Header Item Prelude
 Header Item Business of Seanad
 Header Item Commencement Matters
 Header Item Nursing Homes Support Scheme Eligibility
 Header Item Services for People with Disabilities
 Header Item Electronic Tagging
 Header Item Order of Business
 Header Item Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill 2015: Committee Stage (Resumed)

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Seanad Éireann Debate
Vol. 243 No. 3

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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 Colm Burke that, on the motion for the Commencement of the House today, he proposes to raise the following matter:

The need for the Minister for Health to review the current procedure under the fair deal scheme whereby the three-year rule does not apply to a person who has an income-generating asset such as a family farm.

I have received notice from Senator Tom Sheahan of the following matter:

The need for the Minister for Finance to issue primary medical certificates to all people with Down's syndrome.

I have received notice from Senator Mary Ann O'Brien of the following matter:

The need for the Minister for Justice and Equality to outline the measures of the Charities Regulatory Authority to implement key actions arising from the Charities Act 2009 in order to ensure greater accountability, protect against fraud and abuse and enhance confidence and increase transparency in the sector.

I have received notice from Senator Mark Daly of the following matter:

The need for the Minister for Justice and Equality to outline why section 102 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006, which allows for the smart tagging or electronic tagging of those charged with serious offences, has not been commenced.

I have received notice from Senator Paschal Mooney of the following matter:

The need for the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government to clarify the situation regarding the taxation of tractor units following the recent court ruling which stated that a tractor is not a vehicle.

I have received notice from Senator Kathryn Reilly of the following matter:

The need for the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine to outline what precautions, if any, are being taken to protect dairy farmers who are being adversely affected, to the point of being forced out of the industry, by the falling price of milk.

I have received notice from Senator Hildegarde Naughton of the following matter:

The need for the Minister for Health to outline the position regarding the provision of extra hospital beds to ease overcrowding at University Hospital Galway.

I have received notice from Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh of the following matter:

The need for the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine to outline whether he has full confidence in the Connemara Pony Breeders Society's inspection and classification programme for the Connemara pony.

I have received notice from Senator Catherine Noone of the following matter:

The need for the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs to clarify the issue of a second year of free child care for children who are currently receiving their first year of free child care.

I regard the matters raised by the Senators as suitable for discussion. I have selected the matters raised by Senators Colm Burke, Sheahan, Mary Ann O’Brien and Daly, and they will be taken now. Senators Mooney, Reilly, Naughton, Ó Clochartaigh and Noone may give notice on another day of the matters they wish to raise.

Commencement Matters

Nursing Homes Support Scheme Eligibility

Senator Colm Burke: Information on Colm Burke Zoom on Colm Burke I welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Kathleen Lynch, and thank her for the work she has done on the fair deal scheme. Last year, in particular, when there was a substantial backlog associated with the discharging of people from hospitals, she and the Minister got involved and came up with additional funding. As a result, the waiting time for admittance to nursing homes has been reduced from 16 weeks to less than four. That is a very welcome development.

  The issue I am raising, with which the Minister of State is very familiar, is especially related to people in the farming community. I am dealing with a number of cases in this regard, one of which concerns a widow who developed Parkinson's disease and who is now in full-time care. Her family is paying over €2,500 per month to the nursing home. The farm is not generating sufficient income for someone to make a living from it. The land now has to be rented, rather than farmed by the family.  The three-year rule is the one that particularly affects them, and this will continue ad infinitum. There are costs associated with the fair deal scheme. Almost €1 billion per annum is being provided, which is a substantial sum out of the health budget. However, people in the farming community in particular feel they are being penalised, and I hope we can work towards changing it. I would welcome the Minister's comments.

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch I understand the Senator's concerns well, and we considered them as part of the review. The woman credited with creating the fair deal scheme, Geraldine Fitzpatrick, was buried last Saturday week. I always feel at some stage I will read into the record of the House her last note to me, in which she urged me to continue the way we are going and ensure that the care of the elderly never falls entirely into private hands. Even when she was unwell, she was still concerned about how we treat older people. She was a remarkable woman and will be greatly missed.

  I thank Senator Colm Burke for raising this matter. The nursing homes support scheme provides financial support towards the cost of long-term residential care services in nursing homes and ensures long-term nursing home care is accessible to everyone assessed as needing it. By the end of 2015, the scheme will have supported approximately 23,600 people this year. I am pleased to say the Government increased the budget allocation for the scheme for 2016 by €66 million - from €873.8 million in 2015 to €940 million, almost €1 billion - as the Senator said. Under the scheme, an applicant will contribute up to 80% of his or her assessable income and a maximum of 7.5% of the value of any assets per annum. The State will then pay the balance of the cost of care.

  It is important to note that an applicant's principal private residence will only be included in the financial assessment for the first three years of his or her time in care. This is known as the three-year cap. The scheme ensures nobody will pay more than the actual cost of care and contains a number of important safeguards. Where an applicant's assets include land and property held in the State, the contribution based on such assets may be deferred and collected from his or her estate. This is the optional loan element of the scheme, which very few take up. A commitment was made in 2009 that the scheme would be reviewed after three years. I am pleased to say that the report of the review was published this year. One of the many issues considered is the treatment of business and farm assets for the purposes of the financial assessment. It is important to note that the scheme already contains some provisions which qualify the treatment of income generating assets.

  The three-year cap will apply to a person's farm or relevant business under certain circumstances: where the person has suffered a sudden illness or disability which causes him or her to need long-term nursing home care; where the person or his or her partner was actively engaged in the daily management of the farm up until the time of the sudden illness or disability; and where a family successor certifies that he or she will continue the management of the farm. The Senator will be aware of these conditions. The review of the scheme acknowledges that farms or family businesses could face an annual diminution of a capital asset that they depend on for as long as nursing home care is required, and that this can cause real difficulties. Accordingly, the review recommends that the treatment of such assets be reviewed, and arrangements for this are already in train.

  An interdepartmental and agency working group is being established to progress many of the recommendations contained in the review of the scheme. As part of this, consideration will be given as to whether a cap should be applied to the charge for nursing home care based on non-residential productive assets which are passed on to a direct family member after, or in the five years prior to, the death of a fair deal scheme participant, and where the new owner carries on the farm or other business as his or her principal livelihood. This working group will be chaired by my Department and will comprise officials from other relevant Government Departments. The group is due to report to the Cabinet committee on health in June 2016. The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine would also be relevant, given its wider scope and greater knowledge on this issue.

Senator Colm Burke: Information on Colm Burke Zoom on Colm Burke I thank the Minister of State for her very comprehensive reply. I am delighted that a review is going ahead. As the Minister of State said, the issue is that the three-year cap applies in the case of sudden illness but not in the case of a gradual illness such as Parkinson's disease. I welcome the Minister of State's response and I am delighted that progress is being made. I hope to keep in touch with the Minister of State about it.

Deputy Kathleen Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch In cases in which a farm is a working farm, as in the case the Senator raised, it is unreasonable to expect people to pay ad infinitum or impose an attachment to the asset forever. We must treat these cases differently. We must put safeguards in place and there will be issues regarding land that is not income-generating. I hope the review will come to a conclusion as soon as possible.

Services for People with Disabilities

Senator Tom Sheahan: Information on Tom Sheahan Zoom on Tom Sheahan I welcome the Minister of State. When the Fine Gael-Labour Party coalition took office in 2011, we all knew the state of the State's accounts and that austerity was ahead. At the time, I appealed to the Government to maintain compassion at all costs. I have previously raised the issue of the provision of primary medical certificates to people with Down's syndrome, and I recognised that it was a big ask at the time. However, with the country in recovery and the trajectory of the public finances going in the right direction, I again appeal to the Department, the Cabinet and the Government to seriously consider the provision of primary medical certificates for people with Down's syndrome. People with Down's syndrome will never drive or hold a driving licence, and are totally dependent on their parents and family. I know many people with Down's syndrome. I will give a real account of what life is like for the parents of a four year old with Down's syndrome whom I met during the week. The child, Joseph, has sensory processing disorder, and a psychological assessment found that he had the intellectual capacity of a 13 to 15 month old. He has the verbalisation of a seven month old. He cannot feed himself. Because he chokes, all his food must be liquidised. His muscle tone is on the exacerbated weak side and he cannot take two steps without help. Although Joseph is loved to bits by his parents, like every other child, it is an awful strain on the parents, on their relationship and on the other members of the family unit.

  Thankfully, things have improved immensely for people with Down's syndrome. They are no longer, as in the dark days, put in the back room where they never saw the light of day. There are great facilities for them now.  People with Down's syndrome are living well into their 50s now, and sometimes into their 70s and 80s. That is great but I find that every parent of a child with Down's syndrome has to do everything for them, even when they are 50 and 60 years of age. They are always their child. They have to bring them everywhere. They have to bring them to every social outing they go to. They are dependent on their parents. The biggest worry that parents have is what will happen to their children when they die. This would be a compassionate thing to do. They are most deserving of the primary medical certificate because they are so dependent. They will not be able to drive themselves or get to and from wherever they are going by themselves. They are dependent on their parents. It would be compassionate of the Government to afford the primary medical certificate to people with Down's syndrome. I would like the Minister of State to ask Cabinet to give it due consideration.

Deputy Kathleen Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch People with Down's syndrome are now living well into their 70s, and almost 80. That is a good thing and is probably because of the advances in medicine. Our understanding, acceptance and tolerance are a significant part of it. If I had a wish for the next Government, it would be for a Department that covers everything concerning disability because it is so scattered now. That is why I am taking this Commencement matter on behalf of the Minister for Finance. The issue does not fall under the Department of Health at all.

  I thank the Senator for raising this matter this morning. The Minister for Finance regrets that he is unable to be present due to other business. This Commencement matter relates to the disabled drivers and disabled passengers scheme, which is a tax concession scheme. It is for that reason that I am answering on behalf of the Minister for Finance.

  I will first provide a brief description of the scheme as it currently stands. It provides relief from vehicle registration tax and VAT on the purchase of a specially adapted vehicle, a fuel grant related to the running costs of the vehicle and an exemption from motor tax to drivers and passengers with disabilities who fulfil the medical criteria required to qualify for the scheme. The primary legislation authorising the Minister for Finance to make regulations providing for tax concessions to disabled drivers and passengers is contained in section 92 of the Finance Act 1989, and the regulations introduced subsequently to govern the scheme, including the eligibility criteria, are contained in the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Regulations 1994. Currently, to qualify for the scheme, an applicant must have a permanent and severe physical disability within the terms of the regulations and satisfy one of the six qualifying criteria outlined in the regulations. The senior medical officer for the relevant local Health Service Executive administrative area makes a professional clinical determination as to whether an individual applicant satisfies the medical criteria. A successful applicant is provided with a primary medical certificate, which is required under the regulations to claim the reliefs provided for under the scheme. An unsuccessful applicant can appeal the decision of the senior medical officer to the disabled drivers medical board of appeal, which makes a clinical determination in respect of the individual.

  The regulations mandate that the medical board of appeal is independent in the exercise of its functions to ensure the integrity of its clinical determinations. After six months a citizen can reapply for a primary medical certificate if there is a deterioration in their condition. The six qualifying criteria are necessarily both strict and precise. They are that an applicant must be wholly or almost wholly without the use of both legs; be wholly without the use of one leg and almost wholly without the use of the other leg such that the applicant is severely restricted as to movement of the lower limbs; be without both hands or without both arms; be without one or both legs; be wholly or almost wholly without the use of both hands or arms and wholly or almost wholly without the use of one leg; or have the medical condition of dwarfism and have serious difficulties of movement of the lower limbs. The scheme and the qualifying criteria were designed specifically for those with severe physical disabilities, in recognition of the significant costs associated with adapting a vehicle for the transport of persons with certain disabilities.

  The Minister for Finance frequently receives correspondence from applicants who do not meet the qualifying criteria but feel that they would benefit from the scheme. While the Minister is sympathetic to those who do not qualify for the scheme, he cannot, given the scale and scope of the scheme, extend it further within the current context of constrained resources, which is the point that Senator Sheahan made.

