Header Item Prelude
 Header Item Business of Seanad
 Header Item Commencement Matters
 Header Item Defective Building Materials
 Header Item Road Projects
 Header Item Public Sector Allowances
 Header Item Order of Business
 Header Item Business of Seanad
 Header Item Srebrenica Massacre: Motion
 Header Item Rugby World Cup 2023 Bill 2017: Second Stage
 Header Item Rugby World Cup 2023 Bill 2017: Committee and Remaining Stages
 Header Item Rugby World Cup 2023 Bill 2017: Motion for Earlier Signature
 Header Item Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland (Amendment) Bill 2014: Report and Final Stages

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Seanad Éireann Debate
Vol. 252 No. 13

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Chuaigh an Cathaoirleach i gceannas ar 14:30:00

Machnamh agus Paidir.

Reflection and Prayer.


Business of Seanad

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan I have received notice from Senator Pádraig Mac Lochlainn that, on the motion for the Commencement of the House today, he proposes to raise the following matter:

 The need for the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government to introduce a redress scheme for the affected householders in counties Donegal and Mayo following the publication of the Report of the Expert Panel on Concrete Blocks.

I have also received notice from Senator Kieran O’Donnell of the following matter:

The need for Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform to provide an update on the mid-term review of the national investment capital plan.

I have also received notice from Senator Robbie Gallagher of the following matter:

The need for the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform to reinstate the recent reduction in the reimbursement rate for mileage of the first 1,500 km for public servants.

I have also received notice from Senator Pádraig Ó Céidigh of the following matter:

The need for the Minister of State with responsibility for Gaeilge, the Gaeltacht and the islands to provide an outline of the 20-year strategy for the Irish language 2010 – 2030, together with the actions taken to date in the delivery of this strategy.

I have also received notice from Senator Victor Boyhan of the following matter:

The need for the Minister for Health to outline the total number of persons on the current cataract waiting list and the waiting times involved; and when he intends to publish the primary eye care report.

I have also received notice from Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile of the following matter:

The need for the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade to outline the Government's position on the implementation of a rights-based, stand-alone Irish language Act in the North as agreed at St. Andrews.

I have also received notice from Senator Gerard P. Craughwell of the following matter:

The need for the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport to outline the plans he has to fully reinstate the Athenry to Claremorris line which was closed to passenger traffic in 1977 and, if it is to remain closed, his views on the use of the line for the development of a greenway.

I have also received notice from Senator Maria Byrne of the following matter:

The need for the Minister for Health to give consideration to providing medical cards to people aged over 66 who are caring for loved ones at home.

I have also received notice from Senator Martin Conway of the following matter:

The need for the Minister for Health to outline the present position in relation to the review of management structures and other matters at the ambulance service.

I have also received notice from Senator Frank Feighan of the following matter:

The need for the Minister of State with responsibility for mental health and older people to outline the plans underway to progress the planned new 90-bed unit at St. Patrick's Hospital in Carrick-on-Shannon and the new 50-bed unit at the Sacred Heart Hospital in Roscommon town following the announcement of capital funding for both projects in January 2016.

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

The need for the Minister for Health to make a statement in relation to threatened discontinuation of the youth counselling services being provided by Youth Work Ireland Galway, due to a lack of funding from the HSE.

I have also received notice from Senator Fintan Warfield of the following matter:

The need for the Minister for Education and Skills to outline his Department’s policy regarding the teaching of LGBT+ aspects of the social personal and health education, SPHE, and relationship and sex education, RSE, curriculums in schools.

I have also received notice from Senator Rose Conway-Walsh of the following matter:

The need for the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine to support native breeds of livestock, such as cattle, sheep, goat, pig, poultry, horse and pony, and for their greater regard in national policy and conservation measures.

I have also received notice from Senator Tim Lombard of the following matter:

To ask the Ministers for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, in light of the report on the cost of motor insurance, to initiate a review of the increasingly high cost of insurance for the agriculture and business sectors as to ensure insurance premiums remain affordable.

  I regard the matters raised by the Senators as suitable for discussion. I have selected the matters raised by Senators Mac Lochlainn, O’Donnell and Gallagher and they will be taken now. Senator Ó Céidigh has been selected but has subsequently withdrawn his Commencement matter.

  The other Senators may give notice on another day of the matters that they wish to raise.

Commencement Matters

Defective Building Materials

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan I understand Senator Mac Lochlainn is on his way.

  We cannot even allow the Senator to draw his breath. We are about six minutes through the eight minutes allocated. I ask him to outline his case as briefly as possible. I cannot allow supplementary questions on this. In fairness, Senator O'Donnell was kind enough to ask the Minister of State to wait, and the Minister of State has another appointment as well.

Senator Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn I thank the Minister of State.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan I know it is a very important issue for the Senator.

Senator Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn This matter was originally scheduled as the fourth Commencement matter. Obviously, that was rescheduled. I apologise to the Cathaoirleach. These things change quickly in here.

  The Minister now knows that the report that was recently published was delayed by a year. That is a year in which families in Donegal have had to endure more concern and more alarm as their homes are literally falling apart around them. There is not a week that goes by, particularly recently since the report has been published, in which I have not spoken to families, by either meeting them at their homes or speaking to them on the phone, who have taken me through the concerns they have. They are totally devastated.

  The report proves very clearly that there was a failure of State regulation and building control. If we look at the eight recommendations, they all focus on the need to make serious improvements in this area. We are now a year behind schedule in terms of the report. I appeal to the Minister of State to introduce a redress scheme for the families involved similar to the pyrite scheme in Dublin and north Leinster.  They are facing a situation whereby they are looking at their gables falling apart. I talked to a family who have Bison slab, concrete floor and another wooden floor above that. What are they to do in such a situation? They are worried that the roof could literally fall down over their heads. That is what people are facing right now. They have waited a year. This has been delayed because of the delay in the report.

  Similar to the pyrite situation, the Government needs to introduce a redress scheme to allow families to immediately bring in qualified engineers to assess the work that needs to be done on these houses and to put in place the resources to allow them to rebuild their homes and lives. Thousands of families are affected in Donegal. Hundreds of council homes are affected. I appeal to the Minister of State to urgently bring in a redress scheme to give hope to these families so that they can rebuild their homes and lives.

  I intend to share time in my subsequent contribution with Senator Conway-Walsh.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan We will allow Senator Conway-Walsh to raise a supplementary question. The Senator can come in after that. Today has gone skew-ways because another Minister of State could not come in earlier and we were waiting. The Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, Deputy English, has an appointment as well. We will allow you to come in, Senator.

Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Damien English): Information on Damien English Zoom on Damien English I understand that things can change. I am sorry that I could not wait any longer. We have some appointments booked up as well.

  I thank Senator Mac Lochlainn for raising this important issue - I recognise it as such. I thank Deputy Mac Lochlainn's colleagues in Donegal and Mayo as well. Colleagues across parties and in both Houses have been raising this issue with me directly during the past year since I took up this role, as have many others as well. The issue concerns many people and all sides want it to be sorted out.

  I wish to acknowledge the difficult and distressing situations that certain home owners in Donegal and Mayo are facing on account of damage to the structural integrity of their homes. I have seen some of these damaged homes first-hand and I have met the home owners in Donegal and Mayo, so I understand clearly the difficulties they face. I understand the hassle it has caused to their lives as well as the financial and health impacts in recent years since they have had to deal with this.

  I firmly believe that the parties responsible for poor workmanship and the supply of defective materials should face up to their responsibilities and take appropriate actions to provide remedies for the affected home owners in these cases and in other cases also. The expert panel on concrete blocks was established by my Department in 2016 to investigate problems that have emerged in the concrete block work of certain dwellings in counties Donegal and Mayo.

  I will outline the terms of reference of the panel. The first term was to identify, in so far as it is possible, the numbers of private dwellings that appear to be affected by defects in the block work in the counties of Donegal and Mayo. We now have a rough idea of numbers. We know the minimum numbers and also what the maximum would be in both counties. It is important that we have collected that data. The second term was to carry out a desktop study, which would include a consultation process with affected home owners, public representatives, local authorities, product manufacturers, building professionals, testing laboratories, industry stakeholders and other relevant parties, to establish the nature of the problem in the affected dwellings. That work is being carried out now. It is useful to help us provide the solutions that are needed as well. The next term was to outline a range of technical options for remediation and the means by which those technical options could be applied. Again, we have that information. Finally, the group was to submit a report within six months.

  I received the report of the expert panel on 6 June 2017. It is comprehensive and addresses all areas of the terms of reference. I published the report one week later on 13 June 2017. The report has eight recommendations. My Department has already taken action to implement recommendations one and two as priorities. Recommendation one relates to the testing and categorisation protocol. The Department met the National Standards Authority of Ireland recently to discuss the establishment of a technical committee to scope and fast-track the development of a standardised protocol. That is the first recommendation because it is most important to get the protocol right. I have dealt with these schemes in the past and it is important that part is dealt with; it will take away some of the grey area for home owners also.

  Recommendation two relates to competent professional oversight. My Department has been in contact with Engineers Ireland with regard to the establishment of a register of competent engineers for home owner affected parties' reference. Engineers Ireland provided assurance that the organisation will collaborate with the Department, NSAI and others on measures to establish such a register. Again, that is highly important and we will do it as quickly as we can. We are not delaying on these recommendations in any way.

  I fully appreciate and understand the urgency of this matter to the affected home owners and I will continue to monitor progress closely. We will meet the residents in both counties soon. In light of the information contained in the report, my Department and I are currently considering what further actions may be required to assist the parties directly involved in reaching a satisfactory resolution to the problems that have emerged in the two counties.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan I will allow Senator Conway-Walsh to raise a matter about her own county, Mayo.

Senator Rose Conway-Walsh: Information on Rose Conway-Walsh Zoom on Rose Conway-Walsh The Minister will know there are 345 homes affected in County Mayo. This is not good enough, not by a long shot. People want a redress scheme. They are grateful to the Minister for doing the report in the first instance, but all the language he has used today suggests that what people really need will be hidden behind these lines. We must face up to the fact that these home owners were let down. They were sold materials that were not fit for purpose. That was clearly stated in the report. The State had an obligation to protect them in that regard. We failed to do that. We failed to implement the legislation already there, and we failed to have the legislation that would further protect these home owners.

  Nothing short of a redress scheme will fix this problem. We can talk about it for years. We can write volumes of reports. That will not cut the mustard. We need a redress scheme, and we need it now. There are two ways we can get this scheme. As this is a housing issue, can the money needed be found within the amounts allocated to housing or will there be a line in the budget for a redress scheme? They are the two questions those of us in County Mayo, and in County Donegal, need answered. I thank my colleague, Senator Mac Lochlainn, for raising this important issue again, which we have been driving for over a year.

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English Zoom on Damien English Everyone here has been driving this issue for well over a year. I recognise that. It is cross-party, and I want to be clear on that. I am conscious of the effects in Donegal and Mayo. It would be wrong of anyone to try to claim this issue. People are being affected. It is not a political issue. I have met these people. I have told them that I will do my job to help them get a resolution. No one is claiming anything here.

Senator Rose Conway-Walsh: Information on Rose Conway-Walsh Zoom on Rose Conway-Walsh We would never do that because it is the home owners who are central to this issue.

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English Zoom on Damien English The residents I have met fully understand that. I met the Mica Action Group in Donegal and other groups in Mayo also. They understood that a report had to be done. We had to gather the evidence and get solutions. I have had it for a couple of weeks. We will deal with it. These people want to know that the houses will be fixed. I told them I will work with them on that, and that is as far we are going until I get a chance to go through the report and all the recommendations. I want to be clear on that. I only got it myself a few weeks ago, and the residents understand that. I will meet them in the coming weeks to discuss this with them. Where we can move on with recommendations, we will do that straight away, and we did that immediately with recommendations 1 and 2. That is the way we will continue with regard to the rest of the recommendations. They will be dealt with as urgently as possible and where I can make decisions, I will do so.

Senator Rose Conway-Walsh: Information on Rose Conway-Walsh Zoom on Rose Conway-Walsh When will it be put in place?

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan I want to acknowledge the Minister's indulgence when I know he is under pressure, and that of Senator O'Donnell, who was prepared to wait. The Minister of State, Deputy D'Arcy was here as well. Tá na laethanta saoire ag teacht, le cúnamh Dé.

Road Projects

Senator Kieran O'Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell The Cathaoirleach might let me know when I am coming to the end of my time.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan I will ring the bell when the Senator has 30 seconds left.

Senator Kieran O'Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell I welcome the Minister of State, Deputy D'Arcy, to the Chamber again. This issue is in connection with the mid-term review of the national capital investment plan. It is an issue I feel very strongly about. The review took place in the month of April. More particularly, at that time I held a public information meeting in the Great National South Court Hotel, Raheen, in Limerick city, on Tuesday, 18 April to encourage people to make submissions on the M20, which is the Limerick to Cork motorway. I regard it as the single most important piece of infrastructure Ireland needs. I would go so far as to say that without it, we cannot have balanced regional development. Dublin is bursting at the seams, so to speak. It is doing exceptionally well, but I am of the view that Dublin can only take so much capacity. We are a relatively small island, but if we cannot have motorway connection from Cork to Limerick to Galway, and we cannot get from, say, Cork to Limerick in an hour and Cork to Galway in two hours, we do not have balanced regional development.  The existing motorway from Limerick to Cork, in particular from Limerick to Mallow, is impossible to travel on. Anyone who knows it will know about the bottlenecks at Charleville and Buttevant, in particular down by the quarry. This matter is very much to the fore in people's minds, in particular in Limerick but also in Cork and everywhere along the western seaboard, including Galway, because we need to have connection. The Minister of State might indicate how the mid-term capital review is progressing, the anticipated timeframe for the collation of information, and where the M20 stands in this process.

  At the start of this year, the Minister, Deputy Shane Ross, agreed to my proposal to allocate €1 million to Transport Infrastructure Ireland, TII, formerly the National Roads Authority, to allow for the recommencement of planning work in respect of the M20. I thank him for that. The allocation has allowed TII to recommence planning, engage consultants and do the pre-planning work required before the main design feature gets under way. As we stand, no further time is being lost. The key element now is to ensure that when the mid-term capital review is complete, we can effectively get the planning and design phase under way for the M20 with immediate effect. We can do it on a staged basis. The part between Limerick and Mallow is the most critical. That is where considerable time is lost. We must ensure that the M20 project is commenced. The mid-term capital review last April was very welcome. There is considerable demand for the project in Limerick. Well over 200 people attended the public consultation meeting I held in the South Court Hotel on Tuesday, 18 April. What people now want to see is action.

  The Taoiseach is on record as saying he will look for this to be in place by 2023. That is extremely achievable but on the basis that the M20, the Limerick-Cork motorway, gets the green light under the mid-term capital review. We must see the design, route selection and construction taking place by 2023.

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Michael D'Arcy): Information on Michael D'Arcy Zoom on Michael D'Arcy The Programme for a Partnership Government committed to additional capital investment over the period of the capital plan to 2021, to be allocated on the basis of the outcome of a review of that plan. This review is ongoing. The process will guide and inform the decision by the Government on revised capital allocations made to Departments at budget time in October. The review is also an important input to the long-term ten-year capital plan, intended to be finalised before the end of the year. Submissions on the review and the additional funding available for allocation were sought from Departments in January 2017 and are currently under review by my Department.

  With regard to conducting the review of the capital plan, it is a matter for each Department in the first instance to identify its sectoral priorities and projects in its submission for any additional funding under the review. The recommendations made by each Department will play an important role in ensuring that the additional funding is aligned with priorities, in terms of overall economic and social returns from increased capital investment, for example. A public consultation process was also held in April to ascertain the views of the public and key stakeholders on what our national infrastructural priorities should be. This consultation also sought views on infrastructure investment priorities beyond the period of the capital plan. This will also help to formulate the longer-term ten-year plan.

  The assessment of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform of the submissions received as part of the review will be based on relevant evidence and research, such as on infrastructural capacity and demand analysis carried out by the Irish Government Economic and Evaluation Service. The Department is liaising closely with the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government in order to ensure close alignment with the emerging teams of the new national planning framework, due this year.  Alongside the capital review, a public investment management assessment, PIMA, is being carried out by the International Monetary Fund, IMF, this month. It will evaluates the design and effectiveness of the institutions which shape decision-making at the three key stages of the public investment cycle, namely, planning investment, the allocation of investment to the right sectors and implementing investment. The IMF's assessment will contribute to the analysis of the systems in place, the planning allocation and delivering on future infrastructure priorities in the context of the ten-year plan. All of this work being carried out by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform will ensure additional capital measures available will be targeted at priority capital infrastructure required to support Ireland’s medium-term growth potential and underpin social cohesion. It is expected the review process will be completed in quarter three of 2017 to enable the Government to make the final decisions in due course on how the remaining capital should be allocated

Senator Kieran O'Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell Does the Minister of State expect the review to take place before the announcement of the budget in October? If so, will it happen in September? Is the Government looking at various funding mechanisms for capital projects such as European Investment Bank funding? Will he outline the discussions taking place in that regard? How important is a project of the magnitude of the M20 Limerick-Cork motorway project in the Government's priorities in the context of balanced regional development?

Deputy Michael D'Arcy: Information on Michael D'Arcy Zoom on Michael D'Arcy There is a clear understanding and realisation the development of infrastructure of this type benefits sectors and regions. When speaking about my area of responsibility, financial services, it is important for the body politic to understand infrastructure development should be viewed not on a county by county but a regional basis. Anywhere there is an improvement in connectivity, whether it be broadband, motorways or rail services, a sector will improve. We understand this and are clear that these areas need to be improved. I personally would consider the M20 project as one of the priorities of the State. Two of the State’s largest urban areas are not connected with a motorway of a sufficient standard. However, I cannot predict what the dynamics of the review will be when it is concluded in quarter three this year, but I anticipate that the project will be one of the priorities. The importance of the motorway must be accepted.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan As the Minister of State travelled from Wexford yesterday evening, I am sure the extension of the M11, including the Enniscorthy bypass, was close to his heart. I could have done with a motorway yesterday coming from west Cork.

Deputy Michael D'Arcy: Information on Michael D'Arcy Zoom on Michael D'Arcy The Cathaoirleach will have one next year.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan I hope I will still be Cathaoirleach next year.

Public Sector Allowances

Senator Robbie Gallagher: Information on Robbie Gallagher Zoom on Robbie Gallagher I welcome the Minister of State. This is the first opportunity I have had to congratulate him on his promotion and wish him well in his new role.

  I refer to the new travel-mileage expenses rate which took effect for all public servants on 1 April this year. The new rate was negotiated by the Civil Service unions with the Department of Finance. It had the added dimension of the Haddington Road agreement in which the unions and employers came up with a new rate and method of calculating mileage expenses incurred by public servants. Across the public service those most acutely affected are members of State boards and county councillors.  I was disappointed to learn from those bodies that no consultation took place on this issue with the representative bodies, either the Local Authority Members Association, LAMA, or the Association of Irish Local Government, AILG.

  The new rate for travel expenses differs from the old one in that there are four different categories as opposed to two heretofore. One significant effect of the new rates is that for the first 1,500 km a year that a claimant might travel, the rate drops from 0.6088 per kilometre down to 0.4479 per kilometre which results on a return journey in a drop of approximately 26%.

