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Senator Feargal Quinn

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Order of Business
Snippet Contents:

According to a report published yesterday by the Small Firms Association, absenteeism is costing this country approximately €1 billion per annum. The report also states that when other costs such as replacing staff and a lack of productivity are taken into account, absenteeism is a huge cost to us. Yesterday, steps to address the sick note culture in Britain were announced. It is an initiative worthy of consideration by us. If what the SFA has in mind is this proposal then let us ensure we do not sit on it. It appears to me that it takes too long to get things done here. I would hate to think that a solution was available to us but we chose to sit on it rather than doing anything about it. I urge the Leader to draw the attention of the relevant Minister to that initiative and, perhaps, to provide time for a debate on it at some point in the future.
Senator Mary White drew attention the other day to a particular issue in relation to the battle against obesity, in respect of which I am not sure she got a great deal of attention from our point of view. We are all supportive of anything that helps to reduce obesity in Ireland and make us a healthier people. The legislation mentioned by the Senator, in relation to which there is much opposition, provides for the inclusion of calorie content information on restaurant menus. The difficulty, apparently, is how this can be done. It was pointed out that in the United States every meal at a top-notch restaurant is different because individual meals are prepared at the request of patrons, while restaurant chains, be they hamburger joints such as Supermac's and McDonalds or some other chain prepare the same meals every day. Therefore, the legislation in America applies only to restaurants that have five branches or more. That seems to make sense. I can see the difficulty in having to produce a separate menu and calorie information for every meal. I urge that we do take steps to combat obesity but that we do so in a logical and sensible way. The American system would, in my view, be the route we should go.