Header Item Prelude
 Header Item Business of Seanad
 Header Item Commencement Matters
 Header Item Courts Service
 Header Item Disability Support Services
 Header Item Dublin Docklands Development Authority
 Header Item Order of Business
 Header Item Business of Seanad: Motion
 Header Item Standing Orders: Motion
 Header Item Business of Seanad
 Header Item Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Bill 2015: Second Stage
 Header Item Twentieth Report of the Committee of Selection: Motion
 Header Item Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Bill 2015: Second Stage (Resumed)
 Header Item Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Bill 2015: Committee and Remaining Stages
 Header Item Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Bill 2015: Motion for Earlier Signature
 Header Item Straitéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge: Statements
 Header Item Redress for Women Resident in Certain Institutions Bill 2014: Report and Final Stages
 Header Item Succession (Amendment) Bill 2015: Second Stage

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Seanad Éireann Debate
Vol. 238 No. 11

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Chuaigh an Leas-Chathaoirleach i gceannas ar 10:30:00

Machnamh agus Paidir.

Reflection and Prayer.


Business of Seanad

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan I have received notice from Senator Terry Leyden that, on the motion for the Commencement of the House today, he proposes to raise the following matter:

The need for the Minister for Justice and Equality and the Courts Service to refurbish the courthouse in Roscommon town to provide a modern courts service once Roscommon County Council's new civic offices are completed later this year.

I have also received notice from Senator Colm Burke of the following matter:

The need for the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government to appoint disability officers in each local authority area who would have specific responsibilities to deal with individuals with physical or intellectual disabilities resident in local authority houses.

I have also received notice from Senator Averil Power of the following matter:

The need for the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government to ensure a certain percentage of jobs are allocated to local people in the Dublin docklands redevelopment in line with the arrangements used for the Grangegorman development.

I regard the matters raised by the Senators as suitable for discussion and they will be taken now.

Commencement Matters

Courts Service

Senator Terry Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden Zoom on Terry Leyden I welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Jimmy Deenihan, and wish him well with the diaspora next week when he will ably represent Ireland. I wish him continued success in his work for the undocumented in the United States of America, a matter which is very close to his heart.

  The Minister for Justice and Equality and the Courts Service need to refurbish the courthouse in Roscommon town to provide a modern courts service once Roscommon County Council's new civic offices are completed later this year. The courthouse is an iconic and a beautiful building on Abbey Street in Roscommon town. It has housed both the Courts Service and Roscommon County Council for over 100 years, having been built in the 19th century. The local authority received approval to build new civic offices in Roscommon town. My former colleague and former Minister of State Michael Finneran and I as a Senator and a Deputy have been working with council members for years to obtain new facilities for Roscommon County Council by way of the location of a one-stop shop in the area. That is now well under way and near completion. Staff will vacate the courthouse later this year and there will be an opportunity for the Courts Service to look at the building and the provision of services in a modern justice system.

  The courtrooms are very attractive and beautifully laid out, but there are no facilities for a children's court or to deal with other issues that arise today and which were not considered when the building was erected. It is a great opportunity for the Courts Service to review and refurbish the building, provide wheelchair access and lifts to the first floor and to create a centre for all the activities of the justice system in the area. The court clerks are located at least one mile from the building, which is not a good approach to adopt. Therefore, we need to look at this issue. I am sure the Minister, the Department and the Courts Service will give it top priority. There is a question of negotiations with Roscommon County Council, but I presume they will be completed speedily.

  The building invokes many memories for many. During the years it served many purposes. The council chamber, in which I served for over 20 years, would be ideal for a children's court.  All of the rooms will be occupied by barristers and solicitors. Currently, much of this work is conducted in public in the hallways on the ground floor, which is not satisfactory. Proper facilities are needed for the judges, barristers, solicitors and clients. Also, as the building is adjacent to the regional Garda headquarters in Roscommon town, this is convenient for gardaí in the context of their work with the Courts Service. I am asking today that the Government and Minister give early consideration to the redesign or refurbishment of the building, to include facilities for wheelchair users, and restoration of the building to its state prior to its extension some years ago by Roscommon County Council. I ask that the Minister give this matter his early consideration.

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan On behalf of the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Fitzgerald, I thank Senator Leyden for raising the matter. The Minister regrets she is unable to be present for this discussion.

  As the Senator may be aware, under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service. Furthermore, section 4(3) of the 1998 Act provides that the Courts Service is independent in its functions, including in regard to the provision, maintenance and management of court buildings. The Minister has had inquiries made and has been informed by the Courts Service that it is aware of the current shortcomings of the court facilities in Roscommon courthouse. The Courts Service has confirmed that the capacity of the courtrooms is limited and the facilities for court users are not satisfactory. The Minister was also informed that due to the unsatisfactory office accommodation in the building, the Courts Service office in Roscommon has been moved to another building in the town. However, the Courts Service has assured the Minister that it is committed to providing improved court facilities in Roscommon town, which is one of a small number of county towns where a new or refurbished courthouse remains to be provided.

  The Minister has been informed that, with the departure of Roscommon County Council from the building, the Courts Service has considered the potential for the development of the courthouse. It is understood that the initial assessment is that the courthouse could be suitably redeveloped within the historic structure if the Courts Service had all of that building available to it, along with some additional space adjoining it. As the Senator will appreciate, the cost of acquiring the additional space would be a major factor in deciding whether to redevelop the historic courthouse or to provide a new building on a new site.

  The Courts Service has stated that the acquisition of additional space in the courthouse for its redevelopment has been the subject of discussions between the service and Roscommon County Council over a number of years. Offers have been made by the Courts Service to the county council in the past to acquire additional space, but no agreement was reached. The Minister has been informed that the new county council offices, which are adjacent to the courthouse, have been designed in a way to allow for the necessary space for the future development of the historic courthouse. While the Courts Service currently does not have funding to undertake work in Roscommon, it has assured the Minister that the development of courthouse facilities in Roscommon town is part of its plans for the future. The Courts Service will keep the issue of Roscommon courthouse under review.

  As the Senator will appreciate, since the establishment of the Courts Service a substantial programme of investment in court facilities, amounting to €250 million, was undertaken with over 50 venues being newly built or refurbished. Many others were substantially upgraded. This level of investment has enabled the service to greatly improve the standard of accommodation, including facilities for people with disabilities, jury facilities, custody cells, consultation rooms etc.. There was also an ongoing programme of investment in technology at court venues. Work carried out includes the development of the Criminal Courts of Justice, completed as a PPP project, the construction of 13 new courthouses, refurbishment of 41 court venues and upgrade of many smaller venues.

  In July 2012, the Government announced an investment package, which includes seven courthouse projects, with new courthouse buildings being developed in Drogheda, Letterkenny, Limerick and Waterford and substantial refurbishment and extension works to existing courthouses to be carried out in Cork, Mullingar and Waterford. The Courts Service is working with the Department of Justice and Equality, the Office of Public works and the National Development Finance Agency, NDFA, to progress these projects. Substantial preparatory work has already been carried out. It is expected that contracts will be signed in October this year, with delivery expected in 18 to 24 months, depending on the project.

Senator Terry Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden Zoom on Terry Leyden As I stated, my wish is that the courthouse be refurbished rather than moved to a new site. It is an important building in Roscommon from a historical point of view. I thank the Minister for his reply.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan I would like to remind Senators that there will be no sos between the conclusion of Commencement matters and the Order of Business.

Disability Support Services

Senator Colm Burke: Information on Colm Burke Zoom on Colm Burke I welcome the Minister to the House. This issue follows on from an issue I raised four weeks about a family in the Cork city council area whose child has a physical and intellectual disability. While that family were advised in July 2008 by a city council official of work to be carried out to their home to accommodate their daughter this work has yet commenced.

  The issue I am raising today is the need for appointment of a disability officer. The aforementioned case is not the only case with which I am dealing. In fact, there are 57 families in Cork awaiting work to their homes to accommodate people with disabilities. In my dealings with Cork City Council I have had interactions with officials from the housing department, finance department, architects' department and so on. No one person appears to be in charge of a file. As I speak, the child, whose family have been waiting seven years for work to be done to their home, is in intensive care in a hospital in Cork. This family have provided the highest standard of care for their child over many years. She has to be lifted out of bed every morning, washed and tube fed. It is wrong that this family is providing this level support and we are not giving them the additional support they need. Like me, when they contact Cork City Council they can find no one person to respond to their needs.

  While there is a disability officer in place to deal with local authority staff who have a disability there is no disability officer to interact with local authority tenants who have disabilities. It is in that context that I tabled this matter this morning.

Minister of State at the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Gerald Nash): Information on Gerald Nash Zoom on Gerald Nash I hope that the young woman to whom Senator Burke referred is doing well and that her health improves. I hope also that the situation improves for her from a range of different perspectives.

  On behalf of the Government and my colleague, the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Deputy Alan Kelly, who has responsibility in this area, I wish to highlight that one of the key aims of the Department is to ensure that the housing needs of all citizens, including people with disabilities, are met and that rights to equal treatment, in terms of how those housing needs are met, are upheld.

  The Disability Act 2005 provides a statutory basis for making public services accessible by placing obligations on public bodies. These obligations include ensuring their buildings, services and information are available and accessible to people with disabilities.  One of the specific requirements is that each local authority must appoint an access officer under section 26. This function is to provide or arrange for and co-ordinate the provision of assistance and guidance to people with disabilities in accessing services in local authority areas irrespective of where they live.

  In addition to the statutory access officers, many local authorities also have a combination of equality officers, liaison officers, partnership co-ordinators, equality action teams and social inclusion units. In order to support local authorities, the Local Government Management Agency, LGMA, provides a range of advice and guidance on the delivery of services for people with disabilities, fosters best practice in that regard and operates the access officer network.

  The Government's national housing strategy for people with a disabilities, which was published in 2011, sets out a broad framework for the delivery of housing for people with disabilities through mainstream housing policy. The vision of the strategy is to facilitate access for people with disabilities to the appropriate range of housing and related support services, delivered in an integrated and sustainable manner that promotes equality of opportunity, individual choice and independent living. As part of the implementation of the strategy, dedicated local housing advice centres are being developed at local authority level that will provide integrated and accessible advice and information to support all people with their housing and related support needs. These centres will complement the various other information and support services that are available to people with a disability at a local authority level who may wish to discuss their housing circumstances, be they local authority tenants or those living in another setting.

  The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government provides funding to local authorities for various social housing supports, including adaptations and extensions to the social housing stock to meet the needs of local authority tenants with disabilities or to address serious overcrowding. Funding provided by the Department meets 90% of the cost of such works, with each local authority providing the remaining 10%. The Department is liaising with all local authorities in respect of requirements for 2015 in this regard. The administration of the funding locally is a matter for each local authority, including decisions on the projects to be implemented.

  I assure Senator Burke I will ensure that this information finds its way to the Minister. The circumstances outlined by the Senator are difficult. It is unconscionable that a young woman in such circumstances would wait so many years, given the fact that it appears that grant approval has been given to the family. While I do not know all of the details, the Minister and I will do our best to engage with the local authority to ensure that the family gets the service to which it is entitled.

Senator Colm Burke: Information on Colm Burke Zoom on Colm Burke I wish to raise two points. I am not blaming the Minister or the Department, but no one in the local authority is taking responsibility. The family has grown so frustrated that it has stopped talking to people. It was by pure accident that I came across the issue. I have been dealing with it for the past nine months. I have helped the family to file a complaint with the Ombudsman for Children, which is the only route available to it.

  I spoke with COPE, which provides support services for people with disabilities. It looks after more than 1,200 people in its facilities in Cork and supports the family in question. COPE told me that, when it dealt with Cork City Council, as far as the council was concerned this was just a case of a family with a number and, while the council accepted that works needed to be done, it did not have the necessary funding. I understand that the council was allocated €361,000 last year for this type of work, but I cannot get information on what happened to that funding. Some of it may have been returned to the Department.

  There is a lack of accountability. The family has been left to look after the child. The Evening Echo carried a front page story on it and "Drivetime" has done a piece on it, as have all of the local radio stations, but no one will take responsibility and sort the problem out within, for example, the next three months. My information is that the family is on the list and the works may get done at some point during the next two to three years. That is not acceptable.

Deputy Gerald Nash: Information on Gerald Nash Zoom on Gerald Nash I thank Senator Burke for his contribution on this important issue. I understand how frustrated he is, as the family's Oireachtas representative, that nothing seems to be in the pipeline. Local authorities and all public agencies need to be specifically conscious of the needs of people with disabilities when providing services.

  The Senator seemed to imply that an amount of money had been returned by Cork City Council to the Department as an underspend in housing adaptation grants. That is not the position we want and the Minister, Deputy Kelly, is anxious to ensure that the resources he makes available to local authorities are spent as they should be, namely, on improving housing stock and giving access to the best housing stock for people with disabilities.

  Perhaps I misinterpreted the Senator, but I understood that the grant had been approved in 2008. I assure him that I will bring the matter to the Minister's attention. This was not necessarily the Senator's aim, as he would like to see an improved system for people with disabilities and the appointment of disability officers in local authorities, but all public and civil servants in the system should be acutely conscious of the needs of people with disabilities who expect and are entitled to the types of service that the Senator outlined.

Senator Colm Burke: Information on Colm Burke Zoom on Colm Burke I wish to clarify something. In the letter issued to the family in July 2008, Cork City Council accepted that works needed to be done.

Deputy Gerald Nash: Information on Gerald Nash Zoom on Gerald Nash I see.

Senator Colm Burke: Information on Colm Burke Zoom on Colm Burke The plans were drafted and provided in November 2008, yet here we are.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan The Senator's case is well made.

Dublin Docklands Development Authority

Senator Averil Power: Information on Averil Power Zoom on Averil Power I have tabled this debate to highlight the need for the Government to ensure that a certain percentage of jobs are allocated to local people during the Dublin docklands redevelopment, similar to arrangements that were put in place for the Grangegorman development. Recently, I met Mr. Tony McDonnell of the North Wall residents association and a local representative for the area, Mr. Brian Mohan. They asked me to raise this issue with the Minister.

  As the Minister of State is aware, major development is planned for the docklands under the docklands strategic development zone, SDZ, from the convention centre and the IFSC to the 3Arena and the new Central Bank building. It is important that this development not only be done in a way that is sensitive to the needs of residents who will see considerable change in their area, but also brings a community benefit. One of the best ways of doing so is by securing employment for locals during the construction phase and when the new businesses open. This is particularly important, given that it is an area of high unemployment. There are many construction workers in the area and others are training in various aspects of construction.

  This initiative would also be in the interests of local businesses if they are to integrate properly in their communities and be accepted by same. Not only should people be given construction jobs during development, but companies should be encouraged to employ people locally and run trainee internships for local students so that they might get business experience. There is an opportunity to link the development with the National College of Ireland, NCI, which is based in the IFSC. Companies' skills needs could be identified for the NCI, which could then ensure that local people acquired those skills. I have tabled this debate to ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government to liaise with the relevant stakeholders and ensure that this initiative happens.

Deputy Gerald Nash: Information on Gerald Nash Zoom on Gerald Nash I thank Senator Power for raising this matter, which I am answering on behalf of my colleague, the Minister.

  The Dublin Docklands Development Authority, DDDA, was established pursuant to the Dublin Docklands Development Authority Act 1997 with a statutory mandate to secure the social and economic regeneration of the docklands on a sustainable basis and improvements in its physical environment. As a result of the economic downturn and, in particular, the distressed state of the property market, the DDDA's financial position has been under significant strain in recent years. On 29 May 2012, the Government decided that the authority would be wound up. Since this decision, the DDDA has been proceeding with an orderly wind-up process.

  One of the Minister's key legislative priorities this year is the publication of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (dissolution) Bill.  This Bill will ensure that all of the issues pertaining to the dissolution and wind up of the DDDA, particularly in respect of certain complex planning matters, are fully dealt with. The Bill will reaffirm the Government's commitment to the key objectives in relation to the docklands area. In particular, the Government is committed to: maintaining and enhancing the docklands' brand and international marketability as an attractive and prime location for investment and high value development; providing for an appropriate set of fast-track planning procedures; continuing to involve the local community and business sector in the regeneration project; and facilitating job creation.

  While section 34 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, provides that a planning application may be granted subject to a condition relating to the allocation of jobs locally, such conditions would not be considered appropriate in this context. However, other actions are under way in the Docklands to underpin the Government's commitment to the development of a local employment and enterprise strategy. Specific objectives are included in the planning scheme for the North Lotts and Grand Canal Dock strategic development zone to underpin liaison with agencies and organisations working in the docklands to maximise educational opportunities, support employment for local residents and co­ordinate activities to maximise employment, volunteer and training opportunities for residents of all ages in the area. A dedicated docklands office within Dublin City Council will be adequately resourced to lead the regeneration of the area into the future. This office has initiated contact with local employment services, community training workshops, resource centres and other relevant stakeholders to commence discussions on how best to develop a strategy to maximise the opportunities of local employment. Docklands residential and business communities have been centrally involved in the regeneration programme, particularly through their membership of the docklands council, which was set up under the Dublin Docklands Development Authority Act 1997. This council will be replaced by a new docklands consultative forum through which the voices of the docklands communities will continue to be represented in future development of the area. It is envisaged that employment and enterprise will be the focus of one of the sub-committees of the docklands consultative forum. The residential community of the docklands area is central to its continuing development and it is projected that the population of the area will grow by almost 6,000 in the coming years. The interests of the residents are central to the integrated and sustainable growth of that community. Through the involvement of representatives on the docklands consultative forum, as well as the important role of local public representatives on Dublin City Council, those interests will be recognised and nurtured.

Senator Averil Power: Information on Averil Power Zoom on Averil Power I welcome that work is under way to develop a strategy and a consultative forum for residents but the engagement needs to go beyond consultation to real involvement. The Minister of State stated that one of the key objectives of the DDDA was to secure the social and economic regeneration of the area. The area will only be regenerated when the existing community is properly integrated. It cannot be simply a matter of bringing external businesses to the area while allowing them to remain completely separate from the existing community. That is not proper regeneration.

  He indicated that it would not be impossible under the Planning and Development Act 2000 to provide for conditions on local employment but that it would not be appropriate. I strongly disagree with that assertion. Local employment is essential. All we will be seeking is a proportion of 10% or 15%. If we are to integrate businesses and create a proper social environment, it is essential to provide local employment. I ask the Minister of State to push his colleagues a bit further on this issue. It worked in Grangegorman and it would ensure that people do not feel that development is being landed into their community without any real involvement by residents. There may be a consultative forum but there is no integration on a day to day basis.

Deputy Gerald Nash: Information on Gerald Nash Zoom on Gerald Nash I will relay the Senator's concerns to the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government. She is correct that the local community has to be involved in the development of the docklands area. I understand such engagement was provided for in the 1987 Act and I know from conversations with my colleagues that the experience has been positive in terms of providing public services and developing schools, etc., in the area. The Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality, Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, who was principal of a school in the area, and the Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills, Deputy Kevin Humphreys, have impressed on me the importance of community representatives to developing the area from a social and economic perspective. That is not to say the process cannot be improved. We need to keep a close eye on it.

  In regard to Grangegorman, I understand the Tánaiste and Deputy Joe Costello were central to the inclusion of particular conditions for the development of the DIT campus. That, of course, is a public project which allows for the inclusion of social clauses. Significant employment has been provided to young people in the immediate area of Grangegorman who may have experienced unemployment. That is one way of creating a sense of local ownership of a significant public and social infrastructure project. I support the spirit of what the Senator is trying to achieve. It is important to ensure the existing community in the Docklands has ownership in what may be significant future investment in the area.

Order of Business

Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik Zoom on Ivana Bacik The Order of Business is No. 1, motion regarding arrangements for the sitting of the House on Tuesday, 24 March, to be taken without debate at the conclusion of the Order of Business; No. 2, report of Committee on Procedure and Privileges on the adoption of new Standing Order 103O, to be taken without debate at the conclusion of No. 1; No. 2a, Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Bill 2015, all Stages, to be taken at the conclusion of No. 2, with the contributions of group spokespersons on Second Stage not to exceed six minutes and those of all other Senators not to exceed four minutes, and Committee and Remaining Stages to be taken immediately thereafter; No. 2b, motion for earlier signature of the Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Bill 2015, to be taken without debate at the conclusion of No. 2a; No. 3, Ráitis maidir le Seachtain na Gaeilge, to be taken at 1.30 p.m. and to conclude not later 2.45 p.m., with the contributions of group spokespersons not to exceed eight minutes, those of all other Senators not to exceed five minutes and the Minister to be called on to reply not later than 2.40 p.m.; No. 4, Redress for Women Resident in Certain Institutions Bill 2014 - Report and Final Stages, to be taken at 2.45 p.m. and adjourned not later than 4 p.m., if not previously concluded; and No. 5, Succession (Amendment) Bill 2015 - Second Stage, to be taken at 4 p.m., with the time allocated for this debate not to exceed two hours.

Senator Mary M. White: Information on Mary M. White Zoom on Mary M. White I draw attention to a comment made last week by the esteemed leader of the country who expressed sadness about the impact emigration had had on people's lives. He said:

We also want people to be able to come home. Emigration has a devastating impact on our economy as we lose the input of people of talent and energy. We need these people at home and we will welcome them. I want to see them playing their part in the rebuilding of our economy, bringing home their experience to take up some of the jobs that are now being created.

That was the Taoiseach spelling out the devastating effects of emigration. The most up-to-date scientific figures published by the CSO indicate that last year 1,600 people were emigrating every week - 800 young Irish people and 800 non-Irish people. The sad fact is that very few of them are coming back. The Taoiseach is saying we will welcome them back to fill the jobs being created, but we have to ask the question: why do they not want to come back to Ireland? This question has to be addressed by each and every person in this Chamber. What is wrong that the young people to whom I refer do not want to come back?

  I draw attention to the most recent ESRI research bulletin entitled, Impact of the Great Recession on Unemployed Youth and NEET Individuals. NEET stands for not in education, employment or training.  The bulletin states:

One of the first questions addressed by the research was to examine how the profile of unemployed and NEET youths changed pre and post the recession. Before the downturn, young females were more likely to be unemployed; however, post recession the risk was higher for young males. Non-Irish national youths have a higher likelihood of becoming unemployed since the economic downturn as well. The importance of having a Leaving Certificate or higher level of education in reducing the risk of a young person becoming either unemployed or NEET has become stronger since the economic crisis. Apart from their age profile, the characteristics associated with being a NEET youth pre and post recession was similar to unemployed youths: NEET individuals were more likely to be aged 20-24, whereas unemployed youths were aged 15-19.

  As I have said before, we are inundated with public relation statements by this Government on a daily basis which camouflage and massage the figures. I accept that the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation is doing his best to reduce unemployment but 22% of young people are still unemployed. As far as I am concerned, having 22% youth unemployment is a crisis. I ask the Leader to arrange an urgent debate on the ESRI's latest study on the impact of the great recession on the unemployed. I also call for a discussion on what we can do to alleviate the 22% youth unemployment figure. People say it is great that the unemployment figure has been reduced to 10.6% but there has not been a word about 22% youth unemployment.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan The Senator has made her point.

Senator Mary M. White: Information on Mary M. White Zoom on Mary M. White As usual, the details are in the statistics and not just in public relation statements.

Senator Paul Coghlan: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan Recent developments regarding the welfare Bill in Northern Ireland are deeply disappointing. It would be a great shame if the gains of the Stormont House Agreement were compromised or whittled down as a result of this apparent impasse.

  We know that the First Minister, Peter Robinson and the Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, have travelled or are travelling to the United States. I hope they will avail of that opportunity to resolve matters. We hope that Sinn Féin and the DUP, in the wider context, will avail of the time and space now to get to grips with this matter and resolve it quickly. We had understood that these matters were all encompassed by the Stormont House Agreement and that matters were agreed. We do not want to think about what could happen, the damaging impact or the wider implications if this matter is not resolved. The Government here wants to do everything possible to support efforts in good faith but it is up to the parties in Northern Ireland to resolve the matter. We do not want to think of what could happen if it is not resolved. Nobody wants to see a breakdown in the agreement.

Senator Mary M. White: Information on Mary M. White Zoom on Mary M. White Hear, hear.

Senator Paul Coghlan: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan Nobody wants peace to go back one inch or one iota. We wish the parties well in resolving the matter pretty quickly.

Senator James Heffernan: Information on James Heffernan Zoom on James Heffernan Last week, a documentary called "India's Daughter" was aired by the BBC which dealt with the brutal gang rape and killing of a young female medical student called Jyoti Singh in Delhi in December 2010. The documentary made for harrowing viewing but shone a spotlight on the treatment of women in Indian society. One of the defence attorneys who represents the rapists has said that if his own daughter had relations outside of marriage he would have no trouble in bringing her to his village and, in front of his family, he would douse her in petrol and set her on fire.

  Ms Singh's rape and killing was an appalling crime which shook India. I am sure everyone is well aware that the documentary has since been banned. A Member of the other House, from my constituency, has commented that Irish Aid should be cut to developing countries. Last year I took a personal trip to India to see for myself where Irish Aid money goes. I was assisted by the diplomatic corps in the Irish Embassy in Delhi who kindly brought me to a programme taking place in one of the slums of Delhi. What I saw there would support even more money being spent on Irish Aid programmes. I say that because I saw how Irish money is spent in the slums of Delhi. It was spent on programmes to empower women, to help them become leaders in their communities and to teach them to be first responders for any medical emergencies. Young women were also educated up as far as a third level qualification in order for them to come back and educate other young women in their communities. The programmes provided a good positive cycle of improvements. Also, TB has been eradicated and there has not been a cholera outbreak there in decades. A proper sewerage system has also been installed in these slums but they remain terrible places to live.

  The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs is scheduled to visit Delhi as part of the St. Patrick Day's celebrations. I ask the Leader to request the Minister to visit the areas in Delhi where Irish Aid money is spent in order to see the work that is done there. If the Minister does so then he will return here with the message that the money has not been wasted but has been spent on excellent and well managed programmes.

  I ask the Leader to request the Indian Government to end its censorship of the documentary entitled "India's Daughter" and to broadcast the programme to the Indian public. It is important that the Irish Government shows that we are strong when it comes to equality and equal rights.

Senator Colm Burke: Information on Colm Burke Zoom on Colm Burke I wish to follow on from the issues raised by Senator White. It is important that when people return to this country they not only look for jobs but at issues such as housing and taxation. The reason we have such high taxation here at this stage is because we must pay for mistakes made when Fianna Fáil was in power for 14 years. The Opposition should not forget that fact. Also, the current housing crisis is due to a lot of bad decisions taken during those 14 years.

Senator Mary M. White: Information on Mary M. White Zoom on Mary M. White Fine Gael never objected to the planning decisions that were made.