  In practical terms, as I stated earlier, those most affected by this will be local authority members who would struggle to get up to 1,500 km through any group they might form part of, whether that be an education and training board, ETB, or a health fora. Members of the north-east health forum who would travel to a meeting in Kells would leave Monaghan town, for example, at 12 o'clock for a meeting at 2 p.m. and would not be back home again until 6 p.m. - that is six hours. Many of them will find it difficult to afford to be able to go to that type of meeting, which is disappointing bearing in mind that it is important, for example, on a health forum, that we have community voices heard. This makes it more difficult.

  I suppose a disappointing aspect of it as well is that when one considers this along with other cuts that local authority members have experienced in recent times, it makes the role of the county councillor that more difficult. Indeed, in my own constituency, Cavan-Monaghan, in the past couple of weeks we had two councillors resign purely because they are holding down full-time jobs and were finding it impossible to manage the two.

  It would be difficult to get a single arrangement with Revenue and whoever for county councillors on this issue, but I would ask if that could be looked at. More importantly, we need to look at the issue of terms and conditions for local authority members in the round, and this will form part of it. We need to make it more attractive for local authority members to carry on and not resign because we depend on them to be the voice of the community in the future.

Deputy Michael D'Arcy: Information on Michael D'Arcy Zoom on Michael D'Arcy The mileage rates are designed to reimburse an officer for the costs incurred in using his or her own car on official business. The rates are set based on a methodology agreed with the staff associations. The methodology takes account of both overhead costs, such as car cost and insurance, and also running costs such as fuel costs and maintenance.

  Under the Haddington Road agreement, a commitment was given to review the travel and subsistence arrangements in the public service. As part of this review, discussions on the motor mileage rates took place between Department officials and the staff associations from autumn 2015.

  As the Senator will be aware, the formula underpinning the motor mileage rates was reviewed this year with a view to reflecting increased efficiencies and improvements in motor technology. The revised rates are based on an agreed methodology that reflects changes in technology, road conditions, commuter behaviour and car ownership patterns.

  Some of the key changes of this review involved the following: an increase in the number of distance bands, from two to four, allowing a more nuanced reimbursement regime focused on officers who do significant work-related driving; a lower recoupment rate for the first 1,500 km; an increased recoupment rate from 1,501 km to 5,500 km focussed on officers who do such longer work-related driving; more beneficial reimbursement rates for cars with lower engine sizes and emissions; and the formula for calculating mileage now assumes an officer replaces his or her car every four years rather than every three years.

  This changed the way the mileage bands are structured. Under the previous system, officers moved to a lower mileage rate after they had travelled 4,000 miles. Part of the focus of the review was to ensure that those officers who undertake significant work-related driving are adequately compensated for using their own car for official business. In order to allow this, it was deemed necessary to designate an initial mileage period where recoupment costs were lower.

  In December 2016, Department officials and the staff associations met the adjudicator under the Civil Service conciliation and arbitration scheme to determine the upper threshold for the first distance band. The adjudicator determined that 1,500 km was appropriate.  This was accepted by the parties. Although the revised rates were introduced in April, it was agreed that mileage accumulated by officers from January to March could count in using the new banding system. As such, officers who accumulated mileage during the period would be closer to reaching band 2. The Senator may wish to note that the revised arrangements provide for more beneficial reimbursement rates for cars with lower engine sizes and emissions. For an officer driving a car with an engine size of less than 1,200 cc, there is only a nominal reduction of up to €16 per annum in comparison with previous rates.

  The Senator may wish to note that it is intended to review the motor travel rates after a period of three years in 2020.

Senator Robbie Gallagher: Information on Robbie Gallagher Zoom on Robbie Gallagher I thank the Minister of State for his response. I note that the rates will be up for review again in three years' time. If it is possible during that time, consultation with the two representative bodies for local authority members, the Local Authority Members Association and the Association of Irish Local Government, would be welcome. As I said, while I am sure it was not designed as such, those who struggle to reach 1,500 miles will be the worst affected. I, therefore, ask that, in the round, when the Minister of State is talking to his Government colleagues, the position of local authority members be kept in mind at all times.

Deputy Michael D'Arcy: Information on Michael D'Arcy Zoom on Michael D'Arcy I will certainly do that for the Senator.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan I thank the Minister of State and the Senator.

  Sitting suspended at 3.10 p.m. and resumed at 3.30 p.m.

Order of Business

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer The Order of Business is No. 42, motion 23 re Srebrenica massacre, to be taken at 4.45 p.m. and, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, to conclude no later than 5.45 p.m, with the time allocated to group spokespersons not to exceed seven minutes, the time allocated to the Minister not to exceed ten minutes and the proposing Senator's speech in reply not to exceed three minutes; No. 1, Rugby World Cup 2023 Bill 2017 - All Stages, to be taken at 5.45 p.m., with the time allocated to group spokespersons on Second Stage not to exceed eight minutes and all other Senators not to exceed five minutes, and the Minister to be given five minutes to reply to the debate, and with Committee and Remaining Stages to be taken immediately thereafter; No. 2, motion for the earlier signature of the Rugby World Cup 2023 Bill 2017, to be taken on the conclusion of No. 1, without debate; and No. 3, Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland (Amendment) Bill 2014 – Report and Final Stages, to be taken on the conclusion of No. 2.

Senator Catherine Ardagh: Information on Catherine Ardagh Zoom on Catherine Ardagh Before I commence, I would like to express my sympathies and those of the Fianna Fáil group in regard to what we learned last night about the fatal stabbing of a three year old boy in Poddle Park, Kimmage, and the injuries sustained by his mother, a 40 year old doctor.  No child or woman should suffer violence like this, and my heart goes out to the mother and her family. I hope that when the mother recovers she can shed some light on this absolute tragedy.

  I also wish to raise the issue of homeless women in this city. A recent study by Trinity College Dublin outlined that 42% of Ireland's adult homeless population are women. The Trinity College study described Ireland as having the most feminised homeless population in the EU. Alarmingly, it also concluded the picture is likely to be actually worse, as women tend to be less likely to register as homeless for fear of being stigmatised. The study also outlined that two thirds of homeless family households are headed by lone mothers. It outlines the Government's continued failure to address the housing crisis, and this highlights a certain aspect of Irish life. I ask that urgent action be taken to provide adequate housing for women and children in this city.

  I also wish to raise the staffing crisis in the Defence Forces. We see poor pay has forced many members out of the Defence Forces. On average, 60 personnel of all ranks leave the Defence Forces every month. Even with accelerated recruitment, it cannot keep up with the mass exodus of personnel. We have seen this pattern throughout the public service. We have seen the closure of beds in mental health units. We have also seen difficulty in recruiting consultants in hospitals.

  I call for a review of the recruitment and retention policies in the Defence Forces in particular and throughout the public sector generally. Some of the worries highlighted by a University of Limerick report included poor pay and conditions for members of the Defence Forces, a feeling of unfairness and worries about their career development, with many members of the Defence Forces taking on second jobs to survive, taking out loans and, in some cases, even applying for the family income supplement. It is an absolutely shocking and damning report and I ask the Minister of State, Deputy Kehoe, to address these issues as a matter of urgency.

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell I rise today on the issue the Fianna Fáil Party has just brought forward, namely, the matter regarding the Defence Forces. The Minister of State at the Department of Defence is on record as saying he has pride in our Defence Forces. I would like to know whether he is proud to preside over a force where an average of 60 personnel of all ranks leave every month. Does he believe the accelerated recruitment can compensate for the loss of experienced personnel?

  Perhaps the Leader can tell the Seanad where is the return on the State's investment in training military personnel when they walk out of barracks as quickly as they are trained to take better paid civilian jobs. I have said before in the House how an RTE journalist said Aldi was the place for commissioned officers to find a career when the Defence Forces was finished with them. Pay and conditions have been outrageous. Soldiers cannot afford to live on what they get, yet the Department of Defence returned €27 million last year. Soldiers are on family income supplement and some poor unfortunates must sleep on their ships because they cannot afford civilian accommodation.

  We speak about retaining pilots. We are told by the Government that at the end of this year eight pilots will come on stream. They will come on stream to fly single-engine aircraft and are of no value with regard to the Casa or helicopter service. They will not be trained for these types of aircraft for another five years.

  We speak about mental health well-being in every aspect of Irish life. Nobody seems to give a continental damn that private soldiers, not five miles from here out in Rathmines, live in what they now refer to as "Hotel Rwanda". I have seen the inside of these barracks and I have seen what they are like. With regard to human resource management, if this was the corporate world and the number of people were walking out as are leaving the forces right now, the senior managers in that organisation would be fired. We have a situation where young officers are posted at a moment's notice to anywhere in the country, without any regard for their family circumstances. We have bomb disposal officers on duty for up to 18 or 20 days a month. Is this any way to treat families? Is this any way to treat individuals? We have 11 bomb disposal officers where we have an establishment for 35. The 28th battalion in Donegal has one commandant acting as the commanding officer and one other commandant, and I believe it has two lieutenants.  Senior NCOs are not being promoted. An entire group is being seconded to promote the deficiency in NCOs. Is it any wonder privates are leaving the Defence Forces? The Minister of State, Deputy Kehoe, was in the Seanad recently for a debate on the Defence Forces. I am disgusted with what has been reported. The 2015 quantitative report is now backed up by a qualitative report. The Defence Forces is in crisis. Our last line of defence in this country is in crisis and nobody seems to give a continental damn.

  I understand that discussions are taking place today on participation of our Naval Service in Operation Sophia in the Mediterranean. Where does this leave our neutrality?

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris Hear, hear.

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell Where stands our neutrality in that regard? I read in the newspaper today that to allow for this, parts of our neutrality will be required to be set aside. Who gave the permission for this? I wish to propose an amendment to the Order of Business, that Minister of State, Deputy Kehoe, be brought before this House to explain where neutrality fits in with Operation Sophia.

Senator Rose Conway-Walsh: Information on Rose Conway-Walsh Zoom on Rose Conway-Walsh I ask that the Leader provide time for a debate on the summer economic statement. It is vital that Senators have an opportunity to discuss the statement in detail with the Minister for Finance, Deputy Donohoe, and examine the direction the Government is taking. The Minister, Deputy Donohoe, attended the Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach last week to discuss his meeting this week in Brussels. What concerns me is that the narrative being used to form economic policy is that we have almost reached full employment yet in the area I come from and in other areas in the west and rural Ireland in general, unemployment stands at over 30%. It is important we discuss this in terms of the economic statement.

  The current visit being undertaken by the IMF to advise on capital investment indicates that the Government now faces a choice between tax cuts and capital investment. Several groups and think tanks have openly asked for the Government to abandon the tax cuts agenda and focus on investment in key areas such as infrastructure and education. It is estimated that we are currently under-spending on capital investment by up to €3 billion per annum. Per capita spend on infrastructure between 2013 and 2016 was 86% of the European comparator group. We need massive investment in this area to make up for the years of neglect, especially in the west of Ireland. Sinn Féin has long argued for targeted investment to increase employment in the west so it is made more attractive for further investment. We have included many of these measures in our document, A New Deal for the West, which the Government is more than welcome to use as a guide.

  There are studies that point out that the lack of investment in basic infrastructure such as transport and communications can render other Government supports such as social welfare and pension payments insufficient. We have a road network in dire need of investment, which means major hospitals in the west remain many hours away by ambulance for those they serve. I invite anybody who is in any doubt about this to travel the R312, which is the road connecting the Erris Peninsula and Erris with the main hospital in Castlebar. I travelled it last week. There are so many parts of it in need of repair that by the time one gets from one end of it to the other one is physically sick.

  We need investment in infrastructure. Sinn Féin has a plan to ensure that we get the best return in this regard. Before the Leader responds, I would like to remind him-----

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan The Senator should not anticipate what the Leader might say.

Senator Rose Conway-Walsh: Information on Rose Conway-Walsh Zoom on Rose Conway-Walsh -----of the terms "fiscal space", "USC" and "U-turns".

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan I am sure the Leader will concur with the Senator.

Senator Colette Kelleher: Information on Colette Kelleher Zoom on Colette Kelleher I would like to move an amendment to the Order of Business, that No. 16 be taken before No. 1. No. 16 is a Bill to provide for refugees to apply for members of their families to reunite, enter and reside in the State. Given that there are 22 million refugees worldwide and in light of our commitment to support 4,000 people by the end of 2017, this is a very important issue and I hope the House will support this Bill.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan I thank the Senator for her brevity.

Senator Gerald Nash: Information on Gerald Nash Zoom on Gerald Nash Like Senator Craughwell and others, I am sometimes ashamed at the way we treat members of the Defence Forces in this country.  On countless occasions in recent years, in some cases predating the recession, I have met family members of Defence Forces personnel who are on the breadline, do not earn enough to make ends meet and believe they are not supported by the State. At a public meeting I organised in the centre of Dublin two weeks ago on the future of work I met the wives and partners of several members of the Defence Forces who are campaigning for better supports, incomes and treatment in general for their wives and partners. One way of doing this is to ensure members of the Defence Forces and their representative bodies have access to the Workplace Relations Commission, WRC, and, ultimately, the Labour Court because they do not have such access and there is a trend across Europe that suggests it is the right thing to do. Access to a labour relations commission is a human right across the world. A person has an entitlement to ensure he or she has such access to vindicate his or her rights in the workplace. That access to the labour relations machinery of the State to vindicate individual workplace rights would somehow put the security of the State at risk which is trotted out time and again is absolute nonsense. That has not been the case in any country in which such rights have been introduced. This issue was raised during the lifetime of the previous Government and pushed to a certain point. A review group has been set up to consider access rights to the WRC and the Labour Court for members of An Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces. I ask the Leader to update the House on when members of An Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces will receive the right to access the labour relations machinery of the State to have their individual workplace rights vindicated.

Senator Robbie Gallagher: Information on Robbie Gallagher Zoom on Robbie Gallagher I support the comments made by Members about the Defence Forces. The issue comes down to a lack of respect in the manner members of the Defence Forces are treated. I join other Members in asking that the Minister of State come to the House to address this very important issue as soon as possible.

  I raise the issue of the lack of GP cover in rural areas which, unfortunately, is back in the news today. A recent report, snippets of which I heard discussed, indicates that in coming years in counties such as Leitrim and Kilkenny, due to the retirement of existing GPs, the level of GP cover will be less than half what it is currently. The problem is replicated throughout the State, particularly in rural counties. With other Members, I have raised this issue previously in the House and it is now reaching the stage where it is of critical importance. All Members know that front-line primary care services are vitally important to ensure sick people will not end up in emergency departments. Unfortunately, people cannot access GPs in their area and are forced to go to emergency departments, thus adding to existing problems. I have personal experience of this. It is a very serious issue. Will the Leader request the Minister for Health to come to the House at the earliest opportunity to discuss and advise Members and the public of the measures he is introducing to address this matter which is of critical importance.

Senator Victor Boyhan: Information on Victor Boyhan Zoom on Victor Boyhan Today I attended the pre-budget information briefing given in Buswell's Hotel by Family Carers Ireland. It was very interesting and I undertook to share some points with Members. The message conveyed at the briefing was that three quarters of carers in the State received no Government subvention. Many who are engaged in education or part-time employment for over 15 hours a week are precluded from claiming carer's assistance or support, regardless of whether they are caring for their elderly mother or another member of their family. That is grossly unfair. Family Carers Ireland identified 53 key objectives it wanted politicians to pursue with the relevant stakeholders and Ministers.  They identified nine Departments where they want politicians to pursue and address issues. I will not elaborate much further, suffice to say that these were identified as follows: 17 key issues relating to employment under the Department of Social Protection; 18 key issues under the HSE and the Department of Health; five key issues under the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government; five issues under the Department of Education and Skills; three issues under the Department of Children and Youth Affairs; one key target - simply one - under the Department of Justice and Equality to address with the Minister; one key target under the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation; and two issues in the Department of Finance. Their requests are more than reasonable. It is about putting resources into supporting, helping and caring for people in their homes, where the majority of people want to stay unless reliance on hospitals and institutional care is needed. I believe this to be a reasonable request and I ask everyone to take the time this week to look at their pre-budget submission. It is important and worthy of support.

Senator Paul Gavan: Information on Paul Gavan Zoom on Paul Gavan I second my colleague, Senator Craughwell's proposal to invite the Minister to the House regarding Operation Sophia. I was also going to raise this issue and our party's grave concerns. Operation Sophia is an EU military mission under the guise of the Common Security and Defence Policy, CSDP, of the European Union. The primary stated objective is to target and stop gangs using vessels for human trafficking, mainly from Libya. It has, however, a much greater remit than that. Phase two, which is now under way, includes the training of Libyan coastguards to capture refugees who are fleeing their war-torn countries, and throwing them in to so-called migrant detention centres. It has a third phase that would mandate the participating countries, if necessary, to take military action in Libyan waters and on Libyan soil.

  These detention centres have been proven and documented to violate the human rights of those imprisoned in them. The Libyan coastguards who are being trained have been guilty not only of abusing refugees, but also of firing live rounds into overloaded boats of refugees. Pushing refugees who seek asylum into such centres by military force is a human rights violation and morally disgusting. We should play no role in this matter.

  Currently, Naval Service missions in the Mediterranean Sea operate under a purely humanitarian search and rescue mission remit. Over the past two years Naval Service personnel have rescued almost 16,000 people in the south of the Mediterranean Sea. This is outstanding work, of which we can be proud. That is, however, as far as our intervention must go. We cannot allow the EU to undermine Ireland's neutrality and we must stand against any further militarisation of the EU and any forerunner to the creation of an EU army. Operation Sophia is a military response to a humanitarian problem and it will not solve anything. We must continue our search and rescue missions and significantly increase the relocation and settlement of refugees in Ireland. I call on the Minister of State to come to the House immediately to debate this.

Senator Frances Black: Information on Frances Black Zoom on Frances Black I wish to offer condolences on the passing away of the little three-year old boy, to his mother and to the family. It is devastating.

  I want to speak today on the broadcasting of our national games. One of the great organisations in the State is the GAA. The pleasure given to the population from wonderful hurling and football matches is immense. When a county is doing well, the mood of the people is lifted. On RTE last weekend, the former Offaly hurler and GAA pundit, Michael Duignan, made the point that his father was not able to access the Waterford versus Kilkenny hurling match because it was on Sky TV. The argument can be made that the Sky deal brings in extra revenue to the GAA and increases the exposure of these great games. It must also be borne in mind that as an organisation the GAA relies on unpaid volunteers who give up their time to foster the games. Some grassroots reporters and volunteers cannot afford to pay for Sky Sports. It could be argued that people can go to the local pub to watch these games but this is not always possible as some rural pubs in particular cannot afford the fees charged by Sky. Young children who are the players and stars of the future should be able to see their heroes on television and not have to go to a pub to see them. Given that the deal with Sky TV runs until 2022, I believe that GAA clubs all over the State should show all the Sky games in an alcohol free setting so that children and families can also enjoy these occasions. It is such a shame that some people are denied the opportunity to see their national games on television because of lack of money.  This needs to be addressed as our unique culture should be made available to all our citizens.

  I also want to ask the Leader again about the recognition of Palestine. When are we going to have the debate? We could invite the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade before the House. We must try to have that debate as soon as possible.

