Header Item Prelude
 Header Item Business of Seanad
 Header Item Commencement Matters
 Header Item Environmental Policy
 Header Item Movement Therapy Programme
 Header Item Light Rail Projects
 Header Item Care of the Elderly Provision
 Header Item Order of Business
 Header Item Traveller Culture and History in Education Bill 2018: First Stage
 Header Item Employment Equality Act 1998 (Section 12) (Reservation of vocational training places) Order 2018: Referral to Joint Committee
 Header Item Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2017: Committee Stage
 Header Item Data Sharing and Governance Bill 2018: Committee Stage (Resumed)
 Header Item Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2017: Committee Stage (Resumed)

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Seanad Éireann Debate
Vol. 259 No. 4

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Chuaigh an Leas-Chathaoirleach i gceannas ar 12:30:00

Machnamh agus Paidir.

Reflection and Prayer.


Business of Seanad

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan I have received notice from Senator Victor Boyhan that, on the motion for the Commencement of the House today, he proposes to raise the following matter:

The need for the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment to provide an update on Ireland's transposition of the Aarhus Convention.

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

The need for the Minister for Education and Skills to provide pre-service and in-service education in the areas of movement therapy for learning readiness.

I have also received notice from Senator Kevin Humphreys of the following matter:

The need for the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport to make a statement on the proposed route of the MetroLink on the Luas green line.

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

The need for the Minister for Health to confirm when the day-care centre for older people will open at the Ballinamore community nursing unit and primary care centre, County Leitrim.

The matters raised by the Senators are suitable for discussion and they will be taken now.

Commencement Matters

Environmental Policy

Senator Victor Boyhan: Information on Victor Boyhan Zoom on Victor Boyhan I welcome the Minister to the House. I raise this issue regarding the need for the Minister to update us on Ireland's transposition into law of the Aarhus Convention. The Minister is well aware of the importance of public participation in the planning process and how citizens across this country value that participation. It is an important and a very good convention that is relied on heavily and embedded into most city and county development plans. It is a very important aspect of our planning system that we have engagement with the public, with the citizens, as well as the public representatives in that process.

  What are we talking about here? We are talking about enhancing environmental governance, transparency regarding proper planning and sustainable development of our communities, and empowering and entrusting people in sensitive information. However, more importantly, we are talking about giving people access and the right to information which governs and affect their lives, particularly regarding proper planning and sustainable development.

  I welcome the Minister to the House and he might let us have his thoughts on these matters.

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten I thank Senator Boyhan for raising this issue. The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters, or as it is commonly known, the Aarhus Convention, was adopted on 25 June 1998, just two decades ago. The Aarhus Convention lays down a set of basic rules to promote public involvement in environmental affairs. The convention governs environmental justice rights and is formed by three aspects or pillars of the convention, namely: access to information on the environment; public participation in decision-making on environmental matters; and access to justice in environmental matters. The European Union subsequently introduced two directives to implement the Aarhus Convention. These are Directive 2003/4/EC, on public access to environmental information and Directive 2003/35/EC, on public participation in respect of drawing up certain plans and programmes relating to the environment. For the avoidance of any doubt I confirm that Ireland has already fully ratified the Aarhus Convention and this was achieved on 20 June 2012.

  Since then Ireland has also ratified two related agreements: the protocol on pollutant release and transfer registers; and the GMO amendment to the Aarhus Convention. The convention and these two related agreements entered into force on 18 September 2012. An implementation table which details various legislative measures taken to implement the Aarhus Convention and related EU directives into Irish law is available on my Department's at dccae.gov.ie. This includes measures in the Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011, principally to introduce new rules about costs to apply in certain legal cases. Since Ireland transposed the convention in 2012, a body of case law has naturally emerged, as Irish and EU courts interpret the convention as transposed.

  My Department is currently working on the heads of a Bill to address such matters. This Bill is intended to reflect the recent case law and streamline the legislative framework, and to remove any doubts as regards Ireland’s intentions in terms of the transposition where the courts have expressed the need for greater clarity. The issues to be addressed in the Bill include: automatic recognition that certain environmental NGOs have sufficient interest in relevant environmental cases; establishing in law that judicial review is an appropriate review procedure under Article 9(2) of the convention; and where they exist, that administrative review procedures must be exhausted prior to an application for judicial review.

  While it had been originally anticipated that the heads would be approved by the Government before the summer recess, a small number of issues still remain to be settled in consultation between my officials and those of the Office of the Attorney General. It is, therefore, now more likely that the Bill will the published in the autumn, although my officials are still striving to have the heads approved by the Government before summer if possible. Although this Bill, when enacted, will clarify certain matters regarding the transposition and implementation of the convention by Ireland, I would like to reassure the House that Ireland is already in full compliance with the Aarhus Convention.

Senator Victor Boyhan: Information on Victor Boyhan Zoom on Victor Boyhan I thank the Minister for his comprehensive response and to note that he is bringing forward a Bill.  Would the Minister consider initiating the Bill in the Seanad? The Taoiseach, Deputy Leo Varadkar, was in the House recently talking about expanding the role around scrutiny and legislation, and working more on legislation, perhaps more than statements that we tend to see much of in this House. It is something that the Minister will be well aware of. Any Minister can initiate legislation in this House, and the Minister might give consideration to that in due course. I thank the Minister for a very comprehensive response.

Deputy Denis Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten I have no difficulty initiating legislation in this House. As Senator Boyhan knows, it is a scheduling matter, mainly dictated by the Government Chief Whip's office. I have absolutely no difficulty initiating legislation in this House. My priority is to get legislation enacted. It has to go through both Houses. It is the case that there is limited legislative time available in the Lower House. There seems to be far more time available in this House. I am called in every week to give statements. I am quite willing to bring forward the legislation in this House first. I have absolutely no difficulty with that.

Movement Therapy Programme

Senator Martin Conway: Information on Martin Conway Zoom on Martin Conway I would like to welcome the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Deputy Naughten, to the House. I met two ladies, Ms Aoife Caulfield and Ms Judy Breen, in Ennis two or three weeks ago. I have a particular interest in education, particularly that of small children. I am committed that they should be able to read and write as proficiently as possible. These two ladies brought to my attention that a child's ability to read and write can often be dictated by his or her reflexes and muscle movement if the child's neural system is developing correctly and appropriately. Certain movements in the neck, head and other parts of the body of many kids may not be developing, or may not have developed, appropriately and properly. There has been much research done on this internationally, although it is limited in Ireland. In England, it was proven beyond doubt that where children's reflexes and bodily movements are impaired, it leads to a literacy impairment.

  We have seen a great commitment by the Government in recent times with more than 10,000 special needs assistants and significant resources put in to helping kids who have challenges reading, writing and so forth. That is very welcome but we need to think outside the box. I was struck by what these two ladies proposed, which they were able to back up by international research, that where programmes to help children with their reflexes were carried out their literacy skills improved dramatically.

  I am not in any way suggesting this should be rolled out nationally immediately. It should be looked at for in-service training as part of the curriculum, particularly in primary and pre-primary education. Would the Minister consider doing this on a pilot basis with the proper analysis and reviews, and looking at the results? I have no doubt the results will be positive and we will see there is merit in looking at rolling this out at a national level.

  At the very least, I am looking for a commitment in principle from the Department of Education and Skills that it will engage with these people and listen to what they have to say. They are doing it in schools on an ad hoc basis at the moment. They are getting the results. I would really encourage the Department of Education and Skills to engage with them and to carry out a pilot programme for the academic year 2018-19 in two or three schools. If it works, perhaps we could look at doing it on a more streamlined national basis. We need to think outside the box with these issues. When one thinks about it, it makes sense that, if children have issues with reflexes, movements and so on, it is bound to have a knock-on effect on their ability to read and write.

Deputy Denis Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten I thank Senator Conway. I apologise for taking this on behalf of the Minister for Education and Skills who has provided me with this response.

  Officials in the Department of Education and Skills were contacted in May by the organisation which promotes this movement therapy programme. At its core, the programme has the aim to promote learning readiness in children. On 19 June, officials met with the organisation and listened to a detailed presentation on therapy intervention. The specific intervention is known as the Institute for Neuro-Physiology Psychology, INPP, method. The theory behind the INPP method is the presence or absence of certain primitive reflexes or postural reactions are key stages in a child's development, and provide signposts of the maturity in the functioning of the central nervous system. Examples of primitive reflexes might include sucking and grasping, while postural reflexes might include head-righting reflexes or certain rolling reflexes. The theory suggests where there is a presence of an apparent reflex or postural reaction, which is not explained by an identified pathology, the reflexes and-or postural reactions can be associated with a variety of neurodevelopmental problems and specific learning difficulties. In simple terms, certain movement characteristics can signal certain neurodevelopment problems or learning difficulties.

  The theory further suggests that, by addressing these issues through the exercise programme, neurodevelopmental programmes and specific learning difficulties can be improved. The INPP method uses the assessment of primitive reflexes and postural reactions in school-aged children and beyond to identify signs of immaturity and the functioning of the central nervous system. The reflex profile of an individual child is then used as a clinical tool to identify the earliest point in development from which a physical remedial programme should be started.

  The method requires that physical movements based on movements normally made during infancy or the first year of life are prescribed and practised daily. When applied, progress is assessed at eight-week intervals using tests for primitive and postural reflexes, gross muscle coordination and balance, and ocular motor functioning. If the exercises are effective, the score on all physical tests should, in theory, decrease. There should be measurable improvement in the range of neurodevelopmental problems, including speech and language problems, where they arise.

  In order to ensure there is a full understanding of the method, including any evidence of its effectiveness or merit, or potential application in schools, the National Educational Psychological Service was asked to consider the body of evidence provided by the presenting organisation along with any other research or studies on this intervention, and to report back to the Department when this consideration has been completed. Until such time that the review, or any further review which may be deemed necessary to establish the merit of the programme, is completed it would not be appropriate to consider its inclusion in any existing or new programmes, or for pre-service or in-service provision for teachers. The Department of Education and Skills is committed to considering any proposal for new or innovative evidence-based interventions. Officials will remain in contact with the organisation during the review and will inform it of the outcome as soon as it is available.

Senator Martin Conway: Information on Martin Conway Zoom on Martin Conway I thank the Minister for a very detailed explanation of the theory, which I am getting my own head around. It appears to be very convincing. It is appropriate that it would be referred to the body to which the Minister referred. Is there a timeline? We all know about things being referred to bodies, and it seems to be an infinite timeline. Is there a specific eight-week, 12-week, three-month period in which the body can report back? The next move for the Department of Education and Skills will be dictated by the recommendations of this body.

Deputy Denis Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten I thank the Senator. I do not have a timeline and it has not been presented to me in the information I have been provided with.

  As part of the negotiations on the programme for Government, I specifically had a commitment written in on page 86 that the Government would be determined to ensure every child leaving primary school could read and write. It should be a basic requirement that every child is literate and numerate leaving primary school. Every child should have the opportunity to do that but, sadly, it is not the case. The Senator has highlighted a particular initiative that may assist a small cohort of people, which I have consistently raised in the past. I have taken plenty of heat from this House and the Lower House on the issue. We have three separate databases that could assist us regarding the rate of truancy. If we could link up the Department of Education and Skills database with those of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection and the national educational welfare service of Tusla, which comes under the remit of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, it would be an effective tool to identify problems and vehicles to address them. Sadly, for political reasons people have jumped down on it. Our priority should be to use all the available technology and information available to us to ensure that regardless of background every child has an equal opportunity to access a proper education particularly in primary school.

  The issue of truancy came up again in the media today. We need to use the tools available to us as a State to try to ensure all children have the opportunity and are able to read and write when they leave primary school and progress to secondary school.

Light Rail Projects

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan I welcome the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Ross. We have a rather topical item coming up.

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys I thank the Minister for taking this Commencement matter. He could have asked a Minister of State to come in so I appreciate him taking the matter in person.

  The Minister knows the area well. He has lived in this part of Dublin for a long number of years. He is well aware of the proposal for MetroLink, which will erect a wall in the middle of the community of Ranelagh. It is proposed that a train will run every 90 seconds. It will separate the community forever and it will have a great impact on traffic and emergency services. If they had to attend to a heart attack on one side of the line, for example, trying to access the incident would be difficult because of the way the emergency services are configured. There has been little opportunity for the residents to make their views known. Residents on the northside were invited to appear before the transport committee. The Minister has no control over whether one group or another is invited to appear before the committee but they were excluded from that. I feel particularly aggrieved by that. They have requested a meeting with the National Transport Authority, NTA, which I hope will be granted shortly, and they have also asked to meet the Minister. I ask the Minister to look at his diary on Friday, if that is when he has his diary meeting, to see if he can facilitate the representatives of the residents and schools in the Ranelagh area.

  The proposal is to close the Luas green line for up to two years. The official papers say it will be a year but the structural surveys on the embankment have not been carried out yet. If the embankments have to be reinforced, which I believe will be the case, it will take substantially more than a year. It will have an impact on the immediate area, not only Ranelagh and Rathmines but the entire southside of the city. To put the number of people who use the green line back on to other public transport or in their cars would destroy the southside of the city for up to two years. The economic impact would be substantial. I ask that the Minister look at continuing the MetroLink further underground past Milltown, which the papers propose, would only close the green line for three months. The green line could be closed for June, July and August during the school holidays which would lessen the impact on the city and its economic activity and mean having a better scheme to service the city.

  The Minister's officials will probably say he cannot implement these proposals without breaking eggs. I am a realist. To put in the infrastructure that is needed, some people will be discommoded and disadvantaged but we have to try to ensure we do not destroy where we do not have to. There is a solution, although it is not a perfect solution. It may not be the one everyone likes but it would certainly maintain the integrity of Ranelagh. It would prevent an old-type Berlin Wall through the heart of Ranelagh, which would not only separate families and communities but would have an impact on small businesses and their economic viability if half their footfall is taken out.

  I ask the Minister to meet the representatives of the residents' groups, who are the people most impacted. They have formally written him asking for that meeting. He may not have had time to consider it. I ask the Minister to meet them as soon as possible with his officials, to allow them to explain the impact on their communities. He will see that there is a viable alternative. The costing is €420 million. Similar major changes have taken place on the northside regarding the location of the stations. We are hearing rumours. The NTA said it may be move to a single bore tunnel. We need to know what impact that will have and what can be done. If it is moved to a single bore tunnel, as a result of the reduction in cost, can we reduce the impact it will have on communities such as Ranelagh and Rathmines?

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross I thank the Senator for raising this issue on which he has been a loud and extremely effective voice. It is a difficult issue because when we embark on projects like this, some communities almost inevitably suffer discomfort or worse. It is partly my job to ensure it is Government policy that the kind of disruption to which the Senator refers, particularly in Ranelagh, is deferred or does not happen at all. It is difficult to embark on a project without doing that but I assure the Senator we have no intention of splitting communities in any way. We will do everything we can to ensure no communities are split by this particular project, which is of such great importance to the entire city and county of Dublin.

  The recently published national development plan, NDP, which was launched earlier this year by Government as part of Project Ireland 2040, brings together the metro north and metro south projects, as envisaged by the NTA's greater Dublin area, GDA, strategy, into one project called MetroLink. It is a massive project and Ranelagh is an important part of it. Ranelagh will greatly benefit from it but the sensitivities of the people of the community have to be taken into consideration.

  The MetroLink project is the development of a north-south urban railway service that will run between Swords and Sandyford, connecting key destinations along the 26 km route. There will be 25 stations in total, 15 of them brand new. A large proportion of the route will be underground, including where it passes under the important city centre area and Dublin Airport. The underground section will terminate close to the Charlemont stop on the Luas green line, south city area, where the metro will connect to and run southwards on the existing Luas green line. The Luas green line will be upgraded to metro standard as part of the project. It will provide Dublin with a high-capacity, high-frequency, cross-city rail corridor, serving critical destinations such as Swords, Dublin Airport, Dublin City University, Ballymun, the Mater Hospital and existing destinations along the Luas green line to Sandyford. MetroLink will provide faster reliable journey times to and from these key destinations while offering interchange with other rail, DART expansion, light rail and bus services.   It is predicted that capacity for 15,000 passengers per direction per hour during the busiest peak times will be required along this corridor. MetroLink will have the capacity for 30 trains per hour in each direction, so it will greatly enhance the public transport offering in Dublin. The creation of about 4,000 jobs during construction is also envisaged, which is highly significant for the economy in the region. The NTA, in conjunction with TII, recently completed a public consultation process on the emerging preferred route. The emerging preferred route is the proposal which has been identified as the likely optimal scheme from a technical design perspective, without the benefit of public consultation and input. It is not a finalised and selected scheme. The final layout will only be determined after consideration and evaluation of the issues raised during the consultation process. The purpose of that process, which also includes public consultation meetings, was to obtain the views of the general public, particularly those along the identified emerging route and to take that input into account in finalising a selected route. I gather there have been consultations and meetings on this subject in the Senator's area.

  Following receipt of all of the submissions, the issues and concerns identified are being carefully considered by TII and the NTA in determining the final scheme proposal. A public consultation report is expected to be published later this year, following a full appraisal of the 8,000 submissions received. The NTA and TII expect that an application for a railway order, comprising the final design scheme, will be submitted to An Bord Pleanála during quarter 3 of 2019. A further public consultation will be undertaken in 2019 as part of the statutory planning consent process. This will include a report assessing the environmental impacts of the project as well as final details of any land acquisitions needed for the scheme. Subject to receipt of planning approval, construction of the project is expected to commence in 2021 with MetroLink open for passenger use in 2027.

  I absolutely understand the concerns raised by affected stakeholders, including those communities in Ranelagh, so well represented by Senator Humphreys. I believe that the MetroLink project can bring many benefits. I am confident that the NTA and TII, through the consultative process that they have under way, will find a way of delivering the MetroLink project, maintain good routes that interchange with other public transport modes, and do it in a way that respects the social and community life of our city.

  Given the MetroLink emerging preferred route proposal is the subject of a current independent public consultation process, I am sure the Senator will understand it would be highly inappropriate for me to comment any further on the details of the proposal at this time.

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys It is not my intention or that of the residents' groups to put the Minister in an awkward position, but the residents in Ranelagh believe the consultation process was deeply unfair. As I said earlier, others had access to the transport committee, to the National Transport Authority and to senior Ministers. This is not what happened on the southside of the city. When we requested a two-week extension to the public consultation we were informed that it would not be extended because of a specific request from residents on the northside that it should close on time.

  The opportunities for people to express their views were very limited. That is why I am asking the Minister to find time in his diary to meet the residents' representatives. Above all there have been a number of announcements since the closure of the public consultation. We have heard of a temporary inconvenience of five or six years during the building of the MetroLink to Home Farm Football Club and certain GAA pitches. I welcome that they can be facilitated as they should be.

  However, we have no information on whether the single-bore tunnel will affect the southside, whether it can be extended beyond Milltown or whether the residents' views will be taken on board. That is why I am so insistent that they should have an opportunity now to engage with departmental officials on the matter. They have some extremely good ideas. The residents know very well the impact needs to be highlighted; they went through this procedure with the Luas green line. They just want their views taken on board. They do not want their communities divided in half. They want equality. They want to be treated in the same way as every other citizen in Dublin is treated which they have not been up to now. They need to talk to the decision makers, to whom other residents in this city seemingly have access but the residents in Ranelagh do not.

  As I said earlier, I ask the Minister to meet the residents' representatives. I ask him to ensure the National Transport Authority also meet the residents' representatives. We need to seriously look at taking the single-bore tunnel underground much further out into the suburbs. I know the areas involved and they need good public transport. The MetroLink opens up lands past Dublin Airport for the construction of residential units that we badly need. We know of the planning applications for a number of units to be built in Cherrywood. We know of the need for access. However, the impact this will have in the Ranelagh and Rathmines area needs to be taken on board.

  I thank the Minister for attending today.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross I wish to respond to the subsequent points the Senator has made. I am not averse to meeting residents' groups at all, although I could not obviously meet everybody who has difficulty with every transport project.

  The public consultation process report is due to be issued later this year. This is primarily a matter for the NTA and it is not primarily a matter for me to interfere with that process. In fact, it would be wrong for me to do so. It should be left. The Senator might like the result of the public consultation report that is due to be released this year. After that I will certainly consider meeting the residents if the Senator still feels dissatisfied or aggrieved by the treatment he received from the NTA in this matter.

  There will be another public consultation process in 2019 as part of the statutory planning consent process as the Senator will be aware. I will convey what he had to say to the NTA and I will communicate with him on its response.

Care of the Elderly Provision

Senator Frank Feighan: Information on Frank Feighan Zoom on Frank Feighan I am asking the Minister for Health to confirm when the day-care centre for older people will open at the Ballinamore community nursing unit and primary care centre and if there are any plans to provide additional beds at the unit. I thank the Minister of State for being here today. I clearly remember five years ago turning the sod on the €6 million primary care centre and the 20-bed community nursing unit in what is a very impressive campus. It was a great privilege for me as a local Deputy back then to turn the sod on the wonderful development. We now have a modern purpose-built primary care centre and an interconnected 20-bed care managed unit.

  The role of the primary care centre fits in with the Government's primary care strategy which is to provide a range of key services addressing the needs of local communities all under one roof. Using this approach, the primary point of contact between a person and the health system is through the local primary care team. The community nursing unit works in tandem with the primary care centre, acting as either a step-down facility for patients well enough to be discharged from general hospital but not well enough to go home or those who require additional therapies.

  Regarding my first query over the day-care centre, it was clearly stated in the project's brief at the very outset that this campus would have a day-care facility. Unfortunately this is still to happen. I would like to establish when the facility will commence. It is certainly long overdue. Day-care centres provide a range of social and rehabilitative services for older people with disabilities, and are a vital lifeline for many elderly people. Ballinamore deserves one like any other area.  The community nursing unit is a long-term care facility designed to meet the needs of dependent older people in south Leitrim and has been operational since May 2016. At present there are 20 residents in the facility. It is an extremely busy unit but, unfortunately, there is a long waiting list to avail of all its services. Given this situation, I want to ask the Minister of State whether there are any plans to provide additional beds at the site. There is certainly more space in the site for a further build, which would provide more beds to cater for this demand. I will be interested to hear the views of the Minister of State on this issue.

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Finian McGrath): Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath On behalf of the Minister of State with responsibility for mental health and older people, Deputy Jim Daly, I thank Senator Feighan for raising this very important matter. I also acknowledge his work on this issue and with regard to health and disability services and senior citizen services in his area.

  The overarching policy of the Government is to support older people to live with dignity and independence in their own homes and communities for as long as possible, and to support access to quality long-term residential care where this is appropriate, and this appropriateness is the important aspect. Yesterday we announced €14 million for housing adaptation grants for senior citizens with disabilities and this is another step in the same direction, so we have more people living in their own homes, where possible, as long as they have the proper facilities and accessibility.

  The HSE has operational responsibility for planning, managing and delivering health and personal social services. Home care and other community services provide a greater range of options to avoid admission to acute hospitals, support early discharges and, where appropriate, to rehabilitate and re-able patients after periods of particular difficulty.

  Our ageing population is one of the most significant demographic and societal developments that Ireland has encountered in modern times. Not only are people living longer, but a great many people are staying healthier and living better for longer. Demand for community services is rising as more people are supported in their own homes rather than in hospitals or nursing homes. However, quality residential care must continue to be available for those who need it. I emphasise this angle to the debate. It is for those who urgently need it.

  Primary care centres provide a range of key services to address the health needs of their local communities. Access to day centres can make an important contribution by providing invaluable support, advice and social interaction for older people who may, for any number of reasons, be experiencing isolation and loneliness. The Ballinamore primary care centre and community nursing unit consists of a modern purpose-built primary care centre and interconnected 20 bed community nursing unit. The community nursing unit has been operational since May 2016. There are 18 single bedrooms and one twin bedroom. Residents are supported by a full nursing team and support team, who provide nursing care and support on a 24-hour basis. Medical care is provided by a GP service Monday to Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Outside these hours medical care is provided by NoWDOC. Multidisciplinary team members are accessible to residents through a referral process.

  Ballinamore forms part of the south Leitrim complement of nursing home beds, which includes St. Patrick's hospital in Carrick-on-Shannon with 65 beds and Arus Carolan in Mohill with 36 beds. At present, there are no plans to provide additional beds in Ballinamore. However, as the Senator is aware, the national development plan acknowledges the need for additional capacity. It is expected that 4,500 additional short-term and long-term beds will be required across the public system in community nursing units and other step-down facilities, as identified by the health capacity review.

  Health capital projects and programmes under way will continue, and these major priority projects will require the bulk of the notified capital allocation over the initial period of the plan from 2018 to 2022. The next planned phase of service provision for Ballinamore is the introduction of an integrated social day care service, which will further enhance day service provision in the south Leitrim area. It is envisaged that hot meals for clients who attend will be provided through the Ballinamore community nursing unit based on the same site. Social day services help to prevent social isolation, reduce possible hospital admissions and support early discharge from acute settings. The integrated social day care service will provide clients with opportunities to engage with their peers while participating in social activities. The HSE is seeking funding through the 2019 Estimates process to progress this plan and I will be very supportive of it.

Senator Frank Feighan: Information on Frank Feighan Zoom on Frank Feighan I thank the Minister of State for his, as always, considered contribution. I welcome the fact that integrated social day-care services are planned and I hope the HSE will get the funding through the Estimates in 2019. We should support anything that prevents social isolation, reduces possible hospital admissions and supports the early discharge from acute settings. There is a very elderly community in Ballinamore and it should get priority funding and attention.

  The fact that 4,500 additional short-term and long-term beds will be required throughout the public system in community nursing homes and other step-down facilities was identified by the health capacity review. There is no better place to increase the number of beds than Ballinamore. The 65 beds in St. Patrick's Hospital in Carrick-on-Shannon and the 36 beds in Arus Carolan in Mohill are very welcome. Providing an extra 20 beds in Ballinamore would bring it on par with Mohill. It is not that one is competing with the other, but that these beds are needed in the south Leitrim area. I know the Minister of State will look favourably on providing these extra beds for Ballinamore, and I hope he does so.

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath I thank Senator Feighan for his comments. I also welcome the fact that he welcomes the integrated care plan. With regard to the Estimates, it is very important that we are all very supportive.

  The Minister and the HSE recognise that services provided at Ballinamore are a vital element in helping people to stay in their communities and homes. These services assist people who do not require emergency department hospital admission to be discharged as early as possible from acute care back to their communities. The level of funding available from the Department of Health in 2019 and the quantum of service to be provided by the HSE will be considered as part of the national estimate budgetary process and the national service planning.

  The Minister of State, Deputy Jim Daly, would wish to acknowledge Senator Feighan's continued commitment on behalf of the community to improve services in the area. When we listen to this debate and see the work has started, there is a genuine issue with regard to Ballinamore. I commend the commitment of Senator Feighan to Ballinamore. There should be an increase in the number of beds. It is a genuine request from the Senator and it is very important that I bring this message back to the Minister of State. I will bring back all of the issues the Senator has raised with regard to the wonderful service in Ballinamore. We should develop it as part of the national plan. There is a genuine issue because, of course, we recognise the valuable work done for many of our senior citizens.

  Sitting suspended at 1.18 p.m. until 3.30 p.m.

Order of Business

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer The Order of Business is No. 1, motion re Employment Equality Act 1998 (section 12) (reservation of vocational training places) Order 2018 - referral to committee, to be taken on conclusion of the Order of Business; No. 2, Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2017 - Committee Stage, to be taken at 4.45 p.m. and adjourned at 6 p.m., to be resumed at 7.30 p.m. and adjourned at 11 p.m., if not previously concluded; and No. 3, Data Sharing and Governance Bill 2018 - Committee Stage (resumed), to be taken at 6 p.m. and adjourned at 7.30 p.m., if not previously concluded.

Senator Catherine Ardagh: Information on Catherine Ardagh Zoom on Catherine Ardagh I have raised my first matter previously in the House and it is deeply connected to the lack of supply in the housing market, which I also speak of on a consistent basis in the House. There is a crisis in the construction sector now because of a lack of skilled construction workers. This stems from the fact that in recent years we have completely neglected the operation of apprenticeship schemes in this country. In 2017, for example, a grand total of 121 bricklayer apprentices commenced training. That figure was obtained through a parliamentary question tabled by my colleague, Deputy Niall Collins. This is a drop in the ocean when IBEC estimates an additional 80,000 workers are needed in the sector in order to deal with current housing demand. There are 134,000 workers in the construction sector and the serious lack of investment in apprenticeships in recent years is a matter of grave concern. These skilled workers are not just needed in the short term, they are also very much needed in the long term in order to ensure that we have a sustainable housing supply to deal with future growing demands from the rising population.

  Instead of supporting apprenticeship schemes, the Government scrapped the new shared apprenticeship model in March. The latter was a pilot partnership between SOLAS, the Construction Industry Federation and Waterford and Wexford Education and Training Board. This pilot programme was deemed a success but, despite this, the Government failed to roll it out nationally. I call on the Minister of State at the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and Education and Skills, Deputy Halligan, as well as the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, to see what they will do about boosting apprenticeship numbers.

  My second matter is a call for the public, especially Dubliners, to look at the proposed new Dublin Bus network routes. This will replace the current system, which has 130 routes, and the new proposed network will form around the concept of seven spines around the city running from one end of the city to the other, as well as a circle line. A public consultation process will start in the next month and I urge all Dubliners, as well as people who come here and use the public transport system, to engage with the process and make their views known. Our current system is quite cumbersome and difficult to access; it is it hard to get from one end of the city to another without going through the centre. This new system aims to make Dublin Bus routes more accessible and easier for tourists and others to use. I urge Senators to review the new Dublin Bus network and I ask them to urge supporters and others to review it and submit their opinions to the National Transport Authority in the next month.

