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Burke, Colm

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Order of Business

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Senator Colm Burke

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Senator Colm Burke

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Order of Business
Snippet Contents:

I wish to discuss a matter of procedure with regard to Commencement matters. This is the ninth morning in a row I have submitted a Commencement matter which was not accepted. That is over three weeks. I have had one Commencement matter accepted since this Seanad resumed. We need to examine the procedures here. Many Senators want to get the benefit of a Commencement matter discussion, but we are not getting it. I ask that some new procedure be adopted under which more Commencement matters would be accepted each morning or, if they are not accepted but are deemed to be appropriate, that the Minister be asked to give a written reply. In that way, at least five or six Commencement matters would be taken each morning. I submitted nine Commencement matters that were not accepted and I ask the Leader to examine the matter. The House will adjourn within the next ten days but it is appropriate that we examine the issue now to ensure all Members of the House will have access to information they require and be able to raise issues that are important to them.
I ask the Leader to provide time for a debate on the charities sector. In 2013 I put a detailed question to the Joint Committee on Health and Children and the HSE on the charities sector and, interestingly, the information that was to be released to the health committee was released to the media four or five days before the health committee sat. As a result, the Committee of Public Accounts took over the issues relevant to the health committee and advised the committee that we could no longer deal with that issue while it was dealing with it. The Committee of Public Accounts focused on one or two charities, but 2,600 charities receive funding from the HSE. Last year, the total funding from the HSE, including capital grants, to various charitable organisations was €3.72 billion. In that regard, 1,847 charities received less than €100,000, but that still adds up to €34 million. Many organisations receive funding and there is a great deal of duplication, but we need a serious debate on how we can get value for money while at the same time helping these organisations to deliver the service they want to deliver. I am calling for a full debate not only on funding from the HSE but also on funding from other Departments, as well as the charities regulator. I do not believe the charities regulator is adequately funded or that it has an adequate number of staff to deal with the issues arising. The issues that other members of the health committee and I raised as far back as 2013 are coming back to haunt us because we were not given the time to deal with the ones we wanted to address. The way the Committee of Public Accounts dealt with it is coming back to haunt it also because certain people had personal agendas and aimed to take hold of that entire area. That is wrong. It should not have been taken out of the control of the health committee. The Members of this House should have had an input into it.