  The scheme represents a significant tax expenditure. Between the vehicle registration tax and VAT forgone, and the assistance with fuel costs used by members of the scheme, the scheme represented a cost of €48.6 million to the Exchequer in 2014, an increase of €5.1 million on the 2013 cost. This figure does not include the revenue forgone to the Local Government Fund in respect of the relief from motor tax provided to members of the scheme. In terms of the numbers of claims to the scheme in 2014, there were 4,936 claims for vehicle registration tax and VAT relief, and 12,338 claims in respect of the payment of excise on the fuel element of the scheme.

  The Minister for Finance recognises that this scheme plays an important role in expanding the mobility of citizens with disabilities and as a consequence the relief has been maintained at current levels throughout the crisis, despite the requirement for significant fiscal consolidation. Accordingly, while the Minister is sympathetic to the Senator, in the still constrained fiscal environment, there are no plans at this time to expand the medical criteria beyond the six currently provided for in the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Regulations 1994. I am sorry that I do not have better news for the Senator but nevertheless I am sure that the Senator will continue to pursue it.

Senator Tom Sheahan: Information on Tom Sheahan Zoom on Tom Sheahan I thank the Minister of State for delivering the response. As she said, this is only the beginning. The ball has only been thrown in by me here now. I see no reason that the qualifying criteria cannot be expanded to encapsulate and include Down's syndrome. I know people in each category of the qualifying criteria who have driving licences and can drive. People with Down's syndrome do not. It is a mobility issue because they cannot go anywhere without somebody else. People who meet any of the qualifying criteria can get about, so getting from one place to another is not an issue. All of the people in those categories can have driving licences and can drive.

  As I said, I will be looking for the qualifying criteria to be extended to include people with Down's syndrome to improve their quality of life. I will give the Minister a passionate letter that I have received from parents about their child, Joseph. In it, they say that everything with Joseph is a two-man job. They also talk about taking part in the normality of life. That is the kind of language they use. It is very true because I know them and they are genuine people. This would make their lives a little bit easier. On that note, I will give this letter to the Minister of State and ask her to pass it on to the Minister, Deputy Noonan. I will be back with this one.

Deputy Kathleen Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch Like the Minister for Finance, I regularly receive representations from people, for example, stroke victims and people with acquired brain injury. I have every sympathy but I think the issue is wider than what the Senator has suggested. As I have said already, I am sure the Senator will not let this lie and will be back again. Eventually people are successful in their endeavours.

Electronic Tagging

Senator Mark Daly: Information on Mark Daly Zoom on Mark Daly I thank the Minister of State for coming to the House to discuss this issue. This is a topical subject on the tagging of people who are out on bail and proposals that those on early release from prison, having served some of their sentences, would also be tagged. Much has been made of some of the incidents that have happened recently in rural Ireland, especially in Tipperary. There has also been an increasing number of robberies taking place in Dublin. The concept of tagging has been discussed as if it is a new concept.  I asked the Minister why she has not invoked section 102 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006, which allows for tagging of criminals. The reason it would make sense is the economic cost of €6.45 per day and that its use in other jurisdictions has seen crime reduced. Some 62% of those released early from prison end up reoffending, with 80% of those doing so in the first year. When electronic tagging or smart tagging was brought in in other jurisdictions, the level of reoffending dropped by 85% to 95%. What I cannot understand is the Department of Justice and Equality talking about bringing in legislation on this when there is already section 102 of the Criminal Justice Act of nearly ten years ago that would allow for the tagging of those who are out on bail. I am merely asking the Minister why the Department is not putting that into effect immediately without having to wait for more legislation to do exactly what is provided for already.

Deputy Kathleen Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch I thank the Senator for raising the issue. I am taking this Commencement matter on behalf of the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Fitzgerald, who unfortunately cannot be here today for reasons I am sure the Senator will understand.

  I wish to outline the reasoning behind alternative sanctions and the value of supervision as opposed to monitoring. I understand perfectly the argument the Senator makes. Section 102 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006, which I assume is what the Senator is referring to, provides for the electronic monitoring of the restrictions on an offender's movements imposed by a court under section 101 of the same Act. Section 101 provides that a court, which convicts a person of certain offences and considers a prison sentence of three months or more is appropriate, may make an order restricting the offender's movements as an alternative to a sentence of imprisonment. It is only available to the courts as an alternative sanction for a limited number of offences and does not apply, for example, to burglary. The restrictions on an offender's movements may include a requirement for him or her to be in a certain place or places for a specified period or to stay away from a certain place or places. The order may also include conditions as the court considers necessary to ensure that while the order is in force, the offender will keep the peace, be of good behaviour and will not commence any further offences.

  The previous Government commenced section 101 but did not commence section 102. To the best of my knowledge, restriction of movement orders have not been used extensively by the Judiciary. The addition of monitoring a person's compliance with the conditions of the restriction of movement order by electronic means under section 102 is not necessarily the most cost-effective way to challenge and change the offending behaviour of a convicted person.

  The Government's focus has been on the use of alternative sanctions to promote the rehabilitation of offenders. In that context the Criminal Justice (Community Service) (Amendment) Act 2011, introduced by the previous Minister, made it a requirement that the courts first consider the appropriateness of community service when considering the imposition of a custodial sentence of 12 months or less and extended the possibility of community service to offences attracting a sentence of more than 12 months. Supervised community service is available for a wide range of offences, including burglary, and offers the possibility of holding an offender to account for his or her behaviour and, through a range of targeted interventions and programmes, bring about positive changes in the offender's life with the aim of avoiding further offending. At a minimum, community service provides for the opportunity to pay back to a community the harm done by offending behaviour. Monitoring a convicted offender's movements, whether by electronic means or otherwise, provides neither a focus on rehabilitation in the same way that supervision does nor the security of a prison sentence in preventing further offences. We all are agreed on that.

  Section 108 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 also provided for the use of electronic monitoring for prisoners on temporary release. This provision was commenced by the previous Government. A pilot project indicated that it is only cost-effective in a limited number of circumstances. Electronic monitoring continues to be used in a small number of cases for prisoners on temporary release. Section 11 of the Criminal Justice Act 2007 provided for the electronic monitoring of certain persons admitted to bail. The previous Government also did not commence this section. I note that concerns have been raised about the workability of this section as drafted.

  The Minister's preference for serial offenders, such as those charged with burglary offences who are likely to commit further serious offences, is that they should be refused bail and removed from our communities pending their hearing. It is for that reason the Minister has brought forward the Criminal Justice (Burglary of Dwellings) Bill. The burglary of a person's home is a particularly horrible crime and this Bill is designed to keep repeat burglars off the streets and improve the safety of our communities. It facilitates the refusal of bail and tougher sentencing for those 25% of burglars responsible for 75% of burglaries. No amount of electronic monitoring will be as effective as the provisions in the burglary Bill.

  In cases where bail is granted, the Minister recognises that the targeted use of electronic monitoring has potential in reducing reoffending while on bail. With this in mind, the Minister is bringing forward new, workable proposals in the new bail Bill to allow the use of electronic monitoring in cases where the prosecution thinks it may be appropriate.

  I hope that is satisfactory. I think it is what the Senator is looking for.

Senator Mark Daly: Information on Mark Daly Zoom on Mark Daly Unfortunately, there were many references to sections 101 and 108, and I will be writing a letter to the Cathaoirleach seeking that when I ask about section 102 or whatever and I, the Minister of State and everybody else goes to the bother of coming to the House, we actually get an answer. If I deleted everything that had nothing to do with my question, there would be a paragraph, but that would be too embarrassing. Section 102 is referred to approximately twice. It is not appropriate.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke Senator Daly well knows the Cathaoirleach has no role to play in what Ministers say when they come to the House or the Ministers' replies to the House.

Senator Mark Daly: Information on Mark Daly Zoom on Mark Daly I will be asking the Cathaoirleach to write to the Minister and, specifically, to the officials. It is not appropriate that a Minister would be given a reply to give a Member of the Oireachtas which amounts to an answer to a question that was not asked. That is the point I am making.

  The reply, even when it referred to section 102, did not answer the question why the section has not been commenced. It stated it is not necessarily the most cost-effective, and prison costs €263 a day. This is an alternative to prison that costs €6.45 and, somehow or other, it is not the most cost-effective way of dealing with this issue, which is a lie.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke A question, Senator.

Senator Mark Daly: Information on Mark Daly Zoom on Mark Daly I am sure the Minister would agree. It costs €6.45 to put an electronic tag on a person - that is what the mechanism costs - whereas it costs €263 a day to put him or her in prison. The Minister of State was allowed to give a reply to the House that this is not necessarily the most cost-effective way to challenge and change an offender's behaviour.

  I will read the alternative - that is what section 102 was - from the Library and Research Service.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke Senator Daly cannot make another speech on this. Has the Senator a question for the Minister of State?

Senator Mark Daly: Information on Mark Daly Zoom on Mark Daly It notes the section was not commenced and has not been put into operation. Section 102 was an alternative sentence to imprisonment.

  I will write to the Cathaoirleach and the Minister of State, Deputy Kathleen Lynch, although it is not her area. I will write to the Minister.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke I have no role in this.

Senator Mark Daly: Information on Mark Daly Zoom on Mark Daly Most important of all, the Minister of State was allowed to come to the House and deliver this reply. Whatever official wrote it should be brought before the Minister and asked how he or she could allow a Minister to say to the House that spending €6.45 on electronic tagging is not more cost-efficient than the judge's alternative of putting a person in prison. That is a disgraceful answer to allow a Minister to give. I am not blaming the Minister of State because she is only given the research that was done by the official, but it is an appalling answer.

Deputy Kathleen Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch I do not understand the argument. Maybe it is something lacking in me. Clearly, one does not just put a tag on a person's ankle. A monitoring process must be put in place. If one reads the Criminal Justice Act and the research, one will see it is as much about rehabilitation as it is about confinement or monitoring, and therefore it has to be a combination of issues.

  If that section of the Act was not commenced, that is an issue not for the current Government but for the previous one which brought it in.  I am not justifying the answer in any way. I am just expanding the argument. The Minister for Justice and Equality has initiated the Criminal Justice (Burglary of Dwellings) Bill 2015 and has indicated that it will be part of the process to deal with offenders. That is the Government's contribution. It is clear that action must be taken because people reoffend and we need to deal with that fact. The Senator stated that a tag costs in the region of €6. Tagging burglars is not simply a matter of putting tags on them, there must be a monitoring process as well. If we are serious about changing people's behaviour, because that is what this should involve, there must surely be a role for the probation service to play in terms of engagement with those people.

  The solution is not just as the Senator outlined. I do not have in my possession the in-depth details required to answer the question in its entirety. The cost cannot be just €6 or so per tag. We must also take account of the process behind this - which involves monitoring and supervision to ensure a person does not reoffend - because that adds to the overall cost. Things do not exist in a vacuum. I do not necessarily think that tagging is the solution to all burglaries but it is part of such a solution. Equally, I know that a repeat offender would be able to find a way to defeat it because people find ways and means around everything. The Minister has referred to the fact that 75% of burglaries are committed by 25% of burglars and we need to deal with that in a far more comprehensive way. The Senator cannot blame this Administration for something that the Government led by his party did not commence.

  Sitting suspended at 11.15 a.m. and resumed at 11.30 a.m.

Order of Business

Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik Zoom on Ivana Bacik The Order of Business is No. 1, Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill 2015 - Committee Stage (resumed), to be taken on conclusion of the Order of Business and to be adjourned not later than 2.45 p.m., if not previously concluded.

