changed. She needs to move back to the old community employment schemes. It is staggering that, for each placement, the private contractor gets up to €3,700. It seems to be another rip-off of taxpayers, and the State seems to be happy to spend it without any thought or consequence whatsoever.

The second issue I would like to raise concerns the use of wet wipes. Ms Deirdre Clune, MEP, has expressed her disgust over their use. Many of us use them. They are disposable wipes but many of us do not realise how dangerous they are to the environment. Ms Clune has asked that they come with a warning sign. They are not flushable but we are aware that they appear on our seashores. We need to ban them or sell them with express warnings because they present a great threat to our environment.

The first issue I want to address is the failed system to encourage retired officers of the Air Corps to return. A massive system was put in place to encourage them to come back but, to my knowledge, one lieutenant colonel and one captain have applied to come back and be commissioned. In inviting people to return, the authorities have not ring-fenced the appointments to prevent those returning from progressing to the next rank. If, for the sake of argument, a commandant returns and a vacancy for a lieutenant colonel arises, that commandant, who may have been out of the system for ten years, is suddenly eligible to apply for promotion to the post. That is grossly unfair to those who remained in the Air Corps. In the teaching profession, those who leave teaching and return not only return at the bottom of the scale but do so at the bottom of the new scale. It is grossly unfair to entice people who have left and enjoyed a period in the private sector, possibly earning big money with some of the commercial airlines, to come back and start closing off promotional posts for those who have remained loyal to the State and stayed behind. More important, who dreamt up this idea? Who dreamt up the idea that the only way we can solve the problem of losing members of the Army, Air Corps and Navy is by asking people who have retired to come back? Where is that coming from? What sort of thinking went into that? We should have the Minister of State with responsibility for defence in here to discuss this. I ask the Leader to do this for me.

He is coming in next week.

Last night, the fifth report of the Committee on Procedure and Privileges on Standing Orders 19, 20, 51 and 65 arrived in my mailbox. I see that the change to Standing Order 19 reduces the quorum to six. That is outrageous. This is a House of Parliament. We should not try to make it easy for Members to avoid sitting in the Chamber. The quorum has been used with great effect in recent times to try to ensure a Bill that is seriously flawed-----

It is being abused.

Order, please. The Leader will have an opportunity to respond.

The Senator is pretty good at calling quorums himself, in fairness to him.

When the motion is put, Senator Craughwell may oppose it if he wishes.

The Senator may have done his homework-----

Senator Craughwell is a former president of the Teachers Union of Ireland, TUI. He should know how to behave.

The quorum is a legitimate tool used in parliaments. It was used during my time as president of the TUI in order to ensure that something which is totally-----

It is a good job the Senator is not in the Áras.

We can only hear one Senator at a time. Senator Craughwell's time is practically up in any event.

I would say that my time is probably only half-way through.

I accept that Senator Craughwell has been interrupted.

I thank the Leas-Chathaoirleach. This is wrong and I would ask the Committee on Procedure and Privileges, CPP, to go back.

Why is it wrong?

It is wrong to reduce-----

Explain why it is wrong.

No, Leader. That does not arise at this stage. We will deal with it when the motion is put.

It is rubbish. The Leas-Chathaoirleach is encouraging the Senator.

In light of the fact that the Leader will have unfettered opportunity to respond, let me explain to him why I believe it is wrong. It is wrong because it makes it easy for the Government side in a debate to scrape through with the minimum number of Senators available for quorum duties. The bottom line is, that is wrong. The Leader has argued that the quorum used by myself, Senator Norris and Senator McDowell during the debate on Committee Stage of the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2017 has been misused or abused. It is a legitimate parliamentary tool, and from that point of view, I reject any attempt to say that it has been abused. I would ask the CPP to revisit this.

Of course. I thank Senator Craughwell.

I wish to raise the issue of the deprivation of liberty and institutional abuse and the particular responsibility we in Ireland, as a result of our history, have to ensure that the State takes an active role in monitoring, overseeing and intervening to safeguard the vulnerable in institutions from being abused. A key mechanism for addressing the potential for abuse in institutions is to ensure independent and regular inspections. Inspections shine a light on otherwise closed and hidden spaces, often the common thread of institutional abuse. Providing for such inspections is the central idea behind the optional protocol to the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, OPCAT, which Ireland has yet to ratify.

Even after the litany of revelations of institutional and historical abuse in Ireland, our inspection regime is seriously flawed. There is no inspection body for those detained in Garda stations following arrest. The inspectorate of prisons has published only one prison inspection report since 2014. There is no oversight body for direct provision centres or nursing homes, and many existing inspection mechanisms are not clearly entitled under law to conduct unannounced and regular inspections.

Under OPCAT, Ireland would be required to establish a national preventive mechanism, which is a co-ordinated inspection regime that is independent of government and has real powers. Independent inspectors could go to any place of detention unannounced and inspect any part of the residence. These would not just be in settings that we traditionally think of as detention centres, such as prisons or Garda stations, because many people are deprived of their liberty in health and social care settings, including immigration detention facilities, psychiatric hospitals, care homes, secure accommodation for children and nursing homes. People with disabilities, older people or those in addiction can be subjected to coercive practices in care, such as the withholding or overuse of vital medicine. Thorough and sustained monitoring and oversight of all these places is needed in order to protect people from inhuman or degrading treatment. Ireland signed OPCAT in 2007 but has not ratified it, which means that the Government does not have to comply with its requirements. What are the Government's plans in this area and when we can expect Ireland to ratify OPCAT? As we know from the experience with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, UNCRPD, this can happen separately to the legislative process.

I will also oppose the change to Standing Orders if it comes to a vote. The change seems to suit the current needs of Government Senators. The quorum is one of the few parliamentary tactics we have in opposition. Regardless of whether I agree that it has been abused, I definitely do not want to shoot myself in the foot, particularly if I need to abuse at some point in the future in the context of legislation in which I have a vested interest. I will oppose the change to Standing Orders if it comes to it.