Senator Colm Burke: Information on Colm Burke Zoom on Colm Burke We must now be positive about bringing about change.

Senator Mary M. White: Information on Mary M. White Zoom on Mary M. White Hurry on.

Senator Colm Burke: Information on Colm Burke Zoom on Colm Burke We have brought stability to the country and created jobs. The only way forward is to create jobs. One of the things about young people coming back and seeking jobs, is that we must remember Ireland is a small economy of 4.6 million people. When people go abroad they have a wider choice of jobs and places to go. Ireland now competes on the world market in a whole lot of areas.

  In terms of bringing people back home, one of the things that worries me greatly is the way some registration authorities behave. There have been delays in registering people. Young trained nurses wishing to return to Ireland must wait between three to four months to be registered with An Bord Altranais. That situation does not entice people to return home. I know of some people who returned early last December who lodged their applications with the board. They still have not been registered even though they have jobs waiting for them. Likewise, with the young doctors who want to return home. They have experienced huge delays in registering here. I know of two Irish doctors who were educated and trained here that went to New Zealand but were registered there within two weeks. They came back here to work and discovered they were still unregistered after eight weeks.

Senator Mary M. White: Information on Mary M. White Zoom on Mary M. White Bureaucracy is running the show.

Senator Colm Burke: Information on Colm Burke Zoom on Colm Burke I have outlined the issues that we need to start tackling. If we want people to come back then we must fast-track registration procedures so that they can return to take up available jobs. That is a hugely important issue. I ask the Leader to raise the issue with the relevant Ministers because registration delays affect all professions. We must make sure that the registration authorities that deal with applications give them priority and fast-track them.

Senator Terry Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden Zoom on Terry Leyden It is timely that we will debate the Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Bill 2015 later today. It is an emergency because of the effects the head shops were having.  I commend the former Ministers, Ms Mary Harney and Mr. Dermot Ahern, both of whom moved very quickly at the time. It certainly put paid to the 100 head shops that were booming and blooming throughout Ireland at the time and were causing enormous difficulties and mental health problems. I know the House will pass the Bill today and it will be signed by the President very shortly.

  However, it puts a question mark over statutory instruments and ministerial orders. The Attorney General should look at the situation in light of the court's ruling. Far too many European directives are transferred into orders and statutory instruments without going through a proper legislative format. This will give rise to problems in the future because far too much legislation is being drafted by the Government without going through the Oireachtas, as has been highlighted in this case.

  I ask the Deputy Leader to invite the Minister of State, Deputy Kathleen Lynch, to come to the House to consider concerns that have been expressed by local councillors, Paschal Fitzmaurice and Orla Leyden, over the future of the long-term mental health services at Áras Naomh Chaoláin in Castlerea. There is a question mark over the future of this service in Castlerea. The service was provided following the closure of St. Patrick's psychiatric hospital, which is now Castlerea Prison.

  We have seen many changes in mental health services, but not for the betterment of the patients themselves. It is more to do with cutbacks in the health services. When will the Oireachtas Members in Roscommon shout, "Stop" to the closures in County Roscommon of Garda stations, courthouses and community services? There is constant erosion.

  When I was in government - as a Minister of State and a Deputy - we used to fight for issues. We did not allow the Government to walk on the people. The Government and Opposition Oireachtas Members, representing what is now Roscommon-East Galway, are not shouting "Stop" to the Government, the Minister of State, Deputy Kathleen Lynch, and the HSE in removing services from Roscommon, Castlerea and throughout the county. The county is under siege at the moment. As Senator White said, bureaucracy is absolutely strangling the system and the Government is doing nothing about it.

Senator Mary M. White: Information on Mary M. White Zoom on Mary M. White The Government is not strong enough.

Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh: Information on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh Zoom on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh Ba mhaith liom mo chomhbhrón a chur in iúl do mhuintir agus clann Phóil Mhic an Draoi, Paul Drury, a bhásaigh le cúpla lá anuas. B'fhéidir nach raibh an pholaitíocht chéanna ná an tuairimíocht chéanna agam féin agus ag Pól, ach aon uair a casadh orm é ba léir gur duine uasal ab ea é. Bhí an-spraoi ag baint leis. Bhí sé an-tiomanta ó thaobh na Gaeilge de. Bhíodh sé ag úsáid na Gaeilge ina chuid oibre go rialta. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

  Bhí cur i láthair an-mhaith sa seomra AV inné maidir leis an tuairisc "Our Voice Our Rights", atá curtha le chéile ag FLAC. Baineann sé seo leis an gCúnant Idirnáisiúnta ar Chearta Eacnamaíocha, Sóisialta agus Cultúrtha. Tá an tuairisc curtha i dtoll a chéile ag FLAC ar son os cionn scór eagraíocht dheonach agus pobail ar fud na hÉireann. Tarraingíonn sé aird ar na háiteanna ina bhfuil cearta daoine á sárú, dar leo, maidir leis an gcúnant idirnáisiúnta seo. Chuala muid píosaí inné maidir le daoine le míchumas, cúrsaí tithíochta, an Lucht Siúil, agus daoine eile nach iad. Bhí sé thar a bheith suimiúil go raibh píosa ann chomh maith céanna maidir leis an nGaeilge. Dúradh go gcaithfear acmhainní cuí a chur ar fáil d'Oifig an Choimisinéara Teanga agus gur cheart do Ghaeilgeoirí deis a bheith acu a gcearta bunreachtúla agus reachtúla agus seirbhísí trí mheán na Gaeilge a fháil. Sílim gur tuairisc iontach maith é agus gurb fhiú dúinn díospóireacht a bheith againn sa Teach seo ar an méid atá molta agus ráite ann. Is cás linn ar fad iad cearta daoine, go háirithe anseo in Éirinn. Sílim go bhfuil cuid mhaith ceisteanna tráthúla agus tábhachtacha anseo maidir leis an seasamh idirnáisiúnta atá againn agus an dualgas atá orainn go hidirnáisiúnta seasamh suas ar son cearta ár saoránach.

Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik Zoom on Ivana Bacik I think that is probably one of the shortest Orders of Business we have had.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan That is down to the Deputy Leader's efficiency.

Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik Zoom on Ivana Bacik I like to think so.

  Senator White raised the very important issue of emigration. Unfortunately it is not a new phenomenon for us and it has had a devastating impact on Irish society not to mention the economy over many decades. I think everyone would agree on that. It is obviously a priority for the Government to tackle it. The Senator should look at the annual report on the programme for Government for 2015 which was published yesterday. It lists and documents fairly enough the measures that are being put in place to tackle, in particular the issue of youth unemployment, which the Senator rightly linked with emigration, in order to ensure that more young people can come home. The two issues are closely linked and I know the Senator has done considerable work on them. The issue of education and training for young people is also inextricably linked because of course that significantly enhances people's job prospects.

  As I think the Senator acknowledged, the Government's record on job creation is really strong. As yesterday's report sets out, 90,000 new jobs have been created since 2012. Unemployment is now down to 10.1% from a crisis peak of over 15%. We are all aware of those figures, but behind them are human stories of people who are now in jobs and were not two or three years ago. That is highly significant. Youth unemployment is still too high, but it has been reduced by 30% in the four years of the Government. In this coming academic year 23,000 jobseekers will be supported on back-to-education programmes and 28,000 places will be provided under the new Youth Guarantee scheme. I was a huge advocate, as the Senator was, of the European Youth Guarantee project, which was a big highlight of the European Parliament elections last year. I think we will see the benefit of that in terms of young people.

  In addition we have, of course, significant funding for the regional action plan to bring jobs recovery to every region to ensure it is not just confined to urban areas. A great deal of work is being done on the specific issues the Senator raised. Undoubtedly we should have a debate on the issue and I am very happy to seek that debate as she has requested.

  Senator Paul Coghlan raised concerns about what is going on with the welfare Bill in Northern Ireland and with welfare reform. He expressed concern, which we all share, that a compromising of the Stormont House Agreement may result. Of course, none of us wants any going back to the days before the peace process. We all join the Senator in wishing the parties involved in the negotiations well in ensuring there is a resolution of the issues and that the Stormont House Agreement is not compromised. That is very important.

  Senator Heffernan raised a very important issue that is close to my heart about the documentary programme "India's Daughter" which deals with the notorious and barbaric incident where a medical student was gang-raped and died as a result in 2012. It was an appalling incident. I absolutely agree with the Senator that in India that case in particular has highlighted the really appalling levels of sex crime against women and a patriarchal culture that appears to facilitate or enable and certainly does not do anything to bring perpetrators to justice. That is a real concern, obviously for Indian society, but also for us.

  The Senator also mentioned Irish Aid programmes in India and commented on how excellent and well managed they are, which is good to hear. I am happy to request that the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Deputy Reilly, on his visit to India next week in addition to witnessing the Irish Aid projects - I am sure he will be doing that as part of his visit - would also request the Indian Government to ensure the documentary is not censored in India. I absolutely agree with the Senator that is a very important request we can make. It is important for Ireland and other countries to put pressure on the Indian Government to ensure that documentary is not censored.

  Senator Colm Burke raised the economy and the achievements of Government in tackling unemployment. I think I have dealt with that. He also dealt with the very specific issue of delays in professional registration for emigrants returning from abroad. The Senator is right; this is a very serious issue. We need to fast-track professional registration to facilitate people returning. I have certainly heard of delays in professional registration for individuals who are not necessarily Irish and were qualified abroad, and are coming to take up work here to provide much-needed skills and expertise to our society. This is a big issue and the Senator is right to raise it. We might consider having a debate in the House on the issue.

  Senator Leyden raised the issue of the drugs Bill that we will be debating after the Order of Business. He rightly pointed out that there might be a need for the Attorney General to review the impact of this week's judgment by Mr. Justice Hogan in other areas. I am sure that is already being done. All parties commented favourably last night on the speed with which the Government moved to address this lacuna.  Clearly, it was anticipated that the judgment might go this way, and there was legislation ready. We will have a full debate on that. There is a prospect of a Supreme Court appeal by the State in the case, so this may not be the end of the story.

  The Senator asked that the Minister of State at the Department of Health, Deputy Kathleen Lynch, come to the House to discuss an issue concerning Castlerea. I suggest that he raise this as a Commencement matter and invite the Minister of State to address it very specifically.

  Senator Ó Clochartaigh spoke as Gaeilge so I hope I respond accurately. He offered his condolences on the very sad death of Paul Drury. We all join him in that regard. Mr. Drury was a very fine journalist. The Senator also spoke about his briefing in the AV room with the Free Legal Advice Centres on the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. It is a very important issue, which, as the Senator knows, was considered by the Constitutional Convention. A recommendation was made for the inclusion of recognition of economic, social and cultural rights in the Constitution. However, the report of the convention recommended that some more work be done on determining the best way to ensure constitutional recognition. The Labour Party and I support the recognition of the rights in the Constitution, but determining how best that can be done without undermining unduly the doctrine of the separation of powers is legally complex. We teased this out at length at the Constitutional Convention and it was of great interest. It is a matter on which we can continue to work. We might have a debate in this House on the convention's report. Perhaps that would be the best way to address the matter.

  I am sure the Senator will be raising the Irish language in the debate on Seachtain na Gaeilge, which will be taking place at 1.30 p.m. today.

  Order of Business agreed to.

Business of Seanad: Motion

Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik Zoom on Ivana Bacik I move:

That, notwithstanding anything in the Standing Orders relative to Public Business, the Seanad shall meet at 12 noon on Tuesday, 24th of March, 2015 and the Order of Business should be proposed at 1 p.m.

  Question put and agreed to.

Standing Orders: Motion

Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik Zoom on Ivana Bacik I move:

That the report of the Committee on Procedure and Privileges on the adoption of new Standing Order 103O be adopted, laid before the House and printed.

  Question put and agreed to.

Business of Seanad

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan We shall proceed to the Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Bill 2015, all Stages.

Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik Zoom on Ivana Bacik I propose that the House suspend until 12.15 p.m. because the Minister for Health is not available until then. We did not anticipate concluding the Order of Business so swiftly.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Is that agreed? Agreed.

  Sitting suspended at 11.45 a.m. and resumed at 12.15 p.m.

Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Bill 2015: Second Stage

  Question proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

Minister for Health (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I am presenting the Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Bill 2015 to the House as an emergency measure on foot of a judgment yesterday by the Court of Appeal on the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977. I am grateful for the support received from my colleagues in the Dáil yesterday in bringing the legislation to this stage. I also express my appreciation to this House for agreeing to deal with the Bill at such short notice.

  The ruling by the Court of Appeal yesterday means the numerous substances which have been controlled by Government order in the years since the Act came into force cease to be controlled under the Act. The court ruled on an appeal against a High Court judgment of May last year. The High Court had upheld the constitutionality of section 2(2), the provision in the Act empowering the Government to declare substances to be controlled under the Act. The Court of Appeal concluded that this provision was deficient in principles and policies and, accordingly, was repugnant to Article 15.2.1° of the Constitution which vested the sole and exclusive power of making laws in the Oireachtas. Accordingly, any order made under this power is invalid.

  While the State had no way of knowing how the Court of Appeal would find, we planned for this possibility by preparing the Bill and ensuring it could be brought before the Houses without delay. The Bill aims to deal with the fall-out of yesterday's judgment by reinstating the status quo ante to the substances controlled by Government order. I hope it will meet with the swift approval of the Seanad today. I intend to seek to have an earlier signature motion passed.

  By way of explanation, the Misuse of Drugs Act has two primary purposes. It establishes a system of control over certain drugs to protect the public from dangerous or potentially dangerous and harmful substances and facilitates the safe use of certain controlled drug substances which, although harmful if misused, have medical and therapeutic value. Under the legislation, unless expressly allowed to do so, it is illegal to possess, supply, manufacture, import or export a controlled substance.

  What is a controlled substance under the Act? These are substances which are either known to be or have the potential to be dangerous or harmful to human health, including their liability for misuse or causing social harm. In general, they are substances which affect the central nervous system, producing some mind-altering effect. This may be stimulation, depression, hallucinations or another significant change. Additionally, many of these drugs have the potential to cause addiction or dependence, whether physical or psychological.

  A substance may be declared controlled under the Act in one of two ways. The first is if it is listed in the original Schedule to the 1977 Act. The second is if it has been declared controlled by the Government by means of an order made under section 2(2) of the Act.  Subsequent to a substance being declared controlled, the Minister for Health then makes regulations to place controls on the import, export, production, supply and possession appropriate to that substance. The Schedule to the Act lists more than 100 substances which are controlled, including cocaine, heroin, cannabis, LSD, certain amphetamines and other well and less well known substances. These are not affected by yesterday's judgment. However, the legislators in 1977 recognised that it was important to future-proof the legislation by providing a mechanism by which additional substances could be declared controlled without undue delay. This was far-seeing because as we all know numerous dangerous substances which might not have been known about, or might not have even existed, in 1977 have emerged on the drugs market in the intervening period. Accordingly, the Act provided under section 2(2) that additional substances could be controlled by means of Government order. Since 1977, this power has been used nine times by several Governments to control a wide range of dangerous substances, including ecstasy, and most recently head shop drugs. Until yesterday, seven of those nine orders were in place.

  Yesterday, section 2(2) under which Government orders are made was declared unconstitutional by the Court of Appeal. This judgment will be carefully examined by my Department and the Attorney General with a view to considering its implications, what future amendments to the legislation may be required and whether an appeal to the Supreme Court is warranted. What is clear is that, as a result of this judgment, all Government orders made under this Act ceased to be valid as of yesterday. This means that all substances which had been declared controlled by Government order, many of which pose significant health risks for people who use them, are now no longer controlled. Accordingly, the purpose of this short but important Bill is to resubmit these substances to control under the Act. The Bill does so by inserting these substances by name into the Schedule to the Act. In order to reaffirm the controls which apply to these substances, the Bill also confirms a number of ministerial orders and regulations made under the Act, thereby giving these instruments statutory effect as though they were an Act of the Oireachtas.

  Controlling substances under the Misuse of Drugs Act is an ongoing process which involves national and international co-operation and engagement. The drugs phenomenon is an international issue that needs to be tackled in a co-ordinated way and addressed in a global context. Two United Nations conventions provide the international legal framework for addressing the illicit drugs phenomenon. The fundamental objective of the conventions is to protect the health of people from the inappropriate use of controlled drugs and to ensure that the use of controlled drugs is restricted to medical and scientific purposes. Substances are scheduled under the Act in accordance with Ireland's obligations under these international conventions. Of course, it is open to parties to the UN conventions to extend the scope of control to a wider range of substances, which Ireland has done. Furthermore, substances are also scheduled under the Act in accordance with EU Council decisions or where there is evidence that substances are causing significant harm to public health in Ireland.

  The process by which substances are subjected to control by the Government under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 is highly technical and complex in order to ascertain whether the abuse potential is such as to warrant control. This work includes monitoring of trends of drug abuse in the national and international drugs markets and the identification of substances and classes of substances that are being used in the drug culture. It involves information exchange between Departments and State agencies regarding trends in usage, seizures and health effects. The development of highly technical legislative provisions which precisely describe individual chemical substances or groups of substances is an important part of the work of accurately controlling substances. Government orders have declared controlled a wide range of substances by means of generic definitions, thereby aiming to stay ahead of the clandestine laboratories which deliberately circumvent national controls. Since 1977, nine Government orders have been made, of which seven continued in operation until today. The most recent order was made in December 2014 when a number of substances were controlled arising from EU Council decisions. Substances controlled by Government order range from substances which are useful medicines but which have abuse potential, such as benzodiazepines, to plants which have psychoactive properties such as magic mushrooms, to synthetic substances sold as "bath salts", "incense" or "research chemicals". In fact magic mushrooms are a fungus not a plant as far as I know.

  Members of the House will recall the head shop phenomenon of a few years ago. Some people mistakenly believed that because products sold in these shops were "legal" that they were "safe". Government orders in 2010 and 2011 controlled the substances then commonly being sold in head shops, including synthetic cannabinoids, BZP derivatives and mephedrone. These controls, coupled with the Criminal Justice (Psychoactive Substances) Act 2010, helped to address this problem. Prior to the introduction of the 2010 Act there were more than 100 head shops operating in the State. Since the introduction of the Act, the head shop trade in Ireland has almost disappeared.

  The speed at which new psychoactive drugs emerge is evidenced by data from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction which received reports of 15 new psychoactive substances in 2005 and 73 in 2012. The availability of detailed information regarding the chemistry of substances on the Internet, coupled with the availability of sophisticated technology and chemistry expertise, have contributed to the rapid evolution of the illicit drugs market, particularly in the last ten years. It is important that we work together to counter the threat they pose to users, particularly young people. A key part of that work is the control of substances under this Act. The mechanism under which new substances can be controlled in the future will require consideration on foot of today's Court of Appeal decision. This is not part of the proposed Bill as the matter will need to be considered further in light of the terms of the judgment.

  I turn to an overview of the Bill. The Bill provides that substances which were controlled before the court judgment by means of Government order may be added to the Schedule to the 1977 Act, thereby providing that they will once more be controlled. Section 1 amends the Schedule to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977. This provision inserts into the Schedule of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 the Schedule to this Bill. These are the same substances previously controlled under Government orders made under section 2(2) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977. The substances to be inserted into the Schedule are listed in paragraphs 1A and 1B to be able to specify which additional compounds, namely stereoisomers, esters and ethers, salts, products and preparations of substances are also controlled. Section 2 confirms certain statutory instruments. Certain ministerial orders and regulations made under the 1977 Act are confirmed as if they were an Act of the Oireachtas, thereby ensuring that they are not subject to challenge while the consequences of the Court of Appeal judgment are examined and addressed. Section 3 is the Short Title, commencement and collective citation. This is a standard citation provision. It is intended the legislation will commence on the day after its passing; that is, the day after it is signed by the President.

  In conclusion, the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 provides for the control of dangerous substances and their regulation to ensure that they are only available for medicinal and other purposes in such a way as to prevent their misuse. The Bill aims to protect the legal framework of this country in relation to controlled drugs by re-controlling substances which have been assessed as meriting such control. The House will appreciate that this is a very important Bill which has public health and community safety at its heart. I thank the House for its co-operation in allowing me to bring forward the Bill as a matter of urgency today and I look forward to hearing the contributions of Members during the debate. I hope the House will support the passage of the Bill without delay.

Senator Diarmuid Wilson: Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson I welcome the Minister, Deputy Varadkar, to the House. I take this Bill on behalf of my colleague, Senator Thomas Byrne, who is on parliamentary duties elsewhere and cannot be here. Fianna Fáil will support the Bill which stems from a Court of Appeal judgment of 10 March 2015 that section 2(2) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977, under which the Government was empowered to declare substances to be controlled for the purposes of the Act, was unconstitutional. The purpose of the Bill is to add the substances previously controlled under Government order to the Schedule to the Act, thereby providing that they will once more be controlled. As a result of the judgment, all substances controlled by means of Government orders under section 2(2) cease to be controlled with immediate effect and their possession ceased to be an offence. These substances included ecstasy, benzodiazepines, magic mushrooms and new psychoactive substances or so-called head shop drugs. The judgment has no implications for approximately 125 other substances including cannabis, heroin and cocaine, which is very welcome. They are listed in the Schedule to the Act.

  We welcome very much this legislation. I outlined on the Order of Business yesterday the fact that we welcomed the speed with which the Government has addressed this issue. We support this legislation fully. As some colleagues will be aware, Senators on both sides of the House in a previous Seanad worked tirelessly on a weekly basis to get the Government of the day to act on the so-called head shops.  Such shops sprang up from a small number in 2008 to more than 100 by 2011 in every major town and village in Ireland and visited destruction upon many families therein.

  As a youth worker at the time, I witnessed at first hand the effects these so-called legal highs had on young people. I welcomed the actions of the Government of the day, when the Ministers responsible, namely, Mary Harney and Dermot Ahern, added these substances to the list of those banned under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977. As a result of the court decision yesterday, Members find themselves legislating to tighten or copperfasten that legislation. I realise the difficulty the Minister faces in this regard. As these are designer drugs, the manufacturers can tweak one component, thereby making it a different drug. Consequently, it is extremely difficult to legislate for each one of these so-called designer drugs. However, I welcome the initiative the Minister is taking today and hopefully it will copperfasten the illegality of these drugs.

  Although today is not the day on which to have it, as Members seek to have this legislation passed through this House as quickly as possible, a major discussion on the entire issue of drugs is needed. Discussion is needed on the national drugs strategy, on the supports available to those who find themselves addicted to drugs and on the resources being made available to the Garda Síochána to carry out detection and prosecution of people who are breaking the law. I would like to have the primary focus of the latter on the Mr. Bigs, not the Mr. Smalls. The regional drugs units have been disbanded in a number of areas, including my native county of Cavan and the neighbouring county of Monaghan. In other counties, they have been depleted and amalgamated into the normal crime units and this is not acceptable. This is a major crisis for the country and while I greatly welcome the initiatives of the Minister, Deputy Reilly, in respect of the tobacco industry and of the Minister himself regarding alcohol and its abuse, unfortunately this area has been ignored. A focus must be put upon it and if this decision yesterday of the Court of Appeal does anything, hopefully it will reinvigorate Members' efforts to focus on the horrific consequences for those who unfortunately are addicted to drugs. I wish to reiterate a point mentioned by my colleague, the Minister, or rather Deputy Kelleher. That was a Freudian slip or perhaps it is 12 months' premature-----

Deputy Leo Varadkar: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Or historic.

Senator Diarmuid Wilson: Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson In the Lower House, Deputy Kelleher, together with other Opposition Deputies, called for a designated Minister with responsibility for drugs. The issue is so serious that it requires such a step.

  Finally, in welcoming this legislation and in giving my party's full support to it, I wish to remember a colleague from the last Seanad who was highly active, together with many other colleagues, in fighting to have the head shops regulated and, thankfully, closed down in the vast majority of cases, namely, the late Nicky McFadden. It is something on which she worked hard and I wish to have that remembered this morning.

Debate adjourned.

Twentieth Report of the Committee of Selection: Motion

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan  The Committee of Selection reports that it has discharged Senator Marc MacSharry from membership of the Select Committee on Health and Children at his own request and has appointed Senator Thomas Byrne in substitution for him.

  The Committee of Selection reports that it has discharged Senator Thomas Byrne from membership of the Select Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform at his own request and has appointed Senator Marc MacSharry in substitution for him.

  I move: "That the report be laid before the Seanad."

  Question put and agreed to.

Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Bill 2015: Second Stage (Resumed)

  Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

Senator Colm Burke: Information on Colm Burke Zoom on Colm Burke I welcome the Minister to the House. I thank him, the departmental officials and all those involved in the background in the Office of the Attorney General for bringing forward this legislation so rapidly. When this matter was brought before the High Court, it was argued that section 2(2) of the 1977 Act was unconstitutional. The public perception at present is that the Government is solely in charge of legislation and the role of the Oireachtas is too often forgotten. Interestingly, however, if one considers the judgments of both the High Court and the Supreme Court, the provision in the Constitution at Article 15.2 1° sets out clearly that "The sole and exclusive power of making laws for the State is hereby vested in the Oireachtas: no other legislative authority has power to make laws for the State." That was the argument used in the court in respect of the section of the 1977 Act and whether the regulation that subsequently came in was in breach of, or not in compliance with, the aforementioned article in the Constitution. I welcome the decision of the Court of Appeal. While I acknowledge the Minister may not like to hear me say that, it is important that the checks and balances are in place. That is the purpose of the structure encompassing the Oireachtas, the Government and the courts and it is only right that Members stay within the Constitution when bringing forward legislation and regulation. I have made this point previously but I recall being involved in 2004 in identifying where a regulation was brought forward in respect of nursing home charges only to find in that case that there was not even appropriate legislation to give power to the Minister to bring forward a regulation. Consequently, for more than 20 years moneys were being deducted from people in nursing homes, which was completely illegal. Therefore, it is important that the checks and balances are in place.

  In the case put forward by the State, although Mr. Justice Paul Gilligan held in favour of the State in the High Court, the Court of Appeal held otherwise. Consequently, this legislation is now necessary and while I welcome the decision of the Court of Appeal, I do not welcome the fact that technically, these substances are back on the market legally today and no powers are available to deal with that. Therefore, it is important to pass this legislation.

  Section 2 sets out clearly and puts into legislation all of the regulations as set out in Schedule 2. This shows how the whole area has changed in recent years as there are approximately six different lots of regulations and exemption orders that have been brought in since 1977 to deal with this area of substances which are a danger to people. It was only right that they were outlawed. However, it is a question of making sure, when Members try to outlaw something, that they stay within the Constitution. Therefore, this legislation now does this and the Bill deals with all the issues that previously were dealt with under regulation. It now brings them forward in legislative form and therefore, it is important that Members pass the Bill and that it becomes law as soon as possible.

