Header Item Prelude
 Header Item Business of Seanad
 Header Item Commencement Matters
 Header Item School Completion Programme
 Header Item Schools Complaints Procedures
 Header Item Order of Business
 Header Item Customs Bill 2014: Committee and Remaining Stages
 Header Item Children (Amendment) Bill 2015: Report and Final Stages
 Header Item Moore Street Area Renewal and Development Bill 2015: Second Stage
 Header Item Business of Seanad
 Header Item Statute Law Revision Bill 2015: Committee Stage
 Header Item Draft Commission of Investigation (Certain matters concerning transactions entered into by IBRC) Order 2015: Motion

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Seanad Éireann Debate
Vol. 240 No. 8

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Chuaigh an Cathaoirleach i gceannas ar 10:30:00

Machnamh agus Paidir.

Reflection and Prayer.


Business of Seanad

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke I have received notice from Senator Tony Mulcahy that, on the motion for the Commencement of the House today, he proposes to raise the following matter:

The need for the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs to confirm that funding for the schools completion programme will not be cut in County Clare or any other county and to consider increasing funding for this very valuable service for children.

I have also received notice from Senator Mary Moran of the following matter:

The need for the Minister for Education and Skills to address the role and clarify the position of her Department on the complaints procedure process with a secondary school.

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

Commencement Matters

School Completion Programme

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke I welcome the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Deputy James Reilly.

Senator Tony Mulcahy: Information on Tony Mulcahy Zoom on Tony Mulcahy I thank the Minister for attending. The matter is self-explanatory - the need for the Minister to confirm that funding for the schools completion programme will not be cut in County Clare or any other county and to consider increasing the funding for this valuable service for children which was established in 2002. The programme has had a significant positive impact on the retention levels of young people in primary and second level schools and the numbers of pupils who successfully complete the different cycles or their equivalent.

  Another of my concerns is the teams and their understanding of whether funding is to be cut and their role in the future. As in the past, I rarely speak unless I know the people who are administering and delivering a service. To give them their Christian names, I know Áine and Catherine and the level of work they undertake to ensure vulnerable children - probably the best words to use - come to school every day and receive an education with the best possible support. We must have people like them in the school completion service. I am sure there are many others like them throughout the country who seek to ensure the service is delivered. I am aware of two children who, as recently as last week, had to be helped and encouraged into school to start their examinations. Nine times out of ten, the staff go beyond the call of duty. It is not always a nine to three job, as a great deal more work is involved. We heard a comprehensive presentation recently in Ennis, but I already had an understanding of the type of work done, given that I deal with many schools. I look forward to the Minister's response.

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly I thank the Senator for raising this important issue.

  The school completion programme aims to retain young people in the formal education system to completion of senior cycle and to improve the school attendance, participation and retention of its target cohort. It is a targeted intervention aimed at school communities identified through the Department of Education and Skills DEIS action plan. It involves 124 projects and related initiatives operating in 470 primary and 224 post-primary schools. These projects provide a range of supports and interventions designed to support approximately 36,000 children throughout the country who have been identified by local management committees as being at risk of educational disadvantage. Typically, projects offer homework clubs, breakfast clubs, mentoring programmes, learning support, social and personal development programmes, out-of-school supports, including music, art and sports, and a range of activities during holiday periods.

  Since 1 January 2014, the Child and Family Agency has operational responsibility for the school completion programme, including the allocation of funds to local projects. In 2014 the agency allocated €24.756 million and a similar allocation is being made for 2015. There are two projects in County Clare, the Ennis school completion programme, with an allocation in the 2014-15 academic year of €255,947, and the Kilrush school completion programme, with an allocation of €119,978. The Ennis project involves four primary and two post-primary schools, while the Kilrush project involves one primary and one post-primary school.   The agency asked chairpersons of local management committees to prepare their school retention plans for the 2015-2016 school year based on the expenditure allocated last year and to return them to the agency by last Friday, 5 June. Following receipt of these plans, all school completion projects including the two in County Clare will be notified of their allocations for the 2015-2016 school year.

  The Senator may be aware that a review of the school completion programme by the ESRI is almost complete. The review is an important initiative in regard to planning for the future development of the school completion programme. The review will assist in identifying the reforms necessary to consolidate the programme on a sustainable footing for the future. The review is being overseen by a steering committee involving officials of the Child and Family Agency, my Department and the Department of Education and Skills.

  The review will, among other things, examine the school completion programme structures and their fitness for purpose to support an integrated approach to address early school leaving. It will analyse the interventions provided and make recommendations for evidence informed supports designed to secure the best educational outcomes for young people. The Minister for Education and Skills recently published an evaluation of the Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools, DEIS, programme, which was also prepared by the ESRI, and which refers to the school completion programme as an integral support within DEIS in improving attendance and engagement in education.

  The report is almost finalised and it is expected it will be available in the coming weeks.

  I have advised the agency of my commitment to ensuring that there is no diminution in the school completion programme services. The school completion programme is an important service within the agency's educational welfare services. It is highly regarded as a key response in securing improved educational outcomes for children and young people at risk of early school leaving. I am pleased to confirm for the Senator that there will be no cuts to the programme.

Senator Tony Mulcahy: Information on Tony Mulcahy Zoom on Tony Mulcahy In fairness, I know the Minister has worked hard in this area but the report, when it comes back, may highlight the value of enhancing these programmes because they have been subjected to cuts in the region of 30% to 40% in recent years. I am glad the Minister is now in a position to ensure that there will be no further cuts and that the services will be maintained, if not enhanced, by the recommendations in the report. He fully understands the value of the services provided to those young people and, in that respect, the supports have to be provided to the school completion programme. I thank the Minister for his acknowledgement of that.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly I am very glad there are no cuts in this area because it is a hugely important programme. I am awaiting the outcome of the ESRI report but I am confident it will be very positive. I believe it will give us further evidence to underpin future development of the scheme and strengthen my hand in regard to the Estimates process in the coming year to try to get further funding for it. Nonetheless, we all have to be cognisant of the fact that our economy, although recovering, is still fragile. That recovery must be guarded, and we have to continue to make sure that all the funding we seek and receive is used to the best possible outcomes. That is why evidence based research and the ESRI report will be so important.

  I am very pleased that in this year's budget we got our first increase for the Child and Family Agency. All of that money went into Tusla so that it could address the many needs it faces, and in particular many of the unallocated cases of children who were in requirement of social worker assistance.

Schools Complaints Procedures

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke I welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Ó Ríordáin, to the House.

Senator Mary Moran: Information on Mary Moran Zoom on Mary Moran I thank the Minister of State for coming into the House to take this Commencement matter. The nub of what I want to raise is the importance of introducing a parents charter and to ask when we can expect it and when this new section 28 can be brought in to the school admissions policy.

  Recently, I became aware of numerous cases of people having problems trying to get in contact with their child's school to raise an issue. In terms of the current process, as the Minister, Deputy Ó Ríordáin, will know well, the Department's website asks if the parent has contacted the Department of Education and Skills, which many parents think they should do, but the Department of Education and Skills, despite being funders of education, has no role at all. Schools are running themselves under the board of management. I believe there is a much greater need for parents to be involved in the running of the school so that when they do have an issue, it can be dealt with effectively.

  I was made aware of a case recently where an issue was brought to the attention of the principal, was ignored for seven months and was only responded to when the parents in question contacted the chairperson of the board of management. They were then informed that if they had a complaint they should write to the secretary of the board of management. The secretary of the board of management and the principal are one and the same person. The parents did that. They were first told that all letters were only opened at a board of management meeting and that the secretary was not aware of it. However, it now turns out that it was the secretary who opened the letter and who was present while the decision was taken on the course of action that would be taken to address the parent's complaint, and it was the principal who contacted the parents. These parents were concerned that it is very much a one-sided process. Despite the school saying it is open and transparent, the parents were not present in the school when it was discussed but the principal was present. There is no recourse for a parent to get somewhere with a genuine concern. In addition, if one checks with someone in the Department of Education and Skills they will say the trustees should be contacted. The trustee in most of our voluntary secondary schools is the bishop or the organisation. If someone contacts the bishop, the bishop will say he will now contact the chair of the board of management, but that is the person about whom the complaint is being made. It is totally up to them.

  In the four years I have been a Member of this House, I have been contacted by numerous people who have had difficulties in getting school principals to return calls or answer letters. It is wrong for a principal in a school to ignore a letter for seven months and only respond when this parent took the matter to the chair of the board, even though the chair of the board referred it back to the secretary, who is the principal. There is an urgent need to ensure the parents charter is incorporated in the school admissions Bill and have this process in place because parents are under the misguided belief that it is the Department of Education and Skills they should contact when the Department, as far as I can see, has no role in the matter. I raise this Commencement matter so that concerns of parents can be addressed and that schools are held accountable for complaints procedures or concerns parents may wish to raise.

Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin): Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin I would like to take this opportunity, on behalf of the Minister for Education and Skills, to thank the Senator for raising this issue. The Minister, Deputy O'Sullivan, is in the Dáil answering oral questions. I welcome the opportunity to address the role and clarify the position of the Department of Education and Skills in the complaints procedure process for secondary schools.

  The Senator will be aware that, under the Education Act 1998, legally, all schools are managed by the school board of management on behalf of the school's patrons or trustees or education and training board, ETB, known as the management authority. It is the management authority that employs the school's teachers and other staff members. In ETB schools, the ETB is the employer. The school principal manages the school on a day to day basis.

  Accordingly, whereas the Department of Education and Skills provides funding and policy direction for schools neither the Minister nor the Department has legal powers to instruct schools to follow a particular course of direction with regard to individual complaint cases or to investigate individual complaints except where the complaint involves a refused enrolment, expulsion or suspension in accordance with section 29 of the 1998 Education Act.

  In dealing with parental complaints, the Department's role is to clarify for parents how their grievances and complaints against the school can be progressed. Where parents feel that the school's board of management has failed to investigate or adequately investigate their complaint, they should contact the Ombudsman for Children. The Office of the Ombudsman for Children may independently investigate complaints about schools recognised with the Department of Education and Skills, provided the parent has firstly and fully followed the school's complaints procedures.  Section 28 is the section of the Education Act 1998 that provides for parental complaints in schools. It expresses a desirability of determining appeals and resolving grievances in the school.

  The Minister for Education and Skills is not satisfied with the current provisions of section 28 and plans to revise it to provide in law for a parent and student charter. Changing how schools engage with, listen and respond to parent concerns will be an important part of the charter. Providing parents with the rationale for any decision is important. If schools help parents to understand the basis for a decision, they are more likely to accept the fairness of decisions.

  A core objective of the charter is to shift away from reacting to problems only after they give arise to grievances. The emphasis will be on improving the day-to-day experience students and their parents can expect from schools in order that grievances will not arise or will be resolved quickly and informally. As a result, the need to resort to a formal grievance process should be much reduced. The Minister's intention is to amend section 28 of the Education Act 1998 to require every school to have a parent and student charter in accordance with principles set down in legislation that will set a national standard. Her plan is to have this change introduced during the passage of the Education (Admission to Schools) Bill 2015.

Senator Mary Moran: Information on Mary Moran Zoom on Mary Moran I thank the Minister of State. He referred to a complaint continuing on to the Ombudsman for Children. Unfortunately, if a child is 18 years old, this will not count. The guildelines of the Department of Education and Skills provide that the principal must arrange a meeting and that the complaint must be resolved within ten days. The parents in question wrote a letter in March and did not receive a reply until the end of April, at which time they were told the principal was too busy to meet them within the ten-day timeframe. They then received a letter giving three hours' notice of a meeting, which was not suitable either.

  Young people are at the heart of this issue. The voluntary contribution is also relevant. It is supposed to be voluntary, but they are hearing that pupils in class are either radiators or sponges. Those who have paid their voluntary contribution are the radiators radiating warmth, while those who have not paid are the sponges in society. This is totally unacceptable and we urgently need to look at the matter. Schools should be held accountable for dealing with issues such as this, which are very damaging to young children.

  I thank the Minister of State for coming into the House. As a fellow former teacher, we share the same passion for students, those whom we taught and those yet to come down the road. That is why this issue needs to be dealt with in legislation as quickly as possible.

Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin: Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin I share the Senator's concerns. While an incident such as a student being described as a sponge is rare, it would be outrageous if such a comparison were to be made that one student was a radiator, while another was a sponge. Most professionals never use that terminology, but, unfortunately, such instances can and sometimes do occur. As the Minister has stated formally in her reply which I have given to the House, it is her absolute intention to introduce a student and parent charter in legislation by amending section 28 of the Education Act 1998 by means of the Education (Admission to Schools) Bill 2015.

  Sitting suspended at 10.55 a.m. and resumed at 11.30 a.m.

Order of Business

Senator Maurice Cummins: Information on Maurice Cummins Zoom on Maurice Cummins The Order of Business is No. 1, Customs Bill 2014 - Committee and Remaining Stages, to be taken at 12.45 p.m. and to adjourn not later than 3 p.m.; No. 2, Children (Amendment) Bill 2015 - Report and Final Stages, to be taken at 3 p.m. and to adjourn not later than 5 p.m., No. 3, Moore Street Area Renewal and Development Bill 2015 - Second Stage, to be taken at 5 p.m. and to conclude not later than 7 p.m.; No. 4, Statute Law Revision Bill 2015 - Committee Stage, to be taken at 7 p.m. and to adjourn not later than 9 p.m., if not previously concluded; and No. 5, motion regarding the approval by Seanad Éireann of the Draft Commission of Investigation (Irish Bank Resolution Corporation) Order 2015, to be taken at 9 p.m. and to conclude not later than 11 p.m., with contributions from group spokespersons not to exceed eight minutes each, all other Senators' contributions not to exceed five minutes each, and the Minister to be called on to reply to the debate not later than 10.55 p.m.

Senator Denis O'Donovan: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan As we have approximately four weeks left, I ask the Leader to provide a schedule of the proposed legislation between now and the summer recess so that we have something definitive for the next four weeks or so.

  I express my alarm at the increase in hospital waiting lists, particularly in my county and city of Cork. The figures published by the National Treatment Purchase Fund and acknowledged by the HSE indicate that more than 13,000 people, primarily in Cork city and county, are waiting for more than 12 months to see a consultant in the three Cork hospitals, the South Infirmary, the Mercy Hospital and CUH. Some of them have been waiting for as long as 18 months. Even having seen a consultant there is a further delay of 12 month or 15 months - sometimes up to two years - to get the surgery done, including hip replacement and knee surgery.

  I ask the Leader to have the issue of the National Treatment Purchase Fund, which has basically been stood down by the current Government, looked at again. It is an appalling vista to have thousands of people waiting first to see a consultant and then to have their operation. That is not acceptable in this day and age and many of these people are elderly. The National Treatment Purchase Fund was established to address a bottleneck in our health service with people waiting for operations. It allowed operations to be done in Northern Ireland and Great Britain and the system should be revisited. Instead of getting better, the reality is that this time five years ago the then spokesperson for health in opposition, the former Minister for Health, Deputy Reilly, was pontificating that if he was in power, within 12 or 15 months he would have it all sorted out and in fact it is getting worse. The matter must be addressed. I am not proposing an amendment to the Order of Business because I want the Leader to reflect on these waiting list figures with a view to having a full debate on them and the role of the NTPF before the summer recess. I intend to revisit the matter.

  I raise the issue of Irish Water and the farcical situation of thousands of homeowners being supplied through lead pipes, which are widely known to contaminate water and have adverse effects on people's health. We have discussed ad nauseam the funding of Irish Water, rushing to install meters everywhere and putting the cart before the horse. The first thing the public want is good-quality water through good pipes and that is not happening at the moment. There are issues with potable water even in areas such as mine in west County Cork. It is not acceptable that approximately 200,000 households are getting water through the lead pipes.

  I urge the Leader to organise a debate on the direction of Irish Water with the Minister responsible, hopefully before the summer recess. A two or three-hour debate in this House would highlight the problems. Things are not getting any better. Approximately €600,000 and possibly up to €750,000 has already been spent. Instead of Irish Water serving the needs of the people, the whole situation is deteriorating. It is wrong to have a total rush to install meters with a view to collecting money rather than ensuring a proper supply of potable water that is lead-free. I hope we can debate these issues in the Chamber and be provided with answers. Otherwise, whether it is next week or the week after, either I or my leader, Senator Darragh O'Brien, will table amendments to the Order of Business to pressurise for a debate on these very important issues.

Senator Aideen Hayden: Information on Aideen Hayden Zoom on Aideen Hayden On the issue of lead pipes, which came to public attention a short while ago, there is an implication in some of the media reports that Irish Water discovered the problem and wrote to 28,000 households to advise that they had lead pipes that are a health hazard. I find it somewhat disturbing. It is my understanding that lead piping was used to supply households up to the 1970s and even up to the 1980s. This should be the subject of an inquiry, perhaps by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht. The damage done by lead in the water system has been known for decades. It is linked to development issues in children and is also linked to kidney problems, cancer and even to dementia.

  I wonder about the role of the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government back in the 1970s and 1980s, and indeed the 1990s and 2000s, when it must have been known that local authorities were installing lead piping in the country even though it was known to be a health hazard.

  There is an issue of accountability of local authorities and an issue of the accountability of the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. Why should it be down to householders to put their hands deep into their pockets to pay for this? That local authorities might be held accountable for doing something that was damaging to public health when they knew better is worthy of investigation.

  The ESRI has warned the Government against putting €1.5 billion of a budget boost back into the economy. The good news is that it is lauding the economy's performance and noted that we would have a growth rate of 4% next year and 3.5% the following year, accompanied by significant drops in unemployment - down to 8.3% by 2016. All of this proves that the Government has succeeded significantly in turning the economy around.

  I do not accept its advice to Government that we should put our hands in our pockets and let the economy do its job. I do not think the ESRI is aware that this Government and the previous one were forced to take significant amounts of money out of public services that impacted on some of the most vulnerable people in Irish society despite our best efforts to try to preserve basic rates of social welfare. In particular we owe it to people who suffer from disability, for example, who need resources put back into the health budget as my colleague on the other side of the House has said. We also need to support those who need housing, who need education and people with young families who, we know, have suffered from what has happened to this country over many years.

  I agree that we should not under any circumstances lead the country into another bubble, but we must restore public services and we can do so without fuelling private debt and without bringing the country into a situation of crisis.

Senator Hildegarde Naughton: Information on Hildegarde Naughton Zoom on Hildegarde Naughton I also raise the issue of lead pipe contamination. Thousands of cases are coming to light, including 84 such cases in Galway. As Irish Water's work continues I am sure more will be discovered.

  I am pleased the Government has committed to assist those in financial need to carry out remedial work.  I also call on the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government to come to the House because it is important we get clarification on how we are going to deal with lead pipe contamination and what exact measures the Government intends to put in place to deal with the serious health issue for children, the elderly with underlying health issues and pregnant women. The health implications are significant and we need the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government to come to the House to debate the matter.

Senator James Heffernan: Information on James Heffernan Zoom on James Heffernan I wish to speak about an article that is being widely reported in today's media about the presentation given to Amnesty International's seminar yesterday by the master of the National Maternity Hospital, Dr. Rhona Mahony. If anyone knows anything about pregnancy and pre-natal practice, it is she. She is certainly an expert on the subject. It confirmed the fears I had about the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill when it came to this Chamber. I could not vote for the Bill at the time because I felt it did not go far enough in that it did not give the necessary protections I believed should have been afforded, especially to women who suffer a fatal foetal abnormality or women who become pregnant due to rape or incest.

  The latest figures indicate that ten women a day must travel from this country to England to seek the necessary medical treatment, which is absolutely outrageous in this day and age. The country has moved on a considerable amount since the 1980s but the Legislature has not moved with the times on the issue. There is no reason in the world a woman diagnosed with a fatal foetal abnormality should be forced to bring her pregnancy to full term. It is an absolutely cruel practice, one we should not force on any woman. Legislation covering such matters in this country result in discrimination against women, especially those who come from poorer and more deprived areas who possibly cannot afford to make the trip to England and who are forced to self-medicate. Women buy all sorts of experimental drugs and take the treatment into their own hands at home without proper medical supervision. We should be able to have a mature debate in this House on the eighth amendment. Before the Government’s term ends it should put a referendum on it to the people. Most people are sensible when it comes to rape, incest and fatal foetal abnormality and they are matters on which we should legislate.

Senator Colm Burke: Information on Colm Burke Zoom on Colm Burke I support Senator O’Donovan’s point on hospital waiting lists. There is now a major problem in that regard. Part of the problem is due to the lack of long-term planning, in particular from 2003 on when we did not employ enough consultants. The last time I inquired about the matter when the HSE attended the Committee on Health and Children, it was confirmed that more than 325 consultant vacancies existed out of a total of 2,500 posts. I agree with what Senator O’Donovan said about the National Treatment Purchase Fund. We should look seriously at the matter again, in particular in cases where people have been waiting for a considerable period. However, if that option is chosen, it must be done properly. There was a case in the South Infirmary-Victoria Hospital where people were referred to a private hospital for consultation and reports were made but then the HSE consultants had to review the patients before they could carry out the procedures. That should not have been done. If such an approach is taken, it should be done properly in the way it was done previously where people were assessed and operations were carried out in the private sector. That option needs to be reconsidered and it would be appropriate to have a debate on the matter in the House.

  I agree with what my colleague said about a debate on the Amnesty International report. A presentation was made to the Committee On Health and Children yesterday but I decided not to take part in it because I had not fully read the report. Parts of the report have been taken out of context, which is unfortunate because it gives a very false impression of the medical services that are available in this country for women. It is wrong that such an impression is given. I raised the matter with the head of Amnesty International in this country after the meeting. I accept issues arise that need to be dealt with, in particular that of fatal foetal abnormalities. I worry about the accuracy of some aspects of a report based on interviewing only 60 people and I have concerns about it from that point of view.

Senator Terry Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden Zoom on Terry Leyden Senator O’Donovan and Senator Hildegarde Naughton both raised the issue of lead piping. It is something that has been known about for some time. The Government is not responsible for it as it dates back to the previous century when lead piping was used extensively in buildings. It is very important that the matter would be rectified. I hope the Government will introduce some form of grant system to allow householders who are affected by the situation. We should have a debate on the matter and other issues regarding water transportation. For instance, asbestos pipes were used in the 1970s. The Castlerea regional scheme had asbestos piping from the Longford Springs to Ballintubber and surrounding areas. The matter was brought to my attention a long time ago by people in that area who were concerned. They were assured that asbestos would not be carried in the water but it is a health issue and the Government should examine it.

  Even though a report was published on the fluoridation of water, I have strong reservations on the matter. I chaired a committee in the Department of Health which was mainly composed of dentists and professors of dentistry which came out in favour of adding fluoride to water. Since then, however, I have developed strong reservations on the matter. Why would one add something to a product that is beautiful and clear? Fluoride is a drug. It is a dangerous chemical. It is used to protect teeth and it is said that the addition of it to water has been a wonderful success in this respect. However, it is also being given to animals in drinking water. I have strong reservations on the matter and I would like to see some international studies on the issue. Most countries are discontinuing water fluoridation. The problem is that each administration administers fluoride in its own way and there is no overall consistency in the approach taken. Some people might dump a tonne of it into the water while others put in less. It is a very inexact, unregulated system. It would be worthwhile if the Leader of the House could give Members an opportunity to debate water. I hope Irish Water gets involved in the wider debate. The company has enough people working for it in its public relations and communications area for it to listen to the words spoken in Seanad Éireann, and in Dáil Éireann for that matter.

Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell: Information on Marie-Louise O'Donnell Zoom on Marie-Louise O'Donnell I wish to highlight again the real bank in the country, the honest one in which we all believe and the one that never let us down, namely, the post office.

Senator David Cullinane: Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane Hear, hear.

Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell: Information on Marie-Louise O'Donnell Zoom on Marie-Louise O'Donnell I do not wish to hear about IBRC, Bank of Ireland, Allied Irish Banks or any of those valueless banks for which we paid millions, and are still paying millions, through the universal social charge in order that they could stay alive. Let us all talk about the real bank, which is the post office. I want the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection to come to the House to explain about the new social welfare forms. I want them withdrawn. The Irish Postmasters Union said that all post offices will be under threat of closure if social protection transaction business is taken away. We really need to take this on board because savings and savings certificates in the post office are probably the most valuable savings people have in any bank in Ireland because the post office does not rob people and then come back and ask people to pay for the robbery. I request that the forms would be reissued and that the Minister would come to the House to confirm that is the case. Social welfare payments account for more than 30% of transactions and if they are removed, the core business is gone.  While I acknowledge what the Minister of State at the Department of Social Protection, Deputy Kevin Humphreys, has said on the matter, we should be treating the post office network as a national asset by taking its social and community value into account. The Oireachtas should provide the powers required to keep our post offices alive and to extend its range of functions, which currently include banking and payment of motor tax, drivers licence fees, insurance and pensions.

  The Irish people do not have great faith in the prospect of good politics or good banking. We are good politicians in this House, and this is the forum from which we can support our post offices, as the most valuable resource in every town, county and urban area in Ireland. We should be extending them and giving them more powers rather than shutting them down and capitulating to the banks. I urge Senators to support me in introducing a framework that would allow the post office network to remain independent and to grow under the Houses of the Oireachtas. I want to amend the Order of Business to debate this issue with the Minister.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke Is the Senator referring to the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection?

Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell: Information on Marie-Louise O'Donnell Zoom on Marie-Louise O'Donnell The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources may also like to come to the House for the debate because he has responsibility for communications. They can both attend.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke I ask the Senator to clarify the amendment.

Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell: Information on Marie-Louise O'Donnell Zoom on Marie-Louise O'Donnell It is to bring in the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke On what issue?

Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell: Information on Marie-Louise O'Donnell Zoom on Marie-Louise O'Donnell On the issue of the social welfare forms, the capitulation to the banks and the disposal of post offices.

Senator David Cullinane: Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane I second Senator O'Donnell's amendment to the Order of Business. I met representatives of the Irish Postmasters Union yesterday. The form shows clear bias towards financial institutions over post offices. It directs people to use a financial institution instead of a post office. That flies in the face of the assurances given by the Ministers for Social Protection and Communications, Energy and Natural Resources that there is no inherent bias towards financial institutions when it comes to social welfare payments, and that post offices and banks are treated equally. That is simply not the case. If Senators read the forms they will see what they are telling people. They even state that it is in individuals' interest to go to financial institutions. That is even worse than a clear bias because if people withdraw from their post offices and go to financial institutions, there will be job losses and closures of post offices. Post offices have already closed in many rural areas. I need not rehearse the argument about the impact on rural communities and even urban centres, where post offices provide a crucial social service.

  In regard to the one parent family changes which come into effect in July, the SPARK organisation is protesting outside Leinster House today. These changes will drive more families and, especially, women into poverty. I was in this Chamber in 2012 when the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection said she would not implement these changes until proper social and affordable, or Scandinavian as she put it, child care was available to the citizens of this State.

Senator Fidelma Healy Eames: Information on Fidelma Healy Eames Zoom on Fidelma Healy Eames That will never happen in this country.

Senator David Cullinane: Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane She has not provided those services but she is proceeding with the cuts anyway. Shame on her. When she is here to debate the post office network, I hope that she will also deal with this crucial issue before the change is implemented on 2 July. I will be joining the protestors from SPARK when they are demonstrating against a cruel cut to those who head one parent families.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke I welcome to the Visitors Gallery, Mr. Brian O'Dwyer, a champion of Irish emigrants in New York and America.

Senator Mary Moran: Information on Mary Moran Zoom on Mary Moran I welcome the announcement on Monday that €2.7 million is being made available from the Dormant Account Fund to support people with disabilities and for substance abuse prevention initiatives. A funding scheme of €1 million is also being made available for home carers. I particularly welcome the inclusion of health related supports aimed at assisting young people with a disability or with autism who are making the transition from secondary school to the next stage of their lives. As this can be an anxious period for the individuals and families concerned, the additional health related assistance is very welcome. The focus on advancing best practice in residential services is important and it has become topical in recent months. I have worked on this matter at local and national levels because it is of the upmost importance that residential services meet HIQA standards in terms of providing the best possible care for service users.

Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh: Information on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh Zoom on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh Tá mé ag seasamh i dtosach báire le haird a tharraingt ar an gceist atá ag teacht chun cinn inniu maidir leis an tseirbhís aeir ar a bheidh cur i láthair againn ó mhuintir Inis Mór agus muintir na n-oileán go deimhin in Árainn. I wish to highlight the issues associated with living on an island off the coast of Ireland and call for a debate on policy on the islands in general. Today we are hearing a presentation from the Aran Islands air service action group, which is concerned that the islands' air services are under attack. This brings into focus the issue of living on the islands of our coast. It appears the new programme will not include a Leader company with the specific purpose of supporting the islands. The islands face specific infrastructure and transport difficulties, and I would welcome a debate on them.

  I agree with my colleague, Senator Cullinane, on SPARK and the cuts to lone parent payments. A protest is also being held by the Dublin greyhound owners and breeders association. I have previously called for a debate on the greyhound industry because it has been some time since our last debate on the matter. The association is concerned that the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Deputy Tom Hayes, have dropped the ball on the greyhound industry. It is currently in free-fall, with owners and breeders leaving the game in their droves. They believe that the board is being filled with political appointments and that the Minister is proposing to sell the greyhound racing stadium in Harold's Cross while keeping others open, even though it makes a profit. Concerns were also expressed about the lack of financial transparency from the board, the fact that the 2013 accounts have not yet been made available and irregularities in the industry in terms of substances used by unscrupulous trainers. This debate is long overdue and the Minister of State, Deputy Tom Hayes, should come to the House at the earliest opportunity for a full and honest discussion on the future of the greyhound industry in Ireland.

