Header Item Prelude
 Header Item Gnó an tSeanaid - Business of Seanad
 Header Item Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters
 Header Item Garda Deployment
 Header Item Wind Energy Guidelines
 Header Item Local Authority Housing Rents
 Header Item An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
 Header Item Copyright and Other Intellectual Property Law Provisions Bill 2018: Report Stage
 Header Item Visit of Tasmanian Delegation
 Header Item Copyright and Other Intellectual Property Law Provisions Bill 2018: Report Stage (Resumed) and Final Stage
 Header Item Business of Seanad
 Header Item Residential Tenancies (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2018: Committee Stage
 Header Item Civil Registration Bill 2019: Committee and Remaining Stages
 Header Item Gnó an tSeanaid - Business of Seanad
 Header Item Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2016: Committee Stage (Resumed)

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Seanad Éireann Debate
Vol. 265 No. 9

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Chuaigh an Cathaoirleach i gceannas ar 10:30:00

Machnamh agus Paidir.

Reflection and Prayer.


Gnó an tSeanaid - Business of Seanad

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

The need for the Minister for Justice and Equality to provide an update on the redeployment of gardaí from court security to front-line policing duties, as recommended in the report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland.

  I have also received notice from Senator Anthony Lawlor of the following matter:

The need for the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government to publish the proposed planning guidelines for wind turbines.

  I have also received notice from Senator Jennifer Murnane O'Connor of the following matter:

The need for the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government to make a statement on differences in local authority rent caps for adjoining counties.

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

The need for the Minister for Health to allocate funding to home care packages to assist families in keeping their loved ones in care at home.

  I have also received notice from Senator Pádraig Mac Lochlainn of the following matter:

The need for the Minister for Education and Skills to provide an update on the provision of the new school building at Moville community college, County Donegal.

  The matters raised by the Senators are suitable for discussion. I have selected Senators O’Donnell's, Lawlor's and Murnane O’Connor's matters and they will be taken now. Senator Gallagher has withdrawn his Commencement matter which I had originally selected. Senator Mac Lochlainn may give notice on another day of the matter that he wishes to raise.

Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters

Garda Deployment

Senator Kieran O'Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell I welcome the Minister of State to the House. One of the key recommendations of the report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland was the redeployment of members of An Garda Síochána from non-core duties to front-line duties. One of the non-core duties specified was the carrying out of security duties at courthouses by An Garda Síochána. The case with which I want to deal specifically, and the one I know best, is that of the new courthouse on Mulgrave Street in Limerick. This was opened in March 2018 and has been a great addition to Limerick and to the delivery of justice in the region but, when it was established in May 2018, 22 gardaí were reassigned from front-line duties to non-core security duties at the courthouse on Mulgrave Street. This is a very inefficient use of the skills of members of An Garda Síochána. The key recommendations of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland were developed in an implementation plan published last December following the publication of the commission's report in September. One of the key goals for 2019 under the plan is the redeployment of gardaí from non-core security duties in courts to front-line community policing duties. This is already the case in Dublin. Security work at the new Criminal Courts of Justice building, opened in 2010, is carried out by a private security firm, G4S. This firm also carries out security duties at the Four Courts in Dublin.

  Private security firms do not carry out security duties in any court outside of Dublin. I want the courthouse on Mulgrave Street in Limerick to be the first outside of Dublin in which the key recommendation of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland, which is also a goal for 2019 under the implementation plan, is implemented so that these 22 gardaí, who are needed on the streets of Limerick, can return to front-line duties. We need them in suburbs such as my own area of Castletroy and Monaleen, Dooradoyle, Corbally, and Caherdavin. They are needed in the city centre where many businesses have major issues with antisocial behaviour and theft. The public of Limerick wish the see their members of An Garda Síochána on community duties, on the beat, on bikes, in patrol cars, walking the streets, and making people feel safer.  They do not wish to see them tied up in performing security duties in the courthouse that could be carried out better and more efficiently by a private security firm. I am not expecting all 22 gardaí who include two sergeants to be fully redeployed because in the courthouse we will require gardaí to exercise powers that private security firms do not have such as the power of arrest. However, I want to see immediate action on this issue which I raised with the local chief superintendent, Mr. Gerard Roche, at the joint policing committee meeting in Limerick last Friday. He very much supports my proposal, as does the superintendent in Henry Street Garda station, Mr. Derek Smart. Can the Minister make Mulgrave Street courthouse the first outside Dublin in which private security firms take over security duties, meaning that the 22 gardaí engaged in security duties in the courthouse can be redeployed to engage in front-line community policing in Limerick city and its environs?

Minister of State at the Department of Finance (Deputy Michael D'Arcy): Information on Michael D'Arcy Zoom on Michael D'Arcy I thank the Senator for raising this matter which I am taking on behalf of the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Flanagan.

  On 18 December 2018 the Government endorsed the report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland and accepted all 157 of its key recommendations, including those related to the reassignment of non-core duties, subject to further evaluation. The Minister also published a high level plan, A Policing Service for the Future, which set out the approach to implementation in the next four years of the commission's recommendations. Their implementation is being overseen by a dedicated programme office in the Department of the Taoiseach, as recommended in the commission's report. As set out in the implementation plan, work will commence on a review of An Garda Síochána's role in court security in quarter three of this year, with a view to completion by year end. The recommendations on responsibility for court security duties will then be implemented during the next phase of the implementation plan, from January 2020 to June 2021.

  Progress continues to be made on civilianisation, with approximately 410 new civilian posts sanctioned since the beginning of 2017. I understand approximately 340 gardaí were redeployed by the Commissioner to operational policing duties between the beginning of 2017 and the end of quarter 1 of 2019. That is positive progress and civilianisation, including redeployment, will continue in 2019. In that regard, the Minister welcomes the Commissioner's decision to recruit a net 600 Garda staff in 2019 which will facilitate the redeployment of 500 gardaí to visible front-line policing duties in 2019. It is also encouraging that there continues to be a strong pipeline of candidates who wish to join An Garda Síochána in the most recent recruitment campaign which closed on 24 April and attracted in excess of 5,000 applicants. This level of recruitment will ensure we remain on track to deliver a Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021, to include 15,000 Garda members and 4,000 civilians.

   The issue of members of An Garda Síochána being redeployed from providing security in courts is linked with the issue of An Garda Síochána providing escorts for prisoners attending court. A value for money study of prison escorts was conducted last year, led by the Department of Justice and Equality. Work is ongoing between the Department, An Garda Síochána, the Courts Service and the Irish Prison Service to develop the recommendations made in the value for money study. The review of court security provision as part of the recommendations of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland will be informed to a considerable extent by the outcome of this work, given that the management of prisoners attending court is largely carried out by the Garda and prison service personnel who escort the prisoners. It is a major aspect of court security.

  The Department of Justice and Equality will continue to work with all of the agencies involved to progress the reassignment, to the greatest extent possible, of gardaí to front-line policing duties.

Senator Kieran O'Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell I thank the Minister of State. It is welcome that he has confirmed that the implementation plan of the Commission on the Future of Policing of Ireland refers to the redeployment of gardaí from court security duties to front-line duties in 2019. He also referred to the value for money study in the context of prison escorts. I am not talking about prison escorts but physical security in the courts. In the Four Courts and the Criminal Courts of Justice beside Heuston Station there is high level security like that provided in an airport. I want to see the same high level security on Mulgrave Street in Limerick. Twenty-two gardaí are tied up in carrying out court duties when they should be out policing the streets of Limerick. I, for one, would like to see this initiative expedited. The value for money study of prison escorts is a secondary issue. I am referring to a mainstream issue, one I will continue to pursue.

  When the new courthouse was opened in Mulgrave Street in March 2018, discussions took place on the use of a private security firm. It ended up that the Garda had to provide the security detail. When the Criminal Courts of Justice were opened in Dublin in 2010, how did it happen that a private security firm was given the contract to provide security considering that when a new courthouse was opened on Mulgrave Street, Limerick, eight years later, the Garda had to provide the security service? I will continue to pursue the matter with the Minister and Garda Commissioner, Mr. Drew Harris. Twenty-two gardaí were redeployed from front-line duties to non-core duties and I would like to see this reversed. The Minister of State might reiterate the commitment of the Government in that regard.

Deputy Michael D'Arcy: Information on Michael D'Arcy Zoom on Michael D'Arcy I do not have the answer to that specific question, but it must be emphasised that the work in implementing the recommendations made in the report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland is a long-term commitment that will take a number of years to complete. The recommendations made in the commission's report will be implemented on a phased basis in the next four years. A Policing Service for the Future will be a living document that will be updated, as required, on a biannual basis by the implementation group on policing reform. Based on the four-year plan, it is expected that all agreed recommendations will be substantially implemented by the end of 2022, the 100th anniversary of the establishment of An Garda Síochána.

  On the specific issue of moving members of An Garda Síochána away from providing security in courts to front-line policing roles, the Department is working closely with all of the agencies involved to make progress on this goal, initially as part of the work of developing the recommendations contained in the value for money review. This work will inform the wider review of court security. It is not just a matter of court duties but also of the transfer of prisoners to and from courts. The Government looks forward to continuing to work towards and support this goal through co-operation between the Department of Justice and Equality, An Garda Síochána, the Courts Service and the Irish Prison Service. Alongside the continued progress on civilianisation and recruitment within An Garda Síochána, the recommendations made in the commission's report will ensure more gardaí are available for front-line policing duties. I understand the logic behind what the Senator says should happen and that he does not want gardaí to do what they are currently doing just because that is the way it has always been done. We can change. The report of the commission is very clear that we need fewer gardaí in roles that could be carried out by civilians. There are specialised skill sets and abilities in certain firms. The Senator highlighted G4S. It is an international firm which is carrying out the service in question all over the world. We can use its skill set and expertise to continue civilianisation in order that we will have gardaí on the streets. They should be visible, out and about meeting people to get to know them and working and living in the community. That also benefits the Garda tremendously.

Wind Energy Guidelines

Senator Anthony Lawlor: Information on Anthony Lawlor Zoom on Anthony Lawlor I will not say anything at this point; rather, I will wait until I hear the response of the Minister of State, Deputy D'Arcy. I am well versed in this matter, about which I have spoken on a number of occasions. I will use my four minutes after I hear his response.

Deputy Michael D'Arcy: Information on Michael D'Arcy Zoom on Michael D'Arcy I thank Senator Lawlor for giving me the opportunity to update the House on the review of the wind energy development guidelines. The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government is undertaking a focused review of the guidelines to address a number of key aspects, including sound or noise, visual amenity setback distances, shadow flicker, community obligation, community dividend and grid connections. The review essentially aims to strike a better balance between addressing the concerns of local communities over wind farm developments and the need to generate additional renewable energy capacity, having regard to our binding EU renewable energy targets, while also ensuring that there will be greater and earlier engagement with communities by wind farm developers. In this regard, officials in the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government have been working closely with officials in the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment on the revision of the guidelines in the context of that Department’s remit and lead responsibility in renewable energy generally, including wind energy.

  As Members may be aware, as part of the overall review, a strategic environmental assessment, SEA, is being undertaken on the revised guidelines before they come into effect, in accordance with the requirements of EU Directive 2001/24/EC on the assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment, otherwise known as the SEA directive. SEA is a process by which environmental considerations are required to be fully integrated into the preparation of plans and programmes which act as frameworks for development consent or planning permission prior to their final adoption, with public consultation being part of that process. The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government appointed SEA experts to assist in this regard, and significant work was undertaken during 2018 on the SEA process and the development of the revised guidelines. While it was intended that the revised draft guidelines would be published for public consultation in quarter 1 of 2019, some delays to the planned schedule arose due to the publication in October 2018 of updated World Health Organization environmental noise standards, which consequently need to be taken into account in the finalisation of the guidelines to ensure compliance with best international practice, as well as the need to address certain Brexit related planning issues.

  As part of the SEA process, there will be an eight-week public consultation on the revised draft guidelines and the comprehensive SEA environmental report. This will enable all stakeholders, including members of the public, to examine the details of and submit comments and views on the draft proposals. Following the completion of the SEA process and the consideration of the submissions received during the public consultation phase, it is intended that the revised guidelines will be finalised and published in late 2019, after which they will come into effect. The revised guidelines will then be issued under section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended. In this connection, planning authorities and, where applicable, An Bord Pleanála must have regard to ministerial planning guidelines issued under section 28 in the performance of their statutory functions under the planning Acts. In the meantime, the current 2006 guidelines remain in force.

Senator Anthony Lawlor: Information on Anthony Lawlor Zoom on Anthony Lawlor This is a bullshit response. Pure bullshit. I have been listening to this since 2014. Unfortunately, the Minister of State is not in charge of the Department.

Acting Chairman (Senator Gerard P. Craughwell): Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell Senator Lawlor might withdraw his language.

Senator Anthony Lawlor: Information on Anthony Lawlor Zoom on Anthony Lawlor I will not. I cannot.

Acting Chairman (Senator Gerard P. Craughwell): Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell It is not appropriate in this House.

Senator Anthony Lawlor: Information on Anthony Lawlor Zoom on Anthony Lawlor This is a crap response.

Acting Chairman (Senator Gerard P. Craughwell): Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell That is not appropriate in this House.

Senator Anthony Lawlor: Information on Anthony Lawlor Zoom on Anthony Lawlor This is typical of the Department down in the Custom House. Most of them live in the city and have no experience of what goes on in rural areas. It is unfortunate that the Minister of State is giving the response. It is not his Department. The Minister, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, and Minister of State, Deputy English, have allowed this crap response to be given here today. This has been going on since 2014 and various Ministers have stood up in the Dáil or in this Chamber and said the guidelines will be published. They were supposed to be out last October or November but there was another excuse not to publish them. There are communities where planning applications have been made to local authorities and to An Bord Pleanála which are using guidelines from 2006. Things have changed since 2006. They are not the same as they were. The height of the turbines has gone way above what was advocated in the guidelines in 2006. This is crap. We do not expect this from a Department. There is some official in the Custom House who, when his arse hits the files on this issue, his head hits the roof, there are that many files on it. This sort of crap is not what the public wants. They want decisions. Unfortunately, the Minister of State is taking the brunt of what I am saying, but it is not his responsibility.

Acting Chairman (Senator Gerard P. Craughwell): Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell The Senator is attacking public servants who are not here to defend themselves.

Senator Anthony Lawlor: Information on Anthony Lawlor Zoom on Anthony Lawlor I do not give a shit because those public servants are delaying this.

Acting Chairman (Senator Gerard P. Craughwell): Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell Come on. We can-----

Senator Anthony Lawlor: Information on Anthony Lawlor Zoom on Anthony Lawlor They are delaying this. Those guidelines should have been out in 2014. Here we are in 2019, and it will be almost 2020 before these guidelines are out. I do not give a hoot about the officials. It is about time they were named. Who is sitting on these files and not making decisions so that the public can act on what is out there at the moment? The planning guidelines go back to 2006, and it will be 14 years until the new ones are published. It was a waste of time putting down this matter.

Acting Chairman (Senator Gerard P. Craughwell): Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell I invite the Minister of State to respond but it is not his Department.

Deputy Michael D'Arcy: Information on Michael D'Arcy Zoom on Michael D'Arcy I have nothing to say except one thing. There was no need for the Senator to be as ignorant as he was.

Senator Anthony Lawlor: Information on Anthony Lawlor Zoom on Anthony Lawlor I am not being ignorant. I am giving the facts. The last guidelines were in 2006 and we have been promised new guidelines since 2018.

Acting Chairman (Senator Gerard P. Craughwell): Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell Senator Lawlor has made his point.

Local Authority Housing Rents

Senator Jennifer Murnane O'Connor: Information on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor Zoom on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor I, too, am disappointed that neither the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, nor the Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, Deputy English, is present today. I understand the frustration of Senators, and again the Minister of State who is present is taking the rap for something that is not in his Department, but I see the frustration. I, too, live in an area where we do not get answers from the Department. I am not giving out, but I totally understand the frustration.

Acting Chairman (Senator Gerard P. Craughwell): Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell The Senator should stick to her own matter.

Senator Jennifer Murnane O'Connor: Information on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor Zoom on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor This is about the discrepancies between rent caps in neighbouring counties, which mean one family pay twice as much as another living next door to them. I and other elected representatives have written to the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government on this matter in the recent and historic past. I am sure this issue has arisen in many counties and townlands.

  I will target my area of Carlow and its neighbour, Laois. In the townland of Graiguecullen, both local authorities share an estate. It is at the end of Carlow and borders Laois. This has been a very good arrangement and proof that working together achieves great results. This estate is one to be proud of. The issue I want to discuss is the difference between what some families are paying in local authority rents and what their neighbours are paying. Included in this discussion will be references to the housing assistance payment, HAP, and the system surrounding HAP regarding local authority housing. Residents in this shared estate under the Laois authority have their rent capped at €93 per week, but if they are a resident under the Carlow authority the cap is €180.

  Added into this estate there are also a number of private houses for rent, and these households, which are in co-operative housing, should be able to apply for HAP but they are not allowed. Some of the private homes are actually co-operative homes and tenants in these cannot receive HAP. Co-operative Housing Ireland is a Government body, so why can a tenant in a Co-operative Housing Ireland house not qualify for HAP? Why are they removed from a council housing list because they are in co-operative housing? It just does not make sense that, in the midst of a housing crisis and when we have mechanisms in place to help people, that we are not helping them but pushing them into poverty. These people do not qualify for the local authority housing list so they pay €1,200 a month in rent. They cannot afford a mortgage because they do not have enough savings. I have raised the massive issue of local authority thresholds being too low to allow people to go on the housing list, but it has not been addressed, which is staggering. There are well over 1,000 people on Carlow's local authority housing list, but a review is under way so I expect the figure to be much higher.

  Almost eight years ago the Department carried out a review of the social housing income threshold.  For nearly a year and a half the Minister, Deputy Murphy, and the Minister of State, Deputy English, have promised that it would be reviewed. Last September, they told me that it would be ready and it has not happened. I understand the frustration and do not want to give out to the Minister of State, Deputy D'Arcy. The thresholds to qualify are unwittingly excluding people who should qualify for the social housing lists. It is unacceptable that people who are working and doing their best are caught in the net. They do not qualify to go on the local authority housing list and they do not get a mortgage. The biggest issue here is that we have one of the lowest caps for local authority housing, at €27,500, while our neighbouring counties Laois and Kilkenny are over €30,000. It is unfair. We now have a situation where if a person pays rent as a Carlow local authority tenant, that person is capped at €180 a week, compared with Laois at €93.

Acting Chairman (Senator Gerard P. Craughwell): Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell The Senator has made her point and is out of time.

Senator Jennifer Murnane O'Connor: Information on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor Zoom on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor I do not know if this is getting through to the Department. When houses are next door to each other and the residents of one are paying nearly double the amount of the other, it causes aggro in an estate. People then go back to Carlow County Council and ask why they are paying so much. I ask the Minister of State to address these issues.

Deputy Michael D'Arcy: Information on Michael D'Arcy Zoom on Michael D'Arcy I thank the Senator. The right of local authorities to set and collect rents on their dwellings is laid down in section 58 of the Housing Act 1966. The making or amending of rent schemes under section 58 is an executive function and is subject to broad principles laid down by the Department, including that the rent payable should be related to income and a smaller proportion of income should be required from low-income households; that provision should be included for the acceptance of a lower rent than that required under the terms of the scheme in exceptional cases where payment of the normal rent would give rise to hardship; and that appropriate local factors should be taken into account, including the costs of the maintenance and management of the stock of rented dwellings and the adequacy of the rental income to meet such costs.

  Since 1986, when rent setting was devolved to individual local authorities, different approaches have been taken to rent charging and setting throughout the country. There are 36 separate differential rents schemes in operation nationwide. While local authorities generally follow the household means policy, there is variation in the extent to which they apply the income disregards set out in that policy in that differential rent schemes and differing approaches are taken to certain forms of income, such as the working family payment and the carer's allowance. With regard to caps on rent, a majority of local authorities impose a maximum amount of rent payable under this scheme for different property types, while a significant minority do not impose any such maximum rents.

  Considerable work has been carried out by the Department in developing a draft national differential rents framework for the purposes of section 31 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009. Such a framework has as its main aim the harmonisation of local authority rents, including a set of standardised income disregards, while retaining the general principle of rents related to household income. This work is being examined further in the light of the broader commitment given in Rebuilding Ireland - Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness to review the disparate systems of differential rent for social housing in place across local authorities. The overall objective is to ensure that housing supports are fair and sustainable and prioritise those on low incomes. It is expected that the review will be completed in the near future. At that point, any proposed changes to existing rent arrangements will be brought to Government as part of a wider social housing reform package of measures that it is hoped will be finalised in the coming months.

Senator Jennifer Murnane O'Connor: Information on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor Zoom on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor I will wait for the review because it is important. We will pass legislation today on the Residential Tenancies Board. Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and all other parties are working together on that to help people. A smaller county such as Carlow has fallen down because our central government funding is so low, our business rates are higher, and the cap on housing is €180, which is very high for local authority housing. Services have to be provided. The Minister of State knows that local authorities have to provide services to each area. Since Carlow is so small, unless the cap and threshold for local authorities are right, the housing crisis will be made worse. I thank the Minister of State for coming in. I know it is not his remit. He got a bit of an earful today. I will be waiting for the review.

Deputy Michael D'Arcy: Information on Michael D'Arcy Zoom on Michael D'Arcy While it is not my Department, I spent time on Wexford County Council and I know the area that the Senator is talking about well. I know that there are areas throughout the country with towns which are in two counties. Bunclody and Carrickduff are the best example between Carlow and Wexford. I was not aware that there were joint estates such as the estate the Senator is talking about. That is a specific example of where there is unfairness. It seems from the response I read out that flexibility is available to the executive of Laois County Council to vary that. If flexibility is there, I am very strong on it being applied in a fair manner. On too many occasions, we as politicians are told by civil servants that we cannot do that. The flexibility is there and it should be applied. It is grossly wrong that if there is an estate between two local authorities, if there are similar houses of the same value, and people potentially working in the same venue in the town, that they are paying different rents out of their own pocket. That is not fair. There is no version of justice where that is right. This suggests that there is flexibility for senior executives, the housing director in Carlow and the housing director in Laois. If that cannot be concluded between them, then the managers or chief executive officers of both should be brought in because that is patently wrong.

Senator Jennifer Murnane O'Connor: Information on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor Zoom on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor I thank the Minister of State. That is a great answer.

  Sitting suspended at 11.10 a.m. and resumed at 11.30 a.m.

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business

Senator Catherine Noone: Information on Catherine Noone Zoom on Catherine Noone The Order of Business is No. 1, Copyright and Other Intellectual Property Law Provisions Bill 2018 - Report and Final Stages, to be taken at 12.45 p.m. and adjourned at 2 p.m., if not previously concluded; No. 2, Residential Tenancies (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2018 - Committee and Remaining Stages, to be taken at 2 p.m. and adjourned not later than 5 p.m., if not previously concluded; No. 3, Civil Registration Bill 2019 - Committee and Remaining Stages, to be taken at the conclusion of No. 2 or 5 p.m., whichever is the earlier; and No. 4, Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2016 - Committee Stage (resumed), to be taken at the conclusion of No. 3.

Senator Gerry Horkan: Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan I thank the Deputy Leader for outlining the Order of Business.

  I note that the European Commission has announced that it is launching a formal anti-trust investigation into Insurance Ireland after claims that it could be operating a cartel or engaging in cartel-like behaviour by restricting access to its database which contains information on claims and people who make frequent claims related to accidents and so on. It is an unprecedented move by the European Union to investigate a body like Insurance Ireland and I hope it can put to bed, one way or the other, the suggestions of engaging in cartel-like behaviour. I am Vice Chairman of the Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach which has engaged in a considerable discussion on all forms of insurance, particularly motor insurance but also public liability and employer's liability insurance. We have seen festivals and various other community activities curtailed and cancelled because of high insurance costs. I believe the investigation is particularly related to motor insurance. It is welcome that the European Union will investigate the issue. The high cost of insurance is very damaging to businesses, individuals, communities, sports clubs and so on. It might be useful to schedule a debate with the Minister of State, Deputy D'Arcy, who is responsible for financial services and insurance matters to ascertain what he is doing on the cost of insurance. Many of the proposals from his working group and the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach have not yet been implemented. It is important for us to receive an update on what is happening and why.

  I welcome the appointment of the new HSE director general, Mr. Paul Reid. I knew him when he was chief executive of Fingal County Council. He comes with a reputation for dynamism and activity. He was very involved with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform at the time of the crisis. However, in the health sector 20 of the 23 major capital projects undertaken since 2010 ended up costing more than the agreed contract price. That is no way to budget. It is an absolute scandal that the national children's hospital will cost at least three times the original €650 million and probably much more by the time it is fitted out with all of its equipment. It is important that we keep an eye on how the HSE is spending its money. It is important that it be funded adequately to provide the services required.

  The availability of Spinraza, a drug to treat the condition of spinal muscular atrophy, has been raised in the House many times. It is welcome that the NHS has approved it for use in England and Wales, leaving Ireland and Estonia as the only EU countries that are not funding it. It is incumbent on the Leader to bring the Minister for Health into the House to explain where we stand on the availability of Spinraza. I have not yet clarified whether Northern Ireland and Scotland are involved; the NHS announcement seems to be in respect of England and Wales. The Taoiseach has often said if medical treatment is available in one part of the island, it should be available in the other. If it is available in the United Kingdom generally and specifically in Northern Ireland, it is important that we have the same terms here. I, therefore, call for a debate with the Minister for Health on the availability of Spinraza in order that he can outline where he stands on drugs that are being approved in many other EU countries but not here. Most people would appreciate it taking place sooner rather than later.

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell I propose an amendment to the Order of Business with respect to the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2018.  I do not believe we should proceed beyond Committee Stage today because we need to give the legislation plenty of time. That is what I propose.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Is the Senator proposing that we take Committee Stage only today?

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell Yes.

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

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell One cannot go down a byroad or city street today without seeing hundreds of posters for hopeful local election candidates. I wish each and every one of them well. As they are my electorate, I do not mind speaking on their behalf. We have repeatedly promised councillors that we will review their pay and terms and conditions of employment, as well as their powers, but, frankly, we have done nothing for them. County councillors were promised a review would happen by Hallowe'en and by the end of the year or at some other time. I wonder if the many hopefuls who have never been elected before realise what they are getting themselves into. As the miserable allowance they receive will be spent in looking after their constituents, they will get nothing. If they live in places like west Cork, it will cost them money to run their cars. They will finish up on boards of management in schools and education and training boards and they will simply not be able to afford to attend because they will not be paid proper expenses. The bottom line is there is an urgent need for reform. I ask the Deputy Leader to arrange a debate in this House before the new incoming councillors take their seats in order that we will openly discuss in front of the public their terms and conditions of employment. As I have no difficulty in discussing the terms and conditions of employment of elected persons in any public forum, I ask that we have that debate.

  I totally concur with my colleague Senator Horkan in what he said about the cost of car insurance and the issue of a cartel raised in a report issued today. It is about time there was a detailed investigation of the issue, particularly when one hears about young drivers buying cars for €2,000 and that it costs them €6,000 to insure them. Owning and insuring a car is not a huge issue in suburban Dublin, but it is simply prohibitive if one lives in rural Ireland and is an apprentice who must drive 25 or 30 miles to work each day. The rule changes made are good and I do not disagree with most of them, but even if a driver gets to the stage where he or she has a driving licence, he or she cannot afford to drive because he or she cannot get insurance. We have to change the way things are done in this country. We need to debate the matter prior to any report coming from a European source.

Senator Rose Conway-Walsh: Information on Rose Conway-Walsh Zoom on Rose Conway-Walsh I again want to talk about the drug Spinraza. I very much welcome the decision made by the British Government and the National Health Service, NHS, to provide it for the treatment of spinal muscular atrophy, SMA. It absolutely and definitively puts the onus on the Government and the HSE to approve the use of the drug here. I am delighted that another jurisdiction has reached a deal with Biogen and it also appears that the price has been lowered when compared with that offered previously, including the offer made to the HSE. It is vital that the price be taken into consideration as the HSE considers its next move in negotiations.

  A very important part of today's announcement is the reference to "real-world evidence of its long-term benefits". This, with the possibility of a reduced price, provides the impetus for the HSE to finally provide Spinraza to further improve quality of life for SMA sufferers. However, it is imperative that this momentum not be lost. As I have said from the very first time I raised the issue, time is of the essence for SMA sufferers. Spinraza is a life changing drug for children in County Mayo such as Grace O'Malley and Cillian Mearns and others who are affected. It is not lost on the families that after today's decision, Ireland and Estonia are the only EU countries yet to provide this treatment. The HSE leadership team was due to meet this week to make a decision on use of the drug. There are no excuses left. Will the Deputy Leader answer the following questions? Did the HSE leadership team meet yesterday to discuss the availability of Spinraza? When will a decision be made? Does the HSE have full information from Britain on the price paid to Biogen? As I said, time is of the essence. I personally know some of the parents and their children, as the Deputy Leader probably does, and they are watching their children shut down. As there is a real lack of humanity, I ask the Taoiseach to intervene and ask the Minister for Health to provide Spinraza for these children.

  I welcome the announcement made today that €20 million will be made available to remedy the pyrite problem. We have called for action and met the Minister many times to discuss the matter. It has been a long journey. I commend the Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, Deputy English, because he did give us his word. We want to make sure the houses that are affected the most will benefit immediately from the money. I am a little concerned that it will get caught up in local authorities which may not have the resources to do what needs to be done. I, therefore, ask the Minister of State to come to the Seanad in order that we can thank him for making the money available and work out the implementation plan with us.

Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin: Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin I join others who have raised the issue of the availability of Spinraza and welcome the decision made by NHS England, the chief executive of which, Mr. Simon Stevens, said: "This promising treatment has the potential to be life changing for children and their families." Obviously, he is referring to children who suffer from SMA. I have received messages from families who believe they are being managed in the run-up to the local and European elections on 24 May, given the absence of the announcement on this matter that was due to take place this week. As stated, Ireland and Estonia are the only two EU countries that do not fund this treatment. As other Senators stated, we need to have an honest debate about the matter. I know that such situations are not easy to deal with, that the Government has to strike a deal and that the process can be difficult, but the lives the children are leading are extremely difficult, much more difficult than anybody can possibly imagine. Therefore, a debate on the availability of Spinraza would be greatly appreciated. I understand there will be another protest next week on 22 May calling on the Government to fund the provision of Spinraza.

  I refer to a shooting in Donaghmede yesterday. Unfortunately, a shooting outside a shopping centre at 5.20 p.m. or early in the evening does not seem to receive much media attention anymore. That is a shocking indictment of our society. Shots were fired outside Donaghmede Shopping Centre at 5.20 p.m. yesterday. The Government is almost disinterested in crime levels in that part of the city. Whenever we raise the issue in this House, as I have done on countless occasions, I am told that the provision of Garda resources and the potential construction of a new Garda station in the hugely expanding area of Donaghmede, Clongriffin and Belmayne are not matters for decision by the Minister but by the Garda Commissioner, yet when the assistant Garda Commissioner said there was absolutely no justification for the reopening of Stepaside Garda station, Cabinet Ministers were able to make it their business to open it. Why is Stepaside more important than an area on the northside when it comes to the provision of Garda resources? Shots being fired at 5.20 p.m. outside of a shopping centre in Donaghmede is not normal. Shootings do not happen in a normal society and they cannot be treated as normal. It is not a case of business as usual because anybody could be caught in the crossfire. With the greatest of respect, I ask the Deputy Leader to facilitate a discussion in this House with the Minister for Justice and Equality on crime in the capital city.  Tá dhá rud le rá agam. Déanfaidh mé iarracht mo chéad phointe a dhéanamh as Gaeilge mar tá sé oiriúnach sa chás seo. Molaim an tAire Stáit ar a bhfuil freagracht as an Ghaeltacht, an Teachta Kyne, as deontais a bheidh sé á tabhairt do mhic léinn meánscoile agus do dhaoine atá ag déanamh Gaeilge ag an tríú leibhéal, go háirithe dóibh siúd atá ag ullmhú le bheith ina múinteoirí, chun dul go dtí na Gaeltachtaí i rith an tsamhraidh. Tréaslaím go mór leis sin, sílim gur rud iontach é. Níl aon slí níos fearr chun ár n-oidhreacht agus ár dteanga a choimeád beo agus a fhorbairt. Tréaslaím go mór leis sin. Molaim an tAire Stáit. Táim cinnte gur cuimhin leis an gCathaoirleach go raibh mise ag caint faoi seo gach uair a raibh díospóireacht faoin nGaeilge againn sa Teach seo. Táim lán ina fhabhar. Táim cinnte gurb é an rud ceart le déanamh. Tréaslaím go mór leis agus molaim an tAire Stáit as an rud seo a dhéanamh.

