Order of Business (Continued)

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Seanad Éireann Debate

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Senator David Cullinane: Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane]  I am undertaking work for the same committee to develop a jobs action plan for the south east, which has one of the highest unemployment levels in the State currently. In Waterford city we have 25% unemployment and 35% youth unemployment. Figures presented to us recently indicate that 48% of young people in Waterford city do not even finish second level education. These are startling figures and they will only be tackled and resolved if we put the resources behind the kind of policies that have been agreed at all-party level by the joint Oireachtas committee. It is incumbent on all of us to put our collective weight behind these proposals.

  Perhaps the Leader will, rather than provide for a debate in a vacuum, facilitate a debate on youth unemployment in this House in the context of the all-party joint Oireachtas committee report that has been agreed and published. Is that something the Leader will agree to do in the next couple of weeks?

Senator Jimmy Harte: Information on Jimmy Harte Zoom on Jimmy Harte Once again, I am amazed the Fianna Fáil Party is asking for the Minister to come in and talk about the Magdalen laundries. I would rather propose that Deputy Micheál Martin come to the Chamber and explain to the nation why he did nothing for 14 years in this regard. This was reflected by a representative of the Magdalen laundries, Sally Mulready, who said Micheál Martin should hang his head in shame for the lack of action taken by him when in government. Many of these women are now elderly, but at no stage during the last Administration were they given any hope. They were shunned by it. Therefore, for Deputy Martin to ask for an apology from the Government smacks of where the Fianna Fáil Party has got itself in the opinion polls. Anything Fianna Fáil says now is based on an opinion poll, not on the welfare of the women.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke Does the Senator seek a debate on this issue?

Senator Darragh O'Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien He wants Deputy Martin to come in here.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris Most opinion polls say the same thing.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke Senator Harte, without interruption. Has the Senator a question for the Leader?

Senator Jimmy Harte: Information on Jimmy Harte Zoom on Jimmy Harte I am looking for an honest debate.

Senator Darragh O'Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien There would be no problem with that.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke Has the Senator a question for the Leader?

Senator Jimmy Harte: Information on Jimmy Harte Zoom on Jimmy Harte This is a massive issue for the country. Will the Leader ask Micheál Martin why, as part of the previous Government, he did nothing on this? On reflection, it might be better that he did nothing, because he would probably have got to the 144th or 145th report on it.

  It will be a good day if this is finally resolved. As one commentator said, today is the beginning of the end for many of these people. I am glad many of them are still alive to see this day.

Senator Mark Daly: Information on Mark Daly Zoom on Mark Daly I support Senator O'Brien's call for the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Shatter, to come to the House to debate the appalling state of morale in the Garda Síochána. I also call for a debate on the issue of front-line service providers, including emergency crews in the ambulance and fire brigade services, the Garda Síochána, paramedics, nurses and doctors. What we saw last night is only the tip of the iceberg with regard to what is coming down the line. The Government has failed to realise that it cannot renegotiate the Croke Park agreement until it tackles the mortgage issue, because when we start cutting the pay of gardaí, nurses and paramedics, their ability to pay their mortgages decreases and they become stretched to the limit. Like many people around the country, they will end up in arrears. Some 30% of mortgages have already either been restructured or are in arrears. By cutting these people's pay and changing their terms and conditions of employment, the Government will force gardaí, nurses, doctors, paramedics, ambulance drivers and those in the fire brigade service to default on their loans. If the Government had put in place a structure whereby people in mortgage difficulty could extend the terms of their loans or renegotiate them, perhaps it could have tackled the Croke Park agreement.


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