Senator Michael Mullins: Information on Michael Mullins Zoom on Michael Mullins The issue of obesity has been raised on many occasions in this House. A recent report on food provision in post-primary schools prepared by the Irish Heart Foundation contained some worrying findings, including the high availability of unhealthy foods, but it also identified ground-breaking approaches to providing nutritious food in schools. Secondary schools can play a key role in improving children's health and well being by providing nutritious food options, which are essential for growth, development and protection against heart disease. The wide-ranging report found that food products with high levels of fat, sugar and salt were available in more than half of the 39 schools surveyed and that 40% of schools did not provide free drinking water, which was only marginally more widely available than Coca Cola and other energy dense soft drinks. This report deserves debate and it would be appropriate to have a debate with the Minister for Education and Skills on the provision of appropriate food in schools as part of the fight against obesity.  The Leader might consider this more appropriate for the Minister for Health but both the Department of Health and the Department of Education and Skills should take a keen interest in this report.

Senator Jim Walsh: Information on Jim Walsh Zoom on Jim Walsh Will the Leader arrange a debate over the next few weeks, perhaps before the end of the month or in early July, with the Minister for Finance specifically to discuss certain taxation issues? Capital gains tax is now becoming the focus of attention for many people. The rate, which was 20%, has been increased by the Minister to 33%, which is close to where it was many years ago. In those times, indexation was allowed, meaning that this is currently a very penal tax that is impacting fairly seriously on people, and particularly those who have suffered losses. This has become a very convoluted area that must be simplified, and I hope we might be able to have a debate on the issue.

  At the same time we could examine capital acquisitions tax. As a result of current house prices, where parents or grandparents try to assist children or grandchildren by leaving them a house or something else, many of those people may be unable to hold on to the house because of the taxation liability that comes with it. The thresholds have been reduced very significantly by more than half in recent years since the economic collapse. Now that we see a move towards recompensing the public service, it is very important that people in the private sector are not left to pick up the bill by continuing to wear the austerity measures imposed on citizenry over the past six or seven years.

  Will the Leader consider having a debate about the KBB? When the Leader and I were growing up, it was the KGB and now it is the KBB. We saw yesterday the choreography that took place between the master of one of our maternity hospitals, Amnesty International and a UN committee. Two of those organisations would see themselves as being strong advocates for human rights. Nevertheless, when it comes to the most vulnerable sector of all, they take an anti-human rights approach and go back to medieval practices which they are trying to promote. We should have a debate on all those who are part of the KBB. It is interesting that the Irish Council for Civil Liberties has not yet come out about it. It also received money from Atlantic Philanthropies, as has Amnesty International. I know the conditionality was that it would promote abortion in this country. This area needs to be exposed and the people need to be fully aware when they make decisions on these issues if that choice is put before them in future. They need to know the background of those who are promoting these issues, and people should choose in an informed way.

Senator John Kelly: Information on John Kelly Zoom on John Kelly I seek a debate on the centralisation of services brought about by the previous Government. This is something we need to revisit as centralisation has proven to be a disaster over recent years. What was wrong with the operation of the medical card system under the health boards? There was nothing wrong with it and it worked very well. It is now a disaster. I know a mature student in Dublin with absolutely no income and he has been fighting for 15 months with the primary care reimbursement service to get a medical card to which he is entitled. He had to send the service a solicitor's letter recently.

  We can consider SUSI, the education grant system. There was nothing wrong with the way it was operating when the process was local, and it ran smoothly. I know a man who has been waiting seven months for a grant to which he is entitled but he cannot get it. We can see what we did with the HSE when we formed it in favour of the old health boards. Once we got rid of the old health boards, we took away local power from the people. A former Minister for Health, Deputy James Reilly, promised to get rid of the HSE. For the ordinary person, this meant that the decision-makers and fat cats in the HSE would be eliminated. He only got rid of the board of directors and what has changed since then? Absolutely nothing. We are still seeing what used to happen with the board of directors in place. When the board was in place, the executive closed the accident and emergency department in Roscommon but with a new board in place, the executive is threatening to close the accident and emergency department in Portlaoise. There is a psychiatric unit in Castlerea that has housed 23 patients for the past 15 to 20 years and they are happy and content in that place but the HSE has decided that these people - some of whom have no advocates to speak for them - are not in the right place. The HSE believes they might be better off in private nursing homes.

  All this has proven to be a disaster and centralisation should be included in any debate we have. I ask the Leader to seriously consider my request.

Senator Jim Walsh: Information on Jim Walsh Zoom on Jim Walsh Bring back McCreevy.

Senator Fidelma Healy Eames: Information on Fidelma Healy Eames Zoom on Fidelma Healy Eames The Taoiseach, Deputy Enda Kenny, said that if we show him the blockages in a system, the Government would unblock them with respect to jobs, businesses or people's livelihoods. There are certainly blockages in the system and Irish Water is presenting a serious blockage if it is affecting business. We have a worrying issue developing in Oranmore, as Irish Water has stated it is to start pipe rehabilitation and water works next Monday, without any consultation with local business. We are talking about a peak time for businesses. There was a meeting last evening involving 50 businesses and there was another meeting a few days before that. These businesses are now considering an injunction as well as protest to prevent the works going ahead next Monday. This is ridiculous as there is no need for it. We want reasonable communication and consultation about the timing of works. That is all that has been asked for. Irish Water has taken a bullying approach and has sent people with no decision-making power to the site. I call for a meeting between Mr. John Tierney and a business delegation in Oranmore. It is pretty bad when I have to stand up in our Seanad to do that because we are not getting direct communication.

  I also call for the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Bruton, to examine the blockages in the system. Retaining jobs is just as important as creating a job. If these works go ahead in the peak season in Oranmore, we will see full-time jobs become part-time jobs, at a minimum. People with rates bills of €127,000 - as put on the record yesterday - will have to call people who have booked holidays or a few days off to say there could be a rock blaster outside the door at 7 a.m. That is no way to treat people, and especially the business people or residents of Oranmore. Everyone should have a say.

  I call on Mr. Tierney, the chief executive officer of Irish Water, to get real and negotiate rather than have the company take a bullying approach. That is the approach Irish Water has used and, mark my words, if it does this in Oranmore and gets away with it, the company will do it elsewhere. I am standing with the people on this.

Senator Lorraine Higgins: Information on Lorraine Higgins Zoom on Lorraine Higgins I am calling for a debate on zero-hour contracts as there is no doubt such contracts are bad for the Exchequer. There is a swindle of Irish taxpayers by multi-million euro companies that is going completely under the radar. This relates to large companies using zero-hour contracts to employ staff who in turn must supplement their incomes through social welfare benefits. Zero-hour contracts are not just bad for the country's living standards, they are also bad for the Exchequer, as low pay is a drain on public finances. If we consider the wages of people on zero-hour contracts, they must be routinely topped up by the Government through the payment of in-work benefits. I am firmly of the view that low pay must be supported but on the flip side, the taxpayer is subsidising the wage bills of large private companies. Their actions are driving up benefits bills and are making it more difficult for us to reduce the deficit in public finances.

Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh: Information on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh Zoom on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh What is the Minister of State, Deputy Nash, doing about it?

Senator Lorraine Higgins: Information on Lorraine Higgins Zoom on Lorraine Higgins Low pay, as part of the zero-hour contract issue, stifles our economy and stunts taxes coming to the Exchequer. This results in more Government borrowing, which we simply cannot afford. In effect, it is the taxpayer who is indirectly supplementing the incomes of the low-paid while subsidising the wage bill of employers. It sickens me to see companies that pimp the green colour on brands doing this. It is time for them to show some patriotism and give regular contracted hours to staff. There should be a fair day's pay for a fair day's work.

Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh: Information on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh Zoom on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh The Minister of State, Deputy Nash, should do something about it.

Senator Lorraine Higgins: Information on Lorraine Higgins Zoom on Lorraine Higgins Sinn Féin does not have the monopoly on this issue.  I call on the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation to come into the Seanad-----

Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh: Information on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh Zoom on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh No, the Minister needs to do something about the matter.

Senator Lorraine Higgins: Information on Lorraine Higgins Zoom on Lorraine Higgins -----so we can debate this issue.

Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh: Information on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh Zoom on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh Sinn Féin never claimed it had a monopoly.

Senator Lorraine Higgins: Information on Lorraine Higgins Zoom on Lorraine Higgins A debate would afford us an opportunity to look for solutions-----

Senator Paul Coghlan: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan It is not-----

(Interruptions).

Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh: Information on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh Zoom on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh We never claimed a monopoly.

Senator Lorraine Higgins: Information on Lorraine Higgins Zoom on Lorraine Higgins -----and to properly thrash it out. Sinn Féin does not have a monopoly on the issue.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke I call Senator Bradford.

Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh: Information on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh Zoom on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh We need to do something about it.

Senator Lorraine Higgins: Information on Lorraine Higgins Zoom on Lorraine Higgins I have called for a debate and hope that we will get one now.

Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh: Information on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh Zoom on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh We need more than a debate.

Senator Lorraine Higgins: Information on Lorraine Higgins Zoom on Lorraine Higgins Sinn Féin can shout outside the Chamber all they want.

(Interruptions).

Senator Lorraine Higgins: Information on Lorraine Higgins Zoom on Lorraine Higgins I am trying to get a real solution for people.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke Senator Bradford please, without interruption.

Senator Paul Bradford: Information on Paul Bradford Zoom on Paul Bradford I shall let the parties of the left fight their battles outside of the Chamber.

Senator Paul Coghlan: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan Is the Senator to the right?

Senator Paul Bradford: Information on Paul Bradford Zoom on Paul Bradford I support the ongoing campaign by Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell in regard to An Post. I support the Senator's call for the Minister for Social Protection to appear before the Seanad to discuss her role in this regard.

  We have a Minister who has responsibility for rural affairs, a concept which commenced at the time of setting up the Department that I fully supported. One really has to ask the following questions. Is it relevant? Is there any use in having such a Department and Minister if the holder of the office is not in a position to ensure that vital rural development services, such as the post office network, are not only fully retained but expanded? The development of this country is an issue that we have raised here before. Do we want balanced regional development? Do we simply want an ever-expanding Dublin at the cost of rural Ireland? The post office network must be retained and expanded as part of a functioning rural and provincial Ireland. I congratulate Senator O'Donnell on her ongoing campaign and lend her my support. I formally second her amendment, if necessary.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke Is the Senator seconding the amendment?

Senator Paul Bradford: Information on Paul Bradford Zoom on Paul Bradford Yes, I formally second it if it has not been seconded already.

  I support Senator Ó Clochartaigh's comments on the greyhound industry. Many months ago we both spoke on the matter here and we were promised that a further debate would take place. I know that the Minister and his junior Minister are very busy in the Department but it is necessary that we debate the greyhound industry. It is an important rural industry which employs thousands of people in all of its facets. Therefore, we must retain, support and maintain the industry and its integrity. I would like to hear an update from the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine or his Minister of State, Deputy Tom Hayes, on the many areas of concern within the industry. Last September or October we debated the matter so it is time to air it again. There are problems but there is no point in brushing them under the carpet. The Seanad can have a calm and reflective debate on the subject. I know the Leader is interested in the industry and, therefore, I call on him to arrange for either the Minister or his Minister of State, Deputy Hayes, to come in here to update us on their ongoing inquiries. Let us hear from them as soon as possible. I hope they will be in a position to allay our concerns.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Rónán Mullen Zoom on Rónán Mullen I support Senator Walsh's comments on the activism of organisations, such as Amnesty International, in pushing for abortion. Sadly, Amnesty International has lost many of its loyal supporters who previously viewed it as an impartial and reliable voice that acted on behalf of the most vulnerable and forgotten members of society. Frankly, the organisation has become distracted from its important work of supporting victims and prisoners of conscience to join this very troubling and corrupted version of human rights that it now proposes. That is a real shame for an organisation which had such great origins and did so much good work in the past.

  I call for a debate on the manner in which the Government pursues projects that involve compulsory purchase. I specifically have in mind the Dublin to Galway greenway project. It is proposed to have a cycle path along disused rail tracks and through open country. I am concerned about the latter aspect which involves the use of a path through open country. Earlier this year I became aware that the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport officials, involved with the project, had threatened to use compulsory purchase order legislation to acquire land for the initiative. Much of the land for the part of the project that stretches from Dublin to Ballinasloe was secured through transfers of ground that belonged to Waterways Ireland and the pubic transport authorities. However, the final stretch of the route is from Loughrea to Galway city which cuts through family farms. In such cases it is outrageous to use threats of compulsory purchase proceedings.

  A CPO is a draconian intervention against a private individual's constitutionally protected property rights. Therefore, it should be used sparingly and only for vital and national infrastructural projects which, to my mind, does not include a cycle path. A far better way to proceed is through negotiation and consultation. Where a proposed route dissects a family farm and thereby reduces the value of the land, compensation should be payable. However, the duty of the State does not end there. The Department must ensure that other measures are taken to ensure that farmers are confident that their business will not be negatively impacted and that their privacy will be respected. I am not satisfied that this is the case. I know from my conversations with landowners affected by the proposal that the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport has conducted discussions by dictating to farmers to take the "compo" for their land or it will be subject to a CPO.

  Farmers have concerns about privacy, safety and the impacts on their business. The land strips on the greenway average 10 m in width and the proposed route cuts right across farms, in many cases. The route will run close to dwellings, near farmyards and through productive farming land. One farmer that I spoke to pointed out that the planned route dissects his land. He said that his dairy herd will have to cross the greenway four times which will add to his workload as he will have to clean it up every time his cows cross the greenway. There are obviously safety concerns where livestock comes into contact with the public. Other farmers face having a public right of way running close to their private dwellings. They are right to insist that they are entitled to more than just monetary compensation. Safety measures and measures to protect privacy are also vital.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke The Senator is way over time and is operating on Leader's time today.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Rónán Mullen Zoom on Rónán Mullen I hope that the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport will engage in meaningful consultation, including agreeing to enhanced fencing for safety purposes and screening measures to protect privacy. These are not unreasonable demands.

Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell: Information on Marie-Louise O'Donnell Zoom on Marie-Louise O'Donnell The Senator has lost half his points.

Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill: Information on Brian Ó Domhnaill Zoom on Brian Ó Domhnaill I support the campaign by Senator O'Donnell to retain the vitally important post office network. As we speak and posture, services in Donegal have been centralised. Why have sub-post offices been closed in Donegal and centralised in Letterkenny? It is because the Department of Social Welfare will not roll out Government transactions through the post office network and, thus, support the network. It is essential that the Minister comes in here to debate the matter. The post office network, as we know it, is at a crossroads and continues to face huge financial challenges.

  I ask the Leader what suggestions have been put forward to handle pre-budget statements, submissions or discussions here in the House. At the moment all of the interest or sectoral groups are lobbying and holding briefing sessions within the Oireachtas, and outside of the Oireachtas, in regard to what they seek in the forthcoming budget. When will we have those discussions? We should have those discussions prior to the summer recess. I call for time to be made available to debate the matter with each Department with the Cabinet Minister being present for such discussions.

  I wish to refer to the saga that has spilled over today again and I refer to the Football Association of Ireland and John Delaney. I understand that the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport and Communications is due to meet today and may discuss the issue. The debate is much ado about nothing and is a diversionary tactic. People just want to focus attention on the chief executive of the Football Association of Ireland who, through his office, obtained a grant or loan payment or whatever from FIFA.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke The Senator should not bring individuals into the debate.

Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill: Information on Brian Ó Domhnaill Zoom on Brian Ó Domhnaill The only difficulty is that the sum was not larger. If it were, then the taxpayer would not have been exposed, to the extent that we have been, to fund sporting projects up and down the country. I am chairman of my local soccer club. Therefore, I can say, without qualification, that the work that John Delaney and the FAI have done to benefit grassroots soccer and under age soccer is undisputed. The money that was obtained was verified and outlined in the financial statements and annual accounts in the years concerned. The attention that has been given to the matter is a diversionary tactic and is wrong. Instead, politicians here, the people of this country and the media should get behind the Irish team who will play an important game against Scotland next Saturday.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke The Senator is way over time.

Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill: Information on Brian Ó Domhnaill Zoom on Brian Ó Domhnaill There are other political questions about money, which has been taken from the taxpayer and is in the IBRC, that the Government does not want to discuss. A view has been adopted to direct attention at John Delaney and the FAI in order to make him a scapegoat. That is a wrong thing to do.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke The matter will be discussed later

Senator Feargal Quinn: Information on Feargal Quinn Zoom on Feargal Quinn I draw the House's attention to a new law that has been introduced in France that will force the big supermarkets to give unsold food to charities. I do not believe there is need for the same legislation in Ireland because the vast majority of supermarkets already give unsold food to charities. It is interesting to see how much unsold food there is and how much food is thrown away when people are hungry in various parts of France.  It may well happen in some cases, but to the best of my knowledge supermarkets here give their surplus food to various charities. The reason I mention this is that some products have a "best before" date rather than a "use by" date. I mentioned this issue here previously, but I have not seen anything being done about it. The "best before" term should not be used. We should use the term "use by". I remember an occasion in one of our supermarkets where a customer complained new potatoes she was buying on a Saturday had a "best before" Sunday date. I went to our supplier and asked about this and he told me they were best before that date and should be used within 24 hours of being picked. However, that did not mean there was anything wrong with them or that they were damaged. If a person was to get them at their best for taste, that is what the "best before" date meant.

  I do not believe we need legislation, but I would like to encourage the disuse of the term "best before" and the use of the term "use by". On that basis we would have less waste of good food and surplus food would be used by people who need it.

Senator Paul Coghlan: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan I welcome the Government's national strategy on reducing exposure to lead in drinking water. We know how harmful lead can be. The strategy sets out a long-term plan to raise awareness of the legacy issue in this regard, which affects up to 200,000 homes throughout the State, and plans to support the replacement of lead piping in homes and other buildings. I understand Irish Water has already written to 655 households on this issue. I came across a case in Tralee recently where a whole estate was affected. The issue was raised by a Deputy at a hospital meeting I was attending. This issue is widespread. It is dynamite. Lead is particularly harmful to pregnant women, infants and young children. I welcome the strategy and welcome the commitment of Irish Water to replace lead piping from boundaries to the water main provided householders replace lead piping within their boundaries.

Senator Terry Brennan: Information on Terry Brennan Zoom on Terry Brennan I wish to make two happy announcements. I welcome the fact that a further American football game, between Boston College and Georgia Tech, will take place in Dublin next September. American college football is not just making a name for itself but is making a second home for itself here. This should be welcomed by all involved in tourism and sport.

  Second, Dublin is the chosen destination for the International Air Transport Association's annual general meeting next year. This is one of the most prestigious events on the travel calendar. The AGM will be hosted in the RDS from 1 to 3 June next year. This trade association gathering of the world's airlines will attract more than 1,200 delegates to our capital city and, hopefully, some of them will visit the north east also. It is estimated this meeting is worth €1.6 million to the local economy.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke Is the Senator seeking a debate on this issue?

Senator Terry Brennan: Information on Terry Brennan Zoom on Terry Brennan I am just welcoming these initiatives. It augurs well for tourism that we are getting these two most prestigious events in our capital city.

Senator Terry Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden Zoom on Terry Leyden Will it compensate for the sale of Aer Lingus?

Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell: Information on Marie-Louise O'Donnell Zoom on Marie-Louise O'Donnell Fianna Fáil sold it.

Senator Terry Brennan: Information on Terry Brennan Zoom on Terry Brennan Yes, Fianna Fáil sold it.

Senator Terry Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden Zoom on Terry Leyden No, we got investment in it.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke I call the Leader, without interruption please.

Senator Maurice Cummins: Information on Maurice Cummins Zoom on Maurice Cummins The acting leader of the Opposition, Senator O'Donovan, raised the issue of the schedule for the rest of the term. I will make available to the leader and the Whip what we have to date. We used to meet with the Leader and the Whip every week, but that practice has not continued. I have no problem in regard to providing the information.

  In regard to the need to reconsider the National Treatment Purchase Fund, the Government has taken strong measures and formed an emergency department task force in December 2014 to provide focus and momentum for dealing with challenges presented by overcrowding. An additional €74 million was provided and ring-fenced for this. Some €44 million was allocated to the nursing homes support scheme and €30 million to cover the cost of additional transitional care beds. This additional funding comes on top of measures already taken in budget 2015, when the Government provided €25 million to support services that provide alternatives to relieve the pressure on acute hospitals. An implementation plan is being reviewed by the leadership of the HSE, completed yesterday, and it is anticipated this will be agreed and that the implementation steering group will be formed by the end of the week, with an initial meeting of the group to take place within the next ten days. Therefore, a number of actions are being taken to address the waiting list situation and the unacceptable trolley situation.

  Senators O'Donovan, Hayden, Naughton, Coghlan and Leyden raised the issue of lead piping. I am glad there have been many good and new schemes in Roscommon to provide a good water supply for the people there. These are long overdue as Roscommon was neglected over many years

Senator Terry Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden Zoom on Terry Leyden It is very embarrassing.

Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell: Information on Marie-Louise O'Donnell Zoom on Marie-Louise O'Donnell It must be.

Senator Maurice Cummins: Information on Maurice Cummins Zoom on Maurice Cummins Senator O'Donovan also raised issues relating to Irish Water. We have an Irish Water clinic here each week at which people can discuss individual problems with Irish Water and Members should consider attending that. Senator Healy Eames should consider that in regard to the problem she highlighted. We have a mechanism whereby such issues can be raised by Members on a weekly basis and that forum should be used in that regard.

  Senator Hayden raised the ESRI report, which certainly shows a robust recovery in domestic demand and also shows a strong export situation. The Government has been strong on the economy and has tried to ensure we continue the progress made to date. This has been Government policy, particularly of the Ministers for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputies Noonan and Howlin.

  Senators Heffernan, Mullen and Walsh raised the Amnesty International report in reference to abortion. A number of Members raised this matter on yesterday's Order of Business also and I do not propose to deal with it again today.

  Senator Leyden raised the question of fluoride in water. The recent report issued suggested there is no evidence that fluoride creates a health hazard. I understand people disagree with that and Senator O'Brien raised the matter on a number of occasions.

  Senator O'Donnell asked about the future of the post office network. We all support a strong post office network. However, An Post needs to start moving to generate new business, because that is what is required. People will decide how they want to receive payments.

(Interruptions).

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke The Leader, without interruption.

Senator Maurice Cummins: Information on Maurice Cummins Zoom on Maurice Cummins If it is a democracy, I would like to be able to respond. I did not interrupt anybody else.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke The Leader to continue, without interruption.

Senator Maurice Cummins: Information on Maurice Cummins Zoom on Maurice Cummins The majority of clients claiming the State pension for the first time choose to have it paid directly into an account. The majority of existing pensioners are already receiving their welfare payments by direct lodgement. Those who receive payments in cash will continue to receive them. I hope more will decide to use post offices, but it is a decision to be taken by the people concerned. I mentioned yesterday when this matter was raised that we had held a debate in the House on 2 April on the issue of post office payments and the letter that had issued prior to that date.

Senator David Cullinane: Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane That flies in the face of what was said on that day. The Leader is missing the point.

Senator Maurice Cummins: Information on Maurice Cummins Zoom on Maurice Cummins When the Minister of State, Deputy Kevin Humphreys, came to the House on 2 April, there were six speakers on the issue. Many more spoke about it today. I wonder whether those who have spoken today actually spoke on 2 April when the Minister of State was present.

Senator David Cullinane: Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane The Leader should deal with the question he was asked.

Senator Maurice Cummins: Information on Maurice Cummins Zoom on Maurice Cummins It would be nice to look at the record of that debate. The Senator should not be too smart in that regard.

Senator David Cullinane: Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane We are here to ask the Leader questions.

Senator Maurice Cummins: Information on Maurice Cummins Zoom on Maurice Cummins I am answering the question to the best of my ability.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke The Leader to continue, without interruption.

Senator David Cullinane: Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane We do not want smart aleck answers.

Senator Maurice Cummins: Information on Maurice Cummins Zoom on Maurice Cummins There are smart aleck comments from the Senator.

Senator David Cullinane: Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane The Leader is giving a smart aleck answer. He should give answers to the questions we asked.

Senator Maurice Cummins: Information on Maurice Cummins Zoom on Maurice Cummins There are smart aleck comments from the Senator when he is here. However, he is not here that often.

  The Senator also referred to SPARK, Single Parents Acting for the Rights of Kids. This matter was raised by Senator Mary White yesterday and dealt with on the Order of Business.

  Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh referred to the policy on the islands. We will consider having a debate on that issue.

  Regarding the greyhound industry, an issue also raised by Senator Paul Bradford, we had a debate on it last September. I understand the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine also had a debate on it. However, we will try to facilitate a further debate, if Members deem it to be necessary.

  Senator Michael Mullins spoke about the need for more nutritious foods for children in schools, particularly to combat diabetes and obesity. He also referred to the report of the Irish Heart Foundation and suggested we have a debate on the matter. I will certainly try to schedule such a debate. We have had a number of debates on the issue, but the Senator suggests the Minister for Education and Skills would be the appropriate person to deal with it. I will, therefore, try to facilitate such a debate.

  Senator Jim Walsh spoke about the need to look again at capital gains tax and capital acquisitions tax, which have increased significantly in recent years. I am sure the Minister for Finance will examine the matter in the budget proposals, but I suggest it be discussed at the finance committee to which pre-budget submissions are made. Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill also raised the question of pre-budget discussions. Such submissions are dealt with mainly by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform.

  Senator John Kelly spoke about the need for greater decentralisation of services. He specifically mentioned post office services and items in the health sector such as medical cards. This has been Government policy on medical cards and other services, including applications for student grants. It has taken time for the services to bed down, but the position has improved significantly this year in comparison to the past few years.

  The matter raised by Senator Fidelma Healy Eames could be raised as a Commencement matter or else she could deal directly with Irish Water staff who are in the Houses of the Oireachtas on a weekly basis.

  Senator Lorraine Higgins raised the issue of zero-hour contracts. We have dealt with the Low Pay Commission and there was a Bill in the House only last week to try to deal with the matter which is under constant scrutiny by the Government and particularly the Minister of State at the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Gerald Nash.

  I have dealt with the matters raised by Senator Paul Bradford, including the post office network and the greyhound industry.

  Senator Rónán Mullen referred to the provision of greenways throughout the country. This has been very important in promoting tourism, but I note the Senator's point in questioning the use of compulsory purchase orders which are used sparingly by local authorities. That is the case in this regard also.

  Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill referred to the Football Association of Ireland. I do not intend to become involved in that matter. It is something the relevant Oireachtas joint committee might be dealing with.

  Senator Feargal Quinn spoke about large supermarkets giving unsold food to charities, a point he has raised previously. I am aware that many Irish supermarkets do this. The point the Senator makes is a good one, that the emphasis should be on the use by rather than the best before date. This is something that should be done.

  Senator Terry Brennan mentioned the American football game to be held in September. This is of tremendous benefit to tourism and gives great exposure to the country in the United States. The Senator has also highlighted the fact that the annual general meeting of the International Air Transport Association will be held in Dublin next year, with over 1,200 delegates attending. These events are welcome and promote tourism. Again, this emphasises the significant increase in tourism which we have experienced in the first quarter of the year, during which tourist figures increased by more than 13%.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell has proposed an amendment to the Order of Business-----

Senator Maurice Cummins: Information on Maurice Cummins Zoom on Maurice Cummins In that regard, I do not propose to deal with the post office issue today. We have a lengthy business schedule and even though she was in the House on 2 April, I will certainly endeavour to have the Minister for Social Protection come to the House as soon as possible to discuss the post office network and social welfare payments. However, I cannot accede to the Senator's request today because, as is clear from the schedule, the House will sit until 11 p.m.

Senator Terry Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden Zoom on Terry Leyden That is reasonable.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell has proposed an amendment to the Order of Business: "That a debate with the Minister for Social Protection on the need to withdraw forms which involve the transfer of the financial arrangements of social welfare recipients from the post office to the bank be taken today." Is the amendment being pressed?

Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell: Information on Marie-Louise O'Donnell Zoom on Marie-Louise O'Donnell In the light of what the Leader has said, I will not press it today. I will take him at his word that the Minister will be invited to come to the House as quickly as possible.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke The amendment has been withdrawn.

  Order of Business agreed to.

Customs Bill 2014: Committee and Remaining Stages

  Sections 1 to 52, inclusive, agreed to.

SCHEDULE 1

  Question proposed: "That Schedule 1 be Schedule 1 to the Bill."

Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin): Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin I would be obliged if, in accordance with Standing Order 136, the Cathaoirleach directed the Clerk of the Seanad to make the following minor drafting corrections to the text of the Bill: on page 44, Part 1, Schedule 1, lines 10 to 44, inclusive, to correct the format of the citations used listing the enactments to be repealed by this Bill in order that they follow the appropriate convention, to move the closing bracket in each reference to encompass the entire citation of the Act. It is purely a correction of typographical errors and has no substantive effect.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke I will direct the Clerk of the Seanad accordingly.

  Question put and agreed to.

  Schedule 2 agreed to.

  Title agreed to.

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

  Sitting suspended at 1 p.m. and resumed at 3 p.m.

  3 o’clock

Children (Amendment) Bill 2015: Report and Final Stages

Acting Chairman (Senator Paul Coghlan): Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan Before we commence I remind Senators that they may speak only once on Report Stage, except for the proposer of an amendment, who may reply to the discussion on the amendment. On Report Stage each amendment must be seconded. Amendments Nos. 1 to 4, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together by agreement. Amendment No. 4 is a physical alternative to amendment No. 3.

Senator David Cullinane: Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane I move amendment No. 1:

In page 8, between lines 9 and 10, to insert the following:
“(b) by the insertion of the following subsection after subsection (7):
“(7A) Where a child is convicted of an offence and a period of detention is imposed on the child by a court, the period of detention shall not exceed the term of detention or imprisonment that the court could have imposed on a person of full age and capacity who is convicted of such an offence, and may be less. The Court shall have regard to the age, level of maturity, best interests of the child and principle of imprisonment as a last resort in determining the nature of any penalty imposed.”.”.

I wish to speak to amendments Nos. 1 and 3. We have only submitted a handful of the amendments that we submitted on Committee Stage because we have taken on board the Minister's views on some of the issues. However, the amendments we have tabled are those on which we have been lobbied and on which we have strong views ourselves. We believe they would strengthen the Bill and that is why we have resubmitted them on Report Stage.

