Order of Business (Continued)

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Seanad Éireann Debate

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Senator Paschal Mooney: Information on Paschal Mooney Zoom on Paschal Mooney] In light of all the attacks that the media have made on the current Government and the previous Government about any attempt to stifle, muzzle or restrict them in anything they say, are they not firing shots themselves through such an article? The article was heartless in the extreme and it was added to by an equally heartless editorial on the same day in the Irish Independent, which effectively said, "Oh yes, we are aware that there were legitimate reasons for some Members of the House not being able to attend but really they should get out of their sick beds and come in and save the Senate". That was essentially the message. Does that journalist have any humanity or compassion in him when he goes to bed at night? Politicians are citizens of this Republic and have rights the same as every citizen in this Republic. He should pause and reflect on the emotional damage he does to people. They are real people; they are not just cyphers in this House. Will the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources during his next appearance in the House outline the Government's proposals to curb this type of nasty, insidious journalism?

Senator Paul Coghlan: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan I salute Longford in the Visitors Gallery. I agree with my good friend Senator Darragh O'Brien's tribute to the late great Tom Fitzgerald of Dingle. He was a thorough gentleman who never allowed political differences to interfere with friendship, a bit like the good Senators opposite. I had the honour of serving with him on Dingle harbour board for nine years, Kerry County Council for a period and in this House between 1997 and 2002. We will have another opportunity to say a few more words on another day to tell a few of his witty stories and so on and I look forward to that.

  Will the Leader provide an early debate on the Law Reform Commission's report on mandatory sentencing and, in particular, its recommendations that judges be allowed to provide for whole of life sentences, including 35 years for murder, and that the Judicial Council be empowered to publish guidance and guidelines for judges? This detailed document was launched earlier and it would be worthy of debate in early course.

Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh: Information on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh Zoom on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh Cé go raibh seachtain aimsir bhreá againn, tá an aimsir beagáinín briste inniu. Le linn na haimsire bhreá, chuaigh cuid mhaith daoine amach ag baint móna arís, mar a dhéantar de ghnáth. The turf cutting season has commenced. Even though we have had bad weather, we had a respite last week and some people got out on to the bogs to cut turf. I have called on a number of occasions for a debate on the future of turf cutting. It is important that we have that debate because my understanding is no agreement has been reached with the Turf Cutters and Contractors Association, TCCA, about turf cutting on bogs. I have been told by its representatives that there has been no meaningful dialogue with them, even though the deputy EU Commissioner who deals with this area told Deputy Brian Stanley and I when we met him a number of months ago that the future plan for the development of bogs in Ireland needed to be based on the plans the TCCA put forward. I am concerned that there will be an escalation of conflict between the turf cutters and the Government apparatus over the summer and I hope that does not happen. It is important that the outstanding issues be resolved. It is also important that the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht should come to the House to fully debate the issue and to examine both the TCCA and Government proposals to see if a resolution can be found in the near future. Bheadh mé an-bhuíoch dá bhféadfaí é sin a dhéanamh go luath mar go bhfuil an séasúr tosaithe.

Senator Susan O'Keeffe: Information on Susan O'Keeffe Zoom on Susan O'Keeffe Like others, I am concerned about the revelations about the leaving certificate examinations. One of the flaws of the leaving certificate is that young people only get one opportunity. They work hard and a great deal of advice is given to students and parents about preparing for the examinations such as about getting enough sleep, drinking water, not staying up half the night and not cramming. Are we now to advise our children that they should look out for mistakes in examination papers? How are they supposed to know which is their mistake or the examiner's?

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