Senator Mark Daly: Information on Mark Daly Zoom on Mark Daly I call on the Deputy Leader to organise a debate in respect of unifying the people of Ireland. There was an interesting RTE "Prime Time" and BBC opinion poll carried out for what Tommy Gorman, on "Morning Ireland", described as a show rather than an actual serious debate. According to the poll, there are many issues that unite us in terms of civil rights and other issues. Obviously, many things are dividing the people on this island as well. The substantive issue is that of unity. It should be remembered that a previous BBC opinion poll, taken nine months before the Scottish referendum, showed that only 20% were in favour of independence. When the actual referendum was held nine months later, however, but for a 6% swing, the Scots would have ended the 300-year union. Of course, the close outcome in this instance came down to the arguments made by those in Scotland who were in favour of independence at the time.  Last night's poll showed that 73% of people down here are in favour of a unified Ireland in their lifetimes. I suggest that the Senators on both sides of the House who are members of parties that have the achievement of this goal as an aim should work together to that end. I was interested to look at some of the statistics in this regard. Mark Twain famously said that facts are stubborn but statistics are more pliable.

Senator Susan O'Keeffe: Information on Susan O'Keeffe Zoom on Susan O'Keeffe Like polls.

Senator Mark Daly: Information on Mark Daly Zoom on Mark Daly I would like to mention a statistic that was highlighted last night. According to the most recent census in Northern Ireland - I am not talking about a survey here - just 40% of people in the North describe themselves as British. Another statistic worth mentioning is that 43% of people are not in favour of a united Ireland. As the Deputy Leader will appreciate, it depends on which way one plays the statistics. I am more interested in an analysis of a report on the UN Human Development Index, which shows that Ireland is ranked 11th in the world in terms of education, health and income. The UK is ranked 14th and the Oireachtas Library and Research Service has used the figures in the report to extrapolate that the North of Ireland would be ranked 24th if it were considered on its own. The citizens down here are way better off. Those in the North would be better off in a unified state.

  When the Northern state was drawn all those years ago, Carson and Craig, who were its architects, wanted to create the largest majority. That majority was 336,000 at the time, but it had decreased to 58,000 at the most recent census. Thankfully, the religious issues no longer apply. I refer to the religious divide of Catholic equals Nationalist and Protestant equals Unionist. It has been shown that 30% of people in both communities do not have any opinion on whether Northern Ireland should stay within the UK or join a united Ireland. Those people will decide the future of Northern Ireland by virtue of the arguments that are made. The Human Development Index shows that they would be better off here in the South. Along with Congressman Brendan Boyle and his brother, Kevin Boyle, who is a state representative in Pennsylvania, I will be working to arrange conferences in the United States, Ireland and Britain at which the question of what represents the best future for all the people on this island can be discussed. I ask the Leader for a debate in this House for the same reason. Those who are in favour of it must make their points. Obviously, those who are against it will argue their way too. The important part of all of this is that we have the debate and the discussion. I will explain what we are trying to achieve together. We are trying to ensure all the people on this island enjoy the best possible future, regardless of what religion they do or do not practise. We are trying to guarantee the best future for children on this island for generations to come, regardless of their religion. It is not about borders; it is about new horizons. That is what we should be talking about and that is what we should be creating.

Senator Michael Mullins: Information on Michael Mullins Zoom on Michael Mullins I did not see last night's programme, to which Senator Daly has referred, but I heard some commentary on it this morning and I am looking forward to watching it on the RTE player. It has thrown up some interesting commentary and debate. I would certainly support the idea of having a discussion on all the issues that were raised by the programme in question.

  I welcome the signature by Ireland of the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.

Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik Zoom on Ivana Bacik Hear, hear.

Senator Michael Mullins: Information on Michael Mullins Zoom on Michael Mullins The signature by Ireland of that convention marks a very important milestone for all of those who have campaigned for better protections and supports for victims of domestic violence. I am pleased to note that the Minister has published an action plan for the implementation of the Istanbul Convention in Ireland. I do not doubt that we will have an opportunity to discuss this matter in the House in the near future.

  I welcome the attempts that are being made today by the Workplace Relations Commission to bring about a resolution of the Irish Rail dispute. I urge unions and management to engage in meaningful discussions so that the threat of strike action can be dissipated. In my view, it would be totally unacceptable for the travelling public to be severely discommoded again. It would have serious effects on individuals, families and businesses. I refer, for example, to those who are travelling for hospital appointments and other important commitments. Everyone involved in this dispute needs to realise that the taxpayer is seriously subsidising Irish Rail at a time of limited resources. Heads need to be knocked together as a matter of urgency. It worries me when I hear unions looking for recognition and compensation for past productivity. I think it sends out the wrong message. I ask everybody to redouble their efforts so that a sensible and meaningful resolution to this dispute can be found.

  I will conclude by calling on the Deputy Leader to arrange for a discussion and an update on the 2015 Action Plan for Jobs in the near future. It is welcome that the unemployment rate dropped to 9.3% in October and that an additional 24,900 people are at work compared to this time last year. Indeed, the latter figure is the highest one in the past six years. There is still much more to be done if we are to achieve full employment. Some regions of the country are still not feeling the effects of the upswing in the economy. I hope the regional action plans will be a very positive development. I note that the jobs action plan for the western region will be launched on 16 November. This is important because parts of the west have fared poorly enough in relation to job creation in recent years. I am sure there is a great deal of debate to be had on these regional plans. I would like to have a discussion on the regional action plans in the House. I ask the Leader to organise that in the near future.

Senator Sean D. Barrett: Information on Sean D. Barrett Zoom on Sean D. Barrett I thank the Members on all sides of the House who spoke in favour of the National Mortgage and Housing Corporation Bill 2015 last night. I think the records will be most interesting. We were asked to combat the problems of homelessness and high housing costs in Ireland. I do not believe the financial institutions or the building sector, as they are currently constituted, will solve those problems. That is why I am proposing the changes set out in the Bill. It is particularly important for the Senators on the Government side who supported the Bill so strongly last night, and whose support I deeply appreciate, to raise this matter within their parties, because the permanent government does not like what we were doing last night. I think the Seanad has to assert itself. The fear was that even though everybody spoke in favour of the Bill, it would not have passed if it was put to a vote. It is still on the Order Paper. I hope there will be a more open mind in the permanent government in the future. We have to look at these institutions. Why is there such a huge mark-up on mortgages? Why are house prices rising so rapidly? Why is the ratio of house prices to average earnings so high in this country? While it was important to rescue the banks, it is equally important that we tackle homelessness and the housing crisis. I hope the debate will continue on the Government side. It is very important that it does, especially in light of the interesting and informative statements that were made last night.

Senator Aideen Hayden: Information on Aideen Hayden Zoom on Aideen Hayden I congratulate Senator Barrett on his National Mortgage and Housing Corporation Bill 2015, which was debated yesterday. It was an incredibly interesting discussion. I would like to reassure the Senator of my personal support for the issues raised in his legislation. I assure him that I brought the matter to the attention of the Labour Party Parliamentary Party last evening. It is an issue that will not be going away, as we all know.

  I would like to bring it to the attention of the House that the ESRI has published a report on the impact on Ireland of a British exit from the European Union, or Brexit. Dr. Edgar Morgenroth, on behalf of the ESRI, has estimated that the impact of a Brexit on this country, measured in lost trade alone, would be approximately €3 billion per annum. He has made it clear that this would be mainly felt by domestic companies, rather than multinationals, with a particular impact in the Border region, which, as we know, has experienced significant difficulties over many years. On top of that, Dr. Morgenroth estimates that it would cost us €10 billion to re-establish an electric interconnector to replace the one we currently have with the United Kingdom. Many other issues are raised in the report, which echo the concerns raised in the report published earlier this year by the Joint Committee on European Union Affairs, of which I am a member.

  I am somewhat concerned about the complacency that exists in this country regarding the possibility of a Brexit. I ask the Deputy Leader to arrange a debate in this House with the Minister of State with responsibility for European Affairs. There has been a certain amount of reference to the fact that Mark Carney of the Bank of England and David Cameron appear to be in favour of the UK remaining in the EU while, at the same time, polls in the UK show that support for a Brexit is growing. I am concerned to hear people on the Irish side commenting that England's difficulty is Ireland's opportunity and suggesting that this is a great time to be looking for foreign direct investment in Ireland from those who cannot locate in the UK. I am glad the ESRI has put a stop to that by making it absolutely clear that the impact on Ireland of foreign direct investment relocating here from the UK would be minimal. In fact, it is more likely that companies would relocate to France or Germany. There is a massive cost to the uncertainty. I would like to hear what the Government has to say about how it intends to tackle this issue.  We cannot interfere directly in what happens in another jurisdiction but there is no doubt that we must have a voice within the European Union. There are millions of Irish people living in the United Kingdom who must understand the impact a Brexit would have on this country. It is a very important issue and 2017 sounds like it is a long way away but it is not. It is only around the corner and it is a matter of national importance to this country.

Senator Marc MacSharry: Information on Marc MacSharry Zoom on Marc MacSharry Later today there will be a demonstration outside Leinster House and a briefing in the audiovisual room on hydraulic fracturing, so-called fracking. My colleague, Senator Mooney, has championed the movement against fracking for many years in the House and it pertains specifically to the north west where there are plans by various companies to engage in fracking for their own gain. The citizens of that part of the country are very concerned about the economic and, more important, the environmental impact of this practice in the north west. There is something of a crisis of confidence in the Environmental Protection Agency which has appointed a company, CDM Smith, to investigate the effects of fracking. Unfortunately, this company is linked very strongly with the commercial side of fracking and so we in the north west do not have any confidence in this company's involvement with a so-called impartial investigation of the environmental impact of fracking in our part of the country.

  We are very concerned about this as the industry is controlled by profiteers who ultimately do not care about or have an interest in the people or the environment in the north west. For this reason I encourage anybody who is available today to attend the demonstration and the presentation in the audiovisual room, join the support and voice the concerns of the people of the north west. They are concerned about their environment, particularly the quality of the air and the water table. Ultimately, the people of the north west will not accept fracking. This or the next Government - whoever it takes - should make it clear to these companies that fracking will not be accepted in the north west or any other part of Ireland.

Senator Susan O'Keeffe: Information on Susan O'Keeffe Zoom on Susan O'Keeffe I support my colleague, Senator Hayden, in her call for a debate on the matter of the Brexit. It is a serious matter and we should discuss it in the House.

  I also welcome Ireland's signing of the Istanbul convention on domestic violence. Domestic violence has been the poor relation of crime for far too long, but this is a step in the right direction and a sign that the Government is concerned about domestic violence. We await the domestic violence and victims of crime Bill to confirm these steps in the right direction. It will take much training, time and resources and a change in culture relating to domestic violence for it to become a crime far less prevalent than it is today.

  I again raise the matter of undocumented migrant workers in the fishing industry in Ireland. Before proceeding, I should make it clear that I am one of the people who is not saying that everybody involved with the fishing industry employs undocumented or migrant people. That is not the case and it is not the argument offered by The Guardian. It is not the truth of the matter because there are many fine and hard-working people in the fishing industry. Where people who are undocumented and migrant workers have been employed and where they have been deceived, controlled or exploited, there is a matter of grave concern to the fishing industry. People who have consented to come to work in Ireland find themselves in the very awkward position of being told they have not been trafficked, because if they have consented, it appears they have not been trafficked. These people need to be assessed by senior members of the Garda to find out if they have been exploited, controlled or deceived. That is one of the contradictions at the heart of this matter. We should discuss whether people are being asked if they have documents, if they are in the country in a proper fashion or whether they have been deceived in their right to come here. We should debate this in the Seanad, perhaps with the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Deputy Coveney, or the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Bruton, as it is a cross-departmental issue.

  Demie Omal from the Philippines is a very ill man and his case would break one's heart. He is now in a position where he has been exploited but what knowledge did the various Departments and State agencies have of his case? We need to discuss that. Does the Garda north Atlantic maritime project still exist and is it still working on the matter? Does Bord Iascaigh Mhara offer training to migrant workers without checking whether they have their papers, whether they are here officially and if they are being treated properly? There are many matters we need to raise. It is the responsibility of either the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Deputy Coveney, or the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Bruton, and perhaps the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Fitzgerald, could be brought in afterwards. It is not a matter we should ignore. If a small number of migrant workers are being trafficked, it could lead to further people being trafficked, as has happened in our nearest neighbours, Scotland and England.