  I will set out our position on amendment No. 1, as I did on Committee Stage. We note that section 8 amends section 149 of the Children Act 2001 and provides that where a child is convicted of an offence, the period of detention imposed on a child should not exceed that which the court would have imposed on an adult. While it is noted that the purpose of the section is to give consideration to the principle of equality of treatment between children in detention schools and adults in the prison system, given the importance of the principle that detention should be a last resort for children we recommend that this provision be amended to more closely reflect the spirit and wording of section 96 of the Children Act 2001.

  I will set out the rationale for amendment No. 3. Section 8 provides that where a period of detention greater than three years is imposed on a child, a court must give its reasons for doing so in open court. It is of note that the original Children Act 2001 provision, before it was amended by the 2006 Act, contained an upper limit and did not permit a court to impose a sentence on a child in excess of three years. Therefore, we suggest that the proposed section 149(2) be amended. We are making this submission in light of recommendation 33 of the strategic review group on penal policy as published in September 2014, which states:

The Review Group recommends that, in all cases where a custodial sentence is imposed by a court, the court should set out its reasons in writing for so doing. The Group further recommends that this requirement be incorporated in statute.

  As far back as February 2003 the Law Reform Commission recommended that a District Court judge should be required to give concise written reasons for any decision to impose a custodial sentence. The strategic review group considered whether this requirement would constitute a significant additional burden on the courts and concluded that it would not. The obligation to provide reasons already exists. This recommendation simply requires that those reasons are recorded in writing. In a case where the liberty of a child is at stake it is imperative that there is clarity around the rationale for such a significant decision. Such a statutory provision would promote consistency in sentencing and bring clarity and transparency not only to the courts but to victims, offenders, legal practitioners and the public as well.

Senator Jillian van Turnhout: Information on Jillian van Turnhout Zoom on Jillian van Turnhout I second the amendment and support the first amendment put down by Sinn Féin in principle. However, as I said on Committee Stage - I maintain my position now - I believe the amendment is incorrectly placed. I have contacted Sinn Féin and the Bills Office seeking clarity following Committee Stage.

  The Sinn Féin amendment seeks to insert a new subsection 7A after section 88(7) of the Children Act 2001, as amended by the Criminal Justice Act 2006. Section 88 deals with remand in custody and pertains in the most part to the designation of a place as a remand centre. Section 88(7), as amended, states: "A place may be designated as a remand centre only with the consent of its owners or, as the case may be, its managers."

  Although subject to amendment by this Bill, section 88(8) currently reads: "Where a remand centre is part of a children detention school, children remanded in custody to the centre shall, as far as practicable and where it is in the interests of the child, be kept separate from and not be allowed to associate with children in respect of whom a period of detention has been imposed."

  The Sinn Féin amendment concerns provisions regarding a period of detention imposed on a child by the court. Upon my reading of section 88, a new subsection (7A) to section 88 of the principal Act simply does not fit. Rather, I believe, the amendment should belong to section 88(8), which deals with provisions regarding a period of detention imposed by court. Thus my amendment, amendment No. 2, seeks to expand upon the amendment of section 149(1) of the Children Act contained in this Bill by stipulating several criteria.

  First, not only must the period of detention imposed on a child not exceed what the court could have imposed on an adult convicted of the same offence, it can be less. This stipulation is made in section 96(4) of the Children Act dealing with principles relating to the exercise of criminal jurisdiction over children, which holds: "The penalty imposed on a child for an offence should be no greater than that which would be appropriate in the case of an adult who commits an offence of the same kind and may be less, where so provided for in this Part."

  Second, in determining the period of detention a decision should reflect the spirt and wording of section 96(2) in particular which reminds the court that it "should take the least restrictive form that is appropriate in the circumstances" and that "a period of detention should be imposed only as a measure of last resort".

  The third criteria relates to the best interests of the child principle. Given the new children's rights article in the Constitution, and our obligations to children under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, it is vital that this principle appears and flows consistently through legislation impacting on the lives of children. I have adopted the wording for this amendment from the Irish Penal Reform Trust and I note that those involved also envisaged that the amendment would sit under section 8.

  As for the rationale behind the amendment, I note the chilling observation of Dr. Andrew McLellan, chief inspector of prisons for Scotland from 2002-09. He said: "Prison may sometimes do good, but it always does harm." Ireland is bound to respect and uphold the internationally and domestically recognised principle of detention as a last resort for children. The rationale underpinning the fundamental principle and international human rights rule that children should be detained only as a measure of last resort is a three-fold recognition. First, detention is harmful to children.  Professor Barry Goldson, senior lecturer at the department of sociology, social policy and criminology at the University of Liverpool, has written extensively on the corrosive impact detention has on a child's life, including straining family relations, the reinforcement of negative behavioural traits, experiences of bullying, intimidation and violence, isolation, institutionalisation and stigmatisation. Dr. Ursula Kilkelly, with whose expertise in this area we are all familiar, has also enumerated the negative impacts of detention on children, including the deprivation of liberty, separation from their usual social environment, separation from family and exposure to criminal contamination.

  Second, noted in the preamble to the United Nations standard minimum rules for the administration of juvenile justice, known as the Beijing rules, is the appreciation that children, owing to their early stage of human development, are distinctly vulnerable to these negative effects. This vulnerability is further exacerbated by the fact that many of the children subject to detention are extremely damaged.

  Third, detention should be used as a last resort to militate against the organised hurt inherent in placing damaged children in damaging environments and to uphold the rights and safety and promote the physical and mental well-being of children as stipulated as a fundamental perspective in the United Nations rules for the protection of juveniles deprived of their liberty, known as the Havana rules. The principle of detention as a last resort for children, the best interests of the child and the articulation of factors to which the court shall have regard in determining the nature of the penalty, if any, imposed are not just window dressing to be articulated in some places and not others. These go to the very core of our juvenile justice policy and international obligations and we are duty-bound to articulate the principles at every appropriate juncture.

  I support Sinn Féin's amendment No. 3. Given the seriousness and gravity of the decision to impose any period of detention on a child, I do not believe it is too much of an imposition on the court to give its reason for doing so in writing. As Senator Cullinane has said, the Law Reform Commission recommended in 2003 that a District Court should be required to give concise written reasons for any decision to impose a custodial sentence. I further note recommendation 33 of the 2014 strategic review group report on penal policy which stated that in all cases where a custodial sentence is imposed by a court, the court should set out its reason in writing for doing so. The group further recommended that this requirement be incorporated into statutory law. The strategic review group also considered whether a requirement to document a determination in writing would constitute a significant additional burden and found it would not. I also believe the requirement for a court to give its reasons in writing might go some way towards ensuring remand is not inappropriately resorted to by the court in circumstances where the child requires a child welfare intervention. I ask the Minister to recall the point I made in this regard on Second Stage. For these reasons, I support the Sinn Féin amendment.

  The amendment I tabled, amendment No. 4, could strike a balance, if required, but I hope amendment No. 3 is accepted and there will be no need for it. At the least, the Bill should stipulate that in giving its reasons for its decisions in open court, the court shall use language that is appropriate to the age and level of understanding of the child. This would mirror the language of section 88(3) of the Children Act, which holds that where the court decides to remand a child in custody, the court shall explain the reasons for its decision in open court in language that is appropriate to the child's age and level of understanding. The need to use language that is appropriate to the child's age and level of understanding throughout the juvenile justice process is also clearly set out in the 2010 guidelines for the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on child friendly justice.

  In summary, I suggest an amendment should ensure the period of detention imposed on a child may be less than what the court could impose on an adult convicted of the same offence. We must ensure the principles of detention as a last resort for children and the best interests of the child are articulated appropriately in this provision and that some of the factors, such as the age and level of maturity that the court shall consider when determining the nature of the penalty, if any, are clearly stated. As suggested in amendment No. 4, it is important to mirror the language that is already used in section 88(3) of the Children Act.

Senator Terry Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden Zoom on Terry Leyden I support the concept behind Senator van Turnhout's amendment. In fairness, I believe the Minister would concur with the tone and tenor of what the Senator has said and that he will explain that. However, there are also extreme situations and we cannot anticipate what will happen in the future or the situation then. Therefore, we must be careful not to tie the hands of the Judiciary in this regard. We must be conscious of the fact that serious crimes can be committed by juveniles and we cannot turn a blind eye to what might happen in the future. I will respect the Minister's view on this issue. If he outlines proposals along the lines of what Senator van Turnhout has said, that will be satisfactory.

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly Amendment No. 1 proposes to insert the words "and may be less" and states: "The Court shall have regard to the age, level of maturity, best interests of the child and principle of imprisonment as a last resort in determining the nature of any penalty imposed." This is proposed as a new subsection (7A) in section 88. I note however that section 88 deals with remands in custody as distinct from detention following conviction. Amendment No. 2 proposes to insert the words "and may be less" and a statement, "The court shall have regard to the age, level of maturity, best interests of the child and the principle of detention as a last resort in determining the nature of any penalty imposed", into section 149(1).

  In regard to the insertion of the words "and may be less", it is provided in section 149(1) that the period of detention imposed on a child by a court shall not be more than the period of detention or imprisonment that could be imposed on an adult. This does not mean that a lesser period of detention cannot be imposed on a child. It is inherent in the provision that the period of detention imposed on a child may be less than that which is imposed on a person of full age and capacity.

  In addition, as I stated on Committee Stage, section 96(4) of the Act, providing for the powers of the court in regard to child offenders, provides that the penalty imposed on a child for an offence should be no greater than that which would be appropriate in the case of an adult who commits an offence of the same kind, and may be less. Therefore, section 96(4) already includes the words "and may be less". A penalty may include any one of a number of sanctions, ranging from community sanctions to detention as a measure of last resort.

  I do not consider that inserting the words "and may be less" is necessary, as section 149(1) already implicitly provides for a lesser period to be imposed on a child. In addition, section 96(4) is explicit on this point, clearly providing that the penalty imposed by a court on a child, which may include detention as a measure of last resort, may be less than that which would be imposed on an adult.

  In regard to adding the words "The Court shall have regard to the age, level of maturity, best interests of the child and the principle of detention as a last resort in determining the nature of any penalty imposed", the principles proposed in the amendment are already explicitly provided for in the Children Act 2001. Part 9 of the Act provides for the powers of the courts in regard to child offenders. In particular, section 96 provides for the principles relating to the exercise of criminal proceedings over children. Section 96(3) provides that a court may take into consideration as mitigating factors a child's age and level of maturity in determining the nature of any penalty imposed, unless the penalty is fixed by law. Section 96 also provides that when dealing with a child charged with an offence, a court shall have due regard to the child's best interests, the interests of the victim of the offence and the protection of society. This reflects that where criminal proceedings are an issue, the best interests of the child must be balanced with the interests of society and the victim. This is critical.

  Section 96(2) of the principal Act provides that a period of detention should be imposed only as a measure of last resort. As the amendments proposed relating to a lesser period of detention being imposed on a child and a court having regard to the age, maturity and best interests of the child and the principle of detention as a last resort are already clearly provided for in the Act in section 96, which sets out the principles to be applied by a court when exercising criminal jurisdiction over children, I am not accepting amendments Nos. 1 and 2.  Amendment No. 3 proposes to provide in a new subsection (2) at section 149 that the court shall not impose a period of detention in excess of three years and where it imposes any period of detention that it shall give its reasons in writing. Detention, as already said, is always a measure of last resort and that is set out clearly in section 96(2). Section 143 of the principal Act also makes it clear that a court should not make an order imposing a period of detention unless it is satisfied that detention is the only suitable way of dealing with the child. Section 96(4) makes it clear that the penalty imposed on a child should be no greater than that which would be appropriate in the case of an adult who commits an offence of the same kind and may be a lesser period. The Act provides various safeguards in terms of detention always being a measure of last resort and the duration of any period of detention to be imposed vis-à-visan adult, where detention is the penalty imposed on a child. The imposition of a limit on the period of detention of a maximum of three years in all circumstances regardless of the offence that has been committed would not be appropriate. We can all think of serious crimes that could be committed by a 17 and a half year old. The idea that three years would be the maximum sentence would not sit well.

On the proposed amendment to provide that where any period of detention is imposed on a child, the court shall give its reasons for doing so in writing, section 143(2) provides that where an order is made under subsection (1), the court making the order shall give its reasons for doing so in open court. This provides safeguards in terms of the reasons being stated in an open court in the cases of all children appearing before a court. It should be noted that these matters fall under Part 9 of the Children Act and are matters within the remit of the Minister for Justice and Equality. We continue to have close co-operation on criminal justice matters relating to children. There are already sufficient safeguards in terms of the duration of any period of detention and a statement in all cases in open court of the reasons for any period of detention being imposed. I am, therefore, not accepting the amendments proposed.

Amendment No. 4 proposes to insert the words "in language that is appropriate to the age and level of understanding of the child" into the substituted section 149(2) as provided for in section 8. It should be noted that these matters which fall under Part 9 of the Children Act are matters within the remit of the Minister for Justice and Equality. As I said on Committee Stage, we have close co-operation on criminal justice matters relating to children. I have consulted, as I said I would do, with the Minister for Justice and Equality on the proposed amendment to provide that where a court imposes a period of detention in excess of three years on a child, it shall give its reasons for doing so in open court in language that is appropriate to the age and level of understanding of the child. It is important that where a lengthy period of detention is imposed on a child, the child understands fully the reasons for it. Having consulted my colleague, the Minister for Justice and Equality, I am therefore accepting the amendment proposed. I note that a similar issue arises in regard to section 143(2) of the Children Act 2001 and I intend to bring forward an amendment at a later Stage in this regard.

Acting Chairman (Senator Paul Coghlan): Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan Does Senator Cullinane wish to reply to the discussion?

Senator David Cullinane: Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane No.

Acting Chairman (Senator Paul Coghlan): Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan Is amendment No. 1 being pressed?

Senator David Cullinane: Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane Yes.

  Amendment put and declared lost.

Senator Jillian van Turnhout: Information on Jillian van Turnhout Zoom on Jillian van Turnhout I move amendment No. 2:

In page 10, line 6, after “offence” to insert the following:
“and may be less. The Court shall have regard to the age, level of maturity, best interests of the child and the principle of detention as a last resort in determining the nature of any penalty imposed”.

Senator David Cullinane: Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane I second the amendment.

Acting Chairman (Senator Paul Coghlan): Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan Is it being pressed?

Senator Jillian van Turnhout: Information on Jillian van Turnhout Zoom on Jillian van Turnhout It is because I feel we are trying to be consistent with our legislation. I have listened to the Minister, but I tabled the amendment for the sake of consistency.

  Amendment put and declared lost.

  Amendment No. 3 not moved.

Senator Jillian van Turnhout: Information on Jillian van Turnhout Zoom on Jillian van Turnhout I move amendment No. 4:

In page 10, line 8, after “court” to insert “in language that is appropriate to the age and level of understanding of the child”.

Senator David Cullinane: Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane I second the amendment.

  Amendment agreed to.

Senator David Cullinane: Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane I move amendment No. 5:

In page 24, between lines 33 and 34, to insert the following:
“(2A) Where an inquiry is held under subsection (1) the child shall be provided with an opportunity to be heard and to respond to any allegation of disciplinary breach orally or in writing.”.

We dealt with this on Committee Stage and made reference to it on Second Stage but we feel it is important to table this amendment again. It reads:

In page 24, between lines 33 and 34, to insert the following:
"(2A) Where an inquiry is held under subsection (1) the child shall be provided with an opportunity to be heard and to respond to any allegation of disciplinary breach orally or in writing.".

It is vital to ensure that the procedures that children encounter in detention settings are accessible to them in light of their age, vulnerability and often literacy difficulties. While sections 17 and 18 make provision for the director of Oberstown Campus to hold an inquiry into an alleged breach of discipline and to inform the child of the breach and the time and date of that inquiry, it makes no express provision for the right of the child to be heard in such a situation but leaves it to ministerial regulations to prescribe the procedure.

  Given that forfeiture of up to 14 days remission, which is an effective loss of liberty, is potentially at stake, we submit that the underpinning of the convention on the rights of the child to participate and to be heard would require that the child must be given an opportunity to be heard and to respond to any such allegations in the first instance. While section 17 provides that the procedure relating to an inquiry may be prescribed by the Minister, we submit that the opportunity to be heard is of such importance both in terms of the child's rights and due process that it should be included in the Children (Amendment) Bill 2015. We submit that where the sanction imposed is one of loss of remission, the reasons for the imposition of such a sanction should be recorded in writing and communicated to the child in language which is accessible to them.

Senator Jillian van Turnhout: Information on Jillian van Turnhout Zoom on Jillian van Turnhout I second the amendment.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly Section 17 provides that the director may hold an inquiry into an alleged disciplinary breach by a child. The provision allows for the discretion of the director in deciding whether to hold an inquiry or not. Where the director decides to hold an inquiry into a disciplinary breach, he or she shall inform the child of the alleged breach and the date and time of the inquiry. Section 201(3), which is being inserted into the principal Act, provides for the procedure relating to an inquiry to be prescribed by the Minister. The procedure prescribed would include matters providing for fair procedures such as providing the child with an opportunity to be heard and to respond to any allegation of a disciplinary breach.

  As I indicated on Committee Stage, it is intended that the operational and practical matters relating to such an inquiry will be prescribed and these will include matters relating to fair procedures for a child. Matters such as giving the opportunity to be heard and to respond orally or in writing are basic principles of fair procedures and natural justice and will be incorporated in the regulations. It is not proposed to incorporate some of the procedures relating to an inquiry in primary legislation and to incorporate other procedures in secondary legislation. All matters relating to an inquiry by the director will be prescribed in regulations. The issue of fair procedures proposed by the amendment will be comprehensively addressed in regulations to be adopted on foot of the enactment of section 17. I do not, therefore, propose to accept this amendment.

Acting Chairman (Senator Paul Coghlan): Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan Does Senator Cullinane wish to respond? No. Is the amendment being pressed?

Senator David Cullinane: Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane Yes.

  Amendment put and declared lost.

Senator David Cullinane: Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane I move amendment No. 6:

In page 25, between lines 28 and 29, to insert the following:
"(1A) Any child who breaches the rules of a children detention school may be disciplined on the instructions of the Director of the school in a way that is both reasonable, proportionate and within the prescribed limits.

(1B) Without prejudice to the power of the Minister to prescribe limits for the disciplining of children detained in children detention schools, the following forms of discipline shall be prohibited -
(a) corporal punishment or any other form of physical violence,

(b) deprivation of food or drink,

(c) treatment that could reasonable be expected to be detrimental to physical, psychological or emotional wellbeing, or

(d) treatment that is cruel, inhuman or degrading.".

Section 201 of the Children Act 2001 includes an important prohibition on certain forms of discipline, including corporal punishment, physical violence, deprivation of food or drink, treatment that could reasonable be expected to be detrimental to physical, psychological or emotional well being or treatment that is cruel, inhumane or degrading. The most recent HIQA report, which was published in February 2015, found that the management of challenging behaviour in Oberstown was not consistently in line with best practice and single separation was used frequently and for long periods of time. The report outlined the example of one child who was locked in a room for 83 hours and 45 minutes over a period of four days, including sleeping hours. Given the concerns expressed about the management of challenging behaviour and the use of single separation, it is not clear why a prohibition on such treatment has not been retained in the new section 201. Section 17 of the Bill substitutes alternative wording for section 201 of the 2001 Act. While permissible sanctions for breach of discipline should be set out in the new section 201A, it is prudent to also maintain an express prohibition on certain disciplinary sanctions. Such matters are expressly prohibited under section 13 of the Prisons Act 2007 in respect of adults. The original section 201 should be retained in any amendment under section 17 of the Bill, but with the addition of the word "proportionate".

Senator Jillian van Turnhout: Information on Jillian van Turnhout Zoom on Jillian van Turnhout I second the amendment.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly Amendment No. 6 proposes to substitute new subsections (1A) and (1B) to section 201A to set out the manner in which a child may be disciplined by a director and to set out the sanctions which are prohibited. The proposed subsections would in the main replicate the existing section 201 of the 2001 Act. The Bill proposes a new system of discipline to facilitate the introduction of remission in children's detention schools and to that end proposes a new section 201 to replace the existing section. That and the following sections 201A to 201D, inclusive, provide for a new disciplinary regime to support the introduction of a system of remission of detention in children's detention schools. In future the only system of discipline operating in detention schools will be as provided for in the Bill in the aforementioned sections. Where a child is alleged to have breached discipline, the director will only be able to proceed in accordance with section 201. He or she will have discretion to decide whether to hold an inquiry under the section but he or she will not have discretion to discipline a child in any other way, as was provided for in the existing section 201. It would not be appropriate to operate two disciplinary regimes, one permitting a child to be disciplined on the instruction of a director, albeit with safeguards, and another providing for an inquiry by the director, with safeguards and operational procedures to be prescribed in regulations. I do not propose to accept the amendment.

  While disciplinary provisions are included in the Bill, policy in this area must have regard to the fact that children's detention schools are not prisons. It is necessary to preserve the child-focused model of detention. For this reason, a series of provisions introducing the concept of good order will operate alongside a more codified system of discipline. Good order relates to all of the steps that may be taken by staff or management to reduce, de-escalate and, where possible, stop instances of inappropriate behaviour by children in detention. It is preventative in the sense that the ultimate aim is to interrupt a pattern of inappropriate behaviour and prevent it from evolving into an actual breach of discipline, which would result in the initiation of formal disciplinary procedures. In this sense it is related to the concept of early intervention. It also includes the concept of children learning appropriate behaviour and the prevention through learning of future inappropriate behaviour. The consequences of a breach of good order will include verbal prompts by staff, informal warnings, conversations with the child and verbal suggestions or instructions to a child to leave a room or a place, such as a sports pitch, or to go to the child's own room. This may be contrasted with the concept of discipline, which is a more formal regime that will only be initiated at the discretion of a director of a children's detention school. The system of good order will be outlined in rules to be adopted by the board of management under section 179 of the Children Act 2001 and regulations to be adopted by the Minister under section 221 of that Act. The director of a children's detention school will have discretion to initiate the proposed system of discipline in the event of a repeated breach of a good order rule by a child which escalates to a disciplinary matter. The proposed system of good order rules will be closely modelled on the care policies currently in place in children's detention schools.

  In regard to the proposed amendment, section 201A(1) outlines the sanctions permitted for a breach of discipline, namely, caution, reprimand, prohibition on certain recreational and other activities, forfeiture of pocket money or forfeiture of not more than 14 days of remission. These are the only sanctions permitted following a finding of breach of discipline. I indicated on Committee Stage that I intended to consider the matter further and to consult the Attorney General's office on it. On consulting that office, I have been advised that the old list of prohibited sanctions in the 2001 Act existed in a context where there was no list of permitted sanctions. Listing all inappropriate punishments is an unnecessarily difficult, bordering on impossible, way to prohibit them and creates the risk that a discipline not included in the list might be perceived as permissible. The important point is that it is no longer necessary to incorporate a list of prohibited sanctions because the Bill solves the problem from the other direction by listing permitted sanctions only. For these reasons, I do not propose to accept the amendment.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Senator David Cullinane: Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane I move amendment No. 7:

In page 26, line 38, after “sanction” to insert “and/or finding”.

We discussed the issues arising in this amendment on Committee Stage. The new section 201B sets out a right of petition by a child to the Minister against the finding, the sanction or both. It is unclear why the petition should be made to the Minister rather than a child friendly independent tribunal, such as the Ombudsman for Children. While it is in line with the provisions in the Prisons Act 2007 in respect of adults, it does not take into account the vulnerabilities of children and the challenges a formal petition process might pose. Given the existing remit of the Ombudsman for Children in regard to complaints taken by children in detention, a right of petition to that individual may be more appropriate than a petition to the Minister. Furthermore, the section allows the Minister to obtain additional material from the director but it does not allow for additional interaction with the child. While the Minister will be able to affirm, modify, suspend or revoke a sanction, it does not appear possible to affirm, modify or suspend a finding. We propose that this provision be amended by adding the words "and/or finding".

Senator Jillian van Turnhout: Information on Jillian van Turnhout Zoom on Jillian van Turnhout I second the amendment.

Acting Chairman (Senator Paul Coghlan): Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan Did Senator Leyden wish to speak?

Senator Terry Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden Zoom on Terry Leyden I disagree with this amendment because when I was in what was then the Department of Posts and Telegraphs, which employed some 30,000 people, I dealt with all issues in regard to appeals and I would have to say that I would prefer to go before a Minister than a civil servant, with respect to our colleagues here. A person who is appointed a Minister has great knowledge and experience in terms of representations, constituency work and so on and he or she can bring an enlightenment to an issue which may not be the case with other people who have to make those decisions. I recall dealing with those issues on many occasions and bringing my own experience to bear in that regard. I totally disagree with the amendment. We should have more faith in Ministers, and give them responsibilities. There were 30,000 people employed in the Department of Posts and Telegraphs and all disciplinary issues came to the Minister's office and the Minister of the day, or Minister of State, would delegate responsibility for dealing with those, which had to be done in a humane way.

  A case was brought to my attention where people did not turn up for work because they were single parents. Such cases were often brought to my attention. In the case I refer to I said that I wanted a social worker to look at the situation. There was no disciplinary action taken and no dismissal because I felt, irrespective of other senior employees in the post office in Galway and from my experience of dealing with people, that it was only right and proper that the matter should be dealt with by social workers and that the person should not be sanctioned or fired. That was only one of hundreds of cases that were brought to my attention.

  Other serious issues arose in regard to people in post offices and I could bring my experience to bear on those and try to resolve them without going to civil servants, with respect. I have great faith that the Minister, and future Ministers, would look at such situations from a humane and practical point of view. If a vote is called on this amendment I will vote against it.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly The amendment I brought forward and which we agreed on Committee Stage, subsection (2) of section 201B, provides that where the finding of the director is the subject of the petition, the Minister may affirm, modify or revoke the finding. Where the sanction imposed by the director is the subject of the petition, the Minister may affirm, modify, suspend or revoke the sanction.

  The purpose of the amendment proposed would appear to be to enable the suspension of a finding. It is more appropriate that a finding be affirmed, modified or revoked with certainty, and that there is a clear outcome for the child following a petition to the Minister arising from a finding of the disciplinary breach.

  Further, I would point out that section 18 of the Bill deals with provisions consequent upon a finding against a child of a breach of discipline. On Committee Stage there were references to the part of section 18 which provides for a new section 201B, which allows for the petition of the Minister by a child against a sanction.

  With regard to the proposed section 201B, it was argued that the petition should not be to the Minister but should be to some form of child friendly, independent tribunal, for example, the Ombudsman for Children. The Ombudsman for Children cannot replace the Minister in his role under section 201B for the following reason: there is already a free-standing entitlement of any child to make a complaint to the Ombudsman for Children on any aspect of his or her time in a children's detention school under the legislation governing that office.

  The existence of the proposed system of discipline in this Bill is without prejudice to the powers under the Ombudsman to receive a complaint from any child in detention. I am not proposing, therefore, to accept amendment No. 7.

Acting Chairman (Senator Paul Coghlan): Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan Does Senator Cullinane wish to respond?

Senator David Cullinane: Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane No.

Acting Chairman (Senator Paul Coghlan): Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan Is the Senator pressing the amendment?

Senator David Cullinane: Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane Yes.

  Amendment put and declared lost.

  Bill, as amended, received for final consideration.

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

Senator Jillian van Turnhout: Information on Jillian van Turnhout Zoom on Jillian van Turnhout I thank the Minister. It is significant that this Bill has passed because it brings the three detention schools into one legal entity, which have been spoken about for quite a long time. The practical effects of this change will be the creation of a single management team and it will ensure that there is one director in charge of the operations. That is critical to the success of Oberstown, and I welcome it. In the coming weeks the members of the Joint Committee on Health and Children will visit Oberstown, and I look forward to that visit.

  There is one issue which is not appropriate for legislation but I ask the Minister to take it into consideration. I have a concern about the visiting committee report for St. Patrick's Institution for 2014 where, time and again, a concern has been raised about staff. They say that the regime, and that is their word, will cope with the older, physically stronger and more challenging children, namely, the 16 and 17 year olds but what de-escalating techniques may be used to deal with that very challenging behaviour? I ask the Minister to ask the board of the detention centre to give consideration to that. I have no doubt they are doing that but it is something on which we need to have a discussion. These are not young children. They will be physically challenging. They may have to discuss the system and devices that they will use in Oberstown but in terms of best practice around the world by other professionals, and I have spoken to health professionals about dealing with complex behaviour, we could draw that expertise into this single entity and ensure that we start the way we mean to continue.

  I congratulate the Minister and his officials. This Bill is significant and I hope the Lower House gives him the same co-operation he got here and that we bring it into operation because it is hugely significant.

Senator Terry Leyden: Information on Terry Leyden Zoom on Terry Leyden I congratulate the Minister on getting the Bill passed in the House, with the co-operation and assistance of Senators. His willingness to listen to the points made by Senators is very much appreciated, and the fact that he was prepared to amend, where necessary, any issues that arose. It is a very important issue. We have to deal with these situations. I look forward to visiting the actual facility because there is no point in speaking about it without having seen it. I would like to accompany the group on that visit, as I am sure would other Members of the House because it would be worthwhile. It was the practice here many years ago that we would visit institutions such as Mountjoy or elsewhere to see the facilities for ourselves. It is welcome that the Oireachtas had that direct knowledge. The Minister should be credited for bringing the Bill forward quickly. I hope he can get it passed in the Lower House before the summer recess to allow it be brought into law.

Senator Mary Moran: Information on Mary Moran Zoom on Mary Moran I commend the Senators who spoke so passionately in the debate on this issue. I, too, believe it is very important for our children and the Minister has to be commended also. As other speakers have said, I hope the Bill passes swiftly through the Lower House. I, too, would welcome the opportunity to visit Oberstown. This is a good day for the future of our children.

Senator Pat O'Neill: Information on Pat O'Neill Zoom on Pat O'Neill On behalf of the Fine Gael group I congratulate the Minister on getting the Bill passed in the Seanad. I hope it has an easy passage through the Lower House. On behalf of Senator Henry, our spokesperson on children, who cannot be here today, I compliment the Minister again. This is an important Bill and there was a lot of passion expressed in the debate on it. The Minister accepted some amendments. It is an important Bill because young children will now be treated in a different manner in terms of some criminal charges. I thank the Minister.