Senator Victor Boyhan: Information on Victor Boyhan Zoom on Victor Boyhan I wish to raise a matter that is due to be discussed later. I will not go into substantive detail. I refer to the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2017. The Group of States against Corruption, GRECO, was established in 1999 by the Council of Europe to monitor states' compliance with organisations relating to anti-corruption. GRECO's objective is to improve the capacity of members to fight corruption by monitoring compliance with the Council of Europe's anti-corruption standards. I and many other Members will have read in the media comments from GRECO, which has significant concerns about some key measures proposed in the Bill, particularly the provisions around the new judicial appointments commission. It states that these are not in line with European standards and more substantial participation is required.

  I will not get into any real detail other than to say I am thinking of one of our current Ministers, Deputy Ross. If he was not a Minister and a report like this came to the attention of the Government, he would stand in the Dáil demanding that it be published. It is right and proper that we stand today in solidarity and demand of the Government to publish the GRECO report.

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

Senator Victor Boyhan: Information on Victor Boyhan Zoom on Victor Boyhan I understand that it makes some damning remarks. I do not want this GRECO report to come back and haunt us. We know the Government has sight of the GRECO report. How can we proceed with legislation when we know that the Government is withholding the report? I suggest that this is being done under pressure from a Cabinet Minister, which is not the right way to proceed. I hope that today we will show solidarity and illustrate to the public that for which we, as Senators, stand. We should not proceed with any legislation-----

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

Senator Victor Boyhan: Information on Victor Boyhan Zoom on Victor Boyhan -----until the GRECO report is published by the Government. The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Ross, would have stood up in the Lower House to demand accountability and transparency but today I challenge him. He is aware, like all Ministers, of the GRECO report. We need to see it and decide for ourselves what is in it. Let it not come back to haunt us in two weeks or have us standing up to say that if only we had heeded the report, it would have been different. Say "No" to proceeding with the legislation until such time as the GRECO report is published and debated in both Houses of the Oireachtas.

Senator Rose Conway-Walsh: Information on Rose Conway-Walsh Zoom on Rose Conway-Walsh I welcome the recent announcement regarding the traditional harvesting rights of the seaweed harvesters along the western counties, including my county of Mayo. From the very beginning of the lifetime of this Seanad, it is an issue we have fought hard to put right. We had major concerns around the harvesting of seaweed, with particular concerns rooted in the sell-off of Arramara Teoranta to Acadian Seaplants Limited and what it might lead to with respect to the privatising of our natural resource of seaweed. We spoke on many occasions about the increasing value of seaweed with respect to job and enterprise creation. The Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, Deputy English, has indicated his intention to establish a body to develop and implement a strategy to underpin the development of the wild seaweed sector and the licensing system.  We do not want the delays and confusion that accompanied the other agricultural schemes and grants in recent years to happen in the case of seaweed. Just like Senator Grace O'Sullivan, my party has repeatedly called for a debate in the House on seaweed, particularly on the latest development and the mechanisms that will give effect to this decision.

  The seaweed industry in Ireland has huge potential but it has suffered from a lack of strategic Government investment for decades. It is vital for rural Ireland but it must be maintained in an equitable and fair manner, and take into account the concerns of local people. Seaweed is a really valuable resource that must be exploited. Unlike what we have done to date, in terms of oil and gas, we must exploit our seaweed resources for the benefit of the people who live along the coastline and create jobs and enterprises. It is timely for us to invite the Minister to the House for a full debate on how to bring the seaweed industry forward to create jobs and enterprises in an environment friendly manner while keeping the resources within the State rather than sell them to multinational companies.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Go raibh maith agat féin agus anois, an Seanadóir Colette Kelleher.

Senator Colette Kelleher: Information on Colette Kelleher Zoom on Colette Kelleher I thank the Cathaoirleach for helping me out on a matter that I shall not divulge to the House today.

Senator Máire Devine: Information on Máire Devine Zoom on Máire Devine Come on.

Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell: Information on Marie-Louise O'Donnell Zoom on Marie-Louise O'Donnell Why mention it?

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell The Senator cannot say that.

Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell: Information on Marie-Louise O'Donnell Zoom on Marie-Louise O'Donnell Why mention it?

Senator Colette Kelleher: Information on Colette Kelleher Zoom on Colette Kelleher Some men will go to any lengths to stay at home to watch the World Cup. That was why my husband smashed his elbow on the road in Crosshaven recently and I am getting some leave, courtesy of the Cathaoirleach, for which I thank him. I assure Senators that my husband is on the mend.

  I propose an amendment to the Order of Business to the effect that No. 14 on the Order Paper be taken before No. 1. Today, at the launch of the Travellers' Oireachtas group I said that I would seek leave to introduce the Traveller Culture and Education Bill later in the day. My legislation proposes to incorporate Traveller culture and history into the mainstream school curricula, an important first legislative inclusion since the recognition of Traveller ethnic minority status by the then Taoiseach, Deputy Enda Kenny.

  The Bill provides for the inclusion of Traveller culture and history in the school curriculum that is taught by recognised schools in the State, and for that purpose to amend the Education Act 1998 and provide for related matters. This Bill will go some way to make schools a more conducive environment for young Travellers. Today, at the launch we heard that only 9% of young people aged between 24 and 35 years with a Traveller background had completed the leaving certificate examination compared with 86% of the mainstream population. Therefore, making Traveller culture and education part of schooling would go some way to make schools a more welcoming environment. The legislation would also provide important checks and balances to counter the prejudice and hate speech that Travellers often experience on a daily basis. I seek permission from the Leader to introduce my legislation. I thank Senators Ruane, Higgins, Mac Lochlainn and Devine for their support and for attending the launch. I also thank colleagues from the other House who attended as well.

Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik Zoom on Ivana Bacik I propose an amendment to the Order of Business that we would not take Committee Stage of the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2017 today. On behalf of the Labour Party group, I seek to put forward again the position that Senator Humphreys and myself put forward last Thursday that Committee Stage of the Bill should not be taken until we have sight of the as yet unpublished report that touches on the Bill from the Council of Europe's Group of States against Corruption, GRECO, because we need time to see what GRECO has said and to hear the response of this Government. I endorse the very strong words uttered by Senator Boyhan. He criticised the way this Bill has been approached in the Seanad.

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

Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik Zoom on Ivana Bacik The approach has made a mockery of the legislative process. We are being asked to legislate in the dark without sight of a report, significant excerpts of which have already been leaked into the public domain. I want to refer colleagues who may as yet be undecided as to what way they will vote on our amendment to four points that were raised in the GRECO report.

  First, GRECO expressed the point that while the Government says there have been in-depth consultations with the Judiciary, conversely the Judiciary says that there have not been such consultations. Second, GRECO has said it has significant concerns about the composition of the judicial appointments commission, as proposed in the Bill. Third, GRECO claims that the Government's proposal is not in line with European standards. Fourth, GRECO has urged the Government to reconsider this matter in order to limit the potential risks of improper influence from the Executive or political power over the appointments process to the Judiciary, or any perception thereof, and to do so in close co-operation with the judicial authorities.

  Instead of this considered approach to much-needed reform of judicial appointments, legislation is being rammed through subject to Whips and late night sittings. This is not good legislation. It is not in keeping with what the Government describes as the best part of new politics. It has been proposed to debate the Bill until 11 p.m. tonight and, again, indefinitely into tomorrow night but this is simply unacceptable. As many as 111 amendments have been tabled, including a significant number from the Government. My party has tabled its own amendments without prejudice to the amendment that we seek to have passed by the House today. I repeat that this is not sound legislation. The first thing that we need to do is see the GRECO report and hear what the Government proposes to do-----

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell Hear, hear.

Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik Zoom on Ivana Bacik -----to respond to these very serious criticisms-----

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

Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik Zoom on Ivana Bacik -----by the Council of Europe's Group of States against Corruption, GRECO.

  Finally, I agree with Senator Boyhan that the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport would be the first person to jump up and down in disgust if a Government, of which he was not part, tried to bring about much-needed reform in this extremely misguided and ill-conceived way. I urge colleagues to support my amendment to the Order of Business that calls on us not to take Committee Stage of the Bill today.

Senator Ray Butler: Information on Ray Butler Zoom on Ray Butler I wish to raise the issue of convicted sex offenders travelling from Britain to start new lives in Ireland. In my area, two sex offenders were caught in Trim and Athboy, County Meath. Last week, a man was discovered to be waiting for two 14-year old girls that he had groomed online to arrive by bus from Dublin. Thankfully, it was a sting operation and he was caught.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris Was he English?

Senator Ray Butler: Information on Ray Butler Zoom on Ray Butler The man was caught by a group of citizens.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris Was he English?

Senator Ray Butler: Information on Ray Butler Zoom on Ray Butler Yes.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Senator Butler please, without interruptions.

Senator Ray Butler: Information on Ray Butler Zoom on Ray Butler One can listen online to a recording of what he had posted online. His postings were sick beyond belief. Why does the State not prevent such convicted monsters from entering this country and starting new lives here? They should be deported back to where they came from. We need to introduce an Australian style policy to deal with convicted sex offenders. I have seen the devastation inflicted by these people. I know of a family that has been destroyed and so much so that they had to leave the area.

  I ask the Leader to invite the Minister here for a debate on the matter. We urgently need stronger legislation in this area.

Senator Gerry Horkan: Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan I support Senator Boyhan's remarks on GRECO and, equally, Senator Ardagh's comments, particularly on BusConnect. I firmly believe that it is important that people consider the matter.

  I wish to raise an issue that has been talked about a lot recently. I have in my hand a copy of the confidence and supply agreement. I do not think anybody, including journalists and members of the Cabinet, have bothered to read the agreement in the past two years because I am constantly being told that my party will pull the plug whenever it suits.

  The agreement consists of seven pages. Two pages are dedicated to the confidence and supply agreement. Appendix 1 consists of three pages and deals with the following issues: a policy framework for a confidence and supply agreement; Ireland’s economy; industrial relations and public sector pay; securing affordable homes and tackling homelessness; creating decent jobs and supporting enterprise; cutting costs for families and improving public services; and tackling crime and developing community services. Appendix 2 is entitled the Fine Gael-Fianna Fáil Agreement on Water Services, which has been dealt with. Please note that on page 2 of the agreement it states: "It is agreed that both parties to this agreement will review this Framework Agreement at the end of 2018.” It does not state the middle of 2018, the summer of 2018 or before the budget but at the end of 2018.  Nobody has asked me to raise this but I am raising it because I am tired of reading in the newspapers and hearing people say that it should be reviewed now. People are ramping it up on both sides. It is in the agreement that was signed by the leaders of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael that both parties would review the framework arrangement at the end of 2018. That is what is in the agreement and that is what Deputies Micheál Martin and Enda Kenny signed up to. It is what our party signed up to-----

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Does the Senator wish to bring the review forward?

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys He does, yes.

Senator Gerry Horkan: Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan I do not; quite the opposite.

Senator Gerald Nash: Information on Gerald Nash Zoom on Gerald Nash I formally second it.

Senator Gerry Horkan: Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan I am just advising people on the record of the House that this is what was agreed by both parties, and my party has stuck to it. We have done our budget so far, as we said we would, and we have facilitated the Fine Gael-led minority Government of 50 Fine Gael Deputies, with eight Independent Members of various groupings supporting it. We have played our part and it is important that be acknowledged. All these calls for early reviews are not in keeping with the letter of the agreement. It should be acknowledged that we are playing our part in delivering the stability that is needed for this country.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan I am sure the Leader will reaffirm the Senator's view. I call Senator McDowell.

Senator Michael McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell I, too, wish to mention the GRECO report, without trespassing on the debate on the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill. This is a Council of Europe report and one version of it has been considered. The Government's proposals have changed somewhat since the first report was published so now we have a second set of circumstances. It is my understanding that the Government has received a second report from the GRECO committee. That report must take account of what has happened to the proposed legislation in the meantime. We are expected to believe that this report will be discussed by the Council of Europe in the near future but that we should not see it at this point even though it is of significant relevance to the proposed business of the House. If the report has been received in its amended state by the Government, as I believe it has been, and if it has been available to the Government for consideration and the Government has sat on it, so to speak, and not yet issued its comments to the Council of Europe so that the publication of the report and its response should be delayed, that is a serious state of affairs.

  We are here to consider the legislation that has been put before us on this serious issue. Under the European Convention and the Council of Europe arrangements, we are a democracy that has agreed to comply with international standards. There is, on the face of it, a report that is deeply critical of what the Government is proposing to do. It might be less critical or more critical since the amendments were made but we do not know. However, we are told by the newspapers that it remains deeply critical of what the Government is proposing to do. The issue is that there is no reason that we should not be acquainted with the terms of this report before we consider what amendments have to be made.

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

Senator Michael McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell It is simply a question of timing. There is no need for us to continue playing blind man's buff on legislation if this report is being kept secret. What is the point of the Government sitting on the report and not releasing it when it would inform and advise us on what we should or should not do with our legislative time? I appeal through the Leader to the members of the Government to stop playing a game of hunt the thimble here, by asking us to guess what is in the GRECO report, and to accord us the common decency and the democratic obligation of letting us know what the view in the Council of Europe is of the Government's proposed legislation before we are asked to cast our own judgment on the amendments to this troubled legislation.

Senator Maria Byrne: Information on Maria Byrne Zoom on Maria Byrne I wish to let people know that the Pride parade is on in Limerick at 2 p.m. on Saturday. We would welcome anybody who wishes to come along to support it. It is meeting at Merchant's Quay in Limerick.

  I wish to raise a concern about University Hospital Limerick and the report that was issued today. The son of a lady who is in the hospital was on the radio this morning. I will not mention any names. More than 800 people were treated on trolleys in the hospital in June. It is hot everywhere now, but the air conditioning broke down in the hospital and there are a number of other issues. There are many sick people and while there has been an effort to repair many of the different problems, there seems to be one thing after another. The Government has put a great deal of money into the hospital. The new emergency department is three times the size of the old one. However, something will have to be done. The Minister for Health will have to focus on University Hospital Limerick and try to resolve the issues there. I ask that he be invited to the House to discuss it.

Senator Máire Devine: Information on Máire Devine Zoom on Máire Devine I welcome the safe location of the school children and their coach in a cave in Thailand. The drama is still unfolding and there are difficulties ahead but we wish them a full and successful recovery.

  I also wish to raise BusConnects. I attended the briefing yesterday and apparently more than 80% of Dubliners believe that change is needed for a better bus service in the capital city. Hopefully, that will go smoothly but the public consultation is to commence on 16 July and cease on 14 September. Along with some of my colleagues yesterday I impressed on the NTA and Dublin Bus that the public consultation should not take place in the summer months when most Dubliners will be away on holiday. Cynics would say that a great deal of public consultation takes place at Christmas time, Easter time or during the summer holidays. It will not achieve the responses we need and will not generate the inclusion and ownership by Dubliners of this public consultation if most of them are unaware of it or are unavailable to do it. I plead with the Leader to ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport to intervene and extend the public consultation period. It is intended to examine the appropriate public transport for Dublin so we need everybody's voice at it.

  The other issue is that Dublin Bus has invested in a fleet that is diesel hybrid. Diesel has a bad rap and it is a pollutant. Even if the hybrid is an improvement the diesel part of the exchange is not. Millions of people and thousands of cities worldwide have successfully adopted 100% electric public transport. Perhaps the Minister could also address why Dublin Bus is not purchasing an electric fleet as opposed to using the diesel pollutant.

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane First, I support the amendment proposed by Senator Kelleher regarding the Traveller Culture and Education Bill. Second, I thank my colleagues who attended the briefing this morning by users of the opioid treatment services. There was a brilliant turnout and it was good to have people there to hear the users' concerns about how their human rights are being violated, in a sense, especially through the supervision of urine tests, which sometimes take place up to three times a week, one issue I had never thought of in all the years that I have been working in the services.  The comment of one young man, who was a former service user, spoke about how women were observed by a member of staff during menstruation. They were given no privacy and were observed at all times giving urine sample. Should the sample during menstruation be deemed as dirty, they would be punished and have their methadone restricted or have their dose decreased. Medication was being used as a form of punishment in addiction services.

  We need to move away from this model. I thank the Oireachtas Members who came to the presentation in the AV room. I have plenty of reports for those who want one, or I can email them a report. Some very solid recommendations were made and we should all be getting behind the recommendation in this report.

Senator Maura Hopkins: Information on Maura Hopkins Zoom on Maura Hopkins I wish to raise an issue on mental health services in County Roscommon. I attended a meeting last Friday afternoon on two facilities in County Roscommon, the Rosalie unit in Castlerea and the Ballaghaderreen mental health day centre. I am extremely frustrated at the way in which the HSE is treating public representatives and the public in respect of this issue. We already have had an external report into mental health services in County Roscommon because of the significant management difficulties which have taken place during several years.

  I strongly emphasise the importance of ensuring that we provide for the 12 residents who are currently living in the Rosalie unit and their future needs in terms of specialist residential care. I say that, having worked in the health service for eight years. I am deeply frustrated, like the residents and the family members that the HSE is not listening to our concerns and the need for this unit to remain open. The HSE has completely failed to look at options to ensure that whatever improvements are necessary are made. The only word we are hearing is the word "closure".

  I have concerns about the Ballaghaderreen mental health day centre. I am deeply concerned again with regard to the way the HSE informed the public as to what replacement services will be. Again, the only word we hear is the word "closure". The HSE has said that replacement services will be based on individual need. Of course services need to be based on individual need, but we need to know what types of services they will look like. That is not a practical answer to the people with mental health difficulties who need to use these services and future people who may need to use these services.

  I have raised this issue on the Commencement on a number of occasions and I know the Cathaoirleach will direct me to do that, but I am very frustrated at present that we are not getting answers to ensure that the people in County Roscommon are properly supported in terms of mental health services. I have raised this at length with the Minister for Health, Deputy Harris, and most recently on Monday afternoon. I have raised it also with the Minister of State, Deputy Jim Daly, and I want answers. I want answers that indicate there will be improvements to our services. We deserve our fair share in our region.

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys I second Senator Ivana Bacik's amendment to the Order of Business. We mentioned the word "GRECO" and that goes over the public's heads. What is GRECO? I think it is worthwhile to state that GRECO is the Council of Europe's Group of States against Corruption. We know that everybody in this House today knows that GRECO has issued a yellow card to Ireland. The State is not formally replying to it because it does not want it published. I can honestly say that the majority of this House at this stage has seen some sign or some part of that report. I appeal to my colleagues in the Fine Gael Party, with whom I sat in government and we said that we would not let that happen again. Our courts are the foundation of democracy. We said that future decisions will be facts based. What are we pushing through the House today? A vanity of the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Shane Ross. There is no common sense and no proper procedures. We received the amendments late. It is not good enough to keep the Minister, Deputy Ross, on. He is not coming in to defend his Bill because the Minister for Justice and Equality does not believe in it, yet it will be rammed through the Seanad in the next couple of days. Then we will get the yellow card from Europe to say that we had proceeded incorrectly. There are flaws in the Bill.

  I am not saying the whole Bill is wrong. There are some good elements but what will be rammed through the Seanad in the next couple of days is wrong. It is undemocratic. It is being done to keep one Minister on board. The Government is undermining democracy, making deals with the devil. Be very careful.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer Bravo. Take an Oscar.

Senator Jennifer Murnane O'Connor: Information on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor Zoom on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor I have just come in from another gorgeous day outside. We have seen beautiful sunshine and blue skies for some time now. People have been loving and hating it for a variety of reasons. The real issue that brings the good weather to my attention is anti-social behaviour.

  I hosted a town hall meeting in Carlow last week and anti-social behaviour encouraged by the good weather was raised by a number of those present. We have beautiful villages and towns around Ireland, some near beaches and others near rivers and streams. Everyone is entitled to go down to these public amenities and enjoy them. However, this week it has been brought to my attention that people were drinking and littering the vicinity with empty cans, household rubbish and leftover food. It is a minority of people, it is unfair to others who are using the amenities.

  While we have by-laws in each county governing this type of activity and there is anti-social behaviour legislation, the public does not feel empowered and often they do not know if what they are witnessing is illegal activity or not. It is quite simply unfair that we do not give the power of knowledge to our citizens and tell them exactly how to deal with this behaviour. They need information on who they should call. We all know that if one has an emergency, one rings 999, but when one comes across this type of behaviour who does one contact? We need greater public awareness about citizens' rights in these situations. We could do with a debate about our laws and how we can enforce them and make the public aware of them. Only this week, we have heard of a hosepipe ban and people were told they could be fined if they use a hosepipe to water the garden. The question must be asked about who will enforce it, who will fine them and sort this out. We have no enforcement of the law. Who will enforce these provisions? We need to bring the Minister to the Chamber to discuss the by-law and see what we can do to help people become more aware of the by-laws.

  I am calling for a debate on this issue.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris Water charges would solve that.

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell I speak in support of Senators Bacik, Humphreys, Boyhan and McDowell. We are discussing a Bill coming before this House that is supposed to lead to the open and transparent appointment of judges, yet there is a report that is closed and is not available to any of us before we debate this Bill. I understand the report is critical of the Bill. It strikes me as rather strange that Senators would be asked to buy a pig in a poke. This is one of those rare occasions when the Members of this House get to show their teeth and show they have backbone and they are not afraid to suspend. We are only asking for a suspension for 24 hours so the Government has an opportunity to bring forward the Bill.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer Does Senator Bacik want to brief Senator Craughwell?

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell One can only amend the Order of Business today. One has 24 hours to bring forward this GRECO report. Let us all sit down and have a read of the report and see why it is so God damning of the Bill that the Government is trying to ram through this House against the wishes not just of the Members of the House but so many people in the public domain who have been saying that this Bill is a dog's dinner not a plate of oysters.  Let us take our time-----

(Interruptions).

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer Has anyone heard of the likes of today?

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell -----and let us read this report. The Government is sitting on the report and will not release it because it knows that if it did nobody could support the Bill. The Leader knows that. He should release the report and prove me wrong.

Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell: Information on Marie-Louise O'Donnell Zoom on Marie-Louise O'Donnell I want to make two points. I have been making the first one here most afternoons. It is about the fact that we now have a new poor in Ireland. If one earns anything between €30,000 and €60,000 in Ireland and if one happens to be in the area of trades, teaching, health, retail or services, one cannot afford to live in one's own country if one is young. One cannot afford to buy a house or even to save for a home. One cannot afford even to have the expectation that one might one day own an apartment, because one will not be able to save. One is so busy renting that one will not be able to save the €20,000, €30,000, €40,000 or €50,000 the appalling pillar banks are demanding of people.

  I keep asking the Leader to tell me what is happening about An Post and the New Zealand style community banking model which An Post is trying to implement. The Minister has not yet come back to me to tell me what is happening about the report. This is another report we cannot see. In Germany one can get a mortgage for ten years at 1.1% in one of its community banks. We are not allowed do that here. Some 95% of our banks are commercial. Only 12% of banks in Germany are commercial. We are not allowed. We seem to be waiting for the next report or the report after or the next committee meeting. This matter recently came before the Joint Committee on Climate Action, Communications and Environment. Will the Leader bring the Minister to the House? This is very political. If one wants young people to stay in our country - and we are roaring about them staying in the country - or to bring them back to the country but they cannot afford to live here or to rent here and they cannot have an expectation of getting a house or apartment in their own country, it is not going to happen. They do not even get tax relief on the rents they pay out.

  I am a great believer that something should come from a freshwater place. We are supposed to be freshwater people in here with clean ideas which come in under the door like a fresh breeze. This Bill has not come from a freshwater place. It has come from a conditional place - if someone gives me something, I will give something back. Sinn Féin came in on the back of it. Its representatives are sitting there very quietly today. I know they will vote with the Government. They are sitting there very quietly because they also got the sentencing-----

(Interruptions).

Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell: Information on Marie-Louise O'Donnell Zoom on Marie-Louise O'Donnell They also had a condition attached to their support. They said they would vote with the Government if the sentencing guidelines were included in the Judicial Council Bill 2017.

Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile: Information on Niall Ó Donnghaile Zoom on Niall Ó Donnghaile Has the Senator suddenly developed a conscience?

Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell: Information on Marie-Louise O'Donnell Zoom on Marie-Louise O'Donnell What is happening to the Bill now is that it is collapsing. Senator Michael McDowell and the Independent group are entirely correct, as is the Labour Party, in respect of the GRECO report. We will see the report and if it is clean and freshwater, which it is, we will vote accordingly on the Bill itself, in which there are many good things with which I entirely agree. Generally, however, it is falling apart at the seams.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Unfortunately clear fresh water is getting scarce.

Senator Máire Devine: Information on Máire Devine Zoom on Máire Devine I like it.

Senator Frank Feighan: Information on Frank Feighan Zoom on Frank Feighan I welcome-----

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan I am a salt water man.

Senator Frank Feighan: Information on Frank Feighan Zoom on Frank Feighan I welcome the very recent decision, published only a few minutes ago, of the Unite trade union in the United Kingdom. It has agreed to be open to the possibility of a popular vote being held on any deal, depending on political circumstances. It is a bit vague but it is welcome. A few weeks ago we saw the polls change. Now 53% of the people of the United Kingdom want to remain. There was momentum which I believe should be supported. We should do everything possible to ensure the United Kingdom does not agree to Brexit. It is in the interests of this island, the two islands and the Good Friday Agreement. I welcome this decision announced only a few minutes ago. I also agree with my colleague, Senator Devine, on the really uplifting news from Thailand that the 12 boys and their football coach have been found safe and well. I know the situation will continue over the next few weeks and months, but this Chamber really should welcome that news. I was watching coverage last night and it certainly gave great hope in a very difficult time.

Senator Fintan Warfield: Information on Fintan Warfield Zoom on Fintan Warfield I want to raise the issue of hate crime legislation and the need for it. In the week before Pride there was a horrific homophobic attack on a couple in Portlaoise. On Pride weekend there was brick thrown through the window of the PantiBar. A Brazilian actor, Rodrigo Ternevoy, spoke to GCN about the verbal homophobia directed towards him while shooting a video outside the George. The BBC reported yesterday that two thirds of LGBT people fear holding hands in public. I hold hands with my boyfriend in public but we only do so if we have a sense of place. We also regularly cross the road or the lock on the canal if we fear for our safety. It is likely that the women in these Houses will understand that to a greater degree than others.

  Fianna Fáil has a Bill on hate crime which seems to be lost somewhere in these Houses. Without being mean-spirited, the Bill is somewhat of a mess. From what I can gather, we need the political will of the Government to use the structures of the State to bring forward a workable Bill. I would happily bring forward the Irish Council for Civil Liberties Bill from 2015. Sinn Féin has done so before. We are one of few EU states not to have legislation on hate crime that addresses racism, ableism, sectarianism, bigotry and homophobia in society. I ask the Leader to do all he can to progress this issue.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I support my colleagues, Senators Boyhan, McDowell, Bacik, Humphreys and Craughwell, who have spoken of the critical importance of us having sight of the GRECO report before we discuss the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2017. It is madness to have a discussion without full information. It is completely undemocratic. I find it very disappointing to hear that some groups and individuals have made deals with the Government on other legislative matters in return for their votes to continue madly with this Bill this afternoon. I am not sure if that is true but I actually believe it. This pork-barrelling and horse trading does nothing for the moral authority or intellectual consistency of this House and I personally really deplore it. We should discuss this Bill on its merits and on its defects. We should know what our colleagues in Europe think of it. If a senior committee of the Council of Europe thinks that this Bill is utterly wrong and mistaken in various aspects, then we as Seanad Éireann should pay heed to that. I will certainly be voting to postpone the Bill until we have full information.

Senator Colm Burke: Information on Colm Burke Zoom on Colm Burke I wish to raise the issue of psychiatric services for those under 18 years of age on the north side of Cork city. I came across a number of cases in the last few weeks in which people under 18 who require access to a psychiatric consultant have had huge difficulty because that position has been vacant for a number of months. A locum was put in place but the locum has also resigned. As a result, young people are not able to get access to psychiatric services. It is extremely worrying. It is worrying for parents and the young people themselves.

  What is wrong is that there seems to be an entrenched position that if people come from a particular area then a consultant from another area is not entitled or prepared to see them. I am not clear how the boundaries were established. I always thought medicine was about providing assistance and help when people required it and that there were no barriers or a Berlin Wall put around the place so that no one could deal with a patient from a particular area if there was no consultant appointed for that area. I ask the Leader to invite the Minister in to deal with this issue.  I have raised it with the Minister's office already. I have also raised it directly with the HSE, including the chief executive officer of the South/South West hospital group. I have discussed it with the people in charge, but it does not seem that progress is being made. I am not blaming any one person for this. It is not good enough that someone who went into an accident and emergency department in April of this year has not yet had a consultation with a consultant psychiatrist. It is wrong that the person in question cannot get on the CAMHS scheme until a full report is prepared by a consultant. I ask for this matter to be given priority so that this person can get the required treatment and some reassurance can be given to the parents.

Senator Robbie Gallagher: Information on Robbie Gallagher Zoom on Robbie Gallagher According to figures that were released recently, over 500,000 people are waiting for outpatient appointments and 80,000 people are waiting for inpatient day procedures. These figures are at an all-time high. The National Association of General Practitioners is encouraging its members to refer patients who have been waiting for a long time to the cross-border health directive. As Senators will be aware, this procedure enables patients to avail of the treatments they require across the Border or indeed abroad. We have an issue with the cross-border health directive because we believe the capacity exists within this State to cater for those who are availing of the directive at present.

  Some €9.247 million has been spent since the directive was introduced in October 2014. The Private Hospital Association has said that its hospitals have the capacity and the personnel to do all the procedures covered under the cross-border health directive. These procedures could be done in the state-of-the-art theatres in many small hospitals throughout the State, including a hospital in Monaghan.

