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Order of Business

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Senator Feargal Quinn

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Order of Business
Snippet Contents:

I do not know about having tap water at that price but it would certainly not be helped by a VAT increase on that basis.
I have the same feeling as others that this House should be debating the budget prior to the budget and prior to the making of the decisions before it is announced. I do not understand why, to the best of my knowledge, we have never had that debate. I imagine the Minister for Finance, no matter what party he comes from, has never wanted to have that debate take place beforehand, and we have never been able to achieve it. However, I believe every Member of the House, on both sides, would like to see that debate take place because the whole purpose and benefit of having extra views is that we are hoping to influence the Minister in making those decisions, rather than just talking about it afterwards. I believe it is too late this year as I doubt we will get such a debate now, but I believe we should.
I want to make a further point on the referendum. If the "No" vote wins, and I am hopeful it will, it will be a real opportunity for the Taoiseach to achieve something which even Eamon de Valera was not able to achieve, namely, a reformed Seanad. I believe he could do that and, whether it is based on either the Zappone Bill or the Crown Bill, it would go a long way in that direction. I believe a "No" vote would give the Taoiseach the opportunity to make a real name for himself. By making sure the Upper House has been reformed, he could look back and say, "This is something that I have achieved".
I have a strong feeling the Constitution has been damaged. A man in Donegal told me of the quote that the Constitution is like a three-legged stool, with the President, the Dáil and the Seanad. If we take away one of those three legs, it becomes a very wobbly stool, and the proposal is that we take away one of those three legs. It would be a very wobbly stool and I do not think we have taken the steps to be able to protect ourselves against that. I believe it is worthwhile having that debate now.