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly I thank all the Senators for their contributions and their constructive amendments. This is an important Bill. It is a Government commitment to end the practice of sending our children to adult prisons where the regime is of a different nature. The focus in our detention schools is on education and rehabilitation, and training for life to give our children who get into trouble a better chance to have a full, meaningful and productive life as members of society. I thank the Senators for their co-operation.

  Question put and agreed to.

  Sitting suspended at 3.40 p.m. and resumed at 5 p.m.

  5 o’clock

Moore Street Area Renewal and Development Bill 2015: Second Stage

Senator Darragh O'Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

  Cuirim fáilte roimh an Aire Stáit chuig an Seanad. It gives me great pleasure today to introduce to the House on Second Stage the Moore Street Area Renewal and Development Bill 2015. First, I wish to commend a few people who have worked tirelessly for the past 13 or 14 years, many of whom are in the Visitors Gallery this evening. Patrick Cooney has been involved in the Save 16 Moore Street campaign. James Connolly Heron and others have been involved in the 1916 relatives committee. I am also delighted that Proinsias Ó Rathaille is present. He is the grandson of The O'Rahilly, the only leader who was killed in action during the 1916 Rising. Others have also been involved. We have put a lot of work into this Bill and we hope for cross-party support from across the House to allow the Bill to pass Second Stage.

  The Bill will provide the grounds upon which certain approvals may be made by Moore Street Renewal Limited, relating to existing or proposed buildings and premises in the Moore Street area, to provide that Moore Street Properties Limited shall be a development company for the Moore Street area and for the compulsory acquisition of land in that area by it, to authorise the Minister for Finance to guarantee borrowings by Moore Street Properties Limited, to make further provisions relating to Moore Street Renewal Limited and to Moore Street Properties Limited and to provide for connected matters. That is the official definition of the Bill. We have taken our inspiration from the Temple Bar Properties legislation from a number of years ago, which was very successful in taking a holistic approach to a designated area and to make sure that the area was developed appropriately.

  The designated area envisaged for the company in this Bill is the Moore Street area which is, in effect, the most significant historical site in modern Irish history. I very much welcomed the Government decision to purchase Nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street. I said that at the time. However, more is needed in the sense that we must ensure that what is developed around the Moore Street battlefield site area and the adjacent lanes is conserved and developed appropriately and sensitively given the context of the site. What we are talking about in this area is effectively the birthplace of the modern day Irish Republic. I, for one, wish to ensure that any development in the areas is done properly and sensitively and that it is not rushed on the basis of the fact that we have very important centenary commemorations next year. The project to properly develop Moore Street and the adjacent areas is one for the future to ensure that future Irish generations, not just those living in Ireland but from the diaspora, who have such an interest in Irish history, can come back to the Moore Street and O’Connell Street areas and see where the final stand of the brave men and women of 1916 took place. I, for one, wish to ensure that Nos. 14 to 17 are preserved, but more than that needs to be preserved. I do not want to see a huge shopping mall built beside the area. All of us, including the Minister of State, Deputy Ó Ríordáin, as someone who represents a Dublin constituency know the area very well. We wish to ensure that as the area is developed in the future it is conserved and preserved in order that we can be proud of it when we look back in ten years’ time and that we can say we did the right thing.

  I had the great pleasure of dealing with many Dublin city councillors across all parties when the original proposal for the land swap was rejected, rightly so, by Dublin City Council. I commend all those councillors, including my own colleagues, Paul McAuliffe, Deirdre Heney and Seán Haughey, and those of all parties, including my Sinn Féin colleagues, who rejected that offer. That set in train this opportunity for us in the Oireachtas to mind the site and to develop it properly. This is the mechanism to do it. We have worked very hard to put the legislation together. It will give the Government at any given time oversight of what happens in the area.

  When one looks back at the surrender of the leaders that took place in Moore Street and the last stand of the Rising, more than 100 volunteers broke out from the GPO and tunnelled into the Moore Street area for their last stand. James Connolly was injured there. The discussions took place on the surrender and the leaders decided they would surrender to ensure there was no further bloodshed visited upon the citizens of Dublin. That is a precious area. The blood of our forefathers was shed on Moore Street and it behoves us to ensure that what happens there is appropriate as it is a sacred place and it should be preserved in that manner. We do need to improve the area. It needs to be conserved and restoration work needs to happen. However, that does not all need to happen before the centenary celebrations next April. Certain things can be done to ensure the site is presentable. However, let us put forward a plan for the next generation, for my daughter and her generation, in order that they can have an input and that schoolchildren from across the country can come to visit the site and walk the laneways of one of the only intact urban battlefield sites we have. We must be aware of how important that is.

  We also have an opportunity to ensure the economic regeneration of the area. I grew up in Dublin and as a child I remember going down to Moore Street and seeing the traders and all that goes with it. The Minister of State will be shocked to learn there are only 26 traders left on Moore Street.  We must ensure they are supported and that the markets there become a vibrant place, so more people will come to the Moore Street area and more people will trade there. This development Bill will designate the site as an area for urban regeneration and renewal. Taking into account the historical significance of that area, we must consider how best we can improve it, bring further jobs and life to it and improve the markets and how we can look after the traders, many of whom have traded there for generations. Six to seven generations of families have traded there and they are proud of their stalls and of the work they do. Unfortunately, they do not get the required support from Dublin City Council officials.

  Allowing this Bill to pass through the House would send a clear message that we cherish this area and that the area is important. It is not just the buildings, but the people who live and work there. The north O'Connell Street and Moore Street area can become a major economic hub for regeneration in our city centre and breathe life back into an area that encapsulates so much of what old and real Dublin is about. I say that as a Dub and as Dublin spokesperson for our party. People who live in the rest of the city and the county of Dublin cherish that area. That is what this Bill will achieve. Consider all the work that has been done over the past 12 to 14 years. If people had not come forward 14 years ago, this terrace would have been demolished. The people in the Save 16 Moore Street campaign and the relatives groups campaigned against that happening, and I commend them for that. We are now discussing the first legislative measure designed to copperfasten that and bring their work to another level.

  I do not claim that this legislation is perfect or that no other matters could be included in it, but that is something we could deal with on Committee Stage. I commend those from all parties, including my colleagues in Sinn Féin, who have been supportive of this legislation. That includes Independent Members as well. I know from speaking to Labour Party colleagues how they feel about this. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan and Deputy Joe Costello, whose constituency covers this area, and others have also been to the forefront on this issue. I believe the Seanad can do important work on this today. It will send a message to the city council that any existing planning permissions are, and should be, effectively frozen. There should be no further commercial development work in the vicinity of this site or in the area. The strongest way to secure that is to designate it as a historical quarter.

  Consider everything we have further north into Parnell Square, Mountjoy Square and up to Glasnevin and the National Botanic Gardens, and when one travels from there through to the Liffey and on to Temple Bar, College Green and the surrounding area. We have the ability today to start a freedom trail in that area of Dublin. There can be no freedom or historical trail within the city unless the Moore Street area and its environs are protected, enhanced and conserved as they should be. Let us invite the experts in to carry out an independent battlefield survey. That has not been done up to now. I am aware that the Minister has a personal interest in this so let us send the message that we are serious about this matter. This could be a project for all of our school children. There will be important commemorations over the course of the next few years in respect of our founding fathers, the men and women of 1916 and the sacrifices they made right through to the War of Independence and the terrible tragedy of our Civil War. Let something positive, a living project, emerge from that - the living project that is Moore Street. In developing and conserving it we would breathe fresh life back into the city.

  This is the city that the men and women of 1916 were so proud of that they decided to make their stand there to fight against the might of the largest empire in existence at the time. The sacrifices they made can be repaid in a small way here this evening by allowing this legislation to pass and by letting Oireachtas Members from all sides of the House work together on this, to bring about something of which the entire country can be proud. The political lineage and heritage of all Members comes from the men and women of 1916 regardless of their political party or whether they are Independents. All of us emerged from that. We want what is best for our city, heritage and culture.

  I implore the Minister to accept this legislation. Let us work together with interested groups such as my colleagues in the Visitors Gallery, who have worked so hard and tirelessly over the years to secure something tangible. Let us get control of this area back into the hands of the Irish people. The commemoration of 1916 is owned by every man, woman and child in this country, so let us lead on this issue and show that we value its importance as the last place in which the Provisional Government of 1916 met before the tragedies that happened in the following weeks.

  I will conclude with one thought. Consider Kilmainham Gaol and the people who worked on that for years with no funding or support. People thought it would never happen, but look at what we have. I realise more work must be done there but the people in the 1940s and 1950s came forward and said they would do this work themselves and ensure that Kilmainham Gaol would be there for all future generations. Now, thousands and millions of visitors and school children go there to learn about their heritage and their history. We should do the same for the area from the GPO through to Moore Street and have a living testament to the signatories of the Proclamation and the women and men of the Rising. Let us do something of which the women of Cumann na mBan and the volunteers of the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army would be proud.

  I again implore the Minister to accept this Bill. It gives me great pleasure to propose the Moore Street Area Renewal and Development Bill and I look forward to hearing the contributions from all sides of the House.

Acting Chairman (Senator Terry Leyden): Information on Terry Leyden Zoom on Terry Leyden I join Senator O'Brien in welcoming his colleagues and the distinguished people in the Visitors Gallery.

Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú: Information on Labhrás Ó Murchú Zoom on Labhrás Ó Murchú Tá sé de phribhléid agamsa cuidiú leis an mBille sin agus cuirim fáilte Uí Cheallaigh freisin roimh an Aire Stáit anseo inniu. Mothaím dáiríre gur ócáid stairiúil atá anseo inniu. Tá seans againn ár meas agus ár mbród a léiriú do na laochra a chuaigh amach chun saoirse a bhaint amach dúinne i dtreo is go bhféadfaimis a bheith sa Teach seo inniu.

  There is a sense of history here today, and one hopes it will be a proud and positive sense of history. I wonder what is going through the minds of the relatives of the 1916 leaders who are here today. Are they wondering why this debate is necessary? Are they wondering if we acknowledge, respect and appreciate the sacrifices made by the leaders and the men and women who participated in that struggle? I believe we do. In fact, everybody in this House and in the Oireachtas does, and the vast majority of the Irish people feel likewise.

  We are on the eve of the centenary of the 1916 Rising, which gave us control of our destiny and the opportunity to develop our nation and State. It is worth recalling that the nation is not confined to the island of Ireland. The Irish nation is wherever Irish people gather, and there are 75 million people of Irish extraction spread throughout the world. There is no doubt that they will focus on next year with a degree of expectancy and hope. If we let the opportunity pass to do what is right regarding Moore Street, given its importance as a seminal aspect of our history, it will send reverberations throughout the Irish diaspora. It certainly will not go unnoticed.   I salute the Government for whatever it intends doing to commemorate and celebrate the centenary of the Rising. I was present in Collins Barracks when the programme was unveiled and published. There is no doubt there are many good events in it but if we think back to some of the environmental and planning issues in Dublin, which tended to demolish or undermine specific buildings here, none of them comes anywhere near what Moore Street is to us. If it happens that Moore Street is not preserved, enhanced and developed, and there are opportunities for doing it, there is no doubt that as that message spreads, not just throughout Ireland but abroad, there will be many questions to be answered.

  Anybody who has walked on the battlefield site could not but sense the emotion that is attached to that area. We must consider that that was the start of the War of Independence, and we realise the outcome of the War of Independence. We have held the Presidency of Europe on two occasions, which would have been unthought of in 1916 as we strived for independence, but the only reason we have the trappings of State and the honour to stand in the Oireachtas is precisely because of what happened in 1916.

  The reason this Bill is important is that it is not a stand-alone document. Many months and years of preparation and work have gone into it but what was lacking heretofore was that the legislation template for going forward was not laid out in a focused and detailed manner. It is all in this Bill, and I salute those people who are responsible for it. I also salute the people who headed this campaign and kept it going. I asked one of those members today if they get weary of it all and his immediate reply was, "Certainly not" because they sensed the goodwill of the people. The people are behind what is intended here. It is the political leadership that must now reflect what the people want.

  If we are building a highway, for instance, we often have to go through areas with existing houses or remove hills to do that. We often have compulsory acquisition of property. All of those were complex procedures. Moore Street is a much more simple proposition and any excuses which may have been put forward in the past to delay this process no longer stand up. It is clear that the city council is behind this project. It is clear that the Oireachtas has the powers to do what is right, and the Bill is the key to open the door on the way forward.

  I will not even suggest that it is possible that the Bill will not succeed here today because all parties, as far as I am aware, would be behind the principle of what has been put forward. I have a document before me which was signed by Deputies Joan Burton and Ruairí Quinn in support of what is happening. Even back then the Labour Party was to the fore in this regard. I have not heard anybody from any party saying this is not the right thing to do. The only thing we might hear about are some of the difficulties or some minor legal threat. All of those can be overcome simply by legislation, and the detail of the Bill has foreseen all of those types of issues.

  I would suggest, and Senator Darragh O'Brien put it exceptionally well, that no party wants to claim ownership of this project because if that happened we would diminish the importance of what we are trying to do. There are no political kudos to be won from this project but we can create a sense of unity during the centenary and send a message, loud and clear, that we did everything that was right, took every opportunity which came our way and responded to that.

  If the Minister believes there are some elements of the Bill that need to be fine tuned, that can be done but it is the only thing on the table at the moment. What has been put forward piecemeal for Moore Street does not work and is not acceptable. Nobody seems to want it, therefore, we have to go back to the drawing board.

  None of us expect that what is intended for the full development of that area will happen in time for the centenary but there are two things that can be done. We can ensure that the buildings are secured. We can ensure that they are properly maintained but it must also be put down on paper, with no deviation possible, that the full programme will be implemented even within a two year or a three year span. That is not an insurmountable problem for anybody who has the goodwill towards this project.

  Anybody who wants to have a proper celebration of the centenary of 1916 does not want to buy into a revisionist policy and sees us as a distinctive nation in our own right, which produced men and women who put their own lives, and the lives of their families, at stake, not for any mercenary gain or spotlight but because they knew it was right and they did it for all the people. It would be unimaginable if in any way we did not realise the opportunity being presented to us as legislators to do what is right, in a generous way, and in a manner that will not be ridiculed by our own people at home and worldwide.

Senator Eamonn Coghlan: Information on Eamonn Coghlan Zoom on Eamonn Coghlan The Minister is very welcome. I am pleased to speak on the Moore Street Area Renewal and Development Bill 2015 and generally about Moore Street. I feel as if I grew up on Moore Street because during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, Moore Street was very much part of my life and my culture. I remember being dragged into town by my dear mother to F.X. Buckley to get the steaks for our Sunday dinner or our turkey for Christmas. I remember at Christmas time my father, who worked for Breen Electrical, putting up the Christmas lights on Moore Street and Henry Street. As a young teenager I worked on a truck in the fruit markets on the other side of Capel Street and I used to wheel the fruit dollies down to the traders. I even bought the bangers there at Hallowe'en on the odd occasion. Moore Street was the heart of Dublin and the location of the oldest fruit, vegetable and fish market. It is a landmark. The fruit and vegetable stalls were fantastic, and one always enjoyed the Dublin wit and friendly welcome one would receive on each visit. There was always a Molly Malone feeling about Moore Street.

  I decided to take a walk to Moore Street earlier in preparation for this debate. The sun was shining. The area was packed with people walking up and down from Grafton Street, Westmoreland Street and O'Connell Street. They were happy, drinking their coffees and chatting away. There was a great sense of peace and freedom among the people we passed. As I walked along the battlefield trail from the GPO, along Henry Street, and then turned right turn onto Moore Street, I noted it is vastly different now from what it was in 1916, and even 1966, when I first visited the area.  The properties at Nos. 14 to 17, including No. 16, have dilapidated rooms. On the facade it states "Éirí Amach na Cásca 1916", or Easter Rising 1916. Beneath the signage there are crumbling walls and pigeons were flying in and out through shattered windows. The shutters were down but on the cobblestone street, people were vibrantly walking around.

  There are fewer Dubliners around there today than there have been and it seems to be the melting pot of our society in Dublin. There are people of many nationalities from around the world, of different races and creeds. Nevertheless, the fruit, vegetables and fish stalls remain with the Dubs. Looking at the terraced buildings along Moore Street, one would be quite proud of the history witnessed there all those years ago. The only thing out of sync in Moore Street is the Ilac Centre and Lidl. Having read through the Bill today, it seems the main objectives are unclear with regard to compliance with the current Dublin city development plan process and the objectives for the inner city area.

  As far as I am aware, the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, is concerned about this. Her responsibility is for the national monument between Nos. 14 and 17 Moore Street, and particularly No. 16, the location of the final council of war of the leaders of the 1916 Rising. These premises, commanded by Pádraig Pearse, along with James Connolly, Tom Clarke, Joseph Plunkett, Seán MacDermott and Michael Collins, were surrendered to the British forces. The house at No. 16, together with the surrounding buildings, Nos. 14, 15 and 17, were declared a national monument by the Government in 2007. This area has been referred to as Ireland's Alamo, or the birthplace of the Republic. In March this year, the Minister announced that the Government is to acquire the national monument. A 1916 commemorative centre is to be developed at the site and there are plans under way to safeguard and fully restore the buildings as a public historical facility, with access for citizens and tourists. Only yesterday evening, Dublin City Council voted to protect five more buildings along this battlefield trail, so we can see that people are quite conscientious about preserving the area around Moore Street.

  Fianna Fáil is proposing in this Bill that the Government should set up a development company for the Moore Street areas. I have a bit of a problem with this. Fianna Fáil has been in power for the majority of the time since 1916 and, in looking to set up Moore Street Renewal Limited, do the party's members not recall the similar moves for Temple Bar and the Dublin docklands? The Temple Bar Cultural Trust had to be dissolved over concerns about financial irregularities, and the Dublin Docklands Development Authority folded after a report containing damning findings, one of which related to the decision in 2006 to become involved in the purchase of the Irish Glass Bottle site. The DDDA was found to have very weak corporate governance, resulting in the loss of value for the taxpayer.

  Fianna Fáil should know that this approach does not work. Why does it want to create another quango for the Moore Street area? How much would these plans cost the taxpayer? The Government's policy is to devolve more responsibility to local authorities and not take power from them. This ensures efficiencies in the delivery of public services and more value for money for the taxpayer. The Government has every confidence in Dublin City Council, which already has ongoing plans under way to reinvent and rejuvenate the Moore Street area, in consultation with the street traders. This consultation is very important, as they are a symbolic and intrinsic part of the character of Dublin.

  The future of the national monument buildings referred to on Moore Street has been secured and they will be accessible in order that everyone can learn the history of the 1916 Rising. This Fianna Fáil Bill has no basis because the establishment of a new limited company is unnecessary and would take responsibility from the local authority. Funding for these development companies would have to come from central government funds. That would not work and it would end up costing the taxpayers. We want to protect the buildings and find the right way forward. Next year we will celebrate the centenary of the 1916 Rising and, unfortunately, as I walked away from the area today, I said that something must be done. We cannot afford to get this wrong. I watched cheerful people going by in a happy-go-lucky fashion. I thought that I should finish by saying this freedom in Ireland is what our forefathers fought for. We need to preserve Moore Street but we need to get that process right. This Bill does not do that.

Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin): Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin I appreciate the opportunity to speak about the commemorations and what the State is doing. I appreciate the motivation behind the Bill. As Senator Darragh O'Brien has quite rightly stated, this is something on which we can have a cross-party discussion on how best to move forward. I know the issue intimately as I used to represent the north inner city area on Dublin City Council. One of the first meetings I attended when I was elected to the council in 2004 concerned the saving of No. 16 Moore Street. Much has happened since, thanks to the previous Government and recent announcements by this Government. No. 16 is the key building and most people focused on it, but the focus has moved to the declaration of the national monument by the previous Government in 2007 and the announcement of a decision made earlier this year to acquire the four buildings for the State. We have come a long way in a short space of time.

  This is a fantastic opportunity in the history of our Republic as we face the centenary of 1916 to reassess what we are about as a country. We should consider the values of this Republic and what we believe in. There are many people in our society who need this commemoration. I am thinking of the people on the edge of society. In this Chamber, for example, we have discussed direct provision, the national drugs strategy and those suffering from drug addiction and issues relating to disadvantage. We have discussed people from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual communities and new communities. There are many people, including children, living in the country who have no familial connection with what happened in 1916, as some would, but who need this commemoration. It will lead to a new evaluation of the values that underpin our Republic. Many of the commemorative events planned are focused on what we want for the next 100 years. We must have a proper investigation of what happened 100 years ago in order that people can appreciate the sacrifices made. We must never shy away from the reality that 1916 was the birth of the Republic in which we now live. It is also important that we constantly reimagine and reaffirm those values written into the Proclamation, including equal rights and opportunities for all our citizens, cherishing all the children of the nation equally. I have a family connection with 1916 but I do not consider myself in any way having more of a claim over those events than anyone else, and no one else is making that suggestion. We need to appreciate what happened in that week but we must ask why we are doing this. We are doing it to ensure we can have a proper appreciation of the values that must underpin the modern Republic in which we all live.

  In responding to the Bill I want to be as open-minded and positive as I can. I appreciate that the motivations behind it are sound, decent, progressive and forward-thinking. Much of this contribution must be quite technical but I hope it will add to the debate to give reasons that the Government is not in a position to accept the Bill.   The primary aim of the Bill is to establish two new limited companies known as Moore Street Renewal Limited and Moore Street Properties Limited, respectively, to provide the grounds on which certain approvals can be made relating to existing or proposed buildings and premises in the Moore Street area and to have a development company for the Moore Street area. The development company will have functions for the compulsory acquisition of land in that area, and the Minister for Finance will have a power to guarantee borrowings by Moore Street Properties Limited.

  Unfortunately, while appreciating the constructive motivations behind the Bill, the Government does not support it for a variety of reasons which I will outline. First, I have to point out that the role of the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht is primarily concerned with the protection and conservation of the national monument comprising Nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street. The Minister has no role in planning and development in the wider Moore Street area, which is the preserve of the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government in conjunction with the relevant local planning authority or other designated development authority. It could be foreseen as a conflict of roles where, on the one hand, the Minister is charged with safeguarding our built heritage, notably the national monument on Nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street and, on the other hand, would be supporting development that could adversely impact the national monument and other historic buildings or fabric in the Moore Street area.

  Second, when it comes to urban development and regeneration my colleague, the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, has primacy but his Department is already active with various initiatives that beneficially affect the Moore Street area and the proposed Bill would only serve to complicate rather than streamline the various measures in place. For example, in 2012, the Government published Putting People First - Action Programme for Effective Local Government. At its core, this programme seeks the local government system to be the primary vehicle for overall economic and community development at the local level, including the regeneration aspects of that brief. That action programme, more widely, sets out an overall vision for local government to be the principal vehicle of governance and public service at local level, leading economic, social and community development, delivering efficient and good value services, and representing citizens and local communities effectively and accountably.

  Consistent with this overall vision, Government policy is to build on the local government process and not to establish separate or parallel public bodies or organisations distinct from the local government system unless, in exceptional circumstances, the need for this is clearly demonstrated. The proponents of the Bill may suggest this is an exceptional circumstance but that is why we are here having this discussion.

  As previously outlined by Senator Eamonn Coghlan, with the dissolution of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority and the preparations in place to transit Temple Bar Cultural Trust to local authority control, which were established by previous Governments to pursue regeneration of large components of the overall structure of the Dublin City Council area, and at a strategic level, regeneration initiatives have moved on to a new phase that build on enhanced local authority capability in this area rather than setting up new bodies.

  Third, under the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, Dublin City Council as both local government and planning consent authority is the most appropriate entity to manage the ongoing development of this important inner city area of Dublin. Already, sections of Moore Street and the auxiliary lanes are within the current O'Connell Street architectural conservation area, ACA, designated in July 2001, and the O'Connell Street area of special planning control adopted by Dublin City Council in September 2009.

  The main objectives of the Bill are unclear in terms of compliance with the current Dublin city development plan process and objectives for the inner city area of Dublin. In part, such a development approach as proposed in the Bill could be impractical given the variation of private, commercial and publicly owned properties within its remit, and the process involved in setting up the supporting statutory provisions could be difficult.

  Also, the size of the area in question and its variation of property types does not, on a practical level, lend itself to the type of development model envisaged. Management of a national monument is best developed, managed and promoted as specific proposals in tandem with Dublin City Council and other key stakeholders.

  The mechanisms I have outlined operate within the wider policy framework of the Dublin City Development Plan 2011-2017, which is currently under review.

  It remains open to the city council to prepare a statutory local area plan for the area under the provisions of the Planning Act, for which Dublin City Council would be the relevant authority to oversee implementation of such a plan. Therefore, an extensive array of planning policies and actions has been put in place for which the city council is the statutory implementation body. Moreover, after extensive levels of scrutiny at local authority and An Bord Pleanála levels, a planning permission for comprehensive redevelopment is in place, within which arrangements have recently been agreed as regards the securing of the 1916 Rising related national monument.

  Taking all of the above into account, the local government planning policy and development consent, and conservation policy and implementation issues pertaining to this area, have been broadly settled and it is therefore unclear what additional clarity or impetus could be brought to the accepted need for the regeneration of this area over and above the role of Dublin City Council. I have full confidence in Dublin City Council to manage the area using the policy already settled and the measures already in place.

  Fourth, I have already mentioned that Government policy is to build on the local government process and not to establish separate or parallel public bodies or organisations distinct from the local government system. However, there is a much wider dimension to this, and there is a context for it in terms of the previous Administration's tenure. That Government commissioned the officially named Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programme, An Bord Snip Nua, to examine, among other issues, the rationalisation of State agencies with a view to saving money in the delivery of services. Those same principles still apply today and it would be more than remiss of this Government were it to support a proposal to set up a new company with a board, a chief executive and staff which would represent an additional and costly layer of administration and which is at variance with current Government policy aimed at rationalising public services so as to deliver such services in an integrated, transparent and cost-efficient manner.

  While I appreciate the good intentions behind this Bill, and the contributions of all Members this evening have been worthy of the debate - we should continue in that way - I am of the opinion that the current approach taken by the Minister and the Government in acquiring the national monument on Moore Street, which was greatly applauded at the time, is the correct approach and should be commended. I am confident that this will protect the buildings for the Irish nation and its citizens. The buildings and the proposed interpretative centre on that site will be a fitting commemoration of the 1916 Rising and its leaders and will complement the new visitor centre being developed in the GPO.

  If we take a snapshot of that entire geographical area and consider the work ongoing on the interpretive centre at the GPO, the proposal for an interpretive centre in Moore Street, the tenement museum in Henrietta Street, the proposed development of the Abbey Theatre and the Parnell Square central library, that entire centre, and the connectivity between those sites, will lift the north inner city area. The north inner city area is worthy of that. It needs it. The city of Dublin needs it. Our nation needs it and, as I stated at the outset, future generations need it as well.

  While I appreciate the motivations behind the Bill, commend those who have drafted it and understand what they are trying to do, we do not believe that a new model is necessary. The proposal the Government has put in place in terms of acquiring the four buildings from Nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street was a positive move. That is the vehicle in which we should proceed. A huge amount of work has taken place in the past ten years from the time of the original campaign to the designation of the national monument by the previous Government in 2007 to the acquisition of the four buildings.

  I appreciate Senator O'Brien's point that we should not be doing this as a rushed measure to get something done for next Easter because it is hoped this will last for the next 100 years. However, we want to be able to say next Easter that something identifiable is taking place at this site and that we are moving to a space where we can have a proper understanding of the motivations behind those who fought in 1916 and the Republic in which we now live. I believe we have the mechanism now to achieve that. We are further along the way than we were this time last year. I believe the vehicle the Government has put in place is the appropriate one. Reluctantly, I am not willing to accept the Bill today but from the huge attendances at the consultation meetings taking place in communities around the country to the cross-party involvement in the various committees that have been set up around the commemorations, I believe this commemoration is owned by everybody in this land. It is not being used as a party political football, and that is to our credit in this House. I hope it will continue in that vein.

Senator Fiach Mac Conghail: Information on Fiach Mac Conghail Zoom on Fiach Mac Conghail Cuirim fáilte roimh an Aire Stáít chuig an Teach agus cuirim fáilte roimh chuile duine atá ag breathnú orainn agus ag éisteacht linn chomh maith. I welcome all our distinguished guests in the Gallery. I welcome the opportunity to further discuss the development of the Moore Street area. I am aware that several people have been collecting signatures.  Up to 10,000 signatures have been collected to support a sustainable development that would retain the entire 1916 Moore Street terrace. There is also support for the regeneration of the area, particularly to keep the integrity of the street market and small food shops and to bring them to life. The save Moore Street from demolition campaign will host an "arms around Moore Street event" on Sunday, 28 June. The organisers want to encircle the Moore Street terrace and fill the Moore Street area with people who care. I am aware of what is happening in this extraordinary and historic area. Thousands of people lived and worked in the area, which can been seen in the 1911 census. Its terrible to think that over 300 men were crammed into the small terrace which only consisted of 15 redbrick houses and two dozen people died on the street in 1916.

  I welcome the fact that Senator Darragh O'Brien and his Fianna Fáil party raised this debate. I was moved by his vision and response to why he wanted to move Second Stage of the Bill. My worry, and it is no reflection on him, is that Fianna Fáil has a penchant for going it alone in terms of development areas of which Temple Bar and Dublin docklands are examples. Senator O'Brien eloquently outlined his vision but I do not see it in this document, which has left me feeling nervous.

  I was the director of the Projects Arts Centre in Temple Bar in the 1990s and, thankfully, my predecessors bought the centre so it was retained. At the time I saw a lot of cultural organisations being railroaded and shifted out of the area. I saw local artists and co-operatives being driven out of the area for commercial gain that operated under the guise of a national government agency of which the sole shareholder was the Minister for the Environment. I am curious to know why the Bill has been presented as belonging to the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht when it should be the responsibility of the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government.