Senator Kieran O'Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell I want to raise the issue of motor insurance and Setanta Insurance. At the finance committee, of which I am a member, I asked that we seek the liquidators of Setanta Insurance to come before the committee. I believe there is a general worry and legitimate concern that many of the insurance companies have already factored the whole issue of Setanta into their pricing over the past year. It has now arisen that they are not required to pay. We might ask the Minister for Finance to come before the House to update us on the motor insurance industry. We cannot have a situation in a year's time in which we find that the motor insurance industry has made exorbitant profits over the course of the year. That could happen. It is something that cannot be allowed to happen. An industry is entitled to be sustainable. However, an industry is not entitled to make crazy profits on the back of ordinary citizens.

  I spoke to an older person last week. I will not call him an old age pensioner. His car insurance had increased from €700 to €1,200 overnight. That is replicated in many people we deal with. The problem is that the motor insurance industry is well used to manning the barricades, effectively dealing with pressure and taking the pressure. People then peel away and the companies charge the higher rates. I for one will not allow that to happen. We want the liquidators of Setanta to come before the finance committee. I hope they will accept that request. I would like the Minister for Finance to come before this House so that we can once again deal with an updated situation as to what exactly is the position regarding the regulation of the motor insurance industry. I have serious misgivings that embedded in the rates they are currently charging is super-profit. I do not want to look back in a year or two and find that was the case.

Senator Ned O'Sullivan: Information on Ned O'Sullivan Zoom on Ned O'Sullivan I have two brief items to bring to the attention of the Leader. They both relate to tourism, which as Members know is a huge contributor to the economy. In today's edition of The Irish Times, I note that the mandarins in the Department of Finance have approached the Minister, Deputy Paschal Donohoe, with a proposal to abolish the 9% VAT rate in the hospitality sector. The 9% VAT rate has been a huge boost for tourism for the hoteliers, restaurateurs and so on since it was introduced in 2011. We always understood that it could not last forever. However, this is certainly not the time to remove it. The indications so far of Brexit, particularly, and to a lesser extent the isolationist policies of the Trump Administration, are that tourism numbers are falling. I pointed out in a previous debate in the House that UK visitor numbers for the first quarter of this year are down by 7%. Anybody from the tourism counties such as Kerry or Dublin will know anecdotally that this is happening. The figures are now stacking up to prove it. Therefore, I believe this is most unfortunate timing.

  When I raised this issue before, Members rightly pointed out that there is a lot of underpaying and unsatisfactory pay levels at the low levels of the tourism sector. I am in full agreement with those comments and I do not want to stand over anything like that. However, we must remember that a lot of our hoteliers are ploughing their profits back into refurbishing their hotels and bars on a regular basis. There are hotels in Kerry that are demolished and recreated every number of years. That is why we are there offering facilities. I ask the Leader to ask the Minister for Finance to address that issue when he is next in the House.

  It was very disappointing to read that in a surveillance operation, the Garda detected a number of taxi drivers cheating their customers by taking scenic routes to prime destinations, such as from the city centre to the airport.  The fare for the journey from the city centre to the airport should not vary, or perhaps only by a couple of euro, depending on traffic conditions and so on. However, some of the drivers in question were charging up to double the normal fare. A small number were caught, but one suspects there are many more doing it. I raised the matter of taxi services in the House previously. No doubt, 99% of taxi drivers are decent and doing a fair day's work for a fair day's pay. However, there are rogues who do not know their job properly and do not care. There are drivers with dirty cabs. There are also drivers who do not have a word of English.

Senator Paul Gavan: Information on Paul Gavan Zoom on Paul Gavan The Senator should not say that.

Senator Ned O'Sullivan: Information on Ned O'Sullivan Zoom on Ned O'Sullivan There are drivers who have to use a satnav to get a person from here to the GPO.

Senator Fintan Warfield: Information on Fintan Warfield Zoom on Fintan Warfield Why use a satnav around Dublin?

Senator Ned O'Sullivan: Information on Ned O'Sullivan Zoom on Ned O'Sullivan I do not know. A driver had to use one to get me from here to the GPO and he could not understand a word I was saying.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris He has a difficulty in finding banks.

Senator Ned O'Sullivan: Information on Ned O'Sullivan Zoom on Ned O'Sullivan I do not know what my colleague is trying to say, but I stand over what I am saying. Certainly, 90% of taxi drivers provide a good service, but clearly there are bad eggs. I appeal to the Leader to ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport to get in touch with the taxi regulator. We had this debate a number of years ago and it is time we reopened it.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I join my colleagues who have objected to Irish military involvement in Operation Sophia. It is an erosion of our neutrality by stealth. It is a disgrace that the legislation is being introduced in the other House and I hope it will be roundly defeated.

  It is not good practice to rush a Bill through all Stages and I have always maintained this position. It is true of the Rugby World Cup Bill. I used to play rugby, but I would not now turn over in bed to watch a game of rugby or any other sport. I am not interested in watching them, but I understand there are people who are. I do not see any reason the Government should underwrite the bid to the tune of €200 million or spend €143 million on some other aspect of it. Why should the taxpayer pay? I do not see the logic in it. In any case, it is bad practice to rush a Bill through all Stages in one day. It is just a last minute intervention by the Minister with responsibility for tourism, trade and transport.

Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile: Information on Niall Ó Donnghaile Zoom on Niall Ó Donnghaile He also has responsibility for sport.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris Did I not say "sport"? I apologise. As Marian Finucane says, "and whatever you're having yourself."

Senator Colm Burke: Information on Colm Burke Zoom on Colm Burke I refer to the proposed legislation relating to the opt-out from organ donation. This matter has been debated time and again during the past five years and it is my understanding the legislation was to be introduced some time ago. I now understand it is going through the Cabinet. Has the Leader received any indication of the likely time when it will be introduced? The legislation is important, as we are way behind other jurisdictions when it comes to organ transplants. The idea behind the legislation is that people would have to register to opt out. I am raising this issue because the number on dialysis continues to increase and it represents a major cost to the State. On average, a person has to attend hospital on at least three occasions each week. There are over 250,000 attendances per annum. If there were more kidney transplants, the number of occasions on which people would have to attend hospital for dialysis would reduce drastically. Will the Leader outline to Senators whether it will be September or October before we are likely to see the legislation?

  Will the Leader indicate whether there is any proposal to sit during the month of August?

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer No.

Senator Colm Burke: Information on Colm Burke Zoom on Colm Burke In particular, the leader of the Fianna Fáil group might clarify the matter on the basis that on previous occasions, before the Leader's time, we were asked to come back in the middle of August. Has the Leader received any indication from any Member that we should sit during the month of August to discuss any matter?

Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh: Information on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh Zoom on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh Sílim gur smaoineamh an-mhaith é sin. Má tá chuile dhuine eile sa tír ag obair an méid sin seachtainí sa bhliain, ní fheicim cén fáth nach mbeadh muid ag obair níos faide.  I commend Senator Kelleher in particular on the Bill being brought forward and wholeheartedly support it. It is very important. We had a lot of razzmatazz and-----

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan Is the Senator seconding the amendment?

Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh: Information on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh Zoom on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh I am not. I think it has been seconded already, but I am happy to do that if it has not.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan I understand it has not been seconded.

Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh: Information on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh Zoom on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh I happily second the amendment to the Order of Business.

Senator Frances Black: Information on Frances Black Zoom on Frances Black I was going to second it before the end of the Order of Business.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan Sorry, Senator. You can only speak once. I am advised you should have done it when you spoke earlier.

Senator Frances Black: Information on Frances Black Zoom on Frances Black I was not aware of that.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan It has been seconded.

Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh: Information on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh Zoom on Trevor Ó Clochartaigh We had a lot of razzmatazz about the visit of President Trudeau last week, with the Taoiseach, the socks, the jogging, etc. I know the issue of the Irish in Canada and across the globe would have been raised.

  I had a meeting yesterday with Ciaran Staunton from the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, who told me there are still great frustrations about a lack of movement by the Government on quite a number of proposals that would have been in the diaspora policy, which was spearheaded at the time by the then Minister, Deputy Deenihan. He told me there are huge frustrations about difficulty people have in getting access to driver licences, which is causing very practical problems for the undocumented in the US, but there are also issues around people who want to come back. A report on Irish citizens who would like to come back to Ireland was to have been produced and published by the Department, but still has not been seen.

  I note also there has been very little talk about presidential voting rights since the new Taoiseach took office. There are rumblings around the House that he is not in favour of it and that the Minister of State, Deputy Phelan, whose Department would be overseeing the organisation of the register of electors, is not a great supporter of it. I would like the Leader to clarify if Government policy on presidential voting rights has changed. Could we have the relevant Minister in the House as soon as possible to discuss the diaspora issues, but also the issues of presidential voting rights, the progress that has been made in recent months to push towards that referendum, and when we can expect to see it? It is important that we send a signal to our Irish citizens abroad that the Government is serious about this issue, that it is being moved forward and that they will see it within the near future.

Senator Jennifer Murnane O'Connor: Information on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor Zoom on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor I want to speak about the Citizens' Assembly, which met this weekend, in terms of elderly people. I have had many concerns expressed in my clinic by people who had to retire at 65. They then claim jobseeker's benefit from the Department of Social Welfare, which is €188. However, until they actually turn 65 and transfer to the old age pension, which is €230, they are at the loss of €42. That is unacceptable.

  The decision by the Citizens' Assembly at the weekend, which was unanimous, was that elderly people should be given the option to retire. Those of us in this House need to address that. Some people might want to retire, but others might not. We are living longer. Our population is growing, so we need to give people that chance. The Minister should come into the House and address this issue. When the Citizens' Assembly addressed it, its members knew how serious it was because people are at the loss of a lot of money in the year they turn from 65 to 66. That is crucial. When people work all their life, they are entitled to their entitlements.

  I raise the issue of boundaries. In my area late last week, there was an accident on the Portlaoise Road, which is on the Carlow-Laois boundary. When the elderly gentleman rang Carlow Garda station, he was told he had to ring Abbeyleix Garda station, which is nearly an hour away. He was told by the person in Abbeyleix that there was only one Garda car available, which was in Errill, in Tipperary. It arrived three hours after the accident. The car the lady was in was written off. A garda did not come for three hours by which time there was a long backlog of traffic. There should be co-operation among all Garda stations. If an accident occurs within two minutes of a Garda station, the gardaí at that station should attend the accident. An elderly man had to direct traffic for nearly two hours. That is unacceptable. I call on the Minister to address that issue.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Rónán Mullen Zoom on Rónán Mullen What Senator Murnane O'Connor has said is very important. I would like the Minister of State with responsibility for mental health and older people to address this Chamber soon, perhaps addressing the Senator's issue as well as the one I raise now, which is that recent reports have continued to highlight stories of vulnerable or dependent older people who are being financially abused, very often by a family member, a relative or others they know who exert pressure on them and take their money or possessions.  A recent survey by the National Safeguarding Committee showed that financial abuse, along with psychological and physical abuse, is a significant problem affecting people aged over 65. It would be good to hear what the Minister intends to do to ensure older people are protected from the risks associated with financial abuse and how his Department is working with other State bodies to combat it.

  New data from census 2016, published in mid-June-----

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan I remind the Senator that there is Private Members' legislation before the House on that matter.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Rónán Mullen Zoom on Rónán Mullen Yes, but I believe the specific issue I am raising should be addressed in more detail by the Minister. New data from census 2016, published in mid-June, show there has been a 19% increase in the number of retired people in the country since 2011. This amounts to over 500,000 people. Retirees have spent their whole working lives investing in their families, communities and country. The State needs to be more proactive in supporting these retirees in future years, in particular to prevent financial abuse of those who are physically, mentally or emotionally challenged in later life.

  I call on staff working in financial institutions to act promptly if they suspect their older customers are being exploited through various transactions and also to act with more consideration towards older persons. The banks are altering their business models, eliminating cash and coin services and also cheque services if they get their way. They are often acting in major disregard of sections of the community. I do not wish to generalise too much but I have had the experience of dealing with retired persons who are utterly frustrated as they try to pay for their health insurance, for example. They are told cheques are not accepted anymore. The world is moving on according to a particular idea of the common good but it tends to be a very self-centred business and commercial idea of the common good. We have all been in banks where we have seen officials trying to answer the queries of an increasingly bewildered group who find the banks are just not receptive to their needs or attentive to them. We are dealing with an older population that is set to grow substantially. It does not comprise older persons exclusively but there is to be a rise from 12%, the current percentage of the population, to 22% by 2041. This is an issue for the upcoming Private Members' business but a wider discussion is needed in the House so we can pay attention to the issues in their entirety.

Senator Máire Devine: Information on Máire Devine Zoom on Máire Devine I express my condolences on yesterday's tragedy in the Kimmage area of Dublin South-Central. Councillor McHugh is on the ground there since yesterday assisting the shocked, bereaved community.

  The State's baby boom saw almost 64,000 live births recorded in 2016. That is 1.3 births per 1,000 members of the population, which means the highest natural rise in Europe. We have the lowest death rate, at 6.4 deaths per 1,000. We must be doing something right for the older person. In 2003, there was a population of 3.9 million, and this rose to 4.7 million last year. In the next decade, it is predicted there will be an extra million. We will number nearly 6 million but, taking in the North, there will be 8 million in total. If this trend continues, our working population will begin to struggle. We will not be able to provide essential services for the young and old, and we will have a complete breakdown of the inter-generational social contract.

  The report that emerged yesterday allows us to consider a new perspective on two particular aspects of health care services, one being maternity care and the other being the care of older people. With regard to maternity care, the midwives of Ireland, my Sinn Féin colleagues and I have been calling for the full implementation of the national maternity strategy so all maternity hospitals meet the Birthrate Plus standard.

  With regard to the care of older people, I commend my colleague Deputy Ó Caoláin on his submission entitled "How we best respond to the Challenges and Opportunities of an Ageing Population". It outlines what I describe. Pockets of knowledge on the facets of the problem of our baby boom and the ageing population are not enough. We must have a frank, clear and co-ordinated strategic response to our changing population so we can address issues such as health care, a possible deficit in the workforce, and the increasing demand for care for the elderly.  Will the Leader invite the Minister for Health to the Chamber to discuss these issues which will have a massive impact on us in the future?

Senator Martin Conway: Information on Martin Conway Zoom on Martin Conway I commend the Leas-Chathaoirleach on his handling of the important hearings of the Seanad Public Consultation Committee into mental health services which took place here over the past several Thursdays. As a member of the committee, I would also like to pay tribute to Senator Freeman. The engagement was positive. Hearing some of the challenges and difficulties, as well as the harrowing stories of what people have had to go through in respect of the health service, was difficult. In many ways, it is not serving us, in spite of all the resources pumped into it. It was an excellent exercise in what this Chamber can achieve.

  The report from these hearings, no more than other reports the Seanad Public Consultation Committee has issued, such as the one on farm safety in which I was heavily involved, will have an impact.

  I also commend the new Minister of State, Deputy Jim Daly, on his initiative in setting up an Oireachtas committee on mental health. In due course, we might get the new Minister of State to talk to us on the specifics of what he hopes this new Oireachtas committee on mental health will achieve. It is a new initiative which is useful. Now this Chamber has begun the conversation on mental health, albeit part of our report, we should continue that public engagement in the Seanad Chamber because it is an extremely important issue.

Senator Fintan Warfield: Information on Fintan Warfield Zoom on Fintan Warfield I hope the Leader will join with me in wishing Carl Corcoran, presenter of RTE Lyric FM's, "The Blue of the Night", greetings and well wishes as he departs his show, bringing to a conclusion a journey of almost ten years and beginning a new journey of future exciting musical challenges. If "The Blue of the Night" is anything to go by, Carl is an experienced musician, songwriter and promoter. He has introduced me, and wider audiences, to diverse Irish and international audiences. His penultimate show takes place this evening but the show will continue throughout the summer with guest presenters.

  In The Journal of Music, Carl Corcoran said:

It has been an honour to have been the conduit for the enjoyment and discovery of a wide range of repertoire - and to provide a platform for new music and new artists, both Irish and international - a task that I embraced with a passion … It is with sadness that I vacate the late-night seat but I look forward to moving on to various other projects within the music and broadcasting community and network. It’s not retirement - it’s a transition and an exciting journey.

  I know Seanad Éireann will join me in thanking Carl Corcoran for his public service on RTE Lyric FM and wishing him well.

Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile: Information on Niall Ó Donnghaile Zoom on Niall Ó Donnghaile I regret bringing us down from such high culture to a much more unfortunate topic. I want to draw the Leader’s and colleagues’ attention to the monstrosities being inflicted on communities across the North, quite substantially focused in and around the greater Belfast area. These monstrosities I refer to are often referred to as bonfires. They are more often than not referred to as expressions of culture. There is no doubt for many people in the Protestant, unionist and loyalist tradition in Ireland that they hold a dear and important place in their hearts as an expression of culture. We all know the longer traditional role of bonfires in our own Gaelic and pagan heritage on this island, as well as their symbolic importance and what they represented.

  What we have seen manifested in the streets over the past several years, however, really cannot be described than anything else than hate crimes. We have seen effigies, the Irish national flag and other flags placed on these bonfires. We have seen election posters placed on these bonfires, including one of our own Senator Rose Conway-Walsh. They had to go all the way to Mayo to get that poster.

  I am not raising this issue to be facetious or confrontational on the matter.  The reason I raise it here in this Chamber is because, over today, tomorrow and the longer summer months, officials from the Irish Government will be engaging with the PSNI and with loyalist and republican communities in regard to contentious parades. It is vitally important that officials from the Irish Government say to the loyalist representatives who they are dealing with, because, unfortunately, unionist politicians have gone to ground, that this is not good enough. It is not good enough to engage with the Irish Government, receive funding from the Irish Government for community and reconciliation projects but then go and burn the Irish national flag and try to pass that off as culture. It is not culture, it is anti-culture. It is hate crime. It is important that the PSNI treat it accordingly and that a clear loud message goes from this House that the Members of the Oireachtas are encouraging officials from the Irish Government who are responsible to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, that we are watching, that we do not think it is acceptable or tolerable in 2017 and that the PSNI should act.

  In case I do not get the chance, I wish County Down all the very best in the Ulster final on Sunday - a real expression of culture.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan I thank Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile. Does Senator Feighan want to say something?

Senator Frank Feighan: Information on Frank Feighan Zoom on Frank Feighan I would like to congratulate Roscommon on winning the Connacht final, if that is okay.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan Maybe it is time to call on the Leader-----

Senator Frank Feighan: Information on Frank Feighan Zoom on Frank Feighan We could be playing Down in the all-Ireland.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan With respect, it is time to call on the Leader to respond.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer I thank the 21 Members of the House for their contributions.

  I will begin by joining the Senators in offering our condolences to the family of the young child tragically killed in Kimmage. I hope and pray that the mother of that child who herself was attacked is on the road to recovery. It is important we recognise there is an investigation ongoing. I extend our sympathies to the families involved.

  Senators Ardagh, Craughwell, Gallagher, Gavan, Nash and Norris raised matters regarding the Defence Forces. There are two parts to it. First, I will put on the record of the House that in the Minister of State, Deputy Kehoe, we have a Minister with responsibility for Defence who is very proactive, who is very engaged and who takes immense pride in his job as Minister of State with responsibility for Defence and in the Defence Forces themselves, and I thank him for that. It is important also that I put on record today in this House that each one of us understands, acknowledges and pays tribute to the men and women of the Defence Forces and, in recognising the immense work they do both at home and abroad, it is important that we see a continuation of the rights and conditions of employment, and residency, of members of the Defence Forces.