I refer to the response of the Taoiseach in the Dáil yesterday regarding Spinraza. Parents and sufferers alike received bad news after months and months of raising this issue and waiting for a response. The HSE, yet again, has not been held accountable for how it negotiates an acceptable price with Biogen, the maker of Spinraza. Practically every other European country has managed to negotiate a deal with Biogen but, in 18 months, the HSE has failed patients here. That is not acceptable. The rare diseases technology review committee has recommended Spinraza to be supplied on a managed access programme so that the cost can be managed but the corporate pharmaceutical unit, CPU, seems unable to act to communicate what an acceptable deal would look like. The lack of any communication with the patient group over the past 18 months by the HSE is highly disrespectful and unacceptable. The CPU has to be held accountable for this. The Minister for Health, Deputy Harris, in whom Fianna Fáil will show confidence later today, has not shown any interest in doing this or in offering to meet the families. I appeal to him to meet these families in order to discuss the matter. We are talking about a small number of children.

Another issue that affects children is the audiology test that deviated from best practice. I accompanied parents of affected children to meetings with the HSE on one occasion and asked the official present if there were any more cases apart from the 49 identified. I was told "No". Time and again, we were all told "No" and that there were 49 cases. There are Senators sitting in this Chamber who know that this is true. From my experience of other scandals, the initial figure given of agencies and companies rarely gives the full picture. We now know that 60 more cases have been identified. Many of these children are in the late stages of development and have gone misdiagnosed for years. In many cases, there may be permanent or reversible damage. Some of these children had already underlying disabilities. I ask that the fault, wherever it lies in the review process, be addressed so that absolutely everybody who is affected can be contacted and adequate treatment and support be provided. We need an inquiry into this. It is obvious that the governance was not in place here and that, again, nobody was accountable. That is why a review is needed. Some of the 49 cases do not even have their medical card applications approved. The buck must stop somewhere. This matter is evidence of another failing on the part of the Minister for Health.

Finally, regarding the news that only 11,334 persons out of the 206,000 who have been taken on by JobPath remained in employment for over 12 months, the two companies, Seetec and Turas Nua, received full payment for every one of these referrals. In fact, they received double payments. The Dáil has passed the motion calling for the end of mandatory referrals. I want the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection to come before the House to discuss this matter because this is where it originated. In December 2016, I and my colleague, former Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh, raised the scandal of JobPath. Incidentally, the Taoiseach was Minister for Social Protection when that contract was negotiated. I want to see the contract because I want to see where the €149 million has gone.

I thank Senator Ruane for raising an important issue regarding the human rights of some vulnerable people in institutions here and the lack of enforcement of international law as it applies to the vulnerable. I want to raise an issue of concern in respect of how a vulnerable group of people who work in Ireland are treated by the system. In doing so, I wish highlight an article, written by Ms Felicity Lawrence and the Irish journalist, Ms Ella McSweeney, in today's edition of The Guardian, that draws attention to the human rights abuses of migrant fishermen who are working in the Irish system. Troublingly, this condemnation comes not simply from a politician, a trade unionist or somebody from an NGO, but from four high-ranking UN rapporteurs on human rights, trafficking, modern slavery and racial discrimination. I read the letter because I received it last week from the International Transport Workers Federation, the union operating to protect the interests of seafarers. It is a damning indictment of how we treat migrant fishermen in this country. The rapporteurs believe that the atypical permanent scheme in place at present leaves migrant workers open to exploitation, trafficking and human slavery.

That is a shocking indictment of this country. One of the problems is that the visa is tied to just one employer. One can imagine a vulnerable migrant worker putting a hand up to say they have not been paid, have been worked to sickness and are not being protected. If they put their hand up, they lose that right to work here because they have overstepped the mark with their employer when they are tied to that one employer. We can imagine all of the problems associated with that.

I have personally dealt with a considerable number of migrant fishers from north Africa who, in my opinion and in the opinion of the UN rapporteurs, are being exploited, are in a very vulnerable position and are not being protected by the atypical permits scheme in place here at the moment. I am on public record as challenging that scheme in this House, in the media and elsewhere. The scheme needs to be scrapped and the Ministers for Justice and Equality, Agriculture, Food and the Marine, and Business, Enterprise and Innovation need to work with the International Transport Workers' Federation to ensure we have a pipeline of workers from outside of Europe and the EEA states who are willing and able to work in the fishing industry in this country, but that they are protected and there is a scheme in place that respects their human rights, vindicates their rights and supports them. At the moment, this scheme is simply not working and it is open to abuse and to exploitation. I want to hear from the Minister for Justice and Equality what he is going to do about this.

I ask the Leader to invite the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Deputy Ring, to the House for a comprehensive afternoon discussion on rural Ireland and all the issues that pertain thereto. I emphasise that the good news in all of that will be that we have a vibrant rural Ireland and that many great things are happening there, although we would want to fill any deficits that exist. I congratulate the Minister on the announcement last week of the rural regeneration scheme grants. To date, €86 million has been spent on 84 projects. It is a huge success nationally and is transformative for communities. The thing I most congratulate the Minister on is that he is only grant-aiding shovel-ready projects so we do not have money wasted in delays, and if money is invested, it is spent on the day.

Last week, Cavan and Monaghan were very successful in the allocation of rural regeneration grants across places like Castleblayney, Clones, Ballyjamesduff and Cootehill. All across Cavan and Monaghan there were significant grants that are part of the €10 million that has been spent in my constituency by the Minister since he came into office. It is a huge investment in rural Ireland. We should be very proud of it as it transforms the lives of people and their quality of life, creates jobs and has a multiplier effect on the economy and on community life.

We would have the debate to monitor where all of that is going, look at the projects and insist projects must be shovel-ready. We must also insist that we are generating enough projects to ensure they continue bubbling up, as well as discussing other facets such as rural transport. There is a need for a comprehensive debate on rural Ireland with the Minister shortly. While we have much to be proud of, that is never a reason for complacency.

I propose an amendment to the Order of Business that No. 3 will not be proceeded with and that it be replaced by a request to the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, and Finance, Deputy Donohoe, to come to the House to outline in detail the projects that will be cancelled or postponed due to the overrun of costs at the national children's hospital on the St. James's site.

The Senator is scaremongering.

I am referring to projects like the rehabilitation unit at Roscommon University Hospital, the 50-bed unit at the Sacred Heart hospital in Roscommon, which is very badly needed and has been promised by general election candidates of the Fine Gael Party over the last number of years, the refurbishment of the courthouse in Roscommon, flood relief and national roads. Of course, all of these projects are being held until after 24 May for the council elections and European elections. Let us tell the truth. It is not the third secret of Fatima. These projects are very clearly identified. The Government cannot afford the overrun of €500 million or more in regard to this project. It is a very badly handled project, which has been debated so many times. Our dear colleague, Senator Maura Hopkins, who is the candidate for Fine Gael in the general election of the next year-----

-----has been reassuring the electorate again in the Roscommon Herald this week, where she is photographed outside the Sacred Heart hospital, and is saying, "Don't worry. Fear not." However, in the words of a well-known character, she would say that.