  I witnessed at first hand a Government desecrate Temple Bar and strip it of essential communities, particularly artists and local communities who worked in the area. I do not think the then Government intended to do so. I firmly believe that the original intention of Temple Bar Properties was to develop the area as a cultural quarter. Unfortunately, it chose the commercial route of developing huge bars and retail areas that have now dwarfed the original gentle, creative and imaginative area of Temple Bar which was there before it became a national development area. That is what worries me about this Bill.

  I have seen no statement of vision or imagination in the Bill. I would support the Bill if it contained what Senator Darragh O'Brien just spoke about. There is no guarantee that his view will come to pass. I have seen what happened to Temple Bar, which is now managed by Dublin City Council. Significant cultural organisations in the area are under threat because it has been proposed that they should manage the maintenance of the buildings. Suddenly, the very foundation of the funding and sustainable future of some of these cultural organisations is in trouble.

  The Minister of State mentioned other adjoining areas. Let us look at what has happened with the so-called cultural quarter of Parnell Square, plus Moore Street. The Carlton site has lain dormant for many years. There is the Abbey Theatre and Dance Ireland DanceHouse on Foley Street. There is also The Lab gallery on Foley Street which is run by Dublin City Council. There is an emerging cultural quarter and energy appearing in the area yet this Bill has not made an emotional or cultural connection to any of it. The legislation does not even mention anything-----

Senator Darragh O'Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien There is a mechanism to do so and this is a technical Bill.

Senator Fiach Mac Conghail: Information on Fiach Mac Conghail Zoom on Fiach Mac Conghail -----about 1916. I commend the Government on purchasing Nos. 14 to 17 on Moore Street. The project will not only be a national monument but is guaranteed to be in public ownership. The Minister of State has been vague about what will occur beyond this initiative. Will the project be turned into a commemorative centre? We need to hear more about the matter.

  I am concerned that the Bill lacks vision. The fact that the Senator has stated that he based the legislation on the Temple Bar area is of grave concern to me.

Senator Darragh O'Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien I based the legislation on the model.

Senator Fiach Mac Conghail: Information on Fiach Mac Conghail Zoom on Fiach Mac Conghail No.

Senator Darragh O'Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien I based it on the model.

Senator Fiach Mac Conghail: Information on Fiach Mac Conghail Zoom on Fiach Mac Conghail The Senator said so. It is the same model and it is a cut and paste model, which I am very nervous about.

  To conclude and to be clear, I shall not support the Bill but that does not mean I do not support the redevelopment of the Moore Street area. I support the buildings being bought. We need to speak to the local communities about broadening the project to include O'Connell Street and Abbey Street and to connect with Foley Street. I am afraid I shall not support the Bill because of my experience of working in the Temple Bar area.

Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik Zoom on Ivana Bacik I welcome the Minister of State to the House. I welcome this opportunity to debate such an important issue. In particular, I welcome the many interested parties who are seated in the Visitors Gallery. I especially thank Helen Litton and James Connolly-Heron who kindly met me and briefed me on the issue yesterday. I also thank all of the 1916 relatives and relatives of the signatories of the Proclamation who have been so involved in the project.

  I am conscious that there has been a long campaign to preserve Moore Street broadly. It is a campaign in which the Labour Party has been closely involved, and I speak as the Labour Party leader in the Seanad. Others have mentioned the Tánaiste, Deputy Joan Burton, who added her name to opposition of a previous planning application. Deputy Joe Costello, and I think Deputy Ruairí Quinn was mentioned, and Councillor Dermot Lacey have all been involved in working towards the regeneration and preservation of Moore Street. I am very proud that the Labour Party, in government, has been party to the decision, which was finally taken on 31 March of this year, to purchase the national monument that is Nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street and to develop it, as the Minister of State has said, as a commemorative centre in time for the centenary next year.

  Fianna Fáil put forward this legislation. However, it is noteworthy that no previous government has taken the step to purchase the buildings. In 2007, a previous government declared Nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street to be national monuments but not the rest of the terrace. It is a crying shame that the decision to purchase these specific houses and to develop them as a commemorative centre, for the people of this State and future generations, was not done for the 50th, 60th, 70th, 80th or 90th anniversary of the Rising.

  I have seen the photographs of the interior of the buildings for which I thank the people who briefed me on the subject. The photographs showed the appalling, shameful and dilapidated conditions of the buildings. A great deal of work needs to be done simply to preserve and make them fit to be visited. I refer to Nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street which are the subject of the State's purchase decision. As we know, it was in No. 16 Moore Street where the decision to surrender was taken. The project also includes the building from which the founder of the Labour Party, Mr. James Connolly, was carried out on a stretcher. It was put to me in a very poignant way that Connolly, and some of the other signatories of the Proclamation, spent the last few hours of their freedom in those buildings. That is a hugely poignant and noteworthy statement. It is a shame that the project has not been done before. I welcome the fact that we have now moved to preserve and refit the buildings in a sensitive manner, as befits a national monument, and to make these buildings fit to be used for a commemorative centre.

  I am conscious also, although I had not been aware, that the full terrace of Nos. 10 to 25, in a more general sense, is significant as it has remained intact since 1916, albeit in an appallingly dilapidated state. Also, much of the terrace did not have to be rebuilt after 1916, unlike the GPO and much of O'Connell Street. I would like to see the preservation plan further expanded in line with one of the plans that relatives put forward. The project would be attractive but the question is how do we go about it.

  I am mindful of what Senator Mac Conghail has said. Initially, when I heard this Bill was coming forward I thought that the Government would be able to take it through Second Stage. I only saw the legislation today. When I read it I was dismayed, like the Senator, to see that it does not contain any indication of the plan put forward by the relatives to expand and develop more of the terrace as a commemorative centre. Instead, the Bill re-creates a model, as its proposer has said, along the lines of Temple Bar Properties.  Senator Eamonn Coghlan and others have pointed to the hugely problematic nature of that model. As a lawyer I must read the small print and I am struck by how little accountability there would be in the model contained in this Bill. There is provision for the appointment of the directors of Moore Street Renewal Limited by the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, but there is a question as to why that Minister is involved when the broad Moore Street area is not designated as a national monument. There is no provision for the removal of the directors, for their tenure or for any type of democratic accountability by the company. I would be concerned about that model.

  On the other hand, we have a model with Dublin City Council. The Minister has spoken of the initiatives that are being taken. One initiative I strongly support, as a client of Moore Street traders like many others, is Dublin City Council's reinventing and rejuvenating of the market element of Moore Street in consultation with the street traders. The council has a development plan process under way that will encompass the area. Senator Mac Conghail and the Minister have spoken of the other important initiatives alongside the initiative on the Moore Street buildings, including the initiative on the GPO visitors' centre, the initiative in Parnell Square and the tenement museum on Henrietta Street. I have confidence in Dublin City Council as the appropriate democratically elected body through which we should make proposals to create a proper and fitting commemorative centre in Moore Street.

  There is huge support across the House for the spirit of this Bill and for the motivation so eloquently expressed by its proposers. However, all of us should work on two fronts: first, to support the initiative to develop Nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street as a commemorative centre in time for the centenary year and, second, to work with Dublin City Council on the broader development of the Moore Street area in a fitting manner. That is the more appropriate mechanism.

  I was privileged to take part in the wonderful commemoration on Easter Monday that was run by Dublin City Council and RTE, the "Road to the Rising". It commemorated not only the military history of 1916 but, importantly, the economic, social and living conditions of people and communities in 1915 and leading up to 1916. That social history and the commemoration of the deaths of civilians and children in the Easter Rising, which were not spoken about often until relatively recently, are the commemorations that are hugely meaningful to us and younger generations. I brought my children to O'Connell Street for that and I was privileged to speak from a tram about the suffragette movement, which was very important in 1915 and 1916. That is the type of inclusive and pluralist commemoration with which we should be involved and which Dublin City Council has been good and proactive in bringing forward.

  I commend the proposers of the Bill for giving us the opportunity to debate the issue not just of Moore Street but more broadly how we commemorate 1916 and the struggle for independence, and I thank my colleagues for expressing broad support for their motivation and principles. I also thank the Minister for his contribution.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris It is important that a dissenting voice is raised. The buildings are completely undistinguished architecturally and are in a very poor state of repair. Temple Bar Properties was invoked. I know all about Temple Bar Properties because I started the Hirschfeld Centre. There was absolutely nothing there beforehand; nobody had ever heard of the place. When we started a discotheque there and a community centre that had a restaurant, cinema, theatre and so forth, it brought many young people to the area who took up short-term leases. That led to Temple Bar, which was long before Charlie Haughey ever heard of it. Then these people came in and turned it into a tourist venue. I am not sure that is what people want.

  Then there is Henrietta Street. All that can be done with the most superb street, architecturally, in this city is a tenement museum - what a farce.

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

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I am aware of the presence of relatives and so forth in the Visitors Gallery, but it important historically to look at a different perspective on this. This was in the middle of a world war. That legally makes it treason. They ignored the commands of General Eoin MacNeill to cancel the Rising, so there is obviously an element of vanity about this.

  I must make something clear because The Sunday Times, which is a rag owned by Rupert Murdoch, said that I had called the 1916 people terrorists. I never did any such thing.

Senator Mark Daly: Information on Mark Daly Zoom on Mark Daly I think the Senator called them traitors.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris Plainly, they were not terrorists or anything like terrorists-----

Acting Chairman (Senator Diarmuid Wilson): Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson Senator Norris without interruption.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I cannot hear interruptions-----

Senator Mark Daly: Information on Mark Daly Zoom on Mark Daly The Senator called them traitors.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I never said they were terrorists. I have just said they were traitors; I said it tonight.

Senator Mark Daly: Information on Mark Daly Zoom on Mark Daly That is okay. We are clear now.

Acting Chairman (Senator Diarmuid Wilson): Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson Senator Norris without interruption.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris It was during a world war. I do not give a damn what side one is on - technically and legally it is an act of treason. The Senator can hiss all he likes, but that is what I am saying. I am saying it because I am the only one who will say it.

Senator Darragh O'Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien Thank God the Senator is not the President.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris General Eoin MacNeill countermanded the Rising. With regard to terrorism, of course they were not terrorists. They were poets, idealists and the like, and they called off the Rising because of civilian casualties. That is the reverse of terrorism. That shows a humanitarian concern, and I always credit these people with that.

  However, what was the net result of it? There was the brutal and bloody Civil War and the bitter partition of Ireland. What do we have now to celebrate? We have a country that has accepted the gambling debts of the German and French banks and we have evictions. I do not know what there is to celebrate. What eventually emerged was a republic in which there is free speech and in which I am entitled to have a minority view of one. I had not intended to speak this evening, but the reason I did is so we can demonstrate that in this Republic there is at least a respect for freedom of speech. If that is what was won by 1916, I am all for it.

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

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris We should have free speech. Unpopular opinions should be listened to and respected. They should not be passed into law because if they are unpopular they are a minority and they have no place on the Statute Book. However, Seanad Éireann is a place where unpopular views should be permitted to be expressed. I realise I am in a minority of one, but Seanad Éireann is for-----

Senator Mark Daly: Information on Mark Daly Zoom on Mark Daly Kevin Myers would agree with the Senator.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris -----the expression of these views, despite what Senator Daly would like to say in his inaudible interruptions.

Senator Mark Daly: Information on Mark Daly Zoom on Mark Daly Kevin Myers would agree with the Senator. He is in good company.

Acting Chairman (Senator Diarmuid Wilson): Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson Senator Daly, you will have an opportunity to speak in a few moments.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris It does not matter a damn who would agree.

Acting Chairman (Senator Diarmuid Wilson): Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson I call Senator Jim D'Arcy.

Senator Jim D'Arcy: Information on Jim D'Arcy Zoom on Jim D'Arcy In "The Mother" Pádraig Pearse spoke the following lines:

They shall be spoken of among their people,

The generations shall remember them,

And call them blessed;

But I will speak their names to my own heart

In the long nights;

The little names that were familiar once

Round my dead hearth.

This encapsulates the public and private elements of the sacrifice. Anseo inniú chuala muid Baill ag rá, "is the sacrifice recognised?" The answer was, "Yes, it is".

  It is worthwhile to look at the programme of events. The Minister listed a number of the flagship projects and the State events, including national ceremonies and parades, cultural events and State receptions. There is a cultural programme and an educational programme. Submissions are still being accepted regarding how further events might take place. Indeed, I have been speaking with Senator Ó Murchú about perhaps enhancing the element of work for the Irish language as part of the 2016 commemorations. We have done fruitful work with Senator Daly on the consultative committee, and he has his own committee with Senator Ó Murchú with which we also work. What I hear from the people is that they want the celebrations and commemorations to be more exact, to be inclusive and to cherish all the children of the nation equally, including Senator Norris.  I agree that freedom of speech is hard won and anyone who defends freedom of speech will have my support.

  I welcome the Bill and the opportunity to discuss Moore Street. I am a culchie and so my memories of Moore Street are not like those of Senator Eamonn Coghlan. They are of coming up from the country with my family, parents, brothers and sisters, and hearing this wonderful-----

Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin: Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin We recognise culchies. They are as much a part of the nation as anyone.

Senator Jim D'Arcy: Information on Jim D'Arcy Zoom on Jim D'Arcy He recognises culchies as second-rate citizens but nevertheless entitled to some recognition as human beings, I suppose.

Acting Chairman (Senator Diarmuid Wilson): Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson He is a culchie himself.

Senator Jim D'Arcy: Information on Jim D'Arcy Zoom on Jim D'Arcy There was the wonderful music of the street traders on Moore Street. We used to go for our duffel coats in Arnotts or somewhere like that and then go out to Moore Street to experience the wonderful colour and sound. I remember 1966 and "Insurrection" and seeing The O'Rahilly being gunned down. I do not think Cathal Brugha was shot on Moore Street but perhaps it was close by. My teacher told me he was shot during 1916, that he had 16 lead bullets in him and that every time he walked, he jingled. He said it was a pity he was then shot dead by fellow Irishmen. Those wounds have healed.

  Moore Street is an important part of our heritage. If the Minister, the Department and the Government had not purchased Nos. 14, 15 and 17 Moore Street, we would be discussing a motion or Bill before the House today on that matter. The decision has meant that Moore Street comes into public ownership and the 1916 commemorative centre is to be developed on the site. It will be run as a public facility with access for citizens and visitors alike. This has put an end to the uncertainty surrounding the future of these buildings. It is hoped that the project will be completed during the centenary year as a fitting tribute to the leaders of the Easter Rising.

  I acknowledge the presence of relatives of the men and women of 1916 in the Gallery today. All those families have contributed greatly to public life, business life and private life. They can be very proud. I am very proud now that I am the grand-uncle of the great-grand-niece of Eamonn Ceannt. I am delighted about that.

  I have heard we are not going to vote for the Bill, but I recognise the sentiments around the Bill and the great contribution that Members on the opposite side have made to the 2016 commemorations.

Senator Mark Daly: Information on Mark Daly Zoom on Mark Daly I welcome the Minister of State to the House. I pay tribute to my colleagues, Senator Darragh O'Brien and Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú, as well as the families and relatives of the people of 1916 who have been pursuing this issue for a decade and more. I pay tribute to the members of the Fianna Fáil Party on Dublin City Council, including Paul McAuliffe, Seán Haughey and Daithí de Róiste, who have been pursuing this at council level.

  Before we get into the meat of the issue, I thank the Minister of State for his involvement in the all-party consultation group on the decade of commemorations. A programme has been produced and, while we disagree on significant details in the case of Moore Street, the programme is comprehensive and something people have been seeking for a long time. I welcome the recent publication and announcement of the plans before Easter. I thank the chairman of the committee, the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Deputy Heather Humphreys, who is doing an excellent job throughout the country. I have been at some of the meetings where she is promoting and asking communities to get involved in 1916 commemorations. I thank John Concannon who has been working tirelessly on the various projects.

  What we are doing in 2016 is celebrating those ordinary yet extraordinary men and women who did an extraordinary thing on an ordinary day. They took on the biggest empire the world had ever seen and ultimately dealt it a fatal blow which eventually saw its fall. We are also celebrating the aims of the Proclamation, the equal rights, equal opportunities and civil and religious liberties that we spoke about 99 years ago. We are celebrating how far we have come and we are contemplating how far we have yet to go.

  As a nation we are poor when it comes to celebrations. The leader on this side has spoken about Kilmainham Gaol. Kilmainham Gaol was to be demolished. That was the proposal of Dublin Corporation. It was in rack and ruin and the roof had fallen in. Only for volunteers, the predecessors of the people in the Gallery, the people who got together and decided that the situation could not continue, Kilmainham Gaol today could be a block of flats. Moore Street could have been in the same situation were it not for citizens getting involved.

  I will set out my own experience on the GPO and the interpretative centre which, we are told by An Post, will be ready for Easter 2016. The initial proposal from four years ago was that there would be a foundation stone laid in Easter 2016 rather than an interpretative centre. I met representatives of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. They wrote a four-page brief on what needed to be done and the timeline required to get everything ready for 2016. The response from An Post was to ask what would the Smithsonian know about museums. I am pleased the Government has decided not to go with An Post and that the project will be ready, as it should be. Some 100 years on, the GPO is still a post office, yet if a person walked in there today, he would not know that the most significant event in this country's history took place inside that building. That is a travesty and, I suppose, a condemnation of previous Governments. In a similar fashion, the Moore Street monument was initially only going to comprise No. 16 Moore Street. I pay tribute to the then Minister, Dick Roche. He made it a national monument and added Nos. 14, 15 and 17 Moore Street. We are talking today about developing a battlefield site. As has been said, it is our Alamo in that it was the place of the last stand in 1916.

  Others have spoken about redevelopments gone wrong. Certainly, there are governance issues in other development vehicles. People look at Temple Bar as if it were a disaster. There have been issues, but Temple Bar was due to be levelled and turned into Busáras. Previous generations made a decision not to do that and we are perfectly happy that it is there today and that it is a great tourist attraction. It is not perfect, but nothing ever is. The Ballymun redevelopment was an excellent redevelopment, as is Grangegorman. There are always redevelopment vehicles. This is simply a vehicle by which we can ensure future generations will enjoy what people enjoy today when they go to Kilmainham Gaol.  When one walks out of the GPO interpretative centre, the ideal situation would be to progress up Moore Street and onto Parnell Square ending up at the new redevelopment there-----

Senator Jim D'Arcy: Information on Jim D'Arcy Zoom on Jim D'Arcy That is not in keeping with its character.

Senator Mark Daly: Information on Mark Daly Zoom on Mark Daly -----along with visiting the Garden of Remembrance. We are disagreeing on the Bill and that is unfortunate but we must remember the history of previous developments such as Kilmainham Gaol. Citizens such as those in the Visitors Gallery took action when politicians failed. Similarly, the GPO, a hundred years on, will be developed but only because people decided to act and say that a foundation stone on the 100th anniversary is not enough. Moore Street has come a long way from a situation in which it could well have been knocked to a proposal for No. 16 to be preserved to it then being made a national monument. Now we are arguing and disagreeing and losing this battle but the leaders of 1916 would probably agree with me when I say we might lose the battle but we will win the war.

Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh: Information on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh Zoom on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh Cuirim céad fáilte roimh an Aire Stáit agus cuirim fáilte roimh na haíonna speisialta atá in Áiléar na gCuairteoirí anocht. Is mór an onóir dúinne go bhfuil siad anseo le linn na díospóireachta seo. Táimid an-bhuíoch as an obair iontach atá ar bun acu leis an gceist seo a choinneáil dúisithe. I welcome all the guests in the Visitors Gallery and thank them for the incredible work they are doing to ensure this issue is still at the top of the agenda. They have our full support in that regard. Sinn Féin supports the spirit of this Private Members' Bill and will be voting in favour of it. We support any efforts to save Moore Street and to preserve this important historic site.

  The people of Ireland, the Irish diaspora and friends of Ireland everywhere are looking forward to 2016, the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising and the proclamation of the Irish Republic, a pivotal event in our history. It would be a national disgrace if, during Easter 2016 and the War of Independence and Civil War anniversaries which follow it, the 1916 battlefield site were to remain in the ruinous state it is in today. Today the buildings on Moore Street, which were the last headquarters of the provisional Government of the Irish Republic, have been left to slowly fall into ruin. This is despite having been designated a national monument since 2007. The buildings that survived British bombardment in 1916 and the 100 years since now face destruction from developers who plan to reduce them to rubble and build a shopping centre in their place. The deterioration of the national monument which has languished in a vacant and neglected state for many years and the potential threat to the national monument is a matter of serious concern to Sinn Féin and many other citizens.

  Sinn Féin wishes to acknowledge that the dedication of the relatives of the 1916 leaders and those who have supported them in their campaign over many years has ensured that Nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street have been saved so far from the bulldozers. Sinn Féin has always believed that it is totally irrational to allow a developer in NAMA to set the agenda in regard to the development of one of the most historic quarters of Dublin city. There are very serious questions yet to be answered regarding the dealings of the management of Dublin City Council with the various developers who have been involved in the site in question in the Moore Street-O'Connell Street area.

  At the start of the Civil War in 1922, much of O'Connell Street was destroyed for the second time having been levelled six years earlier by the British Army bombardment in 1916. Yet, within a few years, the capital's main thoroughfare was rebuilt. For many years now, much of O'Connell Street Upper has been dominated by a huge vacant site - a gaping hole in the nation's main historic street. It has been in this condition for far longer than it took to rebuild much of the street after its destruction in war. The preservation of the national monument, Moore Street and the surrounding streetscape would allow for the development of a historic 1916 quarter encompassing the entire Moore Street-O'Connell Street area. This would have ample scope for commercial and retail development to rejuvenate this neglected part of our capital.

  In view of this, while we support today's Private Members' Bill, Sinn Féin has its own vision of what we think should happen to this historic area. This vision is outlined in our document, The 1916 Revolutionary Quarter. Our view is that the buildings and lanes of history, where the last act in the drama of the 1916 Easter Week Rising took place, need to be preserved and enhanced. This part of the centre of our capital city needs to be cherished for its unique historical and educational value and for its heritage of revolutionary history. Sinn Féin calls on the Government, therefore, to make a commitment to protect, preserve and develop Moore Street as part of a wider historic quarter. The aim must be to frame a new plan, not only to preserve the national monument and the terrace in which it stands but also to develop the battlefield site into a 1916 revolutionary quarter, which would include the revitalisation and pedestrianisation of the associated laneways to increase shopping and tourist footfall.

  The Government must examine fully all its options, legal and financial, to make this new plan possible. The block encompassed by Moore Street, Henry Street, the GPO, O'Connell Street and Parnell Street should be designated a revolutionary quarter. The national monument at Nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street should be taken over by the State to form the centre point of the museum and interpretative centre. The quarter would have ample scope for commercial and retail development, helping to rejuvenate this area. A special aim would be to renew and sensitively develop the traditional small shop and street trading role of Moore Street. The 1916 revolutionary quarter could link up with the plan for the Parnell Square cultural quarter including the new central library, the Garden of Remembrance and the municipal gallery, thus rejuvenating this very important centre of our capital city.

  In his last letter before his execution in Kilmainham Gaol on 8 May 1916, Éamonn Ceannt wrote, "[I]n the years to come Ireland will honour those who risked all for her honour at Easter 1916". It is up to us and the Government to live up to those words.

Senator Mary M. White: Information on Mary M. White Zoom on Mary M. White I sincerely and from the bottom of my heart thank the 1916 relatives association for their persistence in getting the issue of Moore Street to the top of the agenda for 2016. I know for a fact that it was not really there. They were very difficult customers originally but now, given what I know, I compliment them on what they have done. Dick Roche, our then environment Minister, designated these houses in Moore Street a national monument. I compliment him as well. I am glad to note that over that short time, as the Minister said here today, the Government's acquisition of the designated national monument by Fianna Fáil on Moore Street was the correct approach and should be commended. At the meeting this morning with the relatives, I felt the bottom line was that, while people are aware that the money is not currently available to invest in a proper dedication, they wanted to ensure that it would be protected and minded until that time comes.

  As Senator Coghlan said, the area from the GPO to Moore Street is a battlefield. It is the site of the battlefield of the Rising. Unlike my colleague, Senator Daly, my father continually brought me and my siblings to the GPO to see the bronze scuplture depicting the death of Cú Chulainn and which was put there to commemorate 1916. The GPO is the centre of the Rising to me. That is how I was reared.

  I must be honest and say that Henry Street and Moore Street are just like any other European street. There is nothing particular about them. They are common commercial streets which have been ignored by political parties over the years. We have to face that fact. Now is the right time, in 2016, to dedicate the street, including the designated buildings where the Rising was fought out in the end. The people in Dublin City Council who were behind today's Bill did it in good faith. Despite the criticism of the Government, it was done in good faith. Councillor McAuliffe is to the right of me. In the spirit of it having been done in good faith, I will support my colleagues on it. However, Henry Street and Moore Street are just like any other street in any European city. There is nothing distinctive about them.

  It should be born in mind that Temple Bar today is not what Mr. Charles Haughey as Taoiseach meant it to be. He meant it to be a cultural centre like Montmartre. I do not see anything special about it. Immigrants and stag parties seem to think it is a great place to visit.

(Interruptions).

Acting Chairman (Senator Diarmuid Wilson): Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson Will Senator Norris please restrain himself?

Senator Mary M. White: Information on Mary M. White Zoom on Mary M. White I find it appalling.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I would not tell them.

Senator Mary M. White: Information on Mary M. White Zoom on Mary M. White To me it is just a pub quarter. If Mr. Haughey was still around, he would have kept it in the spirit he intended but, as happens so often in Ireland, it was allowed to deteriorate and become an unattractive area to visit.  In their innocence, people from abroad think it is a fabulous place and come to visit it, but it was not the intention of Mr. Haughey as Taoiseach to allow it deteriorate to the state it is in now.

Senator Paschal Mooney: Information on Paschal Mooney Zoom on Paschal Mooney I welcome the Minister of State and also the relatives of the leaders of the 1916 Rising. Once again, we are experiencing living history in this debate. I compliment the Save Moore Street campaign, the members of which have been outside the gates this evening, as well as being in the Visitors Gallery. They have distributed a leaflet which reads:

A property speculator was to demolish most of the Moore Street terrace in order to build a shopping mall through from O'Connell Street. The Government has given Mr. O'Reilly the go ahead, with some conditions, including to renovate only four houses that were declared a national monument after campaigning, but which Mr. O'Reilly has allowed to deteriorate to a shocking degree. Although he owes NAMA €2.8 billion and is retained on €200,000 a year to manage these debts, he has also been promised another €5 million from NAMA for his restoration of the four national monument houses - a token museum of four houses, a cafeteria and toilets. These will be dwarfed by a glass and concrete monstrosity around and over them and the character of the street market, if it survives at all, changed forever.

Acting Chairman (Senator Diarmuid Wilson): Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson Will the Senator, please, refrain from naming individuals in the House?

Senator Paschal Mooney: Information on Paschal Mooney Zoom on Paschal Mooney That is the basis for and what the Bill is about. It was tabled by the leader of the Fianna Fáil group, Senator Darragh O'Brien, and is supported by Fianna Fáil representatives throughout Dublin, some of whom are on Dublin City Council and here today, and the Save Moore Street campaign. This is living history.

  I wish we would take a leaf out of the book of our American cousins when it comes to the preservation of national monuments. If one visits Washington, one will see that it is a living monument. I remember going to the Ford Theatre some years ago, where President Lincoln was assassinated. Not only is it a national monument, but the house across the street from it, to which the President was taken and where he died, is also a national monument. Part of the street is also a national monument.

  I had the pleasure of visiting Springfield, Illinois some years ago. Not only has the house in which Abraham Lincoln lived prior to leaving Springfield to become President of the United States been preserved but the entire street from the 1850s has also been preserved. It has been left as it was in the time of President Lincoln, not just his house or those of his neighbours but the entire street and landscape. The vista has been left intact for people like me who want to experience the history of the area and understand what life was like and the environment in which he lived. That is what the Save Moore Street campaign is about, but it also has an added resonance.

  We are privileged to have among us the grandson of The O'Rahilly. The O'Rahilly has Leitrim connections outside my town of Drumshanbo; therefore, I have a particular interest in his life. It is important to mention that on 28 April 1916, with the GPO on fire, he volunteered to lead a party of men along a route to Williams and Woods, a factory on Great Britain Street, now Parnell Street. A British machine gun, at the intersection of Great Britain Street and Moore Street, cut him and several of the others down. He slumped into a doorway on Moore Street, wounded and bleeding badly, but on hearing the English marking his position, he made a dash across the road to find shelter in Sackville Lane, now O'Rahilly Parade. He was wounded, from his shoulder to his hip, in sustained fire by the machine gunner. To their eternal shame, for 19 hours the British left him to die. Even when an ambulance driver and his assistant came to remove him, a British officer refused to allow them to do so. In other words, they wanted him to have a painful death, physically and emotionally.

  That is just one of many incidents that happened in the area about which we are talking. At 8 p.m. on Friday, 28 April 1916, with the GPO engulfed in flames, the forces of the newly formed Irish Republic retreated from the building and endeavoured to make their way to the Four Courts garrison. They left the GPO by the side entrance on Henry Street and made their way under constant sniper fire to Moore Lane. The following day, on Moore Street, having stayed overnight in the houses about which we are talking, Pádraig Pearse who, through a shattered window, had seen a family while carrying a white flag - innocent civilians - brutally shot down by British forces decided they must surrender. Connolly agreed that the imminent risk that further lives would be sacrificed should not be tolerated. However, the leaders argued, wrangled and pleaded to convince themselves that the fight could be continued. It must have been a terrible time. Seán Mac Diarmada is reported to have said to the volunteers around him who did not wish to surrender that, at worst, the leaders would be executed. Therefore, they were facing their own death. The frail, grey haired 58 year old Fenian Tom Clarke openly wept as the final decision was made to surrender.