  Given that it would surely make more sense to spend the money I have mentioned - almost €10 million - in this jurisdiction rather than sending it abroad, I ask the Leader to invite the Minister for Health to come to this House to discuss the cross-border health directive and explore how this money might be spent in this State. I know it would be much better spent here. The cross-border health directive is the only show in town for those who are using it because the alternative is to spend years languishing on waiting lists. Those who avail of the directive have to contend with various issues thereafter. If they need follow-on appointments, for example, they could be out of pocket. We need to have a discussion on this matter. I would like the Minister for Health to come to the House for such a debate.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Rónán Mullen Zoom on Rónán Mullen I will be supporting the Labour Party amendment in respect of the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2017. As I said to Senator Humphreys just now, just because it is a Labour Party motion does not mean it is a bad motion. In fact, it is a very important motion.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer Now who is doing a deal with the devil?

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Rónán Mullen Zoom on Rónán Mullen The problems with the process being used to advance this Bill have been well rehearsed by my colleagues in this House. There are also problems with the content of the Bill. Given that we rely on retired judges and lawyers in many spheres - they are involved in chairing referendum commissions and various other activities - I find it very troubling that they are disqualified from being considered for participation in the proposed judicial appointments commission as lay persons. That is just one of the many flaws I can see in the Bill.

  Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell spoke about "freshwater" and I would like to raise some particular issues regarding the current water shortages. I think the communication of the high-profile hosepipe ban in the greater Dublin area to consumers has been very poor. I believe many people are confused. Some confusing and sometimes contradictory statements have been attributed to representatives of Irish Water, including a suggestion in The Irish Times that people should be reluctant to flush their toilets during the current water shortages. I think we should pooh-pooh that suggestion for sure. It says a lot about the so-called progress in improving our water infrastructure that a couple of weeks of fine weather is all it takes to see widespread concern about the availability of water. I say that as somebody who was in favour of water charges and who deplored the hysteria and tribalism that left us in our current circumstances, where there is no incentive to the public to conserve water. The current water shortages are not confined to Dublin, but are also being experienced in the west and the midlands, etc. This raises questions about the proposal to take 330 million litres of water from the Parteen Basin to Dublin each day. Given that water shortages are affecting the country across the board, surely there are questions to be asked about this plan. The proposed pipeline seems to be Irish Water's preferred quick-fix option for solving these problems, rather than the more fundamental work that is needed to repair our water infrastructure. I would appreciate a debate on these matters in early course.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan I call Senator Ó Ríordáin.

Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell: Information on Marie-Louise O'Donnell Zoom on Marie-Louise O'Donnell On a point of order-----

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan No, please. I cannot allow people in. I gave everyone a fair chance. In fairness, I left Senator O'Donnell in at a certain slot.

Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile: Information on Niall Ó Donnghaile Zoom on Niall Ó Donnghaile I think it might have been my slot too.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan I was allowing her to jump the queue to a certain extent, but she took three minutes rather than two minutes. I am trying to be fair to everyone. If there is an issue, it can be raised later.

Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin: Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin I ask the Leader to put on the record of the House the exact nature of the relationship between this Government and Deputy Michael Lowry, who has a criminal conviction for tax irregularities.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris He is a conscientious taxpayer, according to the judge.

Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin: Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin I found the Taoiseach's comments about this relationship at the weekend quite disturbing. I ask the Leader to inform the House exactly what support arrangements the Government has with Deputy Lowry, and indeed to publish those details. We would all be interested to know the exact nature of that relationship.

  I noticed that the confidence and supply agreement was flittered around the place on the Fianna Fáil benches a few moments ago. I would like to inform Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil that I have done a short word count on the important issues covered in that document. It contains ten words on child poverty and 143 words on housing, but 603 words on water. It is obvious that when this agreement was being scratched together, water was 60 times more important than child poverty and four times more important than homelessness and housing.

Senator Gerry Horkan: Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan I am glad the Senator is paying attention.

Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin: Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Surely that agreement, which considers water to be more important than anything else, especially housing and child poverty, contains all the answers to the water shortages and water problems we are having in this country at present.

Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee: Information on Lorraine Clifford-Lee Zoom on Lorraine Clifford-Lee I support Senator Bacik's amendment, on which various Senators, including Senators Boyhan, Norris and Humphreys, have spoken. It is important for us to get sight of this report before the Bill moves on. We are not preventing the Bill from moving on. As we consider the Bill, we need every bit of knowledge that is available to us to make sure it does not come back on us. When this report eventually sees the light of day in a couple of months, it will fall on all of our shoulders. I remind the House that the Attorney General called the Bill a "dog's dinner". It is being advanced for cynical reasons. To be honest, I think it is time for the Government to call a halt to this rubbish. The amendment that has been proposed would postpone it for a day and allow the Government to do the right thing. I appeal to all my colleagues in the House to support Senator Bacik's amendment to the Order of Business.

Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill: Information on Brian Ó Domhnaill Zoom on Brian Ó Domhnaill I want to touch on an issue that is linked to Brexit. It is an example of an opportunity that exists despite Brexit. Many multinational companies are seeking English-speaking European bases after Brexit. Many companies in Canada, which possibly has the fastest growing multinational sector in the world, are seeking English-speaking European bases post-Brexit.  They are looking to Ireland. IDA Ireland has set up a new office in Toronto, and I welcome that.

  Among the difficulties those companies experience are the challenges of doing business in Ireland, especially the challenges around housing, transportation and infrastructure. I do not know whether we could organise a debate in the House before the summer recess on foreign direct investment in Ireland and seeking some kind of joined-up partnership approach across government whereby there would be a one-stop-shop process available for the multinational companies. What appears to be happening at the moment is that the system is multi-departmental but without the structure. I know that IDA Ireland does much of the co-ordination. There is a need to look at these challenges and to try to exploit the opportunities that arise.

  The planning issue is being acknowledged by some multinationals, including a French multinational that is looking at basing itself in Dublin. However, the planning process is so drawn-out in Ireland that other European capitals are more attractive. There are many challenges in this area. If we are looking for the high-technology jobs, we need to meet the housing, transportation and planning challenges. I would like to see a Minister before the House to discuss these issues in the coming weeks, if possible.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer I thank the 25 Members for their contributions on the Order of Business.

  I will begin with Senator Ardagh and the important point she raised regarding apprenticeships. I wish to remind Senator Ardagh that Government has again announced a further €8 million investment in apprenticeships creating an increase of 2,300 places. Government aims to double the number of apprenticeships by 9,000 by 2020. We will see 13 different trades benefit from the apprenticeship recruitment. I remind Senator Ardagh that under her Government's watch and during the recession-----

Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee: Information on Lorraine Clifford-Lee Zoom on Lorraine Clifford-Lee That was ten years ago but we still hear about it every day. Move on.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan We have a long day and we are running out of time.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer I remind Senator Clifford-Lee that we are still putting the pieces together from the country that her party wrecked. Apprenticeships fell by-----

Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee: Information on Lorraine Clifford-Lee Zoom on Lorraine Clifford-Lee Brian Lenihan left Fine Gael a very good plan.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer Does Senator Clifford-Lee want to do the Order of Business?

Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee: Information on Lorraine Clifford-Lee Zoom on Lorraine Clifford-Lee I would love to be roped in by Fine Gael.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris We do not need a party political broadcast.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer I had to listen to all Members giving their particular broadcasts for an hour, so I am going to reply with my particular broadcast.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Allow the Leader to respond.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer Apprenticeships fell by 80% but Government is committed to increasing the trend in this area of training and education. Of course we should remember the role Fianna Fáil played in regard to FÁS as well. Then again, Senator Clifford-Lee might get into hysterics again.

  Government is about strong pathways for education and training. Government is cognisant of the scar that the training and education sectors felt during the recession. That is why we have seen an increase of 25% in the number of people choosing apprenticeships, and that is welcome.

  I have said it in the House before and I will say it again: we should not simply always be about third level education. While postgraduates and graduates in third level are important, we should ensure that we have a strong group of people who are involved in further education and training as well. As I said before, I commend Senator Wilson on the role he plays in that regard. Let us be assured that Government is committed to a quality apprenticeship scheme.

  Senator Ardagh also made reference to the issue around the construction sector. Today the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, and the Minister of State, Deputy English, are hosting the third housing summit with chief executives of local authorities in Ireland. Government is committed to expanding and increasing all forms of social housing delivery and all delivery of housing. That is why we have seen strong growth in employment in the construction sector. I call on Senator Ardagh to cast her mind back to the national economic dialogue forum last week. We saw figures coming from independent sources indicating strong growth in the construction sector. The indicators are that the housing sector is beginning to grow again and we welcome that.

  Senators Boyhan, McDowell, Craughwell, Bacik, Humphreys, Norris, Marie-Louise O'Donnell, Clifford-Lee and Mullen raised the issue of the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill. Subject to the vote, the debate will take place later on. I am confident, as is the Government, that there has been well-informed debate on the matter. I am not accepting the proposed amendment to the Order of Business. I am not going to get into a political war of words with Members this afternoon other than to say that I will not accept the proposed amendment to the Order of Business. Government does not support the amendment. We are confident that what Government is proposing is the correct course of action notwithstanding the differing viewpoints around the Bill and the views expressed on the GRECO report. We have had a well-documented debate on the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill for over 12 months. We had a good Second Stage debate. We have discussed it on the Order of Business on numerous occasions.

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys We did not even know what the amendments were.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer I am not going to get into a war of words with Senator Humphreys.

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys It is a fact. We did not know what the amendments were.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer The clear water that Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell is relishing and seeking will be fully transparent in the debate on Committee Stage.

Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell: Information on Marie-Louise O'Donnell Zoom on Marie-Louise O'Donnell I am not relishing it today.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer Like Senator Conway-Walsh, I congratulate all involved in harvesting of seaweed. I will commit to giving the debate in due course.

  I will accept Senator Kelleher's important Bill and I commend her on her work on the issue. In particular, I commend her on her contribution this morning on "Morning Ireland". It was a particularly clear and cogent point. I will accept the amendment.

  Senator Butler raised the important issue of sex offenders. The Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Flanagan, has published draft legislative proposals on the issue of supervision of convicted sex offenders. I have listened to the comments of Senator Butler. I am not familiar with the case he has mentioned. A proposal is being put forward by the Minister, Deputy Flanagan, around the Sex Offenders (Amendment) Bill, which will have a variety of issues tackled in terms of notification and requirements of communication. We will have that debate in due course.

  Senator Horkan raised the issue of the confidence and supply, as did Senator Ó Ríordáin. The most important thing that can happen now is that Government, in association with all of us, gets on with governing the country. To be fair to Senator Horkan, he has always demonstrated a willingness to work in this House, unlike his party leader. I think the sun must have gotten to him last weekend. A period of calmness until the summer recess would be best and a most prudent course of action. Then we can have the debate around confidence and supply. As others have said, we have important work to do in terms of getting the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill passed in the House and getting a third budget passed. There is a mechanism whereby Deputy Micheál Martin can pick up the telephone and speak to the Taoiseach. To be fair to leaders in this House, we have a two-way process whereby we can talk to one another, and we can do that.

Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee: Information on Lorraine Clifford-Lee Zoom on Lorraine Clifford-Lee We will have to wait until the Taoiseach comes back from the U2 concert in New York.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer There must be a good deal of heatstroke on the far side of the House this afternoon. The Senators are much exercised this afternoon. They must really want an election.

Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee: Information on Lorraine Clifford-Lee Zoom on Lorraine Clifford-Lee We are ready.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer I am sure Senator Clifford-Lee is ready.

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys It is in our hands.

Senator Jennifer Murnane O'Connor: Information on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor Zoom on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor This is a Fine Gael gimmick now.

(Interruptions).

Senator Gerry Horkan: Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan Calm down, everyone.

(Interruptions).

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan I am absolutely independent in the Chair and I try to display that.

Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile: Information on Niall Ó Donnghaile Zoom on Niall Ó Donnghaile You do it well, a Chathaoirligh.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer I wish to join with Senator Byrne in congratulating the organisers of Limerick Pride next weekend. I wish them well. I share with her the concerns she has raised regarding the condition of University Hospital Limerick notwithstanding the investment by Government. Senator Byrne is right to raise the issue around the air conditioning, in particular. It should not be broken in a hospital. The other point she makes relates to how the number of people who are being treated has grown exponentially.

  Senator Devine raised several issues around BusConnects.  I know that the National Transport Authority, NTA, has committed to engaging with all householders affected by the proposed route. We all welcome investment in public transport, whether it is in buses, bus corridors, cycle lanes or increased footpath accessibility for pedestrians. We all want to see a reduction in carbon emissions. Dublin Bus was mentioned. The Government has committed almost €1 billion to a new network for Dublin Bus which includes new bus fleets. We will have that debate in due course, and there is a public engagement process that should be engaged in. I join with the speaker and Senator Feighan in commending all involved in the safe relocation of the young people in Thailand. It was a great story to hear yesterday, and made for even better imagery on our televisions of them being safe and well. A way must be found to bring them out now, and I hope that will be a success. It is a good news story, and I join with previous speakers on that.

Senator Máire Devine: Information on Máire Devine Zoom on Máire Devine Could we push the public consultation out, away from the holiday period?

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer That is not a matter for me, it is a matter for Dublin Bus, the NTA and the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport. I am sure we can articulate that viewpoint.

Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin: Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin The Minister is busy.

Senator Gerry Horkan: Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan He is engaged with judicial appointments.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer I commend Senator Ruane for her briefing today, and I apologise that I was not able to get to it. I think it is an important piece of work that she is undertaking. I also think that Deputy Catherine Byrne is a very proactive Minister of State at the Department, as was Senator Ó Ríordáin. We need to see the old concepts and precepts change and be challenged, and I commend the Senator for the work she is doing in that regard.

  Senator Hopkins raised the issue of mental health in Roscommon, particularly in reference to the Rosalie unit and St. Joseph's Mental Health Day Centre in Ballaghderreen. I know she has raised the matter with the HSE. I think it is important that those who need specialist residential care should be able to access the appropriate service for them. Equally, it is important that centres should not be closing. They should be resourced and staffed. We had a very significant week last week in mental health with the passing of the Mental Health (Amendment) Bill 2016 sponsored by Senator Joan Freeman and Deputy James Browne. It is important that confidence in the system is built in the case of Roscommon. I know that Senator Hopkins has been questioning the HSE at length in regard to it. As a matter of expediency, she might get that more quickly through a Commencement matter.

  Senator Murnane O'Connor raised the issue of anti-social behaviour. I am not sure that it is caused by the heat. I think it is partly due to some young people being off school and being available all day. The important point that was made is that there are tools available to An Garda Síochána in regard to the matter. I think it is important that people accept personal responsibility and that families accept that they have a duty of care to their own loved ones and to the wider community. The issue the Senator raises is one we need to have a further debate on, because it is not peculiar to Carlow. There are also people affected in many parts of the country and I would be happy to have that debate.

  Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell raised the issue of An Post. The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Deputy Denis Naughten, has appeared in the House, and the Senator had a number of amendments to the Order of Business last week. We are awaiting the publication of the report she mentioned, but I think the point she makes in regard to An Post is a very important one. I concur with her. I have stated publicly here that An Post is very important and central to rural Ireland and small rural villages, but also to urban life. If we do not use our post offices, we cannot expect them to continue. We need to have competition within the banking system, but we do require pillar banks as well. I would be happy to have that debate again in the coming weeks.

  Senator Feighan raised the issue of Unite and its vote on Brexit. I welcome that decision. I think as the issue of Brexit looms, it is becoming quite clear that the British Government does not have any plan B. It does not have a vision of where it wants to go. I think it is important, and I want to wish the Tánaiste well tonight in London as he travels for talks.

  Senator Warfield raised the issue of hate crime legislation. I join with him in utterly condemning the attacks last weekend in Dublin and Portlaoise. It is unacceptable that we have seen an increase in any type of hate crime or backlash against diversity. We have a number of measures in place by which people can be sanctioned. However, I accept that we do need to increase our hate crime legislation. It needs to be strengthened. Any increase in hate crime incidents is a worry and must be condemned. I accept fully that the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Flanagan, and his predecessor, Deputy Frances Fitzgerald, had plans to update and strengthen hate crime legislation. There is the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989, and criminal laws concerning assault and criminal damage, but I think the point the Senator makes is that we need to see hate crime legislated for. I hope that we will have that during the lifetime of this Oireachtas.

  I congratulate all involved in Dublin Pride at the weekend. I welcome the increase in the number of participants. Unfortunately I could not be there, but again I welcome the numbers participating.

  Senator Burke raised the issue of psychiatric services in the north side of Cork city. I do not have the information that he requires to hand, but I think that he might get a faster reply through a Commencement matter.

  Senator Gallagher raised the issue of waiting times. The Government has increased funding to the National Treatment Purchase Fund, NTPF. He raised the issue of the cross-Border healthcare directive. That is an important piece of work that we can see is of benefit to all of us. There is a benefit in having a North-South dimension to our health system. I would be happy for the Minister to come before the house.

  Senator Mullen raised the issue of the water shortages. I think it highlights the folly of the approach of some in opposing Irish Water and and investment in fixing a broken system. Water meters may not be the answer but they will find the source of a leak, and that is part of our problem. Communication is important. I am surprised that the Senator commented on Irish Water. I think the company was very proactive both in our national media and on social media, but I will be happy to take the point the Senator makes on board.

  Senator Ó Ríordáin referred to Deputy Michael Lowry. Deputy Lowry is an Independent Member of Dáil Éireann. He is not a member of the Government. He did not vote for the Taoiseach in his election. He has voted against the Government as often as he has voted with it.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Rónán Mullen Zoom on Rónán Mullen He is a spare wheel rather than a wheel under the car.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer The Senator made reference to a number of topics pertaining to child poverty including housing and water. I do not think one can gauge the importance of an issue like child poverty in housing or water by the number of words in a programme for Government. Senator Ó Ríordáin was part of a Government that had many different parts in its programme of Government. It attached different priorities to different things, and the priority was not weighted by wording.

Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin: Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Sorry, I need to clarify. The Leader has not answered my question. I asked him about the relationship between Deputy Michael Lowry and this Government. He has not answered the question.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan That is a Dáil matter. He has answered the question. If there is a voting arrangement, that is a matter for the other House, not for this one.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer Go raibh maith agat, a Chathaoirligh.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan I think he has been very fair.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer Senator Ó Domhnaill raised the very important issue of foreign direct investment, and the need to have joined-up thinking. I would be happy to have the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Heather Humphreys, come before the House. It is an important issue, not only because of Brexit, but also because of the emerging trade wars taking place in many parts of the world, instigated in the main by US President Donald Trump. I think the point the Senator makes is a valid one.

  I will not be accepting the amendment of the Order of Business.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Senator Colette Kelleher has proposed an amendment to the Order of Business: "That No. 14 be taken before No. 1". It has been seconded by Senator Ruane. The Leader has indicated he is prepared to accept the amendment.

  Amendment agreed to.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Senator Ivana Bacik has proposed an amendment to the Order of Business: "That No. 2, Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2017 - Committee Stage, not be taken now." Is the amendment being pressed?

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

  Amendment put.

  The Seanad divided by electronic means.

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

Amendment again put: "That No. 2, Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2017 - Committee Stage, not be taken now."

The Seanad divided: Tá, 23; Níl, 26.

Níl
Information on Catherine Ardagh   Zoom on Catherine Ardagh   Ardagh, Catherine. Information on Colm Burke   Zoom on Colm Burke   Burke, Colm.
Information on Ivana Bacik   Zoom on Ivana Bacik   Bacik, Ivana. Information on Paddy Burke   Zoom on Paddy Burke   Burke, Paddy.
Information on Victor Boyhan   Zoom on Victor Boyhan   Boyhan, Victor. Information on Ray Butler   Zoom on Ray Butler   Butler, Ray.
Information on Lorraine Clifford-Lee   Zoom on Lorraine Clifford-Lee   Clifford-Lee, Lorraine. 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 Maria Byrne   Zoom on Maria Byrne   Byrne, Maria.
Information on Mark Daly   Zoom on Mark Daly   Daly, Mark. Information on Paul Coghlan   Zoom on Paul Coghlan   Coghlan, Paul.
Information on Joan Freeman   Zoom on Joan Freeman   Freeman, Joan. Information on Rose Conway-Walsh   Zoom on Rose Conway-Walsh   Conway-Walsh, Rose.
Information on Robbie Gallagher   Zoom on Robbie Gallagher   Gallagher, Robbie. 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 Máire Devine   Zoom on Máire Devine   Devine, Máire.
Information on Gerry Horkan   Zoom on Gerry Horkan   Horkan, Gerry. Information on Frank Feighan   Zoom on Frank Feighan   Feighan, Frank.
Information on Kevin Humphreys   Zoom on Kevin Humphreys   Humphreys, Kevin. Information on Paul Gavan   Zoom on Paul Gavan   Gavan, Paul.
Information on Colette Kelleher   Zoom on Colette Kelleher   Kelleher, Colette. Information on Maura Hopkins   Zoom on Maura Hopkins   Hopkins, Maura.
Information on Ian Marshall   Zoom on Ian Marshall   Marshall, Ian. Information on Anthony Lawlor   Zoom on Anthony Lawlor   Lawlor, Anthony.
Information on Michael McDowell   Zoom on Michael McDowell   McDowell, Michael. Information on Tim Lombard   Zoom on Tim Lombard   Lombard, Tim.
Information on Rónán Mullen   Zoom on Rónán Mullen   Mullen, Rónán. Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn   Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn   Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
Information on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor   Zoom on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor   Murnane O'Connor, Jennifer. Information on Gabrielle McFadden   Zoom on Gabrielle McFadden   McFadden, Gabrielle.
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 Catherine Noone   Zoom on Catherine Noone   Noone, Catherine.
Information on Marie-Louise O'Donnell   Zoom on Marie-Louise O'Donnell   O'Donnell, Marie-Louise. Information on Kieran O'Donnell   Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell   O'Donnell, Kieran.
Information on Grace O'Sullivan   Zoom on Grace O'Sullivan   O'Sullivan, Grace. Information on John O'Mahony   Zoom on John O'Mahony   O'Mahony, John.
Information on Pádraig Ó Céidigh   Zoom on Pádraig Ó Céidigh   Ó Céidigh, Pádraig. Information on Joe O'Reilly   Zoom on Joe O'Reilly   O'Reilly, Joe.
Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin   Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin   Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán. Information on Brian Ó Domhnaill   Zoom on Brian Ó Domhnaill   Ó Domhnaill, Brian.
Information on Diarmuid Wilson   Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson   Wilson, Diarmuid. Information on Niall Ó Donnghaile   Zoom on Niall Ó Donnghaile   Ó Donnghaile, Niall.
  Information on James Reilly   Zoom on James Reilly   Reilly, James.
  Information on Neale Richmond   Zoom on Neale Richmond   Richmond, Neale.
  Information on Fintan Warfield   Zoom on Fintan Warfield   Warfield, Fintan.


Tellers: Tá, Senators Ivana Bacik and Aodhán Ó Ríordáin; Níl, Senators Gabrielle McFadden and John O'Mahony.

Amendment declared lost.

  Question put: "That the Order of Business, as amended, be agreed to."

  The Seanad divided by electronic means.

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

Question again put: "That the Order of Business, as amended, be agreed to."

The Seanad divided: Tá, 28; Níl, 18.

Níl
Information on Colm Burke   Zoom on Colm Burke   Burke, Colm. Information on Ivana Bacik   Zoom on Ivana Bacik   Bacik, Ivana.
Information on Paddy Burke   Zoom on Paddy Burke   Burke, Paddy. Information on Victor Boyhan   Zoom on Victor Boyhan   Boyhan, Victor.
Information on Ray Butler   Zoom on Ray Butler   Butler, Ray. Information on Lorraine Clifford-Lee   Zoom on Lorraine Clifford-Lee   Clifford-Lee, Lorraine.
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 Maria Byrne   Zoom on Maria Byrne   Byrne, Maria. Information on Mark Daly   Zoom on Mark Daly   Daly, Mark.
Information on Paul Coghlan   Zoom on Paul Coghlan   Coghlan, Paul. Information on Aidan Davitt   Zoom on Aidan Davitt   Davitt, Aidan.
Information on Rose Conway-Walsh   Zoom on Rose Conway-Walsh   Conway-Walsh, Rose. Information on Joan Freeman   Zoom on Joan Freeman   Freeman, Joan.
Information on Martin Conway   Zoom on Martin Conway   Conway, Martin. Information on Robbie Gallagher   Zoom on Robbie Gallagher   Gallagher, Robbie.
Information on Máire Devine   Zoom on Máire Devine   Devine, Máire. Information on Gerry Horkan   Zoom on Gerry Horkan   Horkan, Gerry.
Information on Frank Feighan   Zoom on Frank Feighan   Feighan, Frank. Information on Kevin Humphreys   Zoom on Kevin Humphreys   Humphreys, Kevin.
Information on Paul Gavan   Zoom on Paul Gavan   Gavan, Paul. Information on Ian Marshall   Zoom on Ian Marshall   Marshall, Ian.
Information on Alice-Mary Higgins   Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins   Higgins, Alice-Mary. Information on Michael McDowell   Zoom on Michael McDowell   McDowell, Michael.
Information on Maura Hopkins   Zoom on Maura Hopkins   Hopkins, Maura. Information on Gerald Nash   Zoom on Gerald Nash   Nash, Gerald.
Information on Colette Kelleher   Zoom on Colette Kelleher   Kelleher, Colette. Information on David P.B. Norris   Zoom on David P.B. Norris   Norris, David.
Information on Anthony Lawlor   Zoom on Anthony Lawlor   Lawlor, Anthony. Information on Grace O'Sullivan   Zoom on Grace O'Sullivan   O'Sullivan, Grace.
Information on Tim Lombard   Zoom on Tim Lombard   Lombard, Tim. Information on Pádraig Ó Céidigh   Zoom on Pádraig Ó Céidigh   Ó Céidigh, Pádraig.
Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn   Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn   Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig. Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin   Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin   Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
Information on Gabrielle McFadden   Zoom on Gabrielle McFadden   McFadden, Gabrielle. Information on Diarmuid Wilson   Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson   Wilson, Diarmuid.
Information on Michelle Mulherin   Zoom on Michelle Mulherin   Mulherin, Michelle.  
Information on Catherine Noone   Zoom on Catherine Noone   Noone, Catherine.  
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 Niall Ó Donnghaile   Zoom on Niall Ó Donnghaile   Ó Donnghaile, Niall.  
Information on James Reilly   Zoom on James Reilly   Reilly, James.  
Information on Neale Richmond   Zoom on Neale Richmond   Richmond, Neale.  
Information on Fintan Warfield   Zoom on Fintan Warfield   Warfield, Fintan.  


Tellers: Tá, Senators Gabrielle McFadden and John O'Mahony; Níl, Senators Ivana Bacik and David Norris.

Question declared carried.

Traveller Culture and History in Education Bill 2018: First Stage

Senator Colette Kelleher: Information on Colette Kelleher Zoom on Colette Kelleher I move:

That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to provide for the inclusion of Traveller culture and history in the curriculum taught by recognised schools in the State and for that purpose to amend the Education Act 1998; and to provide for related matters.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Is there a seconder?

Senator Grace O'Sullivan: Information on Grace O'Sullivan Zoom on Grace O'Sullivan I second it.

  Question put and agreed to.

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

Senator Colette Kelleher: Information on Colette Kelleher Zoom on Colette Kelleher Next Tuesday.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Is that agreed? Agreed.

  Second Stage ordered for Tuesday, 10 July 2018.

Employment Equality Act 1998 (Section 12) (Reservation of vocational training places) Order 2018: Referral to Joint Committee

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer I move:

That the proposal that Seanad Éireann approves the following Order in draft:
Employment Equality Act 1998 (Section 12) (Reservation of vocational training places) Order 2018,
a copy of which was laid before Seanad Éireann on 26th June, 2018, be referred to the Joint Committee on Education and Skills, in accordance with Standing Order 71(3)(k), which, not later than 10th July, 2018, shall send a message to the Seanad in the manner prescribed in Standing Order 75, and Standing Order 77(2) shall accordingly apply.

  Question put and declared carried.

Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2017: Committee Stage

SECTION 1

Acting Chairman (Senator Gerry Horkan): Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan Amendment No. 1 has been ruled out of order as it forms a composite proposal with amendment No. 2 in conflict-----

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris Why is amendment No. 1 out of order?

Acting Chairman (Senator Gerry Horkan): Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan Amendments Nos. 1 and 2, in the names of Senators McDowell, Boyhan and Craughwell, form a composite proposal and seek to make the commencement of the Act conditional on the passing of a resolution by the Houses confirming that the Act reflects European standards and secures judicial independence. The effect of the amendments would be to impose conditions for the commencement of the Bill that are external to the provisions of the Bill and would require additional action by the House external to the consideration of the Bill. The required action cannot be guaranteed by the provisions of the Bill and the amendments must therefore be ruled out of order on the grounds that they are in conflict with the principle of the Bill as read a Second Time in accordance with Standing Order 154.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I wonder could we hear Senator Michael McDowell on this. Would he like to give us his opinion?

Acting Chairman (Senator Gerry Horkan): Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan It is out of order and I am not allowed to let anyone make a contribution as a consequence.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I just did.

Acting Chairman (Senator Gerry Horkan): Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan The Senator asked about it. I was outlining-----

Senator Michael McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell I want to be orderly. I accept the ruling of the Chair.

  Amendments Nos. 1 and 2 not moved.

  Section 1 agreed to.

SECTION 2

Acting Chairman (Senator Gerry Horkan): Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan Amendments Nos. 3 to 5, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together, by agreement.

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane I move amendment No. 3:

In page 8, between lines 4 and 5, to insert the following:
" "diversity" means a wide range of backgrounds, experiences, interests and perspectives, reflective of the diverse nature of Irish society and including but not limited to socio-economic status, gender, race, ethnicity, minority groups and the majority group;".