Senator Feargal Quinn: Information on Feargal Quinn Zoom on Feargal Quinn I raise the matter of charging and sentencing in the criminal justice system. I am quite concerned about the practice of a charge of manslaughter continually being put when the evidence and circumstances suggest an offence of murder has taken place. I can understand how this happens as when the death sentence applied, a jury would have been loath to find somebody guilty of murder. It seems we now regularly see cases that are clearly identified as murder but the State is willing to accept a charge of manslaughter instead. This is worthy of a debate and I hope we can find some time in the near future for the Minister for Justice and Equality to come here for a debate on sentencing, especially in criminal areas. It is worthy of a discussion and although it may not be urgent and it does not sound very friendly, there are many cases in which a charge of murder should be pressed but a manslaughter charge is substituted.

  I fully support the idea that we should have a debate on fracking but I do not support the belief that fracking is automatically bad and should not take place. The use of fracking for oil in America has been a major boon with practically no instances of problems. It is worthy of discussion and I therefore support Senator MacSharry and Senator Mooney in that I would like to see a debate in the near future.

Senator Terry Brennan: Information on Terry Brennan Zoom on Terry Brennan As I speak, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Paschal Donohoe, and the Minister of State, Deputy Michael Ring, are holding a consultation conference with sport stakeholders to develop a national sports policy framework. This is the first of its kind in more than 20 years and it is to be welcomed. Central Statistics Office figures released yesterday confirm a very strong performance by Irish tourism for the period from January to last September. All our main overseas markets continue to show significant growth and all stakeholders must maintain this positive momentum in the years to come. I congratulate Loop Head tourism and particularly the voluntary committees of the Loop Head Peninsula in County Clare, as they were awarded gold in the culture and heritage category at the 12th World Responsible Tourism Awards held recently in London. It is a significant achievement for a community which, as it were, got up off its bottom and promoted the Loop Head Peninsula and attractions.  Congratulations are likewise due to Cnoc Suain in County Galway, which won the silver medal in the same category, and to Connemara Wild Escapes, which won silver in the Best for Engaging People and Culture category. It shows what can be done when communities work together to promote their local areas.

Senator David Cullinane: Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane I call for a debate on where Government policy and strategy stand in respect of the proposed technological universities. A commitment was given in the programme for Government to allow institutes of technology to make joint applications to obtain the status of technological university. A number of such applications were submitted, with some applicants being more advanced than others. There has, however, been no progress to speak of. In the south east, the joint application by Carlow Institute of Technology and Waterford Institute of Technology came to a halt when one of those institutes paused the process. Since then, we have had the report published by Professor Michael Kelly, and the two institutes are currently trying to work through the issues identified in that report.

  This is very important for a region like the south east which does not have a university. I am unclear as to the proposed next step for progressing the application by Waterford and Carlow. There have been no briefings for Oireachtas Members since the Kelly report and no real information has been given to people in Waterford, Carlow, Kilkenny or Wexford. We are left wondering what Government policy might be on this issue and how it is intended to proceed. These are legitimate questions, but the answers do not seem to be forthcoming from the Government. Will the Deputy Leader invite the Minister to the House for a debate on this issue? It affects not only the south east but also the south west, Dublin and other locations where applications have been made. We need the Minister to outline the status of each of those applications, how advanced they are, what supports are being provided by the Higher Education Authority and the Department, and what efforts are being made by the individual institutes to progress matters. The proposals for technological universities were a strong platform of the Government's education strategy and we need to know what is happening in that regard.

Senator John Kelly: Information on John Kelly Zoom on John Kelly I wish to raise the plight of rural GPs, many of whom find themselves in something of a crisis. While the average patient panel per GP is made up of approximately 1,600 patients, many rural GPs have fewer than 600 patients on their books. There are 21 vacancies for rural GP posts at this time, 17% of which have not been filled for more than one year and 22% for more than two years. Investment in rural practice in this country amounts to 2.5% of the total health budget, compared with 9% in Britain. During the crash, rural GPs lost 40% of their incomes, including the rural practice allowance and the allowance previously given to cover travel to see patients. Back in the 1980s, doctors were entitled to a call-out payment, with a higher rate applying the greater the distance travelled. These allowances were revoked under financial emergency measures in 2008 and 2009 and, now that things are improving, they should be reinstated in order to entice people to take up rural GP posts. I understand the matter is currently under review, but that review is not scheduled to conclude until the end of 2016, by which time we will have lost another tranche of rural GPs. Another problem is that where GPs are forced out of a practice because it is not sustainable, their patients cannot transfer to another GP but must instead make do with a series of locums who do not know their history. I am aware of cases in which rural GPs are earning less than their practice nurses. The only way to solve this crisis is via investment. I will be asking the Cathaoirleach to allow me to raise the matter on a Commencement debate next week.

Senator Paschal Mooney: Information on Paschal Mooney Zoom on Paschal Mooney I have raised on several occasions now the issue of the suffering endured by girls who have been administered the Gardasil and Cervarix HPV vaccines. Without seeking to extend the debate at this stage, I draw Members' attention to a report in the Irish Independent by Eilish O'Regan, that newspaper's health correspondent and a very able and well-respected journalist. I was very disappointed to see the headline of that article, "27 girls report abnormal symptoms after receiving the cervical cancer vaccine," because, unfortunately for the paper and its reporter, it is wildly inaccurate. In fact, 120 girls are suffering as a result of having the vaccine. I also am concerned that the report does not give any indication of the attention that has been given to this issue, not only by Members of this House but also by colleagues in the Dáil. Only this week, the Minister for Health, Deputy Leo Varadkar, was in this Chamber to take a Commencement matter tabled by me on the issue before, later in the day, answering a similar matter in the names of several Deputies in the Dáil. There is no reference to these proceedings in the Irish Independent report and no hint that the Houses of the Oireachtas have taken a keen interest in the issue.

  If Members have not already done so, I advise them to consult the website of the support group, REGRET, which will help them to inform themselves about this growing controversy - which is affecting girls worldwide, not just in Ireland - and learn more about the concerns regarding the side effects and efficacy of the vaccine. I understand REGRET has been in touch with the Irish Independent to request that Ms O'Regan's report be updated. I am delighted to see her taking up this issue, because the rest of the national media seem to be silent on it. It is unfortunate, however, that the headline was not more stark and more accurate, reflecting the reality that 120 girls, not 27, are affected by this.

  Senator Feargal Quinn and I have jousted on more than one occasion, in parliamentary terms, on the issue of fracking. We have since agreed to disagree on it. I welcome the comments by my colleague, Senator Marc MacSharry, on this important issue. I certainly welcome the people who are travelling from Leitrim and elsewhere in the north west today to inform Members of both Houses about the fracking issue. It is a very regionalised issue that does not affect people in large areas of the country. Tourism is the backbone of the economy in my county of Leitrim and in the north west in general, and any actions which might upset the very sensitive environmental balance of the region must be opposed. We are primarily a lakeland area and, as we know, millions of gallons of water are required for fracking activities. I join Senator MacSharry in reiterating my complete opposition to fracking, which is in line with Fianna Fáil policy.

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

Senator Paschal Mooney: Information on Paschal Mooney Zoom on Paschal Mooney Irrespective of any survey that is carried out by the Environmental Protection Agency, flawed or otherwise, we are opposed to fracking, full stop.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Rónán Mullen Zoom on Rónán Mullen There was a very interesting debate in the other House this week on the question of whether members of the Traveller community should be recognised as a separate ethnic community in our society, although it sometimes seemed essentially to be a battle between the Minister of State, Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, and Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn for the "most righteous person" award. Nevertheless, some interesting issues were raised. From my contacts with the Traveller community and people who work in and with that community, there are very mixed opinions about whether its members should be recognised as a separate group. Some of them take the view that even if they do have access to all the legal protections under the law to which they are entitled, their distinct cultural tradition and shared history mean they do, in fact, qualify as an ethnic group. Some Travellers make the case that the disadvantage they experience is so acute, there is a need to seek to alleviate it by way of formal State recognition of their status as an ethnic group. Others worry that such a development would be a form of tokenism and nice talk which would make no real or tangible difference in the lives of Travellers. Some Travellers want to be respected first and foremost as Irish citizens but also as Travellers. There are those, too, who see the concept of ethnicity as old hat, theoretically speaking, a view that is prevalent in academia.   Some people claim the debate has moved on and become more nuanced to incorporate factors like ethnicity, nationality, social and cultural factors. Other people wonder whether designation as ethnic would act as a two edged sword and undercut Traveller culture and identity in the long term, thus doing the opposite to what is intended. It is interesting to look at what has happened in Britain which we should find instructive and examine carefully. In Britain, Irish Travellers have been recognised as an ethnic minority and as distinct from non-Traveller Irish people for nearly 20 years. If one were to ask Irish Travellers in Britain whether such designation has made a huge difference to their lives or improved respect for their culture, one would get a very mixed response. We need a debate in this House but it should be framed by Travellers and engaged in by representative bodies for Travellers located throughout Ireland and not simply be contributions by lobby groups or State orientated think tanks. I hope such a debate and whatever recognition emerges helps to create a new healing and a more just and positive dynamic between members of the Traveller community and the settled community in society.

Senator Mary M. White: Information on Mary M. White Zoom on Mary M. White I want to comment on the Finance Bill 2015. The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation states constantly that he wants Ireland to be the global centre for start-ups, but I do not think he has spoken to the Department of Finance. He keeps saying these lovely words but in reality Ireland has not delivered for start-ups. In fact, the Finance Bill which has been delivered by officials in the Department of Finance penalises start-ups. It is no wonder, therefore, that we have missed out on massive business opportunities like the Web Summit when the Government clearly has not communicated and liaised with people who try to develop start-up businesses. Paddy Cosgrave is the founder of the Web Summit and he summed up the situation well when he said:

I have absolutely no record of a single Irish minister ever meeting a single high-level delegate. Last year the British Government sent a Minister here for two days. He didn't look for photos beside Enterprise Ireland or the equivalent of IDA stands, instead he spent two days doing non-stop bi-lateral meetings.

That British Minister spent two days in bilateral meetings with potential start-ups with an interest in coming to Ireland which is the reason the British are great business people.

  As I have mentioned here before, the capital gains tax relief regime here does not compare with the UK regime. In Ireland such relief is restricted to the first million of profit gained. In contrast, the UK has a simpler, clearer and more attractive relief because a flat rate of 10% is applied to entrepreneurial gains of up to £10 million. The initiative has increased threefold since the relief was introduced because the UK has an entrepreneurial economy and society. The UK woke up some years ago to the fact it was experiencing a brain drain due to people choosing to leave its shores as they found they could not do business there anymore.

  I would like to raise many other issues but I will return to them at a later stage. Inheritance tax was only tinkered with in the Finance Bill.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke The Senator can raise the issues when we debate the Finance Bill.

Senator Mary M. White: Information on Mary M. White Zoom on Mary M. White I have many points to make about inheritance tax. The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation has let himself be rolled over by the people in the Department of Finance. They do not have a clue what it is like to do business and are suspicious of every business person. The Finance Bill is a disgrace as far as potential start-ups are concerned.

Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh: Information on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh Zoom on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh Aontaím leis na ráitis atá déanta maidir leis an tionscal iascaireachta. It is important we examine the allegations of human trafficking and exploitation of migrant workers in the fishing industry and I would welcome such a debate. The debate that took place in the Dáil last night raised many issues concerning the rights of Travellers. Perhaps the Seanad Public Consultation Committee might do a piece of work on the matter and compile a report on Traveller ethnicity. It has had great success in the past.

Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik Zoom on Ivana Bacik The Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality has compiled a report on the subject.

Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh: Information on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh Zoom on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh Yes, but it is quite clear that the debate is ongoing. We need a debate and possibly more work could be done on Traveller ethnicity.