  The task of conveying the message to the enemy was entrusted to the dauntless Elizabeth O'Farrell. With Captain O'Reilly's handkerchief tied to a piece of stick, she passed through the doorway of 15 Moore Street and bravely walked down the street of the dead. That is what it is called - the street of the dead - the street we are asking to be preserved as a national monument. The British military assisted her over the barricade and conveyed her to Tom Clarke's little shop on Parnell Street. There, General Lowe demanded that within half an hour she return with Pádraig Pearse to the Moore Street barricade, insisting that unconditional surrender was only acceptable to him. At 2.30 p.m. Pádraig Pearse, in his heavy military overcoat and slouched hat, marched towards the barricade, with Elizabeth O'Farrell by his side. The iconic photograph of the handing of the surrender terms to General Lowe does not include her, but in a wonderful documentary on TG4 approximately 18 months ago the photograph was separated by digital means. It is an extraordinary manifestation of what happened that in a sense Elizabeth O'Farrell was written out of history, yet she was was there on that day and part of history. Pádraig Pearse was received by General Lowe, to whom he handed his sword, pistol and ammunition. He also handed him his tin canteen which, I am told, contained two large onions, obviously to sustain him through the week. An old wooden bench was brought out onto the footpath outside Byrne's shop, at the corner of Moore Street. Here, Pádraig Pearse stooped and signed the documents of surrender which had been placed on it. Elizabeth O'Farrell agreed to their joint request that she deliver the documents to the various Dublin outposts. Without speaking but with a smile, Pádraig Pearse grasped her hand for the last time.

  At Moore Street headquarters the volunteers were stunned to learn the terms of the surrender. Most of them insisted on fighting to the death, but Connolly was adamant that his boys would not be burned to death. The men began to gather on the street, the street we want to preserve. Forming ranks with sloped arms, the first group marched off under Captain O'Reilly, picking up stragglers along the way. Willie Pearse headed the main body, waving his white flag. Close behind walked Tom Clarke, while towards the rear were Seán Mac Diarmada and Joseph Plunkett, supported by his brave comrades, Julia Grennan and Winifred Carney. Leaving 16 Moore Street, the temporary headquarters of the Provisional Government of Ireland, these weary warriors marched to a prison cell or a grave. They were the spark which lit the fuse that will continue to burn until Ireland is united and free.

  I am grateful to a website which acknowledges that Shane Mac Thomáis wrote most of this information for a walking tour of Dublin and on the 1916 monuments. The narrative has moved me sufficiently to argue that, irrespective of all the other arguments made in this debate, there is unquestionably no argument to be made against preserving not only the houses but also the entire streetscape of Moore Street for future generations.

Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill: Information on Brian Ó Domhnaill Zoom on Brian Ó Domhnaill Ba mhaith liom tréaslú leis an méid atá ráite anseo tráthnóna ag mo chomhghleacaithe agus, ar ndóigh, leis na focail deiridh atá ráite ag an Seanadóir Mooney, a rinne cur síos ar an tábhacht a bhaineann le forbairt agus fad saoil a thabhairt do Moore Street anseo i mBaile Átha Cliath, áit stairiúil a bhfuil baint aici le bunú an Stáit seo. Tá baint ag an tsráid sin le saoirse na hÉireann agus le cuid mhór daoine a throid ar son na tíre agus a fuair bás ar an tsráid sin. Measaim go bhfuil dualgas ar an Rialtas aitheantas a thabhairt don tsráid sin anois, leis an bhforbairt atá leagtha amach ag an mBille atá curtha os comhair an Tí anseo tráthnóna a cheadú.  The words of my colleague, Senator Mooney, were moving. One can only imagine the horrendous situation faced by those who left the GPO and fled to Nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street in their attempt to escape the onslaught of British fire. Some of them, including the O'Rahilly, never made it. The significance of Moore Street cannot be overstated. If it were located in a large city in any other country which achieved independence in a similar manner to ours, it would be recognised as a beacon of light and hope. Instead, however, the families of those who died on Moore Street have had to plead with the Irish State to give this national monument the recognition it deserves. It was only recognised as a national monument in 2007. I commend the families and welcome their representatives to the Visitors Gallery. They are here because they believe in the cause for which their forefathers fought. We are able to speak in this Parliament because of that struggle. We have an independent sovereign nation thanks to the actions of those who gave everything, including their lives, on Moore Street.

  This issue has been highlighted by Fianna Fáil councillors and other representatives in Dublin. I commend Senator Darragh O'Brien in particular on bringing the Bill before the House. Criticism of the Bill was thrown across the House in an effort to pick holes in it but I do not see any alternative coming from the Government. It can claim credit for purchasing the properties on Moore Street from NAMA but there is no point in leaving them in a state of disrepair and decay. We should recognise their significance and honour the men and women of 1916 by turning the buildings into a living monument. Other speakers have referred to our struggle for independence from Britain, which lasted hundreds of years and culminated in that week in 1916. A plaque outside No. 16 Moore Street commemorates the first meeting of the provisional government and the decision to surrender. We should respect those events. Perhaps previous governments should have recognised its significance but we can do something about it today. It will not cost a significant sum of money because the decision to purchase has been made.

  We are putting forward a strategy for establishing a management company. International evidence indicates that a management tool as proposed in this Bill is a recognised way of managing monument sites. Italy, which is a world leader for managing and promoting heritage sites, has conducted research in this regard. The Bill therefore offers a means of developing a project for the street.

  There is a growing hunger among tourists to visit monuments and rich cultural sites throughout the world. Cultural tourism is at an all-time high. It is not right that, as Senator White noted, Moore Street is unrecognisable compared with other streets. It could be recognised as a primary street on the road to independence. I urge the Minister of State, Deputy Ó Ríordáin, to accept the Bill on its merits and if alternative suggestions can be made to enhance it, I invite him to bring them forward. I hope we do not end up with a vote and a Government veto on the Bill because considerable effort has been invested in it. Councillors, Members of this House and, more important, the relatives and groups have invested their time and energy to develop the proposals we are making tonight. I ask the Minister of State to have a heart and allow the Bill to pass Second Stage in order that we can work on it further in the coming weeks to develop a plan that is acceptable to everyone.

Senator Jim Walsh: Information on Jim Walsh Zoom on Jim Walsh I join my colleagues in supporting this Bill. It is tremendously important in that we are in this House on the eve of the centenary of the most momentous events in Irish history. The struggle for our independence was long, sad and painful. A group of poets, educators and people of peace were inspired to light the flame of Irish freedom in the knowledge they were sacrificing their lives in order that future generations of Irish people could live in a free, independent and democratic Ireland. As the beneficiaries of their struggle, it would be regrettable if we failed to commemorate the events of 1916 by preserving the locations where they occurred. It is a pity that heretofore it was left to voluntary groups to campaign for the preservation of this site. These groups include the relatives of the patriots who gave their lives for Irish freedom.

  We have a unique opportunity with this Bill. I agree with Senator Ó Domhnaill that we should not divide on it. The three main parties in this House owe their genesis to the spirit and values embodied by those who took over the GPO during the Easter Rising. That was the impetus which ultimately led to the War of Independence, the treaty with Britain and the unfortunate partition of our country. In a week in which the establishment in the neighbouring island was exposed as being responsible for so many deaths in more recent decades through its collusion with terrorist organisations, we should not forget the courage exhibited by the generation of the early 20th century.

  This Bill will also bring benefits for the economy of the area. We can see the benefit of developing Kilmainham Gaol as a significant tourism attraction. Tourists who visited Kilmainham are enlightened as to the foundation of the State and the sacrifices that were made.  I have never met anybody who has not been significantly impressed and gone away with an insight they did not have before their visit.

  We have the opportunity in Moore Street and the GPO generally to ensure that the centenary will be marked appropriately in a way that our generation can be proud of. When we look back, we will regret the fact that at the turn of the millennium, we failed to have any feature erected in our capital city which would have marked what was an historic event that very few see as such. The centenary of 1916 is coming up next year. We would never have had the War of Independence but for the sacrifice those people made during Easter week. We would never have got at least the partial independence of the island. Unfortunately, the Six Counties in Northern Ireland are not independent of the British as yet but it was a very significant achievement. I appeal to the Minister, Fine Gael and the Labour Party, all of whom had their own connections through people who became very prominent in both parties in subsequent decades, like those in Fianna Fáil. Here is an opportunity for us not only to pay tribute to these people but to ensure that their memory will live on and not just in the people of Ireland. It is particularly important given the diversity of nationalities that have now become part of this country that we ensure that this is commemorated in a way that is very high-profile and that helps young people in the future to become interested in our history and culture. I appeal to the other side of the House to find a way for us to at least agree Second Stage of this legislation so that we can work together on it to ensure that the occasion is appropriately marked next year.

  We can say, as others have said, that steps should have been taken much earlier than this but this has not happened. Some progress has been made but it is up to us now to finish the job and fulfil the vision, particularly of those voluntary groups which have played such a significant part in the preservation of that area over the past decade and indeed longer than that. I hope that when the vote is called, probably in a few minutes, there will be a show of unity. I know people referred to the Civil War but the Civil War is long over. We now have an opportunity together to commemorate what is probably one of the most historic events in Irish history.

Acting Chairman (Senator Diarmuid Wilson): Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson Before I call Senator Darragh O'Brien, I also join in the words of welcome for the families in the Visitors Gallery and the public representatives whom I can see from here - Councillor Paul McAuliffe, Councillor Sean Haughey and the very distinguished former councillor, Mary Fitzgerald. They are all very welcome.

Senator Darragh O'Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien Where does one start? I must say that I am gravely disappointed with the response of the Minister of State and the very few Government party Members who bothered to contribute to the debate this evening about a plan, roadmap and mechanism to bring about the vision I spoke about earlier. I will deal with Senator Mac Conghail's critique, which I welcome.

  Only one member of the Labour Party, the party of James Connolly, saw fit to contribute to this debate as a Member of the Seanad.

Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin: Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin The Senator asked for a non-party political debate. He cannot help himself.

Acting Chairman (Senator Diarmuid Wilson): Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson Senator O'Brien, without interruption.

Senator Darragh O'Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien The Minister of State has spoken.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris Even this has turned into a party political ping-pong match.

Senator Darragh O'Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien I am simply stating a fact. If the Minister of State cannot contain himself on this-----

(Interruptions).

Senator Darragh O'Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien I am simply stating a fact, which is that I am disappointed. I welcome some of the sentiment and some of the kind words brought to the House by the Minister of State. When he was scheduled to take this debate, I thought that this may have been a positive sign and the reason why the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht was not present.

  I said at the outset that this Bill was not perfect. It is on Second Stage and amendments can be made and new sections inserted. It is an opportunity and vehicle to deliver an historic quarter and to designate Moore Street and surrounding areas as an historic quarter in what we all know is the birthplace of our republic. It would not appropriate to insert the vision of the Rising in the Bill. This relates to Senator Mac Conghail's criticism of it. It is for the development agencies, us and the Government of the time, acting through the appropriate Minister, to make sure the development is appropriate and sensitive.

  I read the Minister of State's response with great interest and his statement that the State did not want to create any other agencies or additional companies. Two words come to mind, namely, Irish Water. I am not talking about the physical area of Temple Bar but would it be better as a bus station for all the criticism that is there? Is it not better that the architectural integrity of the area has been retained? Yes, it is not perfect but at least something is there that we can work with and change should we wish to do so.

  What is more concerning here is the fact that from looking at the Government response, there is no alternative. It has not said-----

(Interruptions).

Senator Darragh O'Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien There is no alternative.

Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin: Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin The Government bought the properties.

Senator Darragh O'Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien I look back at a document signed by the Labour Party's leader and many others across parties that objected to An Bord Pleanála's role in the development.

Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik Zoom on Ivana Bacik On a point of order, I specifically suggested two ways in which those who share the motivation of the proposers could further the aim.

Acting Chairman (Senator Diarmuid Wilson): Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson That is not a point of order. There has been a very respectful debate here for the past two hours. Everybody who wanted to contribute has been given the opportunity to do so in a respectful way. Senator Darragh O'Brien has the right of reply and I have asked for that to be respected without interruption.

Senator Darragh O'Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien I am not sure whether Senator Eamon Coghlan has proposed a Bill in the four years in which he has been here but he is allowed to respond to what has been raised. The reality is that we have an opportunity this evening to do something positive and to show a way forward as to how this can be done. Unfortunately, the Government sees fit not to do that and not to accept the proposals. This is democracy and life.

  I listened to Senator Bacik speak earlier about all the plans the city council has and the great work it is doing with regard to the traders on Moore Street. Talk to the traders and the representatives who are here this evening. Go to Moore Street and ask them what is happening there. Ask them why there are only 26 traders left in Moore Street. Ask them about the great work the city council is doing when it will not even provide a public toilet and proper running water for them.

  This area has huge potential. I apologise if any of my earlier remarks hit a raw nerve. I was simply stating a fact. People watching this debate and those who are here this evening will realise that three Government Members contributed, two from Fine Gael and one from the Labour Party. That is a fact but if one does not like it I am sorry about that.  I, like all of us here, value our heritage and history. We have an opportunity to do something about it but the Government, its officials and official Ireland have decided that this is not to be allowed happen. The Minister of State, Deputy Ó Ríordáin, can shake his head all he likes-----

Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin: Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin I will.

Senator Darragh O'Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien -----because if he does not like it, that is tough.

Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin: Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin No, I do not like it.

Senator Darragh O'Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien Okay, well I am sorry the Minister of State does not-----

Acting Chairman (Senator Diarmuid Wilson): Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson Senator O'Brien's time has concluded.

Senator Darragh O'Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien When the Minister of State was a city councillor he attended an in camera meeting with John Tierney and others.

Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin: Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Deputy O'Brien cannot help himself.

Senator Darragh O'Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien But he did.

Acting Chairman (Senator Diarmuid Wilson): Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson Senator O'Brien's time is up.

Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin: Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin We are working so hard-----

Senator Darragh O'Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien I am sorry-----

Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin: Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin We are working so hard to make this a collaborative approach and Senator O'Brien is completely out of sync.

Senator Darragh O'Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien No, the Minister of State is not.

Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik Zoom on Ivana Bacik On a point of order-----

Acting Chairman (Senator Diarmuid Wilson): Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson Senator O'Brien's time has concluded.

Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin: Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin We are trying to achieve so much on a cross-party basis.

Senator Darragh O'Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien I have no idea what the Minister of State is trying to achieve.

Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik Zoom on Ivana Bacik On a point of order-----

Acting Chairman (Senator Diarmuid Wilson): Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson Senator Bacik wishes to raise a point of order.

Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin: Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin It is impossible to appeal to Senator O'Brien's better nature.

Acting Chairman (Senator Diarmuid Wilson): Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson The Minister of State should please not interrupt.

Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin: Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin He clearly does not have a better nature. It is impossible to appeal to it.

Senator Darragh O'Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien  The Minister of State should wait until after the next general election to speak in this House.

Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin: Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Senator O'Brien cannot help himself. He has to turn the issue into a political football.

Senator Darragh O'Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien If I have the floor, I have the floor.

Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik Zoom on Ivana Bacik On a point of order, on the tone of the debate-----

Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin: Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin It is disgraceful.

Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik Zoom on Ivana Bacik The debate was conducted in a wholly respectful fashion. I thought it was an excellent debate until Senator O'Brien started making personal attacks on everyone.

Acting Chairman (Senator Diarmuid Wilson): Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson That is not a point of order. Senator O'Brien's time has concluded.

Senator Jim D'Arcy: Information on Jim D'Arcy Zoom on Jim D'Arcy Well said.

Senator Darragh O'Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien I have been interrupted this evening.

Acting Chairman (Senator Diarmuid Wilson): Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson The Chair has taken that into consideration.

Senator Darragh O'Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien I am frankly stating that I am gravely disappointed with the Government response.

Acting Chairman (Senator Diarmuid Wilson): Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson I thank the Senator.

Senator Darragh O'Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien If Members opposite do not like the tone of my remarks, I am sorry about that, but the reality of the situation is that they are letting down the very people they purport to represent.

Acting Chairman (Senator Diarmuid Wilson): Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson I ask the Senator to please conclude.

Senator Darragh O'Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien The Government has an opportunity to accept the Bill and to work on it with the Opposition. I am really sorry if the Minister of State, Deputy Ó Ríordáin, or others are offended or hurt by some of my remarks-----

Acting Chairman (Senator Diarmuid Wilson): Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson I must put the question.

Senator Darragh O'Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien -----but I imagine they will get over it.

Acting Chairman (Senator Diarmuid Wilson): Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson I am sorry but I must put the question.

Senator Mary M. White: Information on Mary M. White Zoom on Mary M. White I wish to raise a point of order, a Chathaoirligh.

Senator Darragh O'Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien I am absolutely disgusted with the position the Government has taken this evening.

Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin: Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin That is infantile.

Senator Mary M. White: Information on Mary M. White Zoom on Mary M. White I wish to raise a point of order, a Chathaoirligh.

Senator Darragh O'Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien I am sorry-----

Acting Chairman (Senator Diarmuid Wilson): Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson Senator O'Brien should please resume his seat.

Senator Darragh O'Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien I have been repeatedly interrupted by the Minister of State this evening.

Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin: Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Senator O'Brien should follow the leadership of Senator Mark Daly who has at least contributed to the entire process up until now.

Acting Chairman (Senator Diarmuid Wilson): Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson I call Senator White who wishes to make a point of order.

Senator Mary M. White: Information on Mary M. White Zoom on Mary M. White I found it very disrespectful that the Minister of State was looking at his laptop all the time. It is not right.

Acting Chairman (Senator Diarmuid Wilson): Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson That is not a point of order.

Senator Mary M. White: Information on Mary M. White Zoom on Mary M. White It was very disrespectful.

Acting Chairman (Senator Diarmuid Wilson): Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson I thank my colleagues. I am putting the question.

Senator Mary M. White: Information on Mary M. White Zoom on Mary M. White The Minister of State should have closed his laptop and listened to people attentively. He is privileged to be in that position. Only one Member from the Labour Party bothered to speak.

Acting Chairman (Senator Diarmuid Wilson): Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson The question is that the Bill be now read a Second Time.

  Question put.

  The Seanad divided by electronic means.

Senator Diarmuid Wilson: Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson Under Standing Order 62(3)(b) I request that the division be taken again other than by electronic means.

Question put:

The Seanad divided: Tá, 16; 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 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 Mark Daly   Zoom on Mark Daly   Daly, Mark. 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 Paschal Mooney   Zoom on Paschal Mooney   Mooney, Paschal. 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 Maurice Cummins   Zoom on Maurice Cummins   Cummins, Maurice.
Information on Brian Ó Domhnaill   Zoom on Brian Ó Domhnaill   Ó Domhnaill, Brian. 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 Denis O'Donovan   Zoom on Denis O'Donovan   O'Donovan, Denis. Information on Lorraine Higgins   Zoom on Lorraine Higgins   Higgins, Lorraine.
Information on Ned O'Sullivan   Zoom on Ned O'Sullivan   O'Sullivan, Ned. Information on John Kelly   Zoom on John Kelly   Kelly, John.
Information on Jim Walsh   Zoom on Jim Walsh   Walsh, Jim. Information on Fiach Mac Conghail   Zoom on Fiach Mac Conghail   Mac Conghail, Fiach.
Information on Mary M. White   Zoom on Mary M. White   White, Mary M. Information on Mary Moran   Zoom on Mary Moran   Moran, Mary.
Information on Diarmuid Wilson   Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson   Wilson, Diarmuid. 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 Catherine Noone   Zoom on Catherine Noone   Noone, Catherine.
  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 Ned O'Sullivan and Diarmuid Wilson; Níl, Senators Paul Coghlan and Aideen Hayden.

Question declared lost.

Business of Seanad

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke I welcome two former Members of the House to the Visitors Gallery - the former Senator and Deputy, Dermot Fitzpatrick, and former Senator and Deputy, Sean Haughey. I also welcome Councillor Paul McAuliffe and former councillor, Mary Fitzpatrick. They are very welcome.

Statute Law Revision Bill 2015: Committee Stage

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke I welcome the Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Deputy Simon Harris, to the House.

  Sections 1 to 9, inclusive, agreed to.

  Schedule 1 agreed to.

SCHEDULE 2

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I move amendment No. 1:

In page 117, to delete lines 5 and 6.

This relates to a proclamation ordering the apprehension of street robbers in Dublin. Could anybody deny that this is more necessary than ever? If it was necessary in the 18th century, my God it is necessary now. It is not about robbers but beggars and every kind of trollop and tramp all over the city. We should at least return to the days when there was an attempt to create order. This even pre-dates the establishment of the police force, the Royal Irish Constabulary or An Garda Síochána, for whom we should give grateful thanks to the Lord.

  In a way I am half-serious about putting down these amendments as it would be a pity for the legislation to go through without any real intensive discussion. This casts us back in some ways; this comes from 1742, and at least they were trying to do something about robbery. I am a big fan of the gardaí but today a robbery is an ordinary event. Half the time they do not even send a fingerprint technician, as it is taken so casually that people are robbed. There are dippers on O'Connell Street and Grafton Street and so on. I look forward to the Minister of State telling me what is being done. He has very kindly supplied me with answers and explanations. He indicates that some of these provisions are spent, so why not resurrect them? Why not do something about the degree of public street robbery in this city? I will leave it at that so we can get to the other perhaps more important or serious elements.

  I will not go on about this but I will make a contribution here and there. I treat this as an opportunity for ventilating significant public issues. Robbery is a significant public issue today, as are the other three matters I have put down for retention on the Statute Book. There are 368 pages under consideration and I have only suggested a few lines to be retained. I pay tribute to the Minister of State as I received the most interesting answers to my questions, although I do not fully subscribe to them.

Senator Thomas Byrne: Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne I disagree with Senator Norris. Good riddance to these proclamations of the 18th century because, in the main, they were penal laws which subjugated the people of this country at the time.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris Balls.

Senator Thomas Byrne: Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne I do not have the text of this legislation relating to that Lord Lieutenant, who I believe was the Duke of Devonshire. I certainly do not support that legislation and I do not wish to keep it.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris We know Fianna Fáil supports robbery of the public. That is fairly obvious.

Senator Thomas Byrne: Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne We do not.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris Paying the debts of the Germans-----

Senator Thomas Byrne: Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne In many ways-----

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris That is its style.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke Senator Byrne, without interruption.

Senator Thomas Byrne: Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne In many ways it is ludicrous to debate a piece of legislation that was spent nearly 200 years ago.  The context of the Bill is the penal laws of this country-----

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris It is not.

Senator Thomas Byrne: Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne -----under which the majority of the people suffered grievously under the lord lieutenants and their legislation.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris Including myself.

Senator Thomas Byrne: Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne Let us do this as quickly as possible.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke The Senator has contributed already. I call Senator Paschal Mooney.

Senator Paschal Mooney: Information on Paschal Mooney Zoom on Paschal Mooney I have some reservations about one of the citations. Which one are we debating?

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke We are debating the amendment.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris It is about the apprehension of street robbers.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke I will allow the Senator in on the Schedule.

Senator Paschal Mooney: Information on Paschal Mooney Zoom on Paschal Mooney Is it on the Schedule?

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke We are on amendment No. 1.

Senator Paschal Mooney: Information on Paschal Mooney Zoom on Paschal Mooney I thank the Cathaoirleach.

Minister of State at the Department of Finance (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris I thank the Seanad for consideration of Committee Stage of the Bill. It is useful in response to this amendment, and what I anticipate to be our debate, to remind people of what we are doing. In this and the other House we pass new laws all the time. That is our job. It is our job to put laws on the Statute Book. It is our job to put laws in place that our citizens want and deserve. It is also our job as legislators to make sure the law is as accessible as possible and that we maintain a Statute Book that is up to date. I agree with Senator Norris that issues relating to law and order are important. I could get into the debate about how this Government has recommenced the recruitment of members of An Garda Síochána but that is not for this Bill. This Bill is about removing obsolete legislation that serves no purpose whatsoever other than to cloud and confuse those trying to read the Statute Book. This is a process that began about 13 years ago. Generally, there has been much cross-party support for it in this and the other House. The Senator's amendment seeks to remove an instrument of 1742 from the Schedule of revoked instruments. I thank the Senator for his kind words in respect of the briefing notes provided to him. I understand his sentiment but this particular instrument of 1742 offers a reward for the apprehension of street robbers in Dublin on or before 1 March of the following year 1743, and, therefore, I think in anybody's eyes it is spent. It is not capable of ongoing application, therefore it should be removed from the Statute Book.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I fully accept the Minister of State's reply.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I move amendment No. 2:

In page 129, to delete lines 4 and 5.

This is a more significant order. It is an order of 3 February 1755 for the surveying of pavements in the City of Dublin. This is from the Paving Commission. I doubt very much if the Minister of State can tell me there is no application or no relevance for this today. The pavements in the City of Dublin are a complete, absolute and utter disgrace. They are a death trap. Nobody can deny that and nothing whatever is done about it. I have been complaining for decades about the squalor and disintegration of the Georgian core and I instanced particular buildings, including buildings in North Frederick Street, to Dublin City Council, but it said everything was all right and it was marvellous. A week or so ago one of the buildings collapsed, so how "all right" was that? In a major capital city of Europe we should at least have decent pavements on which to walk. Whereas this piece of legislation on the Statute Book might well have passed into antiquity, it is time for it to be renewed. What is the Government doing about the status of the city? It always gets off on the excuse that this is a matter for the local city authorities but it is the capital city.

Deputy Simon Harris: Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris Yes.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris The Government should have some responsibility for it. I despair. I live in the inner city and have lived there for 40 years and I have literally spent millions of my own money restoring a house. We have utterly decrepit pavements. I invite the Minister of State to come and have a look at the pavement on, for example, Parnell Street, where one is taking one's life in one's hands. The Government introduced a property tax. I persuaded the Minister for Finance, Deputy Michael Noonan, during a budget debate to introduce the living city initiative which he did, carefully excluding Dublin. When he extended the initiative to Dublin this year, some anonymous little squirt of a civil servant put down a provision saying that it should not extend to what he called mansions, in other words the Georgian core.

Senator Tom Sheahan: Information on Tom Sheahan Zoom on Tom Sheahan That is inappropriate; that is desperate.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I am making the point-----

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke I ask the Senator to withdraw that remark.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris -----that this city is decrepit. It is a disgrace as a capital city and it needs some attention; looking at the pavements would be a start.

Deputy Simon Harris: Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris I have had much respect for Senator Norris over the years and I am sure he does not mean to refer to any member of the public service as a little squirt. Members of the public service, as they go about their duties, enable the Senator to carry out his duties and have done the State significant service during the years of economic difficulty and during the times when they have been paid less and have had fewer members of staff.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris So have we. We have been paid significantly less.

Deputy Simon Harris: Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The Senator is paid a fine wage as I am.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I am paid much less than middle management.

Deputy Simon Harris: Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris I do not think the Senator should refer to people as little squirts. The Senator has mentioned that he was able to spend millions on doing up his home. There are not many people working in the Civil Service who would be in a position to do that.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris Yes, they would.

Deputy Simon Harris: Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris I would hope the Senator would reflect on that.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke The Minister of State to continue, without interruption, please. I ask that there be no interruptions from the Visitors Gallery, please.

Deputy Simon Harris: Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris We are responding to a piece of legislation which seeks to revoke an instrument of 1755. The Senator's amendment seeks to remove an instrument of 1755 from the Schedule of revoked instruments. The instrument concerned is an order of 1755 for the surveying of pavements in the City of Dublin. It requires all church wardens and the directors of the watch in their respective parishes throughout the city to return full and particular surveys of the defects in the pavements in their districts. However, it was a once off survey in 1755 for the purpose of having all of the pavements well and effectually repaired during the current season. The current season has well and truly expired. I take the Senator's point about pavements but that is not a matter for the Statute Law Revision Bill. The job of the Statute Law Revision Bill is to keep our legislation up to date. As this instrument has been spent since 1755, I propose that it be removed from the Statute Book.

Senator Thomas Byrne: Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne I know Senator David Norris does much for Georgian Dublin but he is in danger of turning the Seanad into a Georgian parliamentary chamber because we have been debating issues that are utterly irrelevant. Listening to the debate about the items that are spent, I wonder whether it is worth the time of civil servants going through items that are clearly spent and clearly have no application. Certainly, I do not think the proclamations of the Duke of Dorset, Mr. Sackville, have any relevance today.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris Church wardens and directors of the watch would have been the equivalent of local authorities. Nothing could be more relevant to the welfare of the city today than the requirement that all local authorities do a survey of the state of the pavements. The Minister of State said it was a once-off survey. That does not mean it cannot be repeated for the purpose of having the pavements well and effectually repaired during the current season. That, surely, is an admirable objective and, therefore, the Minister of State said this order is also spent and not capable of ongoing application. I do not accept that. I do not see why it is spent. Unlike the previous instrument it does not have an expiry date attached, or does it?

Deputy Simon Harris: Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris It has.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I am interested to hear what the Minister of State has to say.

Deputy Simon Harris: Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris In an effort to be helpful it referred to the current season on 1755, hence my proposal that it is spent and the reason I am not in a position to accept the amendment.

  Amendment put and declared lost.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I move amendment No. 3:

In page 169, to delete lines 38 to 40.

This amendment refers to a proclamation prohibiting the publishing of false, wicked malicious reports and news. I delight in that. Maybe it was the 18th century but, surely to God, this is something we should uphold as a parliament. We have a fairly rotten media which consistently publishes false, wicked malicious reports, as I am well in a position to attest having sued about 11 times and won in all cases. The media sought to propagate the most atrocious lies about me. I had my revenge by making them shell out fairly substantial sums of money. I note there is a privacy Bill in my name on the Order Paper - there is also a privacy Bill in the name of the Government - to protect the interests of private citizens in this country. During the presidential election, the editor of one of the newspapers actually said to me that what was happening to me was "pay back time" for the work I did on the defamation Bill in the Seanad.  Something should be done about the deliberate spreading of false, malicious and wicked reports to frighten people off from their parliamentary duties. I do not expect a positive reply from the Minister of State on this, but I would like him to bring the message back to the Cabinet and colleagues that we are looking for some kind of control. I know most people in political parties are afraid to take on the press, just as one hour ago people here were afraid to enter any dissenting voice about the rescuing of the Moore Street buildings related to 1916. I was hissed at by the relatives for entering a dissenting opinion, which makes me wonder what kind of republic they would have liked to see. It is important we take up the matter of false, malicious and wicked reports and news and put a stop to it. This Bill may not be the vehicle to do it, but it provides me with a welcome opportunity to address a serious Minister on the situation and ask that something be done about the issue.