I thank the Minister for his time this afternoon. I support the principles of this Bill, especially in regard to diversity, but nowhere in the Bill is there a definition of "diversity". The diversity envisaged seems more like the diversity of sectors or different professions than diversity in society as a whole. This amendment seeks to define "diversity" for the purpose of the Bill.

  It is a welcome provision of the Bill that achieving greater diversity in judicial appointments is central but we want to ensure this is not simply paying lipservice and actually has some substance. I drew my definition from a set of diversity guidelines issued by Mr. Brian Lenihan when he was Minister of State with responsibility for children in 2007 and I adapted it for use in this Bill. I believe the definition is broad and encompasses a wide range of diverse factors that would be welcome in regard to new judges to be recommended under the Bill. It would also ensure that the achievement of diversity could not solely be defined by moving away from the current cohort, with close associations with the current law practice, but would actually be reflective of broader Irish society.

  I spent a lot of time in the courts over the years with clients in respect of addiction. I wish to refer to a judge who passed away in recent years. My clients really appreciated her in-depth understanding of addiction. When they were in front of her for a crime, they definitely did not feel shamed or stigmatised because of their addiction. Her attitude to sentencing and the manner in which she spoke to the addicts were usually greatly welcomed by a certain cohort of society. It shows that when we consider diversity, especially in regard to a class dimension, we realise we have to move towards having a more diverse slate of judges. The position of a judge as a legal arbiter is strengthened when he or she is reflective of the broader population. He or she is given legitimacy as a result. It would only add to public confidence in our Judiciary if people felt represented and similar to those charged with interpreting our laws. This can be a positive thing, and it would be possible if the definition were accepted.

Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik Zoom on Ivana Bacik I wish to speak on amendment No. 5, the Labour Party's amendment in the grouping. It is a more technical amendment, simply offering a definition of a person who is employed in the service of the State. It specifies that a person is employed in the service of the State if he or she is a member of the Garda or the Defence Forces, or a civil servant.

  I support Senator Ruane's amendment No. 3. On Second Stage I made reference to the need to ensure diversity. Clear respect for diversity is stated in the Bill as part of the reform of the judicial appointments process. I also support amendment No. 4 in the name of Senator McDowell which he has not yet had the chance to move. I will come back to it.

  In a more general sense, I am disappointed that the House did not accede to the amendment I moved to the Order of Business earlier, to defer the consideration of Committee Stage of this Bill today because we have not yet had sight of a published report by the Council of Europe's Group of States against Corruption, GRECO. We know from the leaked excerpts of the report that it is highly critical of various provisions of this Bill. GRECO has expressed serious concerns about the composition of the commission envisaged in the Bill. As far as we are concerned, every provision of this Bill should be scrutinised in light of the GRECO report but we cannot do that until we have sight of it.

  As I said on Second Stage, and earlier today on the Order of Business, we are legislating in the dark. We finally had sight of the Minister's amendments, but very late in the day. There are 111 amendments, of which my Labour Party colleagues and I have tabled 20. Others have tabled some also. There is a significant number of Government amendments. We are seeing them without knowing whether the Government has drafted them in response to the GRECO critique or whether there are further amendments to come that will address the concerns raised in the critique, particularly that on the composition of the appointments commission. Therefore, it is somewhat problematic to be in the process of proposing any amendments, even the technical one I am proposing, amendment No. 5, without knowing the ultimate shape of the Bill as envisaged by the Government or what it is proposing to be the shape of the Bill.

  Many Members spoke earlier about the unseemly haste with which the Bill is being rushed through, with late-night sittings proposed for tonight and tomorrow night, and with Report Stage to be taken in less than a week. This is not a satisfactory way to legislate. It is most unfortunate given that there is goodwill in this House generally towards the principle of judicial appointments reform. I said in my Second Stage speech that I want to be constructive. I am approaching this Bill in that spirit. That is why we are putting forward amendments such as amendment No. 5. We will also be tabling more substantive amendments and supporting the more substantive amendments being tabled by colleagues.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I, too, welcome the Minister to the House. Has he any knowledge as to when the GRECO report will be published by the Government? He is shaking his head to indicate he does not. I echo what Senator Bacik has said, namely, that it seems extraordinary when such an important report-----

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I was outside when the Seanad voted on this issue.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris Oh, yes. It voted because there were deals done.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I did no deal. I was outside in the anteroom when-----

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I am not saying the Minister did.

Senator Michael McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Ross, did the deal for him.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris The Minister should not get cantankerous.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I was outside when the Seanad voted.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris The Minister should not get cantankerous. He should think of the lovely uplands of County Laois, the Slieve Bloom Mountains, and pacify himself. It seems a great pity, no matter what way the Seanad-----

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan The vote is a great pity. I do not have anything to do with that.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris The Minister regrets the vote. I do understand his position. It is very welcome that the Minister regrets the vote. So do we.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I said I do not have anything to do with it.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris No. The Minister said he regretted it.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I did not say I regretted it.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris The Minister did.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I said the vote took place. I do not have anything to do with the vote.

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

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I did not regret the vote.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris The Minister said he did.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I did not say that.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris He did.

Acting Chairman (Senator Gerry Horkan): Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan Now-----

Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee: Information on Lorraine Clifford-Lee Zoom on Lorraine Clifford-Lee Notwithstanding the vote-----

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

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan Every time I come in here, without fail, I am misrepresented by Senator Norris. The only occasion on which I was not misrepresented was when he left the House before I replied. I did not regret the vote. I abide by the vote of the Seanad. I am dictated to by the vote of the Seanad.

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

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I did not vote. I do not have a vote.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris No.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan Therefore, for Senator David Norris to go back over issues that have been decided is, to my mind, out of order. I will let the Acting Chairman deal with that, however.

Acting Chairman (Senator Gerry Horkan): Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan Senator Norris should go ahead with his point, and then we will let the Minister back in.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris The Minister did not pick up on Senator Bacik. We will see what the record says. It is interesting that the Minister did not pick up on what Senator Bacik said.

Senator Michael McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell I believe it was a verbal slip.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris It was a verbal slip but the Minister did say it.

Senator Michael McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell He said the vote was a pity.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris It was a verbal slip but the Minister said it, and I picked it up.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I did not have anything to do with the vote.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris Yes. Let us leave this side-----

Acting Chairman (Senator Gerry Horkan): Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan Senator Norris should continue with his points on amendments Nos. 3 to 5.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I still believe it is perfectly legitimate for me to say, as Senator Ivana Bacik said before, without interruption, that it is regrettable that we did not have access to the GRECO report before this debate and before the vote. It might have changed things slightly if we had access.

  I support the thrust of amendment No. 3 in the name of Senator Ruane. I agree with her that there should be diversity. I remember being in the Dublin District Court and seeing the implementation of what I can only describe as class justice. One had a far greater chance of being convicted and sentenced to jail if one came from a working-class background or certain areas of Dublin, particularly the north inner city. I believe, however, it is a wish that there should be the kind of diversity envisaged because I have not seen any black or Indian judges, nor have I seen any Traveller judges.  Very few judges come from a lower socioeconomic status. If this amendment can increase that quotient then I think that would be extremely good.

I welcome the fact that the Labour Party has decided, under amendment No. 5, to insert:

“(3) A person is employed in the service of the State if he or she is—
(a) a member of the Garda Síochána,

(b) a member of the Defence Forces, or

(c) a civil servant in the Civil Service of the Government or the Civil Service of the State.”.

I am not 100% sure that exhausts all the possibilities. That is, of course, always the problem with putting down these kinds of statements of fact and recitals of lists. There is always a possibility that the list is not exhaustive. I would have preferred if we said that a person is employed in the service of the State "if, among other things, he or she is" or "if, among other groups, he or she is" and so on.

  I greatly regret having inflamed the Minister once again. I am most penitent.

Senator Martin Conway: Information on Martin Conway Zoom on Martin Conway Senator Norris should try not to do it again.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan That is Senator Norris's regret not my regret.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris The Minister regretted the vote.

Acting Chairman (Senator Gerry Horkan): Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan Senator Norris, try not to provoke any further, if you do not mind. Senator McDowell is next. You have until 11 p.m. to do more of that, Senator Norris.

Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile: Information on Niall Ó Donnghaile Zoom on Niall Ó Donnghaile It is early days.

Senator Michael McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell Senator Ruane's amendment seeks to impose a statutory definition on the term "diversity", which is an inclusive definition. She is proposing that the term "diversity" should mean "a wide range of backgrounds, experiences, interests and perspectives, reflective of the diverse nature of Irish society and including but not limited to socio-economic status, gender, race, ethnicity, minority groups and the majority group;".

  Let us be clear about this. People are nominated for service in senior judicial office. Let us look at a few things about them. First, I am quite happy with the legal academic category. However, unless they are in this new category they are by definition people who have spent ten or 12 years in practice as a lawyer. They are people who are required by this Bill to be learned in the law. They are people who are required by this legislation when it is enacted to be knowledgeable of the procedures of the courts in question. Let us not cod ourselves. The people who will be selected on merit for judicial appointment will be people who will have been successful practising lawyers. By virtue of that fact, unless they are legal academics contemplated by the Bill, they will be people appointed by virtue of their merit as judges. The statutory criteria for selection include the requirement that a candidate has a practice of ten or 12 years or whatever it is. The statutory criteria include the requirement that the candidate is knowledgeable in the law and knows what the practice of the court will be. People are codding themselves if they think that the Judiciary elected or selected on merit may also in some magical way be reflective of Irish society on a broader basis. They are codding themselves. It is a nice thought but it is a misconceived thought.

  The term "diversity" was left undefined but Senator Ruane's amendment suggests that effectively the people making selections should have regard to "a wide range of backgrounds, experiences, interests and perspectives, reflective of the diverse nature of Irish society and including but not limited to socio-economic status, gender, race, ethnicity, minority groups and the majority group". The House should know that in the past there was a convention that there would be a reflection of the religious diversity of the State. Successive Governments were always careful to ensure minority religions were to be found in the Judiciary. Nonetheless, those appointed had to be qualified people with practice, experience, judgment and so on.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris That was very useful sometimes.

Senator Michael McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell Curiously, religion is one of the things that is omitted here, which is interesting.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris Blame the prods.

Senator Michael McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell Maybe that reflects our evolving society. That one factor for seeking diversity which was ingrained in the practice, but not in the law, is now to be omitted under this definition.

  The other thing is that the terms "minority groups" and "the majority group" are concerning. Who is the majority group? Is there a thing called the majority group?

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris They are white heterosexual republicans.

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane They are people like Senator McDowell.

Senator Michael McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell Who is the majority group in our society? Is it liberals or conservatives?

Senator Martin Conway: Information on Martin Conway Zoom on Martin Conway It is liberals.

Senator Michael McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell I do not identify with the use of the phrase "minority groups" and "the majority group" as if there is some big herd of people who constitute the majority group of Irish society and who can be identified and remembered by a committee when it is making appointments.

  Then we come to socioeconomic status. If a person had been practising for many years in the Law Library or as a solicitor or if a person is a senior academic-----

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris Then that person is in clover.

Senator Michael McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell Such a person is highly unlikely to be personally socioeconomically on the deprived end of the scale. It is highly unlikely. Such a person may have come from a socioeconomically challenged background. I know various judges, one of whom was born in Coolock and another who was a very successful judge – I will not mention them by name in order not to embarrass them – but who was brought up by a widow in another less fashionable part of this city. These things happen already. We have ill-informed commentators saying that they are all white middle-class males. That does not apply anymore because there is a significant number of female judges now being appointed. Are we to suddenly decide that if we have three people who are all pretty good but we do not have someone with the right coloured skin then we should hesitate and think about that? Are we to suddenly decide that since the past three recommendations have not included someone from the Traveller community then we should hesitate and think about that? I do not think that makes sense. This prescriptive approach is misconceived.

  The greatest liberals and the greatest judicial radicals have come on occasion from the most conservative and most socioeconomically privileged backgrounds. They have been sent to fee-paying schools. They have come from wealthy backgrounds and they turn out to be great liberals. There is no reason to believe that because a person's parents were less well off than some of the others in the Judiciary that person is made into a conservative, liberal or radical. In my experience, it does not work out that way. In fact, it is quite the reverse. Sometimes, we see a complete reversion in the opposite direction. The people who, because of their background, might be considered to have one experience turn out to be very much different when it comes to their judicial record and philosophy. I wonder whether it is a good idea to recite all of this.  Gender is down there but not sexual-----

Acting Chairman (Senator Gerry Horkan): Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan I ask Senator McDowell to adjourn this debate until 7.30 p.m.

Senator Michael McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell I am sorry and I move the adjournment.

Acting Chairman (Senator Gerry Horkan): Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan I ask the Leader to report progress.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer I report progress.

  Progress reported; Committee to sit again.

Data Sharing and Governance Bill 2018: Committee Stage (Resumed)

SECTION 44

  Amendment No. 20 not moved.

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane I move amendment No. 21:

In page 34, line 24, to delete “20 and 21” and substitute “20, 21 and 34”.

This amendment relates to section 34 on the establishment of a personal data access portal. The section details what should be included on the website for data subjects to access their rights, including sending a request to a public body in respect of exercising the rights provided for in Articles 15, 16, 17, 18, 20 and 21 of the GDPR. These are: the right of access by the data subject; the right of rectification; the right to erasure; the right to be forgotten; the right to restriction of processing; the right to data probability; and the right to object. Article 19 inserts a notification obligation regarding rectification or erasure of personal date or restriction of processing. Article 34 inserts a communication of a personal data breach to the data subject.

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Patrick O'Donovan): Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan I thank Senator Ruane for moving the amendments. We had a good discussion the last day and it is regrettable that Senator Higgins is not here. I have good news for Senator Ruane. In principle, in respect of amendments Nos. 20, 21 and 22, with some technical changes to the wording, we are agreeable in principle to what the Senator has outlined. I will take these away and consider them in tandem with the Office of the Attorney General between now and Report Stage.

  In amendment No. 22a, the Senator is proposing to insert a reference to the necessity and proportionality of the data sharing required to provide the information that data subjects may request from the portal. The proposed amendment follows on from similar wording the Senator has proposed in amendments Nos. 13 and 16. The purpose of the data portal is to make it easier for citizens to exercise their rights under Articles 15 to 21, inclusive, of the GDPR. These articles give strong rights to the data subject to access his or her data, to have it rectified or erased if appropriate and to restrict or object to the processing of the data.

  As worded, the amendment proposed would appear to have the effect of requiring public bodies to apply a necessity and proportionality test in deciding whether to provide information the data subject has sought through the portal. This would be incompatible with the GDPR and I am sure that was not the intention. Accordingly, I cannot accept the amendment and I ask the Senator to consider withdrawing it and rewording it. However, having reflected on this and other points the Senator has made in respect of amendments Nos. 13 and 16 last week, as well as this amendment, I think the Senator's concerns can be addressed by adding a requirement for public bodies to make a formal undertaking to abide by the principles of data protection as set out in Article 5 of the GDPR. This could be added to the list of requirements for the data sharing agreement in section 18 and I propose to make an amendment to that effect 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. 22:

In page 34, line 25, to delete “Regulation.” and substitute the following:

           “Regulation, and
(c) view information about any data breaches where their personal data may have been affected and information on how to request further information.”.

I thank the Minister of State for addressing those issues and for indicating that he is willing to look at the issues on Report Stage. In that context, I will not be pressing these amendments. I note, in particular, the Minister of State's concern that the necessity and proportionality should sit with the organisation rather than with the test of the individual's request. I am happy to look at any amendment that he might wish to put forward. One amendment I will potentially return to on Report Stage is amendment No. 21 in respect of including the direct reference because a number of articles of the GDPR are referenced there, as well as Article 34 of the GDPR around-----

Acting Chairman (Senator Catherine Noone): Information on Catherine Noone Zoom on Catherine Noone We are addressing amendments Nos. 22 and 22a at this point. Is the Senator withdrawing amendment No. 21?

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I refer to amendments Nos. 22 and 22a. On necessity and proportionality, I think that these have been addressed. I will return to them and I hope that the Minister of State will return to them as well on Report Stage. I take necessary and proportionate on board but it may need to be reworded. In that context, I will not press the amendments.

Acting Chairman (Senator Catherine Noone): Information on Catherine Noone Zoom on Catherine Noone Is Senator Higgins withdrawing the amendments?

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I will withdraw the amendments but I reserve the right to return to the issue on Report Stage.

Acting Chairman (Senator Catherine Noone): Information on Catherine Noone Zoom on Catherine Noone Is Senator Higgins pressing amendment No. 22?

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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

In page 34, line 36, to delete “information” where it firstly occurs and substitute “only such information as is necessary and proportionate”.

This is the key issue of necessity and proportionality. I have one question for the Minister of State. He had indicated he was willing to reflect that more and it was an issue that came up in other parts of the Bill. Am I right in saying that he is open to having that kind of term reflected in an appropriate way in different parts of the Bill? I apologise if I am making him repeat himself.

Acting Chairman (Senator Catherine Noone): Information on Catherine Noone Zoom on Catherine Noone This is amendment No. 22a we are speaking about.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins It is amendment No. 22a on necessity and proportionality.

Deputy Patrick O'Donovan: Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan At the end of the discussion this evening, I intend to bring forward a notice of the amendments I will be proposing on Report Stage. I hope to have many of those points covered at that stage.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I thank the Minister of State.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

  Section 44 agreed to.

  Sections 45 and 46 agreed to.

 SECTION 47

Acting Chairman (Senator Catherine Noone): Information on Catherine Noone Zoom on Catherine Noone Amendments Nos. 22b to 24a, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together. Is that agreed? Agreed.

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

In page 36, between lines 13 and 14, to insert the following:
“(2) Of the members of the Board, an equal number shall be male and female.”.

I am speaking to amendments Nos. 22b to 24a, inclusive. Amendment 22b and amendment 24a both relate to the data governance board. This a major concern I have with this Bill. We have heard at length that there is a new process being proposed.  That is a process which is an alternative to section 38 of the Data Protection Bill which was agreed and passed by these Houses. The parallel process, and I accept there may need to be a new process, has as one of its key linchpins and proposals from Government a data governance board which will have oversight and decision-making in relation to what the Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Deputy O'Donovan, described in our last discussion as thousands of data sharing agreements. It is a very significant concern to me. I will speak more on this because supplementary amendments will touch on the same points and I will not repeat them. It is a very serious concern that at the moment the constitution of the data governance board does not provide lengthy detail or clarification around the membership process. We are simply told this data governance board, with its immense power and role, shall consist of not fewer than six and not more than 12 members, who shall be appointed by the Minister and that the Minister shall ensure they have the necessary knowledge, experience and competence. This is an extraordinary free hand for a Minister. Given the lengthy debates we are having, and will have, over the next few days around the judicial appointments process, for example, given the concerns we have had around the IHREC board and given that many here have spoken passionately today about the need for rigorous governance, real clarity and transparency, it is simply not acceptable that we would have a board appointed by the Minister which could end up being six to 12 heads of public bodies who would then sit and judge for themselves as to whether they should be given permission to share data. We are effectively talking about self-regulation for public bodies, potentially. For that reason, I will put forward a number of amendments and, as I said, I will not speak at length to each of them because they are grouped here. To make a general point, there are a number of amendments to try to put forward proposals for what a data governance board might look like. I am very conscious that when a very similar Bill was being debated in 2013-2014, Daragh O Brien and other data protection experts put forward proposals for what a data governance board might look like, but this is very different from that.

  On the two amendments we are speaking to now, one is a proposal that the membership of the board should be male and female in equal numbers, which is in line with both the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, IHREC, board and the judicial appointments board which is being debated by these Houses. That is in excess, however, of what is currently required under legislation which is that 40% of the board should be of each gender. Will the Minister accept that amendment and, if not, will he put forward proposals? We know gender balance on boards is a crucial issue.

  The other issue is the terms. It says that "[t]he Minister shall determine the terms and conditions of appointment, including the term of office". There is no clarity for us and, as the Legislature, we are being asked to sign off on such a significant new national infrastructure on data sharing, we need clarity around the board's function. I suggested in amendment No. 24a that the Minister may set clear periods of three years for appointment to a term, and reappointment for a maximum of two other three-year terms. I am very open to the Minister's proposals on this. This is me suggesting terms of office but I am happy to hear what he would suggest. We need to put some clarity around what the terms of office of these officeholders would be in the Bill. The Minister's proposals are as welcome as mine and, if he brings forward proposals, I will not press mine.

  Is amendment No. 23 covered by that, also?

Acting Chairman (Senator Catherine Noone): Information on Catherine Noone Zoom on Catherine Noone Amendment No. 23 was already discussed with amendment No. 22b. We are taking amendments Nos. 22b, 23, 24 and 24a together.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins The crucial issues are amendments Nos. 23 and 24. Amendment No. 23 suggests that membership of the board should be advertised through the Public Appointments Service, PAS. It is standard and good practice to know there is an independent body adjudicating as to who is qualified and appropriate to sit on this board. Members should be appointed by the Minister on the recommendation of the PAS, and with the agreement of the Government. It is important to recognise this board will cut across every single Government Department. It will have oversight on data sharing under every Department and its partners, as well as every company the Departments work with. It is very important that not only is the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, who has full responsibility, satisfied, but that all Ministers are satisfied with the representation that is there, and that there is accountability at Cabinet level.

   There is a real danger of public service capture of this board so, in my final amendment in this section and on this theme, amendment No. 24, I propose no more than half of the board should be employees of a Department or a public body. This is to ensure we do not have full self-regulation but that there are genuinely independent members of the board. At least two members of the board should have an expertise in the area of data protection, and there are other expertises that will be needed also, but data protection is crucial. Finally, at least one member should be both an independent non-employee of the Department or public body and have expertise in the area of data protection. This ensures there will be at least one independent data protection expert who is not beholden to, or employed by, those they are going to adjudicate upon.

  These are my proposals. This is me setting out some ideas of what a transparent data governance board might look like. If the Minister has proposals he would like to bring forward, I am very happy and open to hearing them. If not, I will certainly press these amendments on Report Stage, if not today.

Senator Rose Conway-Walsh: Information on Rose Conway-Walsh Zoom on Rose Conway-Walsh I would like to thank Senator Higgins for tabling these amendments, and to say I am fully supportive of them. It is vitally important that this board, which pans so many Departments, has a constitution that sets best practice, in terms of gender balance, duration and everything else. It is crucially important we get this right. This board needs to lead the way in many things. There are expectations on voluntary organisations around the constitutions they set up and how they are run, but we have to get the governance right here, particularly for this one. I am fully supportive of all those amendments.

Deputy Patrick O'Donovan: Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan The amendments relate to gender balance, membership of the board and tenure. Senator Higgins proposes a set of amendments to section 47 which concerns the membership of the data governance board. The section provides for the appointment of members and the chairperson by the Minister, and the terms and conditions of appointments of the board members. Amendment No. 22b proposes an equal number of male and female members be appointed to the board. In practical terms, I cannot accept this amendment as worded because it would make it impossible to have an uneven number of members on the board, and I think people will accept that. However, I fully appreciate and support the principle of gender balance that the Senator is promoting here. It is a matter of Government policy that there be at least 40% representation of each gender on State boards and all boards, including the data governance board. As the parent Department, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform is in compliance with that, and this matter was addressed this afternoon in the Dáil. The data governance board must comply with that requirement. Accordingly, while I do not see an amendment in this regard as essential, since it is already Government policy, I am willing to make provision to reaffirm the 40% target for gender representation on the board. I will make that proposal on Report Stage.

  Amendments Nos. 23 and 24 concern the criteria for appointing members to the data governance board. As is clear from section 47 (6) of the Bill, which permits appointment of ex officio and external members, it is my intention that the board will have a mixture of both. The guidelines on appointments to State boards already set out the role of the PAS in selecting external members of boards, and these will apply to the data governance board. Ex officio appointments are not normally made via the PAS process, and I see no need to provide for it here.  I do not propose to accept amendment No. 23 primarily because the ex officio members will be, by and large, public servants, some of whom will be public servants from my Department who may have been involved in the drafting of this Bill. To require those who are in place as a support in terms of their ex officionon-voting role on a board to apply for membership would be contradictory, bearing in mind the design and purpose of the Bill, and I do not believe that was the intent of the amendment.

On amendment No. 24 regarding the balance of external and ex officiomembers of the board and the skills that the members should have, it is my view that to allow for the greatest flexibility we should not be specific at this time in terms of the composition of the board and its expertise. It makes sense to work out the job specifications and specialist expertise required in consultation with the chairperson following enactment of the Bill. It also makes sense to wait and see how the board is operating in practice before making any changes that may be required. Accordingly, I do not believe this amendment is necessary at this time. However, it may be that there is need for greater transparency vis-à-vismy intentions in this respect and I will reflect further on the matter between now and Report Stage, particularly in the context of what Senator Higgins had to say in her contribution.

Amendment No. 24a proposes the time limits to be set in terms of the office of board members. While this is a reasonable proposal in respect of external members, it could be restrictive were it to apply to ex officiomembers. To reiterate a point I made earlier, we could end up with the people who we want on the board, the non-ex officiomembers, being kicked off the board. I do not think this would be in anybody's interests, and nor do I believe it was the intention of what is proposed. Many ex officiomembers will hold a position on the board by virtue of their skills and expertise, their place within the public service and their position within the organisation. Accordingly, I believe that more flexibility is needed in respect of the term of office for ex officiomembers. Nevertheless, I note the Senator's point and I will reflect further on the matter between now and Report Stage, particularly in respect of the non-ex officiomembers.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I take the Minister's point that it may not be possible to advertise all the ex officio member positions through the Public Appointments Service but it would be important that there is clarity around what proportion of the appointments will be external and advertised through the Public Appointments Service. Also, if the Public Appointments Service is to provide board members it should not provide only generic board members and it will need to be given a brief in that regard. I would like some sense of the guiding criteria in that regard, as is available in the case of many other boards and bodies. A key point will be the ratio between ex officio, internal and external appointees and their level of independence within the board.

  Another key issue is the guidance on the minimum skill requirements, worded in a way that it allows for further criteria or skills to be added because we need to allow for flexibility as particular skills are recognised as necessary. We know that we will need people on this board who have data protection expertise and that there are other boards that will require technological expertise. I am sure the criteria can be worded in a way that assures the Legislature that the expertise is available in making these important decisions.

  Amendment No. 23 states: "Members shall be appointed by the Minister on the recommendation of the Public Appointments Service and with the agreement of the Government.". I would welcome further comment from the Minister of State on what is proposed in this amendment.

Deputy Patrick O'Donovan: Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan On the final question and the procedures in place for the appointment of people to State boards, I have no difficulty bringing forth a Report Stage amendment to the effect that the Minister shall have regard to the existing guidelines and so on.

  It is important that the board is allowed to do its job into the future. If the board deems that there is a skills or expertise deficit within the board it can make a recommendation to the Minister for appointment. It would be counterproductive and overly prescriptive to require the board to do X, Y and Z from the outset. Once the board is constituted and operational it may identify a skills deficit outside of which we in this House and the other House will have deemed appropriate. If may take time for any skills deficit to be identified. I do not want to restrict the board from being able to make a recommendation to the Minister in the future regarding the appointment of a particular person to fill a particular role.

  As I said in my initial contribution, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform is the parent Department for the legislation concerning State boards and appointments thereto, particularly in regard to gender balance and the Public Appointments Service. There is other legislation in the offing in regard to the relationship between Departments and the public sector and so on. We would have no reason to not reflect positively on what Senator Higgins said but I do not want to do something that will unnecessarily tie up a board in the future. I will look at the ratio in terms of internal, external and ex officio membership, with a view to, if possible following reflection with the Attorney General, setting a maximum and minimum in that regard. I am open to considering if it would be possible to constitute the provision in such a way as to ensure a balance in favour of one rather than another. If I can, I will bring forward amendments to that effect on Report Stage.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I thank the Minister of State for his willingness to engage on the Bill. I look forward to further engagement on it with him between now and Report Stage. On the issue of a maximum and minimum balance, I believe a balance of more external members and independent members will be crucial to this board having credibility. On the issue of job specifications, I do not think the criteria needs to be overly prescriptive. There will be particular expertise and skills required for this board. As we know, without the necessary expertise in a room, it is often not possible to identify any lack of expertise. I am not suggesting that clear criteria be set out for each of the six to 12 members. I recognise that the membership of the board is set at between six and 12 people in order to provide flexibility to bring in skills as required. I believe there are core skills that will be required on this board and we need to ensure that at least one of the six, ten or 12 members has those skills. We can discuss that further on Report Stage.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

  Amendments Nos. 23 to 24a, inclusive, not moved.

  Section 47 agreed to.

  SECTION 48

Acting Chairman (Senator Catherine Noone): Information on Catherine Noone Zoom on Catherine Noone Amendments Nos. 24b to 24d, inclusive, are related and will be discussed together by agreement.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I move amendment No. 24b:

In page 36, after line 37, to insert the following:

"(5) Each committee, not later than 30 June in each year, shall prepare and submit to the Board, a report on its membership and the performance by it of its functions in the immediately preceding year, or in the case of the period from the date the Board is first appointed to the next following 30 June, that period. Such reports shall be available to the Minister and Oireachtas committees on request.".

 Amendments Nos. 24b, 24c and 24d all relate to one of the more concerning aspects of the proposed governance structure. Again I hope that, as the Minister of State has indicated his willingness to examine how we can make the data governance board more transparent, he may also view this constructively. The concern here is that the data governance board, with its six to 12 members appointed by the Minister, may also establish sub-committees. These sub-committees seem to have almost no rules around their operation, excepting that they must include one board member. I appreciate and recognise that the Minister of State is proposing to reassure us on this matter on Report Stage but we are looking at a very concerning scenario in which we could have a board made up of a number of members from public bodies or other ex officio members which could establish committees. That has the potential to be highly non-transparent. These are committees whose membership does not necessarily pass through the Public Appointments Service or even through any formal appointment process. These are simply committees made up of any people, with one board member present. One could have a committee of ten, five or 20 members including one board member.