  The court decision also raises serious issues regarding other legislation in which regulation was brought in. The question arises as to whether such regulation may not stand up were someone to decide to challenge it. There is now an urgent need, particularly in respect of health and justice issues, for Members to examine these and ascertain whether it is necessary to introduce amending legislation in a number of other areas. Members should not be obliged to wait for the courts to make the decisions in this regard.

  I refer to the issue of the court asking whether the secondary legislation in question goes further than simply giving effect to principles and policies that are set out in the primary legislation.  We need to seek further clarification, and the Department should consider whether it should appeal the case to the Supreme Court so that there is a clear definition and interpretation of the words "principles and policies". While this case has decided the definition of the words regarding regulation under the Misuse of Drugs Act, it does not give an overall view. While it is primary to the court decision in Cityview Press v.An Comhairle Oiliúna in 1980, it might be worthwhile for the Department and Government to consider whether we should seek further clarification from the Supreme Court on the matter.

I welcome the legislation. It is important that we pass it through the House today and that it be signed into law at the earliest possible date. I thank the Minister and everybody involved in bringing forward the legislation at such an early date.

Senator Feargal Quinn: Information on Feargal Quinn Zoom on Feargal Quinn I welcome the Minister and the legislation. I am puzzled at the speed with which the Government acted when the Court of Appeal made its views known. Since I came into the House, I have criticised how long it takes to get things done, so in this instance I say "Well done". I question whether we might leave loopholes in legislation when we move too quickly. While I am always in favour of speedy movement in these areas, I am concerned that when we do so, we may not give the Bill enough attention. I hope the President will be able to sign the Bill into law immediately.

  I remember when the head shops legislation was introduced and we had to do something with it. It reminded all of us how quickly the area of drug abuse moves. Most of us who have not had much experience of it could not get over the speed with which the head shops turned up, the products that were on sale and the damage they did. If we are going to tackle the drugs scene, we must take action. I imagine this is the action the Minister will be expected to take and I am delighted he will be able to do it. We need to pay attention to and take action on the drug scene very quickly. If we close one door, the people involved will quickly open another. I am delighted the Minister has taken action so quickly. Hopefully, it will solve the problem. Let us have a wider debate on drug use to ensure we do not allow other doors to open in future.

Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik Zoom on Ivana Bacik I welcome the Minister. Like other Senators, I welcome the opportunity to speak on the Bill. I note the very speedy way it has been brought before us in light of yesterday's Court of Appeal judgment. As the Minister said, the possibility of the outcome of the judgement had been anticipated and the Department had planned for in by preparing the Bill. This is commendable and, as Senator Quinn said, is in contrast with earlier incidents. Many of us will recall the scramble to legislate following the Supreme Court decision in the case of CC v. Ireland in 2006, when the offence of unlawful carnal knowledge of a minor was struck down. The 2006 Act that was brought in had to be amended subsequently. It is not a new phenomenon that a decision would strike down legislation as unconstitutional and have implications for criminal justice legislation. I was involved in some of the cases around the Damache decision, which had a similar effect on aspects of search warrant procedure and the Offences Against the State Act and legislation was required to deal with it.

  It is very good that the Bill had been prepared in anticipation of the judgment. There will be no substantive change to the law – pardon the pun. It restores the substances that were previously controlled under statutory instruments and restores the status quo. The judgment of Mr. Justice Hogan in the Stanislav Bederev case in the Court of Appeal, which gave rise to the legislation, is robust and I read it with great interest. As Senator Colm Burke said, it states very robustly the principles in the Cityview case in 1980 in which Chief Justice Tom O’Higgins said it was not permissible to delegate legislative power where it was more than a mere giving effect to principles and policies contained in the primary statute. Mr. Justice Hogan very logically teased out the application of this principle to the misuse of drugs provisions, particularly to the statutory instruments which had purported to list other species of controlled drugs. While the Government is considering whether to take an appeal to the Supreme Court, his judgment points out that the primary Act, the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977, says a controlled drug is either one that is listed in the Schedule or declared by the Government.

  It does not appear to limit the Government's power to classify drugs by reference to the categories of the drugs in the Schedule, which was one of the arguments the State put forward. Nor does the Long Title of the Act give sufficient guidance or criteria to the Government to allow it to be argued successfully that a statutory instrument was merely giving effect to principles and policies. As Mr. Justice Hogan said, the Long Title, “An Act to prevent the misuse of certain dangerous or otherwise harmful drugs” would, arguably, enable the Government to ban tobacco and alcohol as "dangerous or otherwise harmful drugs". It shows the wide scope of section 2(2) and the extent of policy choices that is left to the Government in passing statutory instruments. This is a matter for further consideration as to whether the judgment will be appealed.

  As the Minister said, the consequences the judgment will have for other areas of the law where delegated power is provided for in primary legislation is a matter for consideration. There have been reports on the consequences of the judgment for pending prosecutions. Colleagues will be aware that the consequences of the CC case were limited by the subsequent Supreme Court judgment in A v. The Governor of Arbour Hill Prison. The fallout was limited in the sense that persons whose cases had been concluded were not regarded as capable of taking action on foot of the judgment, even if they had been convicted of the unlawful carnal knowledge offence. One would anticipate similarly limited consequences here for prosecutions which have concluded or persons who have pleaded guilty or been convicted. It has been reported that in the small number of cases pending which involve substances which were controlled under the statutory instruments there was anticipation of a potential outcome in the case and other charges have been brought. As the Minister said, the judgment does not affect the best known and most significant categories of controlled drugs, which are already contained in the Schedule to the 1977 Act. It applies only to the substances added through the statutory instruments such as the psychoactive or so-called head shop substances.

  The purpose of the legislation is to restore the status quo and it will receive cross-party support. I would like us, on another day, to review our drug policy. I am no fan of the prohibitionist approach. We need to examine, in a considered and careful fashion, other countries which have adopted different approaches to the regulation of what we call controlled drugs. The justice committee has a particular interest in Portugal's model and models of strategic decriminalisation of certain substances. It has not been a happy experience.

  Senator Wilson referred to the head shops which led to the passage of the legislation in 2010 and 2011. A considered review would be a useful exercise. All of us would welcome the Bill.

Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh: Information on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh Zoom on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh Cuirim fáilte roimh an Aire. Thug an Chúirt Athchomhairc cinneadh inné maidir le halt 2(2) den Acht um Mí-Úsáid Drugaí 1997, ag rá go raibh sé neamhbhailí. Thug an t-alt áirithe úd cead don Rialtas de réir ordaithe substaintí áirithe a ainmniú mar dhrugaí smachtaithe. Beidh an reachtaíocht seo á cur ar ais sa staid a bhí ann sular tugadh an dúshlán ins an gcúirt inné. Tá súil agam go dtiocfaidh an Bille tríd gan aon mhoill agus go mbeidh sé sínithe ag an Uachtarán chomh maith gan a thuilleadh moille. Tógfaidh an Bille um Mhí-Úsáid Drugaí 2015, a dhéanann leasú ar an mBille a bhí ann ó 1997, in áireamh na substaintí a bhí coscaithe ag an Rialtas ó tugadh i bhfeidhm é i 1977.

  I 2010, tugadh isteach beart in Éirinn chun deireadh a chur le díolachán na "legal highs" seo. Thug an Bille um shubstaintí sícighníomhacha cumhachtaí le horduithe cúirte a lorg chun na siopaí siabhráin, nó "head shops" a dhúnadh. Is cosúil go raibh cuid mhaith fabhtanna ins an reachtaíocht seo freisin, a thug cead do dhaoine a bheith ag díol na ndrugaí seo agus tá grúpaí áirithe ag tarraingt airde ar na ceisteanna seo le roinnt blianta idir an dá linn. Is é an fhabht is mó a bhí ann ná go bhféadfadh lucht déanta na ndrugaí seo díreach an struchtúr ceimiceach a athrú beagán le teacht timpeall ar an dlí. I mí Bealtaine 2010, thógamar isteach reachtaíocht a chur cosc ar níos mó ná 200 de na siabhráin dhleathacha seo, nó "legal highs", a bhí ar díol sna siopaí siabhráin agus ar an Idirlín. Dhún sé sin síos cuid mhaith de na siopaí seo, mar gheall gur chuir sé cosc ar na drugaí siúd.

  Chiallaigh sé seo áfach gur méadaíodh an méid a bhí á iompórtáil, an méid easpórtáil, an táirgeacht agus mar sin de, agus an méid daoine a bhí tógtha mar gheall ar an obair seo, ó thaobh na coiriúlachta de. Bhí níos mó ná 4.5 tona drugaí, gur b'fhiú luach na deich mílte de euro iad tógtha as na siopaí siabhráin seo ag na Gardaí fad is a bhí an cosc seo á chur i bheidhm acu ach tá cuid mhaith de na substaintí seo ar fáil ar an Idirlíon agus tá margadh an-luachmhar ar an Idirlíon, ós rud é go bhfuil na siopaí siabhráin seo imithe. Caithfear dul i ngleic leis an bhfadhb seo agus caithfidh an Rialtas rud eicint a dhéanamh faoi.

  Go minic, tá na drugaí seo in ainm is a bheith ag déanamh aithris ar na drugaí neamhdhleathacha agus díoltar iad ar an gcaoi sin ach breathnóimid anois ar chuid de na substaintí seo, na drochéifeachtaí atá acu agus na cúiseanna atá ann cosc a chur orthu. Is beag scrúdú a dhéantar orthu ó thaobh caighdeáin de, má dhéantar aon rud. Is furasta iad a chur i gcomhar le substaintí eile agus ní fios cé chomh láidir is atá na substaintí seo nó céard iad na héifeachtaí eile a d'fhéadfadh a bheith acu. Sampla amháin de sin ná salvia, a dhíoltar mar rogha dleathach do eacstais agus a bhíonn fógortha mar "incense" nó "herbal ecstasy". D'fhéadfadh daoine a thógann na drugaí seo a bheith thar a bheith go dona as de bharr chúrsaí meabhairghalair, an galar dubhach, imní agus mar sin de. Tá drugaí áirithe ann atá in ann cásaoid i bhfad níos measa a tharraingt ar dhaoine ar nós scitsifréine chomh maith céanna.

  Tá cuid mhaith oibre déanta ag mo chomhghleacaí, an Teachta Aengus Ó Snodaigh, nuair a bhí sé mar urlabhraí dlí agus cirt Shinn Féin. Chuir sé picéad faoi leith ar na siopaí siabhráin seo, cuid acu in a dháilcheantar féin. Tharla sé seo mar gheall ar fhear óg a fuair bás go thragóideach tar éis muisriúin draíochta a thógáil. Bhí sé ráite ag an bpoínte sin go raibh na "legal highs" seo á fhorbairt ag ráta péire in aghaidh na míosa. Tá ár bpáirtí tar éis a léiriú go láidir le tamall anuas gur chóir Aire Stáit ar a laghad a ainmniú a bheadh cúram cúrsaí drugaí orthu. Tá imní orm mar gheall ar an mbealach atá an Stát ag dul i ngleic leis an dearcadh seo a bhaineann le cúrsaí drugaí. Is é an Rialtas seo an céad Rialtas le 21 bliain anuas nach bhfuil Aire faoi leith aige a bhfuil freagracht orthu ó thaobh drugaí de. Bheadh sé fíorthábhachtach dá gcuirfí Aire ins an ról seo agus bheadh an-fháilte againn roimhe. Táimid ag iarraidh ar an Aire agus ar an Taoiseach soiléiriú an bhfuil sé i gceist acu Aire Stáit a cheapadh le cúraimí faoi leith ó thaobh na ndrugaí seo - faoi scáth na Roinne Sláinte agus an Roinn Dlí agus Cirt agus Comhionnanas, is dócha - agus cén uair a tharlóidh sé seo. Tá socrú déanta ag mo chomhghleacaí, an Teachta Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin, leis an gComhchoiste um Shláinte agus Leanaí le breathnú ar an gceist seo maidir leis na legal highs agus na básanna atá tarlaithe de bharr daoine a bheith ag tógáil na substaintí áirithe seo, ní hamháin in Éirinn ach ar fud na hEorpa.

  Tá imní orm freisin maidir leis na contúirtí atá ann inniu, go bhfuil daoine atá os comhair na cúirte ar chúiseanna a bhaineann le bheith ag déileáil drugaí agus mar sin de agus go bhféadfaí na cúiseanna seo a chaitheamh amach as an gcúirt anois. An bhfuil an tAire cinnte go bhfuil na forálacha ins an mBille seo sách maith le cinntiú nach dtarlóidh rud den chineál seo arís? Cuireadh an díospóireacht seo ar bun go han-tobann ach caithfimid mar lucht reachtaíochta agus an Rialtas reatha féachaint ar an dochar a dhéanann drugaí ins an sochaí atá againn. Caithfimid déanamh cinnte go bhfuil reachtaíocht éifeachtach againn agus caithfimid a bheith i gcónaí coiscéim chun cinn ar an dream seo atá ag cur na substaintí marfacha seo ar aghaidh. Cruthaíonn legal highs contúirt an-mhór don sochaí agus tá sé feicthe againn go mbíonn substaintí nua sícighníomhacha cosúil leis seo ag teacht chun cinn gach seachtain. Caithfidh an reachtaíocht a bheith againn le bheith in ann déileáil leis seo agus déanamh cinnte nach dtiocfaidh fabhtanna ins an reachtaíocht agus go dtógfar cásanna den chineál ceann a tógadh inné chun cinn arís. Ní fadhb sna cathracha amháin í seo, is fadhb í ar fud na tíre agus sna ceantair tuaithe chomh maith céanna. Iarraim ar gach duine tacú leis an mBille agus déanamh cinnte go dtiocfaidh sé tríd chomh sciobtha agus is féidir.

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell Cuirim fáilte roimh an Aire. I want to congratulate the Minister for bringing in this legislation so fast to fill a loophole. In particular, I want to acknowledge the work that must have been done in his Department by civil servants burning the midnight oil to write this legislation. It raises some concerns for me that no doubt there are people employed all over the country now looking for loopholes in Government orders to get people out of the various troubles in which they might find themselves.

  I compliment the Minister and his colleague, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Deputy Reilly, who recently introduced plain packaging for cigarettes. Clearly, there is a determined effort to tackle the drugs problem. Like my colleague, Senator Wilson, I feel the time has come to do something more positive in the area of illegal drugs. I have been listening to task forces and all sorts of initiatives for as long as I can remember, yet the drug problem is increasing at a phenomenal rate. Perhaps it is time we had a Minister with specific responsibility for drug enforcement. I am sure the drug lords out there have no fear of any of us. They have plenty of money to be able to run to the courts. The more of us who speak in favour of what the Minister is doing, the better.

Senator Mary M. White: Information on Mary M. White Zoom on Mary M. White As my colleague has already said, Fianna Fáil will support the Bill. I thank the Minister and the officials in his Department for the information provided for this debate. This most reassuring aspect of his speech is the fact that the Department was aware of the situation and had prepared for this potential finding of the Court of Appeal. However, the whole issue of drugs and addiction in our society has not really hit the radar. We need a proper national conversation about where we should be going in the future. We should have a proper debate in this House. We all know that methadone is very often the only solution provided to heroin addicts. It is time for us to re-evaluate our drugs strategy and assess it to see what is working and what is not working.  Generally speaking, billions have been spent to prevent drug addiction and the drugs trade, but it is not working. We have to look at the whole drug situation and have a national conversation to see where we go in future.

Senator James Heffernan: Information on James Heffernan Zoom on James Heffernan I welcome the Minister to the House. It is good to see the Oireachtas and the Department were ready for this issue and got there to shut the stable doors before the horse has entirely bolted. I put it to the Minister, however, that the national drugs strategy is not working. There is widespread availability of all the substances we are seeking to outlaw. I am not from a great metropolis, but I have seen around my own area the availability of class A drugs in the form of MDMA, ecstasy, and cocaine - you name it - every other weekend. It is widespread in every other town and village across the country. It has got to a stage where lads are going out to take a line with friends in front of people. It is almost becoming acceptable and as if they were going out to smoke a cigarette. It is a massive problem and one with which we are failing to deal. If one walks around Dublin any day of the week, one will be met with zombies coming against one who are under the influence of an opiate of some type.

  I do not know that a total outlawing of every substance like this works. The issue has been investigated at the very highest levels. Former Presidents of the USA and leaders of South American nations have all fed into the notion that the war on drugs is being lost and cannot be won. What should we do in that case? Going down the road of complete criminalisation of everything has only played into the hands of the major criminal organisations which operate in our cities and towns. I know many young lads who are under a self-imposed exile in the Balearic Islands and England because of moneys owed to these criminal organisations. We do not have the necessary Garda resources to tackle them.

  I may be seen as coming out of left field with this one, but it may be that a piloted programme in a small area where the Government has total responsibility for issuing substances in a responsible manner to certain people is a useful idea. We all live in the real world. People are going to use recreational drugs anyway. The fact that they are illegal can make them more attractive. If there is something they are not supposed to do, people may get the idea that there might be something in doing it. The issue of limited and controlled legalisation according to a liberal interpretation has not been tried. It is mooted in a lot of different areas, including in certain places in South America where it is at a very advanced stage. While all these drugs remain illegal, the profits from their sale and supply go to criminal organisations and spawn every sort of social ill that one can imagine. It may be time for democratically elected governments to get control of that. I see how the issue of alcohol is dealt with in Nordic countries where the sale is conducted by state-owned off-licences, which system works very well. Perhaps, it is an idea that can be trashed out here.

  It must come from the Department of Health if a dedicated ministerial officeholder with full responsibility for drugs is to be appointed to take soundings from everywhere, including health professionals, drug users, those on the front line of our policing service who try to combat this multimillion euro business, and families affected by the misuse of drugs. Let us have that debate instead of sticking our heads in the sand and pretending drug misuse and the availability of illicit drugs is not an issue in our society. It certainly is.

Senator John Gilroy: Information on John Gilroy Zoom on John Gilroy I welcome the Minister to the Chamber. I am very glad to be able to stand here today to support the legislation. I am also glad to see the Department has pre-empted what might have come from yesterday's judgment and shown prescience in constructing the Bill at such short notice.

  While a debate on national drug policy and how we might confront the illicit drug trade is a very important one for us to have, today's Bill is very specific in its application with regard to repairing the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977. I got into considerable trouble in the Chamber last week when I suggested during a debate that Members might confine themselves to dealing with the legislation that was actually in front of them rather than to go off on tangents to talk about things that might not have been immediately relevant. As legislators, we are bound to do so. Mr. Justice Hogan's ruling yesterday points to the importance of legislators confining themselves to what is actually before them for discussion and focusing entirely on the legislative proposals with which they are dealing. It is also important to note that Mr. Justice Hogan points to the massive interconnectivity between different Acts, citing the 1939 Act, the case of the quaintly named Pigs Marketing Board and the application of the Cityview Press test to legislation. Who would have thought when Deputy Joan Collins was taking her challenge to the Supreme Court over the Government's authority to recapitalise the banks that her case would be cited to undermine the provisions of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977? However, we find exactly that as a consideration in Mr. Justice Hogan's ruling.

  I do not want to take up much of the Seanad's time today other than to say "Well done, Minister" on moving so promptly to tidy up and reconstruct this important legislative and public policy area.

Senator Michael Mullins: Information on Michael Mullins Zoom on Michael Mullins I add my support for the legislation and compliment the Minister and the Department for pre-empting the decision of the Court of Appeal and for having been so well prepared to close off those loopholes as quickly as possible. The Minister appreciates that the people involved in the illicit drug trade are very unscrupulous and the sooner the Bill can be enacted the better it will be. I applaud the Minister for the speed with which he has taken the matter in hand.   It is inevitable that there should be a broader discussion on the drugs issue as a result of this particular development. The Minister has many pressing issues on his agenda within the extensive portfolio he has taken on, but the impact of the drugs trade on families and communities, and on young people in particular, amounts to a major national crisis. I would very much welcome a comprehensive debate and discussion with the Minister in this House on how these issues can be tackled. Senator Heffernan put forward some very interesting ideas today which I, however, probably would not support. I am conscious of the devastation being wrought by drug abuse in small towns and villages the length and breadth of the country. We must redouble our efforts to ensure gardaí and customs staff are sufficiently resourced to put the people involved in the illicit drugs trade out of business. It is a major challenge. The Minister will be well aware of the number of hospital beds that are taken up and the proportion of accident and emergency unit time and resources given over to people presenting with drug overdoses or who have injured themselves as a result of the use of drugs, as well as those who have been injured by persons misusing drugs. This represents a major cost to the Exchequer.

  There has been some discussion as to whether there should be a dedicated Minister of State with responsibility for drugs. I was a member some years ago of a drugs task force at a time when we had a Minister of State with precisely that responsibility. I am not sure whether we made the amount of progress we would have liked to make. We must continue to give attention to the issue. I hope the Minister will be back in the near future for a wide-ranging discussion on these critical matters. For today, I am pleased this legislation has the support of Members of all parties and none. It will ensure that a significant loophole which might be exploited by unscrupulous operators is closed as a matter of urgency.

Minister for Health (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I thank Senators for their contributions to the debate and their support for this important legislation. On the broader issue of drugs policy, I would not like the impression to go out that this issue has in some way been deprioritised by the Government. That certainly is not the case. In 2015, for the first time in several years, there has been no further cut to the budgets of local drugs task forces and of the Oversight Forum on Drugs, OFD, which I chair. Even though we have had only a very modest increase in the budget for the Health Service Executive for this year, €2.1 million of that allocation is being given to increase spending on drug treatment and prevention. This means more detox beds at Merchant's Quay and Coolmine in 2015, more needle exchanges across the country and more investment in mental health support staff, which is particularly important. Also this year I will commence the naloxone demonstration project, making naloxone available to several hundred addicts, users, care workers, staff, family members and the Prison Service, if it agrees to be part of the project, to ensure overdoses can be treated quickly on the scene, which will result in a further reduction in drug-related deaths in 2015. The existing drugs strategy is due to expire in 2016 and work on the development of a new strategy will begin soon. While Garda operational issues are a matter for the Commissioner, I would welcome a broader debate in the Seanad which might encompass a review of the current strategy and a discussion on what should be included in the new one.

  Several Senators called for a shift to a health-focused and addiction-focused approach to drugs rather than concentrating primarily on the criminal justice and enforcement aspect. My own instincts are in the same direction, but it requires careful consideration and public buy-in.

  On the suggestion that there be a dedicated Minister of State with responsibility for drugs, that is a matter for the Taoiseach and Tánaiste. I always welcome extra help and have learned to delegate much better in this job than I did in the past. I certainly am not trying to hoard responsibilities, but I am currently able to manage the many responsibilities of the role with the assistance of the Minister of State, Deputy Kathleen Lynch. We have had dedicated Ministers of State in the past but I am not sure it always works well. By their very nature, Ministers of State do not have the type of clout senior Ministers do because they are not at the Cabinet table. However, if that approach is taken, the new role should be created as a dedicated position rather than being added on to an existing Ministry of State, it should be cross-departmental, because drugs issues span the areas of health, justice, education and youth affairs, and it should have a designated budget.

  I would like to correct a reference I made earlier. I can now confirm that magic mushrooms are not plants but fungi, and fungi are neither plants nor animals. I apologise to the mushroom-growing community for any offence that might have been caused.

  Finally, I take this opportunity to record my thanks to the civil servants in my Department, particularly Eugene Lennon and Siobhán Kennan, who did all the preparation for this emergency legislation. I was just briefed as things proceeded; they ensured the legislation was ready to go right away as soon as I got the text at 11 a.m. yesterday to say we had lost the case. I also pay tribute to the Attorney General's office and the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel for their assistance in recent weeks.

  Question put and declared carried.

Acting Chairman (Senator Terry Leyden): Information on Terry Leyden Zoom on Terry Leyden When is it proposed to take Committee Stage?

Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik Zoom on Ivana Bacik Now.

Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Bill 2015: Committee and Remaining Stages

  Sections 1 to 3, inclusive, agreed to.

  Schedules 1 and 2 agreed to.

  Title agreed to.

  Bill reported without amendment, received for final consideration and passed.

Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Bill 2015: Motion for Earlier Signature

Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik Zoom on Ivana Bacik I move:

That pursuant to subsection 2° of section 2 of Article 25 of the Constitution, Seanad Éireann concurs with the Government in a request to the President to sign the Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Bill 2015 on a date which is earlier than the fifth day after the date on which the Bill shall have been presented to him.

  Question put and agreed to.

  Sitting suspended at 1.20 p.m. and resumed at 1.30 p.m.

Straitéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge: Statements

Acting Chairman (Senator Cáit Keane): Information on Cáit Keane Zoom on Cáit Keane Cuirim fáilte roimh an Aire Stáit chuig an Seanad chun an díospóireacht thábhachtach seo a chur ar bun.

Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh Tá mé ag súil go mór le díospóireacht dhearfach mar gheall ar an nGaeilge. Mar Aire Stáit do ghnóthaí Gaeltachta, fáiltím roimh an deis seo labhairt sa Seanad faoi chur i bhfeidhm na Straitéise 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge agus nithe gaolmhara. Beidh mé ag labhairt ar an ábhar céanna níos déanaí inniu. Ar ndóigh, tá an Taoiseach agus ceannairí na bpáirtithe polaitiúla eile ag tabhairt dea-shampla dúinn uile ó thaobh úsáid na Gaeilge sna Tithe seo. Is cinnte gur féidir linn uile féachaint ar an dóigh gur féidir linn níos mó úsáide a bhaint as ár gcuid Gaeilge le linn ár gcuid oibre laethúil sa Seanad agus sa Dáil.

  Ba dheas liom labhairt i dtús báire faoi Sheachtain na Gaeilge, atá ar siúl san am i láthair. Is ócáid sean-bhunaithe í Seachtain na Gaeilge atá fíorthábhachtach ó thaobh na teanga de. Cé go dtugtar Seachtain na Gaeilge ar an bhféile mar gheall ar an mbrandáil a bhaineann leis, is dea-scéal atá ann go maireann sé níos faide ná seachtain. Tá 17 lá d’imeachtaí spraíúla á n-eagrú timpeall na tíre i mbliana, ina measc oícheanta amhránaíochta, filíochta, comhrá simplí, céilithe sráide, léamh litríochta agus go leor imeachtaí eile. Ar ndóigh, tá na himeachtaí seo feiliúnach do gach aoisghrúpa chun go mbeidh deis ag gach duine blas a fháil ar spiorad na féile. Tréaslaim leis na grúpaí deonacha agus pobail, comhairlí áitiúla, scoileanna, leabharlanna, agus gach eagraíocht idir ceol, spóirt, ealaíon agus cultúrtha, a eagraíonn imeachtaí ina gceantair féin do Sheachtain na Gaeilge.