  With regard to my remarks earlier, perhaps the use of the word "squirt" was unparliamentary. However, the remark was made about an anonymous person who had an ideological vengeance against the 18th century and specified as mansions any houses over 100 sq. m.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke The Senator should not discuss anyone who is not here to defend himself.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris In other words, anything more than a cottage was ruled out, not by the Minister, but by this anonymous civil servant.

Deputy Simon Harris: Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris In regard to the amendment put forward by Senator Norris, it seeks to remove an instrument of 1779 from the schedule of revoked instruments. The proclamation of 1779, which this refers to, was issued in response to representations made to the then Lord Lieutenant and Council of Ireland that forged letters had been sent, stating contrary to the truth that hostile attempts had been made by foreign enemies upon the peace and security of the kingdom. It prohibits the distribution of such false news and advises that "such as shall offend therein shall be prosecuted to the utmost rigour of the law". This proclamation has been superseded by modern legislation and is therefore obsolete, but I will convey to my colleague the Senator's views on the broader points relating to the Privacy Bill.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I thank the Minister of State for that undertaking.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I move amendment No. 4:

In page 202, to delete lines 12 and 13.

While it may appear so, this is not a frivolous amendment. It concerns the removal of the first instance of the proclamation Magna Carta of 12 June 1215, just over 800 years ago. Is the Government marking the 800th anniversary of the introduction of the Magna Carta into Irish law by removing it? That is a shame and a pity. I understand that segments of the Magna Carta are involved in other legislation, but I believe it is a shame we should remove it from the Statute Book and regret that for historical reasons.

Deputy Simon Harris: Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris I assure the Senator that this is not what we are doing. The Senator's amendment seeks to remove an instrument of 1215 from the schedule of revoked instruments. The instrument was designed to publish the Magna Carta. Unfortunately, no text has been located during the research for this Bill for the proclamation of 1215. In the interest of transparency, we have adopted the clear policy that we cannot retain on our Statute Book any legislation in respect of which no text is available. Therefore, the proclamation of 1215 cannot be retained. However, I assure Senator Norris that the revocation of this proclamation will not revoke the Magna Carta itself, especially in this its 800th anniversary year. As the House may be aware, the Magna Carta was issued in a number of different versions between 1215 and 1297 in England and in 1216 in Ireland. I assure the House that parts of the Magna Carta of 1215 and 1297 remain in force in Ireland, as does the 1216 Great Charter of Ireland, by reason of the Statute Law Revision Act 2007. The revocation of this instrument concerning the Magna Carta will not impact on the ongoing status of the statute.

  I may not get an opportunity to speak on this again, but I would like to flag for Senators that I intend to bring forward amendments on Report Stage to insert a number of further instruments into Schedule 1 and to modify the subject matter of an instrument which is also in Schedule 1. The additional instruments have come to the attention of the statute law revision programme following publication of the Bill. The amendment to the subject matter will ensure more consistency in the manner in which the subject matter of the instruments are referred to.

  In response to Senator Byrne's legitimate question, I believe it has been worth going through this process, and during Report Stage, I will take an opportunity to try to give an overview of its significance. This is the largest international project, in terms of statute repeal, undertaken in this country. The process was started by the Fianna Fáil-led Government and has been ongoing for 13 years. I believe it will leave us with a more up-to-date and accessible Statute Book and will remove instruments that are completely spent and irrelevant.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I compliment the Minister of State and his advisers on the assiduity they have shown in pursuing the minutiae of law. In response to Senator Byrne, I believe it is well worthwhile to go through the law book and weed it out. That is excellent. Also, I make no apologies for submitting amendments, as that is what the Seanad is for, although some of the amendments just gave me an opportunity to vent certain issues.

  We are contemporaries of the 18th century. I am not always belly-aching about it and cannot remember the last time I said anything about the 18th century, but it is the period of our greatest cultural triumph. It produced some of our greatest art, literature and architecture and we should remember that. I am glad, if I understand the Minister of State correctly, that instead of processing the entire Bill in one day here, the slight delay in bringing it here has provided an opportunity to review and produce more amendments. At least we have this opportunity. Making the Irish Statute Book more accessible and a more easily viewed instrument is well worth doing.

  I simply selected four amendments, out of an enormous number - almost 5,000 - as a representative sample to test and give the Minister of State the opportunity to place on the record the specific function of their removal. That is not an idle exercise and I make no apology whatever for having put forward the amendments. That is what the House is for. It is not a rubber stamp. The Seanad is a place where there is inquiry into matters of substance. I thank the Minister of State for taking these issues seriously and for his courteous replies. I compliment his staff also, but I cannot compliment the person who vitiated - I say this with some feeling-----

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke The Senator should not refer to people who are not here to defend themselves. The Senator's comment is not relevant either.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris It is relevant. I persuaded the Minister for Finance to introduce a clause specifically designed to save Georgian buildings. I have finished with this and will not personally benefit from it at all.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke That is not relevant to this debate.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I just want to answer something mentioned by the Minister of State. I spent millions over 40 years. Anyone on a middle income could have done the same, if he or she took no holidays and had no other expenditure apart from this prime concern. I chose to do that, although I am not and never have been a wealthy person. I was practically made bankrupt by the presidential election and am not a person of wealth and munificence. I just happened to restore part of the 18th century heritage of Dublin and lead the restoration of North Great George's Street. I am proud of that, because if the city authorities had their way, it would be rubble infill out at the Pigeon House generating station.

Deputy Simon Harris: Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris I recognise that.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

  Question proposed: "That Schedule 2 stand part of the Bill."

Senator Paschal Mooney: Information on Paschal Mooney Zoom on Paschal Mooney I wish to put on record the extraordinary work that has been carried out by the Department in this revision of statutes. In a way, it is a pity these statutes will now be consigned to the dustbin of history, because many of these statutes, particularly those within Part 1, which relate to the period from 1600 to 1603, bring those of us who grew up learning about Irish history of that period and the Elizabethan wars back to that period.  I also have a particular interest in that period because of the long march of O'Sullivan Beare from Castletownbere through Glengarriff to County Leitrim where he joined up with the O'Rourkes. The hope was that they would then meet up with the Earl of Tyrone, Hugh O'Neill. A reference was made which brings home starkly the turbulence of that period of Irish history, which marked the death of Celtic Ireland following the Battle of Kinsale in 1603. In 1601 the proclamation renewing the offer of a reward for the capture or death of the Earl of Tyrone, Hugh O'Neill, referred to him as the arch traitor of Tyrone. There was another reference which was related to another one of the Irish chieftains. These were laws that were passed at the time and enforced to the detriment of the people. Another one that has resonated throughout history in the context of North-South relations is the proclamation of 1618 ordering the Irish to depart with all of their belongings from lands given to planters during the plantation of Ulster. We are living with that law to this day.

  On a note of levity, I am not at all objecting to the removal of the proclamation of 27 June 1746 ordering tories, robbers and rapparees, presented by the grand juries of a number of counties, including my county of Leitrim, to surrender to the authorities. Whatever about tories, I never thought there were robbers and rapparees in County Leitrim, but I am glad to see that law being removed.

  I compliment the Minister of State's Department. The body of work carried out has been extraordinary. It must have been a painstaking experience for all those involved. Will the Minister of State indicate if there was just one, two or half a dozen individuals involved? They have given us a great deal of food for thought and I do not object to many of the laws being removed.

Deputy Simon Harris: Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris I thank the Seanad for its consideration of these amendments and Senator David Norris for tabling them. I share his view that it is worth stress-testing legislation, which is what we have done. There was a constructive debate in this and the other House on the matter. I share strongly the view of many that this process will leave the Statute Book more accessible, clear and relevant. It is important that any citizen of the Republic should be able to pick up the Statute Book and see what laws apply to him or her. By removing obsolete and spent laws, we help to improve the process.

  I thank Senator Paschal Mooney for his kind words about the officials in the Department and I join him in thanking them. We will have an opportunity on Report Stage to further expand on the huge work undertaken over 13 years to arrive at this point and the project is not yet finished. There is more work to be done in modernising the Statute Book. The work was carried out by a small team of perhaps four or five people in the Department who worked with great dedication. I record my gratitude to them.

  Question put and agreed to.

  Title agreed to.

  Bill reported without amendment.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I wish to make a comment. I completely agree that the Statute Book should be open to the public, but it must be very large, if it is a book. Is it in several volumes and is it available? There used to be a Stationery Office. Can the Statute Book be consulted and how is it consulted? Is it available in the Oireachtas Library or does one have to go online? When the Minister of State referred to the Statute Book, it was almost if as if he was referring to a particular volume. I wonder about this because it must be a very large volume. We talk about ease of access for citizens, but I wonder how many citizens actually ever attempt to access the Statute Book. What is its scale and size, if it is available, and if it is, where is it available?

Deputy Simon Harris: Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris I will provide the Senator with some detail of those issues on Report Stage, but the short answer is that the Statute Book is available electronically and through the National Library of Ireland. One cannot go into a shop and buy a consolidated version of it. As the Senator rightly suggested, it is a very large document. Many citizens, like all of us perhaps, look at the law book when it is of relevance to them and they dip in and out of the relevant parts. That is why, when they go to consult it, we should ensure the statutes contained in it are relevant and not spent, but I will come back to the Senator with more detail.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris If possible, will the Minister of State consult the National Library of Ireland to see how many times the Statute Book has been consulted? It would be rather interesting to discover what interest the people of Ireland take in their Statute Book and whether they consult it regularly. I must confess that I am 30 years a legislator and have never looked at it once in my entire life. I am not sure the public-----

Senator Tom Sheahan: Information on Tom Sheahan Zoom on Tom Sheahan Shame on the Senator.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris Has the Senator looked at it?

Deputy Simon Harris: Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris There is an app.

Senator Darragh O'Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien I did not want Senator David Norris to take me as criticising his role in preserving Georgian Dublin, which is widely acknowledged and I accept as fact. I was merely pointing to the context of the proclamations dating from the 18th century, many of which were concerned with devastating penal laws.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris There were proclamations on both sides. There was one for army Catholics.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke The debate is over.

Senator Darragh O'Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien I again acknowledge the massive effort made by the Civil Service which I have seen over many years. It is really important, but I would like to see some work done to consolidate legislation. We do it from time to time, but legislation tends to be inaccessible. A Bill one thinks is in force may have been amended. In some cases, Bills can be amended by statutory instruments. That is another massive job of work to be done and there is a way of doing it within our procedures. When we pass legislation, we should also seek to consolidate it. That would be one way of making modern legislation much more accessible to the general public and lawyers.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke When is it proposed to take Report Stage?

Senator Tom Sheahan: Information on Tom Sheahan Zoom on Tom Sheahan Next Tuesday.

  Report Stage ordered for Tuesday, 16 June 2015.

  Sitting suspended at 8 p.m. and resumed at 9 p.m.

  9 o’clock

Draft Commission of Investigation (Certain matters concerning transactions entered into by IBRC) Order 2015: Motion

Senator Tom Sheahan: Information on Tom Sheahan Zoom on Tom Sheahan I move:

That Seanad Éireann:
 having regard to the specific matters considered by the Government to be of significant public concern regarding transactions entered into by Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, IBRC;

 noting that it is the opinion of the Government that these matters of significant public concern require, as the best method of addressing the issues involved and in the public interest, examination by the establishment of a commission of investigation; and

- further noting that a draft Order proposed to be made by the Government under the Commissions of Investigation Act 2004 (No. 23 of 2004) has been duly laid before Seanad Éireann in respect of the foregoing matters referred to, together with a statement of reasons for establishing a commission under that Act;
approve the draft Commission of Investigation (Irish Bank Resolution Corporation) Order 2015, copies of which were laid before Seanad Éireann on 9th June 2015.

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I welcome the opportunity to address Senators on the Commission of Investigation (Irish Bank Resolution Corporation) Order, 2015. Following consultation with Members of the Oireachtas on Monday evening and the debate in the Dáil in the past two days, the majority of concerns raised have been addressed. I look forward to hearing the views of Senators on this significant matter of public concern and hope that in my opening statement and throughout the course of the evening I will be in a position to address the concerns of this House.

  In response to significant public concern about certain transactions in IBRC, on 3 June the Government decided to establish a commission of investigation. The investigation is into certain decisions, transactions and activities entered into by Irish Banking Resolution Corporation, known as IBRC, between 21 January 2009, the date the bank was nationalised, and 7 February 2013, the date IBRC was liquidated. At yesterday's Cabinet meeting the terms of reference for the review were agreed and retired High Court judge Daniel O'Keeffe has agreed to serve as chairperson of the commission of investigation. He has a strong commercial background as a chartered accountant and former chairman of the Irish Takeover Panel. I again express my appreciation to him for agreeing to serve in this important role.

  The commission of investigation will bring an end to the review of certain transactions by the special liquidators who will be directed to cease their review. While I maintain the view that the review would have been concluded competently in a prompt and efficient manner and produced a report by 30 August, the significant public concerns and the change in circumstances led to the Government's decision to establish a commission of investigation. The terms of reference for the investigation provide for the performance of a review of certain activities of IBRC and the production of a report by 31 December, in line with the Commissions of Investigation Act 2004. They also set out the scope, purpose and form of the review and report. The commission will also have the authority to report on any other matter arising from the investigation and make further recommendations as it sees fit.

  The scope of the review is broad. It will consider all transactions, activities and management decisions, other than those related solely to the acquisition of assets by the National Asset Management Agency, which occurred between 21 January 2009, the date of nationalisation of IBRC, and 7 February 2013, the date of appointment of the special liquidators to IBRC, and which either resulted in, first, a capital loss to IBRC of at least €10 million during the relevant period, whether by consequence of a single transaction or a series of transactions relating to the same borrower or entities controlled by the same borrower or, second, are specifically identified by the commission as giving rise or likely to give rise to potential public concern about the ultimate returns to the taxpayer. The purpose of the two provisions is to ensure the judge is mandated to review all transactions, activities or management decisions that resulted in a capital loss of €10 million, but he will also have the power to investigate other transactions, activities or management decisions that resulted in a smaller loss but which are identified as giving rise or likely to give rise to potential public concern. This scope strikes the appropriate balance between ensuring the 30 to 40 largest transactions are reviewed while the work of the commission is not taken up examining every decision related to all small and medium enterprises, SMEs, or mortgage loans where there may not be a public concern. If Senators are aware of potential public concerns about specific transactions, they should bring them to the attention of the commission at the earliest opportunity.

  Following consultation with the Opposition on Monday evening, the scope of the review was broadened and the following section was included:

In these terms of reference:

(a) "IBRC" means Irish Bank Resolution Corporation Limited;

(b) where a contractual obligation was agreed during the Relevant Period but not executed until after the Relevant Period then the contract and any resulting loss shall be regarded as having been made during the Relevant Period;

(c) references to IBRC shall be construed as including references to Anglo Irish Bank or Irish Nationwide Building Society and any subsidiaries of IBRC, Anglo Irish Bank or Irish Nationwide Building Society;

(d) for the avoidance of doubt, references to transactions, activities and management decisions shall be construed as including references to amendments made to the terms and conditions of loans.

I draw attention to point (b) in particular - where a contractual obligation, either written or verbal, was entered into prior to liquidation of IBRC but not executed until after the liquidation. The intention of this provision is to ensure no potential line of investigation into transactions, activities and managerial decisions of IBRC that, in the view of the judge, has given rise or is likely to give rise to potential public concerns will be cut off. There has been much debate in the past 24 hours about whether this provision covers verbal agreements entered into by the management of IBRC prior to the liquidation. I stated last night in the Dáil that it did and the Attorney General has confirmed that the circumstances raised in the Dáil last night by Deputy Pearse Doherty are within the scope of the terms of reference. The relevant period is focused on the areas of greatest public concern. It remains the case that the conclusion of the scope of the review at the date of liquidation is deemed necessary to focus the review on the transactions that have led to significant public concern. The commission shall investigate all transactions, activities and management decisions during the relevant period which are identified by the commission as giving rise or are likely to give rise to potential public concern. For the avoidance of doubt, amendments made to the terms and conditions of loans are included within the scope.

  Questions have also been raised about the examination of unusual share trading activity in respect of any transaction under investigation. The judge is explicitly empowered to investigate such activity with its broad powers, activity which cannot be adequately investigated based on a review of files held by IBRC.

  It is worth recalling that the IBRC Act 2013 contained a number of safeguards to protect the interests of the taxpayer, including independent valuation of the loan book, transparent auction processes and the prohibition on selling loan books for amounts lower than valuation. In addition, the special liquidators must meet significant legal obligations, both pursuant to the Companies Act and the IBRC Act, towards creditors generally and the State. The review shall investigate, in relation to each such decision, transaction and activity within the scope of the review: the processes, procedures and controls which were operated by IBRC in relation to the relevant write-offs to ascertain whether the appropriate internal IBRC governance procedures and controls were adhered to in respect of the transactions under review and whether the said procedures and controls were fit for purpose; whether there is prima facie evidence of material deficiencies in the performance of their functions by those acting on behalf of IBRC, including the IBRC board, directors, management, the staff of the wealth management unit and agents, in respect of transactions, activities and management decisions identified in the scope of the review; whether it can be concluded from the information available within the bank and relevant evidence and witness testimony, as appropriate, that the transactions were not commercially sound in respect of the manner in which they were conducted, the decisions made and the outcomes achieved having regard to the purposes of the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation Act 2013 set out in section 3 thereof; examine whether the interest rates or any extension to interest rates or any period for repayments were given by IBRC on preferential terms that were unduly favourable to any borrower, where those interest rates resulted in a differential of more than €4 million in interest due over the standard applicable interest rates for loans of that nature or where the amendments give rise to or are likely to give rise to potential public concerns; investigate whether, in respect of any transaction under investigation, any unusual share trading occurred which would give rise to an inference that inside information was improperly provided for or used by any person and, in the event that such an inference does arise, whether any such information was actually improperly provided or used; and, in relation to each transaction under investigation, whether the Minister for Finance or his Department was kept informed, where appropriate, in respect of the transactions concerned and whether he, or officials on his behalf, took appropriate steps in respect of the information provided for them.  While it is essential that the focus of the investigation remains on the individual transactions, it is from a review of the individual transactions that trends and potential concerns may be identified. Section 4 of the terms of reference provides the judge with the power to go further with the investigation in the public interest "on any other matters of concern arising from its investigation" and report and make recommendations on those matters.

  The governance role of the Department and political oversight by both my predecessor, the late Brian Lenihan and I, as the respective Ministers for Finance during the period under investigation, was discussed during the consultation and again during the Dáil debate. I assured the Deputies who raised concerns earlier, and I wish to assure Seanad Éireann now, that under paragraph 2(f) of the terms of reference Mr. Justice O'Keeffe will be in a position to exercise judgment as to whether the Department took appropriate steps with the information provided to it on the transactions which fall under the scope.

  Following consultation and engagement with the Dáil through the debate, concerns were raised regarding the wealth management unit and its specific inclusion in the terms of reference. I wish to confirm that the wealth management unit will be treated in the same manner as IBRC under the investigation. The specific inclusion of the wealth management unit in the terms of reference enables investigation into both general and specific concerns around transactions and decisions made by the wealth management unit. In addition, any reference to IBRC throughout the terms of reference shall be construed as including references to Anglo Irish Bank, Irish Nationwide and any subsidiary of IBRC, Anglo Irish Bank or Irish Nationwide. Similarly, the terms of reference have explicitly included the performance of agents of IBRC on the matters under investigation in order to enable the investigation of concerns raised regarding the role played by IBRC's advisers.

  For clarity, on the issue of the threshold for the examination of whether any preferential interest rates and terms were given, the investigation is obliged to examine any situation which resulted in a differential of more than €4 million in interest due over the standard applicable interest rates, however, as outlined earlier, under the general scoping provision, the commission will also have the power to investigate any amendments made to the terms and conditions of loans transactions that give rise to potential public concern.

  A final report to the Government not later than 31 December 2015, subject to section 6(6) of the Act, is envisaged. A report is to be produced in regard to the review, the purpose of which is to set out the scope and findings of the review in fulfilment of the purposes; to respect obligations of confidentiality and to respect commercial sensitivity where those are not incompatible with the public interest; and to set out such recommendations as the commission sees fit.

  While the date for the final report is four months later than the date by which I had directed the special liquidators to produce their review, it is deemed appropriate bearing in mind the different nature of the review and its extended scope. A commission of investigation pursuant to the Commissions of Investigation Act 2004 will have certain enhanced powers beyond those which would be available to the special liquidators of IBRC. The most significant of these powers include the power to compel witnesses or evidence and to enter and inspect premises. The establishment of a commission of investigation will also facilitate a broader scope of inquiry and will enable the interview of witnesses and the investigation of matters such as the trading of shares, which cannot adequately be investigated based only on a review of files held by IBRC. In addition, certain criminal offences apply in respect of the making of false statements to the commission or the destruction of evidence, which would not apply in respect of the review proposed to be conducted by the special liquidators of IBRC.

  During the engagement with the Dáil which commenced yesterday and was concluded this afternoon, the issue of an interim report was raised. That is now a matter for the commission, which is independent of Government in its functions. It will be a matter for the judge to determine the nature, timing or sequencing of any part of the investigation and I believe that it is essential to give the judge full flexibility in this regard. The issue of an earlier deadline was also raised by various Deputies during the debate. However, I maintain the view that a deadline of 31 December 2015 is appropriate bearing in mind the different nature of the review and its extended scope from that which was given to the special liquidators in April of this year.

  The staffing requirements of the commission will reflect the scope of the terms of reference and the ambitious timescale involved. The exact requirements of the commission will become clearer once it is established and begins to scope out its work in more detail. The appointment of staff and their terms and conditions will be subject to approval by An Taoiseach, with the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. In addition to direct staffing costs, set-up and ongoing costs will arise from the establishment of the commission's office, ICT and administration, travel and subsistence, among other costs.

  I wish to inform the Seanad, as I did the Deputies to whom I spoke during the consultation on Monday and in the Dáil last night, that this commission of investigation will be able to obtain any necessary expert advice or assistance and that the commission will be well resourced. Based on an initial assessment, a cost of €4 million is deemed a reasonable estimate for 2015 and it is proposed to provide for this from the Vote of the Department of the Taoiseach. This estimate is based on the assumption that the commission completes its work by the end of 2015, as specified in the terms of reference. If it were deemed necessary to extend the commission's work beyond that date, then further staffing and other costs will of course arise. In addition to salary and administration costs, third party costs are also likely to arise. In accordance with the provisions of the Act, following consultation with the commission and with the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, I will have guidelines prepared concerning this area. The extent and timing of any such costs are difficult to estimate at this stage.

  Given the scale of the banking crisis and the amount of taxpayers' money involved, it is essential that the public concerns in regard to certain transactions in, and issues raised relating to, IBRC are addressed in a comprehensive manner. There is no evidence of any wrongdoing in regard to the various transactions but I recognise that there are genuine public concerns and these concerns have grown significantly in recent weeks. Therefore, I repeat what I said earlier in this statement and encourage any Senator who has information that may be a cause of public concern to bring those concerns to the attention of Mr. Justice O'Keeffe.

  A well resourced commission of investigation with targeted terms of reference and an ambitious timeline is the best way now to address the public concerns. Let me be clear. The investigation must be focused on the areas of greatest public concern, and it is, but it is not my intention nor is it the intention of the Government to cut off a potential line of investigation into transactions, activities and managerial decisions of IBRC that have given rise or are likely to give rise to potential public concerns.

  I thank the Senators for their attention.

Senator Darragh O'Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien I welcome the Minister, Deputy Noonan, to the House. I thank him for his comprehensive and clear statement on the terms of reference for the commission of investigation, which is probably a week or ten days overdue.   That said, I commend the Minister on the fact that he engaged with my party leader and with others in the Opposition and endeavoured, in so far as possible, to take their concerns on board and add extra items that should have been in the terms of reference from the beginning. It is crucially important that the IBRC wealth management unit is included as well as the relationship between IBRC and the Department, dating back to the time of the Minister's predecessor, the late Brian Lenihan. Ironically, today is the fourth anniversary of Brian's passing.

  My concern and the concern of my party, which has pursued this over the last number of weeks alongside Deputy Catherine Murphy, other Deputies and colleagues in Sinn Féin, is that this is what is required. The people want to get to the bottom of this. One item that is missing is a date for publication of an interim report. We will continue to pursue that, and my party will write to the judge to ask him to issue an interim report. There is no reason that Siteserv cannot be dealt with as a distinct module.

  There are many other issues. I have raised concerns in the House previously about IBRC and the National Asset Management Agency, NAMA, although I will not complicate the discussion this evening by mentioning that. However, the liquidation of IBRC is something to do with this as well and setting a deadline for the closure and wind-up of NAMA can lead to fire sales and strange deals being done, because there is an end date on both. That is the reality. However, as leader of the Fianna Fáil group, I am interested first and foremost in getting the facts and ensuring that if there were problems, they are addressed. If deals have been done for people that should not have been done, we must know about that. All of this material is in the public arena, while one must not forget that there are thousands of ordinary mortgage holders and small businesses across Europe being treated abominably by this bank and others. They do not appear to have received any of the preferential treatment that it is alleged some businessmen and others received in their dealings with IBRC and, indeed, in other dealings. That is what people find so grossly unfair.

  It is important that the commission of investigation be established. We support that and we support the terms of reference. As I said, we believe one element is missing and I believe the Government, even at this stage, should consider scheduling the investigation and setting a deadline for an interim report to be issued. I say this in the context of other commissions of investigation that the Government has established, particularly the Fennelly commission which should have reported already but is unlikely to report until after the general election, for very obvious reasons of which we are all aware. The Taoiseach was allowed to assign to that commission of investigation the resignation or sacking of the previous Garda Commissioner and his role in that, even though it had nothing to do with that commission of investigation. The Government's track record on commissions of investigation is not great.

  The initial reaction of the Government, the Minister and the Department to the issues raised by Deputy Catherine Murphy and my party leader, Deputy Martin, Deputy Michael McGrath and others was not great initially, but that should be put aside so we can get down to the work that must be done. In the interests of transparency, once the commission is established I have no doubt that other items will be brought to the judge's attention. As a betting man I would say it is highly unlikely that this work could be finished by the end of this year and the judge will probably seek a further extension. We want the work to be completed properly.

  Serious issues have been raised and serious allegations have been made that deserve investigation. I hope they are not correct; I hope the allegations are unfounded. If they are proven, very serious questions will have to be asked about both the Department's management of IBRC and how customers may have received preferential treatment. I hope that is not the case.

  To conclude, I welcome that the Minister consulted widely and took other views on board. He has shown that he is able to expand the scope and take feedback on board. I wish that happened more often; it is good that it happened in this instance. Our party will support the establishment of the commission and the terms of reference before us but we will pursue separately with the judge, by way of formal correspondence, a commitment to issue an interim report. I again thank the Minister for outlining clearly and comprehensively the thought process behind the establishment of the commission. We will support it.

Senator Michael D'Arcy: Information on Michael D'Arcy Zoom on Michael D'Arcy It is good to be back. One of the ushers stopped me on the way in and said he did not know who I was.

Senator Darragh O'Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien Who the Senator is in Wexford is all that matters.

Senator Michael D'Arcy: Information on Michael D'Arcy Zoom on Michael D'Arcy Like Senator Barrett, I must temper my comments as I am a member of the banking inquiry. I welcome a number of things. First, it is good to have an experienced judge in this sector. It is not going to be easy for anybody to take a fair view in terms of how analysis is conducted of the size of these loans. These are loans of tens of millions of euro, and potentially hundreds of millions of euro, and the analysis must be conducted on like with like. Mr. Justice O'Keeffe is an experienced judge in this area, which is very good.

  I must take issue with my colleague, Senator Darragh O'Brien. We do not usually bang heads over issues but when he says that the track record of this Government is not great, I must remind Members of what IBRC is. This is information I have from the banking inquiry which has been put on the record. IBRC is the merger of Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society. The loan book of Anglo Irish Bank was 82% commercial real estate lending, 1% mortgage residential lending and 17% corporate lending. That is what is involved. Irish Nationwide Building Society had a loan book of €10 billion and it lost half of it, which is unprecedented and unheard of in practically any jurisdiction. That is what we are examining, and I welcome the opportunity to do so.

  It is very easy to create doubt and throw mud, and much mud has been thrown on this issue. I am glad there will be an opportunity for this to be independently and objectively analysed in respect of losses of €10 million or more. People continually ask me, as a member of the banking inquiry, where the money went and how the €40 billion this State put into lending and financial institutions vanished. It did not vanish. It went into losses of this nature and in particular on losses in NAMA. Eventually I believe we will have to conduct an analysis of where all of the losses went in the banking sector. However, that is for another day, not this occasion. The NAMA write-off was €42 billion. When I was elected to the other House in 2007, that was equivalent to our national debt. That has been left aside; it will be a conversation for another day. This commission relates to potential losses of €10 million or more in IBRC.

  I accept that there is public concern about this matter, and I welcome the Minister taking the opportunity to allay fears by setting up this commission. I look forward to analysis that is clear and unequivocal. Like Senator O'Brien, I hope there is nothing untoward. There is nothing easier than to say that something dodgy went on. One keeps kicking that about and, God knows, there are plenty of commentators who are able to kick that about and create the doubt. I believe it was Disraeli who said that a lie gets half way around the world before the truth gets its boots on. I certainly hope Mr. Justice O'Keeffe will be able to get to the bottom of this matter.

  Regarding Siteserv, there has been much analysis about that already.  I believe Mr. Walter Hobbs of Virgo Capital provided a good service for the State. Appearing on "Prime Time" a number of weeks ago, he was unequivocal in dealing with the matter. It is also good that the agents and advisers of IBRC will be subject to analysis. Let us have it all out in the open and put all of the information on the table in order that the process of throwing mud in the hope it will stick will fail.