It is true. Anyway, Senator Leyden would say what he is saying.

I am delighted to say that.

He will want to bring back Seán Doherty next.

I ask Senator Leyden to wind up.

I will certainly wind up. On behalf of the electorate of Roscommon, I really appreciate Senator Hopkins putting her neck out.

The Senator cannot address Members across the Chamber. He is also half a minute over time.

I admire Senator Hopkins for her courage. I am very impressed that she is prepared to give those commitments without the support of the Department of Finance.

Thank you. We have the proposal.

We can postpone the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill today at 3 p.m. and have this matter debated today in the House.

The Senator's proposal is noted.

I thank the Leas-Chathaoirleach for his patience. He is a gentleman, no doubt about it.

I remind my honourable friend in Fianna Fáil that I have a little box on the top of everything I earn, and it is called the universal social charge, thanks to them, the builders and the banks, so I will not-----

Did Senator O'Donnell win the lottery today?

I am a member of the Joint Committee on Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and we have a very fine Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. When we look at the whole area of culture - music, dance, drama, visual arts, literature, poetry and all the myriad of the arts - from the time we are children to the time we are old but young at heart, it is an enormous, universal area and an expression of the human being. If we then look at heritage, we are into the whole area of the environment, hedges, trees, animals, peatlands, birds and insects - what my colleague, Senator Grace O'Sullivan was speaking about yesterday - a world of life, a universe of biodiversity that is slowly eroding.

I have an important question in this regard. I want to ask the Leader what one does, as a Senator, to try to get both of those Departments separated. In 2019, there should be a Department with a specific outline of biodiversity and environment - of our living, diverse environment. I am not talking about the environment of building-----


Senator Leyden is totally out of order. He heard the Cathaoirleach yesterday.

It is not me. It is the phone that is out of order.


It is the Senator's phone. If Members are going to behave like this, I will do what the Cathaoirleach promised yesterday and suspend the House for an hour. Be very careful, the whole lot of you. Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell, without interruption.

It is a very important issue. The reason I say it is that if we listen to the farmers, Birdwatch Ireland, the Peatlands Council and the people who come into the Houses and who deal with the environment every day - the actual biodiversity environment - they are not getting a fair chance within this structure in that they have the third part of a Department. At the same time, I suggest that arts and culture need far more emphasis. I am not suggesting that one is greater than the other but that these are so enormous - they are cities and universes in themselves - especially in regard to biodiversity, the environment and its preservation.

As a Senator, I want to know what should I do, or what could we do, to even suggest that those Departments would be separate. At one stage, arts was on its own, then it was in with sport and it is now in with the environment. They are too important-----

The Leader will respond to the Senator on that.

That is my question today. I would like the Senators to think about it. Biodiversity and our abuse of the environment come up every day in the newspapers and on television. Einstein said that the next war would be fought with clubs. He was right. We will end up with no environment.

No, it is very important. I was interrupted by Fianna Fáil.

I know that, but I have allowed the Senator more time and now she has doubled it. I allowed for that.

As we approach full employment, people are looking for more choice in their employment and for opportunities that contribute to a more positive work-life balance. For many the idea of working from rural Ireland is increasingly attractive. There are some who would love to return to their home place, and others who desire to get away from the traffic and higher costs associated with city living. For these people, working from home or from a shared workspace in a local town is the ideal. An organisation has now been set up to help people to do just that. Grow Remote is an organisation that has only been set up recently but already has 40 chapters all over the country. According to one survey on remote working, 62% of people do not work remotely because they do not know how to get started and fear they will not have a work community to share things with. Grow Remote has been set up entirely by volunteers and is addressing these issues. I was surprised to learn that 200,000 people are already working remotely full-time or part-time in Ireland. This organisation provides them with an opportunity to meet with each other, network, share ideas and information and organise resources where they deem it necessary.

The nature of debate in this House often means that we hear negative stories on negative issues, but this is a good news story. It is a story of people who got together and are trying to make life better for themselves and their communities. A group like this would be very welcome in my own home town of Athlone. It would complement current plans for a high-speed hub on the west side of Athlone and make it more attractive to live and work in the midlands. We all know that Athlone is the centre of the universe. Two weeks ago, Grow Remote addressed the Joint Committee on Rural and Community Development and was very well received. I am asking the Leader to ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Deputy Seán Canney, and other Ministers to do whatever they can to help this organisation so that people can live and work in rural Ireland.

On the subject of the quorum, I feel strongly that Senator Craughwell and others are against the idea of reducing the quorum. These people want new politics. They want to have a leaders' and whips' meeting every week. They want the Leader to agree the agenda with them instead of having the Leader determine the agenda like it was in the old days. They want to share in that.

Bring those days back.

At the same time, they do not actually want to partake-----

That item is on the agenda.

-----and keep the system running. They are often outside the door in the anteroom sniggering and laughing when they have called a quorum-----

-----while members of the Government are running from committee meetings, leaving the very valuable work they are doing there, to run up here to provide a quorum. We should be more professional.

It is a legitimate tool of Parliament.

It is a legitimate tool of Parliament, but this change does not stop Senators from calling a quorum. It would just mean we would only need six Members rather than 12.

There would still be a quorum.

That would be lovely.

The Senator's facility would still be there.

That would be lovely, just six. Why not reduce it to one?

Senator Craughwell wants new politics.

This is sleight of hand.

New politics, when it suits Senator Craughwell.

I wish to briefly raise two matters today. First, I remind people that the National Minimum Wage (Protection of Employee Tips) Bill 2017 is to be debated this evening at 6 p.m. I express my gratitude to people across all parties who have offered expressions of support today, and I appeal for their support again this evening to get this very simple but important Bill through to Report Stage. We are very happy to work as constructively as possible with the Government and all parties on Report Stage to ensure this Bill gets through. It will make a real difference to people in precarious work and on low pay. I wish to highlight that. I am looking forward to it.