The second point I wish to raise commends itself more readily to be raised in English. I put it to the Deputy Leader that we should have a discussion on the new broadband plan and its implementation every two or three months in order to discuss whether targets are being met and so on. There should be a rolling debate on this issue set for every three months. The plan is a wonderful idea. Those who read the article by Mr. Weckler, who is the acknowledged national expert, in The Irish Timeslast week will know that it is not possible to achieve a wireless solution or for 5G to do the business. No critic of the broadband plan has yet come up with a costed alternative that would provide exactly the same opportunity to rural people as urban people. That should be the criteria. Are we going to create a second-tier society, because this is the equivalent of rural electrification?

I agree with those who raised the issue of Spinraza. I have been in touch with the Minister on this myself and I know that he gets it, but we have to get a result. It is important. I agree with the two speakers who have said that Spinraza offers great potential and needs to be explored fully and made available.

Senator Jennifer Murnane O'Connor: Information on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor Zoom on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor Last week I attended at our local special school, St. Laserian's in Carlow, to honour six athletes from its gymnastics team who brought home medals for their performance at the recent Special Olympics event in Leinster. These achievements could not have been made without hard work, dedication, kindness, inspiration and care. I applaud those athletes, their coaches and the support staff in this great school, which we are lucky to have in Carlow. I also applaud the athletes across Ireland who take part in these kinds of events, who win, and who surpass themselves at all times.

  However, when I was at the school several parents asked me questions about respite. I have many questions about respite which I need answered. I have tabled Commencement matters on a number of occasions to get answers through the Minister, but the relevant Minister did not attend. I was willing to wait for the Minister to come but I have still got no answer. There is a day service in each county and we are awaiting overnight respite services. This December it will have been four years since the respite service in Carlow was closed down. The parents and caregivers fought for full respite services for years. A parent told me yesterday that they have been told that their child, who is now 11, may not get this service until the age of 18. This is unacceptable. These parents and caregivers deserve a break. Parents and caregivers of children who need this service are swallowed up caring for those children. They deserve help. I spoke to some of the parents again yesterday. Letters had been sent to some of them suggesting that day care could be opened in Tullow in June. No dates were given and there was no word on respite. The lease has still not been signed. There is no information on this issue.

  My biggest issue is that there has been no communication with the parents or with me. I have had the Minister in and I have been on to the health board. I want this to go back to the Minister. These parents need to know when the respite service will be opened. They need information. We are getting no information and it is unfair to the children and parents. I will be addressing this with the Minister again. Different Ministers have come to the Seanad three or four times but the Minister I have sought has not come in. This is a very serious issue. At this stage, nearly four years on, it is unacceptable that there is still no overnight respite available.

Senator Michelle Mulherin: Information on Michelle Mulherin Zoom on Michelle Mulherin I am delighted to note that yesterday Cabinet confirmed that €20 million will be spent on a pyrite and mica remediation scheme this year. This is a very significant development since on budget day last October it was confirmed that a scheme would be established. The homeowners affected have been very concerned and anxious to see some progress since that announcement because they urgently need to get repairs and remedial works carried out on their houses. Some of them are in such a bad condition that the structure of the houses is threatened. Time is therefore of the essence.

  I also welcome the fact that the Minister, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, will be dispatching officials within the week to Mayo County Council and Donegal County Council who will be responsible for the administration of the scheme. This is very much to be welcomed because we will have expertise and knowledge on the ground, delivered by people who are very familiar with the locality and with the people. It will make this scheme more accessible to individuals in Mayo and Donegal. That is all very welcome. The final details of the scheme are not yet confirmed. Based on what I have just described, this must be done immediately. I am not talking about doing so in a few months' time, but now. People have to make arrangements so they need to know where they stand with regard to testing, engineers and engaging appropriate contractors to carry out the work. For information, I also note that the scheme will be conducted in such a way that there will be an assessment of the most serious cases first, which will be proceeded with, and that other cases will be looked after subsequently.

  This scheme has the potential to run for years. The situation in which these homeowners find themselves is terrible. They have mortgages to pay and houses they cannot sell, remortgage or do anything else with. I will continue to fight until the scheme is up and running. It has to be done immediately.

Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile: Information on Niall Ó Donnghaile Zoom on Niall Ó Donnghaile I take the opportunity to reflect on proceedings at the inquiry into the Ballymurphy massacre in the High Court in Belfast over recent months. I have commented on this, as have other Members, over the last number of months and, indeed, years and have indicated support for the families' campaign for the inquiry. What has come to pass as a result - which has been both expected and, in some ways, very unexpected - is that those families have been traumatised all over again. The details emerging from witness testimony at that inquiry, including testimony from former members of the British Parachute Regiment, have been chilling. I have got to know many of the families that are campaigning. I have been privileged to know them over my years as an elected representative. It is important that we take the opportunity in this House to reassert and reaffirm our solidarity with and our support for those families and their campaign for truth and justice.

  In addition to the level of detail they have heard, which has been graphic and awful at times, the families are further traumatised, hurt and upset by the failure to report those stories. That is one of the real frustrations that has emerged over recent months. There has been a failure to focus on these stories in the way in which the press has focused on other legacy cases and news stories. I do not advocate remaining in the past; I simply advocate for people to listen, reflect on and absorb the stories of the families who are going through live trauma and live legacy cases. We should use this House as a platform to share their stories in order to assure them of our ongoing support but also to throw down a challenge to those in the media who spend an awful lot of their time reporting nonsense, fluff and rubbish and who do not take the opportunity to properly investigate the broader legal and criminal justice aspects of this inquiry which are coming to light every single day. I encourage Members to use their influence and to be champions for the Ballymurphy families and their stories. If possible, in the coming weeks before the inquiry ends, we should have a repeat visit from a cross-party delegation from this House, such as we had at the start of the inquiry.

Senator Maura Hopkins: Information on Maura Hopkins Zoom on Maura Hopkins Yesterday morning I met the principal, staff and children of St. Teresa's special school in Ballinasloe. They face a major challenge at the moment. They have been given an insurance bill of more than €26,000 for this year. In 2017, the insurance bill was a little more than €3,000. In 2018, it was a little more than €19,000, and the bill for this year is €26,317. Understandably, parents and staff are very worried because it is not possible to pay that bill without some level of assistance.

  I wish to emphasise the excellent work that is being done in the school every day by the staff who look after the children so well. Currently, 21 children are enrolled for this year and it is expected that there will be 27 next year. There is great uncertainty at the moment because the insurance bill creates a major challenge in terms of the school being able to function. I have raised the issue with the Minister for Education and Skills, Deputy McHugh. It is important that we would have an urgent meeting with him to address this issue. A short-term solution is required and then we need to look at a longer-term restructuring. It is critical that we intervene because parents are very stressed. Having been in the school yesterday morning, I am aware that staff are equally stressed. They provide an exceptional service every day to the children. We want to ensure that the 21 children currently in the school will be supported and the 27 children due to be enrolled in September will also be supported. I emphasise the importance of immediate action.

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys I raise the issue of RehabCare and the 3,000 people who avail of the services. The shortfall in funding is causing great anxiety and there is concern that the service will not be provided in 2020. Will the Deputy Leader ask the Minister of State with responsibility for disability, Deputy Finian McGrath, to come into the House and make a statement on the future funding of that very important service?

  Like Senator Mulherin, I welcome the pilot scheme for houses with mica damage. We were able to deal previously with pyrite. Apartment owners and dwellers do not have a voice either in this House or in the Dáil. I have raised the matter continually in this House. Approximately 70,000 apartments were poorly built during the boom. As a result, there are concerns about fire safety, damp and water ingress. Of most concern is the risk to life presented by fire. The Government has continuously refused to give assistance to those poor people who have been stuck with apartments. I call on the Deputy Leader to invite the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, to come to the House and address this urgent matter. It is not acceptable for the Government not to provide a solution. The Government has addressed other problems concerning poorly built homes. Is it the case that the Government does not care about apartment owners because the turnout of voters who live in apartments in local and general elections is poor? They live in gated communities and politicians do not hear daily the liabilities these people face. They cannot sell their apartments, and they find it difficult to meet their mortgages, yet they face significant bills. In the Taoiseach's constituency, residents have been asked for €56,000 each to resolve fire issues. The situation affects Castleknock, Cork, Galway and Dublin. The situation requires urgent attention. Other problems have been resolved and pilot schemes are in place. I call on the Minister to come into the House and to make a clear commitment to apartment owners that they will be assisted in resolving problems that are not of their making. A previous Government and a low level of regulation caused this problem.

Senator Michael McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell I second Senator Craughwell's proposed amendment to the Order of Business. The Bill that was debated on Second Stage last night is full of implications for the future of the private rented sector in terms of people who cannot afford to purchase homes for themselves. We cannot delude ourselves but that many of the measures in the Bill are going to reduce further the amount of rental accommodation because landlords are going to say it is simply not worth it anymore. I will give one example of an email that was sent to this House today from a man and woman who jointly own a house which was let to people from Latvia or Estonia, I cannot remember which, who gave up their tenancy and who had been paying a moderate rent for their family home. The couple are now being told that if they let the house at the market rent today they will be committing a criminal offence because the Bill will criminalise anybody who does not go back to a below market rent.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan The Senator can make that point during discussion of the Bill.

Senator Michael McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell Anybody who thinks it would be a feather in the Government’s cap to rush through the Bill should look around a few corners. The situation is serious. We are going to make the homelessness crisis in Dublin worse with this legislation. We are not thinking through the implications of what we are doing.

  Following on from what Senator Hopkins said, we must do something about insurance. Based on the figures she gave us, it will cost €1,000 per pupil to insure a special needs school. Either something is completely wrong with our civil liability law, insurance, the legal system or whatever else, but that cannot be defended. It is only one instance of spiralling insurance costs. Something must be done to address it. We have had all the commissions and inquiries. We have had all the fingers pointed by one interest group at another saying it is to blame, but the Government must now grasp this nettle and do something about it. We cannot have a school driven out of existence by putting a €1,000 levy on every single pupil who attends a special needs school.

Senator Frank Feighan: Information on Frank Feighan Zoom on Frank Feighan I also attended the Ballymurphy inquest some months ago. Some of the stories coming from it were horrific. The stories that are coming out now are also of concern. It is one of various incidents and events in Northern Ireland from more than 50 years ago that one would hope it would be possible to shine a light on the truth. I hope the inquest will shine a light on the truth for the relatives of the victims.

  I welcome the cross-church delegation that met in recent days and called on political parties to demonstrate political courage and leadership to set up Stormont. That is helpful, especially after the horrific murder of Lyra McKee. I also welcome the fact that they have been meeting the various political parties since last September to try to find a way forward from the impasse. We need such political, church and community leadership to ensure that Stormont is up and running again.  This is necessary to deal with many issues relating to employment, communities and young people in Northern Ireland. I hope the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Karen Bradley, along with the Tánaiste, George Mitchell and the various community, political and church leaders, can find a way through the impasse that will get Stormont up and running. I think that would be better for Northern Ireland, the island of Ireland and the two islands.

Senator Colm Burke: Information on Colm Burke Zoom on Colm Burke I thank the House for its support for a Private Members' Bill that has passed through the Seanad and is now going through the Dáil. The Cabinet approved a money message for the Bill in question yesterday. This means the Bill can go through the Dáil and be enacted. We hope this will happen by July of this year. The Bill is important for the families of missing persons. I initially introduced the Bill in 2014. I reintroduced it in 2016. The Leader of the House, Senator Buttimer, worked with me to get the Minister for Justice and Equality on board in order that the Department would accept the Bill. The Department has made some amendments to the Bill, but at least it is progressing. This type of legislation has been up and running in Scotland for over 40 years. The Law Reform Commission published a report on it in 2014. I am delighted that it will be law here by July. It will allow the family of a missing person to apply to a court for a presumption of death order if there is clear evidence that the person has died. At the moment, there is no provision in Irish legislation to deal with that issue. When a person goes missing, very little can be done to try to get finality on the matter. I think this legislation will be helpful in such circumstances.

  I would like to respond to what Senator Hopkins has said about insurance. I think there is a major issue here now. The insurance industry seems to have availed of the upturn in the economy to adopt an attitude of charging whatever it likes. This is a serious issue in many areas. The message being sent out by the insurance companies is that increased charges are necessary because of an increase in claims. I would like to see the figures for the total number of claims that have arisen in the past year or two. How many of those claims have been settled and how many have gone through the courts system? How much money has been paid out in respect of such claims? The companies have not been upfront with us on these matters. We are seeing substantial increases in premiums right across the board. Now is the time to deal with this issue. We need to deal with the amounts being paid out in claims. We also need to make sure the insurance companies are not using the upturn in the economy to extract significant premiums from genuine organisations that are working hard to provide a service. This is something we need to deal with.

Senator Catherine Noone: Information on Catherine Noone Zoom on Catherine Noone I thank those who have raised issues on the Order of Business today. We started and ended with the serious issue of insurance, which was raised by Senator Horkan at the outset. I have a lot of experience in this area as a litigation solicitor who works mainly with insurance companies. It is frustrating to hear what Senator Hopkins has said about insurance costs. The way Senator McDowell put it really highlights the absolute insanity of it. We have to get to the bottom of this. It is really serious. I have read articles suggesting that judges are awarding payouts that are far too high in certain cases, but it is not as simple as that. It is right that inappropriate payouts get the headlines, but as a litigation solicitor who does a lot of work with insurance companies, I think the real issue is that 95% of cases are settled. One might think that the insurance companies are quite right to settle because they make commercial decisions about cases. That is what they rightly do as insurance companies. They put an overall reserve on a case. In most cases, they do not really mind how it comes to pass as long as a case settles for under that reserve. Many more prudent solicitors, including those I work with, run cases when they feel they really should be run because it would be crazy to settle them. I could give 20 examples. This serious issue is quite complicated. I think the insurance companies are the key to it. I do not have a full understanding of the level of communication that is going on between policymakers and insurance companies. It is something in which I would love to be more integrally involved. It seems to me like something that could be pretty simple to sort out. There is an urgent need for a debate in this House on this issue. I agree with almost everything that has been said on it this morning.

  Senator Horkan also spoke about Spinraza. I know the family in question. I have had a lot of communication with someone on its behalf lately. I saw a video of Grace O'Malley yesterday. I met her some months ago. I can see the deterioration in her. One would need a heart of stone not to give these children the medicines they require, notwithstanding the cost. We have to look at the reason for this. As far as I am concerned, if one really looks into the matter, one will find that the system for deciding whether medications should be allowed is being played by the pharmaceutical companies. There is a wider issue here. They were looking at the UK situation to see how they would get on. They knew that if they got a certain deal in Ireland, it would have implications for how the UK system might react to their request for money. There is a wider problem here. We need to look at how we decide whether medicines should be given to certain vulnerable individuals. I accept that everything I am saying is absolute rubbish as far as the family of a child with this issue is concerned.

Senator Rose Conway-Walsh: Information on Rose Conway-Walsh Zoom on Rose Conway-Walsh We do not have time.

Senator Catherine Noone: Information on Catherine Noone Zoom on Catherine Noone They do not care about any of this. They just want the drug. We have to find a way for the system to allow families to receive drugs. The amount of time this has taken is not forgivable, in my opinion. I spoke to the Minister about this yesterday.

Senator Rose Conway-Walsh: Information on Rose Conway-Walsh Zoom on Rose Conway-Walsh Does the Deputy Leader agree that the British decision is relevant?

Senator Catherine Noone: Information on Catherine Noone Zoom on Catherine Noone It has a lot to do with the global pharmaceutical companies. These big players play the system. The Senator has mentioned that Ireland and Estonia are the only countries not to have made this provision. That is terrible, but it is part of the global game the insurance companies are playing because they want countries-----

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell What is the EU doing about it?

Senator Catherine Noone: Information on Catherine Noone Zoom on Catherine Noone Yes, the EU should look at it.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan The Deputy Leader is being as fair as she can.

Senator Catherine Noone: Information on Catherine Noone Zoom on Catherine Noone I am agreeing with Senators. I have spoken directly to the Minister, who shares my frustration. He was very frustrated when I spoke to him about this yesterday. I am confident that we should have a decision on this. I am wired in a very hopeful type of way. I am very hopeful of a positive outcome when it comes down to it. When one looks at the video of Grace O'Malley, one can see the actual deterioration. I have only met her once. It is unforgivable. We are talking about a small number of people. I will move on to what Senator Craughwell said about the residential-----

Senator Gerry Horkan: Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan I made a point about the HSE generally as well.

Senator Catherine Noone: Information on Catherine Noone Zoom on Catherine Noone Yes, the Senator did. I was responding to all of his points. We should have a debate on spending generally in the context of what the Senator had to say about the HSE.

Senator Gerry Horkan: Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan I was talking about both current and capital spending.

Senator Catherine Noone: Information on Catherine Noone Zoom on Catherine Noone We are not going to have a conversation about it now.

Senator Gerry Horkan: Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan Both current and capital-----

Senator Catherine Noone: Information on Catherine Noone Zoom on Catherine Noone That is my response.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan I ask Senator Horkan to allow the Deputy Leader to continue her response.

Senator Gerry Horkan: Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan She has not responded to my point.

Senator Catherine Noone: Information on Catherine Noone Zoom on Catherine Noone Originally, there was plenty of time for the debate in this House on the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2018, but then there were delays in the Dáil and elsewhere. Time was lost overall as far as the Government is concerned. Obviously, the Government does not control how business is ordered in the Dáil, which is sitting for just a day and a half next week. The fact is that there is an urgency around this Bill. I do not need to tell Senators that it is important for the Bill to conclude its passage through the Oireachtas at the earliest possible date. The Bill was scheduled to complete Report and Final Stages in the Dáil by 9 May. We do not have enough time. We should have more time for this. The fact is that there is an urgency about this Bill. There was all-party support for it in the Dáil. I suggest we might resume-----

Senator Michael McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell The Bill is-----

Senator Catherine Noone: Information on Catherine Noone Zoom on Catherine Noone I did not hear what Senator McDowell said.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan It might be for the best that the Deputy Leader did not hear it.

Senator Catherine Noone: Information on Catherine Noone Zoom on Catherine Noone I propose that we resume our consideration of the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill following our debate on the Wildlife (Amendment) Bill, with a view to concluding it this evening.  We can leave the end time open if Senators are amenable. We get a great deal of criticism for not putting adequate measures in place to sort out the housing crisis but are also criticised for trying to deal with it urgently. I appeal to colleagues to recognise the urgency of this legislation. It is for Senator Craughwell to decide how to proceed regarding his amendment to the Order of Business.

  The Senator referred to councillors' pay and conditions. Local authority members may be distracted right now with the elections coming up, so a debate might make more sense once the new councillors are in office.

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell That is the point I made.

Senator Catherine Noone: Information on Catherine Noone Zoom on Catherine Noone I am sure many councillors made decisions not to run again based on the issues the Senator raised and which I have likewise raised over the years. The Senator also referred to the insurance sector, an issue on which I have often spoken in the House.

   I have responded to Senator Conway-Walsh's point and, as I said, I share her frustration regarding the failure to approve Spinraza. I received the same text Senator Ó Ríordáin did. I have given my view on this issue several times in the House.

  Regarding the shooting in Donaghmede, I share the Senator's concerns that such an event should occur in our constituency. It is an issue that warrants a wider debate and I hope we can facilitate it in the near future.

  Senator Murnane O'Connor referred to respite services, an issue on which she has clearly done a great deal of work. Communication is key in such matters and it further frustrates families when they are not told what is going on regarding provision. Lack of information makes a stressful situation even more so. I will relay her comments to the Minister for Health.

  Senator Mulherin raised the €20 million repair scheme to assist homeowners in Mayo and Donegal whose properties are affected by pyrite and mica. As she noted, there is now a clear pathway for people to address the problem. She has championed that issue for some time.

  Senator Ó Donnghaile referred to the Ballymurphy families, an issue he has been raising for some time. There are questionable legal and criminal justice aspects of the relevant inquiry. I agree that it is an issue in which we all should take an interest.

  I have alluded to the issue raised by Senator Hopkins regarding St. Teresa's special needs school. A short-term solution is needed. The Senator might table a Commencement matter to get a direct answer from the Minister.

  Senator Humphreys referred to Rehab and called for a debate with the Minister of State at the Department of Health with responsibility for disability services. A debate on this and related issues would be useful. The Senator also referred to apartment owners and a scheme similar to that referred to by Senator Mulherin. Senator Humphreys has raised that issue several times and I agree that a debate would be timely.

  I have responded to Senator McDowell's questions on the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill and the insurance issue. I hope for his forbearance in terms of the time constraints we are facing in dealing with that Bill. We are willing to work with the Senator to allow as comprehensive a debate as possible while also ensuring we get the legislation through as soon as we can. We are willing to sit late to accommodate that, if Senators are amenable.

  Senator Feighan spoke about several issues relating to Northern Ireland. The crux of many of the problems there is that Stormont is still not in session, which is difficult to comprehend. We will look to the leaders in both parts of the island and in Britain to sort that out as soon as possible.

  We all commend Senator Colm Burke on his tenacity and fortitude in getting the Civil Law (Presumption of Death) Bill 2016, which is important legislation, to where it is. I have responded to the points he raised regarding the insurance industry.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Senator Craughwell has proposed an amendment to the Order of Business: "That Committee Stage only of the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2018 be taken today." Is the amendment being pressed?

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell Yes. The Deputy Leader's point about time constraints was well made, but we have given 100 hours or more to a particular Bill that nobody wants. We could suspend debate on the latter next week to allow more time for the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Sin scéal eile.

Amendment put:

The Seanad divided: Tá, 22; Níl, 13.

Níl
Information on Frances Black   Zoom on Frances Black   Black, Frances. Information on Colm Burke   Zoom on Colm Burke   Burke, Colm.
Information on Victor Boyhan   Zoom on Victor Boyhan   Boyhan, Victor. Information on Paddy Burke   Zoom on Paddy Burke   Burke, Paddy.
Information on Rose Conway-Walsh   Zoom on Rose Conway-Walsh   Conway-Walsh, Rose. Information on Paul Coghlan   Zoom on Paul Coghlan   Coghlan, Paul.
Information on Gerard P. Craughwell   Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell   Craughwell, Gerard P. Information on Martin Conway   Zoom on Martin Conway   Conway, Martin.
Information on Paul Daly   Zoom on Paul Daly   Daly, Paul. Information on Frank Feighan   Zoom on Frank Feighan   Feighan, Frank.
Information on Joan Freeman   Zoom on Joan Freeman   Freeman, Joan. Information on Maura Hopkins   Zoom on Maura Hopkins   Hopkins, Maura.
Information on Robbie Gallagher   Zoom on Robbie Gallagher   Gallagher, Robbie. Information on Anthony Lawlor   Zoom on Anthony Lawlor   Lawlor, Anthony.
Information on Paul Gavan   Zoom on Paul Gavan   Gavan, Paul. Information on Michelle Mulherin   Zoom on Michelle Mulherin   Mulherin, Michelle.
Information on Gerry Horkan   Zoom on Gerry Horkan   Horkan, Gerry. Information on Catherine Noone   Zoom on Catherine Noone   Noone, Catherine.
Information on Kevin Humphreys   Zoom on Kevin Humphreys   Humphreys, Kevin. Information on Kieran O'Donnell   Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell   O'Donnell, Kieran.
Information on Billy Lawless   Zoom on Billy Lawless   Lawless, Billy. Information on John O'Mahony   Zoom on John O'Mahony   O'Mahony, John.
Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn   Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn   Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig. Information on Joe O'Reilly   Zoom on Joe O'Reilly   O'Reilly, Joe.
Information on Michael McDowell   Zoom on Michael McDowell   McDowell, Michael. Information on Neale Richmond   Zoom on Neale Richmond   Richmond, Neale.
Information on Rónán Mullen   Zoom on Rónán Mullen   Mullen, Rónán.  
Information on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor   Zoom on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor   Murnane O'Connor, Jennifer.  
Information on Gerald Nash   Zoom on Gerald Nash   Nash, Gerald.  
Information on David P.B. Norris   Zoom on David P.B. Norris   Norris, David.  
Information on Niall Ó Donnghaile   Zoom on Niall Ó Donnghaile   Ó Donnghaile, Niall.  
Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin   Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin   Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.  
Information on Marie-Louise O'Donnell   Zoom on Marie-Louise O'Donnell   O'Donnell, Marie-Louise.  
Information on Lynn Ruane   Zoom on Lynn Ruane   Ruane, Lynn.  
Information on Fintan Warfield   Zoom on Fintan Warfield   Warfield, Fintan.  


Tellers: Tá, Senators Gerard P. Craughwell and Michael McDowell; Níl, Senators John O'Mahony and Paddy Burke..

Amendment declared carried.

  Order of Business, as amended, agreed to.

  Sitting suspended at 12.40 p.m. and resumed at 12.45 p.m.

Copyright and Other Intellectual Property Law Provisions Bill 2018: Report Stage

  Bill recommitted in respect of amendments Nos. 1 and 2.

  Government amendment No. 1:

In page 9, lines 16 and 17, to delete “includes a specified transmission through the Internet and transmission by wireless means,” and substitute the following:
“means a specified transmission through the Internet, a transmission by wireless means and a transmission prescribed for the purposes of this definition,”.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan By agreeing to the motion to recommit, the House allows a Committee-style discussion on amendments Nos. 1 and 2 only; that is Members may speak more than once on each item. In respect of other amendments, I remind the House that a Senator may speak only once on Report Stage, except the proposer of an amendment who may reply to discussion on the amendment. Each non-Government amendment on Report Stage must be seconded.

  Amendments Nos. 1 and 2 are related and may be discussed together by agreement.

Minister of State at the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy John Halligan): Information on John Halligan Zoom on John Halligan Section 4 of the Bill amends section 2(1) of the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000, which provides for the amendment of certain existing definitions and the inclusion of new definitions that are required for changes made elsewhere in the Bill. The definition of "broadcast" has been amended to provide for the repeal of section 183(a) of the Broadcasting Act 2009 with the intention of replacing the definition of "broadcast" with a technically neutral and future-proofed definition. Two new definitions linked to the definition of "broadcast" are also included in section 4 of the Bill, namely the definitions for "electronic transmission" and "specifiied transmission through the Internet".

  Following engagement with stakeholders since the publication of the Bill and during its progress through the House, issues regarding the amended definition of "broadcast" and related definitions have been identified.  It transpires that the new definition of "broadcast" is too broad a scope and could, potentially, be interpreted to mean that any Internet transmissions, including sound recordings, could now be regarded as a broadcast. This could of course impact on the sound recording producers exclusive right of making a work available. I think that is very important.

  It was never the Department's intention that the amended definition of "broadcast" would cover sound recordings, therefore it is necessary to make some technical amendments to the definition of "electric transmission" to clarify that sound recordings are not covered and to ensure that the rightholder's rights are protected.

  A separate declaration to provide further clarity of the Government's intentions on this issue is proposed to be inserted in section 5 of the Bill and this explicitly states that the definition of "broadcast" will not prejudice the exclusive making available right provided for in the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000 and this declaration is listed as amendment No. 2 on the numbered list.

Senator Fintan Warfield: Information on Fintan Warfield Zoom on Fintan Warfield I welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Halligan, to the House. I welcome these amendments. I note the attendance of the Irish Recorded Music Association, IRMA, and the Irish Copyright Licensing Agency in the Gallery and their interest in the Bill.

  I acknowledge that the Minister of State has been furnished with an opinion from the former Attorney General, Mr. Paul Gallagher SC, who pointed out some serious flaws with the text as it currently stands, including breaches of Article 3(2) of the copyright directive 2001, Directive 2001/29/EC, the State's obligation under the WIPO performances and phonographs treaty, Article 26 of the Constitution and Article 17(2) of the EU Charter on Fundamental Rights. Amendment No. 1 will go a substantial way to address those issues. However, amendment No. 2 still remains unclear and somewhat confusing. The supplementary definition in the amendment states: "“2A. The definition of ‘broadcast’ shall not be construed to prejudice the exclusive right under this Act of a person to make a work available by means of a broadcast of the work.”.”." This is unclear for me because while the producers of recordings have an exclusive right in theory under the Act, it is subject to a licence of right, so there is therefore the presumption of a producer to rights over a recording but the Bill also proposes the rights of recording are subject to licence.

  Will the Minister of State indicate the intention of amendment No. 2? Has a legal opinion been sought regarding the concerns I have raised. I will not divide the House but I am not sure that amendment No. 2 is necessary from my reading of the opinion. I would like to hear the Minister of State's opinion on amendment No. 2.

Senator Aidan Davitt: Information on Aidan Davitt Zoom on Aidan Davitt I welcome the Minister of State to the House. I have spoken to the Minister of State about this. In fairness to the Minister of State, he has done a lot of work in this area and on behalf of the Fianna Fáil we would certainly like to support the amendments. We think that quite a lot of thought has gone into them. As my comrade has said, we see them as very worthwhile and the Minister of State has our full support.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Halligan. I welcome the amendments. The Minister of State arranged for us to have a series of very useful meetings with officials from his Department and, as a result of that, a number of our difficulties were ironed out. I wish to express my gratitude to the Minister of State for arranging that.

Senator Fintan Warfield: Information on Fintan Warfield Zoom on Fintan Warfield Hear, hear.

Deputy John Halligan: Information on John Halligan Zoom on John Halligan I thank the Senators. As I have said, it is a very complicated and complex Bill. As I previously mentioned, following meaningful engagement with a number of stakeholders who raised concerns around the definition with officials from my Department, I would ask for the support of Members to bring forward these amendments with the intention of clarifying the issue of the sound recordings that are not covered to ensure that the rightholder's rights are protected. By the way, if the amendment is accepted it does not hold up passage of the Bill by any stretch of the imagination. It will not slow down the passage of the Bill through the Oireachtas. We have taken all the legal advice we can take. We have met as many stakeholders as possible and anybody who wanted to meet us. We have made our experts available to Members, whom I know were delighted with it. I do not know what more I can say. I think both amendments Nos. 1 and 2 are an integral part and it is essential that they be included in the Bill.

  In case there is a worry that by including these amendments in the Bill, it would somehow slow down the Bill, that will not be the case. If they are accepted on Report Stage, it will not slow down the passage of the Bill.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan The comments made on amendment No. 1 were, by and large, favourable.

  Amendment agreed to.

  Government amendment No. 2:

In page 10, between lines 19 and 20, to insert the following:

“Provisions supplementary to definition of “broadcast”

5. The Principal Act is amended by the insertion of the following section after section 2:
“2A. The definition of ‘broadcast’ shall not be construed to prejudice the exclusive right under this Act of a person to make a work available by means of a broadcast of the work.”.”.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan As amendment No. 2 has been discussed with amendment No. 1, is it agreed? I see that Senator Warfield may wish to speak, but as it has been already discussed, we cannot open up another discussion on it.

Senator Fintan Warfield: Information on Fintan Warfield Zoom on Fintan Warfield I did not get much clarity on the reason for the licensing. My point was not addressed.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Technically, it was agreed, but I will allow the Senator a brief comment. As the amendments were discussed together, I should not separate them. I will allow the Senator in, but he must be brief. I am breaking the rule of the Chair.