  I wish to finish by mentioning the role of the Minister in the matter. We have been fortunate to have him and I am not one to give plaudits easily. As has been said in the other Chamber, he has probably been the best Minister for Finance in the history of the State and his actions in this matter underpin that statement. The sooner we have the information and the commission concludes its investigation the better in order that we can verify that nothing untoward happened.

Senator Sean D. Barrett: Information on Sean D. Barrett Zoom on Sean D. Barrett I welcome the Minister. I second what Senator Michael D'Arcy said about the matter. We should remember the late Brian Lenihan today on the anniversary of his death. Last night we were honouring W.B. Yeats. When he was asked what went on in the Seanad, he said the real work of legislation was done in meetings dominated by "old lawyers, old bankers, old businessmen, who ... have begun to govern the world." There is a feeling of déjà vu that the old lawyers, bankers and businessmen are back again. The unfortunate aspect of what we are being asked to do is that it brings back the nightmare of 29 September 2008, the nightmare with which the Minister has had to cope every day since assuming office. I commend him for how he has borne the burden.

  On page 27 of the IMF working paper, WP/12/163 by Luc Laeven and Fabián Valencia, dating from 2012, our fiscal outlays were put at 40.7% of GDP. This compared with a figure of 4.9% for Austria; 6% for Belgium, 1% for France and 1.8% for Germany. As Senator Michael D'Arcy said, the banking sector has imposed appalling burdens on the country. There is despair that it is happening all over again. I welcome the Minister's attempts to try to have the issue sorted out.

  Given the numbers Senator Michael D'Arcy has given us, why is IBRC still in place? When people saw the sign being removed on St. Stephen's Green just around the corner from here, they thought that was the end of it and that it would not come back to haunt the people again, given that the burden has been so great and the memories of it are so appalling. We have been looking at figures such as 100% loans for property, a banking sector that did nothing other than lend for property, hopeless regulation and auditing of the sector by auditors who did not know what was going on in banks that within months would be going to the Department of Finance to seek bailouts.

  I worry that NAMA will turn out like the Land Commission which was founded in 1881 and finally abolished in 1991 by the then Minister of State, former Deputy Paul Connaughton. When the State wants to sell something, why does it not put it on eBay or go to Adam's to have an auction? The more hugger-mugger or secrecy there is, the more the public believes secret deals are done which result in claims such as those made in the Dáil in recent days. It is controversial that we transferred massive resources - more than any other country - to the failed borrowers from failed banks and that the burden is still being borne. We have the problem of regulatory capture, rent and subsidy seeking which is likely to arise when there is the possibility of making large amounts of money when doing these deals. Too many at the centre of the banking collapse have paid nothing, while the majority of the people have paid immensely. We know that the recession the banks caused exacerbates inequality. There is considerable evidence from the United States and other countries in that regard. It raises the issue of the preferential treatment of insiders at the expense of the public.

  The two zombie bodies, Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society, should have been shut down immediately. It would have been a blow at the beginning, but the economy would now be starting to recover and their assets could have been transferred to those who would have used them better. I compliment NAMA on not being the subject of the stories and rumours we have heard in recent days about IBRC. However, the longer we delay in shutting them down, the greater the possibility that sharp dealing can take place and that the rent-seeking tendencies of so many in the economy will assert themselves. There are subsidy seekers, while there is scope for malpractice. It might be time to finally draw a line under the banking crisis which has done so much damage to the country.

  I commend the Minister for the speed of his response in this case. I regret that he has had to do it. He has had enough problems in recent years in coping with the immense debt-to-GDP ratio caused by the banking crisis in Ireland and the public would like to see a finishing date. The real economy is growing again. I know that the Minister has taken measures to promote investment by banks, other than their property fixation. Employment and enterprise are growing and we have benefited from the exchange rate movement in our favour. There are very good reports today from the ESRI. Such positive things will always be welcome, but the banking matter we are discussing revives awful memories of a terrible time at huge cost to the economy.

Senator Aideen Hayden: Information on Aideen Hayden Zoom on Aideen Hayden On the anniversary of the death of the late Brian Lenihan, we should all reflect on the contribution he made to political life in the country and the part he played in resolving the crisis the country faced. I very much respect the role played by Deputy Catherine Murphy in this entire matter, as well as the roles played by Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin, the Labour Party and the Minister. This is a very important issue and I do not believe we can move on from the banking crisis, in the investigation of which two of our colleagues are involved, without investigating fully all of the issues that arise. I welcome them back to the House. As colleagues on the coalition benches, we do not see as much of Senator Michael D'Arcy as we used to.

  While I do not particularly agree with it, in a number of media reports the point has been made that strange times led to difficult decisions and that it is very difficult to put values on assets and put in perspective things that happen in the middle of a crisis. We have heard that excuse made about activities in industrial schools, about what happened in the 1950s and in Galway which resulted in the deaths of young children and so forth. That is not good enough. It is not good enough to walk away from any suggestion the Government and the country walked away in situations where people who had money became even richer after a disaster hit the population of the country. It is a complicating factor that one of the individuals involved in this entire debacle, certainly in a number of court actions, is a significant and wealthy public figure.  The figure has a strong presence in the Irish media. Therefore, it behoves us even more as parliamentarians to make sure that we put in place robust processes and procedures. We must ensure that decisions that were taken by a bank, that was under State control, its actions, processes and procedures were absolutely, completely and entirely robust.

A question has been raised, particularly by Sinn Féin, about whether the terms of reference will cover the essential issues that have been raised, particularly the timing. I shall address the issue of the terms of reference for a moment. The first point was made about the actual document SI No., which has been left blank, of 2015. The first paragraph details the areas that shall be covered by the commission of investigation and the stipulated time period has raised some concern. It reads:

1. The Commission shall investigate all transactions, activities and management decisions, other than those relating solely to the acquisition of assets by the National Asset Management Agency, which occurred between 21 January 2009 (being the date of the nationalisation of IBRC) and 7 February 2013 (being the date of the appointment of the Special Liquidators to IBRC).

There is a concern that those dates will not adequately cover some of the issues that have been raised.

  I must admit that I examined this document very carefully and was comforted, and perhaps the Minister has addressed the matter, by paragraph 6(b) of the terms of reference which states: "where a contractual obligation was agreed during the Relevant Period", the date that I just mentioned, "but not executed until after the Relevant Period then the contract and any resulting loss shall be regarded as having been made during the Relevant Period." More important, the terms of reference sets out the following:

4. The Commission shall report on any other matters of concern arising from its investigation of the above matters and make any further recommendations as the Commission sees fit.

I have spent some time looking through this document and I am personally satisfied that it covers the issues raised. I am satisfied that it is broad enough and robust enough to cover the issues with the terms of reference that I have heard raised in the Dáil debate and in the media at large.

  It is important to note that the judge concerned, Mr. Justice O'Keeffe, has a significant commercial background. That is an extremely important aspect.

  As the Minister has said, it is incredibly important that the investigation is sufficiently resourced. No matter what way one puts it, ordinary people and taxpayers have been put on the line and must pay for what happened in this country. We must also reflect on the fact that many ordinary people have lost everything as a result of what happened in this country during the banking crisis. We owe them the truth and I believe the truth is the truth. I personally do not care how much it costs to get to the bottom of the matter, particularly when accusations have been made that people in positions of privilege and importance manipulated a system and came out of the other end of a disaster practically in a better position than they were in originally. Therefore, we owe ordinary people the truth. I ask the Minister to please ensure that adequate resources are made available for the commission and I do not think the timeline should be a moveable feast. The findings must be delivered in the timescale outlined which is what the people expect.

Senator David Cullinane: Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane I move amendment No. 1:

1. To insert the following after “under that Act;”:
- “noting the deficiencies of the draft Order, calls on the Government to amend No. 5 of the draft Order to read: ‘the Commission shall, subject to section 6(6) of the Act, submit to the Taoiseach its final report in relation to its investigation no later than 31st October 2015.’; and

- further notes the deficiencies in the schedule to the draft Commission of Investigation (Irish Bank Resolution Corporation) Order 2015 and suggests the Government adopts an amended schedule that should read:

‘SCHEDULE
Terms of Reference for Commission of Investigation Concerning Irish Bank Resolution Corporation Limited

The Commission is directed to investigate and to make a report to the Taoiseach in accordance with the provisions of section 32 of the Commissions of Investigation Act 2004 (No. 23 of 2004) on the following matters:

1. The Commission shall investigate all transactions, activities and management decisions, other than those relating solely to the acquisition of assets by the National Asset Management Agency, which occurred between 21 January 2009 (being the date of the nationalisation of IBRC) and 12 March 2015 (being the date when the Progress Update Report prepared by KPMG and published by IBRC was released) (the “Relevant Period”); and which either:
(a) resulted in a capital loss to IBRC of at least €1 million during the Relevant Period, whether in consequence of a single transaction or of a series of transactions relating to the same borrower or entities controlled by the same borrower (“Relevant Write-Offs”); or

(b) are specifically identified by the Commission as giving rise or likely to give rise to potential public concern, in respect of the ultimate returns to the taxpayer; and

(c) investigate the claims of verbal agreements in respect of the repayment, extension or roll-over of loans.
2. The purposes for which each such decision, transaction and activity referred to in 1 above are to be investigated are the following (and accordingly the Commission’s terms of reference extend to investigating):
(a) the processes, procedures and controls which were operated by IBRC in relation to the Relevant Write-Offs to ascertain whether the appropriate internal IBRC governance procedures and controls were adhered to in respect of the transactions under review and whether the said procedures and controls were fit for purpose;

(b) whether there is prima facie evidence of material deficiencies in the performance of their functions by those acting on behalf of IBRC, including the IBRC board, directors, management, the staff of the wealth management unit and agents, in respect of any transactions, activities and management decisions identified in 1. above;

(c) whether it can be concluded from the information available within the IBRC and relevant evidence and witness testimony as appropriate that the transactions were not commercially sound in respect of the manner in which they were conducted, the decisions made and the outcomes achieved having regard to the purposes of the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation Act 2013 set out in section 3 thereof;

(d) whether the interest rates or any extension to interest rates or any periods for repayments were given by IBRC on preferential terms that were unduly favourable to any borrower, where those interest rates resulted in a differential of more than €4 million in interest due over the standard applicable interest rates for loans of that nature or where the amendments give rise to or are likely to give rise to potential public concerns;

(e) whether, in respect of any transaction under investigation, any unusual share trading occurred which would give rise to an inference that inside information was improperly provided to or used by any persons, and in the event that such an inference does arise whether any such information was actually improperly provided or used;

(f) in relation to each transaction under investigation, whether the Minister for Finance or his Department took appropriate action to safeguard the public interest by enforcing proper governance and accountability oversight in respect of the transactions concerned, and whether he, or officials on his behalf, including the role of public interest directors;

(g) the role of the external consultants, including, but not limited to Blackstone Group and KPMG;

(h) the role of the wealth management unit of IBRC; and

(i) the beneficial owners of SiteServ shareholders.
3. The report to be made by the Commission in relation to the foregoing investigations shall:
(a) set out the scope and findings of the investigations in fulfilment of the purposes set out in 2. above;

(b) respect obligations of confidentiality and respect commercial sensitivity where those are not incompatible with the public interest; and

(c) set out such recommendations as the Commission sees fit.
4. The Commission shall report on any other matters of concern arising from its investigation of the above matters and make any further recommendations as the Commission sees fit.

5. The Commission shall exercise discretion in relation to the scope and intensity of the investigation as it considers necessary and appropriate, having regard to the general objectives of the investigation.

6. In these terms of reference:
(a) “IBRC” means Irish Bank Resolution Corporation Limited;

(b) where a contractual obligation was agreed during the Relevant Period but not executed until after the Relevant Period then the contract and any resulting loss shall be regarded as having been made during the Relevant Period;

(c) references to IBRC shall be construed as including references to Anglo Irish Bank or Irish Nationwide Building Society and any subsidiaries of IBRC, Anglo Irish Bank or Irish Nationwide Building Society; and

(d) for the avoidance of doubt, references to transactions, activities and management decisions shall be construed as including references to amendments made to the terms and conditions of loans.’.”.

I welcome the Minister to the House.

  Senator Barrett mentioned Yeats earlier. It might be more apt to quote Yeats who said: "Romantic Ireland is dead and gone, It is with O'Leary in the grave" and also, "fumbling in the greasy till". Both quotes are apt reminders of what happened in this State, over a long number of years independently of what will be discussed here today.

  I have found no comfort in the Bill and the terms of reference which have been agreed by the Government, Fianna Fáil and some others. I cannot for the life of me understand why Members cannot accept the Sinn Féin amendment and I do not know why it was not accepted in the Dáil. If we want a commission of investigation to be fit for purpose then the Sinn Féin amendment should have been accepted.

  The Government has simply not learned its lesson. I remind Senators what happened with the water services Bill. On three occasions the Government had to come back with its tail between its legs because it got that legislation wrong and now it must bring forward a fourth Bill. Let us hope the Government does not have to come back with an amendment, although I think it will, on this motion in order to amend the terms of reference because it got things wrong, and did not listen to the Opposition parties when we warned it about this situation. Sinn Féin made its position clear. It is unfortunate that the Minister has not accepted our constructive amendment which was supported by a number of Independents. I am sure some Senators will support our amendment here today as well. A second amendment has been tabled by two Independent Senators which Sinn Féin supports.

  I welcome the opportunity to speak on this motion, on behalf of Sinn Féin. We are debating an extraordinarily important issue this evening but one would not think so due to the small number of Senators present. It is unfortunate that more Senators are not present. The motion before us aims to establish a commission of investigation into certain matters affecting IBRC. Unfortunately, it does not adequately address the seriousness of the issue at hand.

  Following weeks of public concern, FOIs and other revelations, the Government has announced a full commission of investigation into the running of the IBRC, from the time it was nationalised on 29 January 2009 until it was liquidated on 7 February 2013. Therein, lies the problem. This new investigation means the internal investigation announced recently, to be conducted by KPMG, has obviously been replaced. The Government's U-turn is welcome but it is a U-turn none the less. The forcing of the Government to establish a statutory investigation is a victory for parliamentary democracy. It is also vindication of Opposition Deputies and Senators who called for a full commission of investigation all along.

  Interestingly, Government Deputies and Senators have lined up to commend Deputy Catherine Murphy, which I do as well. Such commendation did not happen during the long number of weeks she called for this type of commission to be set up. Like Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil and Independent Deputies and Senators, she was told there was no need for such a commission. At least we are all now on the same page. I genuinely and sincerely commend the Deputy on her diligence and tenacity in pursuing the truth behind the Siteserv transaction which has led us to where we are today.

  As my colleague, Deputy Pearse Doherty, said in the Dáil yesterday: "For weeks this controversy has rumbled, with the Government stumbling from poor decision to poor decision." If this commission of investigation goes ahead, along the lines proposed by this Government, it will stumble into another poor decision. We do not want to be back here in a week or month to extend the commission of investigation if more information on transactions at IBRC, dated after 7 February 2013, become public. That scenario is more likely than less likely.

  The commission of investigation, as it stands, is not acceptable to the general public and, therefore, is not acceptable to Sinn Féin. Yesterday, Deputy Pearse Doherty read into the record information that he had received on the lending practices at the IBRC which included decisions taken after liquidation. Much of this points to the need for the terms of reference to be extended to beyond the date of liquidation. The Government claims it can be investigated but we remain unconvinced. It should explicitly be included in the terms of reference. There is no point asking any of us to buy a pig in a poke. The Government has done so before for other issues and we can see where that got us. I would prefer to vote on something which is clear, fit for purpose and does what it should but, unfortunately, the motion presented by the Government is none of those things.

  Moreover, other IBRC issues in the public domain will be excluded from the investigation because they occurred after the date of liquidation. As much as €21.7 billion in loans at IBRC have been disposed of since liquidation. Essentially, the Minister is setting up a commission of investigation that will not look at anything that happened since liquidation and will exclude €21.7 billion loans.

(Interruptions).

Senator David Cullinane: Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane It might be useful if the Minister listened to contributions. We listened to his contribution and those of other Senators.  I have outlined the amendment we have proposed, which will be seconded by my colleague.

Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh: Information on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh Zoom on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh I second the amendment. Cuirim céad fáilte roimh an Aire. Ba mhaith liomsa cuidiú leis an leasú atá molta ag mo chomhghleacaí, an Seanadóir Cullinane, mar tá daoine ciapthe i ndáiríre faoin cur chuige a bhí ag an Rialtas, go raibh orainn agus ar an bhFreasúr an oiread brú a chur ar an Rialtas dul go dtí an chéim seo agus go bhfuil sé léir nach bhfuilimid sách fada go fóill.

  It is a shame that the Government was dragged kicking screaming into this inquiry and that common sense will not prevail in terms of accepting our amendment because a number of issues remain to be resolved in regard to Siteserv. Yesterday Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation what he knew about the Siteserv deal. We have been asking the Minister to clarify what he knew about the issue for some time.

  The IBRC inquiry had a cut-off date of 7 February 2013, which was the date of appointment of the special liquidator. Information passed to the Taoiseach by the Sinn Féin spokesperson for finance, Deputy Pearse Doherty, some of which was outlined in the Dáil, indicates that transactions, activities and decisions took place subsequent to that date. The special liquidator disposed of €21.7 billion in loans since that date. This dwarfs the amount during the period the commission has been asked to examine. Billions of euro of the people's money were transferred to private interests in a completely opaque manner. This is money which should have spent on hospitals, schools, houses and combating poverty. Senators from the Government parties have made eloquent speeches in this House on lone parents, housing and health. This money would have made a huge difference to the issues they raised. The sale of the Racing Post loans, which was criticised by a bidder as being less than transparent, and the sale of thousands of mortgages to unregulated vultures also fall within this timeframe. Contrary to the Government's claims, these are not included in the terms of reference of the commission and they could be subject to legal challenge or not investigated at all if the terms of reference are not amended. Our amendment proposes that the relevant period shall be from 12 January 2009 to 12 March 2015, inclusive, to cover all these transactions. The latter date was chosen because it is the date on which IBRC published its progress report.

  I urge the Minister and Government party Senators to read our amendment and rethink their approach now rather than require us to return to the matter at some future date. This is not the first time we have lacked transparency in financial matters. NAMA was excluded from freedom of information provisions and its lack of transparency is regularly criticised in this House. That is, unfortunately, par for the course in the Department of Finance but it is not too late to change the culture in order that the public can get full disclosure through an independent and comprehensive inquiry into these issues. Tá súil againn go dtógfaidh an tAire an leasú atáimid ag moladh ar bord. Sílimid go bhfuil sé ar leas an phobail agus muna dtógann an tAire ar bord é, beidh orainn teacht chun cinn arís eile chun é a leasú amach anseo.

Senator Paul Bradford: Information on Paul Bradford Zoom on Paul Bradford I welcome the opportunity to contribute to the debate. Senator Ó Clochartaigh raised the question of culture. We should reflect deeply on the culture of our political system and how we interact with business. One of the main arguments in the lengthy report prepared by Mr. Justice Hamilton following the beef tribunal was that if the Houses of the Oireachtas were effectively used so that parliamentary questions received full and open replies and information was published properly, many of the events investigated by the tribunal, which cost the taxpayer tens of millions of euro, would not have come to pass. That was the politics of the early 1990s but very little has changed since then. A previous speaker referred to the anniversary of the death of the Brian Lenihan. I join other Senators in paying tribute to the former Minister for Finance. He died shortly after the 2011 general election, which we thought would be a watershed for the political and economic management of this country. In promising a democratic revolution, the Government told us that Paddy would be told the truth and treated with respect. The old politics of hidden deals and undisclosed information was going to be replaced by a new politics of openness. If that new politics had emerged, we would not require this inquiry because the questions arising would have been answered through normal parliamentary procedures. We have to develop a politics in which every elected Member is treated with respect when raising issues on behalf of the citizen and taxpayer and in which he or she is given the information he or she requests. The motion before us is a response to the concerns expressed about the operations of IBRC, in particular by Deputy Catherine Murphy. The response to her valid questions and the attempt to shut down the debate indicate we have a long way to go if we want a more mature politics or an accountable system of administration.

  The amendment proposed by Senator Heffernan and me, which we might have an opportunity to move later, would ensure an interim report would be published in the near future. Numerous fine commitments and promises were made on the rate of progress of and resources for previous tribunals and inquiries but they tended not to be followed through. This is why we propose that an interim report be provided by mid-September. We also want the Seanad to be in a position to debate the report and, above all, a final report to be issued not later than 30 October. We did not choose 30 October to participate in a silly game of table tennis over the date of the general election but to put down a marker on how we operate inquiries. Resources should be provided to ensure the report can be completed by a certain date and it would be relatively easy to answer questions of a "Yes" or "No" variety. We also propose to include more transparently in the inquiry's remit the dealings of officials in the Department of Finance with IBRC. These are reasonable suggestions and while I appreciate that what was refused in the other House is unlikely to be granted here, I am still calling for such an approach.   I thank the Minister for offering me the five-minute opportunity. Again, we must ask ourselves that if we really wish to be parliamentarians on behalf of the public interest, why can we not order our business in a way that would allow people to actually make a reasoned contribution rather than just a rushed through script. Hopefully, I will have an opportunity to move the amendment at a later stage.

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I thank all the participants in this debate for their constructive participation. I have listened carefully to their concerns around the terms of reference of the commission of investigation and am confident they are largely addressed in the revised terms of reference. I will respond to some of those concerns, but before I do so, I draw attention to the discussion this evening about the details of specific customers and specific transactions and decisions taken by IBRC. The public concern being generated by these allegations is precisely the reason we are initiating this commission of investigation. Under the 2004 Act, the justification for such inquiries is public concern and public interest considerations. As I mentioned to Deputies in the Dáil, I encourage Senators who have received information that may be a cause for further public concern to bring these concerns to the attention of the judge.

  Concerns focus on the role of the Department and political oversight by my predecessor, the late Brian Lenihan, and me. I assure Members who have raised similar concerns that under paragraph 2(f) of the terms of reference, the judge will be in a position to exercise judgment as to whether the Department and the Ministers took appropriate steps with the information provided. The concerns raised yesterday and repeated here this evening are covered by the current terms of reference. The commission shall investigate all transactions, activities and management decisions during the relevant period which are identified by the commission as giving rise or as being likely to give rise to potential public concern. This addresses the issue of managerial decisions and verbal agreements between IBRC and borrowers which have been discussed at length.

  The terms of reference were broadened following consultation to include any situation where a contractual obligation, either written or oral, was entered into prior to the liquidation of IBRC but was not executed until after the liquidation. It is not the intention of the Government to restrict the commission's investigation into transactions, activities and managerial decisions of IBRC that have given rise or are likely to give rise to potential public concerns. I have already confirmed that the circumstances relating to a verbal agreement before the liquidation of the bank are within the scope of the terms of reference. I gave this assurance following consultation with the Attorney General and her office. In effect, this is the information put on the record of the Dáil last night by Deputy Pearse Doherty. According to the Attorney General, after consultation with her office and examining the Deputy's statement and the documents he provided to the office of the Taoiseach, this is within the terms of reference and will be pursued by the judge.

  The other suggested amendments are largely included in the terms of reference following our productive consultations. Earlier today, I announced that retired High Court judge, Mr. Justice Daniel O'Keeffe, has agreed to serve as chairperson of the commission of investigation. I express my appreciation to him for agreeing to serve in this important role. I am confident that his strong commercial background as a chartered accountant and former chairman of the Irish Takeover Panel will be very helpful in the work of the commission.

  Finally, I again thank all the Senators who contributed to this debate. I am confident that the majority of their concerns are addressed in the revised terms of reference and I look forward to the commission beginning its work. There has been much talk of openness and transparency and whether things would be in a better position if information was given by me as Minister. Apart from the speech made by Deputy Catherine Murphy, which was the subject of two High Court cases, every other fact on which everyone is building a case was provided by me either by way of reply to parliamentary question or through freedom of information. No investigative Deputies have produced new facts, there has been no information on the record, and the case made by Deputies who are friendly and Deputies who are hostile to me personally has been built on the facts I have put out. I have exercised my functions as a Minister because I have provided the facts and have done so fully.

Amendment put:

The Seanad divided: Tá, 6; Níl, 20.

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 Paul Bradford   Zoom on Paul Bradford   Bradford, Paul. 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 James Heffernan   Zoom on James Heffernan   Heffernan, James. Information on Paul Coghlan   Zoom on Paul Coghlan   Coghlan, Paul.
Information on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh   Zoom on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh   Ó Clochartaigh, Trevor. Information on Michael Comiskey   Zoom on Michael Comiskey   Comiskey, Michael.
  Information on Maurice Cummins   Zoom on Maurice Cummins   Cummins, Maurice.
  Information on Jim D'Arcy   Zoom on Jim D'Arcy   D'Arcy, Jim.
  Information on Michael D'Arcy   Zoom on Michael D'Arcy   D'Arcy, Michael.
  Information on John Gilroy   Zoom on John Gilroy   Gilroy, John.
  Information on Aideen Hayden   Zoom on Aideen Hayden   Hayden, Aideen.
  Information on Lorraine Higgins   Zoom on Lorraine Higgins   Higgins, Lorraine.
  Information on John Kelly   Zoom on John Kelly   Kelly, John.
  Information on Mary Moran   Zoom on Mary Moran   Moran, Mary.
  Information on Michael Mullins   Zoom on Michael Mullins   Mullins, Michael.
  Information on Hildegarde Naughton   Zoom on Hildegarde Naughton   Naughton, Hildegarde.
  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 David Cullinane and Trevor Ó Clochartaigh; Níl, Senators Paul Coghlan and Aideen Hayden.

Amendment declared lost.

Senator Paul Bradford: Information on Paul Bradford Zoom on Paul Bradford I move amendment No. 2:

To insert the following after “Seanad Éireann on 9th June 2015”:
but calls on the Government to make the following amendments to the draft Commission of Investigation (Irish Bank Resolution Corporation) Order 2015:
- the Commission of Investigation shall submit to the Taoiseach an interim report in relation to its investigation no later than 14th September 2015 on the status and likely conclusion date of its work;

- Seanad Éireann shall, no later than 15th September 2015, be recalled for a debate on the interim report of the Commission of Investigation;

- the Minister for Finance resources and supports the Commission of Investigation in a manner that will ensure that it will issue a final report no later than 30th October 2015; and
after “SCHEDULE 2(f)” to add the following new paragraph:
- (g) In relation to each transaction under investigation, what protocols and controls the Minister for Finance and his Department had in place in respect of the transaction concerned and whether sanction was given for the transaction to occur; and
to amend SCHEDULE 1(a) by deleting “€10,000,000” and inserting “€1,000,000”.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke Is the amendment being seconded?

Senator James Heffernan: Information on James Heffernan Zoom on James Heffernan I second the amendment.

Senator Paul Coghlan: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan Quid pro quo.

Amendment put:

The Seanad divided: Tá, 6; Níl, 20.

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 Paul Bradford   Zoom on Paul Bradford   Bradford, Paul. 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 James Heffernan   Zoom on James Heffernan   Heffernan, James. Information on Paul Coghlan   Zoom on Paul Coghlan   Coghlan, Paul.
Information on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh   Zoom on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh   Ó Clochartaigh, Trevor. Information on Michael Comiskey   Zoom on Michael Comiskey   Comiskey, Michael.
  Information on Maurice Cummins   Zoom on Maurice Cummins   Cummins, Maurice.
  Information on Jim D'Arcy   Zoom on Jim D'Arcy   D'Arcy, Jim.
  Information on Michael D'Arcy   Zoom on Michael D'Arcy   D'Arcy, Michael.
  Information on John Gilroy   Zoom on John Gilroy   Gilroy, John.
  Information on Aideen Hayden   Zoom on Aideen Hayden   Hayden, Aideen.
  Information on Lorraine Higgins   Zoom on Lorraine Higgins   Higgins, Lorraine.
  Information on John Kelly   Zoom on John Kelly   Kelly, John.
  Information on Mary Moran   Zoom on Mary Moran   Moran, Mary.
  Information on Michael Mullins   Zoom on Michael Mullins   Mullins, Michael.
  Information on Hildegarde Naughton   Zoom on Hildegarde Naughton   Naughton, Hildegarde.
  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 Paul Bradford and James Heffernan; Níl, Senators Paul Coghlan and Aideen Hayden.

Amendment declared lost.

Question put: "That the motion be agreed to."

The Seanad divided: Tá, 20; Níl, 6.

Níl
Information on Ivana Bacik   Zoom on Ivana Bacik   Bacik, Ivana. Information on Sean D. Barrett   Zoom on Sean D. Barrett   Barrett, Sean D.
Information on Terry Brennan   Zoom on Terry Brennan   Brennan, Terry. Information on Paul Bradford   Zoom on Paul Bradford   Bradford, Paul.
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 David Cullinane   Zoom on David Cullinane   Cullinane, David.
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 Trevor Ó Clochartaigh   Zoom on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh   Ó Clochartaigh, Trevor.
Information on Martin Conway   Zoom on Martin Conway   Conway, Martin.  
Information on Maurice Cummins   Zoom on Maurice Cummins   Cummins, Maurice.  
Information on Jim D'Arcy   Zoom on Jim D'Arcy   D'Arcy, Jim.  
Information on Michael D'Arcy   Zoom on Michael D'Arcy   D'Arcy, Michael.  
Information on John Gilroy   Zoom on John Gilroy   Gilroy, John.  
Information on Aideen Hayden   Zoom on Aideen Hayden   Hayden, Aideen.  
Information on Lorraine Higgins   Zoom on Lorraine Higgins   Higgins, Lorraine.  
Information on Mary Moran   Zoom on Mary Moran   Moran, Mary.  
Information on Michael Mullins   Zoom on Michael Mullins   Mullins, Michael.  
Information on Hildegarde Naughton   Zoom on Hildegarde Naughton   Naughton, Hildegarde.  
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 Paul Coghlan and Aideen Hayden; Níl, Senators David Cullinane and Trevor Ó Clochartaigh.

Question declared carried.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke When is it proposed to sit again?

Senator Maurice Cummins: Information on Maurice Cummins Zoom on Maurice Cummins At 10.30 a.m. tomorrow.

  The Seanad adjourned at 10.35 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Thursday, 11 June 2015.


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