I also wish to highlight a report that was published yesterday. It has already received a great deal of support but I recommend that everyone reads, it regardless of party. I refer to Cherishing All Equally, the 2019 report of the Think-tank for Action on Social Change, TASC. It is a report on inequality in Europe and Ireland. I will mention a couple of statistics and call for a debate on the topic. Some 24% of Irish people are at risk of poverty. That is quite a shocking statistic. This is only surpassed by eastern European states. One in every four children in Ireland is at risk of poverty. We are now an outlier in Europe for low pay. The bottom 40% of Irish workers take home a 22% share of national income, while the top 10% take 25%.

On a point of order, I would like to ask my honourable colleague who wrote the report.

That is no problem. It is an important question. The report was written by TASC, the Think-tank for Action on Social Change. It is a very academic and well-respected report. The launch was well attended yesterday. I saw colleagues from the Labour Party and Sinn Féin there, as well as Independents. I want to draw attention to it because we have a massive problem with inequality in Ireland, and this report tells us it is getting worse. That is why we need a debate on the topic. We should all accept that inequality is a major problem in our society. We should take steps to debate it fairly and openly to come up with proper solutions to improve the status of those on the lowest incomes in our society.

The debate on the Senator's Bill is at 6.15 p.m., not 6 p.m.

I thank the Leas-Chathaoirleach.

In respect of the issue Senator Leyden raised this morning, I would like to emphasise strongly that funding is being put in place this year to commence the design process of the Sacred Heart Hospital project.

It is really important that we see progress on it, and I am very happy to stand over my work on this issue.

Hear, hear. Senator Hopkins delivers for Roscommon.

I want to raise a very serious issue. This morning we heard that a further 57 families have received an apology from the HSE in respect of audiology failures. I have been working very closely with a number of the families affected. Some 49 families got an apology last June. Some 106 families have been affected by audiology misdiagnosis. I know many of these families because they have contacted me. I have been working with those parents since last August to set up cross-departmental supports to ensure that these children, who have had a difficult start, are able to access their full potential. This involves a working group with representation from the Department of Health, the Department of Education and Skills, because a lot of the challenges are in the area of education supports, and the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.

We are not seeing the progress we need in supporting these children and their parents, who have been failed by the HSE and the State. I have a lot more to say on it and I would like a debate on the matter in this House. Finally, we need to see evidence of accountability for these failings. This morning we have seen an additional 57 cases of misdiagnosis. We are told that this audiologist is no longer working in the catchment area of community healthcare organisation, CHO, 2. I want to know if this individual has been brought to account, because I have not seen any evidence of this. These parents are genuine people who want the best for their children and we are not seeing progress on this issue.

Informal meetings of EU trade Ministers will take place tomorrow, 21 February. I understand it is proposed to advance two negotiating mandates for trade talks with the United States of America. This is despite the US President's position on withdrawing from the Paris Agreement. The position set out by the EU Commission and EU leaders in 2018 was that real commitment to climate action and the Paris Agreement is a precondition to any trade deal providing access to EU markets. I ask the Leader to send a message to the Minister that we need to put our money where our mouth is. We must hold the line and show leadership.

I ask the Leader to request that the Minister attends this House when he comes back from the meeting to outline the Irish position at those discussions.

I have raised the issue of attracting high skilled workers from across the world and how we treat their partners and families several times in this House. Often those partners and families arrive with a stamp 1 visa but it can take up to 14 weeks to get a stamp 3 visa and that is even before they can apply for a job. If we are to seek people to come to work and live in Ireland and contribute to the economy and society, we should at least deal with and treat their partners fairly. A 14-week delay is unacceptable to me. We would give out and we would argue strongly if that was the way Irish people were being treated abroad but this is how we are treating people whom we have asked to come to work and live in Ireland, yet we treat their family and partners in this manner. I ask the Leader to bring in the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Humphreys, at her earliest convenience to discuss this. She is the Minister responsible because the 14-week delay occurs in her Department, even though on several occasions her officials have denied this in respect of legislation.

I would like to raise the issue of communications and broadband, which is essential for all people now, particularly as they go about their daily lives, whether it is through business or grant forms and even for quality of life. Eir reports data to the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment on ongoing rural fibre deployment in accordance with the commitment agreement signed with the Department in April 2017. It is not funded by the State and not planned, designed or directed by the Department in any capacity, according to quarter 3 2018 figures provided by Eir to the Department. The company has passed over 200,000 premises as part of its ongoing deployment and I had a lady in my clinic the other day who said it is called low hanging fruit if no easy access can be found.

My concern is not with the deployment of this, however. Some 180 towns and cities will benefit from the massive fixed network investment programme announced by Eir. This is good news for the many and in my area it is great to get this kind of connection. My concern is with Eir and its communication with its customers. Eir was taken over by an investment consortium in April 2018. If we are trusting it with deploying rural broadband to the country, we need to look at how it is treating its existing customers. Eir customers are currently facing longer than normal and much longer than acceptable wait times when contacting the customer care call centre. They are often told to go online to web chat, only to then be told to go back on the phone. Many more have complained that Eir's service is not working and they cannot get out of a contract. Others complain that reported faults are never fixed, despite promises that technicians will come out. Hundreds of customers have complained to national newspapers and to social media. Are we to expect this kind of customer service when the massive fixed network investment programme is completed? The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment needs to come into this Chamber to reassure us that customers will be treated better in future. We cannot allow this to happen. This is very serious for rural Ireland. We need to make sure that rural Ireland gets this service. I welcome this as well but we need to make sure it is done properly.

I second Senator Leyden's amendment.

I want to raise the issue of supervisors and assistant supervisors on community employment, CE, schemes. In Cork last Monday, there was a protest outside the offices of Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection in respect of a Mandate decision in July 2008. There was a recommendation that supervisors and assistant supervisors would be brought in under a pension scheme. In fairness to them, they are successful in helping people on these schemes to return to work and provide a valuable service at local level. SOLAS will argue that because they are not directly employed by the organisation, it has no responsibility in funding the pension they wish to join. On the other hand, all those who are employing the supervisors and assistant supervisors under the CE schemes are in voluntary organisations which do not have significant resources to dip into and, therefore, do not have adequate funding to cover these people in pension schemes. This matter needs to be dealt with because the schemes have worked very well in local communities over a long period and they have also worked for people who have found it difficult to get employment. It is something that we cannot allow to go on for another ten years and it should be dealt with. I ask the Leader to ask the Minister dealing with this matter to come into the House and give a response to it because I do not believe it can be left in the current position.