There is a lack of clarity around the committees and their role. Having served on boards myself, I am aware that situations arise in which a large amount of power is effectively delegated to a sub-committee. I recognise that the sub-committees can only give advice and make recommendations to the main board but we have all seen situations in which a sub-committee of a board effectively puts things to that board for rubber-stamping. It is really important that these sub-committees are transparent if they are to have a key advisory role in respect of these important decisions being made in respect of our law, our practices and the practices of different bodies in respect of data sharing and the thousands of data sharing agreements that might be signed.

These are reasonable amendments. I have not proposed to do away with the committees despite the negative things I am saying about them. I recognise they may have a role but I have suggested that each committee should prepare and submit to the board an annual report on its performance of its functions and on its members to ensure transparency around its membership. I have also suggested that each sub-committee that might be established with these non-elected and non-nominated members should expire after two years, excepting if its membership and mandate are formally renewed by the board, to ensure we do not have a situation of embedded power. I am just trying to make sure that there is an accountable decision in the minutes of the data governance board at least every two years which says whether it wants to continue with a given sub-committee in order that we do not have sub-committees made up of individuals who have neither been selected by the Minister nor by the Public Appointments Service and who may be in place for five or ten years at a time. It is really important that we have regular check-ins to ensure accountability in that regard.

Again, these are very reasonable amendments. They literally just require an annual report from the committees and a renewal of mandate every two years. In line with this, amendment No. 24d is really a technical amendment which ensures that the report which the data governance board will send to the Minister would include information on the activities of its committees and sub-committees. Again, I hope the Minister of State might be able to accept these amendments.

Deputy Patrick O'Donovan: Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan These amendments relate to the composition of committees. I do not have any difficulty with the general thrust of what the Senator is saying. The reason we left section 48 as it was when drafting the Bill was that we did not want to be overly prescriptive. However, there is no difficulty whatsoever in reflecting on the concept of the annual reports, having regard to advice we will receive from the Attorney General, and having a run-down in respect of the activities and membership of sub-committees as part of the annual report of the organisation. I do not see that as an issue. We will certainly reflect on it. If I can, I will bring forward an amendment of that nature on Report Stage.

  On the type of committees, I know where the Senator is coming from in respect of amendment No. 24b. However, I would be a bit wary of it as we do not want to be overly prescriptive because there may be situations where an ad hoc committee might have to be established within the organisation for a brief period and for a fixed role that might not necessarily have anything to do with the actual carrying out of a role that would be in contravention of any aspect of the Bill. However, the membership, activities, and number and durations of meetings can be incorporated into the report as far as I can see. I do not see a difficulty at the moment in respect of the annual report.

  I will reflect on term limits. I have an open mind on the issue. Given the changes we have already made in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform with regard to the Public Appointments Service and other reforms we have made, many of these proposals seem reasonable. We could take the opportunity between now and Report Stage to consider those committees that could be required for a shorter period of time than that being defined by the Senator. Suppose there is a committee that is sitting for a very short period for a specific purpose and whose job is done. It obviously will be a requirement of the board to constantly reflect on and review the work of the sub-committees established under its jurisdiction and to report as such. I have stated my intention to review it. Having had the opportunity for my officials to discuss the matter with the Attorney General, I do not see a difficulty per se with most of what the Senator is saying.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I thank the Minister of State very much. He makes a valid point as there are of course short-term ad hoc committees. In that regard, I would be very happy if he wanted to simply set a maximum term and to allow for more flexibility. That maximum terms could be two or three years or whatever is deemed to be most useful or appropriate. That is absolutely fair enough. In that context, I will not press the amendments at this point. I have already moved amendment No. 24b. I will withdraw it and reserve the right to come back on Report Stage.

Deputy Patrick O'Donovan: Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan I have an issue with respect to amendment No. 24c. I do not want to have a situation where somebody who is on the board or a sub-committee for a specific purpose by virtue of his or her expertise, whether they are an ex officio member or a lay member, is unnecessarily kicked off of it. If we are overly prescriptive on the duration of the committee that might occur. I know that is not what is intended. There may have to be flexibility there as well. As part of tonight's discussions, I ask the Senator to withdraw the amendment. I will certainly reflect on it between now and Report Stage. I understand the thrust of what she is trying to do with regard to transparency, term limits and reports. I do not have a difficulty with them but neither do I want to discommode the board in the future.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins In that context I am happy to accept the Minister of State's expression of willingness to look at this issue again.

  Am I to understand that there is no objection to the principle of amendment No. 24d, but rather that the Minister of State intends to move a similar amendment on Report Stage?

Deputy Patrick O'Donovan: Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan I support amendment No. 24d in principle. I will try to bring forward a Report Stage amendment myself with the support of the Office of the Attorney General. I will try to incorporate the thrust and spirit of what the Senator is proposing.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I thank the Minister of State very much.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

  Amendment No. 24c not moved.

  Section 48 agreed to.

SECTION 49

  Question proposed: "That section 49 stand part of the Bill."

Senator Paddy Burke: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke On section 49, can I ask the Minister of State what is the objection to members of local authorities being members of the board? In most cases where legislation is being brought forward which puts boards in place, we see Members of the Oireachtas being automatically disqualified.  In most cases, as we know, so are members of local authorities. There is great experience in local authorities. The members are highly educated and come from all backgrounds. We have experts in local authorities and I wonder why there is an objection in this case to members of local authorities. Why are members of local authorities disqualified from serving on the board? Some members of local authorities would be highly qualified for a board of this type and I would prefer if it were removed from the Bill and that the Minister look at it for Report Stage. It disqualifies a cohort of people who stand for public life. They are automatically disqualified from being members of boards.

Senator Gerry Horkan: Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan I agree with Senator Paddy Burke, who is a long-serving member of the House. I was a member of the local authority for 12 and a half years, which is a long time. I will wait for the Minister of State because he is having a discussion with his officials. I do not think Senator Paddy Burke is saying that local authority members should automatically be members of the board, but we should not exclude all 949 local authority members purely because they are members of local authorities. They have skills, talents and an ability to get themselves elected. They have many other skills in many professions and some of these could be incredibly relevant. They could be computer programmers, accountants, solicitors or people in various walks of life. It is common practice now in legislation that local authority members are thrown in as not suitable to serve on boards. As soon as they lose their seats, they might be appointed but this will not happen while they are members of local authorities. It would be more appropriate if this were removed. If people are suitable, they are suitable and if they are not, they are not. However, they should not be excluded just because they are members of local authorities.

Senator Rose Conway-Walsh: Information on Rose Conway-Walsh Zoom on Rose Conway-Walsh I support this. I do not think a cohort of people can be excluded, certainly not local authority members who, as has been the case in recent years in particular, come from a variety of backgrounds. There was a time when more than 50% of the members of Mayo County Council were auctioneers, but that is a number of years ago now.

Senator Gerry Horkan: Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan That was a lot of talent in one place.

Senator Rose Conway-Walsh: Information on Rose Conway-Walsh Zoom on Rose Conway-Walsh It was a lot of auctioneering talent when planning decisions were being made. It is important that they are not excluded from being on the board.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins Many valid points have been made. Perhaps a declaration of interest might be a way of addressing any concerns.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan That goes without saying.

Deputy Patrick O'Donovan: Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan There is an unlikely coalition emerging in support-----

Senator Gerry Horkan: Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan We are ganging up on the Minister of State. We have united the House.

Deputy Patrick O'Donovan: Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan For the one or two councillors watching proceedings, their virtues are being extolled in the Upper House. It is ordinarily the case that they are excluded from appointment to any board prescribed in legislation for the same reasons as the rest of us are excluded. They are democratically-elected officials who have a mandate, the same as those covered by section 49(a) and (b), namely, Members appointed to Seanad Éireann and those elected to either House of the Oireachtas or the European Parliament. We could extend the very same rationale to Members of the Oireachtas and the European Parliament as have been extended to members of local authorities. I served as a member of a local authority and held down a job at the same time. There are people in the House who would make brilliant members of the governance board, there are members of the Lower House who would make brilliant members and there are members of the European Parliament who would make fine members. However, can Senators imagine trying to get public buy-in regarding the fact that we will have a data-sharing and governance board which will supposedly supervise the agreements put in place between public bodies and which will be stuffed with politicians? People would be erecting a gallows outside on the plinth for me. The Senator will understand that, reluctantly, I cannot accept the amendment.

Senator Gerry Horkan: Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan It is not an amendment. It was a suggestion from the Minister of State's party through Senator Paddy Burke.

Deputy Patrick O'Donovan: Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan I understand the willingness to try to include local authority members-----

Senator Gerry Horkan: Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan It is to not exclude rather than to include.

Deputy Patrick O'Donovan: Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan As a former councillor, I appreciate that suggestion from a long-serving member of the Seanad from County Mayo who has great knowledge of local authority members, particularly those in County Limerick.

Senator Rose Conway-Walsh: Information on Rose Conway-Walsh Zoom on Rose Conway-Walsh On a point of clarification, will the CEOs of local authorities be eligible to serve on the board?

Deputy Patrick O'Donovan: Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan Absolutely. That is a very good point. Given their role, there is no reason local authority officials would not be able to be members. They may very well be ex officio members because some of them may have a data role within their local authorities. For example, as is their role as constituted under the managers' orders in local authorities throughout the country, they may be responsible for freedom of information or the handling of information. They do not have a mandate, they do not stand for election and it is not regarded as a conflict of interest. I do not think anybody would have a difficulty with that.

Senator Rose Conway-Walsh: Information on Rose Conway-Walsh Zoom on Rose Conway-Walsh I would have a difficulty with it.

Senator Gerry Horkan: Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan Councillors exercise their role in many functions and when a conflict arises, it is up to them to declare it. That is required of them. No one else can accuse them of it, they have to declare whether they have a conflict of interests. Many of us know many people for many reasons. When we have conflicts of interests, we declare them and absent ourselves from the Chamber. This is done in local authorities and elsewhere as well. Just because people are elected to part-time positions and paid €16,000 a year - and some level of expenses to compensate them for all of the costs involved - they are excluded. However, when they lose their seats, everything is suddenly fine. I am not saying that they should be included automatically, nor that we should stuff boards full of them. Many boards do not have this requirement but it has become a tendency in the past five or ten years to start putting this in as an automatic exclusion. It is not fair to equate people serving in €16,000-a-year part-time positions with Members of the Oireachtas. That is not a fair comparison.

Deputy Patrick O'Donovan: Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan I will conclude on this because I have digressed from the amendment. Senator Horkan has made a very interesting point. He will be very glad to know that I will be bringing a Bill on public sector standards before the House, hopefully in the near future. It is winging its way through committee and is nearly finished. It is for the very purpose we are discussing, of which we were reminded again on Thursday night last during an "RTÉ Investigates" programme. It is for this very reason that we want to do this. This is an honourable profession, whether at European, national or local level. The Senator is quite right: the declaration of interest is very important in the context of the public sector. I will bring through legislation to this effect shortly and I am delighted to hear the Senator will be supportive of it.

Senator Gerry Horkan: Information on Gerry Horkan Zoom on Gerry Horkan There is every possibility that I will be, unless the Minister of State provokes me.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins It is useful that declarations of interest have been raised. Of course, such declarations are implied in the State guidelines but perhaps they might be more robustly reflected. As Senator Conway Walsh stated, county managers can also have concerns and conflicts of interest, particularly where a large number of private bodies will, in effect, be included as public bodies under the Bill and where decisions made may be of great significance to them. As has been indicated, it may be that local authority members may be data controllers so there may need to be a clear protocol to ensure, for example, that if a data-sharing agreement is being decided between two public bodies and if their CEOs or leaders are on the board, then maybe they should not be making the decision relating to that agreement. This is an area we can examine further.

  Question put and agreed to.

  Sections 50 and 51 agreed to.

  Amendment No. 24d not moved.

  Section 52 agreed to.

  Sections 53 and 54 agreed to.

SECTION 55

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

In page 39, line 29, to delete “notice.” and substitute the following:
“notice, and
(v) a deadline for submissions not sooner than two weeks from the date of publication of the notice.”.

This section relates to the public consultation on a data-sharing agreement, the publication of a proposed agreement and an opportunity to engage in it. My amendment proposes that the public consultation must set a deadline that is not sooner than two weeks from the date of publication of the notice. If a data-sharing agreement is being put forward, it is the bare minimum that will effectively allow the transfer of individuals' data between organisations and bodies. They would have two weeks in which to lodge or express any concerns and become aware of that data-sharing agreement.

  This relates to an earlier debate we had on Committee Stage to which we will return on Report Stage. I have had some constructive engagement with departmental officials on other measures which could be put in place to ensure that the data-sharing agreement itself, which people are looking at during this period of public consultation, contains useful, usable information and clarity for the people looking at it. Under the GDPR, there is a responsibility to ensure clarity of information and accessibility of information. I appreciate the engagement I had with officials on that and I will return to the usability of data-sharing agreements for public consultation as well as this question of ensuring a suitable time period for consultation.

Deputy Patrick O'Donovan: Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan Section 55 provides that all public bodies shall hold a public consultation in advance of entering into a data-sharing agreement. Section 55(1) provides that the public bodies shall publish: a copy of the draft data-sharing agreement; a summary of the findings of any data impact assessment; and a statement from the data protection officer of each of the public bodies concerned.

  The Senator’s amendment proposes that at least two weeks would be given for the making of such submissions. This is a reasonable timeframe and I would accept it. However, section 62 provides that the data-governance board shall specify the time period for consultation. Accordingly, while I accept the principle of the amendment, I propose that an amendment be made to section 62 on Report Stage to give effect to what the Senator seeks and I ask her to withdraw the amendment to section 55.

  Section 62 states:

The Board shall specify—
(a) the time periods referred to in section 55(1)(d)(iii) and section 56, and

(b) the information to be submitted in accordance with section 56(1)(d).

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I thank the Minister of State for accepting the amendment in principle. I accept that section 62 is an appropriate place for time period to be set out. In that context I will withdraw the amendment.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

  Section 55 agreed to.

  Sections 56 to 63, inclusive, agreed to.

SECTION 64

  Question proposed: "That section 64 stand part of the Bill."

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I indicate that on Report Stage I may bring in an amendment to section 64 on the rules, procedures and standards the Minister may set out on the operation and use of base registries.

  Question put and agreed to.

  Sections 65 agreed to

SECTION 66

  Question proposed: "That section 66 stand part of the Bill."

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins Section 66 proposes model agreements and examples of good practice agreements. I reserve the right to bring in a suggestion in respect of a good practice agreement on Report Stage.

  Question put and agreed to.

  Sections 67 and 68 agreed to.

SECTION 69

  Question proposed: "That section 69 stand part of the Bill."

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins Section 69 deals with the prohibition on requests for certain documents. We had an earlier Committee Stage discussion on information such as special categories of personal data and so forth. I am reserving the right to see if those special categories of personal data relate to some of these documents.

  Question put and agreed to.

  Section 70 agreed to.

SECTION 71

  Question proposed: "That section 71 stand part of the Bill."

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins This section deals with data sharing but also relates back to the question of the data portal. In a number of cases individuals are seeking data and the Minister is informed. I should have stated this when we discussed the data portals because I may return to it on Report Stage. There is a lack of clarity on the Minister being informed when an individual is seeking information through the data portal. It is not clear if the Minister is informed that somebody is seeking data or if the Minister gets to share the information the individual is seeking. Clarity is needed there.

  Similar clarity might be needed on the provision of information on data sharing. Again it is information on the fact that data is being shared versus the sharing of the data itself. We need more clarity in respect of the data portal and section 71. I am not pressing anything at the moment on it. I would appreciate the opportunity to engage before Report Stage.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan The Senator is just giving notice that she may want to come back on Report Stage.

  Question put and agreed to.

  Section 72 agreed to.

SCHEDULE

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

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I again reserve the right that I may-----

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan We are on the Schedule.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins Believe it or not, I may wish to come back on the Schedule because it defines the bodies that cannot be defined as a public body. Earlier on Committee Stage we had some debate on the definition of "public body".

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan The Senator may wish to come back on it.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins Depending on how we move forward on the definition of "public body", we may need to look at the schedule. I am just signalling that.

  Question put and agreed to.

TITLE

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

Deputy Patrick O'Donovan: Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan With your indulgence, a Leas-Chathaoirligh, I wish to give notice of Report Stage amendments I intend to introduce. I have referred to some of these in the discussion this evening. I have also taken time to reflect on some of the issues raised during last week’s Committee Stage debate and on Second Stage.

  On foot of the discussion about the application of the Bill to special category data, I intend to propose an amendment to Part 2 that will make it explicit that the Bill does not permit sharing of special category data, except for Parts 5 and 8. There may be consequential technical amendments to other sections of the Bill arising from this. The Office of the Attorney General will examine this and advise accordingly during drafting.

  I will revisit the definition of a "public body" under section 9 to see if it can be better aligned with the Data Protection Act. However, on initial re-examination it is not easy to see what can be changed and I cannot guarantee that I will be proposing an amendment here.

  I will amend section 12(2)(a)(ii)(III) to provide that sharing for the purpose of avoiding a financial and administrative burden shall only be where this is to the benefit of the person receiving the service and not the public body providing the service. Again, there may be consequential amendments in other sections that refer to this purpose. The Attorney General will advise on this during the drafting process.

  I will propose a number of amendments to section 18, which sets out the content of the data-sharing agreements. In conjunction with the Attorney General, I will see if it is feasible to provide that the parties to an agreement shall specify the basis on which data is to be processed in a manner along the lines Senator Higgins proposed under amendment No. 14.  I will also look at adding a requirement under section 18 for public bodies to make a formal undertaking in the data-sharing agreement to abide by the principles of data protection as set out in Article 5 of the GDPR. This will address the various amendments the Senator proposed requiring public bodies to have regard to necessity and proportionality of sharing. I note the Senator's strong views on the obligation to use a base registry under section 42. While the scope for accepting changes is limited, I will examine the section again to see if any amendment might be possible. The Attorney General is also considering a technical amendment that may be required for this section.

I will table amendments to section 44, as I outlined during the discussions on amendments Nos. 20, 21, 22 and 22a. As we have discussed, I will re-examine sections 47 and 48 to see what might be done to address the provisions concerning the composition of the data governance board and its committees. I have accepted amendment No. 24dto section 48, subject to the wording being in order. If a technical amendment is required here to give full effect to this, I will table the amendment on Report Stage.

I propose to amend section 55(1)(b) to provide that the parties to a data sharing agreement shall outline whether they considered carrying out a data protection impact assessment. This is the best way to address the issues raised by Senator Alice-Mary Higgins in amendment No. 15. I will table an amendment to section 62 to provide for a minimum two-week consultation period for the data sharing agreement, in accordance with the commitment I made during the discussion on amendment No. 25. I will consider making an amendment to section 64 to provide that the Minister shall issue a rule, procedure or standard on suitable safeguards to protect against inappropriate accessing or processing of data shared under the Bill. Hopefully, this will address the issues raised by the Senator in amendment No. 10.

Finally, I will table an amendment to add the National Shared Services Office to the list of specified bodies under the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005. Members may recall that the office was established as a separate legal entity from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform by legislation enacted last year. There is a need to create a specific legal basis for the office to process personal public service numbers, PPSN, and public service identity data as part of its activities.

  Question put and agreed to.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paul Coghlan Zoom on Paul Coghlan When is it proposed to take Report Stage?

Senator Paddy Burke: Information on Paddy Burke Zoom on Paddy Burke Next Tuesday.

   Report Stage ordered for Tuesday, 10 July 2018.

   Sitting suspended at 7.05 p.m. and resumed at 7.30 p.m.

Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2017: Committee Stage (Resumed)

SECTION 2

  Debate resumed on amendment No. 3:

In page 8, between lines 4 and 5, to insert the following:
" "diversity" means a wide range of backgrounds, experiences, interests and perspectives, reflective of the diverse nature of Irish society and including but not limited to socio-economic status, gender, race, ethnicity, minority groups and the majority group;".

- (Senator Lynn Ruane)

Senator Michael McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell I am not opposed to diversity. I am just worried about this particular amendment and whether it will achieve what it sets out to achieve. If we say that diversity is to be taken into account by the commission and if we define diversity in the manner suggested by Senator Ruane, we impose an obligation on the commission to consider the issues set out in her definition that it must ask questions of applicants or seek their input on their "backgrounds, experiences, interests and perspectives ... socio-economic status, gender, race, ethnicity, minority groups" and whether they are in the minority or majority group. Those charged with taking that definition of diversity into account must consider those issues. They must ask some person who comes to them what is their socioeconomic status. How are they to do this? Are they to ask, "What do you earn per annum? What property do you or your spouse own? What have you inherited? What is your wealth? Where did you go to school? Are you poor or are you rich"? These are the questions that this definition of diversity imposes as questions for examination by the commission. One could infer, and very unfairly, that some young woman or man who went to one school or another had some socioeconomic background arising from that part of his or her education. Is one supposed to ask, "Did you get into your school or go to university on a scholarship? Did you work during vacations to put yourself through college or school"? Is that the kind of question that we have to ask because that is what is involved if we say that socioeconomic status is a criterion for consideration as part of the selection process.

Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile: Information on Niall Ó Donnghaile Zoom on Niall Ó Donnghaile They might be proud to say that.

Senator Michael McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell Is it to be the case that someone is to be cross-examined or required to provide information on his or her socioeconomic status and asked if he or she owes money to a bank or if he or she is wealthy because his or her parents or grandparents were wealthy landowners or because his or her mother or father made it big in this boom or that? Is this a matter which is seriously to be taken into account in determining whether somebody should not be a judge? This sounds great and it seems that Senator Ruane is asking us to do something which is very inclusive and which will produce an entirely different Judiciary. It also seems that different people will be appointed if the amendment is accepted because otherwise it will mean nothing. If it is not going to make any difference at all, that is fine. If it is going to make a difference, the clear implication is that those are issues which should, when everything else is even in terms of merit, tip us towards one appointment or another. The issues in question are, of course, whether the person is poor or rich or whether he or she has a certain socioeconomic status - whatever that means - which merits him or her getting the job or and whether these should be taken into account when giving the job to him or her rather than to someone else. I use the word "job" carefully because, as one Court of Appeal judgment recently made clear, being a judge is not just a job, it is a constitutional office. It is not just a career choice for people, it is a constitutional office to which obligations attach.

  Is it a good idea to make this amendment? It would be far more politically correct for me to say that this is wonderful and that I have no problem with it. I know that I risk criticism to the effect that by opposing this particular definition of "diversity", I am against diversity in any shape or form. If a committee is bound to conduct its inquiries in accordance with law and if law sets these out as the criteria that it must take into account, it must make inquiry on these issues. It must ask what is your socioeconomic status. Is that fair? Is it in any way fair that we should say that one person has a higher or lower - whatever those phrases mean - socioeconomic status than another or that because the existing Judiciary has this particular socioeconomic status on average, we should look to somebody with a lesser or different socioeconomic status in making appointments to the Bench? That is a mistake in principle.

  When it comes to gender, by any standards, a dramatic transformation is taking place under our noses in the gender composition of the Judiciary and, by extension, in the wider legal profession.  The simple fact is that the majority of solicitors are women and I think we are approaching a situation where the majority of younger barristers are women. In terms of appointments to the Bench, anybody who looks back over the past ten or 15 years is going to see a dramatic transformation that reflects that gender compositional aspect of the legal professional and, presumably, legal academics, if we extend eligibility to them. We are dealing with a very transformational situation where we do not need a statement about gender or whatever.

  In terms of race, ethnicity and minority groups, somebody asked earlier whether we have racial minority people on the Bench, and we have had. If one wants to include race, say Judaism, we have had people on the Bench. If one wants to exclude that and say it is pure religion and is not racial, that is fine. I do not mind. Looking across the legal profession, is the question of race as most people would define it, and that does not include something like Judaism, a criterion for selecting people? Maybe it is. Does one have to direct a merit-based body to, in addition to merit, look over its shoulder at the race issue? I do not think that is necessarily the case.

  Ethnicity now means, I think probably by legal interpretation, membership of the Traveller community as opposed to race. There is a distinction here between race and ethnicity. Are we to have separate criteria? People from the Polish community, Lithuanian community, sub-Saharan Africa community or wherever should be also considered on that basis, in addition to merit.

  Finally, one has the idea of minority group and majority group. I do not know what the term "minority group" means in this context. Does it mean, for instance, gender orientation or something of that kind, or the fact that one is philosophically an atheist, an agnostic or whatever, or that one is right-wing, left-wing or whatever? I do not know what minority group means in this context. There are very many minority groups in our society. There are strong pro-life people who might probably now be seen as a minority. There are strong reactionaries on some subjects rather than other subjects. Are they to be seen as a minority group?

  This brings me back to the point that I raised earlier. What is the so-called majority group? Who is this so-called majority? Who is in it? Who is out of it? My view about the majority is that it is a mathematical concept. If one says Senator Norris and myself are or are not members of the majority group then what is one saying about him or me in this context? I do not know what one is saying about us. I just do not understand what the concept is. Senator Norris is a member of the Church of Ireland and I was brought up as a Catholic. He is gay and I am not. Am I in the majority and he in the minority on those accounts? I just do not understand what this amendment will bring about.

  I would have been much happier to simply say that all appointments shall be based on merit. Whether one is black, white or brown, or whether one is gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual or whatever, all of these things are irrelevant because one gets the job on merit. I favour that approach to the question of diversity. We are dealing here with a notion that somehow the group that appoints people to the Bench should not produce some class of people who are considered to be legal stereotypes. They are all going to be legal stereotypes because they are all going to have studied and practised law for a certain number of years, whether as an academic or as a practitioner. They are all going to be stereotypes in that after ten or 12 years' practice or whatever they are all going to be people who belong to what can be broadly stated to be the middle class. One is not going to find people who are on a dole queue, in a food queue or in a homeless situation who fill the criteria for appointment to the Judiciary. It is idle and self-indulgent to think that one will.

  On that basis, I am not going to oppose Senator Ruane's amendment, because I do not want to be thrown into the group that would say I am against diversity, as defined by her. This attempt to define what diversity is casts on the judicial appointments commission a process of interrogating candidates that could be very unfair. Can one imagine any other job where one is asked questions about one's socio-economic status? When people answer the questionnaire honestly, they must ask whether they are talking themselves out of a job and saying something about themselves that will end up with them not getting this job. If one said, for instance, that for the executive officer competition in the Civil Service, one had to define oneself in terms of one's socio-economic status so that the person making the selection could consider that criterion, would one not consider that this was a most unfortunate and retrograde process and one that should not be contemplated? I do not think it should be applied to the Judiciary. I really believe - I say so most sincerely - the best person, wherever he or she comes from and whatever his or her background, in terms of merit, and I mean being judicially impartial, learned in the law and the like should be considered.

  I want to really get to the following point, because it comes back through various proposed amendments to the Bill. If one thinks that some group is going to somehow interrogate people as to their philosophical outlook, as to whether their socio-economic background affects the way in which they will decide cases, then crucially, is this body going to address that question? Is Victor Boyhan likely to decide cases in a particular way because of his socio-economic background or am I likely to do so? If so, then one is in serious difficulty in terms of fairness and in my view, and I put this out for consideration by the House, one will seriously compromise the whole idea of a fair and impartial process to select judges. How can it possibly be? Let us suppose that Senator Boyhan and myself were contending candidates for a particular position and both of us were qualified legally. His socio-economic position, as he has explained to this House on several occasions, is quite different from mine in its origin. However, it may not be all that different from mine now, thanks to his industry and expertise.  Does anybody think it would be fair of a selection committee to ask him where he came from, who raised him, what circumstances he was raised in, and so on, and then to ask me the same questions, and say that is something we have to put into the balance here? The point made by Senator Ruane in favour of this amendment is that somehow this will affect the way he or I, if given the job, will decide cases. That is the fundamental problem with much of the talk about judicial appointments, that somehow if there were different people from different backgrounds deciding cases, they would be decided differently.

The proposition is that the Judiciary is bourgeois, pro-establishment and comes from a particular socio-economic background, and on that basis has a particular mindset which affects the way it decides cases that come before it. Maybe that argument can be made, but if we set out down the road of selecting judges on the presupposition that issues, such as their socio-economic status, their gender, race or ethnicity or whether they are in a minority or majority group - whatever those phrases mean - will somehow have different outcomes, then we are treading a very dangerous path. Particularly if this function is given to lay people, to make recommendations by reference to these criteria, they are being asked to imagine how people will deal with particular issues which come before them. It is a mistaken view. I will not say any more about it but it is reasonable that I should say that.

The second amendment we are dealing with it is amendment No. 4, which is to remove the words "and includes the Chairperson", which is from the definition of lay person. This is significant because, whatever view one has of the definition of diversity, this is effectively a clear statement that no person who is a member of the legal profession, or has been for 15 years, or a judge, should be capable of being the chairperson of the judicial appointments commission. Is this a merit-based appointment? Is it the case that people who are lawyers, and who know something about the law, or legal academics, or judges or retired judges, are somehow marked with the mark of Cain and set out as a special group among the community who on merit should not chair the judicial appointments commission? It is not that we want the best person but we want somebody who is marked out by a special criterion, that they have never practised law, have never been learned in law and have never seen how the system operates, and such a person alone, to be capable of being the chairperson of the commission. That is what the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Ross, has imposed upon the Government. That is the criterion for being chair that he has attempted to impose upon the Government, that somebody who knows what they are talking about, regardless of whether he or she should get the job, should be excluded from the job. Merit should have nothing to do with any person who has any recent legal experience, whether judicial or in practice.