  Ar ndóigh, an rud is fearr faoi Sheachtain na Gaeilge ná go dtugtar deis do dhaoine páirt a ghlacadh san fhéile ar shlite éagsúla - is cuma cén leibhéal cumais atá acu sa teanga - trí a bheith ag labhairt na teanga le cairde agus gaolta nó a bheith ag glacadh páirte sna himeachtaí. Airíonn daoine ar a gcompord agus iad ag glacadh páirte sna himeachtaí, scaoiltear le srian an chúthaileacht i labhairt na teanga agus ardaíonn leibhéal na féinmhuiníne. Bíonn gach aon dhuine bródúil agus spreagtha an Ghaeilge a labhairt an tseachtain seo. Tréaslaím le Seachtain na Gaeilge as a mana tarraingteach, "Croí na Teanga: It's You". Meabhraíonn sé seo dúinn go mbaineann féiniúlacht agus bród le labhairt ár dteanga.

  Is ábhar bróid dúinn ar fad an sár obair atá déanta ag Conradh na Gaeilge don teanga ó bunaíodh é don chéad uair sa bhliain 1893. Anuas tríd na blianta, is cuma cén dúshláin a caitheadh ina dtreo, tá lucht Chonradh na Gaeilge ag treabhadh leo ag cur na teanga chun cinn le fuinneamh agus díogras ar bhealaí éagsúla. Tá ardmholadh ag dul do na heagraíochtaí ar fad ar fud na tíre a dhéanann obair na gcapall chun go mbeidh an Ghaeilge tugtha ar aghaidh ó ghlúin go glúin. Tuigeann muid ar fad nach bhfuil seo éasca, ach tugann ócáidí mar seo misneach dúinn gan ár maidí a scaoileadh le sruth. Dúisíonn sé suim sa teanga agus sa chultúr anseo in Éirinn agus thar lear.

  Ó ceapadh mar Aire Stáit mé, tá mé ag spreagadh daoine chun teacht liom ar m’aistear leis an Ghaeilge a fhoghlaim arís. Luann muid go minic an grá atá againn don teanga. Má tá spéis ag daoine í a fhoghlaim, nó í a athfhoghlaim, tá an cuireadh tugtha do dhaoine chun tosú anois le linn Seachtain na Gaeilge. I ndiaidh tréimhse a chaitheamh i rith an tsamhraidh i nGleann Cholm Cille, i dTír Chonaill, chuir mé roinnt pointí agus noda úsáideacha le chéile chun cabhrú le daoine. Tá siad le fáil ar shuíomh idirlín na Roinne faoi mo bhlag. Is é atá ar intinn agam ná gur féidir le duine ar bith a bhfuil suim acu inár dteanga náisiúnta nádúrtha tabhairt faoin turas foghlama seo in éineacht liom. Tá súil agam go mbeidh daoine spreagtha dá bharr chun dul i ngleic leis an teanga.

  Is iad seo roinnt pointí a d'fhoghlaim mé ó thosaigh mé ar an turas foghlama seo. Tá an Ghaeilge thart orainn i ngach aon áit, mar shampla ar chomharthaí bóthair agus ar na meáin chumarsáide. Is é an rud is tábhachtaí domsa ná a bheith ag smaoineamh as Gaeilge. Bíonn eagla orainn uilig botúin a dhéanamh. Is cinnte go ndéanfaidh mé botúin, ach ní ligfidh mé don eagla atá orm botúin a dhéanamh mé a choinneáil ar ais. Tá a lán áiseanna cabhracha ar fáil ar an suíomh gréasáin. Bainigí úsáid astu, agus bainigí sult as an turas foghlama. Beidh mé libh an bealach ar fad. Beidh mé ar an mbealach ceart.

  Tá fíorshuim ag daoine ar fud na tíre san aistear seo, go háirithe daoine atá ag foghlaim na teanga iad féin. Fuair mé teachtaireacht le déanaí ó fhear san Astráil atá níos mó ná 80 bliain d’aois, agus a bhfuil an Ghaeilge á athfhoghlaim aige faoi láthair. Dúirt sé go bhfuil sé ag baint an-sult as. Níl sé riamh rómhall chun an Ghaeilge a fhoghlaim. Tá a fhios agam freisin go bhfuil ciorcail chomhrá ar siúl i mbailte agus ag pobail éagsúla ar fud na tíre agus ba mhaith liom na grúpaí seo a mholadh go mór don chur chuige oscailte agus cairdiúil atá acu i leith daoine a spreagadh chun an Ghaeilge a labhairt. Cuidíonn siad go mór leo siúd nach bhfuil mórán muiníne acu chun dul chun cainte le daoine eile as a gceantair féin. Is iad na daoine seo agus na grúpaí seo a bhí ar intinn agam nuair a thug mé faoin bhlag a scríobh. Tá súil agam go mbeidh sé ina chuidiú dóibh.

  Tá mé féin ag tnúth go mór le freastal ar roinnt ócáidí atá ag tarlú timpeall na tíre do Sheachtain na Gaeilge.  Bhí seans maith agam an tseachtain a chuaigh thart. Thug mé cuairt ar mheánscoil i Luimneach agus ar bhunscoil i dTiobraid Árann agus tá spreagadh mór ar siúl sna ceantair sin.

Níos tábhachtaí ná sin, tá mé ag tnúth go mór leis an deis cumarsáid i nGaeilge a dhéanamh le daoine nua. Feictear dom go dtugann Seachtain na Gaeilge misneach do dhaoine triail a bhaint as an teanga. Déarfainn le duine ar bith a bhfuil suim acu an Ghaeilge a fhoghlaim: "Lean ort, bain triail aisti mar níor chaill fear an mhisnigh riamh." Seans maith go bhfuil grúpa nó gréasán ar bun i do cheantar féin agus imeachtaí ar fáil cheana féin. Tá go leor cúnaimh, áiseanna agus tacaíocht amuigh ansin le cabhrú leat, mar shampla ranganna ar líne, mar aon le hirisí agus nuachtáin leictreonacha, foclóirí agus áiseanna eile. Go háirithe, is áis iontach iad seandaoine le Gaeilge sna ceantair.

Cuireann Lá Fhéile Pádraig agus Seachtain na Gaeilge deiseanna dochreidte ar fáil don tír seo an príomh ról a ghlacadh ar stáitse an domhain don tréimhse sin. An teachtaireacht a bheadh agam do dhaoine thar lear atá ag smaoineamh ar chuairt a thabhairt ar Éirinn ná: "Tar anall, tá muid oscailte do ghnó agus cuirfear fearadh na fáilte romhat." Ba mhaith liom mo bhuíochas agus mo chomhgairdeas a dhéanamh leis na daoine a d'obair ar an gclár Fulbright sa tír seo agus thar lear.

Tá an Ghaeilge ar cheann de na hacmhainní is nádúrtha agus is luachmhaire atá againn. Creideann an Rialtas go bhfuil tábhacht ag baint le pobal láidir labhartha Gaeilge agus Gaeltachta a chothú chun saibhreas oidhreachta na teanga a choinneáil beo agus a thabhairt slán don chéad ghlúin eile. Ó ceapadh mar Aire Stáit mé, is í an Straitéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge an chloch is mó ar mo phaidrín. Os rud é gur foilsíodh an straitéis i mí na Nollag 2010, beidh an straitéis cúig bliana ar an fhód ag deireadh na bliana seo. I bhfianaise a thábhachtaí is atá an straitéis mar chloch choirnéil don Ghaeilge, leanfaidh mé orm ag plé le mo chomhghleacaithe aireachta le cinntiú go dtugtar tosaíocht don straitéis sna Ranna ábhartha. Ina theannta sin, leanfaidh mo Roinn uirthi ag obair i gcomhpháirtíocht leis na Ranna sin chun na bearta éagsúla a bhaint amach thar shaolré na straitéise.

Mar is eol don Teach, is ar mo Roinnse atá an fhreagracht uileghabhálach an straitéis a chomhordú agus a chur i bhfeidhm i gcomhar le réimse mór páirtithe leasmhara éagsúla.Aithnítear sa straitéis féin go bhfuil gá le cur chuige céimneach chun bearta éagsúla na straitéise a chur i gcrích. I gcomhréir leis an gcur chuige seo, tá dul chun cinn á dhéanamh maidir le raon leathan gníomhaíochtaí faoin straitéis a chur i bhfeidhm de réir a chéile ar bhealach córasach laistigh de na hacmhainní teoranta atá ar fáil. Deirtear go dtógtar na caisleáin de réir a chéile agus tá sé i gceist againn go mbeidh dúshraith láidir faoin straitéis le gur féidir linn tógáil air de réir a chéile.

Léiríonn na tuarascálacha atá foilsithe ag na Ranna ábhartha, 12 acu san iomlán, go bhfuil cur chuige soiléir ann maidir le feidhmiú na straitéise a mbeidh tionchar dearfach aige ar an teanga san fhadtréimhse. Is údar sásaimh ar leith dom é go n-aithníonn na Ranna go bhfuil sé tábhachtach go mbeadh líon áirithe foirne atá in ann seirbhísí a chur ar fáil i nGaeilge i ngach aon Roinn agus go bhfuil gealltanas tugtha acu go n-aithneofar ina gcuid scéimeanna teanga amach anseo faoi Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla na poist nó na réimsí oibre lena mbaineann riachtanas inniúlachta sa Ghaeilge.

Don chéad uair riamh, cuireadh allúntas ar leith de €0.5 milliún ar fáil i mbuiséad na Roinne don bhliain 2014 le haghaidh bearta sonracha praiticiúla chun tacú le cur i bhfeidhm na straitéise. Baineadh leas as an allúntas sin anuraidh chun maoiniú a sholáthar do na heagraíochtaí pobalbhunaithe a roghnaigh Údarás na Gaeltachta chun tabhairt faoin phleanáil teanga sna limistéir pleanála teanga Ghaeltachta, agus chun gníomhaíochtaí úra a mhaoiniú chun tacú le cur i bhfeidhm na straitéise.

Is cúis áthais dom go bhfuil allúntas ar leith os cionn €500,000 curtha ar fáil arís i mbliana do mo Roinn chun tacú le cur i bhfeidhm na straitéise. Is léiriú follasach é an t-allúntas seo ar thiomantas an Rialtais i leith na Gaeilge. Cuirfidh an maoiniú seo ar chumas mo Roinne tabhairt faoi ghníomhaíochtaí éagsúla, lena n-áirítear gníomhaíochtaí a thacóidh leis an phróiseas pleanála teanga ar an dtalamh. Áirítear anseo tacaíocht d'eagraíochtaí pobail chun cabhrú leo tabhairt faoi phleananna teanga a ullmhú agus a fheidhmiú faoi Acht na Gaeltachta.

Ní miste dom a dheimhniú don Teach gur scríobh mé i mí na Samhna 2014 chuig na hAirí uile sa Rialtas ag lorg cruinnithe déthaobhacha leo le plé a dhéanamh ar chur i bhfeidhm na straitéiseagus Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla. Tá ag éirí go maith leis na cruinnithe déthaobhacha atá eagraithe go dtí seo. Is léir go bhfuil toil i measc na nAirí dul chun cinn a dhéanamh ar chur i bhfeidhm na straitéise. Cé go dtuigim go maith go bhfuil comhoibriú leanúnach ar siúl idir na Ranna i gcomhthéacs chur i bhfeidhm na straitéise, tá mé ag machnamh go gníomhach, ó ceapadh mar Aire Stáit mé i mí Iúil seo caite, ar conas a d'fhéadfadh muid feabhas breise a chur ar an obair thábhachtach seo. Is sa chomhthéacs seo atá na cruinnithe déthaobhacha á reáchtáil agam.

Le hAcht na Gaeltachta 2012, tugadh céim shuntasach chun dúshraith reachtúil chuí a bhunú faoina mbeifear in ann díriú ar bhealach níos córasaí agus níos éifeachtaí ar chur i bhfeidhm na straitéise as seo amach. Cuireann Acht na Gaeltachta an chreatlach reachtúil ar fáil chun tabhairt faoin phróiseas pleanála teanga ar bhonn comhordaithe. Faoin Acht seo, beidh an pobal, an earnáil dheonach, an earnáil phoiblí agus an earnáil phríobháideach ag obair as lámha a chéile chun tacú leis an Ghaeilge sna ceantair éagsúla atá agus a mbeidh aitheanta faoin Acht. Is trí phleananna teanga a ullmhú agus a fheidhmiú ag leibhéal an phobail a thabharfar tacaíocht don Ghaeilge mar theanga pobail agus teaghlaigh i gceantair Ghaeltachta agus i gceantair eile taobh amuigh den Ghaeltacht.

Tá áthas orm a rá go bhfuil dul chun cinn á dhéanamh faoin bpleanáil teanga faoi Acht na Gaeltachta. Tá tús curtha go hoifigiúil leis an bpróiseas pleanála teanga i 13 limistéir pleanála teanga Ghaeltachta. Tar éis don Roinn próiseas comhairliúcháin a reáchtáil, d’fhoilsigh mé liosta de na bailte is fóirsteanaí a d’fhéadfadh a bheith aitheanta mar bhailte seirbhíse Gaeltachta i mí na Nollag 2014. Tá iarrtha agam ar Fhoras na Gaeilge agus ar Údarás na Gaeltachta tús áite a thabhairt do chathair na Gaillimhe, Leitir Ceanainn agus Daingean Uí Chúis. Tá Foras na Gaeilge ag lorg léirithe spéise faoi láthair ó eagraíochtaí i gceantair a d’fhéadfadh a bheith aitheanta mar líonraí Gaeilge amach anseo.

Mar is eol don Teach, rinne mo Roinn athbhreithniú ar an Acht Teanga a foilsíodh i mí Aibreáin 2014 in éineacht le ceannteidil an Bhille Teanga. Is é príomhaidhm an Bhille ná an tAcht Teanga a leasú chun a chinntiú go leanfaidh sé de bheith ina thacaíocht do gach duine ar mian leis seirbhísí d’ardchaighdeán i nGaeilge a fháil ón Stát. Cuireadh na ceannteidil faoi bhráid an Chomhchoiste um Chomhshaol, Chultúr agus an Ghaeltacht, i gcomhréir le polasaí an Rialtais. Tá tuarascáil faoin mBille foilsithe anois ag an gcomhchoiste agus tá moltaí na tuarascála á mbreithniú agam faoi láthair. Tá an próiseas dréachtaithe don Bhille ag leanúint ar aghaidh freisin agus an Bille ar liosta A de chlár reachtaíochta an Rialtais. Ba mhaith liom mo bhuíochas a ghabháil le cathaoirleach an fhochoiste, an Seanadoir Labhrás Ó Murchú, as an sár obaor atá déanta agus ag a chomhghleacaithe ar an gcoiste. Bhí na moltaí iontach dearfach agus táthar á meas faoi láthair.

Rinneadh roinnt moltaí fiúntacha le linn an phróisis chomhairliúcháin phoiblí maidir le tionscnaimh pholasaí a meastar a chuirfeadh le stádas agus le húsáid na Gaeilge. Tá sé aontaithe ag an Rialtas go bhféachfaí leis na tionscnaimh pholasaí seo a thabhairt chun cinn chun tacú le cur i bhfeidhm an Acht Teanga. Tá plé ar siúl ag mo Roinn faoi láthair leis na páirtithe leasmhara maidir leis na tionscnaimh sin a fhorbairt ar an mbealach is éifeachtaí. I measc na dtionscnamh atá faoi chaibidil, tá: bearta réamhghníomhacha a thionscnamh chun an cohórt de státseirbhísigh atá in ann feidhmiú sa dá theanga oifigiúla a mhéadú thar thréimhse ama. Tá idir bhearta earcaíochta agus oiliúna san áireamh anseo; seirbhís chomhroinnte aistriúcháin a bhunú chun freastal ar riachtanais Ranna Rialtais; deasc lárnach um sheirbhís do chustaiméirí a bhunú chun soláthar feabhsaithe i seirbhísí Gaeilge a chinntiú don phobal; an Ghaeilge a bheith in úsáid go barréifeacht ar chomharthaí tráchta bóthair; agus an Ghaeilge a bheith in úsáid in ainmneacha comhlachtaí poiblí nua atá á mbunú.

Is aidhm lárnach pholasaí de chuid an Rialtais í úsáid na Gaeilge a threisiú agus tá sé ina ghné thábhachtach den pholasaí sin go mbeidh baill fhoirne atá inniúil sa Ghaeilge ar fáil sa Státchóras. Ar ndóigh, tá an cheist maidir le cumas comhlachtaí poiblí seirbhísí a sholáthar trí Ghaeilge agus ceist na hearcaíochta don Státchóras fite fuaite lena chéile.  Mar thoradh ar chinneadh a thóg an Rialtas i mí Dheireadh Fómhair 2013 chun cumas na Gaeilge sa Státseirbhís a threisiú, tá an Roinn Caiteachais Phoiblí agus Athchóirithe ag iarraidh ar Ranna agus ar oifigí Rialtais sainaithint a dhéanamh ar phoist agus ar réimsí oibre ina dteastaíonn oifigigh le Gaeilge mar chuid den phróiseas pleanála don fhórsa oibre. Táthar ag iarraidh ar Ranna aird ar leith a thabhairt ar phoist atá lonnaithe i gceantair Ghaeltachta nó a dhéanann freastal ar cheantair Ghaeltachta. Beidh an próiseas seo lárnach chun a chinntiú go ndéanfar foráil dhóthanach i gcomórtais earcaíochta amach anseo do cheapacháin i bpoist ina dteastaíonn oifigigh le Gaeilge. Ina theannta sin, sonrófar na poist sin ina dteastaíonn oifigigh le Gaeilge i scéimeanna teanga faoi Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla 2003 amach anseo. Anuas air sin, tá socruithe nua á gcur i bhfeidhm ag an tSeirbhís um Cheapacháin Phoiblí do chomórtais earcaíochta don Státseirbhís.

  Mar is eol don Teach, bhain an Ghaeilge aitheantas amach mar theanga oifigiúil agus oibre de chuid an Aontais Eorpaigh ar an 1 Eanáir 2007. Tiocfaidh deireadh leis an mhaolú atá i bhfeidhm don Ghaeilge ag deireadh 2016. Is maolú é seo d'institiúidí an Aontais Eorpaigh ón dualgas atá ann gach téacs dlíthiúil a aistriú go Gaeilge. Beidh cinneadh le tógáil faoi dheireadh na bliana 2015 faoi thodhchaí an mhaolaithe atá i bhfeidhm faoi láthair maidir le húsáid na Gaeilge in institiúidí an Aontais Eorpaigh. Sa chomhthéacs seo, tá plé ar bun ag mo roinn ealaíon, i gcomhar le Roinn an Taoisigh, le páirtithe leasmhara éagsúla, institiúidí an Aontais Eorpaigh san áireamh, ar mhaithe le moltaí sonracha a fhorbairt maidir leis an gcur chuige is fearr i dtaca leis an mhaolú. Beidh an cheist seo le breithniú ag an Rialtas in am trátha. Mar ghné lárnach de mholtaí maidir leis an mhaolú, tá an fáil a bheadh ar dhaoine leis na scileanna riachtanacha chun dul i mbun poist in institiúidí an AE, chomh maith le giniúint téarmaí i gcomhair a n-úsáide in aistriú cáipéisí oifigiúla. Agus é sin tugtha san áireamh, tá dhá thionscnamh maoinithe ag mo Roinn le roinnt blianta anuas, tionscnamh téarmaíochta agus tionscnamh ardscileanna Gaeilge.

  Ba mhaith liom mo bhuíochas a chur in iúl arís as an deis a fháil léargas a thabhairt don Seanad ar an méid atá ar siúl faoi láthair chun aidhmeanna na Straitéise 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge a bhaint amach. Is gnéithe fíorthábhachtacha dár n-oidhreacht chultúrtha iad an Ghaeilge agus an Ghaeltacht agus is onóir agus pribhléid domsa an deis a fháil mo chion féin a dhéanamh mar Aire Stáit sa Rialtas seo chun tacú le caomhnú, daingniú agus forbairt na hoidhreachta sin. Aithním agus tuigim go maith gur ag obair i gcomhar lena chéile is fearr a bhainfidh muid torthaí fónta amach chun an oidhreacht bheo seo a thabhairt ar aghaidh don chéad ghlúin eile.

  Cé go bhfuil an Rialtas tiomanta gach a dhéanamh laistigh dá chumhacht chun an Ghaeilge a chur chun cinn, tá todhchaí na teanga ag brath go príomha ar an bpobal. Tá a fhios againn go bhfuil tromlach an phobail dearfach i leith na teanga. Tá orainn timpeallacht a chothú ina mbraitheann daoine muiníneach a gcuid Gaeilge a úsáid, cuma cén leibhéal cumais atá acu inti. Tá sé riachtanach go leanfar ag baint leasa as an teanga mar theanga pobail agus teaghlaigh sa Ghaeltacht agus go gcuirfear an teanga chun cinn ar bhonn níos forleithne taobh amuigh den Ghaeltacht. Ag deireadh an lae, beatha teanga í a labhairt.

Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh: Information on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh Zoom on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh Tá mé an-bhuíoch den Seanadóir Ó Murchú as mé a scaoileadh roimhe ar an róta. Tá aiféala orm go gcaithfidh mé rith tar éis dom labhairt mar go bhfuil cruinniú eile ar siúl atá orm freastal air.

  Ba mhaith liom tréaslú leis an Aire Stáit ó thaobh an fheabhais atá tagtha ar a chuid Gaeilge agus as ucht labhairt as Gaeilge liom gach uair a chasaimid ar a chéile sna Tithe seo agus in aon áit eile. Tá sé ag tabhairt dea-shampla do chuile dhuine a chasann sé leo agus molaim é as sin. Tá mé cáinteach go leor ar an Rialtas seo ó thaobh an pholasaí i leith na Gaeilge. Tá difríocht idir obair an Aire Stáit go pearsanta agus polasaí Rialtais agus tá go leor ceisteanna agam fós. Is maith liom go bhfuil an tAire Stáit ag tógáil ar bord na moltaí a rinne an comhchoiste maidir le cúrsaí Gaeilge. Tá siad iontach dearfach ach tá siad dúshlánach. Beidh jab mór ag an Aire Stáit cur ina luí ar na Ranna agus ar a Státseirbhísigh iad a thógáil ar bord. Muna n-éiríonn leis, caillfidh sé misneach phobal na Gaeilge agus na Gaeltachta. Molaim go láidir dó iad a thógáil ar bord agus iad a chur san áireamh.

  Tá ceist mhór ann i láthair na huaire maidir le stádas na Gaeilge san Aontas Eorpach. Tá an t-am ag rith an-ghearr faoi láthair agus muna bhfuil an Rialtas sásta an maolú a chur ar ceal, ní mór don Aire Stáit insint dúinn cén fáth. Tá daoine cosúil leis an Dochtúir Pádraig B. Ó Laighin tar éis cur ina luí orainn cén fáth gur cheart deireadh a chur leis an mhaolú. Táthar ag úsáid cuid mhaith leithscéalta gan é a dhéanamh ach seo í an t-am agus ba cheart go bhfágfaidh an tAire Stáit marc, go mbeadh sé in ann a rá gurb eisean a rinne seo. Cheapfainn go mbeadh gach duine buíoch de as ucht sin. Tá mo chomhghleacaí Liadh Ní Riada ar stailc teanga san Eoraip faoi láthair ar an gceist seo agus molaim í as sin. Léiríonn an obair atá ar bun aici na deacrachtaí atá aici a cuid oibre a dhéanamh nuair nach bhfuil a cearta iomlána aici.

  Tá mé féin ag triail cearta teanga an tseachtain seo sna Tithe seo. Táim ag labhairt Gaeilge amháin sna Tithe agus sna coistí a bhfuil mé ag freastal orthu. Tá ag éirí liom go pointe áirithe ach ní fhéadfainn a rá go bhfuil gach rud ag tarlú go huathoibríoch, mar ba chóir dó tarlú agus ní fhéadfainn a rá go bhfuil gach duine eile sna Tithe ag glacadh páirte sa díospóireacht nuair a labhraím Gaeilge mar is beag duine a chuireann na cluasáin orthu seachas an dream a bhfuil Gaeilge acu. Níl mé ag cáineadh aon duine ach tá mé díreach ag insint na fírinne. Thug mé faoi deara freisin go raibh deacracht inné ann mar nach mbíonn cluasáin ag na Státseirbhísigh a bhíonn ar chúl an Aire. Mura bhfuil Gaeilge acu, ní thuigeann siad mar níl córas comhuaineach acu. Is pointe beag é sin gur chóir dúinn breathnú air.

  Tá deacracht ann maidir le bord an Údaráis mar gheall ar an easpa daonlathais. Ba cheart athbhreithniú a dhéanamh ar an gcinneadh a rinneadh maidir le bord an Údaráis agus dul ar ais go dtí toghcháin díreacha. Tá sé fós i bponc ó thaobh cúrsaí maoinithe de. Tá sé ar "life support", mar a déarfá. Tuigim gur thug an tAire Stáit €1 milliún breise dó i mbliana ach laghdaíodh an buiséad caipitil ó €26 milliún go €5 mhilliún agus tá sé ar ais go €6 mhilliún anois. Ní leor sin le haghaidh an obair atá le déanamh aige. Tá sé sin soiléir ach go háirithe maidir leis an obair phobail a theastaíonn léi an Straitéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge a chur i bhfeidhm, go háirithe tríd na comharchumainn, atá ag déanamh sároibre ar an talamh. Teastaíonn tuilleadh maoinithe uathu chun imeachtaí a chur ar siúl agus a obair a dhéanamh.

  Tá mé imníoch maidir le cúrsaí oideachais. Ní fheicim go bhfuil móran dul chun cinn á dhéanamh ar an taobh oideachais den straitéis. Níl a fhios agam cén chaoi gur féidir leis an Aire Stáit oibriú ar an Aire Oideachais agus Scileanna, an Teachta Jan O'Sullivan, maidir leis an gceist seo ach tá géarchéim ann maidir le hoiliúnt múinteoirí. Tá caighdeán na Gaeilge i measc múinteoirí uafásach lag agus tá sé ag lagú de réir a chéile. Bhí muid in ainm is curaclam nua Gaeilge a bheith againn ag an dara leibhéal agus ní fhaca muid fós é. Teastaíonn breis tacaíochta don Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta, atá ag déanamh sároibre chomh maith céanna.