I want to respond to Senator Leyden and his issue with the €100 million. He should remember that it is €100 million out of €7 billion, which is equivalent to €100 out of €7,000. It is the same situation. We have €7 billion in spending money for projects this year. When we took over in 2011, there was no money for capital projects. We have turned that around and we will go on and make sure that all of the capital projects that we have identified-----

The Minister will have no problem.

-----will proceed and will be delivered on. This is the reality. We have identified the projects which will be affected by the €100 million cut. They are clearly identified and they are set out in writing

The Government should name the projects. It should be upfront and honest and tell the truth.

Before Christmas, members of the Seanad reform implementation group published a report with legislation about how to give effect to the proposals in the Manning report. The legislation proposed alongside the report, if implemented, would mean a radical change in all of the elections that we face, and it would be a damning indictment of all Senators if we fail to commence that legislative process in reforming this House in this Government term. There is a clear appetite for reform. During Question Time last week, the Taoiseach indicated that not only had the Cabinet failed to discuss the report, but that he was not in favour of the proposals and then he failed to give a commitment about when the Seanad Bill would be brought forward. He also stated that Sinn Féin dissented on the report, which was not the case. Sinn Féin fully endorsed the report and we think it could go further. There was a general indifference from An Taoiseach when he was discussing the report and a lack of willingness to endorse the proposals and to bring them forward. I am reminded that yesterday the Leader accused Sinn Féin of having no sense of how to fix or solve anything and that we do not accept responsibility. No party engaged more in Seanad reform in the preparation of that Bill than Sinn Féin did so the Government should bring the Bill forward and we will see which parties are destructive. It will be those who oppose political reform-----

That is an easy one for the Senator. Take the free ball and run with it.

It will not be Sinn Féin.

I support Senator McFadden's statement on the quorum. We could do our business in a more professional manner. It does not make a lot of sense for one of us, as a Member of Parliament, to be leaving a committee to come here for a minute, leave again and go back to our committee. It is nonsensical and a sensible proposal has been suggested.

I have been doing some research on consumer law in the EU and domestically when it comes to online contracts, in particular those that pertain to airlines. Under the EU directive on consumer rights, consumers are entitled to a 14-day cooling off period for any purchases online for any reason. There is an anomaly, however, when it comes to airlines. They are a different business to many other online providers but a 24-hour cooling off period should apply to airlines for non-immediate flights. Simple mistakes or spelling errors can cause people expense and worry about their travel, and older people are often less adept at dealing with these issues online. Airlines are outliers in this area and the small print and terms and conditions are often dense and intentionally vague. Introducing a 24-hour cooling off period would result in a more transparent and fair process.

Some airlines have introduced such measures, so the technology clearly exists. I hope we might get the opportunity to discuss this with the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Humphreys, in the House soon.

There are just about 37 days left until Brexit and the uncertainty intensifies by the day. The everyday impacts of a hard Brexit are becoming clear to the public. Last Monday, the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Deputy Ring, outlined potential knock-on effects for the alarm system currently allowing elderly people to stay in their homes. The seniors alert scheme provides funding for personal monitored alarms. That system allows people over 65 years old to stay in their homes. The scheme has been a great success for many people throughout rural Ireland. It gives a sense of security, contentment and peace of mind. If something unforeseen happens to a person, pressing the alarm button will ensure someone comes to his or her aid.

The Minister's comments are alarming. I was contacted by a number of people earlier seeking solace and reassurance from the Government regarding the issues raised by him. The main issue is that much of the equipment used under the seniors alert scheme is sourced in the UK. There may be issues with that supply in the event of a hard Brexit. It sends out a clear message that the Government needs to be alert now and Ministers need to be on the ball in their Departments. It is important to investigate an alternative source for that equipment in another country. I call on the Leader to ensure the Minister and his Department are on the ball in doing that. Sourcing another supplier for the system in another state will give peace of mind. Those who have the system will know there will be no issues with it and those seeking the system will not have to worry about their equipment in future. The system is of great benefit and reassurance to many people living in their homes, especially those living alone in rural Ireland.

I compliment An Post on its decision to go all electric with its postal delivery fleet throughout the country by 2022. By 2020, electrification will be extended to the cities of Cork, Galway, Limerick, Kilkenny and Waterford. This is a great decision by the company. By the end of 2019, Dublin city postal deliveries will be all be made by electric vehicles and electric bicycles. I also compliment the Houses of the Oireachtas Service on having two charging points in the grounds of Leinster House for electric vehicles. Those can also be used by An Post. The company has made a great decision and the Leader, at some stage, might invite the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Deputy Bruton, to the House for a discussion to determine where we are at and where we are going with electric vehicles. We might also discuss the incentives available to households. We could have a good debate on those issues. I see a problem down the line, however, for the financing of major industries and industrial projects. Green finance will be the way forward. The greener a project, the easier it will be to secure funding in future. Dirty industrial projects will probably find it harder to secure finance as well. Those are all areas on which we could have a good discussion with the Minister in the near future.

I wish to raise the issue of the future of the beef industry, a topic I have raised previously. There has been great upset and turmoil in the industry in the past six to eight months. Since Christmas, in particular, there has not been a major increase in price. That has been a major issue throughout rural Ireland. The key reason there has been no increase in price is the large number of cattle killed in Ireland. At one stage, 40,000 animals a week were being killed. That is extraordinarily high compared to the numbers usually killed. Traditionally, 20,000 to 30,000 animals were killed. Much of the increase relates to the expansion of the dairy herd, as well as Friesian bull calves coming through the system. Those changes are depressing the price because there is only a certain demand for beef. Unless we move large numbers of Friesian bull calves in the next few weeks, this cycle will continue in two years when those cattle will be finished. We can move more than 80,000 animals a week off of the island using ferry services and hauliers. It needs to be ensure that those animals are moved. There is a market for them in France but there is a problem in Cherbourg with lairage. That problem needs to be examined.

This industry is a key part of rural Ireland. Rural Ireland will slowly die away unless we support the industry. We need a debate with the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine, Deputy Creed. He needs to have a round-table discussion, not particularly with us, but with the transport people, the lairage owners and departmental officials on how the blockage in the system can be removed. That must be done to ensure animals can be transported. The knock-on effect will be to reduce our national herd but also to increase the monetary return to farmers.

There has been a large increase in production following the Food Wise 2025 initiative but profitability at the farm gate has gone in the opposite direction. Farmers are working harder to produce more to earn less. That is not viable. We need a debate on this issue. I appreciate I am over time and I will finish on this. The beef industry is at a crossroads. Without major change, I fear for the state of the industry in three or four years.