Senator Fintan Warfield: Information on Fintan Warfield Zoom on Fintan Warfield Will the Minister of State clarify whether it is presumed that the producer has the rights over the recording and are those rights subject to that licence outlined in amendment No. 2?

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan I know that this has been dealt with but will the Minister of State comment on it?

Deputy John Halligan: Information on John Halligan Zoom on John Halligan As I have said, we have taken everything into consideration. We have met the stakeholders, we have taken legal opinion on it and it is our view, and I do not know how much clearer I can be, with all respect, that the licence is a matter for the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000, and allows music producers to earn money for the use of their music, so that is a small clarification. All the legal advice and advice from the stakeholders is that both amendments together warrant being included in the Bill.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan We have taken it as far as we can. I have been as fair as I can under the circumstances.

  Amendment agreed to.

  Bill reported with amendments.

  Government amendment No. 3:

In page 14, to delete lines 4 to 7 and substitute the following:
“57. (1) Subject to subsections (2) to (4), it is not an infringement of the rights conferred by this Part—
(a) to make or cause to be made a copy or communication of a work for the sole purpose of illustration for education, teaching or scientific research or of preparation for education, teaching or scientific research, or

(b) for an educational establishment, for the educational purposes of that establishment, to reproduce or cause to be reproduced a work, or to do or cause to be done, any other necessary act, in order to display it.
(2) Subsection (1) shall apply only if the reproduction or communication is—
(a) made for purposes that are non-commercial,

(b) made only to the extent justified by the non-commercial purposes to be achieved, and

(c) accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement.
(3) Not more than 5 per cent of any work can be copied under this section in any calendar year.

(4) Where a copy which would otherwise be an infringing copy is made under this section but is subsequently sold, rented or lent, or offered or exposed for sale, rental or loan, or otherwise made available to the public, it shall be treated as an infringing copy for those purposes and for all subsequent purposes.”.”.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Government amendment No. 3 arises out of committee proceedings. Amendments Nos. 3, 4, 6 and 15 are related and may be discussed together by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Deputy John Halligan: Information on John Halligan Zoom on John Halligan As I have said on a number of occasions in the House and in the Dáil, the Bill is a technical piece of the legislation, the purpose of which is to amend and update the copyright and other intellectual property law, to modernise it for the digital age and to enable rightholders to better protect their intellectual property rights in the courts.

  Section 14 of the Bill deletes section 57 of the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000. This is hereafter referred to as the CRRA and replaces it with a section 57, as well as additional sections 57A and 57C, all of which introduce a range of new exceptions for education, teaching and scientific research. The new provisions are intended to expand to the full extent the education exceptions allowed by the EU Information Society directive.  Following engagement with stakeholders since the publication of the Bill and in its continued passage through the Houses, it has been identified that certain safeguards contained in section 57 of the Copyright and Related Rights Act were inadvertently removed. Senators may have been briefed on this issue. The safeguards were inadvertently removed during the drafting process. As I signalled to the House on Committee Stage, I propose to reinstate the safeguards by amending section 14 and Schedule 1 to the Bill and creating a new section that will amend section 173 of Copyright and Related Rights Act. The changes to section 14 as proposed in amendment No. 3 are section 57(1) provides that it is not an infringement for an educational establishment to make a copy of a work, or communication of a work, for the sole purpose of illustration for education, teaching or scientific research, or for an educational establishment to reproduce a work in order to display it.

  Section 57(2) provides that the educational exceptions are subject to the three-step test under the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literacy and Artistic Works. The three-step test provides that exceptions to copyright shall only apply if they are for non-commercial purposes, justified for the purpose to be achieved and accommodated by a sufficient acknowledgement. This test is generally understood to apply to all copyright exceptions in the Copyright and Related Rights Act, but it is not explicitly stated in respect of the educational exceptions. Therefore, it was considered to be a useful addition for the purposes of clarity, specifically in the case of the educational exceptions in section 14 of the Bill.

  Section 57(3) reinstates the existing provision about which we spoke previously that no more than 5% of a work may be copied in any calendar year in order to avail of the educational exceptions, thus protecting the integrity of the copyrighted work.

  Section 57(4) reinstates the existing provision that provides for the possibility of right holders taking infringement proceedings if a copy of a work is made under the educational exceptions provided for in section 57(1) and subsequently sold, rented, loaned or offered for same.

  The deletion of lines 1 to 3, inclusive, in Schedule 1 to the Bill is necessary to remove the reference to education from the fair dealing provision for research contained in section 50 of the Copyright and Related Rights Act. The inclusion of education in these three specific instances expands the educational exceptions far beyond what currently applies and would unreasonably prejudice the rights of right holders. Amendment No. 15 deletes the table as it currently appears in Schedule 1 to the Bill and replaces it with a new table minus the information in lines of 1 to 3, inclusive.

  A further technical amendment is required to section 57C(1) of the Bill which lists a number of sections of the Copyright and Related Rights Act to which the educational exceptions do not apply because of the existence of licensing schemes that must be used instead of the exceptions. An amendment listed as amendment No. 4 is required to delete the reference to the phantom section 50A as it was not created in the Bill. In addition, the reference to section 50 should also be deleted as it is a consequential amendment as a result of the deletion of the specific references to education from the fair dealing provision for research contained in section 50 of the Copyright and Related Rights Act.

  As a result of the creation of section 57C related to licensing schemes for educational establishments, it is necessary to make a consequential amendment in section 173 of the Copyright and Related Rights Act to change the reference for the requirement for licences from section 57 to section 57C. Amendment No. 6 proposes to amend section 173 of the Copyright and Related Rights Act. This is necessary to avoid any uncertainty for schools and other educational establishments on the continued need to obtain licences for the use of copyright protected works to protect the rights of authors, publishers and education books.

  Amendment agreed to.

  Government amendment No. 4:

In page 14, line 25, to delete “50, 50A,”.

  Amendment agreed to.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Amendments Nos. 5 and 8 to 10, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together, by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I move amendment No. 5:

In page 16, line 18, after “given in” to insert “an educational institution or in”.

The provisions in this section of the Bill seem to have been narrowed to libraries and archives. I thought it was a good idea to extend the section to include educational institutions to make it perfectly clear and specific that they were involved and considered by the Bill.

  Amendment No. 8 refers to a prescribed library or archive also exempting things given during a public lecture in an educational institution undertaken for the sole purpose of education and so on, accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement that, once the criteria are satisfied, such use shall constitute fair dealing and be exempt from the restrictions under the law. The final part of amendment No. 8 defines fair dealing as including the making use of a performance or recording which has been made lawfully available to the public for a purpose and to an extent which shall not unreasonably prejudice the interests of the rights owner.

Senator Fintan Warfield: Information on Fintan Warfield Zoom on Fintan Warfield I second the amendment.

Deputy John Halligan: Information on John Halligan Zoom on John Halligan I again thank Senator Norris for his amendments. He has a great interest in this subject and analysed the Bill in its totality. I have listened to the rationale outlined on a number of occasions and, with respect, do not propose to accept the amendments. The Senator must agree that these matters were debated comprehensively and extensively on Committee Stage, following which the Senator met officials of the Department to discuss his concerns in greater detail and when further explanations were provided as to why the amendments could not be accepted. The Government's position remains unchanged. Again, with respect, I do not see any merit in debating the matter any further. Based on the meetings and comprehensive discussions we have had on the amendments, the Senator might consider withdrawing them.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I am prepared to withdraw them.

   Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

  Government amendment No. 6:

In page 21, between lines 13 and 14, to insert the following:
“Amendment of section 173 of Principal Act

27. Section 173 of the Principal Act is amended—
(a) in subsection (1), by the substitution of “, 57C” for “, 57”, and

(b) in subsection (3), by the substitution of “, 57C” for “, 57”.”.

  Amendment agreed to.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Amendments Nos. 7 and 14 are related and may be discussed together, by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

  Government amendment No. 7:

In page 21, line 41, to delete the text inserted by Seanad Committee amendment No. 2 and substitute the following:
“any combination thereof).”.”.

Senator Fintan Warfield: Information on Fintan Warfield Zoom on Fintan Warfield I will speak to amendment No. 7. I remind the House that we are talking about the digital deposit. Institutions such as Trinity College Dublin and the National Library of Ireland have a responsibility to archive every physical publication in the State. We have not yet designed a digital deposit scheme to protect what is put online within 100 days. What is put online is vulnerable to disappearing.  Essentially, we are not archiving the digital memory that we put there, so what goes online during election and referendum campaigns and what goes online generally is not archived. The solution is to allow the National Library, for example, the ability to sweep the .iedomain and to archive that for future generations because what goes online is so disposable. An amendment was passed in the Dáil, which provided that within 12 months of the enactment of the Bill the Government would bring forward a report on the feasibility of establishing a digital legal deposit scheme. The delay in passing the Bill has also delayed that measure. It is a source of anxiety for me that we have not dealt with the issue.

We passed an amendment on Committee Stage in this House that would legislatively allow for the creation of a digital deposit scheme. We met officials from the Department since then and I understand that we are putting the cart before the horse in passing the legislation without having the regulatory framework in place. Because I believe so strongly in the need for a digital deposit scheme, I want the scheme to be a success and I do not want it to be vulnerable to challenge. Could the Minister of State provide an update on the current position in respect of archiving digital material and not losing our national memory? Most web pages disappear within 100 days, so time is not on our side. That was called for in the Modernising Copyright report published in 2013. I support the amendment to remove what we achieved in the previous Stage, but I ask the Minister of State for a commitment that we would have sight of the heads of a Bill or a regulation that would allow the National Library to sweep the .iedomain and have freedom to do so and the protection of the law in order that we can archive our digital memory. Time is not on our side. I support the amendment, with a heavy heart.

Visit of Tasmanian Delegation

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Before I call on the Minister of State I am sure Members of the House wish to join with me in welcoming Ms Sue Hickey, MP, Speaker of the House of Assembly of the Parliament of Tasmania, accompanied by Mr. Shane Donnelly, Clerk of the House. On my behalf, and on behalf of my colleagues in Seanad Éireann, I extend a very warm welcome to them and good wishes for a very successful visit to Ireland.

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

Copyright and Other Intellectual Property Law Provisions Bill 2018: Report Stage (Resumed) and Final Stage

  Debate resumed on Government amendment No. 7:

In page 21, line 41, to delete the text inserted by Seanad Committee amendment No. 2 and substitute the following:
“any combination thereof).”.”.

Minister of State at the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy John Halligan): Information on John Halligan Zoom on John Halligan Amendment No. 7 calls for the deletion of the new section 27(4B), which was inserted in the Bill on Committee Stage. Essentially, the intention of this subsection is to provide for a full digital deposit system that would facilitate the recording, archiving and making available of websites with domain names related to Ireland, the .ie domain and others, without infringing the copyright on the website. This is often referred to as "capturing, or preserving, the web".

  The matter was debated extensively during Committee Stage and officials from my Department subsequently met interested Senators to explain the difficulties associated with that, and other matters, in greater detail.

  The Department of Culture, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht has policy responsibility for the creation of a digital deposit scheme. I informed the House of that on the previous occasion we discussed the matter. The Department is working on the issue as part of its general work programme. As I outlined on the previous occasion, some of the amendments could not be accepted because the creation of a digital deposit to capture and preserve Irish websites is not just a matter of amending copyright legislation. It is a significant project, which requires the collaboration of multiple institutions. Senators may have received a brief in that regard. Significant resources and skills are required to capture and preserve the digital web.

  The Government's position on the issue remains unchanged. We have engaged extensively with shareholders and Members. The Government supports the creation of a digital deposit of works as part of the nation's archive, but providing for a full digital deposit system that would facilitate "capturing the web"” is not simply a matter of amending copyright legislation; it is a significant national project that must be done correctly. This includes laying down sufficiently clear parameters about what material will be copied and preserved, as well as safeguards around the use of that material in the future.

  Section 106 provides an opportunity for the necessary work to be carried out on the development of the policies and procedures around capturing the web. That particular section, which was introduced following an opposition amendment on Report Stage in Dáil Éireann, is viewed by the Government as a pragmatic way to advance this project while allowing time for the important and necessary work to take place.

  I, therefore, call for the deletion of the provision for several reasons. First, the policy responsibility for this matter falls under the remit of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and that Department is currently undertaking the necessary detailed and extensive examination of this proposal. Officials in my Department have supported, and will continue to support that Department with its development of the proposal specifically in relation to protecting the intellectual property of creators and website owners. Second, there are concerns with the text of the amendment, particularly in view of the level of work required to develop a robust regulatory framework to provide for "capturing the web" and the extensive nature of the provision included in the Bill going beyond the .ie domain. Third, section 106 keeps the matter "live" while giving the time necessary to developing the appropriate framework. Both Senators were informed of these concerns during meetings with my officials and I trust they will not oppose the deletion of the Committee Stage amendment of section 27(4B).

  Related to this amendment seeking the deletion of section 27(4B), I also seek a minor technical amendment to section 106 through amendment No. 14. This was a new section proposed on Report Stage in Dáil Éireann and accepted by the Government as a pragmatic way to address the issue of "capturing the web". The section calls for a report to be published on the feasibility of establishing a digital legal deposit scheme for capturing the web "within twelve months of the enactment of this Bill", which is a reasonable period. However, the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel, as legal drafters of Irish legislation, has indicated that this should read "within twelve months of the enactment of this Act". That is its interpretation and what we have been advised.  I call for the acceptance of a minor technical amendment to correct this oversight, which it was, and to ensure that the text is legally sound as we have been informed it is. That is important.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris The Minister of State makes a fairly persuasive argument, first that this matter is properly in the remit of another Department, namely, the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. Second, he has given a commitment to this House that work in this area will continue and that officials from his Department will support those from the other Department in formulating this policy.

Deputy John Halligan: Information on John Halligan Zoom on John Halligan I give credit to the Senators who have analysed this Bill extensively, which is very important for democracy. If they want again to meet either Department on any questions they need to ask, at any stage, they should feel free to do so.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I am sure they have had enough of us.

Deputy John Halligan: Information on John Halligan Zoom on John Halligan I spoke with officials in both Departments yesterday and today and that offer stands.

  Amendment agreed to.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I move amendment No. 8:

In page 22, to delete lines 12 to 16 and substitute the following:
“(3) Without prejudice to the generality of section 221(1), the brief and limited display of a recording of a performance—
(a) either—
(i) in a prescribed library or prescribed archive or by the librarian or archivist of a prescribed library or prescribed archive, or

(ii) during the course of a public lecture given in an educational institution or in a prescribed library or prescribed archive or given by the librarian or archivist of a prescribed library or prescribed archive,
(b) undertaken for the sole purpose of education, teaching, research or private study where such purpose is neither directly nor indirectly commercial, and

(c) accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement,

shall constitute fair dealing with the work for the purposes of section 50(1).
(4) It is not an infringement of any moral right conferred by Part IV to do anything which by virtue of this section is not an infringement of the rights conferred by this Part.

(5) In this Part, ‘fair dealing’ includes the making use of a performance or recording which has been lawfully made available to the public for a purpose and to an extent which will not unreasonably prejudice the interests of the rightsowner where such use is accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement.”.”.

Senator Fintan Warfield: Information on Fintan Warfield Zoom on Fintan Warfield I second the amendment.

  Amendment put and declared lost.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I move amendment No. 9:

In page 22, line 12, to delete “means” and substitute “includes”.

Senator Fintan Warfield: Information on Fintan Warfield Zoom on Fintan Warfield I second the amendment.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I want to delete "means" which narrows the focus and substitute the word "includes" which is far broader and inclusive.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

  Amendment No. 10 not moved.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Amendment No. 11 in the names of Senators Norris and Craughwell arises out of Committee Stage proceedings. Amendments Nos. 11 to 13, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together, by agreement.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I move amendment No. 11:

11. In page 32, between lines 20 and 21, to insert the following:
“CHAPTER 5

Miscellaneous amendments of Principal Act in relation to user rights
Fair dealing

45. (1) Section 49 of the Principal Act is amended by inserting the following subsection after subsection (1):
“(2) In this Part, ‘lawful user’ means a person who, whether under a licence to undertake any act restricted by the copyright in the work or otherwise, has a right to use the work, and ‘lawful use’ shall be construed accordingly.”.
(2) Section 50 of the Principal Act is amended, in subsection (4), by substituting “includes” for “means”.

(3) The Principal Act is amended by inserting the following section after section 50:
“Fair dealing - public lectures in educational establishments

50A.(1) Without prejudice to the generality of section 50(1), the brief and limited display of a copy of a work—
(a) during the course of a public lecture given in an educational establishment,

(b) undertaken for the sole purpose of education, teaching, research or private study where such purpose is neither directly nor indirectly commercial, and

(c) accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement,

shall constitute fair dealing with the work for the purposes of section 50(1).
(2) It is not an infringement of any moral right conferred by Part IV to do anything which by virtue of this section is not an infringement of the rights conferred by this Part.”.
(4) The Principal Act is amended by inserting the following sections after section 106:
“Fair dealing - format-shifting for private use

106A.(1)Without prejudice to the generality of section 50(1), it shall constitute fair dealing with a work for the purposes of section 50(1) if—
(a) the owner or lawful user of the work makes or causes to be made a reproduction of that work in a different format,

(b) he or she owns or is a lawful user of the medium or device on which the reproduction is reproduced,

(c) the reproduction is made for his or her private and domestic use,
and
(d) the reproduction is made for purposes that are neither directly nor indirectly commercial.
(2) Subsection (1) shall not apply if—
(a) the work being reproduced is an infringing copy, and

(b) the person making the reproduction did not have reasonable grounds to believe that the work was not an infringing copy.
(3) Where a reproduction which would otherwise be an infringing copy is made under this section, but is subsequently sold, rented or lent, or offered or exposed for sale, rental or loan, or otherwise made available to the public, it shall be treated as an infringing copy for those purposes and for all subsequent purposes.

(4) For the avoidance of doubt, subsection (3) does not apply to a loan of the reproduction by the lender to a member of the lender’s family or household for the member’s private and domestic use.

(5) Subsection (1) does not apply if the owner or lawful user of the work from which the reproduction was made disposes of, gives away, rents, or sells that work to another person without first destroying all reproductions of that work which he or she has made under that subsection.

(6) Without prejudice to section 2, for the purposes of subsection (1)(a), ‘work’—
(a) includes a work which has been purchased, obtained by way of a gift, or acquired by means of a download resulting from a purchase or a gift (other than a download of a kind mentioned in paragraph (b)), and

(b) does not include a work which has been borrowed, rented, broadcast or streamed, or a copy which has been obtained by means of a download enabling no more than temporary access to the work.
(7) It is not an infringement of any moral right conferred by Chapter 7 of Part II to do anything which by virtue of this section is not an infringement of an infringement of the rights conferred by this Part.
Fair dealing - back-up copies

106B.(1)(a) Without prejudice to the generality of section 50(1), it shall constitute fair dealing with a work for the purposes of section 50(1) if the owner or lawful user of the work makes or causes to be made a reproduction of the work as a back-up copy of it which it is necessary for him or her to have for the purposes of his or her lawful use.
(b) In particular, it is not an infringement if the reproduction is made as a back-up copy in case the work is lost, damaged or otherwise rendered unusable.
(2) Subsection (1) shall apply only if the owner or lawful user of the work being reproduced owns or is authorised to use the medium or device on which the reproduction is reproduced.

(3) Subsection (1) shall not apply if—
(a) the work being reproduced is an infringing copy, and

(b) the person making the reproduction did not have reasonable grounds to believe that the work was not an infringing copy.
(4) If the work is lost, damaged or otherwise rendered unusable, then a reproduction made under subsection (1) shall be treated as the work.

(5) Where a reproduction which would otherwise be an infringing copy is made under this section, but is subsequently sold, rented or lent, or offered or exposed for sale, rental or loan, or otherwise made available to the public, it shall be treated as an infringing copy for those purposes and for all subsequent purposes.

(6) For the avoidance of doubt, subsection (5) does not apply to a loan of the reproduction by the lender to a member of the lender’s family or household for the member’s private and domestic use.

(7) Subsection (1) does not apply if the owner or lawful user of the work from which the reproduction was made disposes of, gives away, rents, or sells that work to another person without first destroying all reproductions of that work which he or she has made under that subsection.

(8) Without prejudice to section 2, for the purposes of subsection (1)(a), ‘work’—
(a) includes a work which has been purchased, obtained by way of a gift, or acquired by means of a download resulting from a purchase or a gift (other than a download of a kind mentioned in paragraph (b)), and

(b) does not include a work which has been borrowed, rented, broadcast or streamed, or a copy which has been obtained by means of a download enabling no more than temporary access to the work.
(9) It is not an infringement of any moral right conferred by Chapter 7 of Part II to do anything which by virtue of this section is not an infringement of the rights conferred by this Part.”.
(5) Section 220 of the Principal Act is amended—
(a) by designating the existing section as subsection (1), and

(b) by the addition of the following subsection:
“(2) In this Part, ‘lawful user’ means a person who, whether under a licence to undertake any act restricted by recording rights in relation to a performance or otherwise, has a right to use the recording of a performance, and ‘lawful use’ shall be construed accordingly.”.
(6) The Principal Act is amended by inserting the following section after section 221:
“Fair dealing - public lectures in educational establishments, libraries and archives

221A.(1)Without prejudice to the generality of section 221(1), the brief and limited display of a recording of a performance—
(a) during the course of a public lecture given in an educational establishment,

(b) undertaken for the sole purpose of education, teaching, research or private study where such purpose is neither directly nor indirectly commercial, and

(c) accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement,

shall constitute fair dealing with the work for the purposes of section 221(1).
(2) Without prejudice to the generality of section 221(1), the brief and limited display of a recording of a performance—
(a) either—
(i) in a prescribed library or prescribed archive or by the librarian or archivist of a prescribed library or prescribed archive, or

(ii) during the course of a public lecture given in a prescribed library or prescribed archive or given by the librarian or archivist of a prescribed library or prescribed archive,
(b) undertaken for the sole purpose of education, teaching, research or private study where such purpose is neither directly nor indirectly commercial, and

(c) accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement, shall constitute fair dealing with the work for the purposes of section 50(1).
(3) It is not an infringement of any moral right conferred by Part IV to do anything which by virtue of this section is not an infringement of the rights conferred by this Part.”.
(7) The Principal Act is amended by inserting the following sections after section 254:
“Fair dealing - format-shifting for private use

254A.(1)Without prejudice to the generality of section 221(1), it shall constitute fair dealing with a recording of a performance for the purposes of section 221(1) if—
(a) the owner or lawful user of the recording makes or causes to be made a reproduction of that recording in a different format,

(b) he or she owns or is a lawful user of the medium or device on which the reproduction is reproduced,

(c) the reproduction is made for his or her private and domestic use,
and
(d) the reproduction is made for purposes that are neither directly nor indirectly commercial.
(2) Subsection (1) shall not apply if—
(a) the recording being reproduced is an infringement of the rights conferred by this Part, and

(b) the person making the reproduction or causing it to be made did not have reasonable grounds to believe that the recording was not such an infringement.
(3) Where a reproduction which would otherwise be an illicit recording is made under this section, but is subsequently sold, rented or lent, or offered or exposed for sale, rental or loan, or otherwise made available to the public, it shall be treated as an illicit recording for those purposes and for all subsequent purposes.

(4) For the avoidance of doubt, subsection (3) does not apply to a loan of the reproduction by the lender to a member of the lender’s family or household for the member’s private and domestic use.

(5) Subsection (1) does not apply if the owner or lawful user of the recording of a performance from which the reproduction was made disposes of, gives away, rents, or sells that work to another person without first destroying all reproductions of that work which he or she has made under that subsection.

(6) Without prejudice to sections 2 and 202, for the purposes of subsection (1)(a), ‘recording of a performance’—
(a) includes a recording which has been purchased, obtained by way of a gift, or acquired by means of a download resulting from a purchase or a gift (other than a download of a kind mentioned in paragraph (b)), and

(b) does not include a recording which has been borrowed, rented, broadcast or streamed, or a copy which has been obtained by means of a download enabling no more than temporary access to the work.
(7) It is not an infringement of any moral right conferred by Part IV to do anything which by virtue of this section is not an infringement of the rights conferred by this Part.
Fair dealing - back-up copies

254B.(1)(a) Without prejudice to the generality of sections 221(1) and 242, it shall constitute fair dealing with a recording of a performance for the purposes of section 221(1) if the owner or lawful user of the recording makes or causes to be made a reproduction of that recording as a back-up copy of it which it is necessary for him or her to have for the purposes of his or her lawful use.
(b) In particular, it shall constitute fair dealing for the purposes of section 221(1) if the reproduction is made as a back-up copy in case the recording is lost, damaged or otherwise rendered unusable.
(2) Subsection (1) shall apply only if the owner or lawful user of the recording being reproduced owns or is authorised to use the medium or device on which the reproduction is reproduced.

(3) Subsection (1) shall not apply if—
(a) the recording being reproduced is an infringement of the rights conferred by this Part, and

(b) the person making the reproduction or causing it to be made did not have reasonable grounds to believe that the recording was not such an infringement.
(4) If the recording is lost, damaged or otherwise rendered unusable, then a reproduction made under subsection (1) shall be treated as the recording.

(5) Where a reproduction which would otherwise be an illicit recording is made under this section, but is subsequently sold, rented or lent, or offered or exposed for sale, rental or loan, or otherwise made available to the public, it shall be treated as an illicit recording for those purposes and for all subsequent purposes.

(6) For the avoidance of doubt, subsection (5) does not apply to a loan of the reproduction by the lender to a member of the lender’s family or household for the member’s private and domestic use.

(7) Subsection (1) does not apply if the owner or lawful user of the recording from which the reproduction was made disposes of, gives away, rents, or sells that recording to another person without first destroying all reproductions of that work which he or she has made under that subsection.

(8) Without prejudice to sections 2 and 202, for the purposes of subsection (1)(a), ‘recording of a performance’—
(a) includes a recording which has been purchased, obtained by way of a gift, or acquired by means of a download resulting from a purchase or a gift (other than a download of a kind mentioned in paragraph (b)), and

(b) does not include a recording which has been borrowed, rented, broadcast or streamed, or a copy which has been obtained by means of a download enabling no more than temporary access to the work.
(9) It is not an infringement of any moral right conferred by Part IV to do anything which by virtue of this section is not an infringement of the rights conferred by this Part.”.
(8) Section 329 of the Principal Act is amended, in subsection (2), by substituting “includes” for “means”.”.

Senator Fintan Warfield: Information on Fintan Warfield Zoom on Fintan Warfield I second the amendment.

Deputy John Halligan: Information on John Halligan Zoom on John Halligan I acknowledge Senator Norris' resubmission of his amendments proposing a private copy and the introduction of levies. Once again, however, the Government will not accept the proposed amendments. We debated this matter in great detail on Committee Stage and in subsequent meetings with officials of the Department where the reason the amendments cannot be accepted was given. As the Government's position remains unchanged and I have no more to say on it, having spoken on it several times, I respectfully request that these amendments be withdrawn.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris This is a very substantial series of amendments. The first refers to fair dealing, the concept that someone is allowed to use material without infringing copyright for certain purposes, covers public lectures and educational establishments, format shifting for private use, in other words taking it from one medium to another, for example, from a computer to a mobile phone and very importantly, back-up copies. Surely to goodness we should be encouraging people to make back-up copies so that material will not be permanently lost to the archive.

  Amendment No. 13 establishes the right to fair compensation and establishes mechanisms whereby the fair compensation can be achieved. There should be levies to fund the right to fair compensation and that copyright owners have established the right to compensation. There is a great deal of information in this. It is a very complex, highly technical matter. We have discussed it with the departmental officials.

  Will the Minister of State respond to issues such as the use of back-up copies? It is extremely important that people should be encouraged to make them.

Deputy John Halligan: Information on John Halligan Zoom on John Halligan Making back-up copies of one's own work is allowed, as one is the rightful owner. The Senator is talking about making additional copies of works of other people. I could go into lengthy detail but there are two main points: the copyright review committee, which reported in 2013, recommended the introduction of a private copying exception which would be framed for private and domestic uses and for back-up copies. This exception was intended to legislate for an action already commonly occurring. On the very fine point the Senator makes regarding levies, we have not received any submission.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I find that astonishing.

Deputy John Halligan: Information on John Halligan Zoom on John Halligan I have seen no submission. The EBI has not received any submission from rights holders calling for levies to be introduced. It has not received any engagement from stakeholders on the matter providing evidence of the harm caused to rights holders by private copying to justify increasing the cost to Irish consumers. While the proposed amendments would force businesses to pay burdensome levies, the Senator might agree it is inevitable that these costs would be passed on to the consumers. This has occurred throughout the EU. It would not be limited to private customers but would cover business consumers. We would be in very serious waters when people purchase material for copying or facilitating, regardless of the use it was intended for. We have examined this closely and have taken opinions from everyone we possibly can. The Senators have met officials to discuss it. We have referred to the very comprehensive report of the committee in 2013 and have received no submissions whatsoever on any of the issues the Senator has spoken of.  Based on that again, I ask the Senator to trust us on this and respectfully request that the amendments be withdrawn.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I was astonished when the Minister's advisers told us that the holders of copyright had not indicated their desire for levies, compensation and so on. Who am I to second guess the copyright holders? If they are not interested, there is no reason for me to pursue this particular matter so I will have to accept what the Minister of State says. If we had a series of votes, nothing would be achieved. We are facing insurmountable odds in terms of voting numbers and I am just not going to waste the time of the House.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Is the Senator withdrawing the amendment?

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

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan The comments made by the Senator will be recorded.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Amendment No. 12 has been discussed with amendment No. 11. Can I expect a similar response?

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

  Amendment No. 12 not moved.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Amendment No. 13 has been discussed with amendment No. 11. Can I expect a similar response?

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

  Amendment No. 13 not moved.

  Government amendment No. 14:

In page 41, line 13, to delete “Bill” and substitute “Act”.

  Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 15:

In page 42, to delete lines 5 to 45 and substitute the following:

Reference

No.(1)
Principal Act

(2)
Words to be substituted

(3)
Substituting words

(4)
1
section 53(1) instruction or of preparation for instruction education or of preparation

for education
2
section 53(2)(a) instruction education
3
section 53(3) instruction or of preparation for instruction education or of preparation

for education
4
section 53(4)(a) instruction education
5
section 55(1)(b) instruction education
6
section 55(2) instruction education
7
section 61(2) research education, research
8
section 62(2) research education, research
9
section 63(2)(b) instruction education
10
section 67(3) research education, research
11
section 92(3)(a) research education, research
12
section 168(1) instruction education
13
section 171(1) instruction education
14
section 172(1) instruction education
15
section 223(1) instruction or preparation for instruction where the copying is done by or on behalf of a person giving or receiving instruction education or of preparation for education where the copying is done by or on behalf of a person giving or receiving education
16
section 224(1)(b) instruction education
17
section 229(2) research education, research
18
section 230(2)(b) instructions education
19
section 234(3) research education, research
20
section 245(3)(a) research education, research
21
section 329(1) research education, research
22
section 330(1) instruction or of preparation for instruction education or of preparation

for education
23
section 330(1)(a) instruction education

”.

  Amendment agreed to.

  Bill, as amended, received for final consideration.

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

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I compliment the Minister and his officials. They were very courteous in receiving us. At least we can say that the matters, which were the subject of the amendments, have been discussed at some length, that the attention of the Department has been drawn to the issues involved and, to a large extent, satisfactory discussions took place. I thank the Minister. It is important that we do not hold this Bill up any more. We ventilated the issues that we were concerned about, which is the responsibility of us as Members of the Seanad, and I am glad that we have fulfilled that purpose. Even though amendments have not been accepted the issues have been put on the record.

Senator Fintan Warfield: Information on Fintan Warfield Zoom on Fintan Warfield I thank the Minister of State and his officials for facilitating our requests for meetings. I might seek further clarity in writing on amendment No. 2. I ask the Minister of State to consider the goodwill that we have given the Bill. I urge him to be a champion for the digital deposit scheme as it needs a champion in Government. Our national institutions, particularly the National Library of Ireland, are crying out for a digital deposit scheme.

