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Order of Business
Snippet Contents:

Senator Henry referred to alcohol abuse. We will endeavour to have the Minister of State at the Department of Health, Deputy Alex White, come before the House at the earliest opportunity. I did so last week but I again wish to thank the former Minister of State, Deputy Shortall, for spending so much time in this House and for always coming here when requested. I also thank the former Minister of State for her commitment to tackle alcohol abuse. She had agreed to come before the House later this month in order to discuss that issue. I am sure the new Minister of State, Deputy Alex White, will continue where Deputy Shortall left off.
Senator Norris referred to Clerys department store. I am sure all Members would express the wish that the staff who are being obliged to leave the company should receive their full entitlements.
Senator Jim D'Arcy referred to the NCSE report in the context of the recommendation it contains that responsibility for behaviour management in schools be given to one member of staff. I note the Senator's remarks and also the comments made by the many teachers who brought this matter to his attention.
Senator Reilly referred to primary care centre staffing. The House is due to take Committee Stage of the Health Service Executive (Governance) Bill next week. Perhaps the Senator might raise the matter to which she refers with the Minister when he comes before us for that debate. As stated, the Minister for Social Protection is due to come before the Seanad in a couple of weeks time.
Senator Walsh asked that I arrange a debate with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. I have made a request in this regard and hope the Minister will accede to it.
Senator Barrett referred to the efficiency of health insurers, particularly VHI. I suggest that this matter might also be raised with the Minister for Health when the House takes Committee Stage of the Health Service Executive (Governance) Bill next week.
Senators Noone and Healy Eames referred to cyber-bullying. Last week the House engaged in a good debate on homophobic bullying, during which the question of cyber-bullying was raised. However, I agree that, as the Senators suggested, there is perhaps a need to ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Deputy Rabbitte, to come before the House to discuss the matter of control of the Internet.
Senators Ó Murchú and Colm Burke referred to homelessness and applauded the Simon Community and all other agencies that work with the homeless for their efforts. The Government is determined to find a better way to address homelessness and to prevent it. I am sure the Senators will agree that there are no simple or easy solutions to this complex problem. In the programme for Government we are committed to reviewing the current national strategy and to adopting a housing-led approach to homelessness. The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government's funding provision for running costs in respect of homeless accommodation and related services for 2012 is €50 million. When added to the 10% provided by the Housing Agency from its own resources, this means that a total of €55.5 million in funding will have been made available this year. Funding at this level means that there will be no diminution in the provision of essential front-line services. I agree that we should applaud the efforts of and give every possible encouragement to all the voluntary agencies that are involved with the homeless.
Senator Sheahan raised a number of matters in the context of wasteful spending. I understand the Committee of Public Accounts is dealing with those issues to which he refers. However, I will certainly invite the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform to come before the House for a debate on them.