I condemn An Post for its decision to close the post office in Gurteen, south Sligo. This was on the cards for some months. The local communities rallied together and got a reprieve for a month. Everything possible was done to increase footfall and attract more customers. An Post has gone back on its word, however, and the post office will now close at the end of February. It is regrettable that while a community entered into negotiations with An Post and did all that was possible to increase footfall and bring in extra customers, An Post has not listened to the community and, indeed, to many politicians.

Senator Leyden referred to the Sacred Heart Hospital nursing home in Roscommon. I was part of a Government that secured funding of €9 million for that facility.

Hear, hear. Where has it gone?

There was some €16 million for St. Patrick’s Community Hospital in Carrick-on-Shannon. I have raised this issue twice during Commencement matters. Based on my dealings with Roscommon hospital, I know how much of an inconvenience it is for the management to carry out this development. However, it has to be done. The Government cannot just grant funding and demand that the hospital be built. There has to be consultation with management and staff. In nursing homes in Boyle, Castlerea and many other locations, where the bell was ringing over the past ten years, management and staff sought and acquired funding. Funding, therefore, can be provided but these facilities will not be built unless the management in those nursing homes decides to get a team together, get an appraisal and source a design feasibility study as well as cost estimates.

It behoves all the stakeholders to work together. All the Government can do is to provide the funding. The funding for this project has been ring-fenced in the national development plan, NDP, which runs from 2017 to 2021. It is projected to be complete by 2022. I reiterate to Senator Leyden that I know from Roscommon hospital how much of an inconvenience it is to work with all stakeholders to build such facilities. It has, however, to be done. It is not possible to build something without cracking a few eggs. I ask all of the stakeholders to come together to deliver this project. The Government, however, can only do so much. We can provide the funding. That is unlike 2012 and 2013 when there was none. We can, however, only do so much. The management teams have to-----

The Senator has made his point.

Let the Minister for Finance, Deputy Donohoe, come in later today to explain that. I would like that.

I call the Leader to respond.

I thank the 20 Members of the House for their contributions to the Order of Business. The issue of JobPath was raised by Senators Ardagh and Conway-Walsh.

Some 41,000 people who participated in the job activation programme are in full-time work and 5,000 others are in part-time work. The programme has worked. The contract for the current programme expires in 2019 for new referrals and a decision on its future will be made at the end of this year. I will be happy to have the Minister come to the House for a debate on the programme.

I welcome the Senator Ardagh-Sinn Féin love-in today, which is in contrast to what we saw yesterday. I wonder what way the political wind will blow tomorrow.

The Seanad is not sitting tomorrow.

I join Senator Ardagh in commending Deirdre Clune, MEP, on her remarks around the use of wet wipes. I agree that they are not biodegradable or in any way helpful to the environment. On the issue raised by Senator Craughwell-----

Gabh mo leithscéal?

The Senator will have an opportunity next week to have a debate with the Minister for Defence on the Defence Forces and the Air Corps.

In regard to the quorum-----

The Taoiseach is the Minister for Defence.

No, the Minister with responsibility for Defence is Deputy Paul Kehoe. The Taoiseach will come to the House as well in-----

Allow the Leader to continue without interruption, please.

There was a full moon this week. The remnants must be falling far from the-----

The Taoiseach is the Minister for Defence.

In fairness, he is not the Minister for Defence.

I was responding to the issues raised by Senator Craughwell. The Committee on Procedure and Privileges, CPP, had a good discussion yesterday on the use of the quorum and the numbers required for a quorum. Senator Craughwell seems to be fixated on a narrow prism through his eyes of the quorum under the guise of the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill and the filibustering employed by himself and others during the last couple of sessions of the House. The quorum reduction proposed by the CPP is in keeping with the Dáil reduction in its quorum number.

This stroke was pulled in the Dáil as well.

Order, please. Senator Craughwell has had his say.

Senator Craughwell is here long enough to know how the business works. I know he thinks the Independent group is the fulcrum around which everything else revolves.

I am glad the Leader recognises it.

The CPP represents all Members of the Seanad. As I said, we had a very good discussion at yesterday's meeting of the CPP. The facility about which Senator Craughwell speaks so passionately and which he wants to protect and preserve is not being done away with. The Senator will still be able to call a quorum whenever he so desires. That facility is not being diluted or taken away and so his contribution this morning around the quorum was, in part, misguided. I reassure the Senator that he will still have the opportunity to call a quorum. The point that has been made-----

The Senator wants there to be enough people to listen to him.

That is a different matter. Some day, God forbid other Members of the House will be where Senator McFadden is-----

Not, God forbid; God willing.

-----and they will have to, as Senator Wilson did, provide a quorum not for the purpose raised by Senator Craughwell but to have the business of the day commence. The point being made by people on this side of the House is that a quorum should not be just the responsibility of Government, although it is. We are in a minority situation and therefore there is an obligation on all sides of the House to ensure that the sitting of the day commences. Senator Craughwell being all for new politics will embrace that.

I commend Senators Ruane and Nash on their remarks this morning around protecting and upholding the human rights of our most vulnerable people. This is a matter that requires urgent attention and ongoing inspection. I understand the Health Information and Quality Authority, HIQA, carries out regular inspections of our nursing homes. The point the Senators made is very important. I am happy to engage with them on the provision of a series of debates on the issue.

Senator Conway-Walsh raised the issue of Spinraza. I do not have information to hand in regard to the matter she raised this morning on the Order of Business. Senators Conway-Walsh and Hopkins raised the audiology issues in the west. It is unacceptable that there has been a breakdown in supports to young children and their families. As Senator Hopkins rightly said there is need for cross-departmental engagement by the Departments of Education and Skills, Employment Affairs and Social Protection and Health, and the HSE in terms of accountability and to address the pathway to services for the young people and families who have been failed, notwithstanding that the HSE has apologised. Senator Hopkins made a very telling contribution around the audiologist, whether that person remains in the employment of the HSE and, if so, in what area this person is employed.

We know where he is. That is not the issue. It is the governance that is at issue.

I am not disagreeing with Senator Conway-Wash.

I ask the Senators to speak through the Chair.

We can come into this House and be critical of people or entities but we need to do so in a manner that is constructive. As Senator Hopkins rightly said, it is important that a strategy is put in place to work with the families on a pathway to services for young people. I reiterate my support in that regard.