Minister of State at the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy John Halligan): Information on John Halligan Zoom on John Halligan I sincerely thank the three Senators for their engagement and conscientious dissection of this Bill. The Bill is complicated and without a thorough debate by the Senators who scrutinised and examined it, we would not have a comprehensive and a good quality Bill. All of us have listened, including the members of the committee and the officials, attentively to the speakers. I thank all of the Senators who spoke about this complex Bill during its passage for their exceptional contributions. I thank them for a good and thorough debate, and for the courtesy they have shown towards my officials and myself in the House.

  Question put and agreed to.

   Sitting suspended at 1.35 p.m. and resumed at 2 p.m.

  2 o’clock

Business of Seanad

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer I propose an amendment to the Order of Business that, notwithstanding anything in today's order, No. 2, Residential Tenancies (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2018 - Committee Stage, be taken now; No. 3, Civil Registration Bill 2019, be taken on conclusion of No. 2; and No. 4, Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2016 be taken on conclusion of No. 3.

Acting Chairman (Senator Gerry Horkan): Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan Is that agreed? Agreed.

Residential Tenancies (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2018: Committee Stage

Sections 1 to 5, inclusive, agreed to.

NEW SECTION

Acting Chairman (Senator Gerry Horkan): Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan Amendments Nos. 1 and 26 are related and may be discussed together by agreement.

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys I move amendment No. 1:

In page 7, between lines 29 and 30, to insert the following:

“Amendment of section 12 of Act of 2004
6. Section 12 of the Principal Act (Obligations of landlords) is amended by inserting the following subsection:

“(6) A deposit (howsoever described, being money payable on entering into an agreement for the tenancy of a dwelling and intended to be held as security for the performance of any obligations, and the discharge of any liabilities, of the tenant under or in connection with the tenancy) shall not in any case exceed the monthly rent (or, if the rent is not payable monthly, the amount that the tenant pays in rent as calculated pro rata on a monthly basis) set under that tenancy.”.”.

The amendment speaks for itself. We are trying to ensure that a deposit does not exceed a month's rent. That was always the norm across Ireland and it is only of late that we have seen exceptional increases of up to six months. It is hard enough for people to find rental accommodation without having to face excessive deposits.

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane I welcome the Bill as it provides greater security and protections to the private rental sector and, for the first time, includes regulations for short-term lettings in Ireland. However, I object to the attempts to rush the Bill through the Seanad and I welcome the change made to the Order of Business.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer There was no attempt to rush it through the House. There was agreement last week on this, so let us be fair.

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane Having tight timeframes means rushing it.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer Let us have balance in the debate.

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane Senator Buttimer is being very sensitive and I have not even started yet.

Acting Chairman (Senator Gerry Horkan): Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan I ask Senator Ruane not to be too provocative.

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane The Leader is mumbling under his breath. He should say what he wants to say a little bit louder.

Acting Chairman (Senator Gerry Horkan): Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan He can say it when I give him permission to speak.

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane If Senator Buttimer had been here this morning, he may not have lost the vote.

Acting Chairman (Senator Gerry Horkan): Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan Try not to be provocative, Senator Ruane.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer My record of attendance is better than that of most people.

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane I am just telling Senator Buttimer that his side was short of numbers and it might have won if he had been here.

Acting Chairman (Senator Gerry Horkan): Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan We are only on amendment Nos. 1 and 26 and we have to get through 26 in total. I ask for Senators to deal with the business.

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane I was doing so until I was interrupted. The Seanad debates in 2016 with the then Minister, Deputy Coveney, on the Government's last housing Bill were very productive and resulted in actual, tangible changes to the Bill. Many of the flaws in how rent pressure zones were designed, particularly the lack of definition of substantial change in the nature of property for the purposes of an exemption from rent controls, were raised in the Oireachtas at that time. I do not raise this to be party political but to point out that the Opposition has a role in this process too, and that should be recognised in the scheduling of debates.

  Amendment No. 26 would require the Minister produce a report on the feasibility of a national deposit scheme and how best such a scheme could be implemented in the context of the Irish housing market. This report would be completed within six months and delivered to both Houses of the Oireachtas. It is an amended version of the amendment tabled by Deputy Darragh O'Brien in the Dáil, so we are hopeful for the support of Fianna Fáil for it today. This is not a new issue and both Fianna Fáil and the Labour Party discussed it extensively in the Dáil. This is an area in which bad landlords gouge tenants and use larger and larger deposit requirements to thin out the high number of people competing for tenancies. They are profiting from people's desperation, and this cannot be justified. It is bad enough for those with the necessary financial means and for whom two or three months' deposit is an annoying expense to compete on these grounds, but for people on lower incomes a two-month deposit requirement is enough to put any potential tenancy out of reach. It serves as a major bar for more vulnerable people competing in the private tenancy market, and those people need our support. We have heard examples from other countries where this works, and while I recognise that a large body of practical work will be needed to implement such a scheme, we need to get on with it.

  I recognise that the Minister has committed to looking at this issue and that he plans to bring forward a Bill for pre-legislative scrutiny in the fourth quarter of 2019, but I am concerned by some of his remarks in the Dáil in which he labelled this area as no longer the priority it once was. The Minister has a large and very important brief and the Department works across many policy areas simultaneously. He said in the Dáil that the regulation of student accommodation was a higher priority. I am concerned that this crucial issue may struggle to compete with the other items in the Minister's brief, and I would be reassured if there was a report, with a legislatively mandated timeline, that supported the pre-legislative scrutiny process which the Minister has planned for later this year.  I have deliberately drafted the amendment to ensure that the process would match the policy development schedule that will be under way in the Department. I see this as an amendment that will work with the provisions of the Bill the Minister has set out and in a complementary way to his own work. It would provide major reassurance to us in this House and to Deputies in the Dáil, where this issue came up continually on Committee Stage and Report Stage, that something will definitely be done. Every attempt to provide for it legislatively in the Dáil was rejected because the Minister said he did not want to deal with it in isolation but comprehensively. If he cannot accept the amendment from the Labour Party, this amendment would support that policy development process. This is worth the Minister's acceptance.

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell I welcome the Minister to the House. The purpose of this Bill is to sort out some of the mess of residential tenancies. I agree with my colleague, Senator Humphreys. We saw the other night that couples today are paying €2,100 to rent a two-bedroom apartment in Sandyford which they could buy with a monthly mortgage payment of €1,350. We are seeing this all over the place. We are also getting reports from tenants that getting the deposit back when they vacate a property is proving to be a problem. My colleague, Senator Ruane, referred to the amount of money that is expected upfront when renting a property. It has gone from a month's rent to two or in some cases three months' rent. This is simply exploitation of people who are desperate to find homes. I am familiar with people who are paying relatively little rent compared with €2,100 in Sandyford. I know a couple who are paying €1,500 at the moment. They are just waiting to be told that the property is to be sold and they must leave. Then come the battles to get back deposits and things like that. My colleagues in the Labour Party have put forward a perfectly reasonable amendment. I support it fully and I ask the Minister to take it on board. Let us not divide the House over it. It is a fairly reasonable thing for which to ask.

Acting Chairman (Senator Gerry Horkan): Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan Does Senator Buttimer wish to comment?

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

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy In the first instance I will address the idea of rushing legislation and the question of priorities. When we were originally drafting this legislation, I wanted to draft a Bill that would receive cross-party support so that we could move it efficiently, though not too quickly, through the Houses, given the changes we know we need to make in the rental sector. When I first introduced the Bill, we were talking about giving tenants who receive a notice to quit longer notice periods, trebling or in some circumstances quadrupling the time they have to find a new property to rent. Given the work students had done with all parties, we also knew that we wanted to bring student accommodation under the rent pressure zones to make sure students are not gouged by unfair rent increases.

  We also knew that there were a couple of things happening in the rent pressure zones, RPZs, that should not have been. People were citing substantial refurbishments that did not really meet the definition but were just a lick of paint to enable them to step outside their obligations under the rent caps. As we proceeded with the Bill, I saw other priorities that needed to be addressed urgently. For example, under the current legislation, if we did not extend RPZs beyond December of this year, they would fall. In this Bill I have extended them to 2021. That is more important than a deposit protection scheme or defining deposits. I will come back to that piece of work in a moment. We have also changed the qualifying criteria for rent pressure zones and rent caps. Dublin was racing ahead, which meant that other parts of the country could not catch up even though they were seeing rent hyperinflation. By taking Dublin out of the accounting equation, we will now see rent caps extend geographically as well as in time, which is very important.

  We have done something else which I do not think has got enough recognition. We are talking about large institutional landlords at the moment. Previously, if they brought new stock to market that would never be captured by a rent cap, they could increase the rent year in, year out, with new or existing tenants, and they would never have to abide by the rent caps. That changes now. For the first time we are bringing large landlords and new housing stock into the rent pressure zones. Tenants renting from them will be treated in the same way as tenants renting from an individual private landlord. That is very welcome and it is a priority. In addition to that we are bringing forward the regulation of short-term letting through a change to primary legislation and regulations which will be debated in this House.

  Those are priorities. Unfortunately, our addition to the Bill meant that we could not accommodate other areas of work that need attention and there would be a delay. There was also a delay in the Oireachtas. We had built in time for more than enough scrutiny of this legislation by this House, as I pointed out last night on Second Stage. However, because as a minority Government we do not control the Dáil, we unfortunately lost time. We are now in a very unfortunate position, which we are not happy about at all. I am disappointed that the vote took place earlier today and I will tell the House why. The ban on the short-term letting of homes where rent pressure is most acute was meant to begin on 1 June. However, because of delays it is now set to come into force on 1 July. I worry that if I cannot get this legislation agreed by both Houses and signed into law along with the accompanying regulations, which must also come before both Houses and be signed into law before the end of this month, we will not be able to move to regulate short-term letting from 1 July. There are also weeks in June when other Government priorities need to be handled. We have seen this happen with the national children's hospital, Brexit debates and broadband. Things which we all agree are a priority get deprioritised because housing is at issue. This almost happened last week. I had to make an intervention in the Dáil to make sure we could sit until midnight or as late as possible to conclude the relevant Stages. The House accommodated that, which was a very good thing. I very much worry that if we miss a week, which is the outcome we face at the moment, we could miss a chance to regulate short-term letting at all in the immediate months because of the further knock-on delays. I recognise the very frustrating position in which this puts everyone in this House.

  Last night I said that I have a second piece of legislation on rents that I want to bring forward in the fourth quarter of this year. I commit to commencing that legislation in this House so that Senators can do the heavy lifting on the further rent reforms we want to do. They pertain to tenancies of indefinite duration. That will provide much greater stability and security for long-term renters. The further reforms also pertain to tenants who find that the property they are renting is taken over by a bank or other financial institution. At the moment their rights are too ambiguous. I refer also to properties in receivership. We need to address all of these things as well as issues around deposits. I am sorry that the House is in this position. I am very sorry that the vote went the way that it did today. I am worried now, because there are things at work outside our control as individuals. If we do not act collectively, they could end up hurting the people who need us to bring these reforms through as quickly as possible. I am available to debate this all day and all night today and tomorrow. If it must be next week, I am absolutely willing to appear on Tuesday. I still have not secured agreement on my side that I can come into this House on Tuesday of next week. I am very worried about the risks that have been built into this process. I recognise my part in those risks. I will do everything I can to mitigate them.

  Regarding the amendments themselves, we all agree that a deposit should only be one month's rent. That has always been the norm. There was talk recently of people charging a deposit of more than one month's rent. That was overstated, as we did not receive a huge number of complaints from tenants in that situation through the Residential Tenancies Board, RTB. In some circumstances we know that a deposit of more than one month's rent might be charged if a tenant is bringing pets into the property. That happens by agreement. There are issues around it which must be looked at carefully. As I said when it was initially put forward in the Dáil, the amendment is unfortunately incomplete in and of itself. Even if I accepted this amendment and put its definition of a deposit into the Bill, there are far too many ways of stepping around it. As we move to define a deposit, we have to ensure there is no way to demand one month's deposit and two months' rent up front or other things like that. There were recently reports in the news about viewing charges. Those reports turned out to be spurious, but if we are going to put protections in place, we might as well protect people in all these other areas as well. It makes sense to install those protections as one instrument.

  Regarding a deposit protection scheme, not everything can be a priority. The things I listed as part of this Bill are more of a priority than a deposit protection scheme. According to what we hear from the RTB, this became less of a priority since it was initially debated in 2015. There has been some work on legislation for this, but it may be outdated now because the circumstances in the international financial markets have changed. Previously, a deposit protection scheme would wash its face in that the money on deposit would be more than enough to cover the administration of such a scheme. That is not the case now. If there is going to be a cost to running this, who is going to bear that cost? Should it be the landlords, the tenants or both? We are talking about a significant amount of money, potentially more than €300 million.  It potentially requires a new public bank because the RTB is not in a position today where it is able to manage that amount of money on deposit. We then have questions about the administration of that money, who releases it, how quickly they can release it and, where there is a dispute, what happens. The RTB already deals with disputes about deposits, but we are talking about something else entirely. We are talking about a mandatory obligation on everyone involved in renting - landlords and tenants. We, therefore, need to be very certain about exactly what we are doing if we are bringing in a scheme such as this.

  When the amendment was tabled in the Lower House, it was withdrawn owing to an understanding of all of these complications and that a second piece of legislation was coming this year. It was withdrawn because of the commitment I gave that in the interim we would do work on this issue and produce a report, given the changed environment, to see how it would be possible to do some of this.

  I do not like to speak from personal experience and rarely do as I think we should speak about facts and data. However, I know what it is like to lose a deposit and believe it is unfair because, like most of us, I have rented. For most of my adult life I have rented in many countries. I have seen how rental systems work in four cities. I want to build a more mature rental market and sector in this country. That involves doing things with deposits, which I recognise. That is to what the report will work. It will then be a matter for us, if the legislation commences its passage in this House, to work with it. I cannot accept the amendments.

Acting Chairman (Senator Gerry Horkan): Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan How stands the amendment?

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys This is about as simple as it gets. It is to provide for a certain degree of reassurance. The amendment relates to the deposit system in the way it has always operated in this country. The Minister is bringing forward unnecessary complications. I will be pressing the amendment.

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell The Chair will forgive me if I address the issue of the attempt made to take all Stages of the Bill today. I was the person who proposed we not proceed beyond Committee Stage. I understand the Minister's frustration and his need to get the Bill through the House. However, we have spent over 100 hours in this House debating a Bill that nobody wants. We have wasted time and changed that Bill, much to the credit of my colleague Senator McDowell, but at the end of the day, it is very important legislation that will impact on the lives of people.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer They are filibustering on that Bill.

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell As I do not interrupt the Leader, I hope he will not interrupt me.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer The Senator does.

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell No, I do not. Either I have the floor or I do not.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer They are filibustering on that Bill, as the Senator knows.

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell I want to support the Minister. I have been a supporter of his, despite the stick he has been taking on social media and in the media in general. I have great sympathy for him in the job he is trying to do. However, I would not and could not stand over pushing all Stages of this Bill through the House today when people are emailing me and every Member of the House on both the tenant side and the landlord side about the issues they have with the Bill.

  On the amendment brought forward by Senator Humphreys, I agree with the Minister that very few people are coming forward to complain about the fact that they are being asked for two or three months' rent. Why is that? It is because they are petrified to say anything. I have met too many of my children's young friends who are renting properties and will never see the day when they will be able to purchase a property. They are at the mercy of landlords who are telling them, "I am sorry; I am selling the property and you have to get out." Then, three months later, they find out he or she has not sold the property, but do they do anything about it? No, they do not because they really could not care less.

Acting Chairman (Senator Gerry Horkan): Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan I am trying to deal with amendments Nos. 1 and 26.

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell The point I am making is that the amendment brought forward by Senator Humphreys would at least offer a degree of security to those who rent property. I do not accept the spurious argument that they do not complain. They do not because at this stage they are so beaten they cannot do so.

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane As there is no end time for the debate, we do not need to rush through the amendments.

Acting Chairman (Senator Gerry Horkan): Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan I am not trying to rush through them. We are on amendments Nos. 1 and 26.

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane It feels as if we are.

Acting Chairman (Senator Gerry Horkan): Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan It should not.

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane I am just asking the Acting Chairman to slow down.

Acting Chairman (Senator Gerry Horkan): Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan I am trying to get through the business efficiently, but I am equally conscious of the fact that there are 26 amendments and that we are to finish Committee Stage today.

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane That is what I am saying. We can keep going until we finish it.

  On amendment No. 26, I completely accept the concerns the Minister raised about deposits in the Dáil and last night in this House on Second Stage. That is why the amendment looks for a report on the feasibility of a deposit scheme. It is not necessarily looking for report on how we would implement it. Given that the Minister has massive concerns about other amendments, I ask him to reconsider amendment No. 26.

Senator Jennifer Murnane O'Connor: Information on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor Zoom on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor I have been working with the Minister for three years and we have been to every housing committee meeting. I am glad to hear some of the Senators present saying they want change. While I know that the Bill does not deliver on everything, at least it is a start, given that there are changes that need to be made. In fairness to the Minister, he has given 100%, as has the Minister of State, Deputy English. When I hear the comments about the Bill being rushed through, I think to myself that in the housing committee we have been months trying to go through some of these issues. We do not always agree on everything - no better woman than myself to argue a point - and if I have an issue, I will say it to the Minister. We have been working on this legislation for months and have had different issues. However, I will give credit where it is due - the Minister has been working with us. Some of the comments made to him are very unfair. I wanted to make that point in the light of some of the amendments tabled, with some of which I agree and with which some of which I do not. In fairness to the Minister, he has been working with us for months on this legislation and we have been trying hard to do the best we can. There are so many regulations and so many things we cannot do, which is very annoying. I totally understand from where Members are coming, but we are in a situation where we need to make sure tenants are looked after and that there is the best possible outcome for them. There are some good landlords too, but we need to strike a balance-----

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane They voted today to slow it down. It is completely hypocritical.

Acting Chairman (Senator Gerry Horkan): Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan I tried to protect the Senator when she was speaking. That equally applies to other Members. Senator Murnane O'Connor to continue, without interruption.

Senator Jennifer Murnane O'Connor: Information on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor Zoom on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor This is an important Bill and I am certainly not in a rush. We have been working on it for months. As someone who is a member of the housing committee and works with the different Departments involved, it is important we do the best we can today, strike a balance and make sure we represent everybody.

Acting Chairman (Senator Gerry Horkan): Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan I am trying to keep to amendments Nos. 1 and 26.

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell On the last point, clearly, if the committee has been working on this issue for months, it is strange that committee members do not understand paying more than one month's deposit is repugnant to any young couple or person who is trying to rent an apartment. I am surprised committee did not pick up on this.

Senator Jennifer Murnane O'Connor: Information on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor Zoom on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor As the Senator has not attended any meeting, how does he know? I have not seen him at any meeting.

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy The debate is not being guillotined. I am absolutely at the disposal of the House and will be here until the early hours of morning to get through every issue in detail, if that is what Members. It is not a problem. On the timing, I do not want to be in this position with Members; as I said, I do not think it is fair on them. Senator Murnane O'Connor defends better and more eloquently than I could the amount of time that has already gone into this Bill and its scrutiny by the House.

  To come to the point about deposits, it is not that anyone disagrees that it should only be a month's deposit. It is the recognition that this is the definition of a deposit that is incomplete. While we might pass it and think we have done a good job to protect tenants who are being done by landlords who are looking for more than a month's deposit, it will not protect them at all because landlords can step around it by charging them a month's deposit and two months' rent. Therefore, as we move to define what is meant by a deposit and consider a deposit protection scheme, issues to do with viewing money, even if it was perhaps a false concern, and key money can be looked at in their totality. While we could pass something to give us comfort in order that we could feel better that we had stood up for people and could believe a month's deposit was reflected in legislation, unless it will make a practical difference, I do not see the purpose in bringing it forward. It is not that anyone disagrees with the motivation behind the amendment; it is just that, on its own, it would not work. To go back to my earlier point, it is a political choice to say rent pressure zones, rent caps and short-term letting are greater priorities. Because we focused on them we were not able to focus on this issue at the same time in this legislation.

  On Senator Murnane O'Connor's point about the report, from the point of view of what is good or bad legislation, it is not good legislative practice to insert into legislation phrases such as "a report will be produced in six months' time".  Legislation is the law of the land. This legislation relates to how we intend to regulate the rental sector. I am giving a commitment to get the report done because it needs to inform the next legislation in any case. That was recognised by Fianna Fáil when it withdrew the amendment it had proposed in the Lower House. I hope the Seanad can do the same.

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys I want to make it clear that at no stage did I say the Minister was rushing the Bill. There is a responsibility on this House to interrogate the legislation as it goes through. I believe this amendment will make a difference because it will set a public floor. It will make it clear that if someone tries to gain a deposit of more than one month's rent, to keep the money or to get two months' rent in advance, he or she will be clearly out of step with the spirit of the legislation. In fairness to the Minister, we can debate this around the houses. At this stage, people support it or they do not. We should do our business in an efficient manner today. I am not going to debate this amendment at length, although I will press it.

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell I am anxious not to go around the houses on this matter. The Minister is speaking in a very conciliatory mode today. If the problem is that we have not clearly defined the deposit issue in order that it can be ring-fenced with some of the issues that have been raised by the Minister, perhaps he will give an undertaking today that he will work with us between now and Report Stage, which I hope will take place next Tuesday, so that we will be in a position to define properly the amendment that is being put forward from the Department's perspective by my colleague from the Labour Party, Senator Humphreys. In such circumstances, I will be happy to sit back and wait to bring the amendment back on Report Stage, by which time the issue of a deposit will have been defined in a way that meets the Minister's requirements and might also copper-fasten the one-month period. I do not know how Senator Humphreys feels about that. I am anxious to facilitate the passage of this Bill through Committee Stage.

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane I want make a quick point about providing in legislation for reports to be drawn up. Sections 16(3)(a), 16(3)(b) and 16(3)(c) of this Bill make provision for a report to be drawn up under this legislation. I mention that to make the point that it is quite normal to provide in legislation for reports to be drawn up. In fact, such provision is made in a different section of this Bill.

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy I believe the public floor is already there. A one-month deposit is the norm in the vast majority of cases. I am not saying we do not need to legislate for it. This brings us back to Senator Craughwell's point that there is a great deal to do around the deposit area. There is a lot we need to do to make sure tenants are not being unfairly treated from a financial perspective in a number of areas that relate to, or run alongside, the issue of what a tenant is charged upfront when he or she goes to view, secure or rent a property.

  All of these things need to be considered in the context of a deposit protection scheme. If and when we bring in such a scheme, it might have ramifications for the definition of a "deposit" and all of the other things we want to define in law. I do not think it would be helpful to tenants to bring forward a definition of "deposit", even if we could work on this one for the time being, without many other things being thought through at the same time. It might tell the public something, but it is something that already exists as a norm. It is something we already share as a view. It is something we are all committed to trying to do in the future, by which I mean the fourth quarter of this year.

  I have given a commitment to start the work in this House so that Senators can do the heavy lifting before it comes back to the Dáil. I understand that Deputies have put work into their amendments. We are having a very thorough debate here today. I understand that people will want to call votes. I am just concerned about time. I am concerned about getting this done. It is not about rushing it, as Senator Humphreys has said. It is about giving it the proper scrutiny. We have plenty of time to do that today. I can come in and back as many times as possible. I believe we need to look at this area as a whole. There is no time to do that between now and next Tuesday. I hope all of this legislation can be concluded on Tuesday because of the time difficulties I have spoken about, particularly as they relate to short-term letting. The sooner we make this the law, the better protected people will be.

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys In 2014, the Cabinet approved the development of legislation providing for a deposit protection scheme. Senator Craughwell has made a generous offer that I would have been happy to go along with if the Minister had not clearly indicated that the Government is not prepared to work on a deposit scheme. Therefore, I will press this amendment.

Amendment put:

The Committee divided: Tá, 12; Níl, 19.

Níl
Information on Frances Black   Zoom on Frances Black   Black, Frances. Information on Colm Burke   Zoom on Colm Burke   Burke, Colm.
Information on Rose Conway-Walsh   Zoom on Rose Conway-Walsh   Conway-Walsh, Rose. Information on Paddy Burke   Zoom on Paddy Burke   Burke, Paddy.
Information on Gerard P. Craughwell   Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell   Craughwell, Gerard P. Information on Jerry Buttimer   Zoom on Jerry Buttimer   Buttimer, Jerry.
Information on Máire Devine   Zoom on Máire Devine   Devine, Máire. Information on Paul Coghlan   Zoom on Paul Coghlan   Coghlan, Paul.
Information on Paul Gavan   Zoom on Paul Gavan   Gavan, Paul. Information on Martin Conway   Zoom on Martin Conway   Conway, Martin.
Information on Kevin Humphreys   Zoom on Kevin Humphreys   Humphreys, Kevin. Information on Frank Feighan   Zoom on Frank Feighan   Feighan, Frank.
Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn   Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn   Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig. Information on Maura Hopkins   Zoom on Maura Hopkins   Hopkins, Maura.
Information on Gerald Nash   Zoom on Gerald Nash   Nash, Gerald. Information on Anthony Lawlor   Zoom on Anthony Lawlor   Lawlor, Anthony.
Information on Niall Ó Donnghaile   Zoom on Niall Ó Donnghaile   Ó Donnghaile, Niall. Information on Tim Lombard   Zoom on Tim Lombard   Lombard, Tim.
Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin   Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin   Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán. Information on Ian Marshall   Zoom on Ian Marshall   Marshall, Ian.
Information on Lynn Ruane   Zoom on Lynn Ruane   Ruane, Lynn. Information on Michelle Mulherin   Zoom on Michelle Mulherin   Mulherin, Michelle.
Information on Fintan Warfield   Zoom on Fintan Warfield   Warfield, Fintan. Information on David P.B. Norris   Zoom on David P.B. Norris   Norris, David.
  Information on Pádraig Ó Céidigh   Zoom on Pádraig Ó Céidigh   Ó Céidigh, Pádraig.
  Information on Kieran O'Donnell   Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell   O'Donnell, Kieran.
  Information on Marie-Louise O'Donnell   Zoom on Marie-Louise O'Donnell   O'Donnell, Marie-Louise.
  Information on John O'Mahony   Zoom on John O'Mahony   O'Mahony, John.
  Information on Joe O'Reilly   Zoom on Joe O'Reilly   O'Reilly, Joe.
  Information on James Reilly   Zoom on James Reilly   Reilly, James.
  Information on Neale Richmond   Zoom on Neale Richmond   Richmond, Neale.


Tellers: Tá, Senators Kevin Humphreys and Gerard P. Craughwell; Níl, Senators John O'Mahony and Kieran O'Donnell.

Amendment declared lost.

Acting Chairman (Senator Gerry Horkan): Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan Amendments Nos. 2 to 5, inclusive, are related. No. 5 is consequential on No. 4. Amendments Nos. 2 to 5, inclusive, may be discussed together by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane I move amendment No. 2:

In page 8, line 34, after “ratings” to insert “and to a minimum BER of not less than C1”.

  I welcome section 3, which will define what a substantial change in the nature of the property means for the purposes of a landlord seeking to be exempted from the rent caps. The Bill will allow for an increase in energy efficiency, through the building energy rating, BER, as a ground for evading rent caps. I welcome the amendments that the Minister made on Committee Stage in the Dáil, such that phased increases will be needed depending on how low or high the original BER was. It is a superior approach to one where any increase in the BER would allow a landlord to evade the caps. We are proposing a minor change. It would, in effect, ensure that C1 would be set as a minimal eventual rating in all tenancies citing this section. Section 6(1)(c) of the Bill proposes the insertion of a new subsection (5A) after section 19(5) in the Residential Tenancies Act 2004, and the proposed subsection (5A)(a)(ii) states that a rating must be increased "by not less than 7 building energy ratings" to evade the caps. That in effect sets a minimum BER of C1. The proposed subsection (5A)(a)(iii)(V) states that if the BER is at C3 or higher, it must be "improved by not less than 2 building energy ratings", again setting the effective minimum BER to C1.

  Amendment No. 2 would be additional to the proposed subsection (5A)(a)(iii)(IV), which relates to properties with a rating of D1 or lower, to ensure that when a landlord is increasing the BER, the eventual minimum rating cannot be lower than C1. C1 is an objectively high energy efficiency standard and this amendment would align that subsection for lower-rated properties with the provisions of the other sections. If this work is being carried out by landlords anyway, we should set objectively high standards for how the efficiency rating is improved. Energy wastage through energy-inefficient buildings is a significant contributor to greater reliance on fossil fuels. If Ireland is to stand any chance of hitting its international targets, we need to make substantial strides on energy efficiency. If a landlord wants to evade rent caps, it must be justifiable and the setting of objectively high energy efficiency standards will allow for that justification. I hope the Minister can accept that amendment.

  Amendment No. 4 proposes that a landlord would not be able to cite a substantial change to the property as grounds to evade the rent caps in rent pressure zones without the Residential Tenancies Board, RTB, first carrying out a physical inspection of the property in question. Amendment No. 5 is a consequential amendment. While I recognise the increased regulatory burden this would place on the RTB, we are now in a position where the rent pressure zones are not working and we need to act. Rent increases, as demonstrated in the recent daft.ie report, far exceed the ostensible 4% cap and it is through the unfair and unjustified usage of these kinds of exemptions that landlords evade the caps. While I welcome the overall attempt to better define and regulate these exemptions, we are now in an emergency situation that calls for an an emergency measure. Good landlords would have nothing to fear from this amendment as a justified rent increase would be easily verified by the RTB. It would be a deterrent to bad landlords and would be so significant that in my estimation, it could fundamentally reform how rent pressure zones work for the better. I recognise that it could be difficult but the scale of the current crisis requires it. The increased penalties and detailed provisions on what substantial renovations actually are will mean nothing if bad landlords are not detected for illegal or unjustifiable rent increases. I hope that the Minister can accept these amendments.

Senator Jennifer Murnane O'Connor: Information on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor Zoom on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor I have tabled amendment No. 3, which states:

In page 8, between lines 39 and 40, to insert the following:
“(VI) refurbishment that meets a per square foot value investment as set by regulations published by the Minister,”.

  This goes back to pre-1963 housing. We have all had phone calls about this today. Could this now be inserted? It is important and I want clarification on whether this can be done and, if not, why.

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys In certain cities, there are houses built before 1960, including Georgian houses, that will find it difficult to reach the standards. We need a clear definition from the Department about what standards they have to reach and how they could go about reaching them. The local authorities and An Taisce only allow certain works to be carried out on a house in a conservation zone or Georgian quarter. There is a need for a clear guideline. I accept what the Senators are trying to achieve, in getting a very high standard of energy efficiency. We also have to consider the types of properties that we are trying to regulate in this area. I do not think the Minister can do it today but it would be helpful to have clear guidelines from the Department with regard to Georgian and pre-1963 houses on how they can achieve the standards. We all want them to get there. The people who currently own them do not have a clear pathway to achieve those standards. The Department and local authority could assist in this area.

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy I thank Senators for their contributions and the amendments tabled. The daft.ie report was mentioned. This type of information is helpful but we have to recognise that these are the renting prices being asked, not agreed. It is a much smaller data set than actual rents agreed and registered with the RTB. It produces its index quarterly on what the state of rent is in different parts of the country. It is important that we always speak about the official data and about as big a set of data as we can. While it is easy to say that rent caps are not working, if that was the belief of this House, we would not be extending them to 2021 and changing the qualifying criteria to extend beyond Dublin, Cork and the other areas in which they operate, and we would not be seeking to improve them in the way that we are. If we want to cite information from reports such as that from daft.ie, we absolutely can. According to daft.ie, rents are at an all-time high. We know that they are too high. That same report states that rents are now growing at a slow pace that has not been seen since 2013, before the rental crisis. That is important because it tells us that rent caps are working. They are slowing rent inflation but they need to work harder. They have not brought it below 4% nationally because they do not apply nationally. They have not gone below 4% across Dublin because rent caps do not apply to new properties coming onto the market. Until we pass this legislation, they will not ever apply to those new properties. As rents are set each year for properties that came newly to the market in the last two years, they will go higher than 4%. That will increase the average inflation in an area such as Dublin. Until the legislation is changed, we will not see a more consistent level of rent inflation in line with the rent caps. The RTB has said that, from the data it has seen, rent caps are working. The purpose of legislation is to improve them.