Why are we asked to make this distinction, and to depart from merit or the idea that the commission, to which we entrust great powers and freedom to make decisions between candidates for the Judiciary, should be chaired by somebody who does not, by definition, possess those particular qualities? Why is it that the chairperson must, by definition, be somebody who has not practised law in the past 15 years, who has never been a judge, who should not really know what is required of a good lawyer for the one part, or a good judge for the other? The person should not have personal experience of any of these issues.

One is driven to the conclusion that the Minister, Deputy Ross, is driven by a personal agenda in making this particular requirement of his Government partners. I do not want to get personal about this, but I know what the background to his animus in this matter is. It arises from his dissatisfaction with the way a particular case he was involved in as a plaintiff was decided. I will not go further into it. I know the details, and I know what we are dealing with here. That is why he wants this provision to be put in place. I would have thought that is fair enough and that the idea of a lay chairperson would not be unique to Ireland, if it is enacted, although it would be highly unusual. Then I asked myself what particular ideology lies behind this? We have to refer to The Sunday Timesarticle of a fortnight ago which revealed for the first time, by means of an essay by Ms Carol O'Neill, that the origin of this is that the Minister tendered, as a demand of his coalition partners, that they should adopt a Private Members' Bill that he had introduced when in opposition to amend the Constitution as to the manner in which the Judiciary was selected. I am totally in favour of an inventive backbencher, as he then was, coming up with an amendment to the Constitution which he thought would be an improvement on the way judges were appointed, but then I looked at the text of the Bill that he was pressing upon his would-be coalition partners. I remind the House this is a man who said that, while he was negotiating with Deputy Enda Kenny for the formation of the 2011 Government, he believed he was negotiating with a political corpse, to use his own phrase.

Acting Chairman (Senator Diarmuid Wilson): Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson I wish to point out that the Minister, Deputy Ross, is not here to defend himself and may dispute some of your contentions. Please bear that in mind.

Senator Michael McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell That is fair enough. What is this the alternative to? The Minister, Deputy Ross, wanted all judicial appointments in future to be sanctioned by an Oireachtas committee on which the Government of the day would be in a minority. That is what he wanted to be put into the Constitution, weird though it was. We now have a situation where the Government is a minority on virtually everything, but it does not matter. He wanted there to be a constitutional provision that whoever finally decided on the composition of the Judiciary should be subject to the sanction of a committee in which the Government would be a minority.  He wanted to take the function of advising the President, which the Government has under the Constitution, away from the Government of the day and confer it on the opponents of the Government. He wanted the opponents of the Government, even if it was a majority government, to have the right to determine who should become a judge. While he now says, in favour of this legislation, that he wants to depoliticise the manner in which the Judiciary is appointed and to remove cronyism from it, when in opposition and when he imagined that he still would be in opposition, he demanded the right for the Opposition to decide who should be members of the Judiciary. I make that point to try to examine, fairly and reasonably, whether it is reasonable for him to now demand that the chairperson of this commission, regardless of merit, should never be a practising lawyer, a person who has been a practising lawyer in the past 15 years, a judge, a former judge, or whatever. That is based not simply on personal prejudice - as I have explained, though I have not elaborated on it - but on a misconceived notion that somehow would end political patronage in the appointment of the Judiciary by taking the function of appointing judges from the Government of the day and conferring it on the Opposition of the day, of which he was then a member. That was to be the way to end cronyism. Does any of that stand up to scrutiny?

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris No.

Senator Michael McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell It does not. If this commission is supposed to be impartial, fair and reasonable in the way it selects judges, is it not extraordinary that, from among its own members, it cannot select a chairperson who is, or has been, a lawyer or a judge? Is that not an extraordinary disqualification to impose upon a group which is supposed to be impartial in every other way in respect of the appointment of judges?

  I will now come to the amendment proposed by Senators Bacik, Humphreys, Nash and Ó Ríordáin. In respect of their definition of "the service of the State", I am fully supportive of the proposition that it should be clearly defined to whom this term refers. I expect the Minister to agree with that. We cannot have a situation in which people who are "in the service of the State" goes undefined. The Senators have proposed an amendment which says that:

A person is employed in the service of the State if he or she is—

(a) a member of the Garda Síochána,

(b) a member of the Defence Forces, or

(c) a civil servant in the Civil Service of the Government or the Civil Service of the State.

Are HSE executives or chief executives of statutory bodies included in this definition? Why do we go with loose language of this kind? Why do we not accept that, if we are going to disqualify people from membership of the commission, we should define exactly who is disqualified? I have no problem with the proposals of Senator Bacik and her colleagues because I can see precisely what they are dealing with. They are saying that we should define the term and make it clear that civil servants who are subject to ministerial direction - express or implied, real or imagined - cannot function on this body.

  I want to summarise my position in respect of section 2. The diversity definition given by Senator Ruane would disimprove the section. To have this body inquire into the socioeconomic status of people is a big mistake. To put this body in a situation where it has to ask people whether they are a member of a minority group or whether they are in the so-called majority group is a big mistake. To exclude a person from chairing the commission solely by virtue of the fact that they know something about what they are doing is wrong.

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell Perish the thought.

Senator Michael McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell The Labour Party amendment, in defining those in "the service of the State" as those in particular categories, is correct. In those circumstances I strongly believe that Senator Ruane should withdraw her amendment and I ask her to do so. I will not vote against it. I do not know whether the Government would accept it in any event. In respect of the second amendment, I urge Members of this House to vote for it. In respect of the third amendment, I ask the House to agree with Senator Bacik's amendment. It is reasonable with regard to all of the circumstances.

  I want to emphasise that I fully understand where Senator Ruane is coming from. However, I ask her to reflect on the process of appointment that would take place if her amendment was accepted by the House. I ask her to consider how this body would ask about the socioeconomic status of an individual. What does it mean? Does it mean his or her bank balance or property holdings? Does it mean a person's parents' bank balance? Does it mean where a person came from or how he or she was educated? That is not a good basis on which to make an inquiry with a view to determining who should be a judge.

  I will make another point which Senator Ruane might take on board. People from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds have made it to the top of the legal profession. I have seen a bus conductor, whom I knew well, establish a successful practice in the Acting Chairman's part of the country. The Acting Chair will probably remember the person I am talking about. I have seen people who were born in Coolock and people whose parents were at the edge of poverty becoming very senior judges in their time. We should not ask this body to inquire into those matters. It will make for a very unequal and very unsatisfactory appointment process. The Senator may ask what is wrong with telling a group that we should have working-class lawyers on our Bench. That is possibly what is in the mind of some Members. By definition, after ten or 12 years they are no longer members of the working class as most people would understand it. They are the earning class, the people who have succeeded in their profession and the people who have brought themselves, if they are otherwise eligible by virtue of their practice, to being capable of being appointed on merit. What more does the Senator want to do in respect of such people?

Acting Chairman (Senator Diarmuid Wilson): Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson I call Senator Ruane.

Senator Martin Conway: Information on Martin Conway Zoom on Martin Conway I had indicated some time ago.

Acting Chairman (Senator Diarmuid Wilson): Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson I will call Senator Conway in a minute. I am taking contributions in rotation.

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane I do not know where to start. For the length of time Senator McDowell was speaking he was reinforcing why we need diversity both on the commission and in the Judiciary. Whether Senator McDowell opposes the amendment, and whether he tries to stress that he somehow understands my intention, he continued throughout his contribution to show a lack of understanding of diversity and very classist and elitist protectionism in respect of the Judiciary.  It nearly shows a fear of diversity. When we look at determining social class, I suppose it is the difference between me and him. It is very obvious. We have pathways to law and access programmes now. The Trinity College Dublin access programme is working with schools in areas of deprivation. One only has to look at somebody's CV to find out where he or she went to school. Diversity does not have an impact on merit. During the first half of this debate, Senator McDowell spoke about the need for those being considered for these positions to have a grasp and understanding of the law and to have been in the practice for a number of years. It was as if those who fall into the bracket of diversity would not meet those requirements. Those who would be chosen for interview for these positions would be selected on the basis of their merit. Diversity is aspirational. Sometimes we need people in the majority group, like Senator McDowell, to move over, make space and allow diversity in. Sometimes that has to happen through positive discrimination. This is not about asking people about their socioeconomic status, or wanting to see their payslips. The routes people take through education and the backgrounds from which they come are clear. My earnings might be different now that I am standing in this Chamber as a Senator, but that does not change who I am culturally. It does not change my class, my experiences and my attitudes.

Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile: Information on Niall Ó Donnghaile Zoom on Niall Ó Donnghaile Spot on.

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane One can have an amazing understanding of the law and be an amazing judge, but still have an atrocious attitude towards people of a different class. That can make the difference in a judgment. Everyone who sits and makes a judgment definitely has an unconscious bias. It does not matter whether he or she understands the law. In 2017, some 60 people were locked up for offences relating to television licences. Then Deputy Michael Lowry walked free last week. I ask Senators not to tell me that when a judge sits in the chair to consider these matters, he or she does not have an unconscious bias. After the period of austerity, the number of people being locked up for not having television licences peaked at an all-time high. This was based on austerity and on poverty. If the judge understood the context, I am pretty sure the last thing he or she would do is lock up a woman from Jobstown for having missed her television licence payment. There are differences in judgments, whether we like it or not. The question of whether people set out to do this is a different one. We need to be aware that we have an unconscious bias. I have it and Senator McDowell has it. Regardless of how fair and just we like to be, we all possess an unconscious bias that sways how we think and how we judge things and sometimes it gives us a lack of understanding.

  Senators might like to pay attention to section 7(1) in Part 2, which provides that recommendations "shall be based on merit". Everything in section 7 after subsection (1) is based on subsection (1). Section 7(2) provides that "Subject to subsection (1), where the function, under this Act, of selecting and recommending persons for appointment to a judicial office falls to be performed, regard shall be had to" three objectives that are set out and defined. Everything is underpinned by merit. When I read the Bill, I noted that section 7(2)(b) sets out "the objective that the membership of the judiciary should, to the extent feasible and practicable, reflect the diversity within the population as a whole". Diversity is mentioned throughout this Bill. Some people might like to think that diversity is about whether someone went to UCD or TCD, but that is not the case. Diversity is based on a million other factors, including social class, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity. There is so much more to it. Right now, diversity, as set out in this Bill, does not reflect the actual diversity among the population as a whole.

  When I read the Bill, I formed the impression that its objective was to address diversity deficits on the basis of a report that advocates systematic changes to judicial appointments. We need to be aspirational when we look to reform our Judiciary. I refer specifically to the structural barriers faced by minority groups and people from less advantaged socioeconomic backgrounds. It is often the case that people like me do not feel like we belong in certain spaces. We are not staying at the bottom of the ladder because we do not have ability or merit, but because other people are maintaining the space rather than moving over and allowing us to be part of the setting of the agenda. That is where the provision with regard to lay people comes in. It will allow us to become part of the setting of the agenda and to be noticed. That is when our merit comes to light. It is sometimes the case that the only reason our merit is picked up on is that we were allowed to come to the table. We need to define "diversity" so that diversity can be at the table, be represented and be heard. That will allow people to be acknowledged for their merit. When we aim for our Judiciary to reflect the ethnic, gender or social composition of this State, we send a clear message that people from under-represented groups who want to pursue judicial careers will be welcomed, supported and valued in those careers. Does Senator McDowell value diversity and difference?

Senator Michael McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell I do.

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane Society should always be confident that the Judiciary is able to serve justice fairly. At a time we are overly represented by white, middle-class or upper-class judges, we must acknowledge that there is unconscious bias and objectivity. A bus conductor and a person from Coolock are not representative of society as a whole. We cannot point to the exception, for example by referring to my status as a Member of the Seanad. There has to be equal diversity. We cannot point to one person and say we have diversity. That is not an accurate picture of society as a whole. Diversity, in itself, is merit. Diversity benefits us all and reflects who we are as a society. If diversity is defined, it does not mean we will not produce high-quality judges with an in-depth understanding of the law. It means we recognise a deficit of difference in our Judiciary and we value diversity, not only on the commission but also in our Judiciary. It really shows the difference between attitude and understanding.

  I have come up against many judges. I should probably stop sharing personal experiences. Sometimes it is my only way to put the point across. As a child, I stood in Tallaght court in front of a judge who did not care about my situation, what I had experienced or who I was as a person. All he cared about was standing down and speaking down to me and my father. My father respects the institutions and had never entered a courtroom in his life. He could not believe he was in this situation with his teenage daughter. The judge did not look at the charges. He did not even read them out. He stood there and berated my father for who he thought he was and who he perceived him to be. That is the difference. When we look at diversity, we get people who understand that people end up in a legal system in front of a judge for various reasons. It might not change the judgment because if one breaks the law, one breaks the law and the judgment is made. It might begin to change how we view and treat people when they are in the court system. If we clearly state in our definition of "diversity" in a Bill that is supposed to be about diversity that we aim to raise our game in this way, we might send a clear message to people from working-class, Traveller or migrant backgrounds that we are prepared to create space so they can pursue a career in the Judiciary.

  Regardless of whether Senator McDowell opposes this amendment, he needs to understand that respecting diversity, and the aspiration of aiming to create space for someone from a minority background, does not mean that someone else will not get the job. The person has to be there based on merit because merit is the primary focus of this. When we talk about diversity in this Bill, we are saying it is an objective. It might not be an objective right now, because we need more people in the legal system and studying law to be able to create a diverse Judiciary. We are setting a marker that this is an aim, an objective and a goal. It does not stop anybody getting in because they are in the majority. The reason I have included the phrase, "the majority group", in this amendment is that I do not want to exclude the majority voice - the ruling class and the middle class - from being seen as part of the diversity of the Judiciary in the same way as the other groups listed in the amendment. Right now, those in the majority group are maintaining the space. I could probably go on for ages, but I know I am biting into Senator McDowell's attempts to filibuster the Bill for the rest of the night.

Senator Michael McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell I am taking the Senator's amendment seriously.

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane I am going to stop biting. The Senator is filibustering.

Acting Chairman (Senator Diarmuid Wilson): Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson Senator McDowell is quite entitled to make his points on the three amendments before the House.

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane Of course he is, and I am quite entitled to call it out.

Acting Chairman (Senator Diarmuid Wilson): Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson Senator Ruane is quite entitled to make her points. It is unfair to claim that someone is filibustering when they are making quite clear and distinct points.

Senator Michael McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell If I did not take the Senator's point seriously, I would not have addressed it.

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane I do not think you took it seriously. The length of time spent does not show-----

Acting Chairman (Senator Diarmuid Wilson): Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson I ask Senator Ruane to address her remarks through the Chair.

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane The length of time that one speaks about something does not show how serious about it one is.

Senator Michael McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell Is the Senator in a hurry?

Acting Chairman (Senator Diarmuid Wilson): Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson That is a matter of interpretation.

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane Understanding diversity is what shows seriousness, giving it real thought and not being insulting as though somebody would not be there based on merit just because they are from a different backgrounds. Merit is always going to be the underpinning principle as to whether someone will be in a position to even go for the Judiciary in the first place.

Acting Chairman (Senator Diarmuid Wilson): Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson By way of clarification, on these three amendments we are discussing at the moment, Senators Norris, Boyhan, Conway, Higgins, Clifford-Lee, Craughwell and Dolan have yet to contribute.

Senator Martin Conway: Information on Martin Conway Zoom on Martin Conway I indicated at the very start that I wished to speak. I am just pointing that out to the Acting Chairman.

Acting Chairman (Senator Diarmuid Wilson): Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson This business has been resumed. Senators were on the list already.

Senator Martin Conway: Information on Martin Conway Zoom on Martin Conway I indicated my intention to speak before it was resumed. It was before it finished the last time.

Acting Chairman (Senator Diarmuid Wilson): Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson I am going through the list I have in front of me and I am trying to be fair to everybody.

Senator Martin Conway: Information on Martin Conway Zoom on Martin Conway I thought I was the one with the eyesight problem.

Acting Chairman (Senator Diarmuid Wilson): Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson I am trying to be fair to everybody. If Senator Conway has a difficulty with that, I would be grateful if he came to speak to me personally.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I listened with great interest to what Senator McDowell said and I learned a great deal from it. He spoke extremely carefully and meticulously, he addressed the points and I think he did show respect for Senator Ruane's amendment. She clearly feels he did not but I thought he did. I found it a most interesting exercise. He was careful in what he said and his delivery was slow because it was careful and thoughtful but I certainly appreciated it.

  I am generally very much in sympathy with the intention of Senator Ruane's amendment to introduce diversity. I think I heard her say at one stage that it does not matter whether they know anything about the law.

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane I did not say that.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris All right. That is fine.

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane I said the opposite.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris That is what I thought I heard her say. She did not say it. That is grand.

  The problem with these lists and the reason they are often rejected by various Governments is that when they are prescriptive, they always leave people out. What does one do to rectify that? Does one endlessly extend the list or can some kind of general formula be found? Senator Ruane is trying to find a general formula and I thoroughly approve of that. However, there is no mention of the disabled on the list, for example. I personally think they should be mentioned. It is not that somebody in a wheelchair should naturally be a judge but he or she should certainly be considered for it. In a situation where courtrooms are not adapted to allow wheelchair access, such people should certainly be considered. If the presence of a certain judge in a courtroom meant that those facilities were improved, then that would be a bloody good thing. I remember when Senator Brian Crowley was elected to this House. Previously in Leinster House, we went up hill and down dale, backwards, sideways and all the rest of it. There were little steps here, big steps there and flights of steps somewhere else. When he was elected there was suddenly a flurry of activity, and it was all flattened out and made wheelchair accessible. Now we have lifts. I think that is a very good thing, and if it takes the election of somebody to the Senate or the nomination of somebody as a judge, that is fine. That is a good principle.

  Turning to amendment No. 4, I believe the situation Senator McDowell is attempting to correct is one of the most ludicrous, fatuous and imbecilic elements in the entire Bill. Judges are respectable, decent and intelligent people, or at least the vast majority of them are, and to specifically exclude people with this background from consideration is absolutely ridiculous. In fact, I put an amendment down elsewhere to the effect that the chair of this commission should be the Chief Justice. That is how I think it should be. The most senior person in the profession should be in charge of this situation. Can Members imagine this in any other profession? Do we think the vets would have somebody from outside their profession select the head vet? Do we think doctors would allow it?

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell Would we allow it?

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris In the old parlance of Dublin, "You have your glue, mister". They would not.

  The Bill states that “lay member” means a lay person who is a member of the commission and includes the chairperson and that “lay person” means a person who does not hold and has never held judicial office. The very fact that a candidate has a professional engagement with the area in which they would be expected to elect or nominate a judge disqualifies them. Their whole professional experience automatically disqualifies them. The definition of "lay person" goes on to say that it is someone who is not and never has been the Attorney General, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Chief State Solicitor or a law officer. I cannot think of any officers that have better qualification to be the Chief Justice. Then the definition goes further and states such a person "is not, and in the relevant period specified by subsection (2) for the purposes of this paragraph, was not, a practising barrister or a practising solicitor". It is utterly insane. I do not see how any intelligent member of the legal profession could possibly stomach that and no other profession would do so. It is utterly and absolutely ludicrous.

  Finally, amendment No. 5 states a person is employed in the service of the State if he or she is a member of the Garda Síochána, a member of the Defence Forces or a member of the Civil Service. I am just throwing this out but perhaps a simple way around that would be to use the descriptor of somebody who is paid by the State. The provision might say that a person is employed in the service of the State if they are paid by the State. That seems to me to be a pretty obvious method of determining it but perhaps there are drawbacks to that as well. I leave this little pearl of wisdom before the House for its consideration.

Senator Victor Boyhan: Information on Victor Boyhan Zoom on Victor Boyhan I welcome the Minister to the House. He was not here earlier when Members had a fairly heated debate about the Group of States Against Corruption, GRECO, report but I will leave him with one line before turning to talk about the amendments. The Minister or members of the Government might reflect on the GRECO report tonight, which I understand to be a very significant report. It has been leaked in certain sections. Several people have suggested they have had sight of it. It might be helpful for us where this Bill is concerned if the Minister or the Government would consider releasing this important report. It impacts on this Bill. I said earlier that this will come back to haunt us. If half of what is suggested in this report is true, it will haunt the Government and may cause problems for the Government itself.

  I am not here to ridicule any particular Minister. That is not for me to do. I want to be constructive in respect of the Bill. I spoke to one of the Minister's officials today but I have no indication as to the Minister's support for any of these amendments. Given the amount of time we are spending on this one, it might be helpful if between now and tomorrow, or the next day we address this business, we started having more engagement with the Minister, his Department and his officials. It would be helpful to get some indication of goodwill in support of these amendments. I think it is helpful for the process. The Minister, Deputy Flanagan, is busy, as are his officials. We too are busy. Setting that aside, I am appealing to the Minister to ask his officials to engage with us tomorrow and the next day to see where we can meet halfway if at all possible. That is important.

  The next point is that the Minister and the Government are not fooling me because I have spoken to several very senior people in Fine Gael who are grossly unhappy with this legislation. There is a suggestion here that poor Deputy Ross is struggling because the boys who share the Cabinet table with him really do not want this Bill to go through at all. Perhaps that is the case. I do not want to think that but I am aware that the Minister, Deputy Ross, has been busy on the telephones, ringing around, looking for support. The Taoiseach himself has been around looking for support and yet I meet Fine Gael Senators and Deputies, and Ministers for that matter, who look up when the Bill is mentioned. They do not say very much. The eyes go up to heaven. They do not believe in it. That is the reality of it and the Minister knows that. I appeal to him to get this GRECO report out tomorrow. I think it is very important. I think we can expect to hear some more tomorrow. I understand that a number of Sunday papers will publish aspects of the GRECO report. The Minister knows and I know that it is out there.  I do not know what the problem is. I do not know why the Government has decided to hide this important GRECO report that deals with real issues. As I said earlier, when an issue like this arose before the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, and former backbencher in the House, stood up and roared and screamed about openness, transparency and accountability. Now he has shut the door for some reason and prevented the Minister for Justice and Equality and his colleagues from publishing the GRECO report. Perhaps the Minister present will address the matter today, if he so wishes. Before the week is out the media will publish a substantial element of the GRECO report. I hope that he will remember I said so when he reads the report in the media in the next few days.

  Amendment No. 4 is an absolute disgrace and raises very serious questions about the Government. It shows that the Government wishes to exclude judges. Judges are in a very difficult position because they cannot enter the political arena and make a case. Let us consider the many distinguished judges who have served this country. I am particularly mindful of Mrs. Justice Susan Denham. In a very coded way she tried to make some calls on the judicial appointments commission and other forms of reform, in terms of judges. The separation of powers precludes judges from entering the political arena. I know that the Minister is a lawyer and knows this business very well. We are precluding them. It is an insult to the Judiciary that they are precluded, as are lawyers for that matter and people with legal practice of good standing, from allowing their names to even be considered. They have been excluded. There is a vendetta against the Judiciary. I am not from the Judiciary, none of my family is a member of the Judiciary, and I have no relations or contacts with the legal profession. The citizens of this country have been well served by the Judiciary. The Minister knows that and all of the Senators know that. For some reason someone has decided to exclude judges. Therefore, judges cannot talk for themselves but we are here to talk and use the platform that is Seanad Éireann to highlight concerns. It is important that judges are not excluded.

  I wish to refer to the Office of the Chief Justice, and not the individual. If this Government respects the Office of Chief Justice then it will allow this. To pot with the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport declaring that he will not let the legislation through or that it will not happen because he made the deal with the Government. I say let him walk. The Government has a B team and can select many people. The Government can go west, south, east, etc. I urge the Government to call his bluff. He will struggle to retain his seat in the three-seater Rathdown constituency and, if so, Fianna Fáil will get a second seat and there will be two for Fine Gael. Is that not the party's target and plan?

Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee: Information on Lorraine Clifford-Lee Zoom on Lorraine Clifford-Lee Fianna Fáil is there.

Senator Victor Boyhan: Information on Victor Boyhan Zoom on Victor Boyhan Fianna Fáil has told me that it is looking for someone.

Acting Chairman (Senator Diarmuid Wilson): Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson I do not think that Fine Gael is part of this Bill.

Senator Victor Boyhan: Information on Victor Boyhan Zoom on Victor Boyhan I urge the Minister for Justice and Equality to call the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport's bluff and let him walk. Does the Minister for Justice and Equality think that the other boys in the same group will walk? I firmly believe that they will not walk the plank with him. I urge the Government to stand up to him and I say that because it needs to be said. All the journalists and politicians are talking about the matter yet somehow no one is prepared to call this what it is. The Government signed up to a bad deal, its back is against the wall, and it is now forced to deliver yet it does not believe in the deal.

  In conclusion, this legislation is important to the Judiciary. I hope that the media persons who are listening will give this issue great coverage tomorrow.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris Fat chance.

Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile: Information on Niall Ó Donnghaile Zoom on Niall Ó Donnghaile Senator Boyhan is hopeful.

Senator Victor Boyhan: Information on Victor Boyhan Zoom on Victor Boyhan Let us wait and see.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris Maybe the issue will be covered in The Beano or The Dandy comics.

Senator Victor Boyhan: Information on Victor Boyhan Zoom on Victor Boyhan Fine Gael has a long tradition in law and order, and of supporting and respecting the Judiciary. If Fine Gael wants to make a stand then it can do so and allow a judge or a member of the legal profession to be considered for appointment to chair the commission.

Senator Martin Conway: Information on Martin Conway Zoom on Martin Conway This debate has already proved to be a very interesting and provocative debate. I listened with great intent to Senator McDowell who made genuine points. I do not question his motivation but I do not agree with him either. The word "diversity" has been bandied about a lot but it still is and will always be an extremely important word. Diversity is something that should define us a people and we should want to be diverse. Ireland seeks a seat on the UN Security Council because we embrace diversity and encourage people to be diverse.

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell It might pay the soldiers.

Senator Martin Conway: Information on Martin Conway Zoom on Martin Conway That is a totally separate issue. There is no point in blurring this important debate with a political charge.

Acting Chairman (Senator Diarmuid Wilson): Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson Senator Craughwell has highlighted their efficiency and achievements.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I suggest that one goes to the bank of-----

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

Acting Chairman (Senator Diarmuid Wilson): Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson I would appreciate if Senator Craughwell would wait until he has the opportunity to speak.

Senator Martin Conway: Information on Martin Conway Zoom on Martin Conway To be fair to Senator Craughwell, he will present us with a presidential election. I wish him the very best of luck and I am sure every Senator in the House would also wish him well. Of course, Michael D. Higgins is a great President. I sincerely hope that he stands again and, if so, he will have our full support.

Acting Chairman (Senator Diarmuid Wilson): Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson The President is not here to defend himself.

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell He is. Will Senator Conway speak to Fine Gael tonight?

Senator Martin Conway: Information on Martin Conway Zoom on Martin Conway Yes. A presidential election is inevitable.

(Interruptions).

Acting Chairman (Senator Diarmuid Wilson): Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson I urge Senator Conway to resume his discussion of the Bill.

Senator Martin Conway: Information on Martin Conway Zoom on Martin Conway It seems that Sinn Féin-----

Senator Michael McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell Acting Chairman, I am accused of------

Senator Martin Conway: Information on Martin Conway Zoom on Martin Conway -----will field a candidate anyway.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris Good for Sinn Féin.

Senator Martin Conway: Information on Martin Conway Zoom on Martin Conway The presidential election will be very interesting.

Acting Chairman (Senator Diarmuid Wilson): Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson I urge Senator Conway to resume his discussion of the Bill.

Senator Martin Conway: Information on Martin Conway Zoom on Martin Conway If I was not interrupted it would be grand. Diversity is what should define us and it should be an aspiration. Senator Ruane was right to table her amendments as it has provoked this debate.

  I wish to say the following to Senator McDowell. Merit is a basic requirement. I believe that nobody should be considered for appointment unless he or she has merit, irrespective of his or her background. I mean irrespective of who they are, what they are, where they come from, or whether they come from very difficult parts or the most illustrious parts of the city. I do not think that we need to debate merit.

  Let us say two people with similar and equal standing in terms of ability, experience and competence were being considered yet one had a disability, and in order to provide support for that person there was a cost implication. Does that person by nature of his or her disability end up being discriminated against?

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris No, they should not.

Senator Martin Conway: Information on Martin Conway Zoom on Martin Conway They should not. Senator McDowell gave very detailed examples yet I did not hear him outline the type of scenario that I have just done. In order words, I wish to reverse his argument.

  Let us say somebody from the Traveller community was lucky enough to reach the level of junior or senior counsel, and the position of a District Court judge was being considered, and let us say it was noted that a significant number of cases came from the Traveller community. Would there be covert discrimination, in terms of appointment, because there might be a belief that he or she might have a better understanding or be a little more generous when it came to sentencing? The converse of Senator McDowell's argument also exists. He made a strong and convincing argument but one can flip his argument to make a claim for the opposite. I urge people to give careful consideration to Senator Ruane's amendments.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris Will the Senator vote for them?

Senator Martin Conway: Information on Martin Conway Zoom on Martin Conway I have not finished my contribution yet. I urge the Minister for Justice and Equality to see what he can do in the next week in terms of Report Stage. I urge him to come up with a formula that embraces what Senator Ruane wants to achieve and what I presume that we, as a group, want to achieve. We may approach the matter from different angles and I sincerely hope that everybody in the House wants us to agree a global position. I think that Report Stage is a possible avenue because it gives the Minister an opportunity to reflect on the conversation that has taken place here. I urge Senators to remember what the Seanad represents.  We must remember the Seanad is supposed to be a Chamber where we get into the nitty-gritty of debate and come up with measures which are better than what Dáil Éireann has presented us with.