Senator Nash raised the issue of migrant workers, in particular migrant fisherman. The point he made is important and I will endeavour to provide time for a debate on the issue of exploitation.

Senator O'Reilly commended the Minister, Deputy Ring, on the introduction of the rural regeneration grants. We all commend the Minister, Deputy Ring, on his recent announcement in that regard and on the importance and priority he places on rural Ireland.

Senator Leyden-----

He is outside interpreting.

To be honest, I do not know where to begin.

The Leader should be as concise as possible.

I want to commend Senator Feighan, who is not here. I recall when Senator Leyden was in government there was a former Independent Deputy named Tom Fox, who was elected on foot of the Roscommon hospital issue, which highlighted the failure of the Fianna Fáil Government of which Senator Leyden was a member to invest in Roscommon hospital. Thankfully, subsequent to that we had the arrival of Senators Feighan and Hopkins to the Oireachtas, who have ensured there is investment in Roscommon hospital. As Senator Leyden knows, it is busier now than it ever was previously.

It would not be there had I not been around at the time.

As stated by Senator Hopkins the funding for the design process for the Sacred Heart Hospital has been put in place. The HSE has confirmed that construction of the 50 bed residential care unit is expected to commence in late 2020. We should be focused on the overall capital spend. It is important to make the point that no project will be cancelled as a result of the reprofiling around the national children's hospital. Under Project Ireland 2040, the Government's €160 billion capital investment plan is under way, is on time and it will deliver. Unlike the Fianna Fáil Party-----

How can the Leader say that?

There are so many projects that are waiting 20 years.

I can say it because-----

With respect, the Leader cannot say that. He has zero credibility.

As I said, there are many projects waiting to be commenced. The Holy Angels project has been on the shortlist for ten years.

Senator Murnane O'Connor please be quiet; you have had your say.

It is the biggest load----

I ask Members to listen to each other with respect. I call the Leader to continue without interruption, please.

I recall the great plan of Charlie McCreevy for decentralisation. Where stands that?


I recall the sale of Eircom. Who did that? It was Mary O'Rourke. Do Members opposite remember the e-voting machines and what the cost was in that regard?

What about PPARS? Who was responsible for that? It was Bertie Ahern and the then Minister for Health, Deputy Micheál Martin.

They are being relaunched.

I will not allow this re-run of issues. I call the Leader to continue without interruption.


Senator Murnane O'Connor forgot about the €40 million overspend in regard to the Mater Hospital plans for the national children's hospital under the watch of Bertie Ahern. I know that Fianna Fáil wants to airbrush him from Fianna Fáil history and I understand why but they should not come in here and lecture us.

What about the VAT on children's shoes?

Fianna Fáil should not be lecturing us.

What about the stay at home housewives?

Allow the Leader to continue without further interruption.

I believe the full moon is having a bigger effect on the Leader than others.

Did the Leader see the report on those who are now called the working poor?

A Leas-Chathaoirligh, they do not want to hear the good news.

I could provide a copy-----

I encourage the Leader to move on.

They do not want to hear the good news but they will have to listen to it because it is factual. We now have the largest number of people ever to have worked in the history of our country. When Fianna Fáil left government, the unemployment rate was at 15%.


There were people from Senator Murnane O'Connor's home town, Carlow, on boats and planes emigrating. Shame on Fianna Fáil. They should put up their hands and admit they were wrong.

Did the Leader see the TASC report?

Look at the way in which the country is being rescued today. We have the greatest number employed today.

On a point of order, the Leader should know it is great to have that number working but quite a significant number are living in income poverty.

Senator Craughwell knows well that is not a point of order.

I inform Senator Craughwell that under this Government and its predecessor, the minimum wage was increased three times? He should ask himself whether he voted for it?

I forced it during my time as president of a union.

I have the Senator's texts about consulting on votes.

I encourage the Leader to wind up.

I commend Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell on her contribution on the Order of Business. The points she makes on culture and heritage are actually very important and should not be just glossed over in an Order of Business reply. I would be happy to have a debate on the points she makes. What we must learn from our past is that we must prepare and plan. This involves a combination of culture, heritage and biodiversity, about which the Senator spoke. Linked to this matter is Senator Humphreys's request for a rolling debate on climate change, an important issue. We have agreed to it.

I commend Senator McFadden for raising the need for more remote working, working from home and part-time work. I would be happy if the Minister could come to the House regarding that.

Senator Gavan raised today's Private Members' motion. We will debate this in our debate on the TASC report. We have all read the report. We should reflect upon it but it is, in itself, selective in what it presents. It does not take notice of the fact that Ireland has one of the highest average incomes and lowest levels of precarious employment in the European Union. The report acknowledges the role the State plays in addressing income inequality through the system of social transfers and a progressive taxation system. It does not make reference to the fact that the national minimum wage, which is determined based on recommendations of the Low Pay Commission, provides a measure of security for the low paid. Equally, it does not show in its clear form the supports and security measures put in place under the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. I would be happy to have the debate in the House at a later time.

On Senator Humphreys's remarks, I would be happy to have the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport come to the House after the EU meeting. The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Deputy Bruton, has been very clear about Ireland's responsibilities regarding carbon-----

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Deputy Simon Coveney.

I was not sure from the Senator's contribution who he was referring to. I believe he referred to trade Ministers.

The trade Minister.

He is the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade.

It is to sanction-----

I would be happy to have the debate.

I believed the Leader was well informed on these issues.

I will ignore the Senator.

Senator Murnane O'Connor, as part of her contribution on the Order of Business, raised the issue of broadband. She should look at the task force report published. Does she want to heckle me now or will I finish? She is about to start.

Please, no interruptions.

I will let the Leader finish.

The Members opposite should not be encouraged.

The Member opposite fails to recognise that 1,000 km of fibre-optic cable have been laid. There is a commitment to have 400,000 businesses hooked up. There is a commitment to activate 135 live stations this year. As the Senator knows, the task force is quite clear on what is required. I refer to the action points. The national mobile phone map is live. ComReg is working on that. The Minister is meeting Eir this week to discuss the matter. The Senator will know that it was her party, when in government, that sold off Eircom, which delayed the national broadband strategy by a generation.

Fine Gael signed up two years ago.

Senator Colm Burke raised the issue of the CE scheme supervisors and the industrial action this week. There is a review being undertaken by the Departments responsible for social protection and finance. The Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection answered questions on this during a Commencement debate. I would be happy to have her come to the House to debate the matter again.