  On Operation Thor and the Government's efforts to tackle crime, my party welcomes increased funding and resources being made available for this type of operation. I note, however, that there has been quite a lot of media speculation that when one scratches under the surface of what has been announced, it seems to be a lot of hype with quite a dearth of detail on what will happen. For example, The Irish Times has reported today that €5 million has been earmarked to fund the operation but no detail and timeline has been given on when the money will be spent. When the newspaper followed up on the matter it was told the funding would last for six months. It has estimated that if one divides the €5 million that will be made available between the 28 Garda divisions in the State, €27,800 will be available each month to each division. To put that figure in context, the overtime budget in the Dublin area alone can reach up to €2 million per month so an outlay of €5 million seems minuscule. It seems the Commissioner and her deputies have been used for a PR stunt to show that the Government is getting tough on crime. There is little substance to back up such rhetoric and, therefore, it is important that the Minister comes to the House to give a detailed explanation of Operation Thor and how the money will be spent. It would be an opportunity for her to refute the newspaper's contention that the allocation will be used to pay a little bit of the overtime bill and provide a few new cars to prop up the current depleted fleet of spluttering bangers. Crime prevention is a serious issue and it is one I have raised previously, particularly in the context of what has happened in many housing estates in Galway. We need to get serious about the matter and we need more detail from the Minister about Operation Thor. I call for a debate to be organised as soon as possible.

Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill: Information on Brian Ó Domhnaill Zoom on Brian Ó Domhnaill Yesterday a number of Members raised the issue of decisions taken by the Bank of Ireland. It has rowed back somewhat but in a meaningless way by identifying vulnerable customers and it has not rowed back on its decision to go cashless. Yesterday evening the Consumers Association of Ireland identified four retail banks that will follow suit. Such a move will have a major impact on the viability of branches, especially in rural areas where the average customer will not have 30 cheques to deposit and machines may not be available. Bank branches will be closed throughout the country unless the Minister for Finance or the Central Bank intervenes.

  To date, the Central Bank has been very weak and poor. Its attitude seems to be to protect the customer but protect banks first. By protecting the banks the Central Bank allows them to make profits, but the banks seem to be able to use the argument that to make a profit they have to charge extraordinary interest rates, a discussion we had last night, and they have to rationalise services, which is what is being done. The Central Bank does not protect customers or fulfil its obligation to them. The new head of the Central Bank is Professor Lane and the big question is whether he is willing to challenge the consensus. If not, then without the intervention of either the Minister for Finance or an overarching authority, which would have responsibility for the Central Bank, banks will continue doing what they are doing.

  I call on the Deputy Leader to arrange a debate on the future of this island in the context of the ESRI's report on a Brexit that was announced this morning. Last night RTE broadcast a great television programme and I declare that the public broadcaster did the State some service. The emergence of that programme has generated many discussions in communities in the North from both backgrounds and the engagement that takes place between institutions of State and local communities. The Brexit issue is an east-west issue. If the British Government, following a referendum, takes the decision to withdraw from the European Union, it would have major economic and social implications for Ireland and its citizens, not least of which is travel. When travelling home to Donegal, as I will do tomorrow, will I need to show my passport at the Border? There are questions on fundamental issues that need to be answered. I am not sure what engagement at Government level has taken place to date but I suspect there has been very little. We must invite the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade and any other relevant Minister to come to the House to discuss this major issue.

Senator Jim Walsh: Information on Jim Walsh Zoom on Jim Walsh While I support those who call for an investigation into human trafficking in the fishing industry, based on a British newspaper report, which has obviously prompted politicians to comment, it raises certain questions. We should not just be looking at fishing in isolation. Human trafficking is far more extensive than just the fishing industry, and people are trafficked for both labour and sexual exploitation. As usual, many politicians are jumping on a bandwagon just because the media have raised a particular issue. We need to be much stronger in the areas of surveillance and detection in this regard. It is astonishing that the Minister is only now coming to realise what is happening in the fishing industry. We have many public servants going around in all sorts of employment agencies, which I have criticised in the past, tormenting small businesses in general, which are trying to get on with business, and imposing all sorts of bureaucratic regulations on them, whereas in fact these much more fundamental breaches of employment law are not being touched at all. The laissez-faire approach needs to be challenged. We should have the Minister come to the House to have a debate on the whole area of human trafficking and sexual and labour exploitation in this Republic. It is quite extensive, as anybody who takes an interest in the topic will know. It is a global issue, but we should be trying to do what we can here.

  I agree with Senator Mark Daly on the need for a debate not just on Northern Ireland but on the reunification of the island of Ireland and the policies we should be looking at introducing in order to facilitate and achieve that aspiration. One sees people saying that they support a united Ireland under certain circumstances, but if it comes to paying more tax, they are not as enthusiastic about it. We could all draw on the spirit of the men of 1916, who obviously did not take a view that they would pursue independence from the British oppressor in that era by asking themselves whether it would cost them more tax. In fact, they were prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice and give their lives so that we would be independent and enjoy freedom. We need to reconnect with that spirit of self-sacrifice in the national interest. Particularly as we become more multicultural, it is important that this particular value, which stood us in good stead over many centuries, is adhered to and is balanced. As a result of the Good Friday Agreement, we now have a template for pursuing a united Ireland in a peaceful way, which is ultimately the only way we are going to achieve it. We can put the troubles of the past behind us and build on the foundations that are there to achieve that. I support fully what Senator Daly has said. A debate on this topic in this House is long overdue and it should be done on a regular basis.

Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill: Information on Brian Ó Domhnaill Zoom on Brian Ó Domhnaill Hear, hear.

Senator Mark Daly: Information on Mark Daly Zoom on Mark Daly Hear, hear.

Senator Paul Bradford: Information on Paul Bradford Zoom on Paul Bradford I welcome the wise comments of Senator Feargal Quinn on the fracking debate. We are all very ill-advised as to the scope of that industry. A lobby group is presenting here today and I am sure it will make a valid contribution to the debate. We have to be willing to examine all these possible sources of energy in a balanced fashion. Senator Quinn has pointed out the difference it has made to energy supplies in the United States, but we all have to start from the perspective that current energy sources and supplies are not sustainable and if this country and Europe and the developed world are to grow, we need safe and secure forms of energy. Everything must be on the table for consideration. Whether it is fracking or anything else, we need to listen to both sides, but we must do so with an open mind. I look forward to having that debate in a fuller fashion over the next few months.

  I was not here for the early part of Senator Daly's contribution following last night's programme, but I heard some of it on the phone-in service. It would be helpful if we reflected on that programme, but it was no surprise to me. The public, both in the Republic of Ireland and in Northern Ireland, are much more concerned about the here and now and living a decent, peaceful life on this island. They do not allow themselves to be as hung up about flags, emblems, symbols, borders, territories and solutions as the politicians sometimes are. We have come out of appalling conflict on this island. If we can ensure the current generation lives in peace and harmony and develops this island, North and South, I would be more than happy to let the next generation or the one after that worry about borders, flags and so-called solutions. I do not like the word "solution" in relation to the conflict we have had on this island, because one person's happy solution is somebody else's sad and tragic solution. We should simply build on the progress that is being made, secure the peace process and let someone worry in 50 or 100 years' time about borders and so-called solutions. I welcome the progress that has been made and recognise that for most people, North and South, a job, a career and a future are of much greater importance than the flying of flags or the singing of anthems.

Senator Fidelma Healy Eames: Information on Fidelma Healy Eames Zoom on Fidelma Healy Eames I got quite a reaction this morning to the Taoiseach's comments in the Dáil yesterday that he did not understand the crisis in emergency departments and why it cannot be resolved. This is an incredible statement coming from the Taoiseach of our country. He listens to people talking about this every day in the Dáil and we are listening to it every day in the Seanad. One lady who contacted me this morning said there were 120 people in the emergency department again last night at Galway University Hospital. One woman was sent in as an urgent case at 5 p.m. yesterday, and at 7.30 this morning she still had not been seen and no decision had been made about her care. Is it possible that the Taoiseach could not understand that we are lacking space in the Galway emergency department and that we do not have enough nurses and doctors? That is at the front-line level. Behind all that, we have a dysfunctional system. Surely he must know this. This is our Taoiseach. He oversees the Cabinet. He has a Minister for Health there, the Minister for Health whom we were questioning last week. What difference has he made?

Senator Jim Walsh: Information on Jim Walsh Zoom on Jim Walsh None.

Senator Fidelma Healy Eames: Information on Fidelma Healy Eames Zoom on Fidelma Healy Eames We have a Minister for Children and Youth Affairs who was previously the Minister for Health and was stonewalled by everybody, but he was trying. When every new report said more things needed to be done in the hospitals, he was not given extra budgets. We are talking about health, the health of the Irish people. It is the one thing our State should always facilitate. Health must come first. Please can someone inform the Taoiseach about the root of the problem?

Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh: Information on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh Zoom on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh He might send the Army in.

Senator Fidelma Healy Eames: Information on Fidelma Healy Eames Zoom on Fidelma Healy Eames I know there was a vote yesterday on bringing in the Minister for Health and it was voted down. What are we going to do today about it? Now we realise there is a gap at the top. There is a gap of understanding. Our Taoiseach does not seem to understand the problem. If he does not understand it, how will resources ever be devolved?

Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh: Information on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh Zoom on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh Hear, hear.

Senator Fidelma Healy Eames: Information on Fidelma Healy Eames Zoom on Fidelma Healy Eames I am exasperated.

Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik Zoom on Ivana Bacik Senator Daly spoke first about the poll that was carried out and that was reported on by "Prime Time" on RTE last night. Unfortunately I did not see it, but I did hear the findings of the poll, which are most interesting. It is especially interesting to hear the views on the unification of Ireland and whether people wish to see it in the short to medium term or in the long term. I would be very happy to accede to Senator Daly's request to have a debate on the issue of unification. That is the debate he sought. I take his point on the pliability of statistics. One has to be careful. For example, it would be wrong to say, just because of statistics produced by the UN Human Development Index on quality of life North and South, that people would be better off in one jurisdiction or another. I would be very careful about that. As the Senator would be well aware, there are far more complex issues going on. In respect of the political situation in Northern Ireland more generally, which was raised by a number of people, talks are continuing in a constructive atmosphere to try to resolve the issues around the implementation of the Stormont House Agreement and dealing with the legacy and impact of paramilitarism.  The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Deputy Charles Flanagan, is representing the Government at the talks and has been co-chairing talks in Belfast since September. He and the Minister of State, Deputy Sherlock, have been very engaged on the issue. Those pressing matters are being dealt with. I like the idea of the debate the Senator mentioned and I will be happy to request it.

Senator Mullins also spoke on the "Prime Time" debate and welcomed the signing of the Istanbul Convention on domestic violence. I endorse the Senator's welcome, also expressed by Senator O'Keeffe. It is an important milestone in ensuring we have adequate protections for victims of domestic violence. People would give a general welcome to it. Senator Mullins also raised the Irish Rail dispute and the talks ongoing at the Workplace Relations Commission, WRC. We would all join the Senator in hoping efforts to find a resolution may be redoubled. There has been significant engagement in recent weeks through the WRC to resolve the issue. Everyone will hope the strike will not have to go ahead tomorrow. Senator Mullins also raised the regional plan for jobs. Earlier this week, I welcomed the fall in unemployment to 9.3% which the Senator mentioned and I also said it is still too high. I support the Senator's call for a debate on the regional action plan for jobs in particular.

Senator Barrett raised the issue of his mortgage Bill, which was debated in Private Members' time last night. I join with Senator Hayden in congratulating the Senator on the Bill and the excellent debate, which showed the engagement of Senators with the need to think constructively about how to fix the current dysfunctional construction situation. I agree with the Senator that the debate should continue and offer my personal support.

Senator Hayden raised the matter at last night's Labour Party parliamentary party meeting. Senator Hayden spoke on the Bill and offered her personal support, and spoke on the ESRI report and the impact of a Brexit. While she was first to mention Brexit, others subsequently raised it. The Senator pointed out that it is a very important issue for Ireland, given that the report stated the potential for lost trade for Ireland from a Brexit would be €3 billion per year. The Senator and others are correct that the significance it would have for Ireland has been underestimated, and I support her call for a debate with the Minister of State with responsibility for European affairs.