  There might be an avenue where the Minister can examine this and come back with some proposal on Report Stage. While it may not be what we all want, it might help in the journey of achieving the type of Judiciary we want to see evolve into the future.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins It is important to recognise that diversity is not an abstract concept or something invented by my colleague, Senator Ruane, which we must approach for the first time and imagine how we could possibly achieve or determine it. Diversity is an established concept and value which has been shown to have exceptional merit and be an important element, particularly in decision-making. The lack of diversity in decision-making in the financial crisis, along with the dangers of groupthink and of unconscious bias, have been strongly and academically proven. This is not a matter of opinion but of long-established evidence. When one has a lack of diversity, one has a danger of groupthink, unconscious bias and unchallenged assumptions. Academics, like Rosemary Hunter, have spoken about how diversity has eight benefits in the Judiciary specifically. Two which she highlighted are the diversity of life experience and what it can bring, not simply with individual decision-making but, more importantly, to the wider collective knowledge within the Judiciary. In many situations, judges will not be acting alone but with and part of a group. For example, one may have a three-judge panel from the District Court up.

  Similarly, diversity is addressed in this Bill in two different points, first, around the commission itself and its lay members, and second, regarding the Judiciary. On the commission itself and its lay members, the scenario was raised that many lawyers cannot help their lack of diversity because of where they have come through. The diversity criteria do not apply to the legal members of the commission but to the lay members. The lay members’ diversity is being sought actively because, as far as is practicable, the commission must ensure it reflects the diversity of society. This is not about each individual being put through a test for diversity. Instead, it means that when we look at this group it reflects society and its realities.

  The fact is that when we look at many key decision-making places, they do not reflect diversity. That is not just about the individual and his or her chances. This is around the collective need to address, as was put eloquently by my colleague, the deficit of difference in these spaces.

  Yesterday or earlier today, many in the House spoke passionately about the Group of States against Corruption, GRECO, and the Council of Europe. I was proud to be a member of the Council of Europe.

Senator Michael McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell It was today.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins Yes, it was today but it may have been mentioned yesterday too and, perhaps, will be again tomorrow.

  Given our concern around what the Council of Europe and GRECO have stated about the Bill, it is worth noting that the Council of Europe has pushed for and called for greater diversity in our Judiciary. There was a report last year which found that only 28% of the 43 countries in the Council of Europe had reached their targets for balanced representation of women and men. That is to take just one starting point on diversity. This is not an abstract concept. This provision can be strengthened and made more practical. For example, the inclusion of the issue of disability has to be considered because 18% of the population has a disability. We have equality grounds and a new public duty on equality and human rights which require every single public body in the State and Department, including the new commission, to take active steps to promote equality across all of the equality grounds and go wider to promote human rights. This is an active duty.

  If there was such a difficult dilemma as we were told, one would wonder how all of these public bodies and Departments are approaching their legal requirement in this regard. It is a requirement and there are ways to do it. In many cases, it is not simply to say I will ask the applicant a set of questions. It is about how the invitation is framed. It is about how the Bill should signal these are the kinds of voices which are welcome and will be part of the discussion. It is about where one places the advertisement when it comes to these matters. It is about what the Public Appointments Service puts out when it requests people to apply. It is about the invitation.

  Diversity is sorely needed in the Judiciary. There are key concerns which have been recognised everywhere. That is why there has been such a global push to improve our Judiciary. It may be worth bearing in mind that when we talk about reflecting the diversity of the population as a whole, there is also a precedent for that in our courts, namely, jury membership. There is a merit which is recognised in the idea that one will be judged and heard by one's peers. That is part of something that our Judiciary can bring to decisions.

  Merit is a red herring. We had a long go at the merit argument where we were told there were no women at all with merit and it was an awful pity. That is why we had to have only 16% of women in the Dáil. Thanks to a proactive and constructive measure of invitation, we will see quite a lot of women making quite a lot of substantial contributions across both Houses of the Oireachtas. That is one example of where the merit argument had previously been used.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris Who said women have no merit?

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins The point is that the merit argument was used in respect of the gender quota and was used for years.

  We need to support the idea of diversity. I am sure it can be strengthened in how it is formulated. I am sure my colleague would be willing to work with people around that. It is important that we are serious about diversity.

  In respect of the other two amendments, I am torn on the question of the chairperson. I have huge respect for the Chief Justice. We are blessed with our current Chief Justice who is an exceptional and excellent person. I understand, nonetheless, the intention to ensure that the board should not be simply a space which is entirely captured in which those lay persons who are participating do not feel they cannot fully contribute or engage.

  I am also not comfortable with the chairperson being appointed by the Minister. There is still a question around that appointment. I have put forward my own amendment which comes in later. I may not press it as I may look for a stronger formulation. I am happy to work with others across the House on it. My amendment proposes the commission selects its own chair. I support the idea of the lay majority. Whether a one-person majority is sufficient, I do not know.

  What is important is the skills that this chairperson needs. I agree it is important they would have legal knowledge. They need to have legal knowledge but also excellent communication skills and be accessible. What none of us wants is a divided or divisive forum in which we set presumptions about lay persons against presumptions about the law and legal persons. We need to ensure we have a chair who will facilitate constructive co-operation, as well as the bringing of all skills, perspectives and diversities to the table in the decision-making process.

  On some of the questions around where one went to school and so forth, none of these is the way diversity is determined in any modern workplace or elsewhere where it is actively pursued. Where they do come up is in the legal system, however. I know many who have struggled to get the opportunity to devil because they do not have nice answers or, as was put eloquently by Senator Conway, they are not sending positive signals that they are like-minded or come from similar backgrounds. It can be hard for people like that to find their way in the system.  This is an opportunity to provide an incentive for them.

  I support the spirit of the Labour Party's amendment but I wonder if other categories might need to be added to the definition because there are some persons who might be considered to be in the service of the State who may not be covered by its provisions. That is a matter which could, perhaps, be revisited.

Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee: Information on Lorraine Clifford-Lee Zoom on Lorraine Clifford-Lee I want to speak to amendment No. 3, as proposed by Senator Ruane. I wholeheartedly agree with the aim of the diversity aspect of the amendment. Having diversity in every walk of life should most certainly be an aspiration for us all . It is not only good for the person but for all of us to have diverse participation in decision-making. I am glad Senator Higgins called the merit argument a red herring because that is exactly what it is. We hear about it in many ways. Merit is taken for granted. Many people can be there on merit. It is not exclusive to one group or one type of voice. Merit comes in many forms.

  I wish to comment on the point raised by Senator McDowell to the effect that somebody who qualifies to be a judge - who would need to be a lawyer who has been practising for ten years - is, by definition, not a working-class person but part of the earning class and that, therefore, it is somehow not an argument to make at all. I have almost ten years' experience as a practising solicitor but I would still define myself as working class. I will always define myself as working class because it is a cultural thing, as Senator Ruane rightly pointed out. An unconscious bias does exist. One sometimes has to be on the receiving end of it to realise it is there, but it is a very real thing. Throwing out examples of a few very exceptional people who made their way through to the top of the legal profession does not mean that anybody can do it. If we just have a few people from one particular group or one particular area in the country, it does not mean that everybody can make it.

  I was very lucky to get the opportunity to train as a solicitor. It was during the Celtic tiger. I do not think I would have the same opportunities today. I trained with a very good firm that paid me a good decent wage and also my college fees, which were substantial. That allowed me the opportunity. I remember having a conversation with a gentleman in the same profession who was much older and from a very different kind of background. A couple of years prior to starting my legal training, a minimum wage for trainee solicitors was introduced. I had to sit there and listen to this man saying that he was totally opposed to the introduction of a minimum wage for trainee solicitors because the wrong kind of person was getting into the profession. I was that wrong kind of person and I probably still am for some. In any event, I made it through.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris The Senator is not the wrong kind of person for us.

Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee: Information on Lorraine Clifford-Lee Zoom on Lorraine Clifford-Lee I thank Senator Norris. That is good to hear. If I was going down that route now, I do not think I would make it. For a young person to become a solicitor now, he or she has to do a series of unpaid internships before he or she gets an apprenticeship. He or she then has to pay huge fees to the Law Society. Luckily, mine were discharged by the practice by which I was employed but not many practices do that these days. This whole phenomenon of unpaid internships was not around when I was training. I am thankful for that because I would not have made it through otherwise.

  Senator Ruane rightly pointed out the access programmes available in many universities which allow people to come through. However, getting a law degree is just the very first step on a very long ladder. Fair enough, people might be getting their law degrees, but they are not moving on to practise as solicitors or barristers. There might be a minimum wage for trainee solicitors but it does not allow people from rural backgrounds who would have to live in Dublin or one of the big cities to access these opportunities. As I have said, the unpaid internships exist. Who can afford to do unpaid internships well into their 20s? As a barrister, one has to have very wealthy parents to support one for one's first ten years practising law, by which time one would be well into one's 30s. Again, who can afford to do that? Only people from a very small group. That is the reality of it. I ask the Minister to look at this and see what kind of programmes or scholarships could be put in place. It is not good enough that we have people getting law degrees and not being able to access the legal professions. If there are not people accessing it at this point, they will not make it to practising law for ten years in order to become judges in the first instance. They are not going to be there. I would not be there, and there are plenty more besides me.

  Senator McDowell referred to women now making up the majority of both the solicitor and barrister professions, but they are not making it to the top. Last year, we had the very first judge ever to take maternity leave in Ireland. It was nearly the talk of the country. It was definitely the talk of this town. I do not think anybody has taken maternity leave since. That paints a picture. Young women are not becoming judges. Women are not becoming judges at the rate they should. We do not have female partners in law firms. I have been qualified for almost ten years and among the colleagues with whom I qualified, the women are being left behind. They are not becoming partners in their law firms. They have been denied bonuses because they had the audacity to have a child. This can happen not only in the year in which bonuses are being handed out, but at any stage in their careers. They are being denied bonuses, they are not getting the same opportunities and they are not progressing. It is very difficult for women to progress at the Bar as well.

  There is a culture in place and we are not going to have people of diverse backgrounds becoming judges until that culture is seriously addressed by the Government. I would like the Minister to reflect on that and perhaps to work with Senator Ruane because what she is proposing has its merits. It is, however, a bit premature because we will not have the people coming up through the ranks to actually fill these positions in years to come. Senator Conway referred to different costs that would be involved if a person needed to have a courtroom adapted.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris That is an opportunity.

Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee: Information on Lorraine Clifford-Lee Zoom on Lorraine Clifford-Lee Exactly. I was going to refer to the cost of not having diversity. That is perhaps not a cost that immediately springs to mind. Many people, and many women, come up against that kind of discrimination cost. They are not given jobs because they may take maternity leave or they may take time off at some later stage in their careers. That is a very real situation. I have no doubt that people with other differences in other spheres are being discriminated against. We need some active measures. I am not sure if this amendment is the correct way to go about it at the moment because, as I said, it is going to fall flat on its face if we do not have people coming up through the legal profession.

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell I thank the Minister for sitting there and being calm and collected through all of this, as he generally is. As he knows, the Group of States against Corruption, GRECO, was established in 1999 by the Council of Europe to monitor states' compliance with the organisation's anti-corruption standards. Its objective is to improve the capacity of members to fight corruption by monitoring their compliance with the Council of Europe's anti-corruption standards through a dynamic process of mutual evaluation and peer pressure. It helps to identify deficiencies in national anti-corruption policies, prompting the necessary legislative, institutional and practical reforms. GRECO has also provided a platform for the sharing of best practice in the prevention and detection of corruption. GRECO has significant concerns about some of the key measures proposed in the Bill. In particular, the provisions around the new judicial appointments commission are not in line with European standards and more substantial participation is required.   I have watched the Minister as a civilian and a Member of the Seanad. He is a fairly formidable character when he comes into this House or the Lower House. He is not a man to fudge anything, from what I know of him, but I am afraid that in this case I find him rather lacklustre in his support for the Bill. I am not so sure he is convinced about the Bill at all. We shall see as it progresses through the House. His Attorney General has referred to the Bill as a dog's dinner, which is rather sad. There has been much talk here about the Minister, Deputy Ross. Deputy Ross, as far as I am concerned, has nothing to do with this. This is the Minister for Justice and Equality's baby. I do not care who is in the driving seat; he is carrying it through.

  I will talk about diversity for a moment. There is much talk about diversity these days. I come from a family of 11. I was born and reared in the most prestigious part of Salthill in Galway. It did not take away from the fact that our family home was built before it became the most prestigious part or that my dad was a gas fitter and that by and large, we struggled all our lives. We had a good upbringing and were a fairly diverse family. Every one of my sisters and brothers succeeded in one way or another and did so on their own merit. The only time in my life I was ever asked to justify myself and my background was when I sought to enter teacher training after taking a primary degree. I was asked how a man of my age would teach 12 year old children. Were a woman to be asked the same question, we would all be in the High Court answering that question. I accept what Senator Ruane is trying to do here but we cannot start with the Judiciary; we must start much lower. We must ensure that everyone has access to the profession. As my colleague, Senator McDowell, has said, a practising barrister has the same opportunity to advance through the profession as any other barrister. No one will ask barristers once they enter the profession who they are or what they are. I was never asked as a teacher to justify my background. No one ever treated me differently because I was a secondary entrant into education. No one ever asked me, given I did not enter the profession straight from college and was in my 40s when I started teaching, what I would know about teaching. It just never happened. If we want to talk about bringing in diversity, we must start at a much lower level. We must ensure we treat all people as equals from the very beginning of their educational careers right through to whatever national school, secondary school, college and so on they attend.

  I am therefore not sure amendment No. 3 will do anything for the Judiciary. It is not the case that anyone can legitimately ask an aspiring judge to explain his or her background or sexual orientation.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris We do not want to know.

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell We do not, quite frankly.

Senator Lynn Ruane: Information on Lynn Ruane Zoom on Lynn Ruane That is why it is not in the amendment. The Senator should read the amendment.

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell The bottom line on it is-----

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

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell I remember working in London when I was about 15 and a half or 16 and talking to builders, and they used to always say to me that the worst foremen they ever had were those who came from their own class. Class distinction, diversity, all these things are a frame of mind. I am not for one minute condemning Senator Ruane for what she is trying to do here but we need to go much further back than the Judiciary. The only complaint I have ever had with the Judiciary in my entire life was that Attorneys General almost had an automatic right to be elevated to judge. As far as I recall - I am sure my colleague, Senator McDowell, will correct me - only one Attorney General in the history of the State was prevented from having a private practice while practising as Attorney General. Senator McDowell may or may not agree with that.

  Like my colleague, Senator Higgins, I have difficulty with the provisions relating to the chairperson. I do not believe we should be talking about excluding the Chief Justice. Ireland has been served well, by and large, by its Judiciary and it would be patently wrong to put some civilian in place of a qualified judge to chair these committees. I trust our Judiciary - I have to. If we cannot trust the Judiciary, there is nothing left. I will ask the Minister this: if we were to appoint a cardiologist or cardiac surgeon in the morning, would we want that person to be appointed by a non-medical professional? Having lain on a cardiologist's table to have a couple of stents put in, I certainly want the guy doing it to know what he is on about, and I want to know that the person who appoints that person knows who he or she is appointing. I do not want someone who is not qualified appointing people to senior positions. I would have the same difficulty in respect of a civilian or legally non-qualified chairperson. Then, when we go down through the various parts of the Bill defining a layperson, we see he or she shall never have held a judicial office or been Attorney General. By the time one has finished going down through this, one can see that anyone who has any smattering of legal knowledge at all is immediately debarred. What sort of nonsense is this?

  We have tried today to slow down this Bill in order that we might look at this GRECO report. Like my colleague, Senator Boyhan, who has left for a few moments, I want to see the Minister's Bill go through, flawed and all as it is, with the amendments we are proposing. However, I will use every single second available in the Seanad and every ounce of my energy to prevent the Bill's passage until we see the GRECO report. What is in the report that the Minister is afraid to show us? Has he seen it? If he has seen it, when did he see it and what is so wrong with it that he is not prepared to publish it-----

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris He could look it up on his phone.

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell -----or show it to us? I made the point today that when I was president of the Teachers' Union of Ireland, every now and then something came up that we could not release into the public domain, but we did release it to the executive members in order that they be informed when making a decision. I am asking for nothing else. The GRECO report will affect this legislation and what the Minister is asking us to do is to buy a pig in a poke. He will get this legislation through the House and next thing the GRECO report will be published and we will all sit back and ask, "My God, how did we let this happen?" The Minister cannot let that happen. He is a decent, honourable man. The very least I would ask him to do is to trust and believe that the Members of this House are decent, honourable people, that we will read the report, that we will not release it if he does not want it released, but that we will be informed as we assist him with the passage of this Bill through the House. No one wants to obstruct the Minister. However, while we will be blamed for passing the Bill if there is something in the GRECO report that we need to know now, it will be passed in the Minister's name. He will be the Minister who will have brought the Bill through the House.

  My constituency colleagues have mentioned the Minister, Deputy Ross. Deputy Ross is not the Minister for Justice and Equality; Deputy Flanagan is. Whatever Deputy Ross wants or does not want is irrelevant. He is not here to answer for it; the Minister is. I believe Deputy Flanagan is a decent, hard-working Minister. I ask him to believe that the Members of this House are decent, hard-working people who want to assist him. Currently, however, there is a cloud hanging over this Bill and I do not believe we should allow it pass through this House with any ease.  We should frustrate it in every way we can until such time as the Government releases that report. I do not want to be that type of Senator but if that is what it takes, that is what we should do.

 Before I sit down, once again, I ask the Minister, has he seen the GRECO report? When did he receive it? Is he prepared to release it before we finish this Bill?

Senator John Dolan: Information on John Dolan Zoom on John Dolan I welcome the Minister. I am glad to spend the evening in his company, in out of the heat.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan I am glad that the Senator is enjoying it. I will allow him to speak followed by Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile. Then I will ask the Minister to come in as he has not been in for some time.

Senator John Dolan: Information on John Dolan Zoom on John Dolan Senator Conway spoke about someone being lucky. Senator Clifford-Lee spoke of how she had been lucky. Anything and everything we do here must be about people not having to be lucky to have opportunity or support in life. Diversity is at the heart of that.

  Several Senators have mentioned disability, and I thank them for that. Disability goes beyond class. It can and does visit anybody and everybody at some point, if not directly, then people close to them. I will not labour my interest in the UN convention but it is moving us on a trajectory which is interesting regarding what we are discussing this evening. In the past, disabled people did not get within an ass's roar of the law because they were confined either at home or in institutions. They were not, generally, out and about. It is when people go out and about that issues relating to justice, equality, participation, fair treatment and so on, arise. We have people with disabilities who will be misunderstood because they do not present like, dare I say, a normal man or woman might. I have seen court cases where, because people presented obviously as being disabled - they might have had slurred speech, for instance, or may have had Down's syndrome - a view might have been taken that they could not be a good witness. There are issues, and more will arise, because disabled people are out in society. I am just raising this, not as a warning, but we will see more expressions of humanity around in society. That will give rise to issues which come before the courts and other quasi-judicial bodies.

  I welcome the focus on diversity. Dare I say this in a legislative assembly, but I am not too bothered that there is some awkwardness in the phraseology and language. The important thing is that we struggle with this and even if we do not get it totally right, that we leave it there as best we can. Several Senators have suggested that the Minister and his officials might go back and hone this a little better.

  The other side of better understanding diversity is an awareness of the possible and often real bias that each and every one of us has. We need others to arrest us from that. If there are some 16 men and women, some with legal backgrounds and some lay people, sitting in good faith - and I do not see that they would not do so - they will divine among themselves the ways and means to better understand and deal with diversity.

  I refer to section 12, where once again, the term diversity is used. Section 12(4) states, "Subject to subsection (5), in conducting a selection process under subsection (3) for the purpose of recommending lay persons under that subsection for appointment, the Public Appointments Service shall have regard to", and then lists them in subsections (a), (b), and (c). Subsection (a) states, "the objective that the lay members of the Commission should, amongst them, possess knowledge of, and experience in, as many as possible of the matters specified in subsection (6)". Subsection (c) states, "the objective that the lay members of the Commission should reflect the diversity of the population as a whole." I will not take time to go through each of these forensically but the term "diversity" is being steered and is not just left as a wild card or statement in there. The 15 or 16 men and women that will work on that will be well able, between themselves, to challenge each other, consider and come to worthy judgments.

  Tomorrow and the day after, our criminal courts will have groups of 12 men and women, picked largely randomly, one of whom will be the foreman, if that is the correct term still, or the cathaoirleach of that group, in a sense. We trust them with the infrastructure of the judicial system, the expertise of barristers and solicitors and the watchful eye of the judge to move in the direction of making the fairest and soundest decision they can. I cannot see how this has to be terribly different.

  I take an interest in a particular sport, namely, hurling. Sometimes if I see a team playing the man more than the ball, I begin to think that they do not have the skill and are not up to the contest. I am uncomfortable with the extent that I have seen that in this Chamber tonight. We have heard references to two Ministers by several Senators. What confuses me is that those Senators do have a lot of skill and expertise in argument, communication and so on. I would be more comfortable if we confined ourselves to the actual texts and arguments. In a court case, the motivation of somebody who is the defendant must at some point give way to consideration of the act that they did or did not do. Motivation may be important, following a conviction, on what the sentence may be but one must stick with the act. That is not a pun. We need to concentrate on the draft Act, to try to hone it and make it better.

  Recently, regarding the eighth amendment, we saw the notion of compassion and of how understanding moved to compassion. People charged with the appointment of judges need to have the opportunity to bring that to bear and for there to be somebody who has empathy and brings the different experiences they have in life with them.

  This Chamber has a Cathaoirleach, the other House a Ceann Comhairle and a jury has a foreman.  What are the great parliamentary qualifications that these people must possess? Where do Ministers come from? How are they appointed? They are appointed, they have guidelines and rules and regulations to follow and they have support staff. I see no reason why a layperson could not be a competent cathaoirleach in light of the supports that would reasonably be put in place for him or her. Is there a lack of confidence in laypersons among those who say that the chairperson has to be a member of the legal profession? I find that amazing, because they are the people who go into court and act either on behalf of or against defendants. Such individuals make a case and address a jury of ordinary people. We put supports in place in respect of those juries. There are rules they must follow, such as, among other things, not engaging on Twitter. We can deal with this competently and the basis for doing so is contained in the Bill.

There has been much discussion about the need for excellent communication skills. Sometimes I think we should settle for excellent listening skills as the basis for good communication. People have two ears but only one mouth. We should all remember that.

I return to the issue of disability. At the outset, I said that disability is not a class issue. However, I accept that one finds more disability in disadvantaged communities. I am thinking of a person - I am not going to mention a name - who is a very eminent professional and involved in public service. As a result of an accident, this individual now requires a wheelchair and is trying to continue in their chosen profession. The person in question is discovering the issues faced by a disabled individual when it comes to transport accessibility. Trams or DARTs or buses are often not accessible or are not accessible at every station. There is a constant need for us all to become more conscious of what it is like to be in the position of another person. There is a real opportunity to do that here. We should seize that opportunity. The Bill makes provision for a review of its operation in five years' time. That is not a long time;tempus fugit. We can do something decent here to move things on a bit, which would give the public more confidence. The perception of the public may not be 100%, but the perception is what the public works off. This measure can assist that.

Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile: Information on Niall Ó Donnghaile Zoom on Niall Ó Donnghaile I will be brief because we have a lot to go through and we have understandably proceeded quite slowly thus far this evening. I wanted to take issue with two things that my colleague, Senator Craughwell, said. He told us that we should aim low in terms of the kind of reform and change we want to see. I do not necessarily disagree with that sentiment, but I also believe we should aim high. When we are trying to bring in a more representative, reflective and diverse Judiciary, every aspect should be involved - from bottom to top and from top to bottom. The Senator also made a comparison with cardiologists. That is not a fair comparison. It is a bit lazy; like comparing apples with oranges. I understand the Senator when he says that he does not want someone who is not a cardiologist working on his heart. However, I assure Senator Craughwell - and I am sure this is true of his own experience - that I know people from working-class backgrounds who left school at 15 or 16 with no qualifications and who have tied some of the most eminent legal figures in the North up in knots. They have wiped the floor with those people in terms of their legal prowess and understanding. It is not beyond the realms of possibility or belief that people, despite coming from working-class backgrounds, have the capacity and skill set required. These people bring an authentic quality to the kind of positions we are considering here.

  Senator McDowell made an interesting contribution, although, like Senator Ruane, I took issue with some of what he said and the way in which he said it. He will not be surprised by that. Nevertheless, I sat back and listened carefully. It struck me that I was quite proud of being working class when I entered this House. Asking a person if he or she is from a working-class background is not an intrusive question. Working-class people provide a different perspective to proceedings. I do not think we should fear asking people the question proposed by Senator Ruane and laid out in this amendment. In fact, many of us see diversity in this profession, although we have not yet reached the levels of diversity we should have in terms of the political and elected class. We tell people where we come from all the time, about our backgrounds, what schools we attended and what communities we come from, regardless of their economic, social or geographical or geographic situation. We see that in this profession, or this career or vocation, as a strength. I do not see why we would not want to instil that same quality and diversity into the Judiciary and into the legal class at that level.

  I do not have a legal background or legal qualifications, but having come into this institution and having listened to debates such as the debate we have had this evening, I know that people do not always need legal training or qualifications. People can inform themselves, and become experienced and understand different perspectives and professions, which is critical to what we are talking about tonight. Dare I say it, a different kind of academic understanding is provided when people are given the capacity and ability to do so. I did not want to let this pass without giving my two cents. Amendment No. 3 is important and will certainly have the support of Sinn Féin.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan This debate has been going on for almost two hours, so I believe the Minister is entitled to speak now, if he wishes.

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I am here to listen, as I said on the conclusion of the Second Stage debate. I have listened with some interest. Three amendments have been tabled and have prompted much interesting debate.

  In response to Deputy Norris, I did not say that I regretted the vote, but rather that I respected the vote. I respect it and I am bound by it as far as the time schedule for this Bill is concerned. We do not have a time schedule for Committee Stage. I do not have a problem with that. I am very keen to listen to Senators and to engage with them. If this legislation can be improved, then let us set about doing so. However, I want to acknowledge how far we have come with the legislation.

  On the three amendments with which we are dealing, it is important that we remind ourselves that amendment No. 3, in the name of Senator Ruane, merely offers a definition of the term "diversity".  The term "diversity" is used in a number of the provisions of the Bill, including in the merit provision in section 7 in terms of objectives, section 12, as alluded to earlier by Senator Dolan, and Part 8 which addresses the design of the selection process for judicial appointment and the attributes to be sought in those that may come forward by way of application for consideration for appointment. I am always interested in hearing what Senators have to say on that issue. In general terms, the Bill signals the need to include on the commission, as well as across the Judiciary, people from different backgrounds. It also contains directions of a legislative nature. For example, section 7 provides that in making a recommendation on merit regard shall be had to the objective that the membership of the Judiciary should, to the extent feasible and practicable, reflect the diversity within the population as whole. This is a worthy objective and one which I believe is attainable. The debate which has taken place over the past two hours seems to me to have been a debate on diversity on the one hand and scholarship on the other. I will leave it to Senators to decide which should supersede but I do not think we can have one without the other. Under the Bill, the commission will be required to have regard to that. There has been no compelling argument for further definition of diversity in the Bill. I am anxious that the House not divide on this issue. If Senator Ruane is willing to withdraw her amendment, or at least refrain from pressing at this Stage, I am happy to examine how much further we can go but I am not inclined to meet what is proposed in the amendment.

  Having regard to the objectives contained in the legislation, as suggested by Senators Craughwell and Boyhan, we should examine whether there are barriers to entry to the professions that may exclude particular people and consider what we can do in that regard. It is important that we address issues such as access to legal education, in which the Legal Services Regulatory Authority has a role to play. It is currently examining this issue and I expect to receive a report in that regard shortly. We acknowledge the direct reference to diversity in the Bill. The procedures committee will be required to review the manner in which the diversity considerations in the Bill are being implemented. Senators spoke about a review. The work of the procedures committee is a form of review. The committee will also make recommendations on these matters and the Minister of the day will be required to report to the Oireachtas as provided for in the Bill. I will give the matter further consideration but my preference is to leave the development of the necessary procedures and practices in regard to such matters to the arrangements already provided for in the Bill. This will borne out of the experience of the operation of Act.

  Senator McDowell will be aware that the genesis of this Bill is a commitment in the programme for Government. Amendment No. 4 seeks the deletion of a reference in the definition of lay member contained in section 2 such that the definition of lay member would no longer include the chairperson. I am unable to accept the premise that the chairperson should not be a lay member on the basis that this-----

Senator Michael McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell It does not have that effect. It says that a lay person could be the chairperson.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Allow the Minister to continue uninterrupted, please.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan A key commitment in the programme for Government and in this Bill is that the chairperson will be a lay member - a non-legal person, non-judicial figure.

Senator Michael McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell We are not saying that the chairperson must be a judge or legal person.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I am unable to accept any change to the legislation that would give rise to a situation whereby the chairperson would be a member of the Judiciary. I know Senator McDowell would like that, as would most lawyers, because most lawyers are content with the situation as is.