  The Minister of State, Deputy Kehoe, is meeting representative associations this week. The Minister of State has also been actively involved with the management of the Defence Forces. As Members will be fully aware, pay restoration is continuing for members of the public service and, as Senator Craughwell knows well, public sector pay is governed by collective agreement, negotiation and bargaining, and PDFORRA signed up to that. On living conditions, we have seen an increase in funding for capital investment and I accept that there is much to do and there is a journey to take.

  The Defence Forces Chief of Staff received Government approval for participation in Operation Sophia. As Members will be aware, Operation Sophia is subject to the triple lock. Tomorrow, in Dáil Éireann, there will be a debate on the matter. It would have no effect on our neutrality whatsoever. It is a UN-mandated operation. To reassure Senator Craughwell and other Members who have raised it, it is UN-mandated, it receives Government approval and Dáil approval.

  I have put in a request to the Minister of State, Deputy Kehoe, to come to the House.  While he is not available today or tomorrow, I am endeavouring to have the Minister of State come to the House next week. I ask Senator Craughwell in the context of his amendment to allow me to try to have the Minister of State come to the House next week. It is fair to say the report issued is one we must all take seriously, but as the Senator knows, Operation Sophia was launched in June 2015 as part of the EU's broader action to provide a bigger and broader European response to the issue of migration and the refugee crisis. We have seen the way our Defence Forces, in the deployment to the Mediterranean, have operated and saved so many lives. With the Senator's indulgence, if he will allow me to try to endeavour to have the Minister come to the House, I will do that next week.

  Senator Ardagh also raised the issue of the Women's Homelessness in Europe report. We should not take solace in any report that either highlights, admonishes or calls for more action regarding the issue of homelessness. The Government has prioritised Rebuilding Ireland. It is the platform on which Ireland will tackle its housing crisis. We all accept that Rebuilding Ireland will take time, but in saying that, it is also worth outlining to the House that we have seen 830 families exit from commercial hotels and bed and breakfasts, and 405 families have been prevented from entering these types of arrangements. It is important to recognise that under this Government, we have seen domestic violence legislation, which has prioritised the personal safety of women over property, and we have seen the issue of barring orders being changed. I accept, as Senator Devine also referenced with regard to the national maternity strategy, there is a journey to take.

  The Government is committed to Rebuilding Ireland. The Minister, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, has allocated a further €10 million for additional family hubs to be provided, which will allow for 200 families to be accommodated. All of us aspire to and want to reach a situation where nobody is homeless or living in a hotel or bed and breakfast. While the figures remain stubbornly high, this is a priority for Government. It is the only Department with a multi-annual budget. It has had the largest amount of money ever allocated for the provision of housing. That is the Government's priority. The Minister, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, at the behest of the Taoiseach, is carrying out a review of aspects of Rebuilding Ireland, and if changes need to be made, he will make them. We will certainly have the debate again in the autumn, but I would certainly be happy to have the Minister apprise us of the situation in the House.

  Senator Rose Conway-Walsh raised the issue of the summer economic statement. It is my intention to provide for a debate next week in the House with regard to the summer economic statement. The Government is committed to ensuring that we have a mix of prudent management of the economy with a relief on taxation and investment in infrastructure. The fiscal strategy of the Government is very transparent, as outlined by the Minister, Deputy Paschal Donohoe, and previously by the former Minister, Deputy Michael Noonan. I look forward to that debate next week in the House. The summer economic statement will be the central plank of the reformed budgetary process, providing a policy background for discussion of options in advance of the budget, and it would be an opportunity for Members of this House to have their budgetary provisions tested, costed and debated. I look forward to seeing the figures from Sinn Féin and its taxation policy coming under scrutiny.

Senator Máire Devine: Information on Máire Devine Zoom on Máire Devine Ours? What about the Senator's partners?

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer I cannot wait to see how Sinn Féin balances the books.

Senator Máire Devine: Information on Máire Devine Zoom on Máire Devine It is better than the Senator's.

Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile: Information on Niall Ó Donnghaile Zoom on Niall Ó Donnghaile It will all be fully costed.

Senator Máire Devine: Information on Máire Devine Zoom on Máire Devine We are confident.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer I know that Aladdin's cave is sometimes a great place to be, but the Senator cannot keep writing to Santa every year. It is a question of being responsible as well.

Senator Máire Devine: Information on Máire Devine Zoom on Máire Devine On a point of order, Senator Buttimer has gone off subject.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan Senator Devine has a point of order.

Senator Máire Devine: Information on Máire Devine Zoom on Máire Devine That did not arise as a subject. The Senator just likes to get a dig in every now and then.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan I ask Senator Devine for order.

Senator Máire Devine: Information on Máire Devine Zoom on Máire Devine Senator Buttimer is a bit defensive about our budgetary submission, which is excellent, if I may say so.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan I ask Senator Devine for order. I am afraid that while her smile is appealing, that is not a point of order.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer I am amused at the defensive nature of Senator Devine.  Me thinks she doth protest too much. For the Senator's information, her party leader raised the summer economic statement and I am replying to that.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan We cannot discuss that now.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer I am replying to that. She also referred to a number of issues to which I am also replying. If my reply does not suit her, that is not for me to say but I look forward to her party having its costed economic proposals-----

Senator Máire Devine: Information on Máire Devine Zoom on Máire Devine They are always costed.

Senator Fintan Warfield: Information on Fintan Warfield Zoom on Fintan Warfield They are held to account.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer I know the Senator's party is a high tax party and it tries to play the card for everybody.

Senator Máire Devine: Information on Máire Devine Zoom on Máire Devine No.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer Some day, the three card trick does not work.

Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile: Information on Niall Ó Donnghaile Zoom on Niall Ó Donnghaile It is just for the many not the few.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer They will be a bit like the fellows in Cahirmee this week. They will get caught out sometime.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan Please.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer We look forward to their fiscal projections and seeing how they can balance the books-----

Senator Máire Devine: Information on Máire Devine Zoom on Máire Devine Oh my God.

(Interruptions).

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan Sorry, Leader.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer -----while at the same time, continuing the Government's great economic policy of having more people back at work, something the Sinn Féin Members have never congratulated us on.

Senator Máire Devine: Information on Máire Devine Zoom on Máire Devine The Leader should not point his finger at me.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer Something they have never done.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan We will have that debate another day, please, Leader.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer I look forward to that.

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell Congratulations to the Leader if he is hurting.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan Now, now, Senator Craughwell.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer I will accept Senator Kelleher's proposal. Senator Gallagher raised GP cover for rural areas. I would be happy for the Minister to come to the House. The ten-year health strategy has been published and we will have to wait for a debate on that. We need to look at how we can change the health landscape in the context of an evolving Ireland. A new Department responsible for rural Ireland is being created and that is something we can also debate.

  Senator Boyhan raised the issue of family carers, and commended them on their tremendous work in keeping more people at home. I would be happy for the Minister, Deputy Regina Doherty, came to the House to discuss this.

  Senator Black mentioned Cumann Lúthchleas Gael's decision to give rights to Sky for some of its matches. That is a debate that must return to. I am a member of Cumann Lúthchleas Gael and was on its marketing committee when we looked at all matters related to the GAA. It is regrettable that we are in a situation where some matches are not on terrestrial television. It means a smaller audience is able to watch it. I accept the GAA needs to be able to make money on a commercial basis, but it is regrettable that some of the championship matches, such as the one between Waterford and Kilkenny last Saturday night, were unavailable to people. It is something the GAA will return to. Senator Black also referred to people having to go to public houses or other places where alcohol is served in order to see the games. Having venues where no alcohol is sold is something that we might look at as a society. I appreciate Senator Black has been a champion in this House of alternatives to alcohol.

  The Minister, Deputy Coveney, is in Israel this week and is not available but I would be happy to have that debate as soon as possible.

  Senator Kieran O'Donnell raised the motor insurance industry. He made a good point that the industry is good at fobbing people off, and wearing them down until they pay a higher price. When he was Minister of State in the Department of Finance, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, had action points arising from the working group on insurance. Senator O'Donnell is correct that there needs to be fair play from the insurance companies and we must ensure that they are held to account.

  Senator Grace O'Sullivan referred to the report this morning about the tourism industry which enjoys a 9% VAT rate. The Senator knows it was a catalyst in terms of kick-starting the economy and it was put in place by the last Government. It led to significant growth in employment and allowed for an increase in visitor numbers. She is partly correct that because of Brexit and the policies of President Trump visitor numbers have fallen but we must also ask if we are giving value for money. In this city, there has been an exponential increase in prices for accommodation and food.  On certain occasions all over the country there is a rip-off of people on the cost of hotel beds, whether it be for a concert, a match or whatever else. I will have no difficulty in scheduling a debate on the abuse that takes place in the hospitality industry. It is important, however, that we have a wider debate, as the Senator rightly said, with reference to the small hotelier, small restaurateur and the small shopkeeper who do not exploit or try to take advantage of such events. This is about ensuring a just and fair price. It is regrettable if a minority rip off customers. I would never want us to return to the days of rip-off Ireland when people were charged an arm and a leg to stay in certain hotels. I acknowledge that the Senator shares this view and hope we can the debate the issue in discussing the summer economic statement next week.

  The Senator was also correct to highlight the activities of rogue taxi drivers who, although in a minority, charge excess fares. We must give credit to the majority of taxi drivers who provide an excellent service for charging a fair and just fee.

  Senator David Norris made reference to the Rugby World Cup. As he will be well aware, it is not the form of this Leader to ram Bills through the House and debate all Stages at once, but this legislation is important for us a nation. In the context of what happened last weekend in New Zealand and the IRFU being an all-Ireland body, under which we can all play similar to Cumann Lúthchleas Gael, it is imperative that we support the bid to host the Rugby World Cup. I am happy to support it and every Member should do so. As I said, it is not the norm to take all Stages of a Bill at once, but this is exceptional.

  Senator Colm Burke raised the issue of organ donation. With me, he was an important member of the previous health committee which recommended legislative change on the issue. I very much herald the announcement made by the Minister for Health-----

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Rónán Mullen Zoom on Rónán Mullen As was former Senator Fergal Quinn.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer He was not a member of the committee.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Rónán Mullen Zoom on Rónán Mullen He brought forward a Private Members' Bill.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer I acknowledge that, but the committee I chaired, of which Senator Colm Burke was a member, did some significant work.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Rónán Mullen Zoom on Rónán Mullen Yes, for which great credit is due to it.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer It is important that a policy change take place. It is my understanding the Minister was to bring the Bill to the Cabinet this morning. I would welcome the putting in place of the infrastructure to see the legislation passed. As Senator Colm Burke rightly said, there has been an increase in the number on dialysis. Costs have also increased.

  I reassure Members that it is not my intention to bring them back in August. Perhaps Fianna Fáil Members might put a gag on Senator Mark Daly in that month-----

Senator Mark Daly: Information on Mark Daly Zoom on Mark Daly My recall motion was related to the issue of organ donation and it made a difference.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer -----or send him to Hawaii or Inishvickillane where he could reflect on the political world.

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell That is outrageous.

Senator Mark Daly: Information on Mark Daly Zoom on Mark Daly I am glad that I changed Government policy.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer I do not want Members to be brought back in August.

Senator Mark Daly: Information on Mark Daly Zoom on Mark Daly I do not know if we would have a place to sit.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer I am not sure it would be in the interests of our health and well-being.

  Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh referred to voting rights in presidential elections. To the best of my knowledge, Government policy has not changed. To his credit, the Taoiseach has appointed Deputy Ciarán Cannon as Minister of State with responsibility for the diaspora to continue the work of the previous Ministers of State, Deputy Joe McHugh and former Deputy Jimmy Deenihan. Ours was the first Government to appoint a Minister of State with responsibility for the diaspora. In addition, the Taoiseach has appointed Deputy John Deasy as a special envoy to the US Congress, with a particular focus on issues related to the undocumented Irish in the United States. The previous Taoiseach, Deputy Enda Kenny, appointed our good friend and colleague, Senator Billy Lawless, as a representative also. Good and positive energy is developing. To be fair to Senator Mark Daly, he has been influential and very involved. It is important that all Members, in working with the Government, raise the issue of the undocumented Irish and address the fear expressed in the recent RTE documentary and as articulated eloquently by Senator Billy Lawless in the House on many occasions. We have a duty to ensure immigration reform in the United States. It is a difficult time to try to achieve it, but it is important that we work collectively to ensure a result.

  Senator Jennifer Murnane O'Connor referred to the Citizens' Assembly. I was happy when the Fine Gael LGBT group made a submission on the need to support the elderly, given that people are living longer.  The Senator raises a good point and we will have that debate in the House. Garda Síochána operational matters are a matter for the Garda and I will not get into the matter the Senator raised. It is important for common sense to apply to how people respond to accidents.

  Senator Máire Devine also raised the issue of maternity services and our ageing population. I will be happy to have the Minister come to the House. The Minister, Deputy Harris, is committed to the implementation of the national maternity strategy. It is important we recognise the importance of our elders, the contribution they have made to society and the need for all of us to make sure there is proper policy around that.

  Senator Mullen made reference to our elderly and the issue of them dealing with banks, financial services and a compendium of other bodies. I agree with the Senator that it is the pace of change that is frightening people rather than the change itself. For me, going into a teller-free bank is a daunting enough proposition but for people who are elderly trying to navigate the machines, punching in codes or numbers, whether a VHI number or telephone number, is off-putting. There is an obligation on the banks and other companies to slow down a small bit and work with people to give them an opportunity to participate. Our elders are very willing to accept and embrace change but it is the pace of change, which the Senator makes reference to, that is an issue. I fully agree with Senator Mullen. There are a number of banks in Cork city where there are no cashiers and there are others where, when people walk in, they are ushered to a machine. It is important. It is equally as off-putting when one dials a number and has to push button one, button two, button three and before one gets to button four, one is back to button one. It is hard for people who are trying to navigate. It is important that people communicate and do so with sensitivity. I accept the Senator's point on that.

  Senator Conway made reference to the issue of mental health. I commend the Leas-Chathaoirleach on his stewardship of the Seanad Public Consultation Committee and thank all Members who participated on it. I missed last week's meeting but from reading the testimonies in the reports and coverage it was a very worthwhile exercise. We look forward to the report coming forward. Any work on a cross-party basis to promote mental health and to have a platform with a blueprint or roadmap arising from it is welcome. There is a proposal to come before the Dáil business committee which will come to our CPP. I look forward to all of us in the House embracing it because the issue of mental health is one that transcends all political parties and all socioeconomic classes and which affects all parts of the country. It is by working together that we can bring about change. That is for the common good.

  Senator Warfield referenced the impending retirement and departure of Carl Corcoran. I join with the Senator in congratulating and thanking him for his decade long tenure in promoting new Irish artists and international artists. The work being done by him and other presenters - I am thinking of John Creedon on RTE Radio 1 - illustrates the importance of the licence fee that is being collected by the State. All of us wish Carl Corcoran of "The Blue of the Night" well. I will digress for a moment and also wish Marcus Connaughton well. He retired as the presenter of the "Seascapes" programme which was another example of excellent public service broadcasting for the maritime community.

  Senator Ó Donnghaile made reference to tomorrow being 12 July and the bonfires that will be lit in the North of our country. We do not support the burning of effigies or flags but, in recognising the traditions in the North of our country, it is important that we all mutually respect each other and live together. That has always been my practice as a Member of this House and as somebody who aspires to a United Ireland. We must recognise the importance of both traditions but it is important that there is meaningful engagement regarding talks around flags and parades by all sides. That is why I hope we will see a return to devolved Government in the North as soon as possible.

  I thank Senator Feighan and Ó Donnghaile for congratulating Roscommon and wishing Down well.  I want to commend the Cork hurlers for last Sunday as well.

Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile: Information on Niall Ó Donnghaile Zoom on Niall Ó Donnghaile Up the Rebels.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer If Senator Craughwell will accept my bona fides, I will endeavour to get a date from the Minister in regard to his request.

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell In reply to the Leader-----

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan I will call the Senator shortly. He is jumping the gun. Senator Craughwell has proposed an amendment to the Order of Business, "That a debate with the Minister of State at the Department of Defence, having regard to the policy of neutrality, on the nature of the role of the Naval Service in Operation Sophia be taken today". Is the amendment being pressed?

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell I really want the Minister of State in here but I will not play politics with this as it is too important. I find it deeply regrettable that when the Leader answers these issues, he takes every opportunity to defend the Minister and the Government, which is rather sad.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan Senator, I am merely asking if you are pressing the amendment.

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell I am prepared to agree with the Leader and defer it until next week but I want it dealt with next week.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan It is withdrawn by leave of the House. Is that agreed? Agreed.

  Senator Colette Kelleher has proposed an amendment to the Order of Business, "That No. 16 be taken before No. 1". The Leader has indicated he is prepared to accept the amendment. Is the amendment agreed? Agreed.

  Order of Business, as amended, agreed to.

Business of Seanad

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan I call on Senator Colette Kelleher to move that leave be given to introduce the International Protection (Family Reunification) (Amendment) Bill 2017.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I am happy to move that on behalf of my colleague.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan As Senator Kelleher is not present to move the motion, we will move on.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins But I am-----

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan We cannot do that. Senator Kelleher will have to move it herself and she is not here.

Srebrenica Massacre: Motion

Senator Frank Feighan: Information on Frank Feighan Zoom on Frank Feighan I move:

“That Seanad Éireann:

- remembers the 22nd anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre where more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were killed by Bosnian Serb forces in 1995; and

- uses this opportunity to learn about the challenges that people in Srebrenica face in moving on from the genocide in a spirit of reconciliation to make a better future for all communities.”

I wish to share time with Senator Neale Richmond.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan Is that agreed? Agreed.

Senator Frank Feighan: Information on Frank Feighan Zoom on Frank Feighan I am very pleased the Minister of State, Deputy Ciarán Cannon, is present. He follows in the footsteps of the Minister, Deputy Charles Flanagan, the then Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, who marked the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide two years ago. I also want to welcome the members of the Bosnian community who are in the Visitors Gallery along with Peter Osborne and Bronagh Catibusic from the Remembering Srebrenica charity. For those who are not aware, Remembering Srebrenica's work is targeted at tackling hatred and intolerance in order to build a better, safer and more cohesive society for everyone.

  Today we solemnly mark the 22nd anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia-Herzegovina. That horrific atrocity saw more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys killed. It is the single greatest atrocity in Europe since the Second World War and remains a brutal reminder of man's inhumanity to man. As we mark today's anniversary, we stand with members of the Bosnian community in Ireland in remembering those killed and acknowledge the loss of their family members and loved ones.   We applaud the work of those involved in the pursuit of justice for the victims and their surviving relatives, including the International Commission on Missing Persons and the Mothers of Srebrenica, the courage and humility of which in the face of unthinkable horror are an inspiration to us all.

  On behalf of all Senators, I commend the work of the charity Remembering Srebrenica. Through learning the lessons of Srebrenica, the UK charity teaches current and future generations about the consequences of hatred and intolerance in all communities. Through raising awareness of this tragic and preventable genocide and working in communities, including in Ireland, North and South, the charity continues to help communities to learn the lessons of Srebrenica. In 2016, for example, it worked with volunteers throughout the United Kingdom to honour the memory of the victims, survivors and families at more than 400 memorial events involving 50,000 people. Its educational initiatives have reached 32,000 children since their launch in 2015.