  Luaigh an tAire Stáit féin líon na Státseirbhíseach agus an gá atá ann an méid daoine le Gaeilge sna Státseirbhísí a ardú. Níl an plean atá an Rialtas ag cur i bhfeidhm chun oibriú dar leis na saineolaithe agus go háirithe an t-iar-Choimisinéir Teanga, Seán Ó Cuirreáin. Dúirt sé gur cheap magaidh a bhí ann. D'fhéadfadh ról a bheith ag an gCoimisinéir Teanga maidir leis an straitéis freisin. Is é sin ceann de na moltaí a rinne an comhchoiste ó thaobh athbhreithniú a dhéanamh ar an straitéis, mar ní dócha go bhfuil aon sórt póilíneachta mar is ceart á dhéanamh ar céard atá á bhaint amach agus céard nach bhfuil á bhaint amach. Ba mhaith liomsa go mbeadh an ról sin ag an gCoimisinéir Teanga, a bheadh neamhspleách, féaráilte agus cothrom.

  Fadhb eile a thug muid faoi deara ná go bhfuil easpa acmhainní ag an gcomhchoiste sin maidir le coinneáil súil ar an straitéis. Níl dóthain fóirne ann le tuairisc mar is ceart a dhéanamh. Sin a dúradh linn ó thaobh dul chun cinn na straitéise. Theastódh taighdeoir faoi leith ón gcoiste. Smaoineamh a chuireadh chun cinn ná go mb'fhéidir gur fiú coiste buan don Ghaeilge a chur ar bun sa chéad Dáil eile agus sa chéad Rialtas eile, rud a thabharfadh stádas níos airde don teanga.

  Tá ag éirí go maith leis an scéim atá i bhfeidhm ó Thuaidh, Líofa, le Carál Ní Chuilín. Tá 11,000 cláraithe leis an scéim sin. Phlé muid an scéim sin leis an iar-Aire Stáit, an Teachta McGinley. D'fhiafraigh muid de cén fáth nach leanófaí é sin ar fud an oileáin mar go bhfuil ag éirí go maith leis. Ní raibh sé ina choinne ach ní dhearnadh aon rud faoi sin. Is moladh é sin gur fiú a thógáil san áireamh. Tá próiseas chomharliúcháin tosaithe maidir le hAcht na Gaeilge ó thuaidh. Bheadh sé an-dearfach dá ndéanfadh an Rialtas ráiteas dearfach go bhfuil sé ar son Acht Gaeilge ó Thuaidh. Tá sé mar chuid de na comhaontaithe atá ag seasamh amach de bharr an phróiseas síochána. Thuigfeadh an tAire Stáit é sin de bharr an róil a bhí aige sa choiste ar Chomhaontú Aoine an Chéasta.  Tá sé an-tábhachtach go dtiocfadh Westminster agus an Rialtas i mBaile Átha Cliath taobh thiar den éileamh sin, go mbeadh Acht na Gaeilge ann ó Thuaidh chomh maith céanna.

  Tá géarchéim sa Ghaeltacht againn ó thaobh líon na ngasúr atá ag labhairt na Gaeilge agus caighdeán na Gaeilge atá acu. Baineann sin leis an gcóras oideachais agus le cúrsaí maoinithe.

  Tá mé amhrasach maidir le Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla mar atá sé faoi láthair. Feictear dom nach bhfuil comhoibriú á fháil ó na Ranna éagsúla. Is léir ón méid scéimeanna atá á ndaingniú agus ón gcineál meoin atá ag na Ranna nuair a thugann an Coimisinéir Teanga treoir dóibh rud éigin a chur i bhfeidhm nach dtugann siad mórán airde air i ndáiríre píre agus tá amhras orm faoi sin. Tá amhras orm dá bhrí sin faoin bhealach gur tugadh an ról dóibh siúd na poist a aithint taobh istigh den Roinn a raibh gá le daoine le Gaeilge iontu. Sílim go raibh cuid de na hAirí a tháinig ar ais - muna bhfuil dul amú orm bhí an Roinn Fiontair, Trádála agus Fostaíochta ina measc - a dúirt nár theastaigh duine ar bith le Gaeilge sna róil tosaigh. Tá sin mícheart. Ba chóir, b'fhéidir leithéid an Choimisinéara Teanga a úsáid arís le na róil a aithint sna heagraíochtaí a theastaíonn daoine le Gaeilge iontu.

  Tá na pleananna teanga go breá ar pháipéar agus tá na bailte seirbhíse go maith ar pháipéar, ach táthar an-mhall á rolláil amach. Níl a fhios agam an cheist acmhainne í sin, nó céard atá i gceist? Níl na ceantair ar fad sa Ghaeltacht fós ligthe ar aghaidh agus níl na heagraíochtaí atá chun na pleananna a dhéanamh ainmnithe. Is gá sin a dhéanamh go tapaidh.

  Aontaím leis an Aire Stáit maidir leis an obair atá ar bun ag Fulbright agus an ICUF thar sáile. Tá an obair sin feicthe agam agus tá na micléinn a thagann go hÉirinn ag foghlaim na Gaeilge an-tábhachtach agus tá an dul chun cinn á dhéanamh acu.

  Ba chóir dúinn dul ar ais go dtí córas éigin ina mbeadh oiliúint ar fáil do státsheirbhísigh. Caithfidh mé ardmholadh a thabhairt do chuid mhaith den fhoireann anseo sna Tithe. Na daoine go bhfuil Gaeilge acu, labhraíonn siad í agus úsáideann an dream go bhfuil cúpla focal acu iad. Bhíodh córas ann ina bhíodar ábalta cúrsa Gaeilge a dhéanamh sa Ghaeltacht. Airíonn siad uatha é sin go mór agus sílim gur fiú breathnú ar sin arís. Tuigim freisin nach bhfuil cead acu suaitheantas a chaitheamh a léireodh go bhfuil Gaeilge acu. Is mór an trua í sin, mar dá mbeadh siad ábalta an fáinne nó rud éigin eile a chaitheamh a léiríonn go bhfuil Gaeilge acu, bheadh a fhios againn cé atá in ann Gaeilge a labhairt.

  De réir mar a thuigim, nuair a bunaíodh UTV Ireland, an stáisiún nua teilifíse, de réir an cheadúnais a tugadh dó, níl dualgas ar bith air clár ar bith as Gaeilge a chraoladh. Sílim gur botún é sin. Is ceist í gur gá a ardú leis an Aire Cumarsáide. Ní dóigh liom go bhfuil seo féaráilte ar na stáisiúin eile. Níl sé féaráilte go mbeadh orthu dualgas na Gaeilge a chomhlíonadh agus go mbeadh UTV Ireland in ann leanacht ar aghaidh gan an dualgas Gaeilge a chomhlíonadh. Nuair a d'ardaigh muid an cheist leo, níor thaithin sin leo.

  Bheadh muid criticiúil faoin obair atá déanta, ach táimid sásta deis a thabhairt don Aire Stáit dul chun cinn a dhéanamh. Sílim go bhfuil dul chun cinn á dhéanamh aige, ach tá muid fós criticiúil mar tá an t-am ag éirí gearr agus tá an obair ag teastáil go práinneach.

Senator Mary Moran: Information on Mary Moran Zoom on Mary Moran Tá sé deacair labhairt i ndiaidh an Seanadóir Ó Clochartaigh. Ba mhaith liom óráid bheag a dhéanamh trí Ghaeilge inniu le Seachtain na Gaeilge a cheiliúradh. Tá brón orm nach bhfuil an Ghaeilge go flúirseach ar chor ar bith, ach is iontach an deis í Seachtain na Gaeilge le daoine cosúil liomsa a spreagadh i dtreo na Gaeilge agus chun cúpla focal a úsáid le linn an lae, ar nós "Go raibh maith agat" a rá sa siopa agus "Dia dhuit" a rá le daoine anseo i dTeach Laighean.

  Ach ní dóigh liom gur leor seo. Ba chóir don Rialtas níos mó a dhéanamh do lucht labhartha na Gaeilge ar bhonn laethúil, seachas le haghaidh seachtain amháin i mí Márta. Ba mhaith liom an deis seo a thapú aird a tharraingt ar staid na Gaeilge sa Státseirbhís. Caithfimid dul i ngleic le seo.

  Tá brón orm nach bhfuil mé ábalta m'óráid ar fad a thabhairt as Gaeilge, but I have tried to pay my tribute through my small contribution for Seachtain na Gaeilge. I wish I could speak more Irish and wish we had more opportunities to do so. This morning, I visited a Gaelscoil on my way to the House and was bowled over, not only by the amount of Irish of those in the school but by the amount done to provide classes for parents of children. We could all learn from that example. In particular, we should follow this example in the context of non-nationals in our schools, so as to encourage them to speak Irish. Recently I attended a sixth class debate in Irish and two of the students involved were born outside of this country and could put me to shame with their Irish. We have scope to do a lot more to promote Irish. I welcome Seachtain na Gaeilge, but we have scope to do a lot more to promote Irish.

  I would like to pay tribute this week to the many translators operating behind the scenes who have a difficult job translating our sometimes limited Irish. I am also grateful for the opportunities the Houses of the Oireachtas provide to Members to improve their Irish. I wish there were more hours in the day for us to avail of that, but it is a wonderful facility. I also thank Gaeilgeoirí in the House, like Senators Ó Murchú and Ó Clochartaigh. We have many fluent Irish speakers here. Senator Keane is also a very good Irish speaker. It is wonderful to have that here. I thank Senator Ó Clochartaigh, Rónán Ó Domhnaill and Harry McGee for the opportunity they provided to Members of the Oireachtas last year by providing Irish conversation classes which were of great benefit to the effort to improve our Irish.

  As the Minister of State said, Seachtain na Gaeilge provides a fantastic opportunity to show our Irishness and culture through music, song and dance and is a wonderful opportunity to promote our country. However, we could do more to keep it going. I welcome the changes the Minister of State has pointed out. Some of them have come about unbeknown to us, like the change in our road signs. It is only when we meet people from another country that we realise we have more Irish around us now. Perhaps we suffer a little from a lack of confidence. I know that is the situation in my case. If I am on holidays or somewhere else, I have no bother conversing in Irish with members of my family, but I feel the lack of confidence when speaking Irish here. I thank the Oireachtas for the opportunities we get to improve our Irish and believe there is more we can do.

Senator Terry Brennan: Information on Terry Brennan Zoom on Terry Brennan Tá áthas an domhain orm fáilte a chur roimh an Aire Stáit go dtí an Teach an tseachtain seo, Seachtain na Gaeilge. Ní raibh an tAire Stáit anseo linn an bhliain seo caite, ach bhí sé anseo linn go minic ó ghlac sé a phost mar Aire Stáit sé mhí ó shin. Seo an chéad uair atá sé sa Seanad le haghaidh Sheachtain na Gaeilge agus cuirim fáilte roimhe.

  Tá dualgas agus freagracht ar gach duine, ar gach Éireannach, an Ghaeilge a chur chun cinn chomh minic agus is féidir. Labhair cúpla focal agus beidh an teanga slán. Sin adúirt Daithí Ó Sé sa pháipéar inniu. Tá an ceart aige. Caithfimid ár ndícheall a dhéanamh cúpla focal Gaeilge a labhairt anois agus arís, go mórmhór an tseachtain seo. Ní raibh an tAire Stáit anseo anuraidh le haghaidh Seachtain na Gaeilge agus ba mhaith liom scéal beag a insint maidir leis sin.

  Nuair a bhí mise ag freastal ar an scoil náisiúnta - cúpla bliain ó shin - bhí gach buachaill agus cailín sa scoil ábalta a dteanga féin a labhairt. Bhí an teanga go flúirseach acu. Bhí an-suim ag na múinteoirí sa teanga.  D'fhoghlaimíomar stair, tíreolas, matamaitic, reiligiún agus gach ábhar eile, ach amháin an Béarla, trí Ghaeilge ó rang a 2 go dtí rang a 6. Sin mar a bhí sé sna scoileanna náisiúnta a bhí in aice linn. Bhí cúig nó sé scoileanna náisiúnta i mo cheantar agus sin mar a bhí sé i ngach scoil. Ní sin mar atá sé anois, áfach. Caithfidh na múinteoirí sna scoileanna náisiúnta níos mó béime a chur ar na hainmfhocail, na haidiachtaí, na briathra, an aimsir chaite, an aimsir láithreach agus an modh coinníollach. Níl siadsan ag na páistí anois. Bím ag caint leo go minic. Níl siad acu. Níl fios agam cén fáth. Is páistí óga iad seo atá ag fágáil na scoileanna náisiúnta. Ní bhaineann sé seo leis na scoileanna náisiúnta go léir, ach cuid dóibh. Muna mbíonn buntús ag páistí óga agus iad ag fágáil na scoileanna náisiúnta, beidh siad an-lag sa Ghaeilge agus iad ag dul go dtí an mheánscoil. Bíonn siad an-lag agus go minic cailleann siad a dteanga féin. Ní bhíonn áthas orthu a dteanga féin a labhairt. Ní gach duine acu ach an chuid is mó dóibh. Tá brón orm é sin a rá sa tSeanad an tseachtain seo agus í Seachtain na Gaeilge.

  Tá Gaeilge an-mhaith ag an chuid is mó de na Seanadóirí sa Teach seo. Nílimid chomh maith leis an Seanadóir Labhrás Ó Murchú nó an Seanadóir Trevor Ó Clochartaigh, ach tá Gaeilge mhaith ag an chuid is mó againn. Níl mise in ann labhairt chomh maith leosan ach táim ag déanamh iarrachta agus sin mar a bheidh sé as seo amach. Déanfaidh mé mo dhícheall chomh minic ach is féidir liom sa Teach seo. Ba chóir dúinn bheith bródúil as ár dteanga agus as í a labhairt. Tá níos mó le déanamh againn go léir chun ár dteanga a chur chun cinn. Tá oibligeáid orainn go léir.

  Tá scéal beag eile agam. Bhí mé ag caint le cailín óg cúpla mí ó shin. Cailín álainn ab ea í. Tá sí i rang a sé sa scoil náisiúnta áitiúil. Dúirt mé léi nárbh as an tír seo í. Rugadh agus tógadh í san Úcráin. Tháinig a clann go dtí an tír seo deich mbliana ó shin. Bhí fios aici cad is brí leis an bhfáinne óir ar mo chóta. D'iarr mé uirthi na teangacha a bhfuil sí ábalta labhairt. Tá an Ucráinis, an Rúisis, Laitvis agus teangacha eile aici - ní chuimhním liom iad go léir. D'iarr mé uirthi cad a cheapann sí maidir leis an nGaeilge. Dúirt sí liom gurb í an duine is fearr sa scoil ag labhairt na Gaeilge. Is í an duine is fearr, idir bhuachaillí is chailíní, sa scoil agus níor tháinig sí go dtí an tír seo ach deich mbliana ó shin. Bhí áthas an domhain orm é sin a chloisteáil. There is a message in that. Déanaim comhghairdeas leis an scoil náisiúnta sin mar tá an-suim ag an chailín sin sa teanga.

  Tá níos mó le déanamh againn go léir. Tosaím liom féin agus gach aon Seanadóir eile chun ár dteanga féin a chur chun cinn. Le cúnamh Dé, déanfaimid ár ndícheall í a choiméad agus í a chur chun cinn.

Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú: Information on Labhrás Ó Murchú Zoom on Labhrás Ó Murchú I dtosach báire, tréaslaím leis an Seanadóir mar níl aon amhras faoi ach go léiríonn sé grá don Ghaeilge agus cumas sa Ghaeilge go rialta sa Teach seo. Tá sé ag feidhmiú ar an gcomhcoiste freisin agus é sin á dhéanamh aige go rialta agus go héifeachtach chomh maith. Tréaslaím leis an tAire Stáit agus cuirim fáilte roimhe. Tréaslaím leis de bharr na n-iarrachtaí agus an dul chun cinn atá déanta aige maidir le snas a chur ar a chuid Gaeilge.

  An rud atá déanta aige, bhí géar-ghá leis. Thug sé dóchas do dhaoine ar fud na tíre a bhí ar bheagán Gaeilge nó b'fhéidir a raibh easpa muiníne acu maidir le Gaeilge a úsáid. Cloisim é sin i ngach áit. Sheas an tAire Stáit an fód, rinne sé iarracht agus d'éirigh go hiontach leis. Bail ó Dhia air. Chruthaigh sé chomh maith go bhfuil freagraí ann maidir le stádas na Gaeilge i measc an phobail. Cruthaíonn Seachtain na Gaeilge díreach an rud céanna. Tá an Ghaeilge i lár an aonaigh don tseachtain agus don choicíos seo. Tá Gaeilge san aeir i rith Sheachtain na Gaeilge. Molaim lucht eagraithe na seachtaine seo agus molaim dar ndóigh, mar an gcéanna leis an Aire Stáit, Conradh na Gaeilge a sheas an fód i gcónaí ar son na Gaeilge.

  Is daoine óga i ndáiríre atá chun tosaigh maidir le feachtas na Gaeilge i láthair na huaire. Is chuimhin liom nuair nach raibh stádas oifigiúil ag an Ghaeilge san Eoraip. Ba dhaoine óga ag an am sin a chuaigh chun tosaigh. Caithfidh mé a rá chomh maith gur oibrigh Fine Gael agus Fianna Fáil le chéile sa Teach seo. Bhí Brian Hayes mar cheannaire ag an am. Labhraíomar lena chéile agus chuireamar comh-rún le chéile. Ritheadh an rún seo maidir le stádas na Gaeilge san Eoraip. Chuaigh sé ar aghaidh chun na Dála agus ritheadh é d'aonghuth arís. Sin díreach cad tá ag teastáil uainn - an obair á dhéanamh go traspháirtí. Ní le haon pháirtí an Ghaeilge. Is leis an bpobal agus leis an náisiún an Ghaeilge. Bhí sé sin sa straitéis 20 bliain na Gaeilge chomh maith. Ritheadh é d'aonghuth agus an reachtaíocht chomh maith. Sin rud stairiúil agus is rud nua a bhí ann. Is daoine óga go minic a chothaigh an t-atmaisféar nua sin. Tá sé thar a bheith tábhachtach an t-aontas sin a chosaint agus a chothú amach anseo.

  Chomh maith le sin, dar ndóigh, tuigimid go léir go bhfuil dea-thoil amuigh i measc an phobail. Léiríodh é sin san daonáireamh deireanach, an census deireanach, a bhí ann. D'fhreagair beagnach 2 milliún duine, 1.7 milliún, go raibh Gaeilge acu. Tá sé sin go hiontach ar fad. Déanadh suirbhé le déanaí. An chóir seirbhís iomlán dhátheangach a bheith ag gach saoránach? Beagnach 80% a d'aontaigh leis an rud sin. Sin na figiúir atá amuigh i measc an phobail. Tá dea-toil ann anois i gcomparáid leis na 60dí agus na 70dí, nuair a bhí díospóireachtaí nimhneacha ar siúl ag an am. Níor chabhraigh sé seo leis an nGaeilge in aon tslí. Is a mhalairt atá ann inniu. Is fíor-bheagán litreacha anois a bhíonn sna páipéir ag cáineadh na Gaeilge nó ag cáineadh thacaíocht don Ghaeilge. Is féidir linn a rá aon rud a bheidh déanta sa Teach seo nó sna comhlachtaí poiblí ar fad, beidh na gnáthdaoine taobh thiar den iarracht sin freisin.  Luaigh an tAire Stáit an tuarascáil a d'fhoilsigh an comhchoiste. Ba mhaith liom féachaint siar ar an gcur chuige a bhí againn nuair a bhí an tuarascáil sin á cur le chéile. D'éirigh linn finnéithe a bhreith isteach ó na heagrais agus ó ghníomhaireachtaí eile. Labhair siad linn go díreach mar gheall ar na rudaí a bhí ag teastáil, na buanna a bhí ann don Ghaeilge agus an dúshlán a bhí ann. Mar is eol do Sheanadóirí, d'éistíomar leis na rudaí a bhí ráite. Chuaigh sé i bhfeidhm go mór orm gur tháinig daoine óga isteach ó na heagrais. Bhí cur i láthair faiseanta acu. Bhí siad proifisiúnta, cúirtéiseach agus dea-bhéasach ag na cruinnithe, rud a bhí thar a bheith tábhachtach. Chuaigh siad i bhfeidhm ar na baill. Is iad na rudaí atá sa tuarascáil sin na tuairimí a nochtaigh na daoine a tháinig isteach. Dar ndóigh, tháinig oifigigh ón Roinn isteach mar fhinnéithe freisin. Tá na nithe sa tuarascáil na rudaí is bunúsaí atá ag teastáil le cinntiú go mbeidh an reachtaíocht éifeachtach agus láidir agus go mbeidh an straitéis lárnach i ngach rud a bheidh ag tarlú.

  Tugann na himeachtaí atá ar siúl le linn Sheachtain na Gaeilge sa chathair seo agus ar fud na tíre deis dúinn an cur chuige gur chóir a bheith ann a mheas. Ba cheart dúinn féachaint ar na samplaí sin, atá le tabhairt faoi deara ar an teilifís agus i ngach gnó atá thart timpeall orainn. Cabhróidh siad linn tuiscint conas is féidir an timpeallacht a Ghaelú gan an iomarca brú a chur ar aon duine. Má bhíonn an grá don Ghaeilge agus dár bhféiniúlacht náisiúnta taobh istigh den iarracht, ní thabharfaidh aon duine aon bhrú faoi deara ar chor ar bith. Tá sé sin cruthaithe anois ag Seachtain na Gaeilge. Ba chóir dúinn féachaint ar sin mar chur chuige ann féin.

  Is í an Ghaeltacht tobar na Gaeilge. Tá sé inspioráideach dóibh siúd atá seans acu freastal ar an nGaeltacht an Ghaeilge a chloisteáil mar ghnáththeanga labhartha. Má tá aon easpa muiníne orthu i dtaobh na Gaeilge sa ghnáthshaol, beidh siad sásta iarracht a dhéanamh nuair atá siad i gcomhthéacs nádúrtha na Gaeltachta. Cé go bhfuilimid thar a bheith sásta leis an dul chun cinn atá déanta, tá an-chuid ceachtanna le foghlaim. Thug an Seanadóir Ó Braonáin sampla amháin do dhuine a rinne iarracht speisialta. Is féidir liom sampla eile a thabhairt. Yuri is ainm don rúnaí atá ar chraobh Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann i Moscó. Tá an Ghaeilge ar a thoil aige. Tá an Ghaeilge níos fearr aige ná mar atá an Béarla. Cruthaíonn sé sin conas is féidir é seo a dhéanamh.

  Caithfimid bheith cúramach maidir le stádas na Gaeilge san Eoraip. Is é seo mo phointe deireanach. Bhí mé sa Bhruiséil coicís ó shin nuair a bhí duais saoránach na hEorpa á bronnadh ar an gcomhaltas. Bhí mé ag caint le roinnt mhaith daoine. Tá maolú ar an stádas sin. Tá seans iontach ag an Aire, ag an Rialtas agus ag gach éinne a chinntiú go daingean nach mbeidh aon chúlú ann ar chor ar bith maidir le stádas na Gaeilge.

Senator Jim D'Arcy: Information on Jim D'Arcy Zoom on Jim D'Arcy Is fíor é an ráiteas "tír gan teanga , tír gan dúchas", cibé duine a chum é. Seoladh an Straitéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge i mí na Nollag 2010. Leagann an straitéis amach cuid mhaith rudaí atá le déanamh maidir leis an nGaeilge. Mar a dúirt an Seanadóir Ó Murchú, caithfimid comhoibriú le chéile chun aidhmeanna na straitéise a chur i gcrích. Caithfimid líon na dteaghlach ar fud na tíre ina bhfuil an Ghaeilge mar theanga caidrimh a mhéadú. Ba chóir dúinn seans níos fearr a thabhairt do dhaoine a gcuid gnó a dhéanamh trí mheán na Gaeilge, go háirithe leis an Státsheirbhís. Nuair a bhí mé i dteagmháil le Roinn áirithe le déanaí, ba léir dom go bhfuil sé níos éasca anois a leithéid a dhéanamh. Ba cheart dúinn níos mó a dhéanamh ar an dóigh sin.

  Nuair a dúirt an Seanadóir Ó Murchú gurb "í an Ghaeltacht tobar na Gaeilge", smaoinigh mé gur bhuail mé le páiste cúpla lá ó shin nuair a bhí mé i scoil áirithe. Dúirt mé leis "Dia dhuit" agus dúirt sé "tobar" ar ais liom. Caithfimid cosc a chur ar Google. An dtuigeann na Seanadóirí?

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Rónán Mullen Zoom on Rónán Mullen Bhí sé ag iarraidh "well" a rá.

Senator Jim D'Arcy: Information on Jim D'Arcy Zoom on Jim D'Arcy B'shin a dúirt sé liom.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Rónán Mullen Zoom on Rónán Mullen Go bhfóire Dia orainn.

Senator Jim D'Arcy: Information on Jim D'Arcy Zoom on Jim D'Arcy Bhí sé ag foghlaim trí Google.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Rónán Mullen Zoom on Rónán Mullen Ní freagra ceart ar bheannacht an Seanadóra a bhí ann in aon chor.

Senator Jim D'Arcy: Information on Jim D'Arcy Zoom on Jim D'Arcy Ní freagra ceart a bhí ann.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Rónán Mullen Zoom on Rónán Mullen Níor fhiafraigh an Seanadóir dó cén chaoi a raibh sé.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Tá an t-am nach mór istigh. Tá dhá nóiméad fágtha ag an Seanadóir.

Senator Jim D'Arcy: Information on Jim D'Arcy Zoom on Jim D'Arcy Tá a lán le rá agam, ach ní bheidh mé in ann é go léir a rá. Caithfimid scéim nua a chur ar bun sa Ghaeltacht chun na páistí a mhealladh chun cainte nuair a bhíonn siad ag súgradh. Tá a fhios agam go bhfuil scéim áirithe ann, ach is léir don Aire Stáit agus dúinn go léir go bhfuil fadhb sa chomhthéacs seo.

  Beidh an Ghaeilge ar ais mar theanga caidrimh agus mar ghnáththeanga na tíre seo, b'fhéidir i gceann 300 bliain, 100 bliain nó 50 bliain. Tá a fhios agam go dtiocfaidh an lá nuair a bheidh an Ghaeilge ar ais anseo. Bhí mé ag iarraidh an téarma "tiocfaidh an lá" a shá isteach i mo ráiteas. Tiocfaidh an lá nuair a bheidh an Ghaeilge i mbarr a réime arís.

  Nuair a bhí mé amuigh leis na Coirdínigh cúpla mí ó shin, bhuail mé le cailín gleoite ar bhruach na Tígrise. D'fhiafraigh mé di ar cheap sí go mbeadh bean riamh mar Uachtarán na Tuirce agus d'fhreagair sí leis an bhfocal inshallah, a chiallaíonn "that will be the day" sa Choirdis. Is teanga Ind-Eorpach í an Ghaeilge. Tá an focal céanna le haghaidh "day" sa Choirdis is atá sa Ghaeilge. Ma tá na Coirdínigh ábalta a dteanga a choimeád agus a chothú, is féidir linn an Ghaeilge a chaomhnú freisin.