Senator MacSharry raised the issue of fracking and brought to our attention the demonstration and briefing in the audiovisual room. No licences have been issued in respect of fracking. I note the Senator's comments and also comments to the contrary by Senators Quinn and Bradford. It shows the need for a debate and I support the call for a debate on the matter.

Senator O'Keeffe supported Senator Hayden's call for a debate on the Brexit and welcomed the Istanbul Convention and pointed out that we await the domestic violence Bill and victims of crime Bill. During the past week, we have had pre-legislative scrutiny of the criminal justice (victims of crime) Bill in the justice committee. It is progressing. Senator O'Keeffe also called for a debate on the exploitation of migrant workers in the fishing industry, revelations about which were reported in The Guardianearlier this week. Senator O'Keeffe, other Senators and I have already raised the issue on the Order of Business and called for a debate with the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Deputy Coveney. I support the Senator's call. The Minister might come here to update us on the task force he has established, which is very welcome, to investigate allegations of exploitation. Senator O'Keeffe also raised the role of BIM, and this would also be a matter for the Minister to address.

Senator Quinn called for a debate on homicide law generally. As the Senator knows, it is a matter for the Director of Public Prosecutions, DPP, to direct which charge will be brought, be it murder, manslaughter or another charge, in individual cases. The bar for proving murder is significantly higher than for proving manslaughter, given that murder requires an intent to kill or cause serious injury. I agree that it would be a useful and very timely debate to have. The Law Reform Commission has reported on it in the past, not just on the demarcation between murder and manslaughter but also on the mandatory sentence for murder. I have spoken on the need to change it from a mandatory sentence in order to offer judges more discretion to reflect the reality of the scale of severity between murder and manslaughter. Some cases of manslaughter, as judges will say, are much closer to murder and some are very far from murder. I will call for the debate. Senator Quinn noted that a debate on fracking would be worthwhile, given the difference of views even in this Chamber that have been expressed this morning.

Senator Brennan raised the consultation being engaged in by the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Donohoe, and the Minister of State, Deputy Ring, with sports stakeholders and the very welcome development of the sports policy framework. The Senator also noted the strong performance by Irish tourism and congratulated a number of bodies, namely, Loop Head tourism, Cnoc Suain in Galway and Connemara Wild Escapes. We will all want to join him in congratulating those organisations on their great achievements in the Irish Responsible Tourism Awards and to note the positive performance and momentum in the tourism sector.

Senator Cullinane asked for a debate on technological universities. The Senator has put down Commencement matters in respect of the university in the south east and we can call for a debate. I am sure the Senator will put down Commencement matters specifically relating to the south east in the future. The Minister for Education and Skills will be here next week to debate a Labour Party Private Members' Bill and we can raise it with her.

Senator Kelly called for a debate on the crisis in rural GP practices. This might be a matter best placed as a Commencement matter for the Minister for Health, Deputy Varadkar, given that a review of the issue is under way. Senator Mooney raised the cervical cancer vaccine. Given that Senator Cummins gave a full response on the issue during yesterday's Order of Business, I will not repeat it.

Senator Paschal Mooney: Information on Paschal Mooney Zoom on Paschal Mooney For the record, it was 110 girls, not 120 as I said.

Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik Zoom on Ivana Bacik The Senator raised a specific point about a report in the Irish Independent which I have not seen. If any Senator has an issue with any such report, it would be best to take it directly to the newspaper concerned. Senator Mooney also supported Senator MacSharry on the fracking issue.

  Senator Mullen raised the issue of Traveller ethnicity. The Senator did not refer to the report the justice committee produced which made a unanimous recommendation for the recognition of Traveller ethnicity. The Minister of State, Deputy Ó Ríordáin, has done a huge amount of work on trying to make progress on the recommendation. I am puzzled by the Senator's suggestion that some Traveller groups or representatives do not seek, or are not supportive of, a declaration of ethnicity. Based on the hearings and consultation the justice committee conducted, there is clear support for a declaration of ethnicity.

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

Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik Zoom on Ivana Bacik I personally very strongly support it, and there is a consultation process under way, led by the Department of Justice and Equality, to develop a new Traveller and Roma inclusion strategy. I very much hope the recognition of Traveller will be achieved in the context of the development of the strategy. The justice committee has done a great deal of work on it and I urge any colleagues with an interest in it to read the report of the committee which achieved unanimous, cross-party support.

  Senator White referred to the Finance Bill and support for start-ups, and we might seek a debate on it in the future. The Cathaoirleach intervened on this point. Senator Ó Clochartaigh referred to the trafficking allegations, on which I have already spoken, and he noted that there are concerns about trafficking and exploitation in other sectors, which is undoubtedly the case. The Migrant Rights Centre has done much work on it. Senator Walsh also raised the issue and referred to other sectors. The Migrant Rights Centre has concerns about other industries, particularly the domestic care industry, and we can seek a debate on it more generally. However, a specific concern arises from the report that has been conducted into the fishing industry, and we might seek a specific debate on it. Senator Ó Clochartaigh also spoke on Traveller ethnicity, which I have dealt with, and on funding for fighting rural crime and the issue it poses in Galway. The justice committee had a hearing on it with Muintir na Tíre, whose representatives expressed great support for Operation Thor and the work they hope will be carried out as part of it to combat rural crime.

  Senator Ó Domhnaill referred to Bank of Ireland, and we all very much welcome the bank's change of heart that followed the heavy criticism it received yesterday from Members of both Houses, other groups and members of the public. I agree with the Senator's comments on the banks generally. It shows public pressure can have an impact, which is important. Senator Ó Domhnaill also supported the calls for debates following the RTE "Prime Time" programme on a Brexit. I have already responded to Senator Walsh on human trafficking. Senator Bradford supported Senator Quinn on fracking, again showing the difference of view, and spoke on the "Prime Time" poll. Senator Healy Eames referred to the accident and emergency crisis and we can seek a debate on health care, although I note, as every commentator has, that it is not a recent issue. Unfortunately, it has been a major problem within the health care system through the boom years and following the recession. I will seek a debate on it.

  Order of Business agreed to.

Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill 2015: Committee Stage (Resumed)

SECTION 9

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke I welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Coffey.

Senator Sean D. Barrett: Information on Sean D. Barrett Zoom on Sean D. Barrett I move amendment No. 20:

In page 13, line 3, to delete "Government" and substitute "Oireachtas".

I welcome the Minister of State. These matters are important as we head towards the Paris conference at the end of the month. Everyone in the House wants to assist Ireland's presentation in being the best it can be. The purpose of my amendment is to bring the Oireachtas into decision making on this matter on the basis that the environment exists for everyone. The Seanad has a proud record in that regard and we would like to contribute to policy making. The former Senator Éamon de Buitléar was mentioned during our previous debate on this Bill. He was one of those who popularised an interest in the environment. Even further back, the Wild Birds Protection Act 1930, which was described as admirable at the time, was introduced by the then Senator Samuel Brown and passed by the Dáil. The Seanad has a significant potential to contribute to this national enterprise and a record of so doing. For this reason, will the Minister of State involve the Oireachtas under this amendment today or on Report Stage?

  The Bill states that "the Advisory Council shall be appointed by the Government, on the nomination of the Minister." In the interim, the Department has appointed an advisory committee. I was unaware of this at the time. I do not want to reflect on the individuals concerned, but the point of the amendment remains. We should communicate these decisions to the wider Oireachtas. The Government would find a large measure of support for the work that it is doing on the environment. There is no longer a dispute on climate change. The level of acceptance before the Paris conference represents a major increase on what existed previously. There have been changes in public opinion in the US. The entire November edition of National Geographic, which came to us yesterday, is on climate change.

  This issue concerns us all and we would appreciate the Minister of State's consideration on Report Stage of ways for the Seanad to be involved, particularly given the House's record. The current provision seems to be an oversight, but the Minister of State can tell from the list of amendments that, at several points in the Bill, the Seanad does not seem to exist at all. This House is a valuable resource in terms of considering the environment, and that is the purpose of my amendment. Any progress on this front on Report Stage would make most Senators on all sides happy.

Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik Zoom on Ivana Bacik Colleagues will note that we are just concluding Committee Stage today and will not be taking Report Stage for another number of days. This is welcome, as it allows us to scrutinise the proposed amendments and, in particular, the principles behind them. I am unsure about Senator Barrett's amendment, as the appointment is a matter for the Government, but his work in seeking to ensure a role for the Seanad in particular and the Oireachtas in general is important. Where reports are laid before one House of the Oireachtas, we should consider requiring that they be laid before both Houses. Although this was the subject of an amendment debated last week, I hope we will have a chance to debate it again on Report Stage.

Senator Feargal Quinn: Information on Feargal Quinn Zoom on Feargal Quinn The Minister of State is welcome. From his time as a Senator, we know that he is a listening Minister of State.

Senator Diarmuid Wilson: Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson We are waiting for him to return to us.

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Paudie Coffey): Information on Paudie Coffey Zoom on Paudie Coffey Now, now.

Senator Feargal Quinn: Information on Feargal Quinn Zoom on Feargal Quinn He was demoted to the Lower House. There is a case to be made for this amendment. Senator Barrett touched on it. Some of the best debates that the Seanad has had in my 22 years here have been on the environment and climate change. If this amendment is accepted, both Houses would be included. I urge the Minister of State to consider doing so.

Senator Cáit Keane: Information on Cáit Keane Zoom on Cáit Keane The framework should be laid before both Houses once it is drafted. As Senator Bacik stated, we will not debate Report Stage today, but we will get an opportunity then to consider this matter. Perhaps it will not be via the same amendment, but there could be a different wording. The Seanad is noted for its debates.  Talking about the environment is action but, by teasing out the issues, we get a better framework and ensure the i's are dotted and t's crossed.

Deputy Paudie Coffey: Information on Paudie Coffey Zoom on Paudie Coffey I fully respect the views of all Senators. This is an important Chamber for debate and it is important that we listen and discuss the issues involved.

  The amendment provides for the appointment of the members of the climate change advisory council to be performed by the Oireachtas rather than the Government on the nomination of the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government. The independence of the council is explicitly enshrined in section 11(3) following an amendment that was introduced by my colleague, the Minister, Deputy Alan Kelly. Accordingly, there should be no fear in respect of the council providing robust and independent advice to the Government. Second, and as stated earlier, the council is now operational. Given the importance of its tasks, it was critical that it started its work as soon as possible. Senators will welcome that. With this in mind, the Minister prioritised the establishment of the council in June of this year to ensure it would be up and running and deliberating on the national climate agenda pending the enactment of the Bill. In essence, there was no time wasting, which is important. It is important that it is the Government that will appoint the advisory council, reflecting the fact that the council's role is to provide advice to the Government, as a whole, and individual Ministers with responsibility for mitigation or adaptation matters in the various sectors. Accordingly, I cannot accept the amendment and ask that it be withdrawn.

Senator Sean D. Barrett: Information on Sean D. Barrett Zoom on Sean D. Barrett I will withdraw the amendment on the basis that the developments mentioned by Senators on the Government side will feature on Report Stage. I very much appreciate what the Minister of State said about involving the Seanad. I hope we will repay him for that confidence after Report Stage and in all future debates on the environment and climate change.

Deputy Paudie Coffey: Information on Paudie Coffey Zoom on Paudie Coffey I thank the Senator. It is important to put on record that the advisory council can invite any representatives, including Senators, before it to debate the issues. The Minister and I encourage it to do so. If any Senators wish to engage with the council, it will prove an important platform.

Senator Sean D. Barrett: Information on Sean D. Barrett Zoom on Sean D. Barrett I thank the Minister of State.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

  Amendments Nos. 21 to 23, inclusive, not moved.

  Section 9 agreed to.

  Section 10 agreed to.

SECTION 11

Senator Sean D. Barrett: Information on Sean D. Barrett Zoom on Sean D. Barrett I move amendment No. 24:

In page 16, line 20, to delete "Minister" and substitute "Oireachtas".

