Order of Business (Continued)

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Seanad Éireann Debate

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris] It would be helpful if the Leader would communicate this situation to the Minister he deems responsible for this area.

  I support the call for an informed debate on the Magdalen laundries report. We rushed to congratulate the authors of this report but now we are beginning to see a more complex picture. It is regrettable that people are attempting to displace the blame. Attempts are also being made to divide the former inmates of these institutions. That is particularly nasty. We hear about infanticide and single mothers. All of these women were placed in a terrible situation by their society. We also hear about families. I reject the idea that families should be blamed. If we listen to their evidence, parents were on many occasions approached by priests and nuns who said they would arrange for an education to be provided. They received no education. They were enslaved and there is a duty on all of us in Parliament to attempt to redress this wrong. It is not just a question of an apology. Laws were consciously broken and we need proper independent assessment and restitution.

Senator Fidelma Healy Eames: Information on Fidelma Healy Eames Zoom on Fidelma Healy Eames Like others, I will wait to hear the announcement this afternoon on the Magdalen laundries. I hope we bring finality and that justice will be done in a way that is meaningful and fitting for the servitude in which these women, girls and children were placed for decades. I thank the Leader and the Seanad Public Consultation Committee for arranging the public consultation that will take place on Thursday. I encourage all Members to attend that session. Several months ago I made a request to the Leader that Ashoka, Change Nation and Social Entrepreneurs Ireland be invited to appear before the committee. Senators Quinn and Mac Conghail supported my request. This Thursday an array of solutions will be put before us by social entrepreneurs from all over the world who are making a difference to the quality of life of citizens. We will hear solutions in health, education, civic participation and enterprise. I met these individuals in Farmleigh when they were here last spring and I was so impressed that I decided we must hear from them in this Chamber. We are the decision makers and the influencers who can make a difference. I believe Members will be as impressed as I was and, if they can spare an hour on Thursday afternoon, I strongly encourage them to attend the session.

  I have come to the conclusion that it is time for training about online behaviour to be made obligatory at primary and secondary level. I was alarmed to learn while listening to Newstalk this afternoon that parents are signing up children as young as seven and eight years of age to Facebook. This is incredible behaviour. Some of our youngsters are doing what is known as sexting, which means they are texting sexual images of themselves.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke This is a matter the Senator could raise on the Adjournment.

Senator Fidelma Healy Eames: Information on Fidelma Healy Eames Zoom on Fidelma Healy Eames I understand from the Garda this is a criminal offence which could result in individuals being placed on the sexual offenders list.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke The Senator is over time.

Senator Fidelma Healy Eames: Information on Fidelma Healy Eames Zoom on Fidelma Healy Eames The behaviour of some of our young people is inappropriate. I ask the Minister for Education and Skills to come to the House to discuss the issue of dangerous and inappropriate online behaviour. I thank the Cathaoirleach for his indulgence.

Senator David Cullinane: Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane A number of Senators from all sides of the House have called on us to maintain our focus on unemployment. Several Senators asked specifically for a debate on youth unemployment and the Leader has facilitated a number of debates on jobs. In that context I welcome the report published today by the Joint Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation which focuses on youth and long-term unemployment and makes 30 clear recommendations on what the Government and State agencies could do to tackle the high level of youth unemployment that obtains in this State.

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