Order of Business (Continued)

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Seanad Éireann Debate

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Senator Terry Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden Zoom on Terry Leyden] He is good on PR and was good for photo opportunities down in Cork when some fodder came in but he was not in Athleague yesterday to meet the farmers who were waiting for fodder there. I agree with Senator Comiskey that this matter is not finished. The Minister should continue to provide the subsidy for the transportation of fodder into the co-operatives and marts.

Senator Terry Brennan: Information on Terry Brennan Zoom on Terry Brennan I welcome the offer of mediation by the Labour Relations Commission in the Bus Éireann dispute. That both parties entered further discussion is to be welcomed. All sides need to work together to secure the future of services and jobs at Bus Éireann and to ensure the company's financial circumstances are brought under control. This is not easy for any side, including workers, management and unions. Great credit is due to the Labour Relations Commission for facilitating the talks between all parties. The industrial dispute has already cost the company €500,000, at a time when it is already losing €500,000 per month. Time is of the essence in bringing this dispute to a successful conclusion for the benefit of all concerned, including management, staff and customers.

  Let me say a few words on the Croke Park II negotiations. I commend the progress made to date by Mr. Kieran Mulvey of the Labour Relations Commission and the various unions involved. Significant progress has been made with a number of unions. As the Government has consistently said, there is no room for manoeuvre on the fiscal arithmetic as the urgent need to achieve a saving of €300 million in 2013 remains. Mr. Kieran Mulvey, chief executive officer of the Labour Relations Commission, and all the unions involved in the Croke Park II negotiations are to be commended. I wish them continued success in their deliberations.

Senator Feargal Quinn: Information on Feargal Quinn Zoom on Feargal Quinn The costs of living and of doing business in Ireland have always been among the highest in Europe. An announcement last week by the European Commission in Brussels on the payment services directive gives us an answer and the opportunity to do something about it. The Commission has stated the objective of the directive is to encourage more use of electronic payments that will cost the public nothing or very little. We have been very slow to develop electronic payment in Ireland. We have one of the lowest rates of usage of electronic payment systems in Europe. Electronic payment could reduce our costs of living and business by a very considerable amount. There are steps we can take and we can do something about this; it is in our hands. In the past, the European Union has passed regulations and opened the door. Other countries have availed of opportunities afforded to them in this area but we have been reluctant or very slow. Now is the time to do something about this matter. It is worthwhile having a discussion on this in the near future in the House because there are steps that we can take that will encourage far more use of electronic payments.

  Some years ago, making a telephone call was outrageously expensive but the cost has decreased dramatically because of technology. The same applies to electronic payments, the cost of which has reduced dramatically. However, we still have a system in which the banks are able to control the costs, almost with a monopoly and certainly with a system that does not afford us the ability to do as we desire. Ireland is still one of the biggest users of coins and money in Europe. The effort now being made by the Central Bank or the Minister, an experiment to do away with one-cent and two-cent coins makes a great deal of sense. In Finland, the one-cent and two-cent coins were never introduced at the very beginning. Prices were rounded up or down by five cent. It did not cost anything but saved a considerable amount of money. A very large number of people do not use the one-cent and two-cent coins anymore. We can take steps to do as I propose but the main aim is to avail of the opportunity afforded by the payment services directive that the European Commission launched last week. Let us make sure we do not leave it for another couple of years before we do something about this.

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