This relates to what the Minister of State said earlier. I propose that the function of the advisory council shall be to advise and make recommendations to the Oireachtas in regard to the matters listed. While I appreciate what the Minister of State said about invitations to Senators to become involved, it would be an improvement if the reports were submitted to the Oireachtas given that they concern a worldwide problem that should involve as many people as possible. I welcome and appreciate the spirit of what the Minister of State said about that involvement. Would the Bill be improved if the advisory council submitted its reports to all Members of the Oireachtas so as to engage in the kind of dialogue the Minister of State described earlier?

Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik Zoom on Ivana Bacik I wish to make the same point I made in respect of amendment No. 20, which was also tabled by Senator Barrett. It is appropriate that the Minister be referred to in the legislation but it is important to commend Senator Barrett on his work in seeking to include both Houses of the Oireachtas, particularly the Seanad, when we are talking about the national mitigation plan and the proposal to lay a five-yearly report before the Oireachtas. I echo what Senator Cáit Keane has said. We will be returning to that issue on Report Stage.

Deputy Paudie Coffey: Information on Paudie Coffey Zoom on Paudie Coffey This proposed amendment would render the responsibility of providing climate change-related advice by the advisory council to the Oireachtas as a whole rather than to the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government. The fundamental point is that it is the Minister and other members of the Government who are the main actors in and responsible for these matters. Therefore, it is only right and proper that it is to them that the advisory council should direct its advices. The advisory council's annual and periodic review reports will be published for all to see and provide commentary on. In view of this, I cannot support the amendment and ask for its withdrawal.

Senator Sean D. Barrett: Information on Sean D. Barrett Zoom on Sean D. Barrett Another factor in the background of all this relates to people who have been sitting down in the basement for months listening to how the banking collapse happened. Getting the advice to as many people as possible and not confining it to narrow circles must be considered. I acknowledge that the Minister has responsibility but it must be recognised that we all have a degree of responsibility. We must learn from the banking inquiry and about the wider implications for the entire public administration. Not communicating with people, not consulting widely, not involving the so-called contrarians and not getting interest groups involved can prove expensive for the country afterwards. I appreciate what the Minister of State said and I will not be pressing the amendment but, in general, we must bear in mind the principle contained in the banking inquiry reports, namely, that we have to make policy not just for small groups of people, including Ministers and their advisers, but also for society as a whole. The banking inquiry precedent would indicate that we would do far better by involving more people. That is the spirit in which the amendment was proposed. We will think about this again on Report Stage. I will not press the amendment this afternoon.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

  Question proposed: "That section 11 stand part of the Bill."

Senator Mary M. White: Information on Mary M. White Zoom on Mary M. White It gives me great pleasure to support Senator Barrett's points. I will be hosting a public meeting on climate change - under the title "Climate Change Crunch Time" - next week in the Goat Bar & Grill in Dundrum. The implications of climate change and the warming of the atmosphere, in addition to the potential trouble we are walking into, are only beginning to dawn on people. We are about to face what is possibly the biggest calamity this planet has faced. I agree with Senator Barrett that there should be more consultation and political connection. In fact, work should be done by local authority areas, or local electoral areas, to get the councillors and people involved to discuss the issue and drive home the agenda. I am very privileged to be associated with Professor John Sweeney, who is one of the foremost authorities on climate change in Ireland. He has been a professor in NUI Maynooth for 30 years and was rapporteur for the Oireachtas committee in the review of the heads of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill. More importantly, he contributed to the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. I agree with Senator Barrett's view that everyone in the country has to be involved on this issue because of its social and economic implications for everyone.

Acting Chairman (Senator Tom Sheahan): Information on Tom Sheahan Zoom on Tom Sheahan That is very good, Senator, but this section is about the business of the advisory council.

  Question put and agreed to.

SECTION 12

Acting Chairman (Senator Tom Sheahan): Information on Tom Sheahan Zoom on Tom Sheahan Amendment No. 25 is in the name of Senator Sean Barrett.

Senator Sean D. Barrett: Information on Sean D. Barrett Zoom on Sean D. Barrett We have been over this ground with regard to the role of the Minister and the Oireachtas and there is no need to do it again.

  Amendment No. 25 not moved.

Acting Chairman (Senator Tom Sheahan): Information on Tom Sheahan Zoom on Tom Sheahan Amendments Nos. 26 and 27 are related, amendment No. 27 is a physical alternative to amendment No. 26, and they may be discussed together by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Senator Sean D. Barrett: Information on Sean D. Barrett Zoom on Sean D. Barrett I move amendment No. 26:

In page 17, line 35, to delete "Not more than 30 days after" and substitute "Simultaneously on".

This amendment deals with the advisory reports. Why have a delay? If the advisory council submits a report it should be put out there simultaneously. Wishes were expressed in the other House that this advisory council should have parity of operations and esteem with the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council. The advice should be put out so everyone can have a discussion on it. What is the reason for a 30-day delay if we are taking this as a matter of urgency, which we all are? Documents should not be on shelves in ministerial, governmental or departmental offices. They should be available to members of the public so they can see what is happening to the climate.

Senator David Cullinane: Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane Our amendment puts a timeframe on it and we support the thrust of what Senator Barrett has said. Our amendment proposes that the expert group should report back within ten days and not 30 days, which is what is in the Bill. The wording of the Bill states that in implementing climate change measures the Government needs to "have regard to" - which is a phrase often placed in legislation by the Government - a range of factors, including the State's obligations under international agreements and expert scientific opinion. This is too vague and needs to be strengthened. The expert group should not delay in coming back with its recommendations and we believe a ten-day timeframe is more than sufficient.

  The Minister was not here for our previous debate on Committee Stage. We had a lengthy debate with the Minister of State, Deputy Phelan. Those of us on this side of the House, and perhaps some of the Senators on the Government side, felt the Oireachtas should have much more say in policy making in this area. A number of statements were made on which the Minister of State was pulled up and we will not go back over them. I hope that on Report Stage we will not be pressing these amendments because the language will have been tempered and, more than that, the Government can meet us on some of the amendments which we believe are worthwhile to strengthen the Bill.

  We had a lengthy discussion on the role of local authorities in local climate change action plans. In the Minister of State's constituency in Waterford, the environment strategic policy committee of what is now Waterford City and County Council put in place a local climate plan, but it was very weak because of the lack of powers the local authority had. It wanted to go further and put in place a proper climate change plan but, unfortunately, because of the limitations of national policy and local government it was not able to do anything of real significance or value. These are the types of issues we want addressed.

  I do not intend to speak much more because we hope to get through Committee Stage. I hope that on Report Stage some of the amendments tabled by Senator Barrett and I which were not accepted can be considered more favourably.

Senator Feargal Quinn: Information on Feargal Quinn Zoom on Feargal Quinn One of the frustrations I have found here in the past has been the delays which occur in many areas. Senator Barrett is correct, and I am sure Senator Cullinane is making an effort. Their amendments propose substituting "30 days" after submitting its annual report to either "10 days" or, better still, "Simultaneously". When I came here first I found the annual reports I was seeking sometimes had not been published a year later. I tabled an amendment to every Bill coming through to the effect that reports should be published within three months. Within a short period of time every Bill coming through had the provision they should be published within three months or six months. The delay is frustrating and I certainly support the view Senators Barrett and Cullinane have put forward. Senator Barrett's proposal that it should be published simultaneously is one we should support.

Deputy Paudie Coffey: Information on Paudie Coffey Zoom on Paudie Coffey I thank all Senators for their contributions on this and the overall debate. I have not been party to much of it in the Seanad, but I was party to much of it in the Dáil. I agree it is important that with the compilation of the national mitigation plan there is engagement with all sectors including communities, the grassroots and local authorities, which are possibly the first vehicle for delivering on this engagement. The Government amended the Bill in the Dáil to ensure local authorities would be engaged with at a deeper level and I expect this to happen. I support the views of the Senators in this respect.

  These amendments call for the publication of the climate change advisory council's annual reports simultaneously with, or not more than ten days after, submission to the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government rather than not more than 30 days after submission. By way of explanation for what is already in the Bill, the 30-day timeframe is to provide an opportunity for the annual report to be seen by the Government before it is published. I want to make it clear there is no intention or provision for the Government to seek to alter or amend the annual report in any way. The 30-day timeframe is merely to afford this courtesy to the Government. Therefore, I do not believe a maximum 30-day wait for publication could be said to constitute any undue or untoward delay. The annual report will be published in full by the advisory council without, I reiterate, any interference whatsoever. Therefore, I cannot support these amendments.

Senator Sean D. Barrett: Information on Sean D. Barrett Zoom on Sean D. Barrett I am still an advocate of open government and doing things as quickly as possible. In general, delay is inherent in earlier parts of the Bill so by the time I got to the end of the Bill I was getting frustrated with the level of delay. There are two-year delays and 18-month delays but this is urgent. When the Minister of State, Deputy Phelan, was in the House she did not rule out the possibility we might do many things faster than where the Bill asks for a two-year delay and this would certainly be very welcome. It is something to which we might return on Report Stage. This delay is not the worst, but what is the secret? People should find out what is happening in the environment. Compared to two years, 30 days is fairly mild so I will not press the amendment.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

  Amendment No. 27 not moved.

Acting Chairman (Senator Tom Sheahan): Information on Tom Sheahan Zoom on Tom Sheahan Amendments Nos. 28 and 32 are cognate and may be discussed together by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Senator Sean D. Barrett: Information on Sean D. Barrett Zoom on Sean D. Barrett I move amendment No. 28:

In page 17, lines 36 and 37, to delete "by such means as the Agency may advise".

The advisory council is to advise in general on all environmental matters, including advising on the Environmental Protection Agency, so why does the Environmental Protection Agency get to say the means by which a report advising the Government on that agency itself shall be published? It is an oversight body, and the body on which it is engaging in oversight seeks, as the Bill stands, to dictate the terms of the oversight.  That is contradictory. The expert advisory council may have things to say about the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, in the broader national interest, and the EPA will have to face up to that. Genuine independence for the council must be ensured and it should not have to operate as the Environmental Protection Agency might wish. Given the amount of regulatory capture, it may be a good idea if the advisory council and EPA were at loggerheads at least sometimes, as this would indicate that the former was doing its job. Too compliant a relationship between an advisory body and the agency it is supervising and regulating in the wider national interest is bad. I thought this was an attempt by the EPA to achieve capture over what I had hoped would be an independent advisory body. If the EPA does not like the advice it receives, that would be another ingredient in the environmental debate we so badly need to have.

Senator Cáit Keane: Information on Cáit Keane Zoom on Cáit Keane I interpret this element of the Bill differently from Senator Barrett. I read the phrase "by such means as the Agency shall advise" as meaning the EPA would advise as to whether the annual report was to be published in the Irish and English languages, in digital format, online and so forth. In other words, these would be the means by which the report would be published and the EPA would not have a hand, act or part in determining what is included in it. The independence of the agency would be maintained. The provision refers simply to the means of publication.

Deputy Paudie Coffey: Information on Paudie Coffey Zoom on Paudie Coffey I am happy to clarify for Senator Barrett that this is essentially a practical matter regarding how to disseminate the information contained in the publications. Senator Keane's interpretation of the wording is correct. The proposed amendment calls for the complete removal of the reference to the Environmental Protection Agency in decisions concerning the means of publication of the annual and periodic review reports. The current text reflects the fact that the EPA will provide back office support to the climate change expert advisory council. The agency is best placed to offer advice on the best means of publication, whether this is in hard copy, online, in bilingual form or a combination of these. The current text refers only to the means of publication and does not relate to the content of the reports. The EPA will not change the content of the publications but will simply facilitate, from a practical point of view, how best to disseminate the pertinent information and publications. For this reason, I will not accept the amendments.

Senator Sean D. Barrett: Information on Sean D. Barrett Zoom on Sean D. Barrett I thank the Minister of State for his response. Given that the chairman of the expert advisory council, Professor John FitzGerald, has been publishing reports on the economy for approximately 25 years, he does not need the advice of the Environmental Protection Agency on how to publish his reports. If there is nothing in the Bill that infringes on the rights of Professor FitzGerald and his committee to publish reports as they wish, that is fine. As everyone in the country knows, Professor FitzGerald is highly competent in the preparation and issuing of reports. I will withdraw the amendment.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

  Section 12 agreed to.