  Mar focal scoir, iarraim ar an Aire Stáit cúpla punt eile a fháil don iris An tUltach ó Fhoras na Gaeilge. Níl ach €10,000 acu faoi láthair. Thosaigh an tAthair Lorcán Ó Muireadhaigh an iris stairiúil seo sa bhliain 1923. Scríobh Seosamh Mac Grianna, Séamus Ó Grianna agus an t-uafás údar eile don chéad uair san fhoilseachán sin. Caithfimid é a choimeád. Dá mbeinn chun rud amháin a iarraidh ón Aire Stáit, bheadh sé chun An tUltach a chothú mar iris Ghaeilge sa tír seo.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Rónán Mullen Zoom on Rónán Mullen Cuirim fáilte roimh an Aire Stáit. Is maith an rud é go bhfuil an díospóireacht seo ar siúl inniu. Is dócha go dtuigeann gach duine anseo cás na Gaeilge.  Tá grá againn don Ghaeilge agus tá spéis faoi leith againn uilig anseo i dtodhchaí na Gaeilge mar theanga Eorpach agus mar theanga phobail. Dar ndóigh, táimid buartha, i ndáiríre, faoi cheist conas an Ghaeilge a chur chun cinn ar bhonn phoiblí. Tá sé tábhachtach é seo a dhéanamh i ngach réimse de shaol na tire seo. Toisc mé ag cur fúm ar imeall na Gaeltachta, sa Ghaillimh, ní bhíonn leisce orm an Ghaeilge a chur chun cinn pé deis a fhaighim. Is cuma ag plé cúrsaí réigiunda agus áitiúla ar RTE, Raidió na Gaeltachta, ar TG4 nó ag scríobh agus ag díospóireacht sna meáin Ghaeilge ar cheisteanna pobail, reachtaíochta, réigiúnacha nó ceisteanna a bhfuil tábhacht faoi leith leo ó thaobh thodhchaí na hÉireann ar bhonn náisiúnta agus go hidirnáisiúnta atáim. Táimid uilig anseo gafa leis an obair sin. Le déanaí bhí mé páirteach i ndíospóireacht thábhachtach ar an nuachtán is nua sa Ghaeilge - tuairisc.ie- maidir leis an mBille um Chaidrimh Teaghlaigh agus Leanaí. Is maith an nuachtán é tuairisc.ieagus tréaslaím le gach duine ann.

Tá an Ghaeilge chomh tábhachtach dúinn inniu agus a bhí sí riamh. Is comhartha láidir féinaitheantais í i sochaí Éireannach ilchultúrtha ina labhartar breis is 150 teanga ar bhonn laethúil. Nuair a chuirtear san áireamh go raibh ár dteanga i mbaol a báis ag deireadh na 19ú aois, is geall le míorúilt é go bhfuil an Ghaeilge chomh láidir is atá sí an lá atá inniu ann. Is sna Gaeltachtaí a chónaíonn formhór mór na gcainteoirí dúchais agus is iontu, sna Gaeltachtaí, a labhartar an Ghaeilge go fóill mar theanga phobail. Ábhar díomá i gcónaí é go bhfuil an Ghaeilge mar theanga labhartha agus na Gaeltachtaí ag creimeadh. Is ag creimeadh atá siad an t-am ar fad agus ar luas nach raibh súil againn leis.

Cé go luann daoine an dul chun cinn eacnamaíoch a rinneamar mar Éireannaigh le linn bhlianta an Tíogair Cheiltigh, ní luaitear chomh minic céanna an athbheochan a tharla do chultúr na hÉireann go hidirnáisiúnta agus an dul chun cinn a rinne an Ghaeilge go náisiúnta agus go hidirnáisiúnta leis. Tá idir chumais agus dhúshláin i gceist nuair a bhíonn muid ag plé cheist na Gaeilge agus todhchaí na Gaeilge. Feictear d'fhormhór na ndaoine go bhfuil an dul chun cinn a tharla imithe i léig go mór le blianta beaga anuas, agus ní bhaineann an fhadhb seo leis na ciorruithe siar móra a cuireadh i bhfeidhm le cúpla bliain anuas sa réimse cultúrtha amháin. Baineann sé le cúrsaí polasaí agus stádas na teanga. I mí an Mheithimh 2005, d'aontaigh Comhairle Airí na hEorpa go mbeadh an Ghaeilge, ón 1 Eanáir 2007 ar aghaidh, ar an 20ú teanga oifigiúil agus oibre san Aontas Eorpach.

Aithníodh an Ghaeilge mar theanga oifigiúil den Aontas Eorpach ar an 1 Eanáir 2007. Cuireadh maolú ar an stádas sin, ar dtús ar feadh tréimhse cúig bliana go dtí 2012 agus arís go dtí 1 Eanáir 2017, ionas nach gá ach líon an-bheag de na cáipéisí a aistrítear go gach teanga oifigiúla eile a aistriú go Gaeilge toisc easpa saineolaithe Gaeilge ag an am. Sin an fáth a tharla sé. Níl an easpa sin ann a thuilleadh. Anuas air sin, níl an deis chéanna ag ionadaithe na hÉireann an Ghaeilge a úsáid san Aontas Eorpach de dheasca easpa ateangairí. Is faoi Rialtas na hÉireann atá sé iarraidh go hoifigiúil ar an Aontas Eorpach gan an maolú ar stádas na Gaeilge a athnuachan agus is gá dóibh an cinneadh sin a ghlacadh go luath má tá an feachtas earcaíochta is gá idir seo agus 2017 le riaradh i gceart.

Tá daoine á bhfostú ag an Aontas Eorpach faoi láthair. Beidh níos mó ná 180 post breise le líonadh nuair a thagann deireadh leis an mhaolú. Ach cad chuige nach bhfuil an deis seo á thapú ag an Rialtas seo againne? Ní hamháin go mbeadh deiseanna fostaíochta nua do mhuintir na hÉireann, gan aon chostas ar an Rialtas, ach bheadh an Ghaeilge ar chomhchéim le gach ceann eile den 24 teanga oifigiúil san Aontas Eorpach, Máltais, Eastóinis agus Laitvis ina measc. Anuas ar sin, bheadh buntáiste fadtéarmach maidir le tionchar na hÉireann san Aontas Eorpach de réir mar a théann líon áirithe de na daoine seo ar aghaidh go poist a bhaineann le réimsí polasaí san Aontas Eorpach. Chuirfeadh sé le stádas na Gaeilge ín Éirinn agus leis an íomhá den teanga sa phobal, ach go háirithe i measc daoine óga in aois scoile agus ag an tríú leibhéil. Cad faoin éileamh a bhí ann, agus atá i gcónaí ann, ag muintir na Gaeltachta agus Gaeilgeoirí i gcoitinne go mbeadh gach seirbhís ar fáil do phobal na Gaeltachta trí Ghaeilge? Ní hamháin sin ach cad faoin éileamh atá ann le fada an lá go mbeadh ar a laghad 10% d'fhostaithe sa Státseirbhís in ann cumarsáide sásúil a dhéanamh leis an bpobal trí Ghaeilge?

Díol suntais go bhfuil cúrsaí Gaeilge ag feabhsú ó thuaidh san am céanna agus go bhfuileadar ag creimeadh agus ag dul in olcas ó dheas. Maíonn gach pobalbhreith a tiomsaíodh riamh go measann 90% de mhuintir na hÉireann tábhacht náisiúnta nó tábhacht phearsanta faoi leith a bheith leis an nGaeilge. Tá an Ghaeilge mar chuid d'oidhreacht náisiúnta agus domhanda atá thar a bheith tábhachtach. Agus deich mbliana na gCuimhneacán 1916 á gceiliúradh ag an Stát seo, tá sé thar am go dtugadh muid gach tacaíocht gur féidir linn ar bhonn sóisialta, teangeolaíoch agus eacnamaíochta don teanga dhúchais is sine san Eoraip.

Senator John Kelly: Information on John Kelly Zoom on John Kelly I welcome the Minister of State to the House. It is probably one of my biggest regrets that I did not put more into the learning of the Irish language. I envy all of the contributors here who spoke so eloquently. However, I found that the Irish language in school for the likes of myself was a very difficult language with which to get to grips. When I married my wife from Gaoth Dobhair in Donegal, who happened to be a fluent Irish speaker, we had a pact that I would teach her English and she would teach me Irish. I taught her English but that is as far as it went. Thankfully, because she is a fluent Irish speaker, she has instilled the Irish language in my three children and they have a very good command of the Irish language. This is to be welcomed. It seems to be easy for someone who comes from a Gaeltacht area to continue the tradition of speaking the Irish language. However, outside of those areas, it can be quite difficult.

  Senator Moran mentioned Irish culture. Irish culture can be defined as including the spoken language, song and dance. I have a son who does Irish dancing. He is four times world champion. We will travel to Montreal at the end of this month for the world championships again. I mentioned this to another Minister in the past. The point I wish to make is that it is very expensive to continue to demonstrate the Irish culture because of the cost factor involved. Whereas I can just about afford to bring my family out to the likes of Montreal, there are many families who on this occasion will not send their children to Montreal because of the cost. I encourage the Minister of State to look at the possibility of some kind of funding for dance schools. These schools are doing so much to promote the Irish language and Irish culture and they should get some recognition. The Minister of State might consider this matter further down the road.

Senator Cáit Keane: Information on Cáit Keane Zoom on Cáit Keane Labhróidh mé go tapaidh mar tá an t-am beagnach imithe agus mar a deirtear, tír gan teanga, tír gan anam, nó tír gan dúchas mar a dúirt Senator D'Arcy. Táim cinnte go bhfuil an tAire Stáit ag tabhairt tosaíochta don Ghaeilge agus aird mór á tabhairt di agus í á chur chun cinn. Déanaim comhghairdeas leis an Aire Stáit as ucht na ranganna agus an iarracht atá déanta aige. Tá flúirseach Gaeilge aige anois. Is teanga oifigiúil í an Ghaeilge agus is í an teanga is aosta san Eoraip. Ba cheart gach uile dhuine againn í a chosaint agus í a chur chun cinn. Tá an teanga mar theanga oibre san EU ó 2007. Chuala mé cúpla focal ann. Caithfimid ár ndícheall a dhéanamh chun í a choiméad ann mar theanga oibre.

  Tá a lán déanta againn ó thaobh an mhodh oideachais de. Tá 40% de na marcanna le fáil sa scrúdú cainte. Caithfimid súil a choiméad ar sin freisin. Fágann a lán daltaí na scoile le blas uafáscach, a bad taste, ina mbéil acu. Mar a dúirt an Seanadóir Labhrás Ó Murchú, caithfimid an grá don teanga a mhúscailt. We cannot be compelled to repel. Ba cheart dúinn smaoineamh ar sin - daltaí a spreagadh gan phíonós.

  Táim ag glacadh páirte i ndíospóireachtaí scoile an tseachtain seo. Ní féidir labhairt faoin teanga gan labhairt faoi na Gaelscoileanna. Tá sé ráite san EU go bhfuil an an-chuid teanga i gcontúirt nó extinction. Caithfimid ár ndícheall a dhéanamh ionas nach mbeidh an teanga Gaeilge ina measc. Molaim tacaíocht a thabhairt do na Gaeltachtaí agus an obair atá á dhéanamh i leith mná tí. Ó thaobh the economics de, bíonn €50 milliún ar fáil sa Ghaeltacht gach bliain. Baineann se seo leis na mná tí. Tugann sé seo seans do dhaltaí taobh amuigh den Ghaeltacht dul ann.

  Ba cheart dúinn aitheantas a thabhairt do Chomhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann agus an obair atá á déanamh ansin ó thaobh an cheoil agus an damhsa de. Déanaim comhghairdeas leis an Seanadóir Ó Murchú maidir le sin.  B'fhéidir go mbeidh ranganna damhsa anseo againn sa tSeanad nó san Oireachtas don fhoireann agus do na Seanadóirí. Aithním na comhairlí contae agus an obair atá á déanamh acu chun an teanga a chur chun cinn freisin.

  Tá trácht sa straitéis ar new urban Gaeltacht areas or networks. Tá níos mó Gaelscoileanna bunaithe i mBaile Átha Cliath, i Clondalkin agus Tallaght, ná in aon áit eile sa tír. Dúirt mé é seo anuraidh freisin. B'fhéidir the Minister would look at Tallaght and Clondalkin mar pilot projects ó thaobh na straitéise de agus a new urban Gaeltacht area no network a bhunú ansin chun an teanga a chur chun cinn. Tá teach breá againn i dTeach Mealóg atá folamh anois. B'fhéidir go mbreathnódh an tAire Stáit ar sin agus ar Áras Chrónáin freisin agus áit dóibh sa language plan.

  Dúirt an Seanadóir Brennan an-chuid maidir le cailín álainn. Tá amhrán breá ann, "An Cailín Álainn". Tá teanga álainn againn agus ba cheart dúinn í a choiméad.

Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh Bhí mórán moltaí ann ansin ó gach aon Seanadóir. Gabhaim míle buíochas as ucht na teachtaireachtaí dearfa a bhí ag na Seanadóirí inniu. Tá sé soiléir go bhfuil caidrimh mhaith idir na daoine anseo sa Teach seo. Is é sin an bealach ceart ó thaobh an teanga Gaeilge de. Tá taithí mór agam ar obair le daoine sa Teach seo. D'oibrigh mé leis an Seanadóir Labhrás Ó Murchú agus daoine éagsúla eile sa Teach seo in 2003 ar son Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla agus chomh maith le sin, i 2007, ar son an aitheantais a tugadh don Ghaeilge san Eoraip. Sin an bealach ceart - na daoine ag obair lena chéile.

  Tá an ceart ag na Seanadóirí agus go háirithe Seanadóir Brennan. Tá dualgas ar gach duine againn sa Teach seo, sa Dáil agus sa tír seo ó thaobh na teanga Gaeilge de agus í á cur chun cinn. Táim ag súil go mór leis an am a bheidh an teanga Gaeilge an teanga ba nadúrtha dúinn agus nach mbeimid ag iarraidh deiseanna ar nós Sheachtaine na Gaeilge chun í a labhairt. Táim ag súl go mór le sin. Táim cinnte gurb é an rud is tábhachtaí maidir leis an teanga Gaeilge ná í a choiméad, a chosaint, a dhaingniú agus a chur chun cinn.

  Is léir go bhfuil athbheochan ann maidir leis an teanga Gaeilge, an chultúr, an drámaíocht agus an stair. Tabharfaidh mé tacaíocht dóibh siúd a bhfuil ag obair go crua ar son na teanga. Labhair an Seanadóir Ó Murchú faoin ról atá ag Conradh na Gaeilge agus Gael Linn. Luadh Gael Uladh chomh maith. Labhair an Seanadóir D'Arcy faoi An tUltach. Tá mórán dreamanna ann ag obair go crua agus go dian dícheallach ar son na teanga. Tá mise leo. Aontaím go bhfuil ról tábhachtach acu chun an teanga a bhogadh chun tosaigh.

  Chuala mé an teachtaireacht faoin mhaolú. Níl an cinneadh déanta fós. Tá an Rialtas freagrach as an gcinneadh agus tá sé le déanamh ag deireadh na bliana seo.

  Bhí na trí fhocal céanna a bhí agamsa sé nó seacht mí ó shin ag an Seanadóir Moran. Is iad sin, "Tá brón orm." Tá brón orm nach bhfuil mé ábalta an Ghaeilge a labhairt. Sin na trí fhocal is diúltaí atá ann. D'éirigh liomsa. Tuigim an deacracht atá ann sa tír seo do dhaoine nach bhfuil ábalta an Ghaeilge a labhairt. Tá mise leosan freisin. Níl le déanamh ach cúpla focal a úsáid gach lá, mar a dúirt an Seandóir Brennan, fiú "Gaidé mar atá tú?" nó "Conas atá sibh?" nó "Cén chaoi a bhfuil sibh?" Níl gá ach cúpla focal gach aon lá. Gabhaim mo bhuíochas agus déanaim mo chomhghairdeas leo siúd atá ag obair i dTeach Laighean, idir na ushers agus na hoifigigh a bhíonn ag an gcruinniú "cupán tae agus cúpla focal" gach aon Céadaoin anseo. Is le cúpla focal gach lá an bealach ceart chun é seo a dhéanamh.

  Tá an ceart ag Seanadóir Ó Murchú go bhfuil ról mór ag na daoine sna ceantair Ghaeltachta. Is iad na ceantair Ghaeltachta tobar na teanga Gaeilge agus na daoine le Gaeilge. Táim i mo chónaí béal dorais leis an Ghaeltacht agus bíonn an deis agam, gach aon lá a théim go dtí an siopa áitiúil nó a chasaim le daoine as mo cheantar, casadh le daoine ó cheantar na Gaeltachta. Anois tá siad ag labhairt Gaeilge liom. Sin an bealach is dearfaí agus sin an fáth go bhfuilimse ábalta Gaeilge a labhairt. Chuala mé daoine eile ag labhairt Gaeilge.

  Iarraim ar na daoine le Gaeilge, go háirithe seandaoine a bhfuil focail deasa acu, í a roinnt. Mar shampla, labhair an Seanadóir Brennan faoi Ghaoth Dobhair i dTír Chonaill, ach i nGleann Cholm Cille, Fanad, Conamara, Ciarraí agus Gaeltacht Mhúscraí, tá seandaoine le nathanna éagsúla acu. Deirimid "Fáilte romhat" ach ní usáidtear "Fáilte romhat" i dTír Chonaill. Deirtear "Go ndéana a mhaith duit". Úsáidtear inniu na focail, "Tá mé ag déanmh mo dhícheall". I dTír Chonaill, deirtear "Tá mé ag déanamh mo sheacht ndícheall" meaning "I am doing my best seven times over". Is é seo an Ghaeilge atá fós ag seandaoine. Tá ról mór ag na daoine le Gaeilge í a labhairt, fiú muna bhfuil ach cúpla focal acu.

  Mar fhocal scoir, tá tuairisc.ie ag déanamh jab fíor-mhaith agus mar an gcéanna le dreamanna eile. Bhí an ceart ag an Seanadóir Keane maidir leis na ceantair atá taobh amuigh den Ghaeltacht, go háirithe iadsan sa Tuaisceart, Clondalkin agus a leithéid. Tá Foras na Gaeilge freagrach as na líonraí Gaeilge. B'fhéidir go ndéanfar cinneadh amach anseo. Níl fios agam cé hiad na ceantair atá i gceist ag an bhForas maidir le seo ach chuala mé go bhfuil sár-obair ar siúl i gceantair éagsúla ar nós Clondalkin. Cífimid cad a tharlóidh amach anseo.

Redress for Women Resident in Certain Institutions Bill 2014: Report and Final Stages

Acting Chairman (Senator Jillian van Turnhout): Information on Jillian van Turnhout Zoom on Jillian van Turnhout Amendments Nos. 1 and 3 are related and may be discussed together by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh: Information on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh Zoom on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh I move amendment No. 1:

In page 3, to delete line 26 and substitute the following:
“(a) the provision of health services without charge as outlined in section 2 of the Health (Amendment) Act 1996,”.

Cuirim fáilte roimh an Aire. Mar gheall ar Sheachtain na Gaeilge, tá mé ag labhairt i nGaeilge go hiomlán sna Tithe an tseachtain seo. Is í sin an chúis go bhfuil mé ag labhairt Gaeilge faoi láthair. Ní haon rud pearsanta é. Tá sé seo á dhéanamh agam le gach Aire.

  Bhí díospóireacht an-fhada againn leis an Aire Stáit, an Teachta Ó Ríordáin, faoin mBille seo agus faoi na leasuithe seo. Shocraigh muid ar na leasuithe a tharraingt siar. Dúirt an tAire Stáit linn go bhfuil gach rud a bhí i dtuairisc an Bhreitheamh Quirke tógtha san áireamh sa reachtaíocht seo agus curtha ar fáil do na mná. Bhí easaontas faoi sin, áfach. Dúirt muid go raibh Justice for Magdelenes Research tar éis a rá linn nár aontaigh siad leis an tuairim sin. Rinneadh socrú le Céim an Choiste agus Céim na Tuarascála a scarúint le go mbeimid ábalta soiléiriú a fháil faoin ábhar seo. Tá sé an-soiléir ó na freagraí atá faighte ar ais againn ó shin agus na nótaí atá faighte againn ó lucht Justice for Magdelenes Research nach n-aontaíonn siad leis an gcur chuige atá ag an Aire agus an Aire Stáit agus an moladh atá curtha chun cinn acu. Téann siad isteach go mion sna pointí áirithe a bhaineann leis sin. Tá sé ráite acu nach ionann alt 2(1)(b) den Bhille seo, ina bhfuil drugaí, comhar leighis agus rudaí éagsúla luaite, agus Acht 1996, ina bhfuil drugaí, comhar leighis, giuirléidí sláinte agus "surgical appliances" luaite. Déanann an Bille atá os ár gcomhair tagairt do dhrugaí agus comhar leighis. B'fhéidir go mbeadh sé níos éasca dá léifinn i mBéarla é. The Bill refers to "drugs, medicines and medical and surgical appliances for the time being on the Reimbursement List within the meaning of the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Act 2013". Tá sé ráite ag muintir Justice for Magdelenes Research go bhfuil sé seo déanta ionas go gcuirfidh Bille 2014 teorainn ar an gcomhar leighis gur féidir a fháil faoin liosta. Luaigh siad na háiteanna sa tuairisc atá foilsithe ag an mBreitheamh Quirke ina bhfuil sé ráite go gcaithfear na rudaí áirithe seo a chur ar fáil. Le scéal fada a dhéanamh gearr, ní thagann siad leis an méid a bhí á rá ag an Aire Stáit, an Teachta Ó Ríordáin, agus ní thagann said leis an méid atá á rá ag an Aire. Tá siad tar éis iarraidh orainn an leasú seo a chur chun cinn arís ionas go mbeidh an fhoráil seo tógtha san áireamh sa reachtaíocht nua.

Senator Kathryn Reilly: Information on Kathryn Reilly Zoom on Kathryn Reilly I second the amendment.

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald I repeat what the Minister of State, Deputy Ó Ríordáin, stated on Committee Stage, namely, that the Government is fully committed to implementing all of the recommendations made by Mr. Justice Quirke and will be providing all of the health services recommended in his report. As I indicated in the Dáil and as the Minister of State pointed out here, the women who were in Magdalen laundries will be able to avail of the services of their general practitioner, GP, of choice, whether he or she is a participant in the general medical card scheme or a fully private GP. There was uncertainty about this issue and on Committee Stage in the Dáil I introduced an amendment to remove this.

  I cannot accept the amendments tabled by Senator Ó Clochartaigh and I will now outline why this is the case. The provisions of the Health (Amendment) Act 1996 are duplicated in section 2 of the Bill. However, there are some additions in the Bill which are not contained in the 1996 Act. Contrary to what the Senator has been told, we are including everything contained in the latter. If, however, we were to accept the amendments, we would exclude the women from the possibility of availing of physiotherapy and chiropody services because these are not covered in the 1996 Act. As a result, there would be a reduction in the number of services of which they will be able to avail. The amendments would effectively prevent a GP from referring a patient for chiropody or physiotherapy services.

  Moreover, the counselling services for which provision is made in the 1996 Act are specifically described as services in respect of hepatitis C. Since none of the women have hepatitis C, amendment No. 3 would limit the counselling services to such a degree that the type of counselling on offer would not meet the expectations of the women. I know this from discussing the matter with the Magdalen women here. In addition, I have visited some of the women who live in the UK and I am aware of the type of counselling services available to them there. There is also the fact that Sally Mulready, one of the leaders of the group, has specifically identified what the women need. To limit the counselling services available to the type for which provision is made under the 1996 Act would be of no benefit to the women whatsoever.

  The effect of the amendments would be to reduce the number of services available, to ensure that the level of service available to the women would be more restricted than is currently the case and to cause confusion. In such circumstances, I cannot accept the amendments.

Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh: Information on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh Zoom on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh Tá mé buíoch den Aire as an bhfreagra sin. Ní thuigim cén fáth nach raibh an rud seo réitithe idir an Rialtas agus na híospartaigh - na mná a bhí sna hionaid Mhaigdiléana. Feictear dom ón gcur chuige a bhí ag an Aire Stáit, an Teachta Ó Ríordáin, an lá faoi dheireadh agus an cur chuige atá ag an Aire inniu go bhfuil siad cineál olc, cantalach nó mífhoighneach leis an eagraíocht seo mar gheall ar na ceisteanna atá siad ag ardú. Tá iontas orm nár shuigh siad síos leo chun na rudaí atá i gceist a shoiléiriú. Is léir dom go bhfuil an grúpa seo tar éis cuid mhaith staidéir a dhéanamh ar an gceist. Tá sé ráite acu nach dtagann an méid atá luaite sa Bhille seo le Appendix G de thuairisc Quirke ach an oiread. Dá bhrí sin, níl siad sásta leis na moltaí atá á gcur chun cinn sa reachtaíocht. Tá sé de dhualgas orm, mar ionadaí ar a son, an leasú seo a bhrú chun cinn ag an bpointe seo.

Deputy Frances Fitzgerald: Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald I appreciate why the Senator put forward the amendments and I am not for one moment questioning his motives in that regard. However, I have been at pains to point out what is contained in the Bill. Obviously, the Government wants to give the women the services they were expecting. There has been a partial misunderstanding in the context of the discussions that have taken place. I accept that Mr. Justice Quirke's report refers to "other services". However, the Government is certainly making provision for everything his recommendations suggest it should provide. We examined the Senator's amendments and I can honestly say that if we were to accept the first of them, the number of services on offer would be reduced rather than increased. I accept that the advocacy group may have suggested amendment No. 1 to the Senator but I am obliged to inform him as to what is the reality. It is my clear belief that if we accepted the amendment, then there would be fewer services available to the women. As already stated, the Bill makes provision in respect of physiotherapy and chiropody but the 1996 Act does not do so. I also pointed out earlier that they type of counselling available under the Bill will, potentially, be both broader and different in nature. This is because the counselling to which the 1996 Act refers relates to hepatitis C.

  That is my understanding of what is proposed in the two amendments. If that is what the advocacy group is recommending, I am obliged to point out that it would result in the availability of fewer services for the women. This is our genuine position in respect of this matter. I am totally motivated to meet the recommendations made by Mr. Justice Quirke and that has been the approach of the Government all along. There has been some discussion with regard to a number of actions in respect of various therapies which I previously stated that we could not take but which the advocacy group wanted us to take. The Department of Health will simply not agree to what is proposed in respect of the therapies in question. In that context, it is understandable that alternative therapies can be available via the medical card. system. I have already placed on record the fact that this is one matter in respect of which I have not been able to accede to the requests of the advocacy group. I am sure the Minister of State, Deputy Ó Ríordáin, also outlined his views on the matter when he came before the House.