  We all support the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the wider region in their efforts to build a sustainable peace and achieve economic and social progress. In this context, I acknowledge Ireland's commitment to a European perspective on Bosnia and Herzegovina, with other countries of the western Balkans. From speaking closely to members of the Bosnian community in Ireland, I am very aware of their deep appreciation of Seanad Éireann and its Members for commemorating the 22nd anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide. The Bosnian community here wants to fully recognise the wider contribution Ireland has made in commemorating that awful event. As a concerted response to the war in Bosnia in the 1990s, Ireland accepted more than 1,000 Bosnian refugees through a resettlement programme, many of whom had been ethnically cleansed from parts of eastern Bosnia, including Srebrenica, while some of them had survived the horrors of the Srebrenica genocide. The Bosnian community in Ireland has been active for many years in commemorating the massacre and seeking justice for the victims of the genocide and other atrocities which occurred in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1990s. I am also aware that the Bosnian community deeply appreciates the cross-party political support it has received in Ireland, including in 2015, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the massacre.

  This year the theme of the Srebrenica commemoration is "gender and genocide", recognising the courage and strength of Bosnian women who have been at the forefront of efforts to ensure the world will absolutely remember what happened in Srebrenica. We must remember that among the victims were 15,000 to 20,000 Bosnian women and girls, some as young as 12 years, who were subjected to sexual violence. The exact number of victims is not known because the majority have remained silent because of stigma, shame and fear. In Ireland Bosnian women have played a key role in raising awareness of what happened in Bosnia through organising memorial events, informing Irish people of their country and fostering an intercultural understanding. Yesterday in Belfast, for example, Remembering Srebrenica held a special commemoration at Belfast City Hall. As part of the event Munira Subaši, president of the Mothers of Srebrenica, spoke about her experience of the atrocity. Members of the Bosnian community in Ireland are very grateful for the welcome they have received in this country in rebuilding their lives. They have contributed significantly to Irish society in the past 20 years. Their experience of surviving conflict, overcoming trauma and successful integration is an inspiration, as Ireland again accepts refugees from wartorn countries such as Syria.

  The motion reflects the European Parliament's resolution of 9 July 2015 which agreed that 11 July should be recognised throughout the European Union as a day of commemoration of the Srebrenica genocide. We do not just honour the victims of the genocide; we all want to send a powerful message that such horrendous crimes must never happen again. I will return to some of the remarks made by the Minister, Deputy Charles Flanagan, two years ago in a statement in which he noted the genocide had taken place in living memory and should serve as a stark reminder of the need to learn the lessons of the past.  Whatever the political discourse, it is the duty of every country in Europe to work hard to promote peace, tolerance and mutual understanding. We must ensure that what happened in Srebrenica 22 years ago never happens again.

Senator Neale Richmond: Information on Neale Richmond Zoom on Neale Richmond I thank Senator Feighan for drafting the motion and for allowing me to add my name to it. I echo his comment that it is important that we continue to challenge and condemn all attempts to minimise or deny this genocide and that we remember this tragic atrocity and use it as a tool to promote tolerance and remembrance. I, too, encourage and support the people of Bosnia Herzegovina on their continued path towards accession to the European Union.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan I, too, welcome all of the people from Bosnia and related areas to the House today.

Senator Mark Daly: Information on Mark Daly Zoom on Mark Daly I welcome the Minister to the House and I congratulate him on his appointment. Creating an unbearable situation of total insecurity and no hope for the future was the aim of the self-declared President of the Bosnian Serb community in March 1995, a few months prior to the massacre. When the Bosnian Serbs took over Srebrenica on 11 July it was declared by the military leader that they would extract revenge on the Muslim community, and they did. Over 80 sites were used for the execution and burial of almost 8,000 members of the Muslim community. While there were 8,000 victims, there were 19,783 members of the Bosnian Serb community and Serbian nation involved in the massacre and only a handful of them were imprisoned. Very few people will see justice served upon them and very few will see justice for the thousands who were massacred. This, I suppose, is the tragic legacy of Srebrenica.

  I commend Senators Feighan and Richmond on bringing forth this motion. In regard to the comments of the UN and EU on ensuring this does not happen again, the greatest insurance that it would never happen again is if those who perpetrated crimes that happened in Europe, within the reach of the EU, faced justice. The fact that merely a handful of those involved were imprisoned tells us, taking into account what is happening in Aleppo and in regard to other atrocities and crimes against humanity, that tragically those who carried out these crimes will not face justice. Worse than this, many of the 19,000 involved are high ranking officials who work in the public service. Where have we seen this before? We saw it in Germany in terms of the tens of thousands who served in the Auschwitz concentration camp and were officials and bureaucrats within the Nazi regime, who ended up working in the Government of East Germany, with the full knowledge of the allied powers and the German Government. The policy in Germany into the 1970s and 1980s was such that the German state turned a blind eye towards the actions of its own citizens against the Jews, minorities and other people, including Slavs, Serbians and the Muslims of Yugoslavia. The irony of this cannot be lost on us - that a democratic country like Germany would turn a blind eye to the actions of people who perpetrated horrendous crimes, genocide on an industrial scale. The Serbian Government, while recognising the mass killings would not recognise it, and barely passed that resolution in its own Parliament, not because it was sorry about the crimes but because not doing so would block its accession to the European Union.  That was its only reason for barely passing that vote. That so many current government officials were actually involved in the genocide and crimes against humanity and that the EU does not wish to see them go to jail because it is not worth the bother is telling. As our great poet, Seamus Heaney, once said, history does not repeat itself as much as it rhymes. In his poem on Troy, he said that hope and history rhyme. Our only hope is that they will rhyme again. We have noted the lack of justice for the victims of the Holocaust, during which the Germans turned a blind eye to the actions of the perpetrators, and we now see a similar response regarding the 19,000 who were involved in the genocide in Srebrenica. It tells us about the reality of politics that, on the motion put down the foreign affairs committee to recognise the Armenian genocide, the Government and Fine Gael voted against it. Two million people died in the middle of the First World War, observed, ironically, by the Germans, who were allies of the Turks at the time and who used the events as the basis for their own operations in the Second World War. Despite this, Turkey, along with our own Government, continues to deny that what occurred was genocide. Two million people were wiped off the face of the earth. There have been no consequences for Turkey 100 years on. There is another example in Aleppo in Syria.

  The only way we can ensure such events do not happen again is by bringing to justice those who commit the crimes and having them serve appropriate sentences. Time and again, unfortunately, it has been only the history that has been rhyming and not the hope that justice would be served for the people who suffered on the day in question. The UN and Dutch peacekeeping troops failed to fire one single shot to prevent the arrest and capture of the thousands of Muslim men, women and children who were led to their fate. There was a failure by the UN and Dutch peacekeeping forces, and also a failure by humanity itself.

Senator Paul Gavan: Information on Paul Gavan Zoom on Paul Gavan I welcome our friends from Bosnia to the Chamber today. I had the pleasure of meeting them just before this debate. It was so instructive to listen to the personal testimony of somebody like Alen Osmanovio, who described his two-week march from Srebrenica to relative safety in Tuzla and the horrors those on the march endured. He was 17 at the time and his younger brother was just 11. It is absolutely telling. I remember being shocked by what was on our television screens at the time and struggling to comprehend how the world could watch and let these horrors happen.

  This July marks the 22nd anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide. The date 11 July is designated as a memorial day. I welcome that we are marking it with statements in the Seanad. I recognise the work of Senator Feighan, in particular, in this regard. I hope this will happen every year. I call on the Government to create a national Srebrenica memorial day.

  The appalling massacres have been recognised as genocide by the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, ICTY. It is very welcome that the Seanad is today remembering the more than 8,000 Muslim Bosnians, or Bosniaks, who were brutally executed by paramilitaries and units of the Bosnian Serb Army under the command of General Ratko Mladi. Most of this happened in the full glare of television news reports and observers from the UN and EU. In addition to the killings, thousands of women, children and elderly people were forcibly deported, and a large number of women were raped. We must remember them also. It was a failure on the part of the EU and other institutions that a large Muslim population, long established in Europe, was targeted in such a way.

  This year also marks the closing of the doors of the ICTY. It was established by the UN to prosecute those responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territory of the former Yugoslavia. At the tribunal, a total of 38 former members of the Bosnian-Serb police force and army have been sentenced to a total of more than 400 years in prison for genocide and crimes against humanity in Srebrenica. The acts of genocide in Srebrenica and other crimes have been laid out in the trial of General Mladi at the tribunal. A verdict is expected in November. This all underlines the importance of truth recovery to the process of national reconciliation. We should recognise that from the history of our own country. Many more perpetrators of mass killings of Bosniaks in the area have not been prosecuted, however. These mass killings include those of people desperately fleeing Srebrenica to safety in Tuzla, a town that was under the control of the Bosnian army in July 1995.

  The UN has called the Srebrenica genocide "the greatest atrocity on European soil since the Second World War". After the Holocaust and genocide carried out by the Nazis, Europe said, "Never again", yet, just 22 years ago, this act of genocide occurred on European soil and we failed the people of Srebrenica. When we say "Never again" now, we must mean it. While we remember this appalling act of genocide, we must also commit to continuing to challenge and condemn any attempts to minimise or deny the genocide that took place at Srebrenica. We must also confront the fact that this genocide took place in the UN-designated safe area and that Dutch soldiers acting as UN peacekeepers failed to stop the capture of the town and the resulting genocide, underscoring the failure of the international community in preventing the massacre. A civil court judgment in the Netherlands in 2014 found that the Dutch state was partially liable for the murder of 300 Bosniaks in Srebrenica who were expelled from a Dutch UN base and turned over to Bosnian Serb troops. Just last month, a higher appeals court in The Hague upheld this judgment. I understand, however, that relatives of the victims are very unhappy with this ruling as it does not go far enough.

  Today, we remember the victims and survivors of the Srebrenica genocide and we must use this day to learn the lessons of history in order to tackle hatred, racism and intolerance wherever it occurs.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins On behalf of all my colleagues in the Civil Engagement group, I welcome the motion and congratulate Senators Feighan and Richmond for introducing it to the House. It is in the best spirit of the internationalism of this House that we use this space to acknowledge these issues in this way. I welcome the visitors in the Visitors Gallery, as others have done.

  The genocide at Srebrenica is without doubt one of the worst crimes committed on European soil, certainly since the end of the Second World War. It is important that we remember this today, the 22nd anniversary of the mass murder of 8,373 boys and men and the rape, beating and murder of an unknown number of women. The number of victims who starved, suffered, took their own lives or had their lives taken during the siege and its aftermath during the summer of 1995 is still unknown.

  When the siege, battle and genocide were taking place, the world's attention was focused largely on the siege in Sarajevo. Srebrenica was largely out of sight and mind and the UN has now admitted that the distance and isolation of Srebrenica contributed to the poverty of the international community's response and actions. Speaking on the tenth anniversary, Mr. Kofi Annan said blame lies first and foremost with those who planned and carried out the massacre and those who assisted them, harboured them, or harbour them still. He said we cannot evade our own share of responsibility. Moreover, he stated, "We can say - and it is true - that great nations failed to respond adequately." The inadequate response of the international community in the summer of 1995 is one we must bear in mind. We must learn from it and move forward with a greater sense of responsibility as we face new crises and challenges in the years ahead.

  The international community, under the guise of NATO and the EU, did eventually stand up to the mark to bring an end to the atrocities of the Bosnian war but they have been showing less and inadequate interest since the Dayton accord was implemented in 1997.

  I pay tribute to the members of our own Defence Forces who served with distinction in the peacekeeping efforts as military police since the Dayton Agreement. Seven Irish peacekeepers are still stationed in the region today, and there is still work for them to do.  At present seven Irish peacekeepers are still stationed there today. There is still work for them to do because Bosnia and Herzegovina remains a troubled country. The unanimous commitment to ensure a lasting peace was short-lived. Now, unfortunately, the country is in danger of going down a tragic path of separatism and division once again. The three communities in today's Bosnia and Herzegovina face contemporary challenges to hold their country together. The Government of the Serb region is calling for full independence and perhaps eventual unity with Serbia. Some Croats seek to pull away from the federation with the Bosnians and call for an entity of their own. Unfortunately, all too often children of one ethnicity are not always encouraged to play and socialise together. This division is seen now in the education system, whereby parts of history are vanishing from education books, including parts of the common history that all children in Bosnia and Herzegovina need to learn from. From local to national level we have seen the election in some cases of nationalists and those who would seek to deny or diminish the genocide.

  I commend Bosnia and Herzegovina on producing a national action plan on women, peace and security. This relates to the UN Security Council resolution 1325 obligation, one that Ireland takes seriously as well. I hope that more of these plans will continue to be developed. Those of us on this island understand that the involvement of women at all levels of peacekeeping and reconciliation is key to the long-term viability of such processes. It is a key commitment in our action plan and something that we have always sought to support in other countries.

  In 2007 the International Court of Justice definitively declared that the massacre in Srebrenica was genocide. The leaders of the Serb entity accepted that judgment and issued an apology. However, we have since seen a roll-back from that apology as the current generation of leaders look to position themselves differently. The trend has been to label such events as crimes and to shy away from the use of the word genocide, a denial that is even appearing in the education system. We know that Russia has exercised its veto within the UN Security Council to move away from resolutions that recognise the genocide. It is important that we are part of an international commitment to hold history to account and to maintain the clear memories. This is why I wish to commend Senator Feighan. This is a collective history not only for the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina but for those of us in Europe and throughout the world. If we cannot name the past, then we cannot learn from it. It is a crucial commitment. Again, I commend Senator Feighan in that regard. Even in the media we have seen a growing denial and disappearance of these terms.

  As members of the European Union we have a clear responsibility. The EU is a crucial guarantor of peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The offer or potential for eventual membership of the EU is a crucial incentive to the governments of Bosnia and Herzegovina as they seek to build peace. However, it is disappointing that the EU has led itself to be criticised – I believe rightly – by Bosnian civil society for focusing exclusively on economic targets and economic development while failing to recognise the crucial work of peace building, community development and reconciliation that must be supported. Economic development is essential for the building of peace, but economic development alone will not automatically lead to peace. We need constructive and positive engagement in the work of peace building.

  Another point is important for everyone in Europe. Securitisation is not the same as peace building. The work of peace building and reconciliation are entirely different to the project of securitisation that we have seen building across Europe. Ireland has a unique history and contribution to make in terms of peace building. Ireland can play a constructive and proactive role that is not about rowing behind any common military policing or security agenda, but around offering narratives of hope inclusion and reconciliation that allow societies to come together. I commend the motion and I encourage the Government and The European Union to play a more proactive role in the year ahead.

Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik Zoom on Ivana Bacik I welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Cannon, to the House. I commend our colleagues, Senators Feighan and Richmond, on proposing this important motion. Most important, I welcome the members of the Bosnian Irish community in the Gallery, in particular Mirza and Bronagh Catibusic. It is good to have them here.

  It is vital that we involve ourselves in formal events to commemorate the anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre. Many colleagues will recall that two years ago, on the 20th anniversary, we had several events at Leinster House. I was involved in some of those events in July 2015 to mark the 20th anniversary of the genocide. I hope that we might see in future a formally instituted national Srebrenica memorial day declared for 11 July each year. The European Parliament has recommended that EU member states would recognise this day as the day of the commemoration of the Srebrenica genocide. I am unsure whether Senator Feighan had envisaged that we would have a minute's silence. Perhaps we might do that today in the Chamber at the conclusion of the debate, if colleagues are in agreement. It could be a formal way of marking our respect for the victims of the massacre.

  I am grateful to Mirza Catibusic for some text pointing out that the Bosnian community in Ireland warmly welcomes the event in the Seanad to mark the 22nd anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide. The Bosnian community ask us to remember that over 8,000 Bosnian men and boys were brutally killed on 11 July 1995 when the UN safe area of Srebrenica fell to Serbian forces led by Ratko Mladi. Indeed, the European Parliament resolution of 9 July 2015 on the Srebrenica commemoration sets out in stark terms exactly what happened. The resolution includes the following recitals:

whereas on 11 July 1995 the Bosnian town of Srebrenica, which had been proclaimed a safe area by UN Security Council Resolution 819 of 16 April 1993, was captured by Bosnian Serb forces led by General Ratko Mladi, acting under the authority of the then President of the Republika Srpska, Radovan Karadži;

and

whereas, during several days of carnage after the fall of Srebrenica, more than 8 000 Muslim men and boys, who had sought safety in this area under the protection of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR), were summarily executed by Bosnian Serb forces commanded by General Mladi and by paramilitary units, including irregular police units; whereas nearly 30 000 women, children and elderly people were forcibly expelled in a massive-scale ethnic cleansing campaign, making this event the biggest war crime to take place in Europe since the end of the Second World War;

This text sets out in stark terms not only the true horror of the massacre itself but the linked ethnic cleansing that took place at the same time. As we have heard, and as other colleagues have said, the Srebrenica massacre has been recognised subsequently as genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the International Court of Justice.

  The theme of the commemoration this year is on gender in genocide. We note the courage and strength of Bosnian women who have been at the forefront in the past 22 years of seeking to ensure that the world remembers the Srebrenica genocide. In reflecting on the events of 22 years ago it is important to look at a number of ways in which we should commemorate this massacre. First, we need to ensure that it is named as genocide. That has been done through the decisions of the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. It has also been done through the European Parliament resolution. That is important. We need to keep stating that and reminding ourselves of it. As the European Parliament pointed out in 2015, it is important to counter any attempts to deny the genocide. Indeed, the European Parliament stated that it should do everything in its power to prevent such acts from recurring and to reject any denial, relativist interpretation or misinterpretation of the genocide.

  One issue linked to the commemoration, especially at the distance of 22 years, is the need to reflect on the need for justice. Others have spoken of some of the developments in recent years, in particular developments in terms of international justice and the perpetrators being brought to justice. We know that only last year Radovan Karadži was found guilty of genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and that this year the Hague Court of Appeal found the Netherlands partially liable for the death of over 300 Muslim men who died in the massacre in 1995.  Clearly, there is a lot more still to be done in terms of bringing the perpetrators of genocide to justice and in terms of ensuring accountability, in particular for poor decisions at international level that contributed to the carrying out of the massacre.

When we reflect on this particular genocide, as the motion calls on us to do, we must look also at how we support people in Srebrenica, and in other places where we have seen genocide occur, with the challenges they face in moving on from genocide in a spirit of reconciliation in order to make a better future for all communities. The European Parliament resolution of two years ago offers a way forward, emphasising the need for political representatives to acknowledge the past in order to work successfully together towards a better future and calling on the EU at a more general level to commit to a European perspective and to develop support for civil society organisations, such as the association, the Movement of Mothers of Srebrenica and Žepa Enclaves, for its pivotal role in raising awareness and building a broader basis for reconciliation. All of us have a duty to take on board those recommendations.

I want to finish with some strong words marking the 20th anniversary of the genocide from a statement made in New York by Serge Brammertz, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. He spoke of the immense tragedy of Srebrenica, and said:

All of us must accept that in July 1995, thousands of men and boys were killed. That tens of thousands of women, children and elderly were terrorized, abused and forced from their homes. All of us must accept that there was a deliberate plan to commit genocide. [.] To respect the past, we must call Srebrenica by its name, genocide. To build the future, we must speak out with one voice when it is denied. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia established these facts and delivered justice for Srebrenica, as well as for many other crimes.

He goes on to say that while there have been convictions for crimes in Srebrenica, we must reflect again on the need for prevention of genocide as a first priority, but when prevention fails, justice is essential. I think that is a poignant and timely reminder for us all in marking this 22nd anniversary.