SECTION 13

Senator Sean D. Barrett: Information on Sean D. Barrett Zoom on Sean D. Barrett I move amendment No. 29:

In page 18, line 2, to delete "18 months" and substitute "6 months".

This amendment relates to the start of the expert advisory council's work. The Minister of State indicated that the advisory council was set up in June and all of its members had been appointed. The process is, therefore, further ahead than the Oireachtas in that the legislation has not yet been signed into law. The advisory council shall, according to the legislation, prepare the periodic review within 18 months. Is it able to prepare it earlier or must we wait for 18 months? I had hoped a periodic review would be published within six months. That was the purpose. Given that the council has, in view of the urgency of the matter, started its work, will it be ready in time? This amendment pertains to other delays that are mentioned in the Bill.

  l will cite comments made in the international context as we prepare for the Paris summit.   According to Taryn Fransen from the World Resources Institute, the vast majority of the intended nationally determined contributions or INDCs this time around - 105 of them - contain concrete greenhouse gas mitigation targets. This, she added, contrasts with the figure of 27 for the Copenhagen summit, the failed conference that took place in the Danish capital in 2009. Ms Fransen stated:

You have quite a few more countries that are now specifying absolute decreases in emissions levels. You have countries like China, South Africa and Singapore talking about peaking emissions through a hard cap. Even much smaller countries like Ethiopia, Bhutan and Costa Rica are identifying absolute limits on the quantity of emissions. I think that signals a real evolution.

If the expert advisory council is already up and running and the rest of the world is getting ahead of us, perhaps the Minister will ask Professor FitzGerald and his colleagues to submit their report as quickly as possible rather than delaying for 18 months after the establishment day, which could be two years from now, depending on when the Bill is passed, signed into law by the President, commenced and so forth. Will the Minister of State provide evidence on Report Stage or in the near future that it is intended to move pretty quickly in this matter?

Deputy Paudie Coffey: Information on Paudie Coffey Zoom on Paudie Coffey I thank Senator Barrett for tabling this amendment, which calls for a shortening of the timeframe for the climate change advisory council to conduct its first periodic review from 18 months after establishment to six months. The first periodic review will be a very important one in that it is specifically charged with analysing the progress made in meeting our mitigation targets up to the year 2020 under the European Union's effort-sharing decision of 2009. While I understand the reasons the Senator and others wish to have the timeframe shortened, we must be realistic in terms of affording the council sufficient time to carry out an extremely important task. As Senators are aware, the council is not a full-time entity, although it will have at its disposal a secretariat provided by the Environmental Protection Agency. It is in the process of bedding down its operational structures so as to begin its work of collating and analysing all available and relevant information and data. Therefore, it would not be reasonable to expect the council to do all of this and turn around a major review of national mitigation policy and implementation in Ireland within just six months.

  We all want a deep analysis, and the first periodic review report must be a substantive and challenging body of work that genuinely adds value to the work being undertaken by the State's institutions in achieving progress on mitigation. We must therefore afford the council a reasonable period to do its job. It is important to note in this respect that 18 months is a maximum timeline only and it allows flexibility in terms of successfully completing the first periodic review.

  I appreciate the thrust of the amendment and that the Senator does not want any unnecessary delays. I reiterate, however, that the prescribed period of 18 months by which the council is to complete its work is a maximum term. A timeframe of six months is too short for such a notable and important task. I cannot support the amendment.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Senator Sean D. Barrett: Information on Sean D. Barrett Zoom on Sean D. Barrett I move amendment No. 30:

In page 18, line 32, to delete "30 days" and substitute "10 days".

This amendment also addresses the issue of delays. The Bill provides that the expert advisory council shall, not later than 30 days after the completion of the periodic review, prepare and submit to the Minister a report on the review. Why would it take a month to do this? It is the same theme. The council has approximately a dozen members who will prepare their thoughts. This approach seems a strange way to operate. I do not understand the reason for delay, which is in the context of many delays throughout the Bill and the failure to quantify targets. This gives the impression that we need to speed up. I am reassured by the Minister of State's comments that he intends to speed up - for instance, by his use of the phrase "not later than." We would all be delighted if the task could be completed earlier, because Ireland has been falling behind on climate change and achieving environmental targets.

  The amendment addresses a similar theme to the previous amendment and I hope it is not repetitive or boring. A sense of urgency is required.  What are these 30 days to be used for, given that the report will have been completed? It should be sent on to the Minister and put up on the website so that we can get cracking on this task.

Deputy Paudie Coffey: Information on Paudie Coffey Zoom on Paudie Coffey I am not trying to underestimate the Senator's concerns with regard to delays. I do not underestimate those concerns. We are having an important and critical debate about climate change. I think Members of all parties and none are generally supportive of this history-making legislation. We all know and feel that we have to act. I think that is generally agreed. It is not something we need to rush, however. I accept the Senator's concerns. I have to say that when a periodic review has been completed, the advisory council and its secretariat will require a reasonable period of time to document the findings of that review before submitting it. Given the significance and substantive nature of such work, we do not believe that a 30-day wait in this regard is in any way excessive. We must afford the advisory council some time to finalise its report after the actual review process has been completed. That is essentially why we have provided for a 30-day period and why we cannot support this amendment.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

  Amendment No. 31 not moved.

Senator Sean D. Barrett: Information on Sean D. Barrett Zoom on Sean D. Barrett I move amendment No. 32:

In page 19, lines 21 and 22, to delete "by such means as the Agency may advise".

Section 13(8) provides that "the Advisory Council shall publish the report by such means as the Agency may advise". I appreciate that the Minister of State has said that the EPA will be confined to giving advice on publication. While such advice would probably be redundant in the case of somebody as eminent as John FitzGerald, I would prefer it if this provision were not included in the Bill. If we want the independence of this council to resemble that of the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council, it should be allowed to go about its own business without being subject to a provision of this nature. It could be suggested that the way it has been included in the Bill is almost patronising. I am glad that the EPA will not interfere with the content of the report. In my own field, the tensions between the Minister, Deputy Noonan, and Professor John McHale of the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council enhance the debate. We are delighted. Nobody says that person A got one over on person B or whatever. An advisory council does not have to touch the forelock in any way to the body whose performance it is called upon to assess. I am really assured by what the Minister of State said. However, I hope some lawyer does not find this provision in 20 years' time and use it to curtail the powers of the advisory council after it has published reports on the EPA in a manner which the latter does not like. I will not pursue this amendment further. If it is fully intended that the advisory council will be completely independent and will be able to publish without needing advice from anybody on whether to publish in Irish or in English or on what size typeface to use, this provision is not necessary and we should pass this legislation without providing for the agency to have a role in this regard. There is a potential danger here.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

  Section 13 agreed to.

SECTION 14

Acting Chairman (Senator Tom Sheahan): Information on Tom Sheahan Zoom on Tom Sheahan As amendment No. 33 and amendments Nos. 35 to 38, inclusive, are cognate, they may be discussed together.

Senator Sean D. Barrett: Information on Sean D. Barrett Zoom on Sean D. Barrett I move amendment No. 33:

In page 19, line 25, to delete “Dáil Éireann” and substitute “the Oireachtas”

These amendments relate to matters of substance that we have discussed. I think there is a wide measure of agreement on them. We should make a decision on Report Stage on how the Oireachtas, the Seanad and all of us can be involved. I do not think there is any need to take these amendments individually or in a group. They say the same thing, which I interpret as having broad agreement from the Government benches and from the Minister. I take it that these matters will be looked after when this Bill is debated again on Report Stage. I will not pursue these amendments today. It is very valuable that we have had this discussion.

Senator Maurice Cummins: Information on Maurice Cummins Zoom on Maurice Cummins Both parties in government fully support the amendments tabled by Senator Barrett. I think the officials in the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel and all Government Departments should realise that the Oireachtas is made up of two Houses. The people verified that not so long ago. The message needs to go out loud and clear that future Bills should not come into this House with references to just one House of the Oireachtas. We intend to send that message out today. Future legislation that comes into this House needs to reflect the opinion that both Houses of the Oireachtas should be consulted. We realise that the Government is responsible to Dáil Éireann under the Constitution. We want the point we are making to be reflected in all legislation that comes into this House from all Departments in the future.

Senator Feargal Quinn: Information on Feargal Quinn Zoom on Feargal Quinn I was about to make the exact point that has just been made by the Leader. It seems that there has been a slip-up. Of course, those who draft legislation can make mistakes occasionally. This is certainly a case of a Bill that should refer to "the Oireachtas" rather than "Dáil Éireann". I imagine that this will be changed on Report Stage.

Senator Cáit Keane: Information on Cáit Keane Zoom on Cáit Keane The Leader has said what I was going to say about the need to mention both Houses.

Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik Zoom on Ivana Bacik I endorse what the Leader said about including references to the Seanad, as well as the Dáil, in legislation. The section of this Bill that refers to "Dáil Éireann" should instead refer to "the Oireachtas". I thank Senator Barrett for highlighting the matter. I think we have already made our points about the national mitigation plan in respect of section 6. I accept that there is a difference in the case of an annual transition statement but the same principle should apply in terms of both Houses of the Oireachtas. I will be interested to hear what is said on Report Stage after this issue has been canvassed further.

Senator Denis Landy: Information on Denis Landy Zoom on Denis Landy The point I would like to make involves an extension of a word used by Senator Quinn. He referred to this as a "slip-up", whereas I would express my hope that we are not heading down a slippery slope. Having been in the Seanad for a few years, it occurs to me that everything that comes here has been well evaluated and researched by those who put legislation together. I think that, as Senators, we need to put down a marker on this issue today. We are doing that. I hope we will be listened to and we will see the change that is necessary on Report Stage. I will not, on my watch as my party's spokesman on the environment, allow the slippery slope to be taken with regard to this issue.

Deputy Paudie Coffey: Information on Paudie Coffey Zoom on Paudie Coffey One of the first lessons I learned when I was a Member of this esteemed House was that I should listen before I speak. I think that is very important for any public representative. I am listening carefully to what Senators on all sides of the House are saying. I note what Senator Barrett has said about healthy tensions in relationships in politics, business and other fields. It is always important to engage in robust debate that challenges thought processes and encourages differing views and to make decisions accordingly. Any time I have attended this House as a Senator or as a Minister of State, I have found that debates of that nature take place here. For those reasons, I am certainly satisfied to reconsider this in advance of Report Stage. It is important that we take a strong view from both Houses regarding much of what has been discussed. I will conclude with a word of caution to temper what I have said. The Senator opposite has been arguing all the time about unnecessary delays. I would like to make Senators aware that any amendments that are made on Report Stage would have implications for the passage of the Bill through both Houses as they would necessitate the return of the Bill to the Lower House. That is a decision for Senators to make. I will fully respect whatever decision is made. I am happy that we will have further engagement on and consideration of this matter on Report Stage.

Senator Sean D. Barrett: Information on Sean D. Barrett Zoom on Sean D. Barrett I thank the Members opposite and the Minister of State for his response to all the amendments that have been discussed today. It has been a most useful and interesting debate. I thank the Minister of State, the Leader of the House and the Members opposite. I hope the Bill will be improved, even at this late stage, on foot of the debates in this House.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

  Amendments Nos. 34 to 38, inclusive, not moved.

  Section 14 agreed to.

  Sections 15 and 16 agreed to.

  Amendment No. 39 not moved.

  Title agreed to.

  Bill reported without amendment.

Acting Chairman (Senator Tom Sheahan): Information on Tom Sheahan Zoom on Tom Sheahan When is it proposed to take Report Stage?

Senator Maurice Cummins: Information on Maurice Cummins Zoom on Maurice Cummins At 2.30 p.m. next Tuesday.

  Report Stage ordered for Tuesday, 10 November 2015.

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

Senator Maurice Cummins: Information on Maurice Cummins Zoom on Maurice Cummins At 2.30 p.m. next Tuesday.

  The Seanad adjourned at 1.30 p.m. until 2.30 p.m. on Tuesday, 10 November 2015.


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