  Some discussion took place in respect of advocacy and I indicated that I would develop a support system for the women but that I would do so outside of legislation. It must be remembered that the general scheme is also outside of legislation. It is not legislatively-based but is, rather, an administrative scheme and it has been accepted by the women. To date, approximately €18.5 million has been paid out under the scheme. There is a unit in my Department and the staff who work in it - approximately eight - are in almost daily contact with the women in respect of any queries they may wish to make.  They have been dealing primarily with the funding scheme, but any other queries which have come up have been dealt with. When I met the advocacy group it was at pains to point out how supportive the women had found the unit in the Department. We are not impatient with the comments. However, I want to be clear that we are providing for everything that Mr. Justice Quirke recommended.

Amendment put:

The Seanad divided: Tá, 17; Níl, 22.

Níl
Information on Sean D. Barrett   Zoom on Sean D. Barrett   Barrett, Sean D. Information on Ivana Bacik   Zoom on Ivana Bacik   Bacik, Ivana.
Information on Thomas Byrne   Zoom on Thomas Byrne   Byrne, Thomas. Information on Terry Brennan   Zoom on Terry Brennan   Brennan, Terry.
Information on Gerard P. Craughwell   Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell   Craughwell, Gerard P. Information on Colm Burke   Zoom on Colm Burke   Burke, Colm.
Information on John Crown   Zoom on John Crown   Crown, John. Information on Eamonn Coghlan   Zoom on Eamonn Coghlan   Coghlan, Eamonn.
Information on James Heffernan   Zoom on James Heffernan   Heffernan, James. Information on Paul Coghlan   Zoom on Paul Coghlan   Coghlan, Paul.
Information on Terry Leyden   Zoom on Terry Leyden   Leyden, Terry. Information on Michael Comiskey   Zoom on Michael Comiskey   Comiskey, Michael.
Information on Rónán Mullen   Zoom on Rónán Mullen   Mullen, Rónán. Information on Martin Conway   Zoom on Martin Conway   Conway, Martin.
Information on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh   Zoom on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh   Ó Clochartaigh, Trevor. Information on Jim D'Arcy   Zoom on Jim D'Arcy   D'Arcy, Jim.
Information on Labhrás Ó Murchú   Zoom on Labhrás Ó Murchú   Ó Murchú, Labhrás. Information on Michael D'Arcy   Zoom on Michael D'Arcy   D'Arcy, Michael.
Information on Darragh O'Brien   Zoom on Darragh O'Brien   O'Brien, Darragh. Information on Aideen Hayden   Zoom on Aideen Hayden   Hayden, Aideen.
Information on Mary Ann O'Brien   Zoom on Mary Ann O'Brien   O'Brien, Mary Ann. Information on Cáit Keane   Zoom on Cáit Keane   Keane, Cáit.
Information on Averil Power   Zoom on Averil Power   Power, Averil. Information on John Kelly   Zoom on John Kelly   Kelly, John.
Information on Kathryn Reilly   Zoom on Kathryn Reilly   Reilly, Kathryn. Information on Denis Landy   Zoom on Denis Landy   Landy, Denis.
Information on Jim Walsh   Zoom on Jim Walsh   Walsh, Jim. Information on Mary Moran   Zoom on Mary Moran   Moran, Mary.
Information on Mary M. White   Zoom on Mary M. White   White, Mary M. Information on Tony Mulcahy   Zoom on Tony Mulcahy   Mulcahy, Tony.
Information on Diarmuid Wilson   Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson   Wilson, Diarmuid. Information on Michael Mullins   Zoom on Michael Mullins   Mullins, Michael.
Information on Katherine Zappone   Zoom on Katherine Zappone   Zappone, Katherine. Information on Hildegarde Naughton   Zoom on Hildegarde Naughton   Naughton, Hildegarde.
  Information on Marie-Louise O'Donnell   Zoom on Marie-Louise O'Donnell   O'Donnell, Marie-Louise.
  Information on Susan O'Keeffe   Zoom on Susan O'Keeffe   O'Keeffe, Susan.
  Information on Pat O'Neill   Zoom on Pat O'Neill   O'Neill, Pat.
  Information on Tom Sheahan   Zoom on Tom Sheahan   Sheahan, Tom.
  Information on Jillian van Turnhout   Zoom on Jillian van Turnhout   van Turnhout, Jillian.


Tellers: Tá, Senators Trevor Ó Clochartaigh and Kathryn Reilly; Níl, Senators Paul Coghlan and Aideen Hayden.

Amendment declared lost.

Acting Chairman (Senator Jillian van Turnhout): Information on Jillian van Turnhout Zoom on Jillian van Turnhout Amendment No. 2 has been ruled out of order.

  Amendment No. 2 not moved.

Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh: Information on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh Zoom on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh I move amendment No. 3:

In page 4, line 6, after "service," to insert "as provided for in the services provided by section 2 of the Health (Amendment) Act, 1996,".

Senator Kathryn Reilly: Information on Kathryn Reilly Zoom on Kathryn Reilly I second the amendment.

Amendment put:

The Seanad divided: Tá, 14; Níl, 22.

Níl
Information on Thomas Byrne   Zoom on Thomas Byrne   Byrne, Thomas. Information on Ivana Bacik   Zoom on Ivana Bacik   Bacik, Ivana.
Information on Gerard P. Craughwell   Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell   Craughwell, Gerard P. Information on Terry Brennan   Zoom on Terry Brennan   Brennan, Terry.
Information on John Crown   Zoom on John Crown   Crown, John. Information on Colm Burke   Zoom on Colm Burke   Burke, Colm.
Information on Fidelma Healy Eames   Zoom on Fidelma Healy Eames   Healy Eames, Fidelma. Information on Paul Coghlan   Zoom on Paul Coghlan   Coghlan, Paul.
Information on James Heffernan   Zoom on James Heffernan   Heffernan, James. Information on Michael Comiskey   Zoom on Michael Comiskey   Comiskey, Michael.
Information on Terry Leyden   Zoom on Terry Leyden   Leyden, Terry. Information on Martin Conway   Zoom on Martin Conway   Conway, Martin.
Information on Rónán Mullen   Zoom on Rónán Mullen   Mullen, Rónán. Information on John Gilroy   Zoom on John Gilroy   Gilroy, John.
Information on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh   Zoom on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh   Ó Clochartaigh, Trevor. Information on Aideen Hayden   Zoom on Aideen Hayden   Hayden, Aideen.
Information on Labhrás Ó Murchú   Zoom on Labhrás Ó Murchú   Ó Murchú, Labhrás. Information on Cáit Keane   Zoom on Cáit Keane   Keane, Cáit.
Information on Darragh O'Brien   Zoom on Darragh O'Brien   O'Brien, Darragh. Information on John Kelly   Zoom on John Kelly   Kelly, John.
Information on Averil Power   Zoom on Averil Power   Power, Averil. Information on Denis Landy   Zoom on Denis Landy   Landy, Denis.
Information on Kathryn Reilly   Zoom on Kathryn Reilly   Reilly, Kathryn. Information on Mary Moran   Zoom on Mary Moran   Moran, Mary.
Information on Jim Walsh   Zoom on Jim Walsh   Walsh, Jim. Information on Tony Mulcahy   Zoom on Tony Mulcahy   Mulcahy, Tony.
Information on Diarmuid Wilson   Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson   Wilson, Diarmuid. Information on Michael Mullins   Zoom on Michael Mullins   Mullins, Michael.
  Information on Hildegarde Naughton   Zoom on Hildegarde Naughton   Naughton, Hildegarde.
  Information on Mary Ann O'Brien   Zoom on Mary Ann O'Brien   O'Brien, Mary Ann.
  Information on Marie-Louise O'Donnell   Zoom on Marie-Louise O'Donnell   O'Donnell, Marie-Louise.
  Information on Pat O'Neill   Zoom on Pat O'Neill   O'Neill, Pat.
  Information on Feargal Quinn   Zoom on Feargal Quinn   Quinn, Feargal.
  Information on Tom Sheahan   Zoom on Tom Sheahan   Sheahan, Tom.
  Information on Jillian van Turnhout   Zoom on Jillian van Turnhout   van Turnhout, Jillian.
  Information on Katherine Zappone   Zoom on Katherine Zappone   Zappone, Katherine.


Tellers: Tá, Senators Trevor Ó Clochartaigh and Kathryn Reilly; Níl, Senators Paul Coghlan and Aideen Hayden.

Amendment declared lost.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Amendment No. 4 has been ruled out of order.

  Amendment No. 4 not moved.

Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh: Information on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh Zoom on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh I move amendment No. 5:

In page 5, between lines 14 and 15, to insert the following:
“(2) That within 1 month of enactment of this legislation the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission will independently verify, in a report laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas, that the legislation does indeed fully and faithfully implement the relevant recommendations contained within the Magdalen Commission Report on the establishment of an ex-gratia Scheme and related matters for the benefit of those women who were admitted to and worked in the Magdalen Laundries, authored by Mr Justice John Quirke and published in May 2013.”.

Is í aidhm an leasaithe seo ná le cinntiú nuair a chuirfear an reachtaíocht i bhfeidhm go mbeidh ról ag an gCoimisiún um Chearta an Duine agus Comhionannas maidir le déanamh cinnte go bhfuiltear á chur i bhfeidhm de réir na tuairisce a bheas leagtha os comhair Thithe an Oireachtais. Táimid ag iarraidh cinntiú go bhfuil an reachtaíocht ag cloí go dlúth leis na moltaí atá in san tuairisc maidir leis an gcoimisiún ó thaobh na scéime ex gratia a bhunú le haghaidh mná na Maigdiléana agus ábhair eile a bhaineann leis na mná sin a bhí ag obair sna neachtlanna sin. Is í an tuairisc atá i gceist agam ná an tuairisc a chuir an Breitheamh Uasal Quirke le chéile a foilsíodh i mí na Bealtaine. Phlé muid é seo ar Chéim an Choiste agus níl mé chun dul i bhfad scéal leis. Tá mé beagnach cinnte nach bhfuil an tAire chun glacadh leis ach dar linne tá ceist muiníne ann idir an Rialtas agus na mná ó thaobh na leasuithe atá curtha chun cinn againn. Níl mé cinnte cén chaoi a bhfuil an caidreamh eatarthu. Is léir domsa nach bhfuil sé iontach mar ní chreideann na mná na rudaí atá an Rialtas ag rá linne agus leosan.  Is mór an trua í sin. Dá bhrí sin, sílimid go bhfuil ról neamhspleách ann d'eagraíocht cosúil leis an IHRC le déanamh cinnte go bhfaigheann na mná seo an méid atá dlite dóibh. Chualamar ar fad an leithscéal a ghabh an Taoiseach sa Dáil, agus an ceart aige, ar an ábhar seo. Cloiseann muid na gealltanais atá an tAire ag tabhairt anois, ach sílim go bhfuil na mná amhrasach. Tá siad ag dul in aois agus tá siad ag iarraidh cinnteachta. Is gá meicníocht tapaidh, éifeachtach agus úsáideach a bheidh in ann súil a choinneáil ar chur i bhfeidhm na reachtaíochta seo, sa chaoi nach mbeidh aon deacrachtaí acu amach anseo agus ionas go bhfaigheann siad an cúiteamh agus na seirbhísí atá dlite dóibh chomh luath agus is féidir.

Senator Kathryn Reilly: Information on Kathryn Reilly Zoom on Kathryn Reilly I second the amendment.

Deputy Frances Fitzgerald: Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald The best assurance we can give the women concerned is that we will pass legislation to fulfil what Mr. Justice Quirke recommended in his original report. As I said, that is what this legislation seeks to do in regard to health.

  The scheme is not legislatively based; it is administratively based and has worked very successfully. The feedback from the women participating in it and the responses they have received from the Department have been very good. This is shown by the fact that there is agreement with many of the more than 700 women who have accepted the payments. They are eligible for a payment of between €11,500 and €100,000, depending on length of stay.

  Decisions have been made on 88% of the applications that have come through and work is being done on the outstanding ones. We have also put in place a mechanism whereby the women concerned can come in for interview with a nominated person and legal advice will also be paid for if they want to discuss the settlement. All this has been put in place in cases where there are disputes over the length of stay which can sometimes be very difficult to determine.

  We have, obviously, erred totally on the side of believing the women concerned in the first instance. Second, we have used a variety of mechanisms to establish the length of stay, looking at information available from other records, including work and insurance records. All of this has been done.

  The scheme is progressing well and administratively based. The best assurance to give the women concerned is that we will pass the legislation in order that they will be able to access these services. Many of them already have a medical card, as we know from the records. Mr. Justice Quirke's report highlights the medical care they might need and the Bill covers these needs. It is very broad and includes much of the medical help the women the Senator described might need, including general medical and surgical services, as well as nursing services. They are excluded from all costs relating to nursing home care, home help services, dental, ophthalmic and aural services, which are all available. The only differences between this card and the one given to the women who had contracted hepatitis C are the ones specific to hepatitis C and it would not be appropriate to include them in this Bill. It is not just a vague statement; it is actually included in the legislation. The best assurance we can give is that we will have this legislation in place on a statutory basis. I cannot accept the amendment because I do not believe it is appropriate. As the scheme was not legislatively based, it would not make sense to ask the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission to review it.

  It is open to Senators or Members of the Dáil at any time to ask questions on this issue and ask for updates. Senators can call for me or other Ministers to come to the House to discuss the development of the services available. I have said I believe advocacy groups have a role to play in supporting the women concerned on an ongoing basis. We provided €200,000 for the group in the United Kingdom last year and it has made a submission to continue to be supported. Eight people work in the unit in the Department providing the service. As the work of the unit winds down, I will consider how we can continue to give support. In the longer term support should be given outside the Department by an appropriate NGO. I will certainly support its development. The legislation is comprehensive and responds to Mr. Justice Quirke's recommendations. I ask the House to support it.

Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh: Information on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh Zoom on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh Cloisim an méid atá á rá ag an Aire, ach deirim arís an rud céanna agus a bhí le rá agam maidir leis na leasuithe eile. Is léir go bhfuil ceist muiníne i gceist anseo idir na mná a d'fhulaing agus an Rialtas. Cá bhfios nach mbeidh athrú Rialtais ann faoin am a bheidh an reachtaíocht ag teacht i bhfeidhm. Mar sin, sílimid go bhfuil sé cothrom agus cóir go mbeadh dream éigin a bhfuil muinín ag na mná astu, ar nós IHRC ansin le déanamh cinnte go bhfuiltear ag déanamh mar a dúradh, go bhfuil beart de réir briathar á dhéanamh maidir leis an gcoimisiún agus cur i bhfeidhm na moltaí. Nílim chun athrá a dhéanamh, ach is ar an mbunús sin a bheidh muid ag brú an leasaithe.

Amendment put:

The Seanad divided: Tá, 13; Níl, 23.

Níl
Information on Thomas Byrne   Zoom on Thomas Byrne   Byrne, Thomas. Information on Ivana Bacik   Zoom on Ivana Bacik   Bacik, Ivana.
Information on Gerard P. Craughwell   Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell   Craughwell, Gerard P. Information on Terry Brennan   Zoom on Terry Brennan   Brennan, Terry.
Information on John Crown   Zoom on John Crown   Crown, John. Information on Colm Burke   Zoom on Colm Burke   Burke, Colm.
Information on David Cullinane   Zoom on David Cullinane   Cullinane, David. Information on Eamonn Coghlan   Zoom on Eamonn Coghlan   Coghlan, Eamonn.
Information on Fidelma Healy Eames   Zoom on Fidelma Healy Eames   Healy Eames, Fidelma. Information on Paul Coghlan   Zoom on Paul Coghlan   Coghlan, Paul.
Information on James Heffernan   Zoom on James Heffernan   Heffernan, James. Information on Michael Comiskey   Zoom on Michael Comiskey   Comiskey, Michael.
Information on Terry Leyden   Zoom on Terry Leyden   Leyden, Terry. Information on Martin Conway   Zoom on Martin Conway   Conway, Martin.
Information on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh   Zoom on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh   Ó Clochartaigh, Trevor. Information on John Gilroy   Zoom on John Gilroy   Gilroy, John.
Information on Darragh O'Brien   Zoom on Darragh O'Brien   O'Brien, Darragh. Information on Aideen Hayden   Zoom on Aideen Hayden   Hayden, Aideen.
Information on Averil Power   Zoom on Averil Power   Power, Averil. Information on Lorraine Higgins   Zoom on Lorraine Higgins   Higgins, Lorraine.
Information on Kathryn Reilly   Zoom on Kathryn Reilly   Reilly, Kathryn. Information on Cáit Keane   Zoom on Cáit Keane   Keane, Cáit.
Information on Mary M. White   Zoom on Mary M. White   White, Mary M. Information on John Kelly   Zoom on John Kelly   Kelly, John.
Information on Diarmuid Wilson   Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson   Wilson, Diarmuid. Information on Denis Landy   Zoom on Denis Landy   Landy, Denis.
  Information on Mary Moran   Zoom on Mary Moran   Moran, Mary.
  Information on Tony Mulcahy   Zoom on Tony Mulcahy   Mulcahy, Tony.
  Information on Michael Mullins   Zoom on Michael Mullins   Mullins, Michael.
  Information on Hildegarde Naughton   Zoom on Hildegarde Naughton   Naughton, Hildegarde.
  Information on Mary Ann O'Brien   Zoom on Mary Ann O'Brien   O'Brien, Mary Ann.
  Information on Marie-Louise O'Donnell   Zoom on Marie-Louise O'Donnell   O'Donnell, Marie-Louise.
  Information on Pat O'Neill   Zoom on Pat O'Neill   O'Neill, Pat.
  Information on Tom Sheahan   Zoom on Tom Sheahan   Sheahan, Tom.
  Information on Jillian van Turnhout   Zoom on Jillian van Turnhout   van Turnhout, Jillian.
  Information on Katherine Zappone   Zoom on Katherine Zappone   Zappone, Katherine.


Tellers: Tá, Senators Trevor Ó Clochartaigh and Kathryn Reilly; Níl, Senators Paul Coghlan and Aideen Hayden.

Amendment declared lost.

  Question, "That the Bill be received for final consideration", put and declared carried.

  Question put: "That the Bill do now pass."

Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh: Information on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh Zoom on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh Votáil.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Will the Senators claiming a division please rise?

  Senators Trevor Ó Clochartaigh and Kathryn Reilly rose.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan As fewer than five Senators have risen I declare the question carried. In accordance with Standing Order 61 the names of the Senators dissenting will be recorded in the Journal of Proceedings of the Seanad.

  Question declared carried.

  4 o’clock

Succession (Amendment) Bill 2015: Second Stage

  Question proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

Acting Chairman (Senator Diarmuid Wilson): Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson I welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Gerald Nash, to the House and call on Senator Feargal Quinn to speak. The Senator has ten minutes.

Senator Feargal Quinn: Information on Feargal Quinn Zoom on Feargal Quinn The Minister of State is welcome to the House. I am delighted he is here. The Succession (Amendment) Bill 2015 is very important and I hope we have a good discussion on it. We now know from a decision of the High Court in 2011, which is just four years ago, that where one joint tenant kills another, the killer gets to keep his or her share in a jointly owned property. This is deeply unjust. In fact, I have some difficulty with the term "joint tenants" which usually refers to a husband and wife, although it does not have to be on that basis.

  At the heart of the Bill which we are now debating is the fundamental principle that a person should not be allowed to profit from his or her crime. It is a straightforward Bill which will provide that where one joint tenant kills another, the offender will have no entitlement to the victim's share of the property. The offender will not be entitled to avail of his or her own share in the property either. To some, this may seem harsh or even unjust, but where is the justice and fairness where one joint tenant kills another and then profits from the sale of the property? Where a person has had his or her life ended along with his or her property rights, are we to be deferential to the offender? Is this the result the authors of our Constitution intended and is it something we as legislators should stand over? A further example of the law favouring the offender is the fact that where one spouse kills another, the offender is free to claim the spouse's pension payment in the same way as if the spouse had died naturally. It is a further anomaly in our law which must be addressed. We must make a change.

  In too many areas, our legislation is tilted in favour of the offender and the Constitution is invariably held up as a shield to proposals which even hint at fairness for victims. Imagine that we go out of our way to be fair to the perpetrator. The Government's advisers will say that we must err on the side of caution. While the Constitution provides a good level of protection for property rights, it is sometimes forgotten that these property rights are not absolute. In fact, the Constitution makes it very clear that property rights may be diluted or modified provided such interference is, in the words of Article 43.2.2°, in the exigencies of the common good and proportionate to the objective to be achieved. The authors of the Constitution never intended that a person could kill another person and then reap the financial rewards. Other countries which provide constitutional protection for property rights have introduced laws which are similar to the one I propose in this Bill. In the United States of America, for example, states such as Massachusetts, West Virginia and North Dakota have all introduced legislation which has the effect sought to be provided for in the Bill. Those laws are deemed to be compatible with the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution which, like the Irish Constitution, protects property rights.

  The Bill has been drafted with the advice of a number of lawyers who are more than satisfied with its constitutionality. Section 2 is the key section as it seeks to insert two new sections into the Succession Act 1965. The proposed new section 120A of the 1965 Act would apply to joint tenancies where there is only one surviving co-owner and that surviving co-owner has been found guilty of the murder, attempted murder or manslaughter of the other co-owner. In those circumstances, the Bill provides that the joint tenancy is terminated and the entire interest in the property is vested in the estate of the victim. The proposed new section 120B would apply to a joint tenancy where there are two or more surviving co-owners and one of the surviving co-owners has been found guilty of the murder, attempted murder or manslaughter of another co-owner. In this situation, the Bill provides that the joint tenancy is modified so that the victim's and the offender's interests in the property are automatically vested in the estate of the victim.

  The current law in this area was clarified somewhat in a decision of the High Court in 2011. In that case, Ms Justice Laffoy shed light on the path towards a legislative solution. She said, "The issues raised in these proceedings demonstrate that, ideally, there should be legislation in place which prescribes the destination of co-owned property in the event of the unlawful killing of one of the co-owners by another co-owner". It should be pointed out that Ms Justice Laffoy also alluded to the absence of legislation which would have allowed the court to interfere with the offender's property rights. She seemed to envisage a Bill similar to the one I propose and did not in any way suggest that such legislation might not be permissible. I ask the Minister of State to note this point in particular.

  I acknowledge that the Law Reform Commission is examining this issue in conjunction with a range of related aspects and some not all that related. My impression is that the conclusion of the commission's work is some way off, which concerns me. The drafting and passage of any other legislation on this topic is likely to take a number of years. The Bill could be passed with the support of the House and, in time, replaced once the Law Reform Commission completes its work. I am very much of the view that there is a gap in our law in this area which we should not leave open any longer. We should pass the Bill today and it should become law. When the Law Reform Commission makes its report a further enactment may supersede this law. Given that the commission may take some time to come to a decision, we would at least have better law in place in the meantime.

  The killing of a human being is the gravest crime in law. It is only right that succession and property law should prevent an offender from reaping the fruits of a terrible crime and being unjustly enriched as a result. I appeal to the Minister of State and his colleagues across the House to support the passage of the Bill.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Rónán Mullen Zoom on Rónán Mullen Cuirim fáilte roimh an Aire Stáit. It is my pleasure to second Senator Quinn's timely and necessary amendment to the Succession Act 1965.  I take this opportunity to compliment my colleague, Senator Quinn, who is always so thoughtful in the legislative initiatives he brings forward. His proposals always are rooted in the need to address people's experience of things that are happening and to seek to bring fairness in some way. That is what the law should be about at all times; it should be relevant to the situations that arise in life and which affect people and when the law is not doing justice, it needs to be amended. Senator Quinn is quite right to bring forward this amending legislation and it deserves immediate support.

The common law injunction preventing one from benefiting from one's own wrongdoing has a long and distinguished lineage. Captured in the maxim, ex turpi causa non oritur actio, that is, from a dishonourable cause an action does not arise, this prohibition was cited by the renowned Lord Chief Justice, Lord Mansfield, in the 1775 case Holman v.Johnson, in which that jurist set the rationale for what is known as the "illegality doctrine". He stated:

The objection [to permitting a wrongdoer to benefit from his wrongful actions] is founded in general principles of policy ... The principle of public policy is this; ex dolo malo non oritur actio. No Court will lend its aid to a man who founds his cause of action upon an immoral or an illegal act. If, from the plaintiff's own standing or otherwise, the cause of action appears to arise ex turpi causa, or the transgression of a positive law of this country, there the Court says he has no right to be assisted. It is upon that ground the Court goes.

The laws of contract and of equity always have upheld principles that seek not to assist those who, to use the words from the law of equity, do not approach the court with clean hands.

  The statutory law in this jurisdiction relevant to the Bill is set out in section 120 of the Succession Act. In particular, the conviction of a defendant for manslaughter has clear implications in respect of the distribution of the estate of the deceased by virtue of the application of section 120 which provides:

A sane person who has been guilty of the murder, attempted murder or manslaughter of another shall be precluded from taking any share in the estate of that other, except a share arising under a will made after the act constituting the offence, and shall not be entitled to make an application under section 117.

As Senator Quinn has stated, a more modern consideration of these concepts is to be found in the decision of the Irish High Court in Cawley v. Lillis of 2011. This unfortunate case, as Members will recall, concerned the manslaughter of a wife by her husband at their house in north County Dublin. In the Cawley case, while Ms Justice Laffoy acknowledged the long-standing principle of the common law I mentioned earlier, she accepted that where assets were jointly owned: "The resolution of those issues primarily turns on the application of established principles of law and equity in the area of real property law, which is highly technical, rather than the exercise of discretion by the Court." Consequently, the law is not entirely clear where property is jointly owned.

  In the United Kingdom, the position is more clearly set out by the operation of statute. The courts in the United Kingdom have a statutory power, under the Forfeiture Act 1982, to order the forfeiture of joint interests in property in cases where a person has unlawfully killed another. Megarry and Wade, in their leading work, The Law of Real Property, explained the impact of those provisions in the British law and I think it is useful for Members if I set out their summary as follows:

One consequence of the rule that no one may benefit in law from his own crime, is that, in general, if one joint tenant criminally kills another, the killer cannot take any beneficial interest by survivorship. This rule of public policy, commonly known as the "forfeiture rule", applies to cases of deliberate and intentional homicide, [where] the killing is murder, manslaughter or aiding and abetting a suicide. It has not been conclusively settled in England whether the application of the rule causes the automatic severance of the joint tenancy or whether a constructive trust is imposed to prevent the killer from obtaining any benefit from his crime. Where there are just two joint tenants, the answer will be the same on either view.