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Ciarán Cannon): Information on Ciaran Cannon Zoom on Ciaran Cannon I am pleased to support the motion put down by Senators Frank Feighan and Neale Richmond, whom I congratulate. I am grateful to the House for the opportunity to address it this evening. I offer the apologies of the Minister, Deputy Coveney, who cannot be here due to prior travel commitments.

  I would like to acknowledge the presence of members of the Remembering Srebrenica organisation, including those who have travelled from Northern Ireland to be with us today. I also welcome representatives of the Bosnian community in Ireland, many of whom arrived to this country in the wake of the appalling massacre at Srebrenica and who have gone on to make their homes in Ireland.

  Today marks the 22nd anniversary of the horrendous genocide at Srebrenica and it is fitting that both Houses of the Oireachtas take time to reflect on the lasting impact of those events. Most of us in this House will recall learning with horror of the methodical murder of 8,000 men and boys in the village of Srebrenica, a place little known to the world before July 1995. The unimaginable suffering of the people of this small town in Bosnia and Herzegovina is matched only by the other darkest atrocities in history - except that this event took place in our living memory and in the lifetime of almost everyone in this Chamber. Throughout Europe, and within the European Union, the appalling events of 11 July 1995 are remembered with solemnity and dignity. The massacre at Srebrenica will forever be a stain on the history of Europe. We remember the victims and think today of their families and loved ones and the other survivors of that atrocity. We also acknowledge the tremendous legacy this event has had on the people of the region and the ongoing impact of that time of war in the Balkans.

  Knowing that I would be speaking here this evening, I was very struck on Sunday by our own national day of commemoration, where we remember all Irish men and women who died in past wars or on service with the United Nations. We are also nearly midway through the decade of centenaries as we mark significant moments in Ireland’s history, confront what is sometimes an uncomfortable past and commit to working together for a better future. As a people, we attach a great importance to our history and it is right that we remember the events elsewhere that have helped to shape our collective consciousness. Twenty years ago, Ireland welcomed some 500 people from Bosnia, and I am very pleased that those who made their home here will be part of our shared future.

  The theme chosen for this year’s commemoration by the Remembering Srebrenica group is "Breaking the Silence: Gender and Genocide". It is important that, as we commemorate the 8,000 men and boys who lost their lives, we remember with compassion the impact this atrocity had on those left behind, in particular women, many of whom suffered sexual violence as well as bereavement - the mothers, the grandmothers, sisters, girlfriends, neighbours and friends who picked up their own lives after such devastation and who, by their testimony, remind us of the human cost of Srebrenica and the need to ensure that diversity and ethnic difference are celebrated rather than dismissed or, worse, persecuted. We honour those women, we admire their courage and resilience and we support their contribution to the rebuilding of a country still living with the consequences of hatred.

  We all have a responsibility to ensure that minorities in our societies are respected and afforded dignity, and that every community within our society feels safe and protected. We have seen the consequences of allowing racial or ethnic discrimination and hatred to fester and we must be continually vigilant to ensure that our society is an open and inclusive one. I believe that we must redouble our efforts to promote tolerance and respect as fundamental values. The European Union was founded on the principles of peace and justice, and Ireland remains committed to supporting a peaceful, secure and prosperous future for the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the wider region. We continue to encourage them on their European path and to help them overcome the legacy of recent conflicts.

  We firmly believe that the accession process is a transformative driver for peace and stability, and that by choosing to follow the path towards EU integration, Bosnia is making a positive and active choice about her future as a single, united and sovereign country. We, for our part, will assist in any way we can. Our peacekeepers are serving in the EU mission, Operation ALTHEA, and have been for many years. We are also active within the EU in encouraging progress on the wide range of areas in the enlargement dossier, in particular on fundamental freedoms, human rights, freedom of expression and the rule of law, and in offering bilateral assistance, wherever possible.

  The whole western Balkans region continues to face enormous challenges, and it is important to note that we are seeing a rise in inter-ethnic tension in the region and an increase in extreme nationalism. The international community is committed to working with the authorities and the people of Bosnia in a spirit of vigilance to ensure that current tensions are not allowed to spill over. In this context, the renewed focus on the western Balkans, as expressed at the European Council in March and confirmed by the intense engagement of the EU’s High Representative, Frederica Mogherini, in the region, is very welcome. Tomorrow will see the leaders of the region gather at the Trieste summit, an initiative designed to enhance regional co-operation and good neighbourly relations. This spirit of collaboration can only serve to bring tangible benefits to all of the citizens of the region, and to shape a more prosperous and peaceful future.

  As I conclude, I ask this House to commemorate and honour the victims of Srebrenica and to remember the victims and survivors of all wars. Srebrenica will always serve as a reminder of a dark period in Europe’s past. By learning the lessons of the past and by working together, I believe we will secure a more peaceful Bosnia, working in friendship with her neighbours and as a partner in the European Union.

Senator Frank Feighan: Information on Frank Feighan Zoom on Frank Feighan I thank the Minister of State and all the Senators for their contributions today. It is a very special day of commemoration. I agree with Senator Gavan that it is perhaps time to have an international Srebrenica memorial day.  The UN, of which we are part, failed to protect Bosnian men, women and children in that enclave. I feel that many errors, misjudgments and mistakes were made. I would hope that would never happen again. This happened when the Bosnian Serb troops wanted a racially pure statelet. They ethnically cleansed and genocide was part of that routine. I also believe that Ireland is in a unique situation in which we can be impartial, independent brokers of peace, not just in Bosnia but across the world. With the Good Friday Agreement and what we have done - though the challenges that we have faced are much less than what exists in many other countries - sometimes we have to be very careful to try to be independent and also impartial in all aspects, because there is a role for this State.

  The Minister of State has said that Bosnia and Herzegovina is on the path to EU integration. We are also mindful that the minorities in our societies must be protected, and we must ensure that they are respected and listened to. I will take on board Senator Bacik's proposal that we should, in my last minute, have a minute's silence, if that is okay with the Acting Chairman.

Acting Chairman (Senator Gerry Horkan): Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan We might put the motion to a vote first and once that is agreed, we will have a minute's silence at the end, if that is agreeable to Members. I thank Senator Feighan.

  Question put and agreed to.

  Members rose.

  Sitting suspended at 5.33 p.m. and resumed at 5.45 p.m.

Rugby World Cup 2023 Bill 2017: Second Stage

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

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross This Bill is an enabling Bill to allow the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport to support the bid and the hosting of the Rugby World Cup in 2023.

  The Rugby World Cup is one of the largest global sporting events after the Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup. It is held every four years, with the next tournament to be played in Japan in 2019. It has grown substantially since its inauguration in 1987, and is expected to continue to grow in the future. The hosting of a Rugby World Cup by Ireland has the potential to be very beneficial to this country, for visitor numbers, sporting and international profile and for communities across the island. A successful bid for the Rugby World Cup would have the dual advantage of promoting sport and tourism. There would be very considerable tourism potential as it would take place during Ireland's shoulder season for overseas tourism, between mid-September and late October. It is estimated that the tournament would draw approximately 450,000 visitors who would spend approximately €760 million. Based on Fáilte Ireland estimates, this would provide a return to the Exchequer of €138 million.

  There would be many other benefits to the country, not least the profile received through television coverage of the tournament across the world and the exposure that the country would get through the thousands of visiting media. This event has the potential to involve thousands of volunteers, building volunteering capacity for future events. A parallel programme of festivals and cultural events would make the most of the opportunity to extend visits and enhance the image of Ireland. There would also be extensive business networking and other business opportunities.  The tournament would be a great platform for the promotion of sport and physical activity, vital to the physical and mental health of the nation. There is also a fantastic opportunity to reach out to Ireland's diaspora. Given the global reach of this tournament, we are confident Ireland would see tangible support for a staging of the tournament by way of many of the diaspora travelling to Ireland for the tournament.

  Of its nature, a successful joint tournament would depend on mutual co-operation between North and South as we co-operate to deliver this major project between now and 2023. Hosting the Rugby World Cup in 2023 has the potential to send a powerful message of co-operation across the island to a global audience. In addition, hosting a Rugby World Cup on the island of Ireland would provide a great cultural experience for communities all over Ireland with the opportunity to host teams from places as diverse as Tonga, Georgia, Japan, New Zealand and Argentina.

  I regret that this legislation is coming to the Oireachtas so late. At an earlier stage of planning for Rugby World Cup 2023, the preliminary legal advice was that legislation was not likely to be required in respect of the State's contribution to a new company that might be established in relation to hosting Rugby World Cup 2023. However, after further examination, the Office of the Attorney General advised in early May that express statutory authority through the passing of primary legislation is necessary for a Minister to provide capital support to a tournament company and to provide the necessary guarantees and underwrites to Rugby World Cup Limited. This is based on the judgment of the Office of the Attorney General that there is no specific statutory power for the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport to expend money or give guarantees directly on a unique major sporting event such as the Rugby World Cup 2023. Therefore, for the avoidance of doubt, the advice is that express statutory authority is required. This statutory authority must be in place before the Minister signs the guarantees. This means the Bill has to become law before 31 July.

  Based on this advice, the Bill before the House was drafted. The purpose of the Bill is to enable the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport to provide the guarantees and undertakings as part of the bid and, if the bid is successful, enable the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport to support the staging of the tournament. I will now outline the provisions of the Bill.

  Section 1 defines the terms used in the Bill. If the bid is successful, a tournament company must be formed with the Irish Government, the Northern Ireland Executive and the IRFU as shareholders and section 2 empowers the Minister to play a full part as a shareholder in that company. An agreement on a comprehensive governance structure for the envisaged company that would protect the State's interests is currently being finalised between all three parties.

  As part of the bid, the Government would provide an underwrite for the tournament budget and the provision to enable the Minister to give this underwrite is set out in section 3. The underwrite is to give Rugby World Cup Limited the assurance that the tournament would still proceed even if ticket revenues were not sufficient. As with all previous Rugby World Cups, the hosting of the tournament would be funded by ticket revenue. It is planned that the tournament company would source the cashflow requirements in those years prior to receipt of ticket income from commercial loans. In the event that unexpected cashflow needs arise, section 3 enables the Minister to advance funding, including loans, to a tournament company. A number of rights held by Rugby World Cup Limited, such as selected sponsorship categories, hospitality and licensing, are on offer for potential hosts to bid. This matter is still under negotiation and Rugby World Cup Limited may decide not to sell any of these rights. The provisions in sections 3 and 4 grant the Minister all potential options to support any purchase of these rights and to structure that purchase in such a way that would be of best advantage to the State and the tournament.

  Section 5 enables the Minister to pay the tournament fee for the territory of the island of Ireland to be the host territory for Rugby World Cup 2023. The bid proposes that, after receipt of the projected surplus from the operation of the tournament company, the Government will pay the tournament fee directly to Rugby World Cup Limited. As with the tournament underwrite, this support would be shared with Northern Ireland along an agreed ratio. These provisions in sections 2 to 5, inclusive, would be exercised with the consent of the Ministers for Public Expenditure and Reform and Finance.

  A number of other assurances are sought from Government by Rugby World Cup Limited that the broader environment will be suitable to stage the tournament. These include protection for their trademarks and intellectual property and the support of An Garda Síochána in the provision of a secure environment to host the tournament. Section 6 empowers the Minister to provide such undertakings on foot of a decision of Government. In response to amendments proposed by members of the Dáil relating to oversight and scrutiny, and in addition to the usual oversight and scrutiny by Houses of the Oireachtas, an amendment was made to the Bill to address this matter.

  Section 7 provides that the Minister will, during each period of six months until the conclusion of the tournament, report on preparation for and the staging of the tournament to the relevant joint committee. Sections 8 and 9 cover expenditure under the bill and the commencement provisions. As the Members of this House know, we are in an international bidding competition with France and South Africa. All bids submitted are confidential, including the budgets proposed. Since we are in this position, I am not in a position to share every detail of the bid with the House. However, in relation to provisions contained within the Bill before this House, I want to outline the key asks of Government. The first is the payment of the tournament fee, which is £120 million, 5% on award and the remainder after the tournament. This would be shared with Northern Ireland and the total cost would be net of receipt of the projected surplus from the tournament company. The governments of the bidding countries have been asked to underwrite the proposed tournament budget. This underwrite would only be called on if the ticket revenue did not cover the tournament costs and then only for that element not covered by the ticket revenue. The entire cost would only be become liable if the tournament went ahead with zero revenue. The current projection is that the tournament will make a substantial surplus. The exact budget figure Ireland has submitted is commercially sensitive, but I can tell the House that Rugby World Cup Limited has provided bidders with an indicative budget of £200 million and the Irish bid is in the region of that figure. This budget includes the cost of operating the tournament and stadium upgrades. The Government's proposed underwrite would also be supported by Northern Ireland and is capped at the level of the bid budget. The House may also be interested to know that cancellation insurance is also taken out by the tournament company.

  The operation of the tournament, including the projected investment in stadiums, would be funded by ticket revenue. This would start to come on stream in 2022 and in the years preceding the tournament company would be funded by commercial loan. In the event that there are cashflow challenges that cannot be met from this arrangement, then the Minister could loan funds to the company. As I said, this is for cashflow purposes and does not change the financial outcome of the company. These funds would be repaid to Government.

  Rugby World Cup Limited, like all international sporting bodies, also needs to know that the wider environment, such as infrastructure, legal context and security provision will be sufficient to host the tournament on the island of Ireland. Accordingly, it has sought undertakings from the Governments that the island has the necessary requirements in place.

  Separately, Rugby World Cup Limited has made a number of tournament commercial rights on offer to bidders which are travel and hospitality, licensing and selected sponsorship categories. Broadcasting rights are not on offer. It is open to the bidders to submit a bid to acquire the rights that they believe would provide the best return. A bidding process is currently taking place and Ireland may acquire some of these rights. This Bill allows the Minister to support a bid for these rights and, if a bid is successful, provides a range of options for ownership of these rights to get the best return.

  I very much welcome the interest of Members and I have no desire to withhold details of the bid, but I trust the House will understand the constraints of the bidding process. Obviously, if one is involved in a bidding situation, one would not reveal one’s top bid to anybody any more than one would at a house auction. Information such as the bid budget, the proposed investment in stadiums or training bases or the bid for commercial rights would of significant value to our competitors. In that light, I would rather err on the side of caution and not risk putting our bid at a potential competitive disadvantage.   It is important that Senators know that the Government is confident of the case for supporting the bid because we have been examining the feasibility for hosting the tournament, including likely costs and benefits, for more than four years. The initial feasibility study was carried out by Deloitte in 2013 and was examined by Departments and agencies, North and South. A cross-Border working group spent six months in 2014 considering that study and the experience of recent world cups in France and New Zealand, identifying additional costs and risks, and conducting sensitivity analyses. That report produced a revised, more conservative and prudent estimate of the impact of hosting but taking all factors into account, it found it would still be a positive experience for the island. Following consideration of that report, the Government decided to support the bid in December 2014.

  An oversight board, chaired by former Tánaiste Dick Spring, with key sporting and business figures as well as Government representatives was set up in 2015 to guide the compilation of the bid. This was supported by interdepartmental groups in both jurisdictions, chaired respectively by the head of the Northern Ireland civil service and the Secretary General of the Department of the Taoiseach. My Department led the co-ordination of the public sector input and managed relations with the IRFU and the Department of the Economy in Northern Ireland. Following work by the IRFU, external expertise and Departments and agencies, the Government again reviewed the project and approved the submission of the applicant phase bid in August 2016. All figures had been re-examined and updated, including a re-assessment of stadia investment requirements, and also took into account the evaluation of the impact of the Rugby World Cup in England in 2015. Since November of last year, the candidate phase bid has been put together. The formal bid to host the Rugby World Cup was submitted on 1 June 2017. The candidate file ran to approximately 1,000 pages setting out responses on a range of topics including finance and governance, transport, match venues, security, ticketing strategy, accommodation provision, and intellectual property rights protection.

  In response to the templates issued by Rugby World Cup Limited, RWCL, on 7 April, the bid also contained draft guarantees and undertakings outlining the support of governments to stage the tournament in 2023; for the payment of the tournament fee; the underwrite of the tournament budget; and the provision of public sector supports for the staging of the tournament. The State, with the support of NewERA, is discussing these drafts with RWCL and final versions are due to be agreed and signed by 31 July. The candidate phase was intensive and again all aspects of the bid were re-examined and the financial model updated. These figures were submitted to and considered by Government in May and they approved the bid. It is because the bid has been examined now for this extended period, involving internal and external expertise, taking into account the impact of Rugby World Cups in other countries, and has been considered by Government on three separate occasions that I am confident of the case for hosting.

  Hosting the Rugby World Cup in 2023 would be a unique opportunity for Ireland. It would be of great benefit to the country from sporting, economic, cultural and profile perspectives and the Bill enables the Government to fully support it. Working closely with our colleagues in the Northern Ireland Executive, the Government has been examining the case for hosting for more than four years, and we are confident of the case for hosting and of the strength of the bid. I commend this Bill to all sides of the House.

Senator Ned O'Sullivan: Information on Ned O'Sullivan Zoom on Ned O'Sullivan Fianna Fáil is 100% behind Ireland's bid for the Rugby World Cup in 2023 and we will support all Stages of the Bill, despite the less than satisfactory manner in which it has been presented to us, particularly the lateness of it and the rushed nature of its passage. As the Minister said, we are at the third stage of the process, which requires a number of Government guarantees and underwrites. It includes paying an advance on the tournament fee and providing an underwrite for the tournament budget as well as making provision for certain supports from the public service. All that is reasonable. However, on 4 May, the Attorney General advised the Minister that primary legislation would be required. Why did that information come to light so late in the day? Why was the earlier legal opinion deemed to be incorrect subsequently? What level of examination went into the initial legal opinion? Did the Minister at that stage say to himself, "I should consult the Attorney General on this"? Was the Attorney General consulted on this in the first instance as well as latterly? People are asking these important questions.

  The Minister will accept that rushed legislation where all Stages of a Bill are taken on one evening following hard on a similar exercise in the Dáil last Thursday is not the way to do business. It is not good practice. The deadline is 31 July but today is only 11 July. I am only in the Oireachtas one third as long as the Minister but I have not witnessed any legislation rushed like this since the nights of the banking crisis.

  A dedicated tournament committee is to be set up and, along with others, I am greatly mollified by the fact that the Minister has the good fortune to have people such as Dick Spring on board from the beginning. He is former colleague and, indeed, adversary of mine in Kerry and he is a good, sound, solid performer when it comes to matters such as this. I hope the membership of the tournament committee will be of that calibre to ensure the success of the bid. I agree with the Minister that it would be important for the economy to secure the tournament. It would also be good for the game of rugby, sport in general, and the image of the country. There will be significant investments in pitches and the general infrastructure of the sport. According to his figures, it is estimated that there would be 450,000 visitors during the tournament with a spend of €760 million, of which €138 million would return to the Exchequer. This is positive, particularly in the shoulder season for tourism, as he said.

  I particularly welcome the fact that we are working with the Northern Ireland Executive on this matter. There are many ways in which we have failed to engage properly and constructively, not through our own fault but because of the political circumstances that obtained in the North. It has proven difficult to achieve the co-operation we see on the rugby field, for instance. When 15 men tog out, they tog out in the green and they work together. It is great that there will be co-operation between the Minister's Department and its equivalent in the North on the funding of the bid and working it through. That is a hidden bonus in the process.