  These amendments speak to the complications that we have in everything that we try to do with housing. We are trying to make sure that landlords are not abusing the idea of refurbishing or renovating their apartment or house for rent to try to get out of rent caps. We hear anecdotal evidence that they are. We published guidance on what refurbishment would look like to be able to step outside of the rent caps. We recognised that we needed to put it in law. We have to find a balance and make sure that we do not make it so difficult that landlords then stop investing in their properties and that the standards of our stock then worsen as an unintended consequence. The primary purpose of this part of the legislation is to ensure that tenants' rights are not being abused by landlords applying a lick of paint and then saying there is a 10% rent increase, for example. We have sought to define what a substantial refurbishment is. Listening to the points made by other parties and people of no party on Committee Stage, we made a further set of amendments.  On substantial refurbishment and building energy rating, BER, the BER is important because if one improves the BER rating of a property, one significantly helps the tenant in terms of the affordability of the day-to-day light, heat and other utility bills. In addition, there will be a wider impact on the environment in terms of there being less of an impact on the climate. Everything I am trying to do in regard to the standard of buildings being built - things like near zero energy building or having minimum BER requirements for new builds - will be of significant help in the other big crisis we are facing, namely, climate change.

  Two changes were made on Committee Stage to recognise the importance of BER and the points raised in regard to pre-1963 and other properties. Under one of the clauses, there are two separate BER grounds that can be invoked. If a property has a very low BER rating, a jump of three points will be required because at a very low rating it is easy to jump two points with minimal work. If the property is at a higher rating, it must only jump two points, recognising that significant investment has already been made in the house to bring it up to an appropriate BER rating. If one goes two points higher on the scale in conjunction with other measures such as improving disability access and so on, one can step outside the rent caps.

  The other change we have made is that if one brings the property up seven BER points, one may step outside the rent cap. That means bringing a property on the lowest point of the scale up to C2, or one on the second lowest point up to C1, for example. We must recognise that that will be very expensive to do in some properties and that a minimum BER rating for some very old properties could be very difficult to achieve, would be seen as too onerous for the landlord and may act as a disincentive to investment. That is the balance we tried to achieve. One of the amendments looked at in much detail on Committee Stage sought to link it to investment per square foot or square metre but, unfortunately, it was not possible to be certain that we could properly verify that the investment had taken place.

   I know there is a particular issue around pre-1963 properties because I have met people on this issue. The solution we tried to reach on Committee Stage was the new allocation of seven BER ratings as a measure in and of itself that does not have to be combined with disability access, increasing the square footage of the property or other measures in the Bill. If one brings these very old buildings up seven points on the BER scale, that would be sufficient to step outside the rent caps. A commitment I give today on foot of the comments made is to publish the work done by the Department which demonstrates that, even in the case of a pre-1963 property with the different restrictions it has by virtue of the regulations already in effect, the system can be used to enable meaningful investment in the property and allow those landlords to step outside the rent caps because of the significant work done and the resultant significant improvements for the tenants moving into those properties.

  On physical inspections, it is not always necessary to physically inspect the property to ensure it has met its requirements and obligations under the definition of substantial refurbishment. The documentation required and the fact that it must be certified is verification that the works have happened. However, if the RTB believes that is not enough or has a question mark, it has new powers for independent inspection and may inspect the property. In addition, it is now an offence backed by very serious sanctions to knowingly give false documentation or information to the RTB and a landlord cannot try to use one of the definitions or exemptions just to get around the rent caps. We have provided very strong legal provisions regarding what is allowed and it is an offence if one does it inappropriately or misleads the RTB. We have given the RTB the powers to make inspections and we trust it to use its judgment as to what is an appropriate level of inspections and what properties should be inspected. Unfortunately, I cannot support the amendments because they have already been adequately captured in the legislation.

  Amendment put and declared lost.

Senator Jennifer Murnane O'Connor: Information on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor Zoom on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor I move amendment No. 3:

In page 8, between lines 39 and 40, to insert the following:
“(VI) refurbishment that meets a per square foot value investment as set by regulations published by the Minister,”.

  Amendment put and declared lost.

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane I move amendment No. 4:

In page 8, between lines 39 and 40, to insert the following:
“(b) the works carried out under paragraph (a) have been the subject of a physical inspection by the Board,”.

  Amendment put and declared lost.

  Amendment No. 5 not moved.

  Section 6 agreed to.

  Sections 7 and 8 agreed to.

NEW SECTION

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan Amendment No. 6 has been ruled out of order as it involves a potential charge on the Exchequer.

  Amendment No. 6 not moved.

SECTION 9

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan Amendment No. 7 has been ruled out of order as it involves a potential charge on the Exchequer.

  Amendment No. 7 not moved.

  Question proposed: "That section 9 stand part of the Bill."

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane I acknowledge that amendments Nos. 6 and 7 have been ruled out of order, but I wish to highlight that amendment No. 8 has the same intention, namely, to extend rent pressure zones throughout the country for three years. We are in a crisis and it would be wise to support amendment No. 8 which has the same intentions as amendments Nos. 6 and 7. I am unsure why they were ruled out of order.

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy As the Senator is aware, I do not rule amendments out of order.

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane I know that.

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy On section 9, obviously, people who are paying close attention to this, as all Senators present are, understand that the first designated rent pressure zones in Dublin and Cork were due to expire at the end of this year. Rather than waiting until the last minute to extend them, given the unforeseen delays which can occur in these Houses, as was discussed earlier, it is better to extend them now until 2021. It is interesting that the idea of rent controls or rent caps was unthinkable four years ago. Three years ago, we brought them in. We are now extending and improving them, which is a very important measure in the Bill. Tenants, landlords and those investing in the area for the first time will have certainty that we have these rent caps until 2021 at least. That will happen now regardless of when a designation was made for a rent pressure zone. Obviously, under the new qualifying criteria and in light of the high inflation in areas outside of Dublin, we expect that more areas will come into RPZs and they will all continue in operation until the end of 2021 at least.

Senator Jennifer Murnane O'Connor: Information on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor Zoom on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor I have the same concerns as Senator Ruane. As I stated to the Minister at housing meetings, the criteria are not right. I am concerned in that regard. In my home town of Carlow, which does not meet the criteria, there are two excellent third level education colleges which require student accommodation. There is significant lack of supply of housing and the cost of rent in towns such as mine is very high. I have grave concerns about this issue and stated to the Minister on several occasions that Carlow and other such areas not in the rent pressure zones should be included and not just the main cities. Smaller towns and areas are paying the price and that needs to be addressed.

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy I listened to the Senator at those meetings. The points she made were correct and we are changing the qualifying criteria. The calculation used involved rent being above the national average, which included and still includes Dublin, and having above 7% rent inflation in four of the past six quarters. We recognised that it was very unlikely that more areas would come into a rent pressure zone because even though rents there may be increasing at 10%, 11% or 12% per quarter, they would never catch the national average because Dublin rents were pushing it up so high. As a result, we are taking Dublin out of the equation when we look at the greater Dublin area, GDA, and other counties, and we are taking the GDA out of the equation for the other new qualifying criteria when looking at the remaining counties.  As a result of that, I anticipate, based on the inflation data that we have seen from the RTB, that more areas are going to be rent pressure zones, RPZs, which is very welcome. That will be a significant change emanating from this Bill. We have talked about the reforms in the Bill but it is important that the public understands exactly how sweeping it is and what that will mean for people who are not covered by these regulations and laws but who will now be covered and protected.

  Question put and agreed to.

NEW SECTION

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan Amendment No. 8 has been ruled out of order as it imposes a potential charge on the Revenue.

  Amendment No. 8 not moved.

SECTION 10

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan Amendments Nos. 9 to 11, inclusive, are related. Amendment No. 11 is consequential on amendment No. 10. Amendments Nos. 9 to 11, inclusive, may be discussed together by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Senator Fintan Warfield: Information on Fintan Warfield Zoom on Fintan Warfield I move amendment No. 9:

In page 11, between lines 13 and 14, to insert the following:
“(2) For the purposes of this section, the entirety of the Carrigaline local electoral area, shall be deemed to be a rent pressure zone.”.

This issue was raised with me by Councillor Michael Frick Murphy and by Deputy Ó Laoghaire. Rent pressure zones were applied to city council areas, some electoral areas and counties, including the Ballincollig-Carrigaline municipal district in Cork. Some of these electoral areas have since been revised. Last month, Deputy Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Deputy Coveney, if the southern end of Carrigaline would fall under the new Carrigaline municipal district and become a rent pressure zone. He confirmed that it would. However, in response to a parliamentary question, the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government confirmed that, "The areas of Fountainstown, Myrtleville and Crosshaven will be contained in the Carrigaline LEA and will come under the remit of Cork County Council and as such will not become RPZs by virtue of the change to the boundary." It raises the bizarre situation that different rules apply within the same local electoral area, which is surely bad policy from an administrative point of view for landlords and tenants. One part of the LEA is not protected from spiralling rents while another part is. From my understanding the rents at the southern end of Carrigaline are high.

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane I was a bit jumbled when I was trying to explain amendment No. 7. It was amendment No. 9 I was referring to as having the same intention as amendment No. 7. I am not asking for Sinn Féin's amendment to be ruled out of order but I may resubmit amendments. What are the criteria for ruling ours out of order when its intention is exactly the same as amendment No. 9? I want to reserve the right to submit amendments on rent pressure zones on Report Stage.

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys Could the Leas-Cathaoirleach give us some guidance because there seems to be a contradiction in what is being ruled in or out of order? This is not aimed at the Sinn Féin amendment but the Labour amendment was more of a scalpel than a sledgehammer and would be similar except that we did not mention specific areas. That would be like Senator Murnane O'Connor submitting that Carlow-Kilkenny should be a rent pressure zone. There seems to be an anomaly in what is being ruled in and out of order. I reserve the right to resubmit those amendments because I question the ruling.

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy Unfortunately, I am only now reading the amendments that were ruled out of order. I do not have a say in the ruling in or out.

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane They are ruled out by the Chair.

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys It is an inconsistency. It is nothing to do with the Minister.

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy For the first time.

  On the amendment, there might be some confusion and I will try to clarify it. Recognising the boundary change in Cork and the other legislation that came through this House extending the boundary of the city, that takes into account areas that were already RPZs. No area is going to lose its designation as an RPZ as a result of the boundary change. I have to read the parliamentary question the Senator refers to because I have not seen it. If the Senator has it to hand, I will check it to make sure there was not some confusion in the language. Even the amendments in the context of the Act can be confusing. No area will lose its designation or status as a result of the boundary change.

Senator Fintan Warfield: Information on Fintan Warfield Zoom on Fintan Warfield Is the Minister aware of any other LEAs half of which are in RPZs and half not?

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy Off the top of my head, I am not. I will have to look into that. When rent caps were brought in, people said it would create a two-tier rental sector. Some people’s rent would be controlled and people just outside the rent control area would be under pressure in respect of rent increases. One of the issues Senator Murnane O'Connor raised was that some people felt they were being left outside controls they should have been in because there was hyperinflation of their rents. Changing the qualifying criteria should work to address the anomaly that we have seen as it has spread beyond Dublin and the greater Dublin area, GDA. If that is occurring in an LEA, but I cannot think of any, this would work to address it.

Senator Fintan Warfield: Information on Fintan Warfield Zoom on Fintan Warfield Given the scale of what we have to do, I will not press the amendment. It would be helpful if the departmental officials could make themselves available to me and the councillors who will be elected in a few weeks. This situation seems to be unique in the State.

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy I appreciate that. The system by which an area is designated an RPZ is based on the most recent data we get on a quarterly basis from the RTB, which then consults with the Housing Agency and a recommendation for a new area is given to me to sign off on. Two areas were included in the final quarterly report of 2018. There is no flexibility on my part. In the legislation we are taking due care to make sure there are no unforeseen consequences and we think we have captured them in the previous changes. I appreciate what the Senator said on the matter.

  I hope new candidates will be elected and if there is an opportunity to talk to them about how this aspect of government works in their area as they are learning the ropes I will make myself available.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Senator Fintan Warfield: Information on Fintan Warfield Zoom on Fintan Warfield I move amendment No. 10:

In page 11, between lines 13 and 14, to insert the following:
“(2) For the purposes of this section, where an electoral area, which was changed or created by the 2018 revision of local electoral areas, and contains areas which were previously in an electoral area which was a rent pressure zone, the new electoral area shall be deemed in its entirety a rent pressure zone, where the majority of the properties in the new electoral area were previously in the rent pressure zone. Where the majority of the new electoral area was not in a rent pressure zone previously, then the Minister shall initiate a review within 6 months of the passing of this Act, in order to determine whether an area should be included in the rent pressure zone or not.”.

  Amendment put and declared lost.

  Amendment No. 11 not moved.

  Section 10 agreed to.

NEW SECTION

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan Amendments Nos. 12 to 16, inclusive, and 18 to 20, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane I move amendment No. 12:

In page 11, between lines 17 and 18, to insert the following:
Indefinite Tenancies

11. Section 28 of the Act of 2004 is amended in subsection (2)(a), by the substitution of “an indefinite period” for “the period of 6 years”.”.

Amendments Nos. 12 and 13 are similar in that they would both prohibit so-called no reason evictions and move Ireland to a residential tenancy model of indefinite tenancies in line with the commitments made in the 2016 Rebuilding Ireland plan. Amendment No. 12 would amend the Part 4 tenancy protections so that passage of time would be removed as a ground for terminating such tenancies without good reason. Currently the statutory protections afforded to Part 4 tenancies end after six years.  This would ensure that where a landlord is terminating a Part 4 tenancy, he or she must have proper legal standing to do so within the other provisions listed in the table to section 34 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004. Amendment No. 13 deletes section 34(b) of the 2004 Act, which allows a landlord to terminate a Part 4 tenancy if the minimum statutory notice has been given. There is no specific ground or reason for the tenancy to end. It is simply because the landlord wants the property back and he or she cannot justify it otherwise under the provisions in section 34. At a time of unbearably high levels of homelessness and a housing crisis in this State, we cannot allow a situation where a landlord can evict a family from a house without good reason. A no reason tenancy termination at this stage is morally wrong and should be illegal. Even beyond the immediate needs of the housing crisis, at a time of decreasing home ownership and increased reliance on the private sector for housing, we need to move to a model of tenancies of indefinite duration. Otherwise how can a family put down roots and plan for their lives and education of their children if their tenancy can be terminated after four or six years, depending on when it started? Families need certainty. They need to know that their child will be able to attend the same school without interruption, and without these amendments, families cannot have and will not get this certainty. No reason evictions need to end and they need to be part of this Bill. I hope the Minister can accept the amendments.

Amendment No. 14 would delete the attempt to extend the time period in which a landlord has to sell the property after he or she has evicted the tenants from three months to nine months. If a landlord wants to sell his or her house badly enough that he or she is willing to evict the tenants, he or she should have to sell as soon as possible and, as a result, we should not be looking to extend that time period. In terms of amendment No. 18, I thank Ms Sinéad Mercier and the Green Party as well as Focus Ireland for their help in drafting it. This amendment seeks to ensure that where a property that was bought using an investment mortgage and is not a principal primary residence is sold, the landlord cannot use the sale itself as grounds for terminating the tenancy, allowing the tenants to remain in the property while it is being sold. It is common practice in many other countries for residential properties to be bought and sold by developers and individuals without evicting tenants, leaving them unaffected by any sale. Considering the scale of the housing crisis here and the degree to which the Irish property market is being used for investment opportunities by international funds, the absolute least we can do is ensure that the sale of a property that was never intended as a primary residence and that was bought with the express intention of being bought and sold for profit would not be grounds for evicting its tenants. It may be the case that properties with vacant possession are more attractive to potential investors. However, the fact is that to make a property vacant, a family may have to be evicted. We should not stand over a situation where this can happen and I hope the Minister will be able to accept that amendment.

In terms of amendment No 20, I welcome the fact that the notice period required before a landlord can evict a tenant is being extended as set out in section 16. However, the notice periods are proportionately extended for all the different tenancy durations, apart from those under six months. I cannot imagine how this can be justified, where changes are made to all the other tenancy durations but not to those under six months, especially considering how disproportionately vulnerable tenants in that category are. We have proposed that the proportional increase afforded to every other duration simply be afforded to those in the six months category too. I recognise the Sinn Féin amendment which extends it to 90 days, whereas our amendment extends it to 60 days. I would be happy with either and I hope the Minister can accept one of the amendments.

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys I compliment the Senators on the amendment because this gets to the nub of the problem with the rental sector, namely, the insecurity. I presume the Minister knows of families who have had to move three, four or five times and their children have had to shift schools. That brings a level of insecurity and the breakdown of friendships, so anything that gives a little bit more security to families has to be welcomed. I very much welcome the amendments because this will give more security to people in the private rental sector and, it is hoped, allow people to be a lot more comfortable in the rental sector. That is the reason there is major and understandable resistance on the part of families to taking up the housing assistance payment, HAP. They feel very insecure in that rental sector because their experience of it has been very poor, and I gave the example of parents having to change the school their children attend on several occasions. This affects the children's educational outcomes because the different schools may be at a different points in the curriculum. I urge the Minister to look closely at these amendments and, if it at all possible, accept them.

Senator Fintan Warfield: Information on Fintan Warfield Zoom on Fintan Warfield Should I move amendments in my name?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan We are dealing with amendment No. 12. We will come to them later.

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy I thank the Senators for tabling the amendments. Before we had a crisis in homelessness, before we had families in the numbers that they are in emergency accommodation, we had a problem, as Senator Humphreys referred to, with families not having the kind of tenancy security they needed to be able to live in an area as a renter and raise a family and have their kids in school. That had to be addressed, notwithstanding the very serious problem we now have of families living with housing insecurity and those living in emergency accommodation.

  As for the amendment that speaks to tenancies of indefinite duration, Government policy approves of that. We want to move to tenancies of indefinite duration. That is why the changes we have made in previous legislation about subsequent Part 4 tenancies is very important . That is why the changes we are making to notice to quit periods are very important. That is why it is going to be one of the central pillars of the next rent legislation that we are bringing forward. To accept this amendment as it stands on its own, without the much larger piece of work that needs to be done on tenancies of indefinite duration unfortunately risks unravelling that section of the Residential Tenancies Act of 2004, which for the first time in decades brought in protections that were not there at all. The 2004 Act was quite groundbreaking in that regard. It has been built upon in the Act that brought in rent caps, and we are building on it again today in this House, but there is a risk in how this amendment is worded, and that it stands alone, not with the other things that we have agreed to do around tenancies of indefinite durations, that it could unravel that section of the Act.

  I have done a great deal of work on the area of the intention to sell properties. What we would like to have is a healthy landlord market where one landlord sells their property to another landlord, where people are investing as landlords not for capital appreciation of the property which they one day sell and have a pension return but on the basis of a stable rent roll. It is a different type of operation. It is what we see in Europe, it is what people say they want, and it is what we are trying to build. One might be able to have that system because they have it in other countries. In those countries it is not necessary for the tenant to vacate the premises because it is being sold by the owner. However, there are a couple of things we have to look at here. In the first instance, I have been back and forth with the Attorney General on this and I have met the leading NGOs, as did the Taoiseach on a number of occasions. It is not constitutional. I am not just putting that down as if to shut a door, I am going to move beyond that argument but the first thing we were told is that it is not constitutional. We have tested that but we would not be able to proceed. Even if it were constitutional, it would not be retrospective, so it would not apply to existing leases. Therefore, even as a temporary solution for six months, as a sticking plaster to prevent any more families being served with notice to quit for these reasons and then potentially going into emergency accommodation, bringing in this measure would not have helped those people.

  If we could overcome the constitutional issue and overcome retrospectivity, it must be asked whether it is a good policy decision to make given the given the type of rental sector we have today, rather than the one we want but do not have. A total of 70% of landlords own only one property, a number of whom are accidental landlords, who found themselves buying a rental property, losing their job subsequently and not being able to sustain it, or who bought a home, whose family circumstances changed, who rented another home and let out their own property. They do not want to be landlords and never meant to be landlords. They are coming to a point in time where, because of the increase in property prices, which is still 20% off peak and which has dramatically cooled, which we saw from evidence again today, they are now in a position where they might be able to sell that property. If they have to sell with tenants in situ, and we have evidence for this from cases that have been taken to the Residential Tenancies Board, RTB, it is likely that the property would sell at a value of 20% to 30% less. That is not 20% to 30% less profit but 20% to 30% less value of the home. While the intention would be to help the tenant in that situation, we could be forcing the person who owns the home into a situation of bankruptcy where he or she would not be able to meet his or her obligations with the banks on that property. In trying to help one person, we are hurting another. Again, when I talk about unintended consequences, that is what I mean. It is different in different countries where they have a different rental sector. The way our particular rental sector has developed and grown over the years means that people are exposed in this way.

  Furthermore, even if we were to say that was okay, that we did not mind if potentially we could hurt that person on that side of the equation because we would be protecting a tenant, we would then be moving the obligation for eviction to the person buying the home.  If a young couple are buying a home for the first time, and there are tenants in situ, they now have to evict those tenants. That is a very invidious position to put someone in, particularly if the people do not leave that house. That couple now has a mortgage on a house they cannot move into, and are also paying rent on the house they are currently in. They may be waiting six months, 12 months, or even longer to move in. I do not think it is fair to shift the burden of responsibility to the person buying the home. Even if we could get past the first barriers from a legal, legislative and constitutional point of view, I am not sure, given the landlord market and rental sector we have today, that it would even be good policy.

As regards section 34, which states the reasons people can invoke to serve a notice to quit, they cannot do that and break a lease agreement. If one has a three-year lease agreement with one's landlord, which is something we need to see far more of, it cannot be broken for any reason. One has to wait for it to expire before section 34 can kick in. People need to understand the importance of a lease agreement, and that one cannot just break the contractual agreement one has with one's landlord.

Notwithstanding that, we have greatly extended the periods of time for which a notice to quit period will be in force. For example, if one has rented a property and been there over 12 months, going into the 13th month, one is working on a month-by-month basis with the landlord, and there is no lease agreement any more. That person has 42 days' notice under the current law. After these changes he or she will have 120 days' notice, or four months. That is a big change. If someone has been there for the average tenancy length of two years or more, has stepped out of the lease agreement and is working month-to-month with his or her landlord, and wants to serve a notice to quit, the notice period today is 56 days. After this, it will be 120 days, and if the person is there three years it jumps from 84 days to 180 days, or six months. These are very long notice to quit periods, which give people more than enough time to find another property. Where they cannot, we know that early engagement with services helps prevent those people having to go into emergency accommodation. That is a really important change we are making in the legislation, and a really significant step.

In addition to that, when we talk about housing assistance payment, HAP, hundreds of thousands of people are renting in our rental sector today very successfully. More than 40,000 HAP tenancies have been created. Some people find themselves in difficulty in HAP, for reasons that are not to do with the operation of HAP itself, and so we try to put in place what other supports we can to help those people. It is unfair, based on some instances of insecurity, to draw wide conclusions around the rental sector as a whole. We know it is not functioning the way we want it to. We know it needs to be improved and reformed, and that is why we are bringing forward these reforms.

One of the amendments, which was not spoken to, seeks to change what we define as a family member and restrict it to just landlords themselves if they want to move back into a property. However, it is very important that we retain the right in law that if someone has a second property and another family member falls on hard times, they could then house that family member in that home. Landlords would take that responsibility on if they felt they could, rather than a family member having to go into State services unnecessarily. I do not think we should be changing the definition we have in the legislation under section 34 as to what constitutes a family member, because it is important that we protect that. I know it was not spoken to, and I am trying to see who is placing that amendment, but I do not think it would be a good amendment to accept. I do think the changes we have made here around tenancy protection, security for tenants and lengthening the notice to quit periods, are very important and strong.

As regards tenancies of indefinite duration, due to Government policy we could not put it into this Bill, but it will be in the next Bill which will commence in this House.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan I thank the Minister. Did I misunderstand Senator Warfield? Does he wish to speak on amendments Nos. 15 and 16, or are we only talking about moving them?

Senator Fintan Warfield: Information on Fintan Warfield Zoom on Fintan Warfield I wish to speak.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan Speak to them now, because they are included. I thought the Senator was talking about moving them.

Senator Fintan Warfield: Information on Fintan Warfield Zoom on Fintan Warfield I apologise, that was my mistake.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan I misunderstood.

Senator Fintan Warfield: Information on Fintan Warfield Zoom on Fintan Warfield I will not rehash what Senator Ruane has articulated as we are largely coming from the same position, although with a different timeframe.

  I am not sure what the Minister is saying about families. Of course one would seek to put one's extended family in need into that home, but not if it meant evicting another family. That home is still an asset one has and a source of income one could use to address the situation facing the extended family. I am not sure what problem the Minister has there.

  I also do not see this as a constitutional issue when talking about retail or commercial properties. We see all the time that the tenant is not affected when retail units are for sale, so what is the difference between residential and commercial sales? Why can we not apply this to residential properties? I do not think there is a legal impediment on that front if it already exists in the sale of commercial properties and the existing tenant is not affected.

  I will move amendment No. 15 largely due to what has been outlined by Senator Ruane. We hear time and again that we should keep people in their homes when they have them. The Dublin Region Homeless Executive's reported figures show that, of the 162 families that provided information on the reasons they vacated their homes, 87 were told it was because the landlord intended to sell, and Focus Ireland sees more than 20 families each month become homeless because their buy-to-let landlord has been forced to sell up.

  I will move amendments Nos. 15, 16, and 19. Will I speak to amendment No. 16?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan Yes, as it is included in this group.

Senator Fintan Warfield: Information on Fintan Warfield Zoom on Fintan Warfield While having a rental property and being able to use it to house a family member is a positive notion, there are certain tax relief measures on renting to family members already in statute. However, there should be no motivation to displace families, or tenants either. If the Minister is not willing to accept amendment No. 16, then amendment No. 17 could be a reasonable one.

  Shall I speak to amendment No. 19?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan Yes. It is in this group.

Senator Fintan Warfield: Information on Fintan Warfield Zoom on Fintan Warfield We welcome the extensions to notice to quit periods, however a proposed continuation of a 28-day notice to quit period for tenancies of six months or less is inadequate. Any Senator or Member of the other House who runs a constituency office will have come across families who have been given these notices and have 28 days to find suitable accommodation. I will leave it there, but I call on the Minister to consider this.

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane I suspected the contribution in terms of constitutionality. However, amendments Nos. 12 and 13 are just setting down the same legal provisions that exist for people in residence for fewer than four or six years, depending on how long they are there. What I do not understand is the rationale that if people are in long-term residency and have built their lives in a certain community, a landlord would be able to evict them without reason. One would think that the legal protections would become stronger for families that are rooted within communities, that have a good track record with their landlord, and have lived their for four to six years. Why are we removing legal protections for them so that a landlord can just evict them, based on the fact that they are there four or six years? I do not understand why we are not giving them any legal protection as we are with other tenancies. I would like the Minister to explain the rationale as to why a landlord could evict somebody because he or she did not have the same legal protections as other tenants who have been there for much shorter periods of time.  I really do not understand the thinking behind it.

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy I thank the Senators for their contributions. I will address Senator Warfield's concerns first. The different amendments are all related in many ways.

  On the data issue, the NGOs say that landlords selling properties is the main reason people end up in emergency accommodation. The Residential Tenancies Board, RTB, says that it is actually rent arrears, that is, people not paying rent. Let us assume for a moment that the RTB is correct. We would be making a much stronger intervention if we did something about rent arrears. A tenant might build up arrears that are small in the scheme of Government expenditure but large for the tenant if he or she cannot pay and for the landlord because he or she lets in order to afford the cost of the property. It would be much more affordable for the State to make an intervention when the arrears start to build up, rather than at the point when the tenant is evicted. At that point the landlord may have had such a negative experience of letting that he or she will get out of the game entirely. The RTB tells us is this is what is actually happening. If that is the case, it would be much better to make an intervention on rent arrears. Doing so would mean that the property remains in the rental stock and the family or individual is kept in the home. Part of the interagency group I set up in September 2017 is now working with the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection. It is examining approaches to rent arrears and to identifying people in need, who might be embarrassed about approaching social protection services, to help them long before they receive a notice to quit.

  Notwithstanding that, the NGOs say that the RTB data are not a full picture because they only represent people who go to the RTB. Those NGOs are the front line. People tell them why they have come to emergency accommodation services. We did a bit of work on this in the first quarter of this year. The data collected were actually incomplete, as four out of ten respondents did not give a reason and we were blind to an extent to the totality of things. I have met the NGOs and they have met the RTB. We are now trying to get much better data to better inform what we are doing. A new study, independent of my Department, will be commissioned to try to track that more accurately. That is one of the issues the Attorney General flagged to me when we were bringing this forward. He said the data are not thorough enough to support the changes the Senator is looking for, which raises the question of whether they would pass the constitutionality test. However we did not stop there. We kept on pushing. I understand the motivation behind these amendments. We are working to get a more solid picture of why people are presenting and what the appropriate and best interventions might be.

  Regarding the other points, it is absolutely the case that if a 20-year lease is signed in the commercial sector it cannot be broken. It is exactly the same in the residential sector. If a tenant rents a property and signs a five-year or ten-year lease, the landlord cannot break that. That is the lease agreement. The problem is that people are not doing that enough. We are trying to find ways to incentivise people to get into longer lease agreements. We have talked about the tax treatment of such leases. Perhaps we could put something into our tax laws to create more of an incentive for people to enter into these agreements. Those conversations are ongoing. They have not come to a conclusion. It would be in the interests of the tenant, as well as the landlord, to be able to do that.

  We must recognise why this is done in the commercial sector. When a landlord makes an investment to rent out a business in a building, he or she is not doing it to own the building at the end of 20 years, sell it and make money from it. The landlord is not spending on capital appreciation. These buildings depreciate over time because of changing building standards, technology, etc. The landlord invests in that lease and keeps the tenant in situ because he or she wants the rent roll from that lease. Suppose I buy a leasehold where there is a takeaway restaurant. I am investing in that because I want the rent from the restaurant, which provides a steady yield every year. That is not why people become landlords in this country in the majority of cases. They do it for capital appreciation. They buy a second property on the understanding that its price will rise over 20 or 30 years. Despite the dips we have had, that is basically what has happened over the last 30 or 40 years. If an investor buys in the right area, the property value will rise. The owner takes a rent that will help with the upkeep of that property over that period and reinvests in it. He or she pays more than half of that rent in tax. This is done with the idea that when he or she retires 20 or 30 years later, he or she can sell the property and use that lump sum as a pension. Alternatively, because the mortgage on the property has been paid off, he or she may choose not to sell it and may use the rent as an additional income.

  That is not really what we want in our rental sector. We do not want that kind of investment because it means a certain number of landlords always will be exiting the market because their personal circumstances determine that they should. That is why 70% of our landlords owning only one property leads to a much more volatile sector than in other European countries. We are trying to move away from that by having larger landlords come in and make their 20 or 30-year play within the regulations, which will be forthcoming under this legislation. They will be able to get a steady return, as they would if they took on rents for restaurants, takeaways etc. This will be a different type of rental sector to the one we have experienced. It was said that many landlords are operating on that basis but actually they are not. A small landlord does not necessarily have the disposable income to help a family member in need. That is why we believe that the need to move a family member into property is a good enough reason for a landlord to say to someone living in their second property that he or she has to go. This is connected to the reasons landlords invest in property. They may not be making a huge amount of money if they have invested on a capital appreciation basis. We also recognise that this means a smaller burden on the State. We do not want that to mean that the people living in those properties then find themselves in emergency accommodation. That is not what we want. We extended the notice periods to give people more time to vacate properties and find new accommodation. Looking at all these consequential amendments together shows how we can protect from those issues.