Without engaging in an analysis of the distinction between the application of a constructive trust or the severance of a tenancy, it is sufficient to note that Ms Justice Laffoy determined that joint tenancy accrued to the husband who was guilty of his wife's manslaughter but that half of the property was held in constructive trust for the wife's estate. The judge opined in the court, in a comment that would be obiter rather than binding, that: "The issues raised in these proceedings demonstrate that, ideally, there should be legislation in place which prescribes the destination of co-owned property in the event of the unlawful killing of one of the co-owners by another co-owner." It is in light of these dicta that I welcomed this legislation as both timely and necessary.

  I commend Senator Quinn's careful drafting of the Bill. It is my view that he has taken a balanced approach and has acknowledged the constitutional protection afforded to property rights that the public policy considerations demand. The Bill correctly proceeds on the basis that the constitutional rights in Article 43.2.2° are not absolute. Indeed, this is addressed in other comments of Ms Justice Laffoy in the Cawley case. Article 43.2.2° limits individuals' property rights in the "exigencies of the common good". This is the case where compulsory purchase orders can be made over land, it should be a fortiori the case where a person seeks to make a material gain over the estate of a deceased, having brought about that person's death. This Bill is measured, well founded in the long-standing precepts of the law and proportionate to the objective to be achieved. It deserves the cross-party support of the House. I note this is a matter that is under consideration by the Law Reform Commission. Members of the Oireachtas, and Senator Quinn more than once, have found themselves in a position where they really have anticipated the work the Government ought to have done itself already.

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

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Rónán Mullen Zoom on Rónán Mullen This is the case here. Senator Quinn has done the intellectual and policy spadework necessary and Members owe a great debt of gratitude to the Senator and to those working with him for so doing. The mere fact that this is not a Government initiative is no reason the Government should not accept this legislation today. Too often in these Houses, one hears excuses like a proposal having potential unintended consequences or of the existence of some legalities that must be considered further. More often than not, such excuses really amount to little more than straw, designed really to allow the Government to save face and bring forward its own legislative initiative in its own right. The Government ought to accept this Bill today and allow it to proceed to Committee Stage in the normal course of events. Knowing Senator Quinn, he always is most reasonable when it comes to proposed adjustments and changes and the process of contact and consideration can go on. However, the passage of this Bill needs to start in this House today.

Senator Tony Mulcahy: Information on Tony Mulcahy Zoom on Tony Mulcahy I welcome the Minister of State to the House and commend Senator Quinn on introducing the legislation before Members today. The Minister for Justice and Equality come into the House recently to respond to a Commencement matter I raised in respect of domestic violence legislation and this is the ultimate end of the domestic violence crime. The Minister has given me a commitment that before the end of this year, she will bring forward comprehensive legislation to bring together eight Acts to compound the legislation in order that the crime of domestic violence will be a crime and that those who commit it will be punished properly. On dealing with pieces of the legislation, I understand the sentiment and agree with it 100%, although the Attorney General has a different opinion as to whether it would hold up in court to constitutional challenge. However, I believe firmly that the issue of domestic violence must be dealt with in its entirety this year and the Minister has committed to that. It is not just one legislative item that must change, unfortunately, as a whole raft of legislation is involved. The Minister will bring together eight Acts in this regard.

  Obviously, this is very difficult for the families involved and this undoubtedly affects real people. Last week, I listened to a case in which a man was found guilty of manslaughter. I will not name anybody but he invited his former wife up to the bedroom, telling her he was going to shoot himself, but he shot her with a sawn-off shotgun. He was convicted, not of what was absolute cold-blooded murder but of manslaughter. I am unsure of the difference between murder and manslaughter as to me, that is absolute murder. Again, this is the ultimate horrible end to savage domestic violence, where someone actually is murdered. My views in this regard are clearly known and I already have stated on the record a number of times where I have come from.  I sincerely hope that by the end of the year we will bring forward legislation including this proposal. We need to close all the doors so that people who commit these horrible crimes do not get rewarded. Unfortunately, in this case the Attorney General has a view that this may not hold up constitutionally. However, I support the sentiment and the absolute view that no one should be rewarded for a horrible crime that has ravaged our country. There is no specific legislation to deal with it. I have put forward many proposals to the Minister and I hope that we will deal with the crime of domestic violence in 2015, with those who commit it punished properly. The perpetrator is the very last person who should be rewarded in any way. That is where we go wrong. The victims tend to be the ones who suffer.

Senator Thomas Byrne: Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne I did not get any indication from Senator Mulcahy on whether he would support the Bill but I think it deserves serious support. A judge of the High Court has not been able to decide a case satisfactorily because of an absence of legislation. The Oireachtas has failed to do its job. As Senator Mullen said, this is not a new proposition in law but a well-known issue. There is a name for it and Members can look up what these laws are called in other jurisdictions. They are common laws as this is not a unique situation.

  Senator Mullen mentioned a Latin maxim and there is another, nullus commodum capere potest de injuria sua propria. These are ancient principles and it is a common issue over thousands of years. Whether in Roman, British and Irish law or American law, these issues have been dealt with and Senator Quinn is dealing with the specific issue, namely, the severance of a joint tenancy, following the mandate of a High Court judge. The particular judge is a well-known expert on conveyancing and property law. The Government does not control the Seanad and I believe we should pass the law, allow it to proceed to Committee Stage and do what Senator Quinn has done before to resolve an issue.

  People will be at the wrong end of the situation in the future because this happened so often in the past and will happen again. We cannot be involved in a dereliction of duty. Senator Mulcahy speaks about the need to ensure domestic violence is a crime. There was a crime committed and someone was convicted of a crime in this case. That is not an issue at all. Conveyancing and succession law was not in place to deal with the matter satisfactorily. Senator Quinn has proposed legislation on this point, although I accept there may be other issues in regard to domestic violence. It is important to remember such issues but we are here to discuss one issue. This involves not allowing a person who has committed a wrong to benefit from the wrong.

  My party will support the legislation as set out clearly by Senator Quinn. It does not warrant a huge amount of explanation but it demands a response. The High Court has asked us for that response because it cannot decide cases in its absence. It is not good enough to postpone it. Senator Mullen said the Government should have done this before now but Senator Quinn is doing what we, as Oireachtas Members, should be doing by filling the gaps in law. We should be listening to what the courts say to us every day of the week. Yesterday, a case took place relating to the misuse of drugs and was rectified. It is a similar situation, where the law has been found to be defective, although there was no constitutional aspect to this case.

  It was regrettable to hear Senator Mulcahy talk about unconstitutionality although I did not catch the exact context. It is a phrase that should never be used because it has been abused so often in this House. Constitutional or legal issues are raised with every item of legislation put forward by the Opposition. That is wrong.

Senator Tony Mulcahy: Information on Tony Mulcahy Zoom on Tony Mulcahy In fairness, the Attorney General stated that she is not convinced the Bill, as formulated, would withstand constitutional challenge. That is the opinion of the Attorney General and that is what I said.

Senator Thomas Byrne: Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne My point still stands. What killer will take a constitutional challenge against this in any event? Last week, we were talking about the constitutional rights of banks and today we are talking about the constitutional rights of murderers. What are we coming to? Let us do our job as legislators, pass a Bill, study it carefully on Committee Stage and get it on the Statute Book. We should not allow anyone else to benefit in any way in the future.

Senator Lorraine Higgins: Information on Lorraine Higgins Zoom on Lorraine Higgins I commend Senator Quinn on his work and dedication in bringing this Bill forward. The current legal scenario, as we have seen in numerous cases, has the potential to compound the difficulties of family members mired in already tragic situations. That someone convicted of murder should possibly benefit from the joint tenancy shared with the person whose life was taken is terribly unjust. This needs to be rectified with haste and I hope tonight's proceedings make a significant contribution in this regard.

  As noted, the stated aim of the Bill is to provide for assignment of property rights deriving from a joint tenancy in circumstances where one co-owner is killed by another co-owner. I agree that the current law is inadequate in this regard. However, I am also cognisant of the advice given by the Attorney General with regard to the Bill. My concern is that, as the Attorney General advises, the Bill in its current format may be unconstitutional and that, if it goes forward, we could encounter difficulties down the road. These difficulties could be avoided if the Bill were reformulated in line with the comments of the Attorney General.

  It is also important to note the work being conducted by the Law Reform Commission, which has set up a consultation process on section 120 of the Succession Act 1965. The deadline for submissions was 26 January. Under this process, the commission is examining the provisions of section 120 in depth and sought submissions on the section, including the reform of the section of the Succession Act as it applies to property held in a joint tenancy, which is the primary focus of Senator Quinn's Bill. However, the report from the Law Reform Commission will not be available until later this year. We should do every thing we can to expedite it because the findings of the report, along with Senator Quinn's proposition, will be a key element in deciding how best to address the amendments needed. It is my contention that these must be considered before finalising legislation. We must act in haste on this point.

  Like many Oireachtas Members, I acknowledge and admire the tremendous work of Senator Quinn on this and other Bills. However, if the Bill was to proceed in its current format, it would run into difficulty. People convicted of murder and manslaughter, who seek to benefit from legal estates, could prolong the difficulty and tragedy for families by challenging the legislation before the High Court or the Supreme Court. That does no one any favours. We do not want to enact legislation that may lead to further revision down the line.

  The Bill requires a swift response. I expect the Law Reform Commission to deliver its report as promised. I want to see it happen as quickly as possible. The Minister for Justice and Equality should ensure the Government works quickly to implement any changes suggested. I commend Senator Quinn for putting the issue on the legislative agenda and I am supportive of the essence of what he is trying to achieve. Once the Law Reform Commission report is forthcoming and the Attorney General has had the opportunity to appraise the report and consider the principles and essence of this Bill, it will ensure a substantial change in the law and give families some degree of relief.

Senator Mary M. White: Information on Mary M. White Zoom on Mary M. White Words fail me. I am privileged and honoured to hear Senator Quinn taking this issue where it should be solved, namely, in the Houses of the Oireachtas. I am overwhelmed. If I may be religious, it is pure and true Christianity to help this family in trouble. They have suffered so much.

  As stated in the explanatory memorandum, the assertion that a person should not be allowed to profit from his or her crime is a well-known tenet of criminal justice.  It is a principle which ought to be more prominently reflected in statute law and honoured in common law. It is a pity this Bill cannot be accepted but I understand the reasons for this. I do, however, hope for a more positive response from the Minister of State on this matter in the future.

Senator Mary Ann O'Brien: Information on Mary Ann O'Brien Zoom on Mary Ann O'Brien I thank Senator Quinn for his time and incredible hard work for bringing this Bill to the House. Like Senator White, words fail me. I am not a lawyer and, to be honest, legal speak drives me crazy because I can never understand it. Can the Minister of State imagine if he were one of those people in the Gallery? People kill for a variety of reasons, some for monetary gain or to force the division of assets and the realisation of property to release equity.

  The term “no-brainer” comes to mind this evening. Senators Mulcahy and Higgins were so eloquent and I am sure the Attorney General is a brilliant woman whose advice I respect. Why are we here in this Seanad if we cannot accept this Bill, however? I am looking forward to the Bill on domestic violence but Senator Quinn has done the work and we need to push this through.

  The gift of human life is a rare and wonderful thing. Somebody’s life was stolen. The last time this law was around the blocks I was five years of age. I am now 54 years of age and we are looking for a simple amendment to the Succession Act 1965. Where are all the other Members? Our failure to move to close off this weakness in the law gives rise to a grossly unjust and perverted incentive for a joint tenant with malicious intent to kill another joint tenant. How someone who has taken another human being’s life - somebody’s Mummy away - can profit from it is beyond me. Senator White is correct. Why are we here? If the Government cannot support this Bill to progress to the next Stage, will the Minister of State make it the highest priority on the legislative programme?

Minister of State at the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Gerald Nash): Information on Gerald Nash Zoom on Gerald Nash I thank Senators for their contributions. This is a matter which concerns and troubles us all. It is the Government’s intention to address this egregious situation, as well as the concerns eloquently raised here this afternoon. We are all human beings and it requires a human response.

  On behalf of the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Frances Fitzgerald, who unfortunately cannot be here today, I thank Senator Quinn for tabling his Private Members’ Bill and for providing us with an opportunity to discuss the important and sensitive issues which arise in the context of succession law where a spouse or child has been found guilty of the unlawful killing of the other spouse or a parent. I also thank Senator Quinn for approaching the Government to discuss his Bill. The Minister for Justice and Equality and I hope to have an agreed approach to the development of legislation in this area.

  These issues have, unfortunately, come to the fore in recent years in several high-profile cases which have come before the courts. Today's debate is both topical and timely. It is also difficult for families who have been affected by these issues. I acknowledge and extend my sympathies to the relatives who have lost loved ones in such tragic circumstances, especially those who join us today in the Visitors Gallery. The Government understands and appreciates Senator Quinn's reasons for bringing forward this Bill and is entirely sympathetic to the important public policy objectives underpinning it. We are also sympathetic to the families who are sadly affected by this.

  However, the Attorney General, who is responsible for advising Government on the compatibility of proposed legislation with the Constitution, is not convinced the Bill, as formulated, would withstand constitutional challenge. The Minister, therefore, could not support the Bill at this stage on the basis the broad scope of its provisions risks infringing constitutionally protected property rights. The Government is, however, examining the issues raised by Senator Quinn's Bill and intends to bring forward proposals later this year to deal with this issue, along with several related succession law matters based on a Law Reform Commission project which is already well advanced.

  I assure all Members and the families in the Gallery who have lost loved ones that it is the Government's intention to bring forward legislation, based on the recommendations of the Law Reform Commission later this year and proceed quickly with enactment of that legislation. There will be no foot-dragging in this area.

  The Minister has spoken to Senator Quinn regarding his future involvement with the Law Reform Commission and the Government wants to see his proposals brought to the commission for consideration. I hope there would be an agreed approach to the serious issues which Senator Quinn brought to the floor of the House today. Before entering into any further detail, the Minister for Justice and Equality and I want again to underline our sympathy and support, and that of the Government, for the victims of these horrendous crimes. The burden for the victims in these cases is, of course, all the greater because the perpetrators have been part of the victim's own intimate family circle.

  It is a well-established legal principle in both common law and statute law that no person should be permitted to benefit from his or her unlawful conduct. In the area of succession law, this means a person who is guilty of the unlawful killing of another person is prevented by force of law from benefiting from his or her victim's estate. In short, the perpetrator is not allowed to inherit what he or she would otherwise have received under the victim's will or on intestacy if the deceased had not made a will. This long-standing principle finds practical expression in section 120 of the Succession Act 1965 which provides that a person who has been guilty of the murder, attempted murder or manslaughter of another shall be precluded from taking any share in the estate of that other person.

  A particular issue arises where the perpetrator and victim have been joint tenants of property such as the family home. A joint tenancy is a form of co-ownership of property which is common among spouses and its distinguishing feature is the so-called right of survivorship. It means, for example, that when a spouse who is a joint tenant of the family home dies, the surviving spouse automatically acquires the interest of the deceased spouse in the property and it does not form part of the estate of the deceased spouse.

  The high profile case to which Senator Quinn has already referred has drawn attention to certain features of the law applicable in this area which undoubtedly need to be reviewed. In that case, the High Court found the surviving spouse did indeed acquire the interest of the deceased joint tenant in the property but went on to find that he was prevented under the rule which I have already mentioned from using these assets for his own benefit. Instead, the High Court found that he held them in trust for the beneficiary of the deceased's estate.

  Arising from the uncertainties that came to light in this case, in December 2012 the Department of Justice and Equality suggested to the Law Reform Commission that this area of succession law needed to be reviewed and updated. Accordingly, it asked the Commission to consider undertaking such a review in the context of its upcoming law reform programme. The Minister is very pleased, therefore, that the commission decided to take the matter on board in the context of its current law reform programme.   While the subject matter of Senator Quinn's Bill is paramount, it is not the only aspect of succession law that needs to be re-examined in the context of section 120 of the 1965 Act. The Law Reform Commission published an issues paper in November last that sought views and submissions on no less than eight different aspects of section 120.

  As Senator Higgins outlined, the deadline for the receipt of submissions was the end of January 2015. The Minister understands that the commission has received a number of submissions containing a range of viewpoints in response to its issues paper and that it intends to prepare and publish a report containing specific recommendations for reform by July this year.

  The backdrop, therefore, to the Government's approach to this Bill is the Law Reform Commission's current examination of eight different aspects of section 120 of the 1965 Act and the fact that the commission intends to submit comprehensive reform recommendations within a matter of months. In light of this ongoing work, the Government does not wish to pre-empt matters by proceeding with a partial reform that may need to be reviewed again on receipt of all the commission's recommendations. However, there is also the constitutional obstacle, which I mentioned earlier. A key issue that arises in the context of joint tenancy cases is whether the perpetrator should not only lose his or her entitlement to the victim's interest in jointly owned assets but also forfeit his or her own interest in them.

  Senator Quinn's Bill provides that where a joint tenant has been found guilty of the murder, attempted murder or manslaughter of the other co-owner, the joint tenancy shall be deemed to have been terminated with effect from the date of the offence. This means that the surviving spouse would be precluded from benefiting from the estate of the deceased co-owner. The Bill goes further by providing that the entire interest in the property shall be deemed to have been vested in the estate of the deceased, with effect from the date of the offence. In short, the surviving spouse would also forfeit his or her own interest in the joint assets in favour of the estate of the deceased spouse.

  It is at this point that issues relating to constitutionally protected property rights arise because the Constitution affords protection to the property rights of every citizen in both Article 40.3 and Article 43. As Article 43 makes clear, the State may delimit the exercise of these rights "with a view to reconciling their exercise with the exigencies of the common good." In order to withstand legal challenge, any such delimitation requires a careful balancing of the competing rights involved.

  The Law Reform Commission discusses the forfeiture option that forms part of Senator Quinn's Bill in its issues paper. It notes that any solution would have to be compatible with the property rights in Articles 40.3 and 43.2 of the Constitution. In this context, the commission draws attention to various statutory provisions which already provide for forfeiture of property and other assets that are the proceeds of crime. Most notably, the Proceeds of Crime Act 1996 provides for the civil forfeiture of property and other assets that are the proceeds of crime. Elsewhere, Part 2 of the Criminal Justice Act 1994 allows the court to make confiscation orders where it considers that a person who has been found guilty of certain drug trafficking offences has benefited from the trafficking.

  The commission notes that the Supreme Court has upheld the validity of such provisions on the basis that a person in possession of the proceeds of crime can have no constitutional grievance if deprived of their use. However, the commission goes on to distinguish forfeiture of property and assets that derive from crime from forfeiture of property and assets of a person who has been convicted of the unlawful killing of his or her spouse but which are not derived from crime. The clear objective of any criminal sanction imposed by the courts in such cases is to punish the perpetrator for his or her crime, but that is not the purpose of the forfeiture rule under succession law. Its role is to ensure for sound public policy reasons that the perpetrator does not benefit from the crime; it does not seek to further punish by depriving the perpetrator of his or her legally owned assets.

  One of the aspects of section 120 of the 1965 Act which the Law Reform Commission is reviewing is whether the existing forfeiture rule may act in an unduly harsh manner in certain cases. As already mentioned, the full force of the rule applies in cases of manslaughter, even where the killing was accidental.

  As the commission points out, the gravity of the crime of manslaughter and the moral culpability of the perpetrator may vary enormously depending on the circumstances. In order to avoid the risk of injustice arising from rigid application of the forfeiture rule, some jurisdictions, including the United Kingdom, have granted the courts a margin of discretion in applying it. This is an aspect of section 120 on which the commission has sought submissions.

  It is true that in past centuries, punitive sanctions were in force in this and similar jurisdictions that provided for mandatory forfeiture of the assets of those found guilty of felonies. These were largely repealed towards the end of the 19th century in the Forfeiture Act 1870. Some residual restrictions on the rights of prisoners to deal with their property remained in force in this jurisdiction until repealed by the Criminal Law Act 1997. Since the enactment of that legislation, prisoners have been free to deal with their property while serving their sentences, using agents where necessary for practical reasons.

  On a more technical level, Senator Quinn's Bill proposes to insert two new sections into the 1965 Act, one dealing with the case of a single surviving co-owner and the second with cases where there are two or more surviving co-owners. However, this would probably be insufficient to achieve the Bill's stated objective without some reference to the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2009.

  As the High Court has noted, the law relating to co-owned land has been reformed in Part 7 of the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2009. In order to protect the rights of joint tenants, Part 7 makes it more difficult to sever a joint tenancy except with the prior consent in writing of the other joint tenant or tenants. However, a court order may be sought to dispense with the consent requirement where it is considered that such consent is being unreasonably withheld. It is probable, therefore, that any changes to section 120 of the 1965 Act would have to be accompanied by some reference to the provisions of Part 7 of the 2009 Act.

  On behalf of the Minister for Justice and Equality, I thank Senator Quinn once again for raising this important public policy issue. As I have mentioned, while the Government is supportive of the objectives of this Bill as it relates to the amendment of the law applicable in this area, it has decided to await the comprehensive reform recommendations of the Law Reform Commission, which are due for publication shortly, rather than proceeding with a partial reform of this important area of the law at this stage.

  I reiterate to Senator Quinn and everyone else present, especially the families, that it is the Government's intention to bring forward legislation, based on the recommendations of the Law Reform Commission, later this year and to proceed quickly with enactment of that legislation. I look forward to hearing the Senator's response to the approach I have outlined and the points I have made.

Senator Michael Mullins: Information on Michael Mullins Zoom on Michael Mullins I applaud and compliment Senator Feargal Quinn for bringing forward this important legislation and generating debate. The debate is overdue. On many occasions in this House, Senator Quinn has been ahead of the Government in bringing forward relevant legislation.

  I extend my sympathy and that of the House to the family of the late Celine Cawley, whose death struck a chord with all of us. It is only right and proper that the Government would introduce legislation to ensure that, in the future, no perpetrator of a murder or manslaughter will be able to benefit financially as a result of that crime. I am encouraged and heartened by the response that the Minister of State made in the House this evening. While he has indicated there are constitutional difficulties with the legislation as brought forward by Senator Quinn, it is the Government's intention to bring forward in the very near future, in the coming months, a comprehensive suite of legislation that will address the issue Senator Quinn wishes to have addressed through his Bill. The Senator has certainly brought much clarity to the debate and conversation. I have no doubt that the Minister of State, by liaising closely with the Senator, will ensure legislation of the kind the latter wishes to have enacted will cover all the eventualities he mentioned.  I urge the Minister to ensure that the commitments and timelines he indicated to the House will be honoured, and that the priority this legislation requires will be given to it. No family should have to endure the trauma that the family in this case has endured, to see somebody who has been responsible from the death of a loved one benefit financially from that crime. It is one of many families throughout the country who, on far too many occasions in the course of a year, have had to deal with the same crisis and the same awful crime. We want to ensure that this loophole is closed before this Government leaves office and that there will never again be a situation where a family will have to expend significant amounts of money in the courts to try to have a wrong put right. The only way it can be done is through legislation, and both this House and the Dáil have the power to do that.

  I thank Senator Quinn and congratulate him on this fine legislative measure. Even if it needs improvement or adjustments here and there, I ask the Minister to ensure it will be part of the comprehensive suite of legislation to cover all of these issues, including those mentioned by Senator Mulcahy earlier. I hope all of that significant legislation will be enacted during the term of this Government.

Senator Feargal Quinn: Information on Feargal Quinn Zoom on Feargal Quinn I thank the Minister for his considered and fair-minded response to the Bill. He certainly gave it his attention. However, I am concerned that things appear to take a long time to get done, not just in this House but in both houses.

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

Senator Feargal Quinn: Information on Feargal Quinn Zoom on Feargal Quinn I am concerned when I hear dates mentioned. The Construction Contracts Bill is one of the Bills I introduced some years ago. It was enacted after three years but it has not yet been signed into law, so it is not performing as intended. It greatly concerns me when I see how long it takes to get something done or for something to occur.

  On the other hand, I get the sense that there might be a change. The Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Bill was before the House this morning, which was within 24 hours of the challenge in the court. Hopefully we can move swiftly and get action on these matters. The Minister mentioned July. That is a date I can live with as it is just four months away.

  It is a well established principle in law that a person should not be allowed to profit from his or her crime. My firmly held belief is that our succession, property and, indeed, pensions laws must reflect that principle. When considering a matter such as the one before us, we must put the victim at the centre of our consideration and not focus on the offender. We must not cower at the mention of the Constitution. The Constitution expressly says that property rights may be diluted in the exigencies of the common good.

  Another Bill this House debated and passed was the Upward Only Rent (Clauses and Reviews) Bill. It has not yet become law and part of the reason is that the Attorney General has said she is worried about some aspects of it. The Attorney General appears to have influenced the Government regarding the Bill before the House today, and there have been many references to her views on it. I remind Members that under the Standing Orders of this House the Attorney General has a right of audience here. It would have been helpful if the Attorney General had come to the House today to elaborate on her position. She could also have done that with the Upward Only Rent (Clauses and Reviews) Bill. Those of us who proposed that Bill had been given strong opinions that the legislation was constitutional, but the Attorney General said she did not believe it was. The Attorney General has a right of audience in this House and I would like her to come here on occasions such as this to give her view.

  The authors of the Constitution never intended that a person could kill another person and then reap the financial rewards as a result. While I recognise that this Bill pushes the boundaries, I do not accept that there are questions about the constitutionality of the proposals at its heart. For now, we can agree to differ on this point. I accept the Minister of State's bona fides when he indicates that the Minister, Deputy Fitzgerald, will move swiftly to legislate in this area once the Law Reform Commission completes its work. I can live with the July date. I am pleased to have had the opportunity to bring this important matter before the House and, hopefully, to have inspired the Government to move towards a solution to this problem perhaps sooner than might otherwise have been the case.

  I found it a challenge to develop this Bill. It came about as a result of an article in The Irish Times by Miriam Keane, who is in the Visitors Gallery. She is a lawyer in University College Dublin, UCD, and she advised me on the drafting of the Bill. In her article she drew attention to the anomaly and said she believed we can do something about it, as something should be done. We have heard from the Minister, Deputy Frances Fitzgerald, and we heard today from the Minister of State, Deputy Nash. I thank the Minister of State and I particularly thank the officials, who also advised me on the Bill. They have taken a position on the Bill which I can live with until July. I do not have a very long finger, but it is one that can last for four months. However, that is as far as it will go. Hopefully, I will be able to say that before the recess in July we will have had the opportunity to debate this with the Law Reform Commission. I thank the Minister and suggest that we adjourn the debate on the Bill.

Debate adjourned.

Acting Chairman (Senator Diarmuid Wilson): Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson When is it proposed to sit again?

Senator Tony Mulcahy: Information on Tony Mulcahy Zoom on Tony Mulcahy At 12 p.m. on Tuesday, 24 March.

  The Seanad adjourned at 5 p.m. until noon on Tuesday, 24 March 2015.


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