Senator Warfield raised the issue of Seanad reform. As he will be well aware, there is no unanimity on the reform of Seanad Éireann. The report published by the implementation group has gone to the Government. It is awaiting a Government comment, followed by action or inaction, depending on its decision. With regard to the report, the Taoiseach is committed to Seanad reform, as we all are in this House. The type of Seanad reform is for further debate and consultation.

We have a Bill on which there is unanimity. It is signed off.

There is not unanimity on the Bill.

We do not have unanimity on the Bill. We have a report that was produced and agreed by an Oireachtas sub-committee of both Houses. As to what happens down the line, however, that is for further discussion. I do hope we will have Seanad reform, and I am committed to it. As to whether it is the same type of reform the Senator wants, that is a different issue.

I commend Senator Noone on her work on the EU consumer law on aviation. Her point on cooling off is worth considering and should be brought into effect.

Senator Gallagher raised the important issue of senior alerts. The Minister, Deputy Ring, as part of his wide-ranging interview in the Irish Examiner, said he was considering alternative sources for the senior alerts. It is important that we do not try to scare people in our commentary on Brexit. The issue of senior alerts is one whose importance we all understand but let us not all get hysterical over it. Let us hope we can-----

I was not saying the Senator was.

On a point of information, perhaps the Leader might refer those comments to the Minister in question, not to me.

It must be the full moon. The Senator is very sensitive this morning. He is very much under pressure.

I am not sensitive.

Tóg go bog é. Will I say again what I said to the Senator?

I heard him the first time. That is why I made the comment.

I do not want any comments.

What I said was-----

What the Leader said was that people should not be scaremongering. I said that the Leader should perhaps refer that comment to the Minister, Deputy Ring.

I said "people", not Senator Gallagher.

The Chair is not responsible for content but we must listen to one another.

I did not refer to the Senator specifically; I said "people".

Perhaps the Leader should refer to the Minister in question and name him.

I commend Senator Paddy Burke on his contribution on the electric fleet of An Post and green finance. I commend Senator Reilly, who was instrumental in the installation of the charging points at the back of Leinster House. It is important.

Senator Lombard raised the issue of beef. It is a very sensitive time for those in the beef industry. The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Deputy Creed, is very much aware of that. I would be happy to have him come to the House.

Senator Feighan raised the issues concerning Roscommon hospital and Gurteen post office in Sligo.

I will not be accepting Senator Leyden's amendment to the Order of Business.

Senator Leyden has proposed an amendment, "That No. 3 not be taken today and that a debate with the Minister for Finance and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform on the consequences for the capital investment plan of the cost overrun at the national children's hospital be taken in its stead." The amendment has been seconded. Is it being pressed?

Very much so because we have-----

The Senator does not have to elaborate. Is it being pressed?

Senator you have had your say. I have asked you if the amendment is being pressed.

I want to explain why.

I do not need your explanation.

You do not seem to understand, a Leas-Chathaoirligh.

Amendment put.
The Seanad divided by electronic means.

Some of our colleagues seem confused as to how they were voting. This proposal was to bring the Minister for Finance to the House to discuss where the cutbacks are going to be made to public projects as a result of the overrun on the children's hospital. To facilitate them, under Standing Order 62(3)(b) I request that the division be taken again other than by electronic means.

Amendment again put:
The Seanad divided: Tá, 18; Níl, 24.

  • Ardagh, Catherine.
  • Bacik, Ivana.
  • Black, Frances.
  • Clifford-Lee, Lorraine.
  • Craughwell, Gerard P.
  • Daly, Mark.
  • Daly, Paul.
  • Davitt, Aidan.
  • Freeman, Joan.
  • Gallagher, Robbie.
  • Horkan, Gerry.
  • Humphreys, Kevin.
  • Leyden, Terry.
  • Marshall, Ian.
  • Murnane O'Connor, Jennifer.
  • Nash, Gerald.
  • Ruane, Lynn.
  • Wilson, Diarmuid.


  • Burke, Colm.
  • Burke, Paddy.
  • Butler, Ray.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Conway-Walsh, Rose.
  • Conway, Martin.
  • Devine, Máire.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • Gavan, Paul.
  • Hopkins, Maura.
  • Lawlor, Anthony.
  • Lombard, Tim.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McFadden, Gabrielle.
  • Noone, Catherine.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donnell, Marie-Louise.
  • O'Mahony, John.
  • O'Reilly, Joe.
  • Ó Donnghaile, Niall.
  • Reilly, James.
  • Richmond, Neale.
  • Warfield, Fintan.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Gerry Horkan and Diarmuid Wilson; Níl, Senators Gabrielle McFadden and John O'Mahony.
Amendment declared lost.

Is the Order of Business agreed?

No. I want the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2017 to be taken before discussion on cutbacks.

The Senator should resume his seat. If Members want to have a conversation they can have it outside the Chamber.

Question put: "That the Order of Business be agreed to."
The Seanad divided by electronic means.

As a teller, to make sure everyone understands what they are doing, some people may have been confused and others not here who were here earlier, but under Standing Order 62(3)(b) I request that the division be taken again other than by electronic means.

Question again put: "That the Order of Business be agreed to."
The Seanad divided: Tá, 24; Níl, 14.

  • Burke, Colm.
  • Burke, Paddy.
  • Butler, Ray.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Conway-Walsh, Rose.
  • Conway, Martin.
  • Devine, Máire.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • Gavan, Paul.
  • Hopkins, Maura.
  • Lawlor, Anthony.
  • Lombard, Tim.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • Marshall, Ian.
  • McFadden, Gabrielle.
  • Noone, Catherine.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Mahony, John.
  • O'Reilly, Joe.
  • Ó Donnghaile, Niall.
  • Reilly, James.
  • Richmond, Neale.
  • Warfield, Fintan.


  • Ardagh, Catherine.
  • Bacik, Ivana.
  • Clifford-Lee, Lorraine.
  • Craughwell, Gerard P.
  • Daly, Paul.
  • Davitt, Aidan.
  • Gallagher, Robbie.
  • Horkan, Gerry.
  • Humphreys, Kevin.
  • Leyden, Terry.
  • Mullen, Rónán.
  • Murnane O'Connor, Jennifer.
  • Nash, Gerald.
  • Wilson, Diarmuid.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Gabrielle McFadden and John O'Mahony; Níl, Senators Gerry Horkan and Diarmuid Wilson.
Question declared carried.