  On another point that was questioned when I spoke, we also do not want to move the burden for servicing a notice to quit to someone who is not a landlord at all and has not been for 20 or 30 years. They might be a young couple who have bought a home and want to live in it and raise a family. All of a sudden they have to go through all these procedures with the RTB and potentially the courts. We do not want that to happen either. That is just shifting the problem to someone else. It is not solving it. That is why those amendments cannot be accepted.

  We maintain that the 28-day period is fair for less than six months' renting. Tenants may want to exit an agreement as well.   Would it be fair to say that tenants have to give six months' notice if they have only been in properties for 28 days? That will not work for anyone. Once a year has passed, someone outside a lease agreement will have four months to find a new place after only living there for 12 months. That is a very significant reform. I will come back to the point. If a tenant has a lease agreement it cannot be broken. If a tenant signs up to a two-year lease agreement, or if after a one-year lease agreement he or she signs another one-year lease agreement, he or she is protected. Such a tenant has more than four months.

  Senator Ruane mentioned Part 4 tenancies, which were introduced under the 2004 Act. Once a tenant has been in a property for more than six months, he or she starts to accrue new rights. We have been discussing the notice-to-quit periods, but there are also others. A more recent change is that when a Part 4 tenancy termination expires, the tenant does not simply go back to zero with his or her landlord. Instead the tenant moves into a further Part 4 tenancy. A tenant is not treated less favourably than someone who has been living beside him or her for three years. We want tenancies of indefinite duration in order that tenants are not stepping in and out of Part 4 tenancies. In 2004 this type of protection was seen as enough. Since then it has been changed and improved but in reforming the sector, we recognise that we want people to move into indefinite tenancies of indefinite durations in order that their rights will always be there. The difficulty with the amendment as drafted is that it is not enough. Accepting it would unfortunately unravel the obligations under the 2004 Act without putting in enough for tenancies of indefinite duration to stand on their own two feet. We would take a step backwards by accepting the amendments. I know that is not Senator Ruane's intention. However I have worked in this job for the past two years and no aspect of it is ever as simple as, for example, defining a deposit as being one month's rent. There are always consequences which we must bear in mind to make sure we do not do more harm than good. It is not as easy as providing for indefinite durations or changing a part of the 2004 Act. We have to look at a lot around this. That is why it needs its own Bill. That is the next item of legislation that will come forward, subject to the support of this House.

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane Can I respond?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan Of course.

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane Regardless of whether my amendments are sufficient, I wonder why the current legislation does not extend the same provisions in respect of a tenancy and having no-reason eviction. At present, if someone is in a house for six years, the landlord can ask him or her to leave without a reason, but if he or she is there for three years the landlord would have to meet a set of requirements. Ignoring my amendments for the moment, why does that stand in the current legislation from the Department? Where a tenant is in a place for six years a landlord can just ask him or her to leave without an adequate reason and there are no legal protections.

  My other question is about a family member. Is there a monitoring system? I am not sure if it happens very often but if a family member moving into a house is a good enough reason to evict tenants, how can we monitor whether the family member only stays for the duration of a summer, for example? What if it is a decoy to put a family member in the house for a short time? When a house comes off the market like that, do officials look back at those tenancies in any way to find out if the family member stayed there for longer than two or three months and it was not just used as a way to get families out? What type of follow-up monitoring process is carried out when a family is evicted from a house for a particular reason?

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy On the second question, there are changes in the Bill which mean that where a notice to quit is served on a tenant, the landlord must furnish that notice to the RTB within 28 days of the notice-to-quit period expiring. That allows the RTB, which is being given new powers, to follow up and inspect whether it was served for the reasons that it purportedly had been served. If it was not, there are new obligations on the landlord to re-offer that property to the tenant who was evicted. Even in the case of a family member coming into the property for a couple of months, the RTB has the right to go to the landlord and tell him that he is in breach of obligations and that he must go back to the tenant and offer him or her the property to occupy again. It is recognising that some landlords unfortunately will try to game the system under section 34 and get a family member in just for the reason of getting somebody out. This is to allow the RTB to follow up where that happens, and the new sanctioning regime for improper conduct by a landlord gives it the power to fine and do more, if necessary, where that has occurred.

  With regard to Part 4, the Senator is correct in identifying the gap. The gap exists and that is why we must move to tenancies of indefinite duration. The gap is a legacy of how the law was built up since 2004. The 2004 Act introduced the Part 4 and Part 6 obligations that provided for all the new protections for tenants in terms of notice-to-quit periods, which we are extending here. The law was amended subsequent to that. One could step into that Part 4 agreement again and there would be an opportunity for the landlord, if he or she wished, to serve a notice to quit with no grounds. There is only one opportunity every six years to do that. We talk about successive Part 4 tenancies with one opportunity every six years.

  Looking back, it seems odd that this would be case. Why would the tenant's rights diminish for a period and then be re-established? I suppose it was recognising that we were moving then, for the first time, to these types of protections and it was to try to find a balance, which seemed fair at the time, to allow the landlord to have that point at which to step out. Now, as we move towards transforming our rental sector we want landlords coming in and making a 20 or 30-year play, so there would be no need for that. However, where it was the small individual landlord with one property I am speculating that the reason was to allow the landlord to step out without any reason every six years. If the landlord does not invoke that, he or she cannot do it again for another six years and must comply with section 34. Tenancies of indefinite duration will change that when they are introduced in legislation.

Senator Jennifer Murnane O'Connor: Information on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor Zoom on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor The RTB is doing a good job. Recently I have found that some landlords will not take HAP tenants. This will be the main issue in the future. They do not wish to take the HAP and due to lack of supply, that will become a serious issue. For example, there is a need for student accommodation in my area. People who are in the HAP scheme and looking for houses are finding it hard. They might go into a house that is unfit for purpose. There are not too many of them but they exist. What will be done in cases where many families are seeking accommodation and landlords will not accept HAP, as is their right?

  Recently, people have come to my clinics to tell me that their landlord is selling the house. In fairness to landlords, they are well informed about their entitlements as well, as we are with regard to tenants. They say they are selling the house, give the tenants the six or seven months notice and it is all official. What the Minister is doing is good in a way, but I am finding that landlords are saying they will not take HAP. That is causing me concern. I find it very hard to get accommodation for families; it is extremely hard even to get flats or apartments. There are landlords who will take HAP but this legislation could have a slight knock-on effect on that, which is a concern.

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy We are creating at least 300 new HAP tenancies a week, which is staggering. Despite the crisis we have, 300 households are being supported each week under HAP for the first time. That is important. While recognising that, it can be difficult to secure HAP properties in certain areas for individuals. We rolled out place finders and made them available to every local authority, although not every authority availed of them. Where a local authority felt it needed a place finder it has taken on the service. Some have more than one place finder to help individuals and families to locate a property. Moreover, we have engaged with estate agents, who have a very good idea of what is happening in their area from a commercial point of view. We have engaged with estate agents to secure HAP tenancies through them before the properties even go on the market. There has been some negative coverage of that in the media but we are trying to help the people who are most vulnerable in this crisis. We are using every measure at our disposal to do that.

  HAP homes must be inspected. The Senator referred to standards but there is a maximum time period within which the property must be inspected if it is being used for HAP. Tenants cannot be refused on the basis of using HAP. That is why the use of the place finder and estate agents is so important. It prevents that from being cited or used as a reason to refuse. We monitor this. The operation of HAP is done through an efficient system, which allows us to track what is happening in different parts of the country each week. If there are any concerns in an area about HAP tenancies not being completed or landlords withdrawing, that is notified to the local authority in question and, if necessary, can be escalated to me.

  Amendment put and declared lost.

  Section 11 agreed to.

SECTION 12

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane I move amendment No. 13:

In page 12, between lines 9 and 10, to insert the following:
“(2) Section 34 of the Act of 2004 is amended by the deletion of paragraph (b).”.

  Amendment put and declared lost.

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane I move amendment No. 14:

In page 12, to delete line 11.

  Amendment put and declared lost.

  Section 12 agreed to.

NEW SECTIONS

Senator Fintan Warfield: Information on Fintan Warfield Zoom on Fintan Warfield I move amendment No. 15:

In page 12, between lines 21 and 22, to insert the following:
“Amendment of section 34 of Act of 2004
13. Section 34 of the Act of 2004 is amended by the deletion of paragraph 3 of the Table to that section.”.

I will withdraw the amendment and reserve the right to resubmit it on Report Stage.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Senator Fintan Warfield: Information on Fintan Warfield Zoom on Fintan Warfield I move amendment No. 16:

In page 12, between lines 21 and 22, to insert the following:
“Amendment of section 34 of Act of 2004
13. Section 34 of the Act of 2004 is amended in paragraph 4 of the Table to that section, by the deletion of “or for occupation by a member of his or her family and the notice of termination (the “notice”) contains or is accompanied by a statutory declaration”, and the substitution of “and the notice of termination (the “notice”) contains or is accompanied, in writing, by a statement.”.

I will withdraw the amendment and reserve the right to resubmit it on Report Stage.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan Amendment No. 17 is out of order.

  Amendment No. 17 not moved.

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane I move amendment No. 18:

In page 12, between lines 21 and 22, to insert the following:
“Further amendment of section 34 of Act of 2004

13. The Act of 2004 is amended by the insertion of the following section after section 34:
“Restriction on termination of tenancies in buy-to-let dwellings
34A. (1) A Part 4 tenancy may not be terminated by the landlord on the ground specified in paragraph 3 of the Table to section 34 where the dwelling or the property containing the dwelling is the subject of an existing investment mortgage.

(2) Subsection 1 shall apply to all Part 4 tenancies, including a tenancy created before the commencement of this section.

(3) Subsection 1 shall not apply to a Part 4 tenancy where a notice of termination was served to a tenant citing paragraph 3 of the Table to section 34 before the commencement of this section.
(4) In this section ‘investment mortgage’ means a mortgage taken out following the commencement of this section as a security in respect of a residential property that was not at the time of its purchase intended to serve as the principal private residence of the mortgagee.”.”.

  Amendment put and declared lost.

  Sections 13 to 15, inclusive, agreed to.

SECTION 16

Senator Fintan Warfield: Information on Fintan Warfield Zoom on Fintan Warfield I move amendment No. 19:

"

Less than 6 months 90 days
<

"

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane I move amendment No. 20:

"

Less than 6 months 60 days
<

"

  Amendment put and declared lost.

  Section 16 agreed to.

  Sections 17 and 18 agreed to.

SECTION 19

  Question proposed: "That section 19 stand part of the Bill."

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane We are opposing section 19 which allows the Residential Tenancies Board to begin charging for mediation services. I am aware from the Minister's contribution last night on Second Stage that it is an expensive service that needs to be paid for. I accept that, but it should not fall on vulnerable tenants to foot the cost in a property market that is so heavily weighted towards big landlords. The mediation process is one of the few ways by which tenants can exercise their rights under the 2004 Act. It cannot be justified that they should have to pay for a service which should be free. I hope the Minister will accept the proposed change.

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy I understand the motivation behind the amendment. We want people to continue to use the free mediation services of the RTB which has no intention of charging for them at any time in the near future. However, it is prudent to include this provision in the legislation in case it becomes necessary to use it at some point in the future, but no one is planning on invoking or using it following the changes we will make today. The advice is that it is important to have it in place for the RTB as part of the change management programme that is under way. At the beginning of September or October in 2017, having engaged with the RTB and others, a period of change began for the RTB to enable it to move from being a residential tenancies board to being a rent sector regulator to robustly defend the rights of tenants and landlords alike. The increase in funding in the budget for the RTB to hire more staff and inspectors, the legal changes to enable the RTB to make inspections independent of complaints being made, the new sanctioning regime that has been put in place to deal with some of the new abuses identified in Part 7A, they are all designed to move the RTB into the space where it can become a modern regulator in a modern rental sector. While it is not the intention of the RTB to charge a mediation service fee any time soon, it is part of the structural change we are trying to make to the RTB in looking ahead to what we may see in ten years' time or further on.

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys While I accept the Minister's good intentions, it is not acceptable to this House to give the power to charge a mediation service fee without coming back to this House first. If it is not the intention or the Minister does not foresee a need in the short to medium term to charge a fee for the mediation service and where he expresses the view that he hopes it will remain free of charge, if the RTB believes a fee has to be charged, the Minister should come back to this House to make the case for it. I am not in favour at this stage of giving the RTB the option of making a charge without the Minister having to come back to both Houses first.

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane I agree with Senator Humphreys. I have been a community worker for most of my life and still spend a certain amount of my time trying to find services for which people will not be charged because they cannot afford to pay for them. Some of these are vital services such as counselling and addiction services. Thought should be given to making sure a strong case would have to be made for why a fee would have to be charged. There is no mention of a waiver and there is nothing else in the legislation to protect the most vulnerable who already cannot pay for vital services. The fact that the RTB provides a free service means that it is one of the services they can access. Having a service to advocate for families who cannot advocate for themselves, face intergenerational poverty and educational inequality and are on low incomes is really positive. It is something the Government should continue to support, even if it is stating it is not going to happen in the short term. We do not know what Ireland will look like in three or five years' time or in what way the housing crisis will unfold in the next few years. We will have to make the decision on the charging of fees based on how things are at that time. It is not wise to make a decision to put that provision in place now which could take effect in a year or five or six years' time without knowing what society will look like at that time or understanding the situation in which tenants or vulnerable families will find themselves. If there is an important case to be made, there is no reason the Bill could not be amended at that time.

Senator Jennifer Murnane O'Connor: Information on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor Zoom on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor I agree with Senator Ruane. We do not want to be in a situation where we will have to come back here in six months' time when a fee has been introduced. Like other speakers, I deal with people who are constantly using their phones to ring the RTB. Overall, nothing should happen without any such proposal first being brought to this House. We do not want to hear in six months' time that a fee has been introduced and is being charged, particularly for those who are the most vulnerable. There should not be an opening to introduce a fee overnight.

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy No one is talking about introducing a fee overnight. The RTB offers free mediation services and we want them to continue. This is about the change management programme that is under way within the RTB to move it from being a board to a regulator and providing for all of the aspects that might be need to be addressed at some point in the future without the need to have to come back to the Houses to make legislative changes. If a mediation service fee was to be introduced at any point in the future, it would, of course, require further scrutiny because it would be quite a change for the RTB to make. The provision has regard to what we are trying to do in the rental sector. We are trying not just to increase supply and change the law for renters and landlords alike but also to have a more robust independent regulator. We are not sure what mediation services might be necessary in the future or how they might be structured, given some of the changes that are happening in the rental sector and what they might mean in terms of the burden on the RTB. The provision may never be used, but if it were to be used, it would require greater scrutiny by this House and the public. It is, however, considered prudent to include it in the legislation.

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys I cannot accept the argument the Minister has made. It would be prudent to provide that the RTB would have to come back to this House to make the argument for the charging of a fee. The position may change in the future, but it is not acceptable at this stage to give that power to the RTB. It is a free service and it should remain free, unless there is a strong case to be made for charging for it. I fear the Minister is commercialising it in the sense that the RTB may have to fund itself, be self-sufficient or "wipe its face", to use all of the catchphrases. The House must reserve the power in legislation where a fee for a service is to be charged. Such a proposal must be brought to this House and the argument in favour of it made strongly. Until then it would be prudent for the legislators to maintain in legislation that the service will be provided free.

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy To be clear, any change in this area would not be made without the RTB first coming to me and the Houses to discuss it. It is not even on its horizon to charge for the service. I am looking ahead to a landscape on which there will more large landlords and when there may be a case to advise a group of tenants involved in a dispute with a large landlord to go through the RTB mediation service. In that situation the RTB might want - I am speculating - to impose a fee on the landlord, not on the tenants, because of the amount of time it might take to resolve the issue or because of the services rendered. We are moving towards having more institutional landlords, although they now account for a small percentage. It might be of the view that the landlord would easily be able to carry the costs.  It is about thinking ahead to the far future. I think it is prudent in light of the changes we are making at the moment for the RTB. That is why it is in the legislation. There is nothing on the horizon that involves charging for mediation. No such proposal would come forward without me coming to the House to debate it. I would respond to the point made by Senator Ruane by reminding her that we have a free mediation service to make sure tenants who are in difficult circumstances as they try to find resolutions do not face an additional financial burden. That is not going to change.

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane In no way am I questioning the Minister's intention to give the nod to a fee in the coming year or so. However, we cannot put that into legislation. We need something that will apply to whoever succeeds the Minister. It is proposed to include in the legislation a wide reference to cutting the fee. It does not mention that the burden of that fee would fall on the landlord. It does not mention anything about the affordability of the fee, or means testing the fee. There is no actual nuance in it to protect those who will be affected by this provision after the Minister has left office, regardless of who is in government, who is within the Department or who is making the decisions. It is too open. It would be better if there were nuance in it, but that is not the case. Landlords are not mentioned. There is no reference to the fee being means-tested. I do not think we can future-proof something in this way, given that we do not know what position the Minister will be in after the next general election. We do not know whether he will be in this role again. I do not think it is feasible to accept that the Minister's intention will be carried through when other Governments are in office.

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy All I can say to allay the Senator's concern is that if this is to happen, it must have the consent of the Minister, regardless of who the Minister is. The Minister of the day will always be accountable to both Houses of the Oireachtas. I cannot know what the outcome of the next general election will be. If I were betting, I would bet that it will be another minority Government. When we are working in a minority Government, as we are doing at the moment, the vast majority of what we do is done with the consent of the House. The way in which this legislation has progressed since it was commenced is an example of that. I refer to the new provisions that are now included in it. Amendments were tabled, debated and accepted. All of this was done with the consent of Deputies of all parties and none. This is a very good example of how that works. It works well because of the great reforms we are making. That type of burden would also fall to a Minister in a future Government. If the RTB were to propose such a change, the Minister of the day would have to consent to it. I repeat that such a change is not being proposed. This is about thinking into the future. The example I have given relates to circumstances in which there might be a balance of power differential between a large landlord and a number of tenants. It is a question of what the RTB may or may not seek to do at some point in the future.

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane There is no provision within the legislation that says the consent of the Minister would be needed. If that already exists outside of the Minister giving consent to it, nothing in the legislation will require the Minister to liaise with either House before giving that consent. The removal of the section which provides that this should be free means that a Minister will be able to give his or her consent without a conversation having to take place in either House. That requirement does not stand in the legislation, so it might never come back for a discussion. It will just be at the whim of whoever is making the decision at the time.

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys I accept the Minister's good intentions. He may be right when he predicts that the next Government will be a minority Government. The Government after that could be a majority Government. All we can deal with is the way the legislation in front of us is framed. We cannot take a punt on the composition of the next Government in 2020 or 2028. The manner in which this Bill is framed will allow the RTB to get the consent of the Minister for the introduction of fees. All we will be able to do in such an eventuality will be to have a row in the House. The power to introduce fees is being surrendered to the RTB and the Minister. I am not prepared to go that far. I accept the good intentions behind what the Minister is saying. He is asking us to take a punt on future Ministers. I am not prepared to do that today.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan We seem to be going around in circles.

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy I will respond for a final time on this section. I am not asking anyone to "take a punt". The RTB is not looking to do this. We are trying to manage a change management programme for the RTB to make it a robust regulator for landlords and tenants alike. We are trying to build a new rental sector that is more mature and more European. I have looked at every aspect of everything that may or may not be needed down the line, including the potential for us to have to come back and change the law. It is right that the legislative process is a lengthy one. When laws are made and changed, they have implications outside this House that can reverberate for a number of years. This is not necessarily the kind of issue on which one wants to have to come back to the House if there is support for something that needs to be done. The provision that is being put in is one that the RTB would have at its disposal at a future date if it wanted to avail of it. If it decides to do so, it will need to obtain the consent of the Minister. It is appropriate that such a check or balance is there, because it will prevent the RTB from going off and doing this on its own.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Is the section agreed?

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane No, we are opposing it.

Question put:

The Committee divided: Tá, 15; Níl, 12.

Níl
Information on Colm Burke   Zoom on Colm Burke   Burke, Colm. Information on Frances Black   Zoom on Frances Black   Black, Frances.
Information on Paddy Burke   Zoom on Paddy Burke   Burke, Paddy. Information on Rose Conway-Walsh   Zoom on Rose Conway-Walsh   Conway-Walsh, Rose.
Information on Jerry Buttimer   Zoom on Jerry Buttimer   Buttimer, Jerry. Information on Máire Devine   Zoom on Máire Devine   Devine, Máire.
Information on Paul Coghlan   Zoom on Paul Coghlan   Coghlan, Paul. Information on Paul Gavan   Zoom on Paul Gavan   Gavan, Paul.
Information on Frank Feighan   Zoom on Frank Feighan   Feighan, Frank. Information on Kevin Humphreys   Zoom on Kevin Humphreys   Humphreys, Kevin.
Information on Maura Hopkins   Zoom on Maura Hopkins   Hopkins, Maura. Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn   Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn   Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
Information on Anthony Lawlor   Zoom on Anthony Lawlor   Lawlor, Anthony. Information on Ian Marshall   Zoom on Ian Marshall   Marshall, Ian.
Information on Tim Lombard   Zoom on Tim Lombard   Lombard, Tim. Information on Gerald Nash   Zoom on Gerald Nash   Nash, Gerald.
Information on Michelle Mulherin   Zoom on Michelle Mulherin   Mulherin, Michelle. Information on David P.B. Norris   Zoom on David P.B. Norris   Norris, David.
Information on Kieran O'Donnell   Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell   O'Donnell, Kieran. Information on Niall Ó Donnghaile   Zoom on Niall Ó Donnghaile   Ó Donnghaile, Niall.
Information on Marie-Louise O'Donnell   Zoom on Marie-Louise O'Donnell   O'Donnell, Marie-Louise. Information on Lynn Ruane   Zoom on Lynn Ruane   Ruane, Lynn.
Information on John O'Mahony   Zoom on John O'Mahony   O'Mahony, John. Information on Fintan Warfield   Zoom on Fintan Warfield   Warfield, Fintan.
Information on Joe O'Reilly   Zoom on Joe O'Reilly   O'Reilly, Joe.  
Information on James Reilly   Zoom on James Reilly   Reilly, James.  
Information on Neale Richmond   Zoom on Neale Richmond   Richmond, Neale.  


Tellers: Tá, Senators John O'Mahony and Michelle Mulherin; Níl, Senators Lynn Ruane and Frances Black.

Question declared carried.

  Sections 20 and 21 agreed to.

NEW SECTION

Senator Gerald Nash: Information on Gerald Nash Zoom on Gerald Nash I move amendment No. 21:

In page 17, between lines 6 and 7, to insert the following:
“Private residential tenancies register: publication of certain details

22. Section 128 of the Act of 2004 is amended by substituting the following for subsection (4):
“(4) The published register—
(a) shall not contain any information, as respects a particular dwelling, that discloses or could reasonably lead to the disclosure of the identity of the landlord or the tenant of the dwelling,

(b) shall disclose, as respects every dwelling, the amount of the rent payable under the tenancy of that dwelling.”.”.

I will not press the amendment but we reserve the right to reintroduce it on Report Stage.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

SECTION 22

Senator Jennifer Murnane O'Connor: Information on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor Zoom on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor I move amendment No. 22:

In page 17, line 13, after “tenancy” to insert “with the exception of tenancies under an approved housing body”.

I was somewhat surprised by section 22(1), which I am seeking to amend because, as the Minister will be aware, my understanding is that no more local authority housing is being or will be built. The State rarely builds houses. Rather, it is using the various agencies such as Tinteán, Clúíd, Respond, Tuath, Co-operative Housing Ireland-----

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer The Senator should come to Cork to see what is happening there.

Senator Jennifer Murnane O'Connor: Information on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor Zoom on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor I am addressing the Minister. As he will be aware, various housing bodies work with local authorities. If Túath, for example, has ten vacant houses, its get the names of persons on the housing list from the local authorities and they all work together. Housing bodies such as Tinteán, Clúid and Respond go to the local authority, such as Carlow County Council, which puts forward the names to the agencies. That is how it has always worked. I know from dealing with the groups that they are doing an excellent job. Some have managers on site who check and talk to the agencies. They should not be subject to the requirement for annual registration with the RTB because they are doing a good job and have their own identity. The Minister needs to focus on there being more communication between the agencies, local authority tenants and local authorities and that there is a direct line to the various agency groups. The social housing that has been built recently has been built through these housing groups. They are the ones providing housing. Could this provision be excluded? If not, why not?

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy I thank the Senator for her contribution. I understand the reasons behind the amendment. It was gone through previously on Committee Stage when the Bill was progressing through the Dáil. On her first point, local authorities are building more houses than housing bodies. I do not wish to delay the House.

  Essentially, the provision of social housing was reduced almost exclusively to one stream, namely Part V delivery, that is, the delivery of social housing homes on private land, in most cases by private developers. The private housing sector collapsed and, as a result, no social housing was being built. In addition, several local authorities were out of the practice of building social housing for far too long. Under Rebuilding Ireland, we have an ambition to increase the social housing stock by 50,000 and have several ways to achieve that such that the State and its citizens will no longer be exposed to one of our delivery mechanisms failing and, as a result, people not having a house in which to live. That is why we are providing social housing built by local authorities on local authority sites and local authorities are contracting and building social housing on private sites where the land is in an area in which people wish to live. Housing bodies are building social housing with State support and taking people off the housing lists. Local authorities and housing bodies are undertaking long-term leasing in situations where it makes more financial sense to lease the house than to build or buy it and it is far quicker than building it. In certain parts of the country, they are acquiring or buying homes where such are readily available and the second hand market is far cheaper than building a home. In addition, we have Part V, which is a small part of the overall. We have dramatically changed how we provide social housing such that if any one of those streams was to fail, it would not mean that social housing would cease to be built. That is how the landscape has changed.

  A frustration I have is that in the discussion of social housing some academics, commentators, politicians and others only want to look at one stream and declare that it is real social housing but the rest is not. The Iveagh Trust has been providing social housing since before this State was founded and it does so very well, as do several other bodies. It is incorrect to state that what they provide is not social housing. We need to have an informed debate when we talk about the provision of social housing. Housing bodies are building thousands of homes, but local authorities are doing more. As Minister, I have been getting them to work together, even insofar as ensuring that housing bodies building on local authority land is part of the overall solution in the delivery of social housing.

  In this section of the Bill we are trying to move to an annual registration of tenancies such that the RTB can have a modern and up-to-date picture of exactly what is happening in our rental sector, what rents are being charged, who is living where, the duration of tenancies and everything else it will need to police the rental sector, including housing bodies as well. Currently, one only registers a tenancy at the commencement thereof and pays €90 per tenancy. The tenancy may last one or five years. Most tenancies last an average of two years. However, circumstances may change within the tenancy and we are not capturing that on an annual basis. We are recognising that by making annual registration the new law from 1 January 2020 without putting an additional burden on the landlord. We are reducing the charge for registering a tenancy from €90 to €40. It will be even less for housing bodies, which will face a charge of €20. Further, if one is registering more than ten tenancies, it is €8.50 per tenancy. From a financial perspective, €8.50 per year for each tenancy year is not too much of a financial burden, even for the smallest approved housing bodies, AHBs. Of course, there is an administrative burden but we will make this as easy as possible such that it falls in the first year of the tenancy. The tenants in most AHB tenancies are there for a long duration. The administrative details will not really change year in, year out. We want to build a system whereby, rather than having to resubmit all of the forms each year, there will be a simple online submission. It is not too much of an administrative or financial burden.

  The annual registration is necessary to build the new type of RTB which I discussed. It will allow it to move to the annual registration of tenancies and not lose the registration fee, which is one risk. In recognition of the fact that we are moving to annual registrations, we are reducing the fee by more than halving it for ordinary landlords and, for AHBs bringing it right down, particularly if they have more than ten tenants. It is fair.

Senator Jennifer Murnane O'Connor: Information on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor Zoom on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor I understand the points made by the Minister and I am glad he explained the rationale behind the proposal. However, private builders and AHBs provide the bulk of housing in my area. I can provide the list to the Minister, which I have given to Ms Mary Hurley of his Department. I am aware that a certain number of local authority houses are being built, but that is not happening in my area. I am not stating that the same situation pertains across the country. I understand where the Minister is coming from with the proposal and it may be as well to leave it in and see how it works.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer It is important to recognise that the model of delivery of housing is changing. In 2018, 8,422 additional homes were provided by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. That resulted from local authorities, housing bodies and housing agencies working together and was funded by the Department. In the debate on housing, I wish to make two points. First, it is important to recognise that there is no silver bullet, as I stated yesterday. Second, considerable investment is being made.

  I was with the Minister of State, Deputy English, in Cork two weeks ago when we engaged in a listening operation. Perhaps some of the problem is that misinformation is being put out to suit a political or other particular narrative. People should look at the budget allocated to housing, homelessness and the provision of housing. I invite Senator Murnane-O'Connor to visit Cork - her dear leader would love to have her - and look at the housing projects being built from the ground up under Rebuilding Ireland. The houses are not being acquired or bought but, rather, being built with bricks and mortar. People are being assessed by the local authority to go into new build properties. I will bring her to meet the people who live in the new houses on Tramore Road and many other parts of Cork city and who are delighted with the opportunity given to them.  They take great pride in owning a new home in the area.

Senator Jennifer Murnane O'Connor: Information on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor Zoom on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor I was complimenting-----

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Please, Senator, with all due respect, when the Minister responded, he had to accepted it, and now the Senator has evoked it again, so she wants to continue this debate as long as possible.

Senator Jennifer Murnane O'Connor: Information on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor Zoom on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor I need two seconds.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan We have two Ministers on this side.

Senator Jennifer Murnane O'Connor: Information on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor Zoom on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor I complimented the approved housing bodies, AHBs, on the great job they were doing to work with local authorities. I said it looks as if we are not building as many local authorities anymore, and we are not. In my area, we are not. That is all I said. I did not say they were not doing a good job. They are excellent. All of them are working with the local authority. I complimented them and I did not go against them. I do not understand where this is coming from.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer The Senator-----

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan No. Before the Leader came in Senator Murnane O'Connor had suggested that as things stood she was prepared to move on with this Bill.

Senator Jennifer Murnane O'Connor: Information on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor Zoom on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor Yes.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Does the Leader want the debate to move on or not?

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer No, I have not disagreed.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan It is a case of how I see it up here.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer Now-----

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Senator Murnane O'Connor has said that with reluctance she is prepared to withdraw her amendment.

Senator Jennifer Murnane O'Connor: Information on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor Zoom on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor No, I will press it now.

  Amendment put and declared lost.

  Section 22 agreed to.

  Sections 23 to 27, inclusive, agreed to.

SECTION 28

Senator Fintan Warfield: Information on Fintan Warfield Zoom on Fintan Warfield I move amendment No. 23:

In page 33, to delete lines 16 to 31.

The amendment proposes to delete the requirement for sanctions to be confirmed by the Circuit Court. This requirement only leads to a backlog. It also creates an unnecessary administrative burden on the Residential Tenancies Board, RTB, and the courts. Last night we discussed the delays and possible consequences and scenarios where there is a dispute over a deposit, and how we can ensure that there are not delays in results and decisions being made because delays have financial consequences. I also asserted last night that we need to build confidence in the RTB to a point where tenants know their rights, that they feel confident in asserting them in full, and that they are not inhibited by feelings that they are lucky to have a place at all and should accept violations of their rights as tenants. That is not acceptable. If we consider that the average time for an illegal eviction case with the RTB is five months from the application to the determination order then we should strongly consider the possible effect of adding another layer of delays. I ask the Minister to support amendment No. 23 and I will be pushing it.

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy I thank the Senator for putting forward the amendment. In the first instance, removing the Circuit Court from the confirmation process is unconstitutional. I will explain why, even if it were constitutional, I believe it would be necessary to have the provision in place. I do not like just to say it is unconstitutional and shut down debate. If the Senator does not mind, I will take a couple of minutes to talk through it.