  I accept there has to be a great deal of confidentiality in the bidding process. We are up against big players and we have to play our cards close to our chest. However, it is up to the Minister to keep a close eye on this. Nothing is certain in life and anytime a guarantee or underwrite is given, as the Minister will be aware given his experience of the banking sector, there is always an element of danger. As he said, insurance is built in, which is a relief. The greatest source of income will the ticket revenue. I am not the only one who shudders when I hear about ticket sales in international sport. There is a great deal going on at the moment which is sub judice since the Rio Olympic Games. We do not want a repeat of that in this tournament and it will be up to the Minister to keep a close eye on the ball. There is an old saying that the cobbler should stick to his last. The Minister has a wide, eclectic range of interests from the Judiciary to his other hobby horses but if keeps a close eye on the tickets and the money for the RWC, it will all work out in the end.

Acting Chairman (Senator Gerry Horkan): Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan I thank Senator Ned O'Sullivan both for his contribution and for his brevity. Our next speaker is Senator Boyhan and he also has eight minutes.

Senator Victor Boyhan: Information on Victor Boyhan Zoom on Victor Boyhan This is an amazing story, a good news story and a positive story. Sport is a great unifier. It brings people together, as do the arts, as does culture, as do a whole range of things. This is particularly important for the island of Ireland. It will bring opportunities and unite people. This is very positive and will bring huge economic benefits. I thank the Minister for his comprehensive account of what has been proposed. It makes absolute sense to me that there are confidential aspects to this, of course, and I appreciate and respect that. The Minister has very clearly laid out his stall and I am particularly happy with it.

  I note the Minister's comment that he would, as a result of discussions in the Dáil, bring some kind of six-monthly reviews or briefings to the relevant Oireachtas committee. I point out to him, however, that it is also very important that the Members of both Houses be kept informed about the various stages of progress in how this project is being rolled out. It is important that he bring people with him on this and I have no doubt but that he will. I ask him to come back to this House, as well as to the Dáil and the joint committee. One can never say a good thing too often and it is important that people on all sides of both Houses are kept informed on progress.

  I will conclude by wishing the Minister well and thanking him for his comprehensive report to us today.

Senator John O'Mahony: Information on John O'Mahony Zoom on John O'Mahony I welcome the opportunity to contribute to this debate and to support the Bill. It will ensure that Ireland's bid for the 2023 World Cup has every chance of success. There has been some suggestion in recent days that this has been rushed and is exposing the State to enormous costs and risks. I do not subscribe to that. The Bill ensures that everything is above board and transparent and that is very important. If we were to flip the coin here and have a situation where the Government or the Minister were not supporting the Irish bid, we would be pleading with him to do so. It is important that it be supported.

  This bid has been thoroughly worked through in the last four years, initially by the previous two Ministers for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Donohue and the current Taoiseach. Every Rugby World Cup since its inception in the late 1980s has been profitable and there is no reason why 2023 will be any different. I am glad to have been given information by the Minister about the tournament fee. I had thought that we would have to pay that fee as soon as we won the bid, as we hopefully will, but I now learn that it is in fact after the tournament. Based on the experience of other World Cups the financial exposure will be limited.

  The Minister referred to the whole concept of this bid as a co-operation between the Administrations in the North and the South and between the IRFU and the GAA. Having been very much involved in the GAA all my life, I know that the organisation took a very big decision in the early 2000s when it looked like the refurbishment of the Landsdowne Road stadium was going to force the Irish rugby team to play its home internationals abroad. The then President of the GAA, our colleague Mr. Seán Kelly MEP, was instrumental in taking the decision to co-operate. The unique co-operation everywhere on the island will hopefully be reflected in this House and in the passing of this legislation. This bid will give the country a profile that no amount of money could buy. I remember that 20 or 30 years ago there was suggestion that Ireland bid for the Olympics-----

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys That was Gay Mitchell.

Senator John O'Mahony: Information on John O'Mahony Zoom on John O'Mahony It was laughed out of town at the time. Here, however, we have a realistic opportunity to showcase this country. As the Minister stated, a successful bid will bring financial benefits. Quite apart from the sporting aspect, the fact that the tournament is to be held in late September and October will extend the tourist season. The projections have been thoroughly explored and it is important that this positive message be put out.

  We cannot pass up on this opportunity. Everything will have to be carefully looked at thoroughly, which is exactly what the Minister is doing with this Bill. I will fully support it.

Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile: Information on Niall Ó Donnghaile Zoom on Niall Ó Donnghaile Go raibh maith agat, a Leas-Chathaoirligh, agus gabhaim buíochas leis an Aire as ucht bheith linn chun an díospóireacht a phlé inniu. I am torn over this Bill on a number of fronts. The first thing that struck me is that my old primary school headmaster, Diarmuid Ó Tuama, would be horrified to hear me coming in here to say nice things about rugby. I will overcome that fear and carry on regardless.

  This is a very welcome bid and while I, like others here, have concerns about the process, I think that the bid is very worthwhile for all of the reasons outlined and more. I am familiar with some of the initial preparatory work from my time on Belfast City Council. At the time we assisted colleagues in the civil service and in the Northern Ireland Executive in looking at the bid and at the existing facilities in Ravenhill and Casement Park, the development of which is now sadly in limbo. This bid adds impetus to the call for Casement Park to be redeveloped, both for the benefit of the GAA fraternity and for sport more generally.

  As I mentioned, however, I share my colleagues' concerns. I believe that we will put together a significant, worthwhile and achievable bid that will reap benefits. I am concerned, however, at the manner in which this has been rushed through. The Minister will have heard such concerns in the other House and he will hear them today. As I sat listening I could not help but wonder why, if we can push through legislation like this involving such a significant financial commitment, can we not push something through for the housing or hospital trolley crises? We have to be able to take this very legitimate criticism.

  When it comes down to it, however, we can progress to a positive outcome because sport is, if the House will pardon the pun, a great game-changer. This will benefit our economy, our offering on the international stage and our local hospitality and tourism sector. What is most important, however, is that it has to benefit our local communities and sporting clubs, be they rugby or otherwise. Colleagues has touched on the nature of the all-Ireland bid. My colleague, Deputy McDonald, often refers to me as Sinn Féin's all-Ireland body so I am delighted by this aspect to the bid. We are better and stronger when we are united and we can achieve more. That is manifested brilliantly on the rugby pitch at an international level.

  As the Minister outlined, section 7 deals provides for committee oversight of the bid. This is welcome and will add very significantly to the nature of the legislation as it progresses. I commend my party colleague, Deputy Munster, for securing that commitment from the Minister. It is a key component that will give rightful democratic oversight to the Oireachtas. Ultimately, while we have our own concerns, we all need to put on the green jersey, just as we often hear in this Chamber. Given the financial commitment at stake here, however, it is only right and proper that there is this democratic oversight and that Members have the ability to engage with the Minister as we move forward.  Guím gach rath ar an Bhille agus ar an reachtaíocht. Guím gach rath ar an chomórtas agus ar an iarratas faoi choinne an Chorn Domhanda Rugbaí. I wish those involved with the bid every success. I look forward to sitting in a redeveloped Casement Park, watching a match, having, let me say, paid for tickets in the first instance. I daresay my old school master might even come with me.

Senator Grace O'Sullivan: Information on Grace O'Sullivan Zoom on Grace O'Sullivan It is great to see the Minister back in the House. I am an absolute lover of all sport and this is a huge economic and social opportunity for the State, but it is also a huge opportunity to engage in role modelling. When our great heroes go out on the pitch - it is always a great time and very emotive - younger children aspire. That is why it is wonderful we have an opportunity to bring an event like this to the country. There is an opportunity, but there is also a cost. I have concerns about the underwriting of the spend which will have to be set aside to enable the event to happen, particularly given the other crises on the agenda, about which my colleague, Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile, just spoke, be it homelessness or the issue in Waterford owing to the lack of cardiac care services. Money is diverted away from other areas.

  I am concerned about the speed at which the Bill is going through. It would have been nice to have had more time and if the Minister had had a chance to make a significant risk assessment in order that points could have been outlined not only for us in the Seanad and the Dáil but also for members of the public and taxpayers.

  I have a question about tickets. How would be we ensure it would be an event for all of the people of Ireland? How would we ensure there would be affordability for those who would like to go and that they would not have to scramble in a mad rush, at the end of which only those who could afford to pay would be able to seek tickets? I ask Minister to consider this question.

  An event such as this would be a massive showcase for the country. It would be brilliant for tourists and bring them to the country. There is also all of the excitement that goes with such events. How would we ensure the public would be able to watch games at home, including those with a disability who would not be able to get to the event or those who simply would not want to burn more fossil fuel in their cars to attend events? How would we ensure they could sit in the comfort of their own home with their friends in their communities and enjoy the great spectacle it would be? As I said, I am a lover of sport and this is a great opportunity for Ireland. I have asked a few questions which I would like the Minister to answer.

Senator Neale Richmond: Information on Neale Richmond Zoom on Neale Richmond I remember the day well - it was a Wednesday in October 1991 - when my late father brought me to my first ever Ireland match. It was against Japan in the quarter-final of the 1991 World Cup. While I am delighted to say it was the first Ireland match I attended, it definitely was not my first rugby match. I think I was a week old and in a buggy when I was brought to my first rugby match. It was a fantastic experience and copperfastened the love affair I have had since with the game, a love I inherited from both of my late parents. This is a fantastic opportunity for the country, economically and socially. It is also a fantastic opportunity to advertise and showcase the very best Ireland, North and South, has to offer.

  One phrase that has been used in the past week to ten days by a number of Members in this and the other House and commentators in the national media is "I support this bid but..." At the end of the day, what we are going through this evening is a clarifying process. Legal advice changes from time to time, but, ultimately, nothing has changed since 2013 when the exploration of the bid was first launched by the now Taoiseach, as my colleague, Senator John O'Mahony, said. The costs involved are huge, but they represent an economic investment that would see a massive return and more and more young boys and girls playing rugby and other sports. The legislation is being brought forward belatedly because it has to be. I argue that it is a box ticking exercise and very simple. I commend the Minister and the Government for taking the sure approach to ensure everything will be in order to underwrite the cost of hosting the tournament.

  People have used this issue to nitpick for various reasons and as an excuse to pick apart wider social concerns. They are welcome to do this, but while speaking about the price and allocation of tickets and free-to-air events may be relevant, at this very late stage it has to be remembered that it undermines the authority of the IRFU. It is not the Government but the IRFU that is involved in the bid process. Therefore, we must be very aware that everything we say in this and the other Chamber, on Twitter or in the broadcast media is part of the wider competitive debate.

  One of the strongest points is that the IRFU has full political backing, North and South, for this endeavour. We must ensure that in this House we continue this political backing. The South African Rugby Union does not have full political backing. We saw how the Commonwealth Games in Durban fell apart because of the lack of political backing. We are up against the French and the South Africans who have previously staged the Rugby World Cup which were magnificent occasions. We absolutely need to put our best foot forward. We do not need glib statements such as that we all need to put on the green jersey. We need to take the issue very seriously. If the bid fails, those who have raised reckless and misplaced concerns - I am sure a few more will be raised in the Chamber - must also state they will take responsibility in 2023 when a young Irish boy or girl will not get the chance to watch Rugby World Cup matches in Limerick, Belfast, Derry or Dublin because they are being held in Cape Town, Paris or Toulouse. They will have played their part in jeopardising and undermining the bid. It is not simply a case that if we do not host the event in 2023, somehow we will automatically host it in 2027. As part of the competitive process, we know that the Argentinians, Italians, Americans and Canadians are lining up to bid again. This is absolutely our opportunity and I urge everyone in the House and wider afield to choose their comments carefully, carry out their research and ensure they do not rehash arguments made or discussions held many times in the past four years through the Minister and his predecessors in office.

  I commend the Bill to the House. I appeal to all those present to give it full and swift backing. Let us come together, put in a bid to host the event in 2023 and win. Let us follow up the great success that will be achieved in Dublin and Belfast in August in the staging of the Women's Rugby World Cup by hosting what is absolutely the best and highest sporting occasion the country can ever aspire to host.

Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin: Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin I am delighted to say the Labour Party will, of course, support the Bill, but it would be a derogation of duty if we in this House did not at least make some comment on the rushed nature of the Bill. I take exception to any accusation that we are being reckless in asking questions about the lateness of the Bill. Having said that, I was interested in the comments made by the previous speaker on the first rugby match he had attended.

Senator Neale Richmond: Information on Neale Richmond Zoom on Neale Richmond The first Ireland match.

Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin: Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin They reminded me of the first international game I attended as a ten year old in 1987 with my father who never thought he would set foot in Lansdowne Road, which was interesting. It was a soccer game between Ireland and Brazil and the person who scored the winning goal was somebody who had once been expelled from the school in which my father had taught for choosing soccer over Gaelic games. That is the Ireland in which I grew up. I grew up in an environment which was quite hostile to rugby which it did not trust or like.   However, as one grows up and gets older and as one's mind opens up, one begins to share experiences with other people. At this stage, I think rugby is incredibly important to this country as a game. It is incredibly emotional for Irish people to see a team of 15 men or women from every part of this Ireland, from different religious and socioeconomic backgrounds, standing shoulder to shoulder under one banner and representing one jersey. This summer we will have a rugby world cup in Ireland. We are hosting the Women's Rugby World Cup and we can be proud of that. Many comments have been made here about the economic cost or the economic benefits. That is in important debate to have, but when I think of my ten year old self in Landsdowne Road that day, the impact that game had on me was monumental. Going back to the statistics of the game in Landsdowne Road in 1987, it seems there was only about 12,000 people there. I can only imagine the impact which the Rugby World Cup will have on ten year old girls and boys if we are successful in this bid.

  Sport is a wonderful thing. It is often viewed as a luxury or as not being as important as other social infrastructure or policy decisions which we have to make in this country. When I taught in an area of acute disadvantage, however, the best days we had were the days on which the children were literally on a level playing field with other, perhaps more advantaged, children. On those days we touched heaven and I could look the children in the eye and tell them that they were as good as anybody else. I could tell them that they could achieve as much as anybody else and could train, work and practise as hard as anybody else. There were no excuses as to why they could not be the best they could possibly be. I taught in a particularly disadvantaged part of the world. Sport did that.

  Sport often brings people in from the margins - people who would never be seen in the mainstream media - to represent their country, often a country that has let them down. Members of the Traveller community have proudly walked out in front of an Olympic team carrying the Irish flag. Members of the unionist and loyalist communities in Belfast have represented the tricolour at the Olympic Games. Members of disadvantaged, alienated and immigrant communities across the world have represented the green. They are often derided for their English accents, even though they come from Irish communities abroad.

  The power of sport can be overwhelming. It can be so uplifting and inspirational. I agree with what Senator Grace O'Sullivan said. Free-to-air broadcasting was mentioned in respect of the ability of young people, and the entire country, to connect with this event. I was horrified that the Waterford-Kilkenny game on Saturday night was only available to people who had a Sky subscription. I know we have to be careful about what we say and I know we will be accused of being reckless, but we need to adopt a mindset that this event must be something which the whole country can enjoy and will not be something which people will need a Sky subscription to watch in their living room. We all remember the wonderful family occasions of the 1990 World Cup, the 1994 World Cup and even last summer, when people connected with their families on an emotional basis in a way in which they probably never connect outside of weddings and so on. There is a feeling of connecting to a common identity when cheering on a sports team one feels strongly about.

  Let us give sport the status it deserves. It is spine-tingling. It puts the hairs on the back of one's neck on end. It is something which is enshrined in our identity and which is a fantastic leveller. As I have said, people who wear the green are often people who have been let down by society but who still give everything in their sweat and their energy to represent our country. We will have a fantastic spectacle this summer with the Women's Rugby World Cup. I pray that we will have this spectacle in 2023 with the Rugby World Cup, but let us make sure that it will be accessible to all.

Acting Chairman (Senator Gerry Horkan): Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan Senator Ó Ríordáin has used five and a half minutes so Senator Humphreys has two and a half.

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys Right across the House, we are all united in supporting the bid for the 2023 Rugby World Cup but I know that if the Minister was on the floor of this House he would raise certain questions, as he always did in the Dáil and in the Seanad. I do not know whether Senator Richmond meant what he said in respect of his remarks about people showing disloyalty or undermining the bid-----

Senator Neale Richmond: Information on Neale Richmond Zoom on Neale Richmond I did not say disloyalty.

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys -----for the Rugby World Cup. It is not about disloyalty or undermining the bid. We have a democratic responsibility to ask these questions. I have no doubt that the Minister, Deputy Ross, would be asking similar questions to those I asked were he on this side. In respect of Senator O'Mahony's comments, yes, in the past all Rugby World Cups have made profits and have not become a weight on the Exchequer. I accept that, but the same thing was said in respect of banks and bailouts when we were talking about pulling on the green jersey and voting the right way to make sure no banks ever collapsed. We learned hard lessons from that. I have a deep mistrust of many of these financial experts who give the Government advice. They have been proven wrong on many occasions before. I was going to read a selection of quotes from the Minister in respect of some of these companies.

  We have to be careful about underwriting tournaments when we do not know how much we are underwriting. We must have guarantees about access to tickets. We have to understand what is meant by selected sponsorship. Above all else, this is a fantastic opportunity to showcase this island in its entirety with the possibility of 450,000 tourists coming to see the matches, but we have to do our best to ensure that it is a good experience and that these tourists will not be ripped off and travel home with a sour taste in their mouths regarding visiting Ireland.

  This is rushed legislation. We need to have a far longer and more serious debate to make sure that, if we are successful in our bid as I truly hope we will be, the 450,000 who will come here have a good experience and will not be ripped off. We must have some assurance that people will be able to see these games in their own homes.

Senator Paudie Coffey: Information on Paudie Coffey Zoom on Paudie Coffey I too welcome the Minister to the House, to which he is no stranger. He was a Member here for many years. I have no doubt that most Members in this House and in the Lower House support this international bid. I need not reiterate that this is a huge opportunity but I believe it is important to do so. It could place the island of Ireland, North and South, in the international shop window and display all that is good about Irish culture, Irish sport and, most importantly, Irish people.

  I cannot boast the same rugby heritage as my colleague, Senator Richmond, however I do share his passion for sport. My background is that I am a lifelong player, member and, currently, an administrator in the Gaelic Athletic Association. I am particularly delighted that my association has thrown its full support behind this bid. I heard the concerns of Senator Ó Ríordáin outlining the generation in which we grew up. I even remember talking about the ban, under which great GAA players were unfortunately banned from playing if they were found to be playing soccer or rugby. That is in the past. Irish society and sport have matured in a very positive way. Nowadays we see that GAA supporters are the best supporters of rugby and soccer. Irish supporters are famous the world over for supporting their sports icons. That will continue and will contribute to this particular bid in a very positive way.

  I acknowledge that this legislation is a necessity. It is required to underwrite the commitments and the guarantees which are necessary to successfully host an international competition such as the Rugby World Cup 2023. We have already seen how our Irish representatives represent us. We have seen the Irish and British Lions and the way they exemplified commitment and passion in taking on the rugby world champions, New Zealand, last weekend. The composition of the Irish rugby team brings us back to our political heritage and roots. I spoke about the ban and political division was spoken about. It gives me great pride to be able to go and support an Irish rugby team which represents the 32 counties of Ireland regardless of the players' diverse backgrounds and religions. That is the benefit of sport and people have alluded to that. I do not want to have a negative tone but it is concerning when one hears some politicians, who are supposed to be representative, speaking in a negative way about rugby.  Sometimes they refer to those who support rugby as west Brits. I am a nationalist and a republican. I give 100% support to this bid and the Irish rugby team. The IRFU, the Government and the FAI, with the associations in the North of Ireland, are to be commended for the manner in which they have come together to try to make the bid successful.

