Order of Business (Continued)

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Seanad Éireann Debate

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik Zoom on Ivana Bacik] I will be arguing for that, as I always have done, and look forward to making those arguments during the referendum campaign. However, during the referendum campaign on the future of the Seanad, it will be important that both those who argue for and those who argue against its abolition will be respectful in the arguments. I am not in any way casting aspersions on any individual or individual party because some rather tetchy arguments already have been used. It is important that arguments are not personal and that one argues on principle about----

Senator Sean D. Barrett: Information on Sean D. Barrett Zoom on Sean D. Barrett The Senator's side started it.

Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik Zoom on Ivana Bacik There genuinely are differing views in my own party and in Fine Gael on this issue. People are entitled to personal views and retention or otherwise.

Senator Darragh O'Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien The Senator's party needs it more than most.

Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik Zoom on Ivana Bacik However, given the referendum is proposed and is likely to take place in the early autumn and given there will be a detailed and comprehensive debate on the subject, one must make sure it is conducted in a respectful manner.

Senator Katherine Zappone: Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone In response to Senator Bacik, I totally agree with the last point she made and Members must be respectful. However, I am interested to note the Senator's own favouring of reform, which is not part of the choice that is being given to the people.

Senator Darragh O'Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien Hear, hear.

Senator Katherine Zappone: Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I have two questions for the Leader, the first of which pertains to the Taoiseach's recent comments on the issue of assisted suicide and the fact he does not intend to legislate for it. First however, I pay tribute to Marie Fleming and her family, as other Deputies and Senators have done, and recognise her bravery and determination. However, acknowledging her situation and sympathising with her is different from looking at what Members, as legislators, can do regarding this issue of assisted suicide. I also note, in light of the concerns I raise today, that only today, her husband has been quoted as continuing to be deeply concerned about her deteriorating health. The Irish Human Rights Commission appeared as a friend in court in the case, highlighting a blurring in the case between the two distinct areas of assisted suicide and euthanasia. Assisted suicide differs from euthanasia in that the former is when a competent person makes a rational decision to end his or her own life and is assisted in so doing. Death is achieved through the final direction or actions of the deceased. In cases in which a mentally competent person is terminally ill and his or her quality of life is significantly diminished and that person takes the rational decision to end his or her life, he or she would not be breaking any laws. However, if such a person is unable to end his or her life because of a physical disability and requires assistance, the person assisting him or her would be committing an offence at present. Members are well aware the Supreme Court has indicated the rejection of Ms Fleming's case is not a bar to them legislating for such situations with appropriate safeguards. Consequently, I call for a debate with the Minister for Justice and Equality on the specific issue of assisted suicide.

  I have referred to the subject of my second question previously, namely, the issue of corporate tax rates and Ireland's taxation policies for multinationals. I asked for a debate leading up to the G8 summit, at which Ireland will be in the spotlight in respect of its taxation policies and particularly with regard to how it can attract multinational companies here. Grant Thornton recently highlighted a variety of factors beyond our corporate tax rates, including our European Union membership and our English-speaking and highly educated workforce. This weekend, the chief executive of a Swiss pharma group expressed the view that even were we to raise our tax rate to 20%, there would not be a net loss of multinationals from the State since there are so many other attractive reasons to invest in Ireland. Given the pressure that is building up and in particular with regard to the brand of Ireland, I again seek a debate on this issue as soon as possible.

Senator Sean D. Barrett: Information on Sean D. Barrett Zoom on Sean D. Barrett Members on all sides of the House have been concerned with improving the standard of mathematics in this country. Based on the statements made this morning on "Morning Ireland" by Ms Catherine Lewis of Rathdown School and the Irish Mathematics Teachers Association, yesterday was not a great day for anyone. The House is united on this issue and has assisted the Minister, Deputy Quinn, and the Minister of State, Deputy Sherlock, with suggestions on how to improve standards in this regard. In the higher level mathematics leaving certificate examination that took place yesterday, question No. 8 was not doable. The 36° angle should have been 32.8° while the 124° angle should have been outside and not inside the triangle. This affected question No. 9, thereby demoralising the students, and this was a no-choice examination, in which one could not avoid the problematic question No. 8. Moreover, the Project Maths syllabus, which Senator Quinn has promoted strongly, was examined in 24 schools and I am informed that questions Nos. 5(b) and 5(c) were not on the syllabus. As for the ordinary level leaving certificate exam paper, question No. 6(a) on constructing an axial symmetry was not on the syllabus.


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