  One of the things that we are trying to do with the Bill is to give greater powers to the RTB to act independently of tenants. Where a tenant is in a bad situation with a landlord, at the moment the RTB cannot investigate unless the tenant makes a complaint, which puts that tenant in a very difficult position. The balance of power is unfair in that instance. If the tenant were to make a complaint, then all of a sudden the landlord's behaviour, which the tenant thinks or perceives to be unfair, could get even worse. We want to provide that the RTB can investigate its own inspections based on the work its inspectors will do, these being the new inspectors and authorising officers whom we are providing to it, and for people to make anonymous complaints and everything else. Once the RTB decides to make an inspection, we have to make sure it has a process whereby it can sanction the landlord for bad behaviour.

  We have done two things in the Bill in this regard. We have introduced new criminal sanctions for landlords. It is wrong and unfair on other landlords to call the people in these cases landlords where human rights are being abused by putting people in unsuitable, unsafe and overcrowded accommodation, the types of things that are more akin to what people do when they are human trafficking. There are new criminal offences that will act as a strong deterrent to landlords from behaving in that way, but where they are, the RTB and the courts can properly go at them.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy Separate from that, for lesser offences where a landlord has acted offside, we have a new administrative sanctioning process in this Bill and new offences concerning improper conduct. For example, we talked about section 34 notices to quit being served. Where a landlord serves such a notice, asks the tenant to vacate the premises because it is going to be done up to such an extent that the tenant cannot live there, the tenant leaves and later observes, as he or she walks by the property, that the landlord has only given the property a lick of paint and has tried to relet it, the tenant can then make a complaint to the RTB and the board can go straight to the landlord, saying it has received a complaint. The RTB can appoint an officer to investigate and, through the new sanctioning regime, engage with the landlord and compile a report listing the breaches he or she has committed under the law. The landlord can then comply and admit that he or she has made a mistake. He or she will have to relet the property to the tenant who was evicted and, potentially, pay compensation that can be agreed between the landlord and the RTB, or the landlord can go through other processes to make good on the offences he or she has committed. If the landlord does not accede, we need to be able to proceed with the proper sanctioning of him or her which could, in certain cases because of the changes we are making, result in fines of up to €30,000, time in prison, and the publication of the landlord's name as an offender, all of which we are doing in different parts of the Bill. We must allow due process to take its course as well. We cannot move to that point without having a court actually confirm that this happened and this is what the result will be.

  In the vast majority of cases, having the power alone is enough because we are a law-abiding nation. We do not need the laws to be enforced to a degree to stop us from breaking them. For most of us in most instances, we do not breach them. Where they are broken, we need to know that action can be taken, and taken strongly. That is why Circuit Court confirmation is necessary at the end of that period. I have a diagram that we provided on Committee Stage that shows all of the different areas where mediation can step in, where another part can happen in terms of the process, and where agreement can be reached without having to go to the Circuit Court. Ultimately, the Circuit Court has to be there as the ultimate decider in terms of the rights of both people in a case if it is a tenant and a landlord or if it is the RTB and a landlord. However, we have provided a number of opportunities for the landlord to make good in instances where he or she is caught and will happen in a much shorter period than the one outlined in the Senator's contribution. We believe this is a new robust sanction regime and powers for the RTB, and we have to provide the Circuit Court confirmation at the end of that process.

Senator Fintan Warfield: Information on Fintan Warfield Zoom on Fintan Warfield What resources will the RTB receive?

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy In the budget for this year we increased Exchequer funding by 67% for the RTB to allow for inspections to be done by the RTB and local authorities. Under the Bill, we are bringing about this new concept of an authorised officer and a decision-maker. The RTB will be able to hire people to be investigators, essentially, and we provided money in the budget for the board to do that. A lot of the work that is done between me and the RTB, which will not necessarily be seen, involves trying to work with the board as part of a change management programme. One of my first engagements when I took up this office was with the RTB, asking the board what it needed to police the sector properly. Since then we have worked from budgetary and policy points of view to try to give all of those resources to the board. The RTB has the funding and authorisation to hire people. This will be the new system in which it will be working. This is something that is going to continue into future budgets to make sure that the RTB, as we give it more powers, can fund the resources it needs to do this work. I cannot recall whether the new positions have been advertised. All of those things are being worked on to make sure that the RTB can spend the money it has been given.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Is the Senator pressing the amendment?

Senator Fintan Warfield: Information on Fintan Warfield Zoom on Fintan Warfield I withdraw the amendment but reserve the right to resubmit on Report Stage.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan The Senator is withdrawing the amendment and obviously has the right to resubmit.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

  Section 28 agreed to.

  Sections 29 to 37, inclusive, agreed to.

 SECTION 38

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Amendments Nos. 24 and 25 are related and may be discussed together by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Senator Gerald Nash: Information on Gerald Nash Zoom on Gerald Nash I move amendment No. 24:

In page 42, line 28, after “regulations” to insert the following:
“(which shall include but is not limited to persons, whether established in the State or otherwise, who provide for consideration advertising, agency or management services in respect of short-term lettings)”. 

We plan to withdraw the amendment with a view to resubmitting it on Report Stage. Deputy Humphreys is particularly concerned about this aspect of practice in the housing sector. He is anxious to liaise with the Minister and his officials on this, if that is in order, before we resubmit the amendment on Report Stage. If the Minister could consider that and if contact could be made with the Senator, that would be appreciated.

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy I very much respect the work that Senator Humphreys has done on short-term letting. We had some conversations around this. When we conclude this legislation, I will then have to commence this section and I will have to bring forward the regulations under these legislative changes. The meat for the regulation of short-term letting is in the regulations. The legislative changes are more about enabling me to make regulations and then regulate this activity in regard to short-term letting. I will lay those before both Houses, and there will be an opportunity for me to come back into this House with respect to the regulations, which is where the meat of the matter lies.

  Between now and Report Stage, if Senator Humphreys wants to engage with my office, he can do so. I know he wants to talk about enforcement issues. When we were taking this legislation previously, I said that powers to regulate short-term letting fall to the tourism sector. I do not have powers in my Department to do that. I recognise as the Minister with responsibility for housing that long-term rental stock is being lost to the short-term rental sector. I have powers under the planning law to get that stock back.

  This is an important change we are making for the first time in law based on a new economic activity in areas where rent pressures are highest and supply and demand are not yet at equilibrium. It is important that we make these changes. As I said previously, they were to come in on 1 June and due to delays they will come in on 1 July. I hope there will be no more delays that will prevent us from bringing them in on 1 July given their importance. It is also important to recognise that this will make an important change regarding short-term letting but after that we will need to bring in proper regulation of the sector, which will include the platforms themselves. I am not empowered to do that but it is something we as a Government need to do.

  If Senator Humphreys would like to engage with my office between now and Report Stage, my officials and I can talk to him about some of the details of what we are proposing to do through regulation and through the local authorities when it comes to enforcement.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Senator Gerald Nash: Information on Gerald Nash Zoom on Gerald Nash I move amendment No. 25:

In page 42, between lines 31 and 32, to insert the following:
“(3) Upon the request in writing of the Revenue Commissioners, a planning authority shall furnish to the Revenue Commissioners any particulars, in respect of a person or a dwelling specified in the request, that were provided to the authority under regulations made under subsection (2).”.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

  Section 38 agreed to.

  NEW SECTION

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Amendment No. 26 is in the names of Senators Ruane, Higgins and others. It is a new section already discussed with amendment No. 1 and therefore it cannot be discussed again.

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane I move amendment No. 26:

In page 43, after line 11, to insert the following:

“National Deposit Scheme Report
39. The Minister shall—
(a) not later than 6 months after the enactment of this Act prepare a report on the feasibility of the establishment of a national deposit scheme,

(b) make recommendations on how best to implement such a scheme in the Irish context,

(c) cause a copy of the report and recommendations referred to in paragraph (a) and (b) to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas.”.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Is the amendment being pressed?

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane It is.

Amendment put:

The Committee divided: Tá, 8; Níl, 18.

Níl
Information on Frances Black   Zoom on Frances Black   Black, Frances. Information on Colm Burke   Zoom on Colm Burke   Burke, Colm.
Information on Rose Conway-Walsh   Zoom on Rose Conway-Walsh   Conway-Walsh, Rose. Information on Paddy Burke   Zoom on Paddy Burke   Burke, Paddy.
Information on Máire Devine   Zoom on Máire Devine   Devine, Máire. Information on Jerry Buttimer   Zoom on Jerry Buttimer   Buttimer, Jerry.
Information on Paul Gavan   Zoom on Paul Gavan   Gavan, Paul. Information on Paul Coghlan   Zoom on Paul Coghlan   Coghlan, Paul.
Information on Alice-Mary Higgins   Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins   Higgins, Alice-Mary. Information on Martin Conway   Zoom on Martin Conway   Conway, Martin.
Information on David P.B. Norris   Zoom on David P.B. Norris   Norris, David. Information on Frank Feighan   Zoom on Frank Feighan   Feighan, Frank.
Information on Lynn Ruane   Zoom on Lynn Ruane   Ruane, Lynn. Information on Maura Hopkins   Zoom on Maura Hopkins   Hopkins, Maura.
Information on Fintan Warfield   Zoom on Fintan Warfield   Warfield, Fintan. Information on Anthony Lawlor   Zoom on Anthony Lawlor   Lawlor, Anthony.
  Information on Tim Lombard   Zoom on Tim Lombard   Lombard, Tim.
  Information on Ian Marshall   Zoom on Ian Marshall   Marshall, Ian.
  Information on Michelle Mulherin   Zoom on Michelle Mulherin   Mulherin, Michelle.
  Information on Rónán Mullen   Zoom on Rónán Mullen   Mullen, Rónán.
  Information on Gerald Nash   Zoom on Gerald Nash   Nash, Gerald.
  Information on Kieran O'Donnell   Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell   O'Donnell, Kieran.
  Information on John O'Mahony   Zoom on John O'Mahony   O'Mahony, John.
  Information on Joe O'Reilly   Zoom on Joe O'Reilly   O'Reilly, Joe.
  Information on James Reilly   Zoom on James Reilly   Reilly, James.
  Information on Neale Richmond   Zoom on Neale Richmond   Richmond, Neale.


Tellers: Tá, Senators Lynn Ruane and Frances Black; Níl, Senators John O'Mahony and Neale Richmond.

Amendment declared lost.

  Title agreed to.

  Bill reported without amendment.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan When is it proposed to take Report Stage?

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer Dé Máirt seo chugainn.

  Report Stage ordered for Tuesday, 21 May 2019.

Civil Registration Bill 2019: Committee and Remaining Stages

SECTION 1

Acting Chairman (Senator Michelle Mulherin): Information on Michelle Mulherin Zoom on Michelle Mulherin Amendment No. 1 has been deemed out of order.

  Amendment No. 1 not moved.

  Question proposed: "That section 1 stand part of the Bill."

Senator Fintan Warfield: Information on Fintan Warfield Zoom on Fintan Warfield I welcome the Minister back to the House. I had proposed amendments to this section which have been ruled out of order. These dealt with where a spouse was-----

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris Have they have all been ruled out of order?

Senator Fintan Warfield: Information on Fintan Warfield Zoom on Fintan Warfield Has every one of them?

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I do not know. I thought that was what the Senator said.

Senator Fintan Warfield: Information on Fintan Warfield Zoom on Fintan Warfield I was contacted recently by an Irish woman whose British wife gave birth to their son. When the Irish mother, who is the non-biological mother, wished to apply for an Irish passport for her child, she was told that she was not recognised as a mother under law and, therefore, was not entitled to apply for an Irish passport. I do not know what the legal interpretation is from the Department but I had attempted to make an amendment to deal with the issue. I believe the Minister knows the parents who are affected and I am sure she empathises with the anxieties that they have. I ask that she might advocate with her colleagues in the Department of Justice and Equality to sort this out rather than leaving families to suffer that discrimination.

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty I thank the Senator and totally appreciate what he is trying to do. The only reason it has been ruled out is because it is not possible to deal with the issue within the confines of this particular Bill. We will genuinely have other occasions, hopefully very soon, to try to address the issue.

  Question put and agreed to.

Acting Chairman (Senator Michelle Mulherin): Information on Michelle Mulherin Zoom on Michelle Mulherin Amendment No. 2 in the name of Senator Warfield has been ruled out of order.

  Amendment No. 2 not moved.

  Sections 2 and 3 agreed to.

SECTION 4

  Question proposed: "That section 4 stand part of the Bill."

Deputy Regina Doherty: Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty Am I allowed to ask a question?

Acting Chairman (Senator Michelle Mulherin): Information on Michelle Mulherin Zoom on Michelle Mulherin Which section does the Minister wish to speak on?

Deputy Regina Doherty: Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty There are amendments to these sections.

Acting Chairman (Senator Michelle Mulherin): Information on Michelle Mulherin Zoom on Michelle Mulherin They are not noted here.

Deputy Regina Doherty: Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty I do not wish to be disrespectful but on section 3 there was an amendment by a number of Labour Party Senators. I appreciate that they are not here. Perhaps that is why-----

Acting Chairman (Senator Michelle Mulherin): Information on Michelle Mulherin Zoom on Michelle Mulherin I am informed that it has been ruled out of order.

Deputy Regina Doherty: Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty I apologise to the Chair but I was not aware of that.

Acting Chairman (Senator Michelle Mulherin): Information on Michelle Mulherin Zoom on Michelle Mulherin It is not before me in the final document that I am putting to the House.

Deputy Regina Doherty: Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty I will not argue with the Chair.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris The Senators are not here.

Deputy Regina Doherty: Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty Senator Norris is.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris We had a peculiar ruling that one cannot move an amendment on behalf of somebody else, even if they have told one that one can------

Deputy Regina Doherty: Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty We are just about to discuss section 4 and Senator Norris has an amendment to it.

Acting Chairman (Senator Michelle Mulherin): Information on Michelle Mulherin Zoom on Michelle Mulherin The next amendment that we have note of is to section 10.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I have an amendment to section 13.

Deputy Regina Doherty: Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty I am sorry.

  Question put and agreed to.

  Sections 5 to 9, inclusive, agreed to.

Acting Chairman (Senator Michelle Mulherin): Information on Michelle Mulherin Zoom on Michelle Mulherin We are coming to the amendments referred to by the Minister. As no Member is present to move these amendments-----

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane Can these amendments be withdrawn, as happened last week, with the right to resubmit?

Acting Chairman (Senator Michelle Mulherin): Information on Michelle Mulherin Zoom on Michelle Mulherin Amendments must be moved by one of the proponents and, therefore, that cannot be done.

  Amendment No. 3 not moved.

  Sections 10 to 12, inclusive, agreed to.

SECTION 13

Acting Chairman (Senator Michelle Mulherin): Information on Michelle Mulherin Zoom on Michelle Mulherin Amendments Nos. 4 to 7, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

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

In page 8, between lines 2 and 3, to insert the following:
“(2) Section 27 of the Act of 2015 is amended by the insertion of the following new subsection after subsection (5):
‘(6) When a child is conceived through non-clinical Donor Assisted Human Reproduction procedures should be in place to recognise a second intended parent as a legal parent.’.”.

What I am doing with these amendments is making up for deficiencies, gaps and lacunae in the legislation.

  Amendment No. 5 states:

"In page 8, between lines 2 and 3, to insert the following:
“(2) Section 27 of the Act of 2015 is amended by the insertion of the following new subsection after subsection (5):
‘(6) Retrospective applications for a declaration of parentage in cases of Donor Assisted Human Reproduction should be recognised where a known donor was used.’.”.

This is an extraordinary exclusion where the known donor is actually excluded I do not understand the logic behind that at all.

  Amendment No. 6 states:

In page 8, line 3, to delete “” and substitute the following:
“(2) Section 27 of the Act of 2015 is amended by the insertion of the following new subsection after subsection (5):
‘(6) The second intended parent in cases where she provides her egg to enable conception should be recognised as a legal parent.’.”.

 Finally I refer to amendment No. 7, which reads:

In page 8, between lines 3 and 3 [I do not understand that], to insert the following:
“(2) Section 27 of the Act of 2015 is amended by the insertion of the following new subsection after subsection (5):
‘(6) When a child is conceived through surrogacy outside the state procedures should be in place to legally recognise the parentage of the child conceived.’.”.

I have received several messages from people who conceived a child in Canada, Great Britain or wherever. Their parentage is not recognised. Although the Bill is very welcome and is an improvement, there is no question but that certain issues are not properly addressed in it at all. For example, options for lesbian and gay families who perform at-home insemination are not contemplated at all. There is also a need to provide couples who use a known sperm donor, as in the case I referred to earlier, and avail of fertility treatment outside of Ireland. I have a letter from a male same-sex couple saying that as it stands the current proposed assisted human reproduction Bill, more specifically Part 6, is not fit for purpose as it will exclude all families that have gone through surrogacy journeys abroad and all future families that choose to go abroad.

  I have received another email from a same-sex male couple that has created a family through the process of surrogacy in Canada. This correspondent notes that no legislation currently in place or due to be enacted includes his family or many families like his and recognises his husband and him as the legal parents to their son. For this family to be recognised, the general scheme of the assisted human reproduction Bill 2017 must include same-sex male families who have used international surrogacy as a way to create their families. This is a glaring omission from the Bill and I would like to see it rectified.

  I have received another message from a female gay family. My correspondent and her wife live in Dublin 7. They are a married same-sex couple with one daughter, Catherine, who is six months old. One of the couple, as the birth mother of their daughter, is currently considered a single parent. Her wife has no legal connection to her daughter. Their daughter is classified as having a single parent and has no right to one of her mothers. This couple's only option at the moment is to wait two years and apply for guardianship, which expires at the age of 18 anyway and does not give full parental rights. Once the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 is fully commenced, perhaps in 2019, this couple may also have the option of applying for step adoption after two years, but this can take up to seven years. There is an enormous gap in that process and I do not think that is acceptable.

  The four amendments I have put down are governed by a principle. It is recognised internationally that the principle that underlines all these items of legislation should be the best interests of the child. It does not hinge on the behaviour of the parents or where the child was conceived. The child has no control over that. Why should an innocent child be victimised for something over which they have no control? The best interests of the child are paramount in this situation.

  I would like to look at a number of the cases. First, there are cases involving a known donor outside of a clinical setting. In other words, there has been a non-clinical intervention. I will put such a case on the record. I note that non-clinical procedures are currently excluded from the parenting provisions in the Act. The result is that children conceived through donor-assisted human reproduction, DAHR, outside the clinical setting do not have a legal relationship with the second intending parent at birth. Children conceived through DAHR outside the clinical setting are therefore disadvantaged when compared with children conceived through DAHR in a clinic by virtue of the circumstances at conception. This is greatly unfair to the child involved.

  For the purposes of informing the public, insofar as any members of the public are watching this, it is important to put a human face on the situation. Nothing does that better than a case study. Elaine, the birth mother, and Jenny conceived their baby at home using sperm donated by Jenny's brother. They had no problem conceiving and did not need any clinical intervention. The donor is happy to give consent to both women being recognised as legal parents, that is, there is no objection from the sperm donor. As the baby is only three months old, Jenny is unable to seek guardianship under the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 as the child is less than two years old. As the law currently stands she therefore has no legal relationship with her child and is unable to establish one until her daughter is two years old. There is a very considerable gap there which needs to be addressed.

  We can learn something from other jurisdictions. Some address this issue by extending a statutory presumption of parentage to some couples. In the United Kingdom, for example, a statutory presumption of parentage operates in favour of same-sex married couples and civil partners but not cohabiting couples in cases of donor insemination. As such, the spouse or civil partner of the birth mother is automatically regarded as the child's second legal parent, regardless of whether the procedure takes place in a clinical or non-clinical setting. In British Columbia a person who is married to or in a marriage-like relationship with the child's birth mother at the time the child is conceived, is deemed to be the child's parent unless it is shown that he or she did not consent to be recognised as such. Here are two other jurisdictions in which the matter is addressed clearly and the rights of both parents are established.

  Then there are cases involving a known donor in a clinical setting. Again, I fail to understand why the fact that the identity of the donor is known should restrict the rights of the child. That is not fair. For children who were conceived prior to the commencements of Parts 2 and 3 of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015, parentage may be retrospectively allocated to an intended parent not previously recognised as a legal parent through application for a declaration of parentage under sections 21 and 22 of the Act. In order for the declaration to be granted, the donor must have been and must remain unknown to the intending parents at the time of the application. If the Minister supports the existing situation, I would be interested to know if she can say why it is important to remove a known donor. I have another case study.

  Jane, the birth mother, and Sarah have an 18 month old baby boy, Jake. Jake was conceived in a fertility clinic using sperm provided by an identifiable owner. As Jane and Sarah want Jake to know about his origins, they have obtained identifying information about the donor in order that they can educate him about his genetic background in an age-appropriate manner as he grows up. I note that this is also important for medical reasons. Another of my corespondents has a child with a genetic disorder. It is very important for them to understand and know. Jane and Sarah have never met the donor but know his name and last known address. Jane is the birth mother of Jake and is recognised as the legal mother. After Parts 3 and 4 of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 are commenced, Sarah will be unable to obtain a declaration of parentage listing her as a second legal parent simply because a known donor was used. I do not understand that at all.

  Then there is the question of fertility treatment which is received abroad. I have corresponded with people who have had this procedure done in Canada and in the United Kingdom. Section 20 of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 provides that application for a retrospective declaration of parentage may be made in respect of a child conceived before Parts 2 and 3 of the Act commenced, through DAHR performed in the State or outside the State. For children born after Parts 2 and 3 are commenced, the procedure must be performed in the State. I do not understand that. These procedures have quite a pedigree in places like the United Kingdom and Canada, so why they should not be recognised I simply do not know.

  I will provide another case study. Sue and Theresa initially attended a Dublin clinic for assisted human reproduction, AHR, treatment. When significant fertility issues were identified they had to look abroad for further treatment. In other words, they did not have a choice. They had to look outside the country of their residence if they wanted to have a child at all. Their daughter was born in early 2018. As she was born before the commencement of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015, Theresa will be able to apply for retrospective declaration of parentage naming her as the legal parent. Here is the significant point. The couple has a number of embryos in storage. They represent a possibility that has not been entertained or acted upon so far. If the couple use these embryos to conceive a genetic sibling for their daughter, they will not be able to apply for parentage under the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015.  That is also something that needs attention.

  Under the assisted human reproduction Bill, only domestic surrogacy will be permitted once the legislation is enacted, but that is very restrictive. There is no provision in place to recognise the parentage of children born through surrogacy before the Bill is enacted and commenced. The child has no control over the circumstances of conception and should not be disadvantaged by virtue of the fact that he or she was conceived by surrogacy abroad. I return to the principle of the best interests of the child. The child has no responsibility for the activity of the parents. He or she is not culpable and should not be discriminated against as a result. It is in the best interests of the child for his or her relationship with the intended parents to be legally recognised. This has been recognised by the UK courts, with Mr. Justice Hedley finding that "...it is almost impossible to imagine a set of circumstances in which by the time the case comes to court, the welfare of any child (particularly a foreign child) would not be gravely compromised, at the very least, by a refusal to make an order ... transferring parentage to the intended parents." This is a senior judge in Britain arguing that the welfare of any child would be gravely compromised, at the very least. That is a very significant point.

  I hope my remarks have persuaded the Minister to accept some of the amendments at least.

Senator Catherine Ardagh: Information on Catherine Ardagh Zoom on Catherine Ardagh I thank the Minister for coming to the House. I support the amendments tabled by Senator Norris. On the last occasion that we debated this Bill, I also referred to the assisted human reproduction Bill. While I know that it is not before the House today, there are elements of that legislation with which I strongly disagree. I argue that some of it is actually out of date, even though we have not yet had a chance to debate it in this House. I refer specifically to the provisions dealing with anonymous egg donation and surrogacy, as highlighted by Senator Norris.

  We all have stories to tell of people who come to us to discuss fertility matters. I met one couple who were fortunate to have a child abroad using the father's sperm, a donor egg and a donor gestational carrier. They had obtained a passport for their child on the basis of the father's DNA material. However, only he is named on the child's birth certificate, which is unfair. In Ireland birth certificates are documents that five year olds, once they are able to read, will pull out of a drawer to examine and scrutinise. Imagine a five year old girl comparing her birth certificate with that of a friend and finding that the name of her mother is not on it. Imagine how that will make her feel.

  The second issue concerns a friend of mine. I am sorry-----

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris It is a very emotional subject.

Acting Chairman (Senator Michelle Mulherin): Information on Michelle Mulherin Zoom on Michelle Mulherin Does Senator Ardagh wish to take a moment?

Senator Catherine Ardagh: Information on Catherine Ardagh Zoom on Catherine Ardagh I am sorry-----

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris The Senator should take a moment. We have plenty of time.

Acting Chairman (Senator Michelle Mulherin): Information on Michelle Mulherin Zoom on Michelle Mulherin Does Senator Higgins wish to contribute?

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins Yes. This is a very difficult subject and I am conscious that many decisions are being made in a void. People have been trying to build their families in different ways and doing so in the absence of a legal framework. That makes it difficult when we then try to introduce a framework or regulatory structure. It is very important to look at the rights of the children who now exist to ensure they have parentage rights and the right to a relationship with their siblings and so forth. At the same time, I understand that, at an international level, this is an area that has been unregulated for a long time. There are serious issues to be addressed in terms of how the sector functions. I know that many of the issues will be dealt with in the context of the assisted human reproduction legislation, but the fact that they are emerging is a sign of people's frustration and concerns. We must address all of these pragmatic issues for families now, for those who have children and rights under the Constitution. We must determine how we can support them. That is one part of the issue, but there are others on a changing landscape. An amendment accepted by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Deputy Zappone, two years ago took effect this week. It concerns open adoption. It recognises that there may be situations where openness about children having both a birth family and an adopted family is better. That is something that was off the table in Ireland for a very long time. The system was closed.

  I refer, in particular, to one of the amendments tabled by Senator Norris, as well as to one or two of the others because I am concerned about international exploitation and believe we must tackle that issue. I strongly support the concept of the known donor. We are beginning to accept the concept of open adoption and recognise that children can understand complex relationships as long as there is honesty and they receive support. Children understand that even though they may have an adopted family, they still have a birth family, with whom they can have a relationship. Similarly, children can understand the concept of having parents and also a donor who is known to them. It would be a real pity if those genuine, relationship based situations, as described, were to be inadvertently excluded from this recognition. Amendment No. 5 deals with this issue and it is one we must address. In doing so it would be in step with what we are doing in the area of adoption, or rather what we are considering doing in the area of adoption.

Deputy Regina Doherty: Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty I thank Senators for their support and co-operation in getting us here so quickly. On a personal level, I find it very difficult to disagree with anything Senators have put forward or any of the comments they have made, but we are dealing with the Civil Registration Bill. While I very much accept the intentions of Senator Norris, as well as his bona fides, sincerity, interest and passion, and understand fully why he wants to address the issues dealt with in his amendments, I am trying to fix one situation while recognising there are genuinely lots of others that have to be fixed. The only reason the amendment is in order is that we changed the Long Title of the Bill to fix an anomaly in the Child and Family Relationships (Amendment) Bill. Intrinsically, this is the Civil Registration Bill. The issues raised by Senators are complex and their comments are heartfelt because they are based on the lives of people we know or who have made themselves known to us and about whom we care.

  I know that the Bill is not perfect, but I do not want perfection to trump fairness. We are trying to be fair to the people whose situation we can fix today. We are trying to address their lived experiences and I genuinely do not think we should make them wait any longer. I know that the Child and Family Relationships (Amendment) Bill will not commence until June and I will hold others to that date, but what Senators are asking me to do today is to entertain changes that would have to be reflected on for months, if not years, because they are so complex. That is not something those of us who are in the Seanad today are going to do. Having recognised their bona fides, I ask Senators to withdraw the amendments rather than push them to a vote. I invite Senator Norris and anyone else who is interested to meet the Minister for Health, Deputy Harris, and his officials to discuss the assisted human reproduction Bill to make it what we all want it to be. Such a meeting can be arranged in the coming days or weeks. The Minister will be very happy to hear from Senators and try to accommodate and facilitate them in arriving at a legal basis to provide legal status for the people who were described so eloquently by Senators in their testimonies.

  I turn to the specific amendments related to the provisions of the Child and Family Relationships Act that do not incorporate artificial insemination procedures carried out in any setting outside the donor-assisted human reproduction facility. A number of decisions were reached by the European Court of Human Rights, ECHR, that referenced the importance of biological parentage as a component of one's identity. Genuinely, as it has been presented today, it would not be possible in the case of children born as a result of donor-assisted home conception, for want of a better term, to have their right to information on their origins vindicated, as defined by the ECHR, without adequately addressing the issues that would be raised in the context of the Senator's suggestion.   Retrospective declaration of parenthood, as provided for in Part 2, section 20 of the Act of 2015, only applies to children born as a result of donor-assisted human reproduction procedures for which the donor was and remains unknown to the mother. The legal advice provided to the Department of Justice and Equality during the drafting of that Bill in 2015 stated that where the parental rights are vested in a known individual, both that individual and the child have rights accruing from that connection. Removal of those rights in the context proposed would be inappropriate. That is why I believe - I am asking Senators to consider this - that the general scheme of the assisted human reproduction Bill is the most appropriate forum to genuinely examine and find a proper solution that vindicates all the rights of parents in all of the guises that present as well as the rights and best interests of the children. That is the best way to find solutions to the lived experiences of the people Senator Norris has described today.

  The joint committee intends to report on the general scheme of the Bill before the summer. I will genuinely take it upon myself to arrange a meeting. I would encourage every Senator to sit in front of the Minister for Health, Deputy Harris, and the officials and to describe as eloquently as they have done here the real-life experience and disenfranchisement that arises for families and children in particular.

  The main priority of the Bill before us today is to provide a register of donor-assisted births that make it possible for both partners, who happen to be female in this case, to be registered as parents. Perhaps Senators are receiving the same almost-daily text messages and tweets that I get from parents who are waiting. If I had to tell them after today that we had to postpone the passing of this Bill to deal with all the other pressing issues, I think it would break my heart as well as breaking their hearts. I am asking Senator Norris sincerely to consider all the really important issues he has presented today but to address them in a medium where they can be addressed. We need to look at the complexity of all of the issues that pertain to each of the individual amendments that Senator Norris has tabled today. They would be better placed in the confines of a Bill where they would probably be most appropriately addressed.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I thank the Minister for her accommodating words. She obviously finds it difficult to disagree with any of the things we have said. It seems to be a little bit of legislative NIMBYism - not in my legislative backyard. The view is that it is someone else's problem. I do not really accept that. In the case of one of the situations that I adumbrated here today the donor waived his rights. He was not interested in establishing rights. This is one of the things that the European Court, or whatever the organisation was, addressed. I would be happy to take up the Minister's offer of a meeting and try to explain this thing, but I do not actually see why it is not possible to include the amendments. If we incorporate these amendments then we have addressed the problems. I am not intending, nor do I wish in any way, to hold up the progress of this Bill. Let us suppose we did vote in or accept these amendments today. It would not hold up the Bill. It would actually make it far better. I take it we still have Report Stage to go. What I will do is withdraw, with the possibility-----

Acting Chairman (Senator Michelle Mulherin): Information on Michelle Mulherin Zoom on Michelle Mulherin It is immediately after this, Senator. It is tonight.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris Then I am afraid I am not going to withdraw them. That is a mistake. I think we had a vote on that on the Order of Business. Anyway, there we are. There is nothing I can do about it.

Acting Chairman (Senator Michelle Mulherin): Information on Michelle Mulherin Zoom on Michelle Mulherin Committee and Report Stages are both scheduled for this evening.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I think that is very bad legislative practice because it does not really give us time. Is there going to be a break?

Acting Chairman (Senator Michelle Mulherin): Information on Michelle Mulherin Zoom on Michelle Mulherin No.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris No. Then how can we put in amendments? We cannot.