  In the time remaining to me I want to speak briefly about the benefits to the regional economy such a bid could produce. I come from the south east and know that a number of stadia in various regions, North and South, are listed in the application. It is important that appropriate infrastructure be in place. I again commend the FAI, the GAA and the IRFU for the massive investment they have made in playing facilities for the grassroots and also in stadiums which could host huge international competitions. With a mind to the regions and the transport, tourism and sport aspects, the tourism infrastructure is in place; the transport infrastructure is in place and could be developed further and the sports infrastructure is in place. I, therefore, offer my full support to the bid and wish the Government and the various bodies supporting it all the best. The likes of Dick Spring, Hugo MacNeill, Brian O'Driscoll and so many others who are supporting the bid behind the scenes, both in the North and the South, deserve our support. They definitely have mine.

Senator Maria Byrne: Information on Maria Byrne Zoom on Maria Byrne I welcome the Minister and thank him for coming forward with this proposal which I fully support. Having attended rugby matches in Ireland, elsewhere in Europe and worldwide for the last 40 years, this is a very positive move for Ireland. France and South Africa are its main competitors in seeking to host the Rugby World Cup in 2023. Having attended the Rugby World Cup tournaments in France and South Africa - in 1995 - I can say they were fantastic experiences. If we were to be successful in making the bid, it would be hugely important and very positive for Ireland. We are forgetting about the Irish diaspora of 70 million, some of whom who would be attracted to the tournament. It is not only about the people who would travel back to Ireland to attend matches, it is also about those who would watch the broadcasts worldwide. Ireland would recognition recognition for what we had to offer in tourism. People are forgetting about this aspect. Therefore, I can understand why the Minister has come looking for approval to underwrite the bid. All of the procedures will be put in place if the bid is successful. Ireland has a very good chance because of what the country has to offer.

  I pay tribute to the people involved, not only those on the committee under the stewardship of Dick Spring. I have met Hugo MacNeill and heard his views on the bid. I also pay tribute to those involved in the IRFU and the different people in the background who have gone about their business quietly in speaking to those who will vote and decide where the event is to be held. There would be benefits for the tourism sector and local tourism interests, be they hostelries, hotels, pubs or restaurants. The knock-on effects would come from people visiting the different stadiums, North and South, which is very important.

  Rugby is one game that has united all four provinces of Ireland for many years. Reference was made to people who had been banned. The late Paddy Reid who was a neighbour of mine and played for Ireland and the Lions was actually banned from playing rugby union because he had played rugby league. These things happened and it took a long time for him to be brought back. We do not want to go back to those days. It is very important, therefore, that we all work together in a positive manner. When we attend any European Cup or World Cup match, people always know about the Irish whose reputation certainly goes before them. They are looked at in a very positive manner. It would also be very positive for the young people who will come behind us to see, if Ireland was to be successful in its bid, their clubs being used in hosting teams for training. There would be many positive effects for the whole island. I wish the Minister and the rest of the team the very best and I am confident that Ireland will be successful in its bid to host the Rugby World Cup in 2023.

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross I thank Senators for their contributions, especially the positive ones which were in marked contrast to some of those made in the other House. That does not mean that I do not recognise the need for the scrutiny referred to by Senator Kevin Humphreys and others in the back row. Such scrutiny is very important. When one sees a figure such as €300 million plus, it is important that it be scrutinised. If the result of the legislation being late is that it is rushed which causes it to be scrutinised in the Houses and at joint committee, that is fine by me. It is very good.

  Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile referred to the fact that his colleague, Deputy Imelda Munster, had brought forward an amendment to the effect that I should be accountable every six or eight months for what had happened. I responded to it by introducing an amendment that had been drafted slightly differently. I acknowledged the fact that we should explain that we had nothing to hide, except from our competitors. We are actually very proud of what we are doing in that respect. We want people to see that Ireland would not really be on the line for the figures being bandied about of €300 million plus. The numbers are fairly large and sound larger than they are. The fact is that there would only be financial exposure to a figure of €300 million plus - there is a guaranteed €120 million tournament fee - if no tickets were to be sold. That is the reality. The likelihood is that we would have a really successful tournament and that is what we would be hoping for. If history was to repeat itself and we were to have a successful tournament like the tournament held in the United Kingdom, Ireland would make a profit. World Rugby has asked for a guarantee which would be capped. It would not be unlimited. I will not tell the Senators the figure at which it has been capped, as they do not want to know-----

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys We do want to know.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross The Senator does want to know, but he is not going to find out. However, it would be capped at a reasonable figure. It has been capped in order simply that the bid will meet the requirements of those who are actually offering and selling the event to us. It is a competitive bid, which is why we are not going to tell Senators what the guarantee would be capped at. It has been capped at a reasonable level to keep us in the contest. That is what it is about.

  I will address the first issue as to why we were rushed. We are not really rushing. The legislation is going through quickly, as Senators have rightly pointed out. As I said in my opening contribution, this process has been ongoing since 2013. We had people with expertise from around the world, including in Deloitte, involved before we took the decision to proceed. We looked at what had happened in Britain to see if we could do it and the experts came to that conclusion. The decision was then referred to a working group with representatives from the North and the South. It looked at the proposal in great detail and stated, "Yes, we can do this." It went before the Cabinet several times. I have answered questions many times in this House, the Dáil and at the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport. There is no doubt that the proposal has been subject to enormous independent scrutiny, but that does not mean that Senators should not ask questions about what is happening and the final figures. Their questions are very welcome.

  I will leave out the positive stuff because there is no point in going over it. The question has been asked regularly, "Is this going to be shared?" It came from Senator Ned O'Sullivan and others. They want to know it the event would be shared, open to everybody or just an elite group of people? That is not the intention.

  The free-to-air issue is slightly complicated. It is probably one to which Senators would not like the answer. The rights are owned by World Rugby, but all of Ireland's games would be broadcast free-to-air, which would be absolutely guaranteed.  We can assure the Senator of that. The others will not be free. However, serious efforts will be made to keep ticket prices at reasonable levels. There is a market for tickets and we want as many people as possible to get there, the market to be satisfied and the demand to be there but there will be tickets starting from approximately €20. There will also be fan zones to accommodate people. It has mass appeal. This is a united Ireland game. As the Senator said, it is a fantastic way of uniting everybody. I appeal to all Members to support it. I welcome the questions of Senators and I hope I can answer them. They have all been answered in so far as I currently can. I will return to the House. I am quite happy, as Senator Boyhan said, to come to the House as often as Senators would like, as I do regularly, to answer questions on this issue because I think it is right to do so and Members are asking questions for the right reasons. There has not been any political point scoring in the House today. All Members want this to work. I thank them for their contributions.

  Question put and agreed to.

Rugby World Cup 2023 Bill 2017: Committee and Remaining Stages

  Sections 1 to 9, inclusive, agreed to.

TITLE

  Question proposed: "That the Title be the Title to the Bill."

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys Before we proceed to the next Stage, I wish to ask the Minister about a newspaper report published last weekend which stated that if Rugby World Cup Limited makes profits from the world cup, those profits will be tax free and that will be allowed by this Bill. Is that correct?

Acting Chairman (Senator Gerry Horkan): Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan At this Stage we are just dealing with the Bill reported without amendments-----

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys But is it within the Bill-----

Acting Chairman (Senator Gerry Horkan): Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan I will bring the Senator in shortly.

  Question put and agreed to.

  Bill reported without amendment and received for final consideration.

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

Acting Chairman (Senator Gerry Horkan): Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan I now call on Senators Humphreys and Ó Donnaghaile and will then allow the Minister to respond.

Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile: Information on Niall Ó Donnghaile Zoom on Niall Ó Donnghaile I wish to address two brief points that have arisen during the course of contributions of Members. In relation to the stadia redevelopment projects in the North and in reference to the access issues that Senator Grace O'Sullivan and others touched on, a legacy project was put in place in terms of utilising some of the capital. I understand there may not be capital involved in this particular bid but the work and the aspiration involved in ensuring a legacy for this bid, if successful, would be very important in order that it is not a flash in the pan. If successful, it has the potential to be transformative and very positive but it should not be confined to one event or one year. We should consider how to create a lasting legacy and encourage people to participate in rugby and other sports, and use this as an avenue to do so.

  On the issue of free-to-air broadcasting, there is a strange anomaly which runs contrary to the all-Ireland nature of this Bill. I shared Senator Ó Ríordáin's disappointment in relation to the game at the weekend but Ireland international soccer matches, rugby matches and some boxing at the Olympics were blocked to viewers in the North, as happens regularly, via satellite subscribers and providers. It is a very complex licensing issue but it prohibits many sports fans being able to watch sporting events because in Northern Ireland RTE can only be obtained through a satellite subscription. If people do not have that as part of their package, they are not able to see even games that may be free to air. It is a fairly complex anomaly. It gets on everybody's goat, no matter who they are or where they are from. People will be so frustrated if they are not able to watch the Rugby World Cup that there would probably be the first ever cross-community protest. I am throwing this issue at the Minister but I hope to engage further with him and his officials and wanted to draw it to his attention.

Acting Chairman (Senator Gerry Horkan): Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan I want to move on to item 2 but I will let the Minister back in. Senator Humphreys-----

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys I heard the Minister but I wish to make one other point-----

Acting Chairman (Senator Gerry Horkan): Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan Senator Humphreys made his point and then Senator Ó Donnaghaile made his. It is not a to and fro at this stage. The Senator made his contribution.

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys I have an additional point to make. It will take 30 seconds. It ties back to the Minister's earlier contribution. I will take part in the joint protest mentioned by Senator Ó Donnaghaile if it happens. Cities and towns being involved in this is a key issue. We will have to work with local authorities to ensure that the cities and towns in which matches will take place are at their very best. If the bid is successful, the Minister should take the next step and start to develop working groups across the country to ensure that cities and towns are ready for the event.

Acting Chairman (Senator Gerry Horkan): Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan The Minister has responsibility for tourism as well as sport.

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross I will revert back to Senator Ó Donnaghaile in regard to the anomaly which he mentioned.

Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile: Information on Niall Ó Donnghaile Zoom on Niall Ó Donnghaile Down the line. I understand. The rugby fraternity would be raging if I did not raise the issue when I had the chance.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross That is fair enough.

Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin: Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Where is Senator Ó Donnaghaile's principle?

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross In terms of the legacy issue, I take the Senator's point that this should not be a once-off flash in the pan. The tournament budget provides for investment in approximately 40 training facilities across the country for visiting teams. Many of these facilities will be in existing rugby and other sports clubs, which will leave a legacy of improved facilities for all those clubs. The tournament budget will also provide for a legacy programme for the development of the sport. Although some temporary facilities will be put into host stadia, permanent facilities such as floodlights will leave a positive legacy for those stadia. There will also be a legacy of long-term benefit for tourism through the country's raised profile and also the prospect of repeat visits. In some ways, the legacy is intangible but it will hopefully be very real. I would also join the joint protest. It would be my first time to march with Sinn Féin.

Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile: Information on Niall Ó Donnghaile Zoom on Niall Ó Donnghaile The Minister would be very welcome. We would take a traditional route.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross In regard to the important question posed by Senator Humphreys, I do not know whether he is discussing the tournament company or the Rugby World Cup-----

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys The tournament company.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross -----but I will clarify both. Rugby World Cup is registered in the Isle of Man. I will leave its tax status to the Senator's imagination but it is its own business, not that of Members. The tournament company in which the Government would be a shareholder has not yet been set up. That will be done shortly. Its tax status has not been established.

  Question put and agreed to.

Rugby World Cup 2023 Bill 2017: Motion for Earlier Signature

Senator John O'Mahony: Information on John O'Mahony Zoom on John O'Mahony I move:

That pursuant to subsection 2° of section 2 of Article 25 of the Constitution, Seanad Éireann concurs with the Government in a request to the President to sign the Rugby World Cup 2023 Bill 2017 on a date which is earlier than the fifth day after the date on which the Bill shall have been presented to him.

  Question put and agreed to.

  7 o’clock

Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland (Amendment) Bill 2014: Report and Final Stages

Acting Chairman (Senator Gerry Horkan): Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan Before we commence, I remind Senators that a Senator may speak only once on Report Stage, other than the proposer of an amendment, who may reply to discussion on the amendment. Also, on Report Stage, each amendment must be seconded.

  Amendment No. 1, which arises out of committee proceedings, is in the name of Senators Conway-Walsh, Devine, Gavan, Ó Clochartaigh, Ó Donnghaile, Mac Lochlainn and Warfield.

Senator Rose Conway-Walsh: Information on Rose Conway-Walsh Zoom on Rose Conway-Walsh I move amendment No. 1:

In page 5, to delete lines 28 to 30 and substitute the following:
“ “57CA.(1)The Financial Services Ombudsman shall, as part of an investigation, try,
as far as possible, to resolve a complaint by mediation.”.

Senator Máire Devine: Information on Máire Devine Zoom on Máire Devine I second the amendment.

Senator Rose Conway-Walsh: Information on Rose Conway-Walsh Zoom on Rose Conway-Walsh Following the discussion on Committee Stage, this new amendment represents the ideal compromise between the Minister's position and my own. Importantly, the Ombudsman shall now by default try to resolve a complaint by mediation. The Government had favoured a position whereby the Ombudsman would try to resolve complaints by mediation. We are all aware of and welcome the fact that mediation has become the norm. This amendment, if passed, will hopefully ensure that there is no sliding back on this progress. I hope that the Minister of State can support this.

Senator Paul Gavan: Information on Paul Gavan Zoom on Paul Gavan Hear, hear.

Minister of State at the Department of Finance (Deputy Michael D'Arcy): Information on Michael D'Arcy Zoom on Michael D'Arcy The issue of mediation is an important aspect of this Bill and of the Government's Bill on the amalgamation of the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsmen. We had a constructive discussion of this section last week on Committee Stage. We are all in agreement on the benefits of mediation and desirability that it plays a central role in how the Ombudsman resolves complaints. It was agreed that we should revisit the topic of mediation in the Seanad on Report Stage in order to ensure that section 6 of this Bill would be harmonious with the provisions for mediation in the Government's Bill as I think both parties agree it is desirable that where both Bills overlap, there should be agreement, if possible.

  The proposed drafting amendment would effectively make the change where, in the avoidance of any doubt, the Ombudsman "shall" as far as possible to try to resolve the complaint by mediation rather than "may" where he or she deems it appropriate to do so. The wording currently proposed by the Senators is a replication of the Minister's amendment on mediation intended to be discussed in the upcoming Report Stage in the Dáil of the Government's Bill. I accept this drafting change in case there is any doubt about the value placed on mediation as a conflict resolution tool. Both Bills should support and encourage the current trend whereby almost 60% of complaints are resolved through mediation, while preserving its voluntary nature. This is what makes it such an effective form of dispute resolution.

  I reiterate my enthusiasm for attempts to support mediation in the ombudsman's office. It is clear that there is cross-party support on this policy, and it is for this reason that I accept the amendment.

  Amendment agreed to.

Acting Chairman (Senator Gerry Horkan): Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan Government amendment No. 2 is also in the names of Senators Conway-Walsh, Devine, Gavan, Ó Clochartaigh, Ó Donnghaile, Mac Lochlainn and Warfield. This arises out of committee proceedings and is both a Government and Sinn Féin amendment.

  Government amendment No. 2:

In page 7, line 19, to delete “decision” and substitute “finding”.

Senator Rose Conway-Walsh: Information on Rose Conway-Walsh Zoom on Rose Conway-Walsh This is just an amendment-----

Acting Chairman (Senator Gerry Horkan): Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan The amendment is in the Minister of State's name first, so I will let him in to begin with.

Senator Rose Conway-Walsh: Information on Rose Conway-Walsh Zoom on Rose Conway-Walsh I give way to the Minister of State.

Deputy Michael D'Arcy: Information on Michael D'Arcy Zoom on Michael D'Arcy The Senator is very kind.

Acting Chairman (Senator Gerry Horkan): Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan The finance committee on tour again, but there we go.

Deputy Michael D'Arcy: Information on Michael D'Arcy Zoom on Michael D'Arcy I note that the Senators have submitted an identical amendment to section 8 of the Bill and I thank them for their co-operation on this matter. Section 8 amends section 57CL of the Central Bank Act 1942 and provides that a complainant may appeal a finding of the Financial Services Ombudsman to the High Court within 35 days of notification of the Ombudsman's decision, or within such other period as the High Court may allow. This amendment corrects a drafting error made in an earlier amendment.

  The term used in section 8 to describe the determination of a complaint by the Ombudsman is a "decision". This term is inconsistent, however, with the rest of the Central Bank Act 1942, where the term for such a determination is a "finding". In order for the Bill amending the Central Bank Act to read consistently with the rest of that Act, it is necessary that the reference to "decision" in section 8 be changed to "finding".

Senator Rose Conway-Walsh: Information on Rose Conway-Walsh Zoom on Rose Conway-Walsh I agree with the Minister of State.

  Amendment agreed to.

  Bill, as amended, received for final consideration.

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

Senator Rose Conway-Walsh: Information on Rose Conway-Walsh Zoom on Rose Conway-Walsh I thank my fellow Senators and the Leader of the House. I particularly thank the Minister of State and his team for their co-operation in having the Bill moved through this House as swiftly as possible. As I said many times during the passage of this Bill, there are people who have been waiting for this legislation for years. For these people, this legislation offers some hope of redress. Sinn Féin was always clear that these people deserve a fair hearing, at the very least, and the chance to get access to justice. Sinn Féin has no difficulty in highlighting and challenging wrongdoing by financial institutions, but we are also keenly aware of the need to provide workable solutions to these problems. We must continue to play a central and robust role in ensuring that consumers are protected against those whose primary focus is on profit maximisation. This Bill is an indication of what can be done to right the wrongs of the past and present.

  I thank my colleague, Deputy Pearse Doherty, for initiating this Bill. Go raibh míle maith agaibh go léir.

Minister of State at the Department of Finance (Deputy Michael D'Arcy): Information on Michael D'Arcy Zoom on Michael D'Arcy I thank everybody concerned, starting with Deputy Doherty, who moved this Bill through the Dáil and Seanad, and all the Members of this House. The first time I took this Bill I said Senators would find me accommodating and flexible in trying to ensure that the best legislation would be passed. I thank the Senators for the debate and the staff at the Department of Finance. We have worked reasonably well together and I hope that will continue as there are a number of important pieces of legislation being brought forward in the next term. These include the Insurance (Amendment) Bill and the Investment Limited Partnership Bill relating to financial services. I would like to think the Seanad will be as accommodating on that legislation as it has been on this.

  We have put together a decent piece of legislation. A similar but more substantial Bill will be coming to this House next week and I look forward to progressing it.

  Question put and agreed to.

Acting Chairman (Senator Gerry Horkan): Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan That concludes our business for today. When is it proposed to sit again?

Senator Kieran O'Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell Tomorrow at 10.30 a.m.

  The Seanad adjourned at 7.10 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Wednesday, 12 July 2017.


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