Acting Chairman (Senator Michelle Mulherin): Information on Michelle Mulherin Zoom on Michelle Mulherin The decision is yours on how you wish to proceed. I think the Minister has indicated her position.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I know but I want to put on the record the fact that I regard this as very bad legislative procedure. We are denied the opportunity of taking up the Minister's offer to discuss the matter with the various Ministers involved in order to come to some kind of conclusion or negotiation that would take all of this together in a way that precludes us from putting down amendments on Report Stage.

Acting Chairman (Senator Michelle Mulherin): Information on Michelle Mulherin Zoom on Michelle Mulherin With respect, the opportunity was there this morning on the Order of Business, if you did not like the Order of Business.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I did not like it. I voted against it.

Acting Chairman (Senator Michelle Mulherin): Information on Michelle Mulherin Zoom on Michelle Mulherin There you go. That is democracy. We will proceed. Are you pressing your amendments, Senator?

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

Deputy Regina Doherty: Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty Do you mind if I speak, Acting Chairman?

Acting Chairman (Senator Michelle Mulherin): Information on Michelle Mulherin Zoom on Michelle Mulherin Go ahead, Minister.

Deputy Regina Doherty: Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty I implore Senator Norris not to divide the House on this issue. I find myself in the position of having to vote against the Senator when I personally agree with what he is trying to achieve. This is genuinely not the Bill to do it in. These issues are so complex. The four of us sitting here cannot make decisions on the hoof for the vast numbers of people who have been waiting months, or years in many cases, to have these decisions made accurately, legally and constitutionally in the best interests of the child and family. I will not beg Senator Norris but I sincerely appeal to him not to divide the House.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I understand.

Deputy Regina Doherty: Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty We should deal with those issues in the confines of a Bill that is not the Civil Registration Bill. We are talking about issuing really important documents today. The complexity of the issues Senator Norris has brought up in amendments are legal, medical and family relationship complexities. They are not simple pieces of paper, although those pieces of paper are significant and make life-changing legalities. All the complexities of the legislation and the amendments Senator Norris has put forward have not been teased through by anyone. I am genuinely asking Senator Norris not to do this. Again, I will find myself having to vote against them, something I do not want to do. If they get passed, we will have to go back to the Dáil and I will have to try to remove them there. I would rather we put them in a Bill more pertinent to deal with them in a proper way.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris Can I have a moment for consultation please?

(Interruptions).

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris That was a useful consultation. I have to say with the greatest reluctance I will not press the amendments. We have to be conscious of the people whose concerns will be addressed by this legislation. However, we must also be acutely aware - I can see the Minister is aware of this - of those families excluded from this Bill. I will certainly take up her offer of a meeting with the Minister for Health, Deputy Harris.

Deputy Regina Doherty: Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty I will arrange it immediately.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I thank the Minister. I will withdraw the amendments.

Acting Chairman (Senator Michelle Mulherin): Information on Michelle Mulherin Zoom on Michelle Mulherin You are withdrawing amendments Nos. 4 to 6, inclusive.

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

Acting Chairman (Senator Michelle Mulherin): Information on Michelle Mulherin Zoom on Michelle Mulherin You are withdrawing amendment No. 7 too.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I will have to think about that one.

Acting Chairman (Senator Michelle Mulherin): Information on Michelle Mulherin Zoom on Michelle Mulherin Time is up. Thank you, Senator.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

  Amendments Nos. 5 to 7, inclusive, not moved.

  Section 13 agreed to.

  Section 14 agreed to.

  Title agreed to.

  Bill reported without amendment and received for final consideration

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

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan Do you want to say a final word, Minister?

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty I thank Senators for their co-operation. If anyone else wants a meeting with the lovely Minister for Health, Deputy Harris, I am happy to arrange it.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan You are offering that for him. You are very generous.

  Question put and agreed to.

Gnó an tSeanaid - Business of Seanad

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan I call on the Acting Leader of the House.

Senator Maura Hopkins: Information on Maura Hopkins Zoom on Maura Hopkins I propose that we suspend the House for ten minutes.

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

  Sitting suspended at 5.55 p.m. and resumed at 6.05 p.m.

  6 o’clock

Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2016: Committee Stage (Resumed)

SECTION 4

  Debate resumed on amendment No. 17:

In page 5, between lines 18 and 19, to insert the following:
“(8) Where an area ceases to be designated as a natural heritage area under subsection (3)(b)(ii), without prejudice to turbary rights for household use, commercial harvesting shall not be permitted.”.(Senator Alice-Mary Higgins)

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan We are resuming on amendment No. 17 to section 4. Amendments Nos. 17 and 18 are related and are being discussed together. Senator Higgins is in possession.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins Amendments Nos. 17 and 18 relate to what happens after an area ceases to be designated as a natural heritage area under subsection 3(b), basically after the de-designation process. I want to mark down that since we last debated this issue a climate emergency and biodiversity crisis have been declared. We have acknowledged the urgency of the issues we face with respect to the climate and the interlinked crisis in biodiversity. We discussed previously the way sections of this Bill do something to address biodiversity but perhaps not the key issue of pollination and pollinator plants. The Bill falls short of recognising the issues of climate, carbon sink and the implications in terms of emissions of changes to our current peatland protections and designation.

  We have all been of the view that the Government should consider withdrawing the Bill as a whole and reconsidering it over the summer. The areas of bogland were added at a late stage and the Minister should go back to the drawing board with the Bill. The Taoiseach said in the Dáil today that we have declared a climate emergency but we do not necessarily have all the resources yet in place to take action. One resource we have which we underuse is that of political will and courage. It is open to us to decide to be politically courageous in not taking a step in the wrong direction and literally to stop digging in terms of the commercial exploitation of our peatlands because we need those peatlands to deliver in terms of biodiversity. We need what they can do for us in acting as carbon sinks.

  I ask the Minister of State to consider taking a politically courageous act of moving backwards on this Bill and putting it aside. Failing that I urge him and other Members of the House to support me on amendments Nos. 17 and 18. They do not seek to affect turbary rights, namely, rights of access to bogs that have been passed down through families for generations. Rather they address the exploitation of commercial turf cutting, which is quite different. We need to start making that distinction.

  As I have said in the House previously, there is an intergenerational justice issue not only for the next generation in terms of climate change who will suffer consequences if we continue to dig ourselves deeper into an unsustainable route of emissions production, but for those families who have turbary rights because one generation effectively has used up the equivalent of four or five previous generations’ use of turf and they will potentially use up the opportunity to exercise turbary rights for the next generation.

  I had a very interesting morning at the Young Philosopher Awards talking to children about their perspective on what is valuable, what matters and what is important to them. Climate and their environment are extremely important to them and they take it very seriously.  If they inherit turbary rights, they may choose to cut less and, perhaps, appreciate their access to the bog in different ways, such as in terms of the wildlife it supports or the fact that peatlands, though they cover only 17% of the land, are estimated to store over 53% of the carbon. The key point is that it should be their decision to make. If we allow commercial cutting and the use of sausage machines and other commercial cutting machines on de-designated bogs, we will damage not only Ireland and the planet, but also the next generation and its freedom to have a choice and relationship with those boglands.

  That is why I have tabled two amendments, one of which proposes that after a bog is de-designated, there will be turbary rights. Indeed, de-designation may open up other matters discussed in this House such as cycleways, pathways and other recreational activities. One thing it should not open up is commercial cutting. We should not add new areas for commercial cutting while going into a period when we are facing massive fines and, even more importantly, irreversible climate change and carbon production consequences. I ask the Minister of State to ensure that no bog designated under the Bill is used for commercial cutting.

  Amendment No. 18, which is a far more conservative amendment, seeks to bring the situation in line with the statement by Bord na Móna that it will not cut turf after 2030. Similarly, there should be no commercial harvesting on these bogs after 2030. The amendment simply aims to bring the bogs de-designated under the Bill in line with stated general policy. Bord na Móna’s target of 2030 is too far away - we cannot afford that and need to bring it back to 2025 or sooner. I reserve the right to bring amendments in that regard on Report Stage. It is almost impossible, nevertheless, to argue against amendment No. 18 as it simply brings the situation for these bogs into line with stated public policy, inadequate though it may be as a response to a climate emergency. I ask the Minister of State to consider accepting amendment No. 18. I hope the House will find the political courage to support amendment No. 17.

Minister of State at the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Seán Kyne): Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne I apologise for my lateness. It is unfortunate that Committee Stage is being held over several weeks because it interrupts the flow of the discussion of the Bill. The issues raised by the Senator regarding de-designation were previously discussed. This section of the Bill seeks to address the changes made in terms of encouraging extra designation of State-owned lands and de-designation of some privately owned lands in order to accommodate the difficulties that have played out in the media over many years in regard to turf cutting.

  On what we need to do to reduce turf cutting for private use and in the context of Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland house retrofitting schemes and so on, I would like to see a greater focus on homes that use turf. If they were targeted for insulation schemes and deep retrofitting, it would reduce the need for them to cut and burn turf. Of course, there is no point in doing that only for the plots then to be used to cut turf for someone else to burn. These are some of the issues in this area.

  As I indicated previously, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment brought in regulations to provide that large-scale peat extraction, that is, on areas of more than 30 ha, would be actively controlled by licensing under the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA. The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government recently advised that the development of a new regulatory framework for smaller-scale peat extraction in respect of areas of less than 30 ha will be initiated and progressed in consultation with stakeholders. I will ask departmental officials to engage with the Department on the matter and the use of certain kinds of machinery in bogs. The Senator referred to the use of sausage machines in designated areas. However, it would not be appropriate to regulate commercial turf cutting through the Bill and I will not be accepting the Senator's amendments.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I welcome the proposals of the Minister of State in regard to retrofitting. We discussed fuel poverty and other issues around social protection and payments that might be needed, and that is something we may develop further. It is noteworthy that there is a parallel debate regarding the potential for carbon storage payments that may emerge under the Common Agricultural Policy. It would be a pity to damage our capacity to put forward proposals in that regard in a meaningful way in the manner that the Heritage Act, which relates to hedge-cutting, damaged our credibility in regard to some biodiversity and environmental stewardship payments that may be emerging. If a species is extinct, and we have seen the reports that many of our natural species are teetering on the edge of extinction, there will be no stewardship payments for the protection of those species.

  On the smaller areas of bogland, Ireland is a small country, but it is one of the wealthier countries in the world, even though there is great poverty here. It fits within the global picture. Similarly, each of these small areas of bogland fits within the tapestry of our nation and what we do collectively. We must be clear that there is not a size at which responsibility kicks in. I have seen people taking action. I visited Malawi and saw community projects taking place in villages that had almost nothing. The people were making difficult decisions on how they stewarded their natural resources and protected trees in order to protect their soil because they were thinking in a long-term way in spite of the most pressing needs. We need joined-up thinking such as that.

  I welcome the comments of the Minister of State in regard to the types of machinery that may be used. However, we cannot wait for further legislation to be brought forward. He is aware that the Bill has taken four or five years to be progressed and the entire process has taken up to 12 years. The Bill is an opportunity to address these issues, although other sections may be more relevant in this regard. What will happen to a bog after de-designation is crucial. It is not sufficient for the Minister of State to decide to open a bog up for commercial cutting by de-designating it and leaving it to what might happen in the hope that other legislation may be brought forward to regulate what happens after de-designation. Perhaps a time clause should be included such that bogs may only be de-designated after regulation is put in place in respect of commercial cutting. There are many ways around this problem. We can approach it from different angles. I recognise that this area overlaps with the responsibilities of other Ministers, but climate change requires a whole-of-Government approach and responsibility. I hope there will be reporting on carbon budgets and that each Department will answer for the contribution it has made. For example, if commercial cutting continues under the Bill and we face fines from Europe, will it be the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht which will take the hit in terms of those fines and lose funding from other things it does to protect and support parts of Ireland that need protection and support? Will the Minister in charge of the regulation of turf cutting be held responsible? Who will take responsibility? It is ultimately our responsibility as politicians to decide what happens and how we join it up.

  I appreciate and support the many good ideas of the Minister of State. However, just because we are doing good things does not mean we must counterbalance that with concessions or steps that are wrong or in the wrong direction. I will engage on the machinery issue as if it can be incorporated into the Bill or in parallel with it, it would address that core concern. My intention is not to stop people going to spend a day on the bog with their family. I wish to ensure that day in the bog has birdsong, that it is in a natural environment and that a day in the bog can be understood by future generations, rather than being something they read about.

Senator Fintan Warfield: Information on Fintan Warfield Zoom on Fintan Warfield I support the amendment to ensure that where natural heritage areas are revoked it does not inadvertently allow for the expansion of commercial turf cutting rights. The intention of the legislation was to create an avenue in which turf cutting could be facilitated and maintained, largely for personal use, and done so with regard to the ability of turf cutters to be custodians of the plots they conserve. I do not think we should allow an avenue for plots to be bought up by people who would not maintain or conserve them in the same manner.

Amendment put:

The Committee divided: Tá, 9; Níl, 14.

Níl
Information on Frances Black   Zoom on Frances Black   Black, Frances. Information on Colm Burke   Zoom on Colm Burke   Burke, Colm.
Information on Rose Conway-Walsh   Zoom on Rose Conway-Walsh   Conway-Walsh, Rose. Information on Paddy Burke   Zoom on Paddy Burke   Burke, Paddy.
Information on Gerard P. Craughwell   Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell   Craughwell, Gerard P. Information on Jerry Buttimer   Zoom on Jerry Buttimer   Buttimer, Jerry.
Information on Paul Gavan   Zoom on Paul Gavan   Gavan, Paul. Information on Paul Coghlan   Zoom on Paul Coghlan   Coghlan, Paul.
Information on Alice-Mary Higgins   Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins   Higgins, Alice-Mary. Information on Paul Daly   Zoom on Paul Daly   Daly, Paul.
Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn   Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn   Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig. Information on Frank Feighan   Zoom on Frank Feighan   Feighan, Frank.
Information on Ian Marshall   Zoom on Ian Marshall   Marshall, Ian. Information on Maura Hopkins   Zoom on Maura Hopkins   Hopkins, Maura.
Information on Rónán Mullen   Zoom on Rónán Mullen   Mullen, Rónán. Information on Anthony Lawlor   Zoom on Anthony Lawlor   Lawlor, Anthony.
Information on Fintan Warfield   Zoom on Fintan Warfield   Warfield, Fintan. Information on Tim Lombard   Zoom on Tim Lombard   Lombard, Tim.
  Information on Michelle Mulherin   Zoom on Michelle Mulherin   Mulherin, Michelle.
  Information on John O'Mahony   Zoom on John O'Mahony   O'Mahony, John.
  Information on Joe O'Reilly   Zoom on Joe O'Reilly   O'Reilly, Joe.
  Information on James Reilly   Zoom on James Reilly   Reilly, James.
  Information on Neale Richmond   Zoom on Neale Richmond   Richmond, Neale.


Tellers: Tá, Senators Alice-Mary Higgins and Fintan Warfield; Níl, Senators John O'Mahony and Maura Hopkins.

Amendment declared lost.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I move amendment No. 18:

In page 5, between lines 18 and 19, to insert the following:
“(8) Where an area ceases to be designated as a natural heritage area under subsection (3)(b)(ii), without prejudice to turbary rights for household use, commercial harvesting shall not be permitted beyond 2030.”.

Amendment put:

The Committee divided: Tá, 9; Níl, 14.

Níl
Information on Frances Black   Zoom on Frances Black   Black, Frances. Information on Paddy Burke   Zoom on Paddy Burke   Burke, Paddy.
Information on Rose Conway-Walsh   Zoom on Rose Conway-Walsh   Conway-Walsh, Rose. Information on Jerry Buttimer   Zoom on Jerry Buttimer   Buttimer, Jerry.
Information on Gerard P. Craughwell   Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell   Craughwell, Gerard P. Information on Paul Coghlan   Zoom on Paul Coghlan   Coghlan, Paul.
Information on Paul Gavan   Zoom on Paul Gavan   Gavan, Paul. Information on Martin Conway   Zoom on Martin Conway   Conway, Martin.
Information on Alice-Mary Higgins   Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins   Higgins, Alice-Mary. Information on Paul Daly   Zoom on Paul Daly   Daly, Paul.
Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn   Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn   Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig. Information on Frank Feighan   Zoom on Frank Feighan   Feighan, Frank.
Information on Ian Marshall   Zoom on Ian Marshall   Marshall, Ian. Information on Maura Hopkins   Zoom on Maura Hopkins   Hopkins, Maura.
Information on Rónán Mullen   Zoom on Rónán Mullen   Mullen, Rónán. Information on Anthony Lawlor   Zoom on Anthony Lawlor   Lawlor, Anthony.
Information on Fintan Warfield   Zoom on Fintan Warfield   Warfield, Fintan. Information on Tim Lombard   Zoom on Tim Lombard   Lombard, Tim.
  Information on Michelle Mulherin   Zoom on Michelle Mulherin   Mulherin, Michelle.
  Information on Kieran O'Donnell   Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell   O'Donnell, Kieran.
  Information on John O'Mahony   Zoom on John O'Mahony   O'Mahony, John.
  Information on James Reilly   Zoom on James Reilly   Reilly, James.
  Information on Neale Richmond   Zoom on Neale Richmond   Richmond, Neale.


Tellers: Tá, Senators Alice-Mary Higgins and Fintan Warfield; Níl, Senators John O'Mahony and Maura Hopkins.

Amendment declared lost.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I move amendment No. 19:

In page 5, line 24, to delete “includes” and substitute “does not include”.

The amendment relates to the fact we have already discussed, which I will not discuss at length again, that blanket bogs were added to this Bill over the course of the debate on it. Blanket bogs have particular environmental benefits and also particular environmental vulnerabilities, as opposed to raised bog where there was a long period of study, research and scientific and social consideration. Blanket bogs were added as the Bill moved through the Dáil and that gives rise to significant concerns. When I talk to environmental groups or anyone active in this area, even those who are not specifically concerned with bogs but who are driven by concern for preserving natural areas, land erosion and the potential impact of, for example, the drainage of blanket bogs, they are concerned that blanket bogs have not been given the same consideration as raised bogs. In amendment No. 19, Senator Grace O'Sullivan and I ask the Minister not to include blanket bogs in the Bill in this way.

Deputy Seán Kyne: Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne The Bill takes into account that for the 2014 natural heritage area, NHA, raised bog review, more than 270 individual raised bogs were examined. The individual raised bogs examined comprised the 53 raised bog special areas of conservation, SACs, the existing 75 NHA raised bogs, and more than 100 non-designated sites. Hence, within the Bill the definition of bog habitat refers to the candidate SACs that contain bog so that those sites may be taken into account in any review, as has been done for the 2014 raised bog NHA review. There is no provision in the Bill to provide for the de-designation of special areas of conservation. SAC sites are proposed for designation and designated under the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011. I would envisage that the main task for any future review of blanket bog NHAs would be to assess how those sites could contribute to the national conservation objective of maintaining blanket bog habitat or restoring it to a favourable conservation status. Therefore, any consideration of blanket bog SACs would be in that context rather than with a view to the de-designation of blanket bog SACs. Accordingly, I will not accept the amendment.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins Nonetheless, the Bill does provide for and set out a route for the de-designation of NHAs, which are blanket bogs. Special SACs are protected under European law. It is not an option for us to de-designate them, so we cannot make too much of a virtue of the fact that we are not doing so. The fact is that there are provisions in this Bill, for example, in section 8(b) relating to blanket bogs and the environmental criteria which are there, whereby a comparison between blanket bogs is in itself considered sufficient for de-designation.

  In respect to my colleague, Senator Grace O'Sullivan, who I know feels very strongly about this issue, I am going to withdraw the amendment and reintroduce it on Report Stage because I know she wishes to engage with the Minister of State on blanket bogs. I will not press the amendment at this point because I hope the Minister of State will engage with the Senator, either in between Stages or during the next Stage, to consider making this Bill narrower in its focus and therefore more related to previous research which, as the Minister of State himself described, considered, looked at, and examined a large number of specific raised bogs in the early part of development of this legislation, as opposed to blanket bogs, which fall into a whole other category of environment that has been included without the same kind of detailed work.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I move amendment No. 20:

In page 5, line 31, after “function” to insert “and having regard to matters referred to in section 16(6)”.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan The amendment has already been discussed so we cannot go into it. Is the amendment being pressed?

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins As I hope the Minister of State may engage with the amendment because it relates to the scientific criteria in section 16(6), I am not pressing it at this point, with the hope that we may have some scope to engage with section 16(6). I reserve the right to bring it back on Report Stage.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I move amendment No. 21:

In page 5, to delete lines 34 to 38.

Again, in respect to my colleague, Senator Grace O'Sullivan, and her desire to engage on this issue, I am going to withdraw it for now and reserve the right to reintroduce it on Report Stage.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

  Section 4 agreed to.

NEW SECTIONS

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Amendments Nos. 22 and 23 are related and may be taken together. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I move amendment No. 22:

In page 6, between lines 9 and 10, to insert the following:
Report on exercise of turbary rights

5. The Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht shall, within twelve months of the passing of this Act, lay a report before both Houses of the Oireachtas containing guidelines and recommended thresholds in relation to the exercise of turbary rights including a definition, or definitions, of “household use”.”.

We have discussed turbary rights. I have discussed them at length and others have discussed them and their experiences in relation to them as well. This amendment aims to give practical effect to the discussion we have had, and this is a space where we can engage appropriately with this issue. We know that turbary rights can be exercised on natural heritage areas where there has been cutting. Usually, where there are turbary rights there has been cutting because it is a right that has been passed down. In those contexts, turbary rights are provided for. To my mind, it would be better if we preserved the natural heritage status of areas, where possible, while allowing appropriate and respectful exercise of turbary rights within them. In that regard, however, we need to look at what is appropriate in terms of turbary rights. The phrasing at the moment relates to household use, and given the extensive practice in respect of commercial cutting, we need to be clearer and have a definition of what we mean by "household use". I would be genuinely interested in the Minister of State's thoughts on this. It would be of service if we were able to have clarity in this area, so people know what counts as "household use".

  I am not going to reiterate my points about intergenerational justice in respect of turbary rights, and the Minister of State knows them. A review such as this may be an opportunity to address those issues as well as to ensure that we have some form of predictability regarding our environmental targets. For example, if we have a definition of "household use" in respect of turbary rights and we know how many are exercising those rights, we can have at least some level of predictability as to the consequences of cutting in terms of emissions and how that fits in with our national climate strategy, for example.

Deputy Seán Kyne: Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne I thank the Senator. The focus of the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and her Department is on the management, conservation and restoration of the SAC and NHA networks, which contain bog habitats. In this context, the National Raised Bogs Special Areas of Conservation Management Plan 2017-2022, which was approved by the Government and published in December 2017, sets out how the raised bog SACs are to be managed, conserved, and restored, and how the needs of domestic turf cutters are to be addressed through annual financial payments, relocation to non-designated bogs, and possible utilisation of the provisions of Article 6 of the habitats directive. The plan is similar for raised bog NHAs. The Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2016 provides for the Minister to conduct and complete the 2014 review of raised bog NHAs, to carry out a review or reviews of the other existing NHAs at his or her discretion, and to amend or revoke NHA orders and to make new ones arising from the 2014 review or future reviews. I do not believe it is appropriate to provide for the reports within the Bill as requested by the Senators, or for the Minister to produce such reports. Therefore I will not be accepting the Senators' amendments.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins If the Bill was confined to the issues of natural heritage and that was its primary and clear focus, I would of course have to accept the Minister of State's points and bona fides. However, it is very clear from the criteria the Minister assigns him or herself for making decisions in this Bill that national, regional, and local economic, social, and cultural needs are placed in the centre of this, so I am not introducing an extraneous or new factor. I understand that national, regional, and local economic, social, and cultural needs are important issues, but the fact is that the Bill itself places those as issues to be considered alongside, and indeed given equal if not more than equal footing with environmental and natural heritage concerns. It is a little bit inconsistent if the decision on whether an area of land will be protected is made by considering local economic social needs, while the Minister of State does not believe it is appropriate for him to think about turbary rights, which are absolutely at the centre of local economic social and cultural needs and local and economic social and cultural practice. There is an inconsistency here. If those factors were not addressed in the Bill, I would not be introducing this amendment, but they are, so if we are going to have them considered and if decisions are going to be made on the back of them, we need to know what goes into that decision. The Minister for State has described the processes around relocating rights to other areas, for example. That is something that can happen under this Bill, so we need to know what we are considering and what is involved.

  This is a very appropriate amendment. It is simply a report but it sets some level of understanding. I am reiterating this all the time but these are issues on which we will need to report to ourselves because we need to know exactly what we are doing. Ireland has carbon targets and biodiversity targets. We need to know what is happening in relation to them, and one of the things we need to know in terms of cutting is how much is cut. We cannot simply introduce in this Bill a whole network of blind spots where we will not know what is happening or how much is cut. A definition of "household use" will give us at least some measure of that and something we can do. Particularly in the European context, when the whole picture on the Common Agricultural Policy is changing, when our Commissioner is arguing around environmental stewardship payments and when there is a whole push around carbon sequestration, we simply will not be able to say what we are sequestering because we will not know what is happening because we have set no limit.  We made that point in relation to hedgerows when that Bill went through and we have seen the consequence. The Heritage Act removed the requirement for reporting or clarity on what was cut, in terms of hedgerows. A de-designation without any guidance on turbary rights removes clarity and information as to what might happen. It is a simple thing and it is about respecting social and cultural practice while also respecting the natural environment.

Deputy Seán Kyne: Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne It is important to indicate that for the sites that are staying as NHAs or for new NHAs, we would not envisage any turf cutting, including for household use. That would not impact on the site. The non-designated sites are outside our remit. We could bring that up with the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. The amendments relate to a definition of "household use" but the purpose of what we are enacting is to continue the process of engagement with the stakeholders to address the needs of turf cutters through the various processes such as relocation, de-designation and through the long-term payments that have been made for a long period. That is how we are accommodating and preserving the bogs that we intend to preserve and allowing for the de-designation of those that are beyond restoration or use.

  In relation to sequestration, those are discussions that are going on as part of the new round of the Common Agricultural Policy and we must wait to see what happens in that regard. I believe there will be a greater emphasis on carbon as part of that. I do not know whether it will be in relation to payments for bogs, increased planting areas or increased levels of biodiversity within permanent pastures. The discussions are ongoing. I do not believe there is a need for the amendment as outlined by the Senator.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Is the amendment being pressed?

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I will make a final comment. The Minister of State referred to the needs of turf cutters, which are clearly at the centre of much of the consultation. They are the stakeholders who have been centre stage in this process. However, if we are talking about the needs of turf cutters then it is not too much to also ask about the responsibilities and accountability of turf cutters. That is what my amendment would do. It would be a little clearer on the position because where rights are invoked, there are also responsibilities. Where needs are being addressed, there is also a level of accountability that needs to be addressed in respect of that, because there are wider needs in the community and in society and we balance those with each other. One point I hear all the time from the Government side of the House is in respect of balancing. It is a very simple thing to say if, as the Minister of State says, we are working with those groups and if the needs of turf cutters are central to this process, that we would also balance that with some level of accountability and clarity. I will not press the amendment at this stage as I hope the Minister of State will engage with us and have some exchange between, for example, other Departments on it.

  I may amend the wording and resubmit the amendment so that the reference is to a joint report or an engagement specifically between the Department and another Department. I am happy to speak to the Minister of State about how that would be done but it would send a terrible signal if we say we are not willing to even think about what "household use" means. Perhaps there is some information the Minister of State can direct to me and others in the House who are concerned about the issue. We would appreciate some guidance on what we would expect household use to be in respect of turbary rights. Is there some precedent or previous reports? Perhaps there is information that I have not seen and that I am not aware of in regard to it. I would be concerned if it is a purely interpretative phase of household use. Currently, road safety is purely interpretative by individuals with no clear guidance as to what that might mean and we have seen the consequences on the byways of Ireland. Similarly, a purely interpretative version of household use is not good enough any more. I will not press the amendment at this stage but I will reintroduce the amendment and I will press it on Report Stage.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I move amendment No. 23:

In page 6, between lines 9 and 10, to insert the following:

“Report on intergenerational justice and equity issues

5. The Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht shall, within twelve months of the passing of this Act, lay a report before both Houses of the Oireachtas considering intergenerational justice and equity issues in respect of bog lands; to include a consideration of turf cutting, peat extraction, climate change and other environmental considerations.”.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins Amendment No. 23 is the core amendment.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan It has already been discussed so Senator Higgins cannot discuss it.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins It relates to the intergenerational justice and equality issues. I will withdraw the amendment and reintroduce it, because if we have seen anything since we last debated the issue, it is that intergenerational justice issues are clearer than ever and the demand for action is clearer than ever. I do not believe the Government can say to the school strikers and others it has had before committees that it does not want to do a report on intergenerational justice.

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

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I am just asking if the Minister of State is willing to accept it.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Senator Higgins cannot debate the issue. Otherwise, I am breaking the rules.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I accept that.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Is the Senator withdrawing the amendment?

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I want to ask the Minister of State if he will accept it. Otherwise, I will withdraw it.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Senator Higgins should bear with me for a moment. Sometimes, she wants to have two bites of the cherry. If she proposes to withdraw the amendment and to resubmit it on Report Stage, it is wrong to have a full debate now and at the end of that to withdraw the amendment and resubmit it. The Senator is having both bites. If her plan is to resubmit the amendment I respectfully suggest that she would do so now.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins Am I correct in saying that the amendment was already debated at an earlier stage?

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Yes, it was already debated.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins That is why I am not debating it now. I just wanted to check if the position of the Minister of State had changed. That is the only reason I asked.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan The amendment is linked to amendment No. 22. That is a matter that can come up on Report Stage.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins In that context, I will reserve the right to reintroduce the amendment.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

  Amendment No. 24 not moved.

  Question, “That section 5 stand part of the Bill”, put and declared carried.

TITLE

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I move amendment No. 25:

In page 3, line 5, after “review of” to insert “raised”.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

  Title agreed to.

  Bill reported without amendment.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan When is it proposed to take Report Stage?

Senator Maura Hopkins: Information on Maura Hopkins Zoom on Maura Hopkins On Tuesday, 21 May 2019.

Question put: "That Report Stage be taken on Tuesday, 21 May 2019."

The Seanad divided: Tá, 14; Níl, 4.

Níl
Information on Colm Burke   Zoom on Colm Burke   Burke, Colm. Information on Rose Conway-Walsh   Zoom on Rose Conway-Walsh   Conway-Walsh, Rose.
Information on Paddy Burke   Zoom on Paddy Burke   Burke, Paddy. Information on Paul Gavan   Zoom on Paul Gavan   Gavan, Paul.
Information on Jerry Buttimer   Zoom on Jerry Buttimer   Buttimer, Jerry. Information on Alice-Mary Higgins   Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins   Higgins, Alice-Mary.
Information on Paul Coghlan   Zoom on Paul Coghlan   Coghlan, Paul. Information on Fintan Warfield   Zoom on Fintan Warfield   Warfield, Fintan.
Information on Paul Daly   Zoom on Paul Daly   Daly, Paul.  
Information on Frank Feighan   Zoom on Frank Feighan   Feighan, Frank.  
Information on Maura Hopkins   Zoom on Maura Hopkins   Hopkins, Maura.  
Information on Anthony Lawlor   Zoom on Anthony Lawlor   Lawlor, Anthony.  
Information on Tim Lombard   Zoom on Tim Lombard   Lombard, Tim.  
Information on Ian Marshall   Zoom on Ian Marshall   Marshall, Ian.  
Information on Michelle Mulherin   Zoom on Michelle Mulherin   Mulherin, Michelle.  
Information on Pádraig Ó Céidigh   Zoom on Pádraig Ó Céidigh   Ó Céidigh, Pádraig.  
Information on Kieran O'Donnell   Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell   O'Donnell, Kieran.  
Information on John O'Mahony   Zoom on John O'Mahony   O'Mahony, John.  


Tellers: Tá, Senators John O'Mahony and Maura Hopkins; Níl, Senators Alice-Mary Higgins and Fintan Warfield.

Question declared carried.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan When is it proposed to sit again?

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer Maidin amárach ar 10.30.

  The Seanad adjourned at 7.25 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Thursday, 16 May 2019.


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