Senator Michael McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell Perhaps the chairperson could be a former lawyer or somebody who knows something about the judicial system.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan Most lawyers are reluctant to embrace the type of reform envisaged in this Bill. The purpose of the Bill is to ensure that "lay member" includes the chairperson. The term "lay member" is used in that context throughout the legislation. It is an important component of this Bill. In many respects, this proposal sits neatly with the debate on the previous amendment in terms of ensuring there is sufficient scope in the chair and the composition of the commissions to incorporate people of a non-judicial, non-legal background. That is why a fundamental tenet will be a lay majority and the non-legal or lay chairperson. I do not subscribe to the argument that just because a person is a non-legal person he or she will not understand what it takes to be a judge or to practice law. It has to be accepted that there are many people of a non-legal background, people who are not judges, who are entitled to have thrust upon them the role as envisaged in the Bill.  In any event, the non-legal or lay person may have practised law for a period previously. What we need to look at here is whether that person, irrespective of his or her legal qualification or background, is suitable and appropriate. The person must be a fit and proper person by reason of his or her qualifications, not necessarily legal qualifications, and his or her experience, skills, training and expertise as is provided for in section 12(5) and in my ministerial amendment No. 36.

  There was considerable debate, particularly on the part of Senator McDowell, about the motivation of my colleague, the Minister, Deputy Ross. We are not dealing with a Private Members' Bill or a Bill of some years ago from the Opposition; we are dealing with reforming legislation that is not unique to Ireland in terms of the composition of the commission. Senator McDowell said the concept of non-legal or lay representation on the commission is not unique to Ireland. In our neighbouring jurisdictions of England, Wales and Scotland, the appointment boards are chaired by non-legal, lay persons. In Northern Ireland the Chief Justice presides over the appointments commission. In England and Wales there is a non-legal, non-judicial chair of the commission. In Scotland the appointments board has a non-legal, non-judicial, lay chair. Our neighbouring jurisdictions were not motivated to act on a Private Members' Bill of an Opposition Senator or Deputy of some years ago. There is no doubt the reformed systems in which commissions operate in our neighbouring jurisdictions are working well. It is important we look at emerging best practice in that regard in neighbouring jurisdictions. There is no agenda behind the measures that can be characterised as suggestive of a need to minimise the role of serving judges in the process. Less still is there any distrust of the manner in which our senior judges have conducted the recommendation process over the years. I reject any assertion of cronyism, inside tracks or jobs for the boys and girls.

Senator Michael McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell Who made the accusations of cronyism? It was a certain person who sits at a certain table with the Minister.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan Irrespective of where the comments came from, let me say-----

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys Does the Minister agree with them?

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan -----on behalf of Government, as the Minister for Justice and Equality, the Government and I have full confidence and trust in the Judiciary which has served the State in an excellent manner since its foundation. I want to be clear on that point because there has been reference to an alternative viewpoint. I do not believe the sky will fall in if we have a commission with a non-legal, non-judicial majority or a non-legal, non-judicial chair. In that regard, I will point particularly to an amendment I introduced in the Dáil to ensure that, notwithstanding the non-legal majority and non-legal chair, we would still have - because I believe it is important - representation on the commission of members of the Judiciary in the form of the presidents of the courts. We will come to that later when dealing with that section. It serves as an important reminder of the role and function judges will still play in the process, albeit in a minority position. Between now and the end of the debate in the Seanad, we can craft legislation that is balanced and a commission that is not comprised exclusively of, or even has a majority of, members of the legal profession. They will be represented in the form of a representative of the Bar Council, a representative of the Law Society, a representative of other groups in civil society with a particular interest and a number of judges. All courts will be represented. That represents balance in an appointments system that befits a modern democracy.

  I will deal briefly with amendment No. 5 in the name of Senator Bacik and others. Senator Bacik is seeking to add a new subsection (3) to section 2 of the Bill which deals with definitions. The focus of the amendment is on the term "A person employed in the service of the State". That term is used in the definition of "law officer". The purpose of the definition of the term "law officer" is to signify that anyone so designated would be excluded from the definition of "lay person". The purpose of the amendment is to expressly include as such law officers a member of the Garda Síochána, a member of the Defence Forces and a civil servant of the State.

  The thinking behind reference to "law officer" is to capture those persons working in the service of the State in circumstances where they have taken up such employment. A person had to have been, in many cases, a practising solicitor or barrister for a period of time. What was in mind was such persons employed, for example, in the Chief State Solicitor's office, the Office of the Attorney General or the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. There are many individuals working in the service of the State who do have the qualification of solicitor or barrister. Some may have been in practice for a number of years prior to taking up that employment. They may be working in the Garda Síochána, the Defence Forces or anywhere across the Civil Service. Recently at the Garda College in Templemore I was struck that a number of young, ambitious, energetic, well-educated and well-trained gardaí were already members of the legal profession. It is important for the Garda because it adds value to the service. The law must be as certain and definitive as it can be in this regard. The intention is to relate those who exercise functions relevant to legal practice to the category of person the definition of lay person excludes as well as those who are judges or who have held judicial office in the past. It is not necessary to expand the persons excluded from the definition of lay person in the manner in which the Labour Party is proposing.  I am not inclined to do that as I do not believe it is necessary. In that regard I am reluctant to accept the amendment.

Senator Diarmuid Wilson: Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson I will be brief because as the Cathaoirleach alluded to, this area has been well covered. Senator McDowell lightly touched upon the definition of a layperson and I seek clarification in this regard. Would somebody who is an academic and has a qualification at bachelor, masters or PhD level in law be regarded as a layperson? Would somebody who is an arbitrator or a mediator with a law degree and practising in that field be regarded as a layperson?

Senator Michael McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell On what Senator Wilson has just said, the definition of a layperson in section 2 is a person who does not hold and never held judicial office, who is not and never has been the Attorney General, DPP, Chief State Solicitor or a law officer and who was not a practising barrister or solicitor in the relevant period specified by subsection 2, that is, 15 years. It is interesting that a layperson, for the purpose of this new body, can include a legal academic, which is very strange. Professors of law and law lecturers can have views about who should be a judge but a practising barrister is disqualified from having this position. We can have legal academics and not simply PhDs and all the rest of it, as Senator Wilson has mentioned.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris Then we have people like Senator Bacik who is an academic and a barrister.

Senator Michael McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell Exactly. She has been practising in the past 15 years so she may be in trouble.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris That is the very point I was making.

Senator Michael McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell Some of her colleagues in Trinity College would be laypersons for the purpose of this, and yet would be in a position, curiously, to determine whether other laypersons, being legal academics, should or should not be recommended, which is an oddity in the way the legislation is drafted.

  I want to mention one thing to Senator Ruane. I am not filibustering. I am taking reasonable time to address an amendment that she has proposed to the Bill to query whether it is a good idea to attempt to define diversity in the way she has proposed. I make the point that if one looks across the Bill, the term "diversity" appears in a number of sections and, as the Minister said, in a number of different contexts. For instance, the Commission for Public Service Appointments, in selecting people to be lay members of the commission is required to have regard to diversity. It is one thing to say we want a working class person, a middle class person, a Traveller, a person of one gender orientation or people of whatever kind to be sure not to typecast the people being put on the judicial appointments commission, but it is an entirely different idea to state those are the criteria which should be borne in mind when appointing judges.

  The point I am making is very simply this. Sections 12, 53, 56 and 7 are cases where "diversity" is used in the Bill, but it is in section 7 that I have raised my objection. The reason I object to it is I do not believe the iteration of particular categories or criteria for diversity that Senator Ruane mentioned is conducive to the selection of a good Judiciary. I much prefer excellence in my Judiciary. I do not care whether the parents of judges were millionaires or paupers. I much prefer to look at the candidate for judicial appointment and ask whether that person will be an excellent judge. That is the question I have in mind.

  I will make one comment to the Minister on this, and I am not saying it critically. There are two very different purposes to do what Senator Ruane is asking him to do, which is to set out certain criteria to be borne in mind in determining what diversity is. If it is for the purpose of selecting a cross-section of society for the appointments commission then I have no problem with that idea, but if it is to put on the bench a cross-section of society, I would have a big problem with that idea if it is purely based on the criteria Senator Ruane has mentioned. I really do believe that.

  Senator Dolan suggested I played the man rather than the ball and the Minister slightly echoed that in respect of the Minister, Deputy Ross. I am making a very simple point about the Minister, Deputy Ross. It was not I who wrote a book stating our Judiciary was selected on the basis of cronyism. I did not publish a book, a chapter of which states which judges' daughters attended which other judges' sons' weddings.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris The Minister, Deputy Ross, is an acknowledged expert on cronyism.

Senator Michael McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell I will not get sucked into anything. I did not do that. I did not write a chapter of a book suggesting these were the people, the Judiciary, who had wrecked this State, and that they were a group of cronies selected by their crony friends and they had wrecked this State. I never did that. Let it be remembered on the floor of the House that he did do that. One might state in this Chamber that when he came to the negotiating table - where he got himself a position at Cabinet and threw all his friends under the political bus to get there - he forgot the chapter he wrote in his book stating our Judiciary was part of the problem with this country and had wrecked it due to cronyism. If one were then to ask in those circumstances whether it is a reasonable point of view to suggest his determination to have this particular Bill put into law in its particular form is simply based on a reformist view on his part, as are all his fatwas that he would bring down the Government if it were not done - we are to ignore the ridiculous Bill he put before the Dáil when in opposition to have the Opposition choose the Judiciary - I would reply it is not. I am entitled to point these things out because I am entitled to point out no matter how embarrassing it may be for a certain party in the House that the tail is wagging the dog. Everybody in Ireland knows it. We can pretend this is not the case but that is what has happened here

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris The tail is wagging the dog-----

Senator Michael McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell People accuse me of playing the man rather than the ball but I did not write that chapter in a book. Moreover, and this is the important point, before the Minister was ever the Minister with responsibility for justice I did not spend two years vetoing appointments and refusing to fill vacancies in the court system until it almost ground to a complete halt because of my determination to push this through. I did not stamp my foot and attempt to leave Cabinet and threaten my coalition partners at any stage that if-----

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan On specific amendments.

Senator Michael McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell -----my views were not complied with-----

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris Let him go on.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan We are on specific amendments.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris He is making a point.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan He might be interesting to the Senator but we have to be fair.

Senator Michael McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell I am replying to the proposition that I was playing the man and not the ball. I am saying these are the objective facts; not subjective facts. These are the objective facts and the people of Ireland know this to be the case. We can wallpaper over these cracks all we like, but it is true, as Senators Craughwell and Boyhan have said, that the Minister's colleagues in the Oireachtas know this to be the case.  Let us forget that.

The Minister's version of the Bill simply refers to diversity. I did not table an amendment to that as I am content with it. Senator Ruane has asked him to explicate that diversity in particular ways. I am worried about the implication of what she proposes in respect of socioeconomic diversity, as that is pointless. I concede to Senator Ruane that it would not be pointless in respect of the make-up of the lay membership of the JAAB, but it does not make sense to attempt to achieve socioeconomic diversity among the Judiciary because they are all lawyers who have practised or legal academics who have reached a point of seniority. It is a farce to say that they should be socioeconomically diverse.

My second point relates to the exclusion of non-lay members. I want to re-emphasise this point which, in fairness, the Minister has more or less accepted. The amendment we have tabled to remove the words, "and includes the chairperson", from the definition of lay member was simply designed to make any of the lawyers, any of the ex officiomembers and any of the judicial members eligible to be chairman of the commission. It was not designed to say they must be chairman of the commission or that the lay people could not be chairperson of the commission. As I understand the structure of the Bill, the Minister will, in the end, bring a motion before the Dáil to confirm who should be the chairperson and who should be the ordinary members of this commission, based on a Public Appointments Service, PAS, recruitment and recommendatory process. The Minister's amendment, No. 36, will also affect this process. All I am asking is that, when the Minister sits down and takes a look at the PAS's recommendations in terms of lay people-----

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys Civil servants.

Senator Michael McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell -----to be the lay members of this commission - whether they are to be in the majority or the minority - he will be at liberty to choose the best person among them for the job, without reference to whether that person is a lawyer or judge or was within the relevant time period. I will reiterate that it is amazing that a legal academic will be on the inside track to be appointed and will also be considered a lay person for the purposes of this process.

  I congratulate Senator Bacik. She did not table an amendment on that. We are not trying to force any solution on the Minister. We are simply saying that, when he surveys what the PAS has come up with, he should look at the entire process, bring his resolution and say that he proposes that a given person should be the chairperson of this commission, having regard to the talents of all the members. He should not be in a position where he would have chosen a particular person but did not because that person had practised law or was a judge in the past 15 years. This definition of lay member including the chairperson also has another life in other sections in respect of the procedures committee of the commission. The committee drafts the criteria, the appointments procedures and so on. The Bill excludes any lawyer from being a member of that committee.

  I am not filibustering at all; I am being serious. I told the Minister on Second Stage that I would not obstruct his Bill and I am not being obstructive of the Bill. However, earlier the Seanad divided on whether the GRECO report should be shown to us before we start on this State or are done with this Bill. The report is in the possession of the Government. The Minister has it and he can show it to us. I have the sinking feeling that a certain person whom I will not mention does not want us to see it and that, as a result, the Government will not make a decision on whether to respond to what was sent to it by GRECO until after all of this is finished. That is an indefensible position.

  The Minister says that the Seanad voted to continue today's proceedings earlier this evening. It did, but why is it that I should not see this report? All of us here are reasonable people. Why should any of us have sight of this report withheld from us while we deliberate? Is it because it could not affect our decision or because it should not affect our decision? Is it because the Government considers the report to be mistaken? Is it because it might produce an unfortunate result from the Government's point of view? Why are we being kept away from this report? I accept that the decision was made to press on with Committee Stage today, notwithstanding that we did not see that report, but I ask the Minister to consider that the request to see the report is entirely sincere. If it says something that some people would not like to have published, that is difficult to deal with or that is slightly embarrassing, let us have it out there. Sunshine is the great disinfectant. If we can see what the GRECO criticism has been watered down to after the amendments made in the Dáil and if we can see what it is saying about our system, we can take it into account in how we deal with the votes on the various amendments. Let us also take it into account when we come to Report Stage amendments. Let us see whether we want to accommodate the views of GRECO in what we finally put out of this House as the final version of this Bill. No harm could be done by that, but a lot of good could be done by doing it.

  I do not want to use the term "shameful" because the Minister will just dismiss that, but I do want to use the terms "inexplicable" and "unjustifiable". It is inexplicable and unjustifiable that this House should be kept in the dark about a report which was not there in its present form when the other House completed its deliberations. I would like to have somebody explain to me why I cannot see it. I would love to have somebody explain for one minute why it would do damage if all of us in this House were to see the report and to take it into account in our deliberations. I do not believe there is a reasonable excuse for it and that makes me think that there is an unreasonable motivation behind keeping us in the dark on this matter.

Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik Zoom on Ivana Bacik First, I agree with my colleague, Senator McDowell, on the issue of the GRECO report. Without going back over the issue in great detail, as somebody who has taken a good deal of care in drafting 20 amendments on Committee Stage, it is frustrating to have had to do so without sight of the report, quite apart from the fact that we do not know whether the Government is taking into account the criticisms purportedly expressed by GRECO in crafting its own amendments. Being unable to see it has certainly hampered us in being able to table amendments of the sort we might have wished to. It is frustrating to know that the report is there but that we are apparently not allowed to see it. We do not even know if Government has seen it and taken it into consideration in its own amendments. Perhaps the Minister will respond on that particular issue since it will be central to the debate and will be an issue that will arise again and again as we go through the Bill. I am disappointed that the Minister is not prepared to accept my amendment. We were seeking to be constructive and to offer greater clarity on the definitions in section 2.  We are suggesting a more precise definition should be offered of the term used already in section 2, namely, a person employed in the service of the State. That is the definition offered by the Government for law officer, meaning a person employed in the service of the State where condition for the employment of the person was that he or she was a practising barrister or solicitor. We are proposing to qualify what a person employed in the service of the State should be, that is a member of the Garda Síochána, Defence Forces or a civil servant of the Government or of the State.

  Senator McDowell and others have spoken about the oddities and anomalies in the definition provisions as currently drafted. I agree they are full of anomalies and we have not yet got to the internal contradictions with the numbers in section 10. One issue which arises in the definition section is the issue that the definition of "lay person" is further qualified in section 2(2) by a qualification period of 15 years. As my colleague, Senator Humphreys pointed out, that is extremely long and a much longer clause than we would normally see in any employment contract such as a non-competition clause.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris It is to ensure they forgot everything they knew about the law.

Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik Zoom on Ivana Bacik I am a legal academic who has practised in the past 15 years. However, it is not for my own personal reasons I am making this point. The 15-year clause is unfeasibly long. I do not see why it needs to be that long in order to qualify as a lay person, particularly given Senator McDowell's point about legal academics who have not practised but who would be capable of being considered to be lay persons. That does not seem right. One might have an eminent law professor who has never practised but who could be considered a lay person. The 15-year requirement seems unnecessary. Why not a five-year or seven-year clause?

  There seem to be many contradictions in section 2. We are simply trying to be helpful to clear up some issues about this definition of "law officer" precisely. The concern would be that many persons may be described as being employed in the service of the State in a loose fashion. Is a person employed by the Houses of the Oireachtas or by the HSE employed in the service of the State? We think it is too broad. Accordingly, we have suggested this helpful and constructive qualifying amendment to explain what exactly is meant by a person employed in the service of the State as provided in the definition of law officers.

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell I have great difficulty proceeding with this debate without sight of the GRECO report. Will the Minister make the report available to us tomorrow morning before we proceed any further? If this Bill is passed, it will be enacted with the Minister's name on it. If the report has anything negative - the Minister admits he and the Cabinet have had sight of it-----

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan No.

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell That is not the story we are being told. Is the Minister saying the report is not available to him today? If that is the point, then we should all step back from this and give ourselves time. We do not want to pass a Bill which may be damned once it is passed.

  Has the Minister seen the report? Is he prepared to make it available?

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I am required to bring that report to the Government. I have not done so. I will do so at the earliest opportunity. I will seek the Government's clearance to have the report published at the earliest opportunity. In the meantime, I am bound by the Seanad vote earlier. It was a debate which took place in my absence. I understand the points raised by Senators. However, I feel when Senator Craughwell sees the report that he will be somewhat disappointed.

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell I would be delighted if there was nothing in it.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan It is not going to be the earthquake he said it will be.

  In any event, once the report goes to the Cabinet, I would be keen it would be published at the earliest opportunity.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris When is the earliest opportunity?

Senator Michael McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell Will it be next Tuesday?

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I never suggested expressly nor did I in any way imply that any Member of the House was engaged in filibustering, much less Senator McDowell himself. I am quite happy to sit here and listen. I found the debate quite valuable in many respects. I hope I will continue to do so.

  The point of the definition of the lay person which includes the chairperson is that the chairperson can only be a lay person. That is back to the original agreement in the programme for Government.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris The taxpayer would not allow that.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan The Bill is drafted to exclude practising lawyers from the lay person concept.

  Senator Wilson raised an interesting point and I refer Senators to section 33, wherein it deals with the qualification of certain legal academics for appointment to judicial office. That section distinguishes between experience as a legal academic and experience as a legal practitioner.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris What is more valuable?

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan Can a legal academic, in some respects, be regarded as a non-legal or lay person? I would be happy to have a look at that. There is the distinction, however, between a legal academic who has not practised law and an experienced legal practitioner who would not qualify for this status as a lay person.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris Surely legal practise is an advantage.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan Not in respect of the lay chairmanship of the commission.

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys If the Minister is talking about 15 years as being the decontamination period, he should look at the lobbyist legislation and make it 15 years for politicians before they can become a lobbyist.

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

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys If the Minister wants to set standards, then they should apply across everything, including politicians.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan Does the Senator mean if one was in government?

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys Maybe we should go back and look at this standard. I find it hard to say to somebody they cannot apply for a particular job for 15 years.

  Will the Minister answer the direct question? Is the GRECO report in his possession? If so, has he read it?

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I have not seen the report.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris How does he know then that there are no earthquakes contained in it?

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys The Minister said there are no earthquakes in it. There is a contradiction there.

Senator Michael McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell If the Minister has not seen it, how can he tell Senator Craughwell he will not be disappointed?

(Interruptions).

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

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I was responding to allegations made by Senator Craughwell.

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys I did not make any allegations.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan The Minister is entitled to respond.

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys I have not made any allegations against the Minister.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris The Senator is not an alligator.

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys I am not an alligator.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Please do not allow the debate to degenerate.

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys The Minister just said he had not seen or read the report. However, he has told several Senators they will not be disappointed by it and that it is not ground-breaking.

  I am not sure whether he has read extracts or clear definitions.  He is in the legal profession and may have given himself a get-out clause somewhere. Perhaps because of my working-class background, I have not phrased this in a proper manner.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris The Senator is too diverse.

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys The vote on the Order of Business this morning was on our desire to see the report prior to the debate. That did not prohibit the Minister taking it to the Cabinet to allow it to be released here to Senators.

  On a note of real caution, the Minister is bringing the legislation through this House and has said clearly he has not read the report that came from GRECO. I am very disappointed that a report by our European partners, a group that is against corruption, has not been read by the Minister, which report would have an influence on his amendments to this legislation. He is asking us to take everything on trust, yet he has not read anything.

Senator Victor Boyhan: Information on Victor Boyhan Zoom on Victor Boyhan I wish to tease out some points. I am somewhat taken aback by what the Minister said because he did caution Senator Craughwell and said he would be a bit disappointed. Rightly or wrongly, he gave the impression — he will have an opportunity to clarify this — that he had sight of, or knowledge of, the report. Did someone else have sight of the report and say he or she had better not give it to the Minister because it is explosive and that he does not need to have it? Did someone say he or she will read it to the Minister, transcribe it for him or give him extracts from it? Was it discussed with the Minister? We need to know.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris Perhaps the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Ross, read it.

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell The Department of Transport-----

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris The Department of transport and transcription.

Senator Victor Boyhan: Information on Victor Boyhan Zoom on Victor Boyhan The Minister might also confirm the date it was received in his Department?

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

Senator Victor Boyhan: Information on Victor Boyhan Zoom on Victor Boyhan Did his Secretary General receive this report? Did he bring it to the Minister's attention? Communication seems to have been a bit of a problem in the Department of Justice and Equality historically. I hope there is not another issue, challenge or problem that is going to affect the Minister. Can he tell us whether any official in his Department tipped him off, notified him or told him of the content of, or any sentence in, the report? Can he confirm the day and time it was received in his Department? Did he communicate the content of the report, or part thereof, to the Taoiseach or anybody else?

Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik Zoom on Ivana Bacik It is extraordinary that the Minister has said he has not yet seen the report, yet he appears to know what is in it. He is going to be seeking Government clearance to publish it at the earliest opportunity. We are in the middle of Committee Stage in the Seanad, dealing with amendments that are directly pertinent to the critiques in the report, apparently. Some of us have seen what are purported to be bits of the report. Bits have been published in the newspapers but it is utterly unsatisfactory to hear that the Minister has not seen it and that we are expected to legislate in the dark without sight of it and without knowing who has seen it.

  I agree with the Senators that we need to know exactly who has seen it and whether anyone who has been drafting the Government amendments has seen it. We must be reassured that there is some good legislative practice going on. There simply does not appear to be good legislative practice. We all know a report by GRECO is available somewhere and that it contains criticisms directly relevant to the current state of the Bill, as the Government has proposed it in the Seanad. Despite this, we are not allowed to see it in the Seanad Chamber. It appears Government members have not seen it either. It is to be published at the earliest opportunity. When will that be? Will it be 18 July, when we have all risen and when the Bill has been rammed through with a guillotine after late-night debates? It is not good law-making.

  I believe this was supposed to be about better law-making practice, using the Business Committee in the Dáil and the new politics in the Seanad and the Dáil. I believed we should be legislating in a more collegiate manner. Many of us do want to see reform of the judicial appointments process and we are anxious to see it done in a constructive, efficient and competent manner. It really does not seem to be indicative of good legislative practice, however, to be legislating in the knowledge that there is a report somewhere that we are not allowed to see but which nevertheless contains points that are so relevant to our determination on these amendments.

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell The Minister is the first person ever to tell me I would not be disappointed by a report he has not seen.

Senator Michael McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell Would be disappointed.

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell That he would be disappointed.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris That he would be disappointed because there are no earthquakes in it.

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell Clearly The Sunday Business Post saw some part of this report. It was fairly damning in its view. Clearly, the Minister's Department would not have been happy that such a report would in any way criticise its legislation, or the Minister's legislation. The Minister says he has not seen the report, on which I take him at his word. My colleague, Senator Boyhan, has asked him whether his Secretary General or other departmental staff have seen it. Is there somebody working with GRECO right now to deal with the matters raised in this report? Is the Minister aware of the content in any way, verbally or by memorandum? Is he aware of any members of his Department who are dealing with the Europeans right now on this report to try to minimise the damage to the Bill? We really need to know, before we press on, precisely what we are dealing with.

  It appears a committee set up to consider corruption across all the member states is not happy with the Bill. That is what we see in the newspapers but we do not have access to the report. We need to know whether a draft report was sent to the Department. Was that draft report analysed by officials in his Department? Did they engage with GRECO to try to reduce the amount of damage or, as Senator Bacik said, provide amendments to the Bill? If The Sunday Business Post can get its hands on a draft copy, surely the Department had a draft copy.

  The Minister said he is bringing a report to the Cabinet - I would be slow to bring a report I had not seen to anybody - with a view to trying to get it through a Cabinet meeting. Particularly given some of the personalities involved with this Bill, I would want to be fairly sure that what I was bringing would keep them happy. Somewhere along the line, there is a report that The Sunday Business Post has seen and that the Minister has not seen. We are expected to agree legislation that the report criticises. We are all thrashing around in the dark. I find it quite surprising that the Minister's officials would allow him in here on Committee Stage of a Bill on which there is a damning report that he has not seen and of which somebody somewhere is aware. We need to know before we progress any further the current state of play.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan May I stop the Senator for a second? With all due respect to the Minister, we had a vote on the GRECO report today on the Order of Business, and another could be taken tomorrow. I do not want the GRECO report to become a central axis of amendments Nos. 3, 4 and 5, under section 2. It is not the case.

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys It is.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Not necessarily. A vote was taken today. The House divided on a number of occasions. The vote was on whether we should proceed. I cannot undo that vote. I do not mind the making of a reference to the GRECO report but it should not dominate the debate on the three amendments at this stage. Tomorrow is another day and-----

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell With all due respect to the Cathaoirleach, I fully appreciate where he is coming from. The House divided today and indicated we should proceed with this Bill. I do not believe the House was as aware of the lack of information surrounding the GRECO report as it is now. I believe that if all Members of the House were sitting here right now and were asked about this, they would vote differently.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan I presume the Leader will have the matter on the Order Paper again tomorrow. If the Senator wants more information, he can table the same amendment to the Order of Business tomorrow to seek clarification.

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell With all due respect, the Minister will not be here while a vote is taken tomorrow on the Order of Business. He is the man on the ground with respect to the report. It behoves every Member here to establish exactly what is in this report before we allow-----

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Senator, I am not trying to-----

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys I ask that the Senators yield to me to allow me to ask a question. Under Standing Orders, it is allowed. The vote today was-----

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan No. We have to take this in order now. Senator Wilson is next.

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys I will go back to Senator Craughwell then. He still has the floor.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan I am not trying to stymie the debate in any way. I am just trying to be helpful.

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys I think it is a critical question to be asked at this stage.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I would like the House to be reassured that there is no imminent danger of earthquakes.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Senator Wilson is next.

Senator Diarmuid Wilson: Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson Could the Minister give us a guarantee that there will be no negative impact on this Bill as a result of the GRECO report?

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell He has not seen it.

Senator Michael McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell He has not read it.

Senator Diarmuid Wilson: Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson I have asked the question. I think in fairness-----

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris It is somewhere in the distance.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Senator Wilson has spoken just once, and very briefly. He should be allowed to put his question.

Senator Diarmuid Wilson: Information on Diarmuid Wilson Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson Could the Minister give us a guarantee that nothing in the GRECO report will have a negative impact on the Bill? It is a simple question. I am sorry for coming back to the definition of "lay person" and the associated question of who is regarded as a legal practitioner. Could somebody who has a legal qualification and is practising on a daily basis as an arbitrator or mediator in our courts, but is not a solicitor or barrister, be regarded as a lay person under this Bill and therefore be eligible, if appointed to this commission, to be its chairperson? I would like clarification on that.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Senator McDowell has indicated and Senator Humphreys wants to come in again.

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys All Senators had a reasonable expectation that some of the Minister's amendments would have been influenced by the GRECO report. We now know that the Minister has not received the report. Therefore, he has not read it and has not been influenced by it. I think that is quite worrying. I ask the Senators who took a particular position when the House voted on this matter earlier today to consider what position they will take tomorrow. I am really worried. If the Minister has not read a European report that mainly deals with corruption, I think he could be negligent in how he has dealt with this. A good Judiciary, as we have had since the foundation of our State, is important as a criterion for foreign direct investment. The Minister claims not to have read this negative report, but he was able to tell Senator Craughwell that there are no earthquakes in it. Many of us are tired because it is 10.30 p.m., but many of us are also worried about the amendments to this Bill. Senator Wilson has articulated some of the fears that exist in this regard. I think the Minister has a lot of thinking to do overnight. I urge him to get a hold of the report immediately so he can read it, at least.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan To be fair, my understanding of what the Minister said is that he has received the report and is proposing to put it before the Cabinet, but he has not read or studied it.

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys He has not read or studied it.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan The Senator indicated that the Minister has not received it.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris No.

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys I said he has received it, but he has not read it.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan The Minister will clarify that shortly. I call Senator Higgins.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins Does the Minister think he might be in a position to give a commitment that the report will be published before this Bill moves from Committee Stage to Report Stage? I know this would not satisfy most people, but we need to have a timeline. We certainly cannot move to Report Stage without having read it. I know we are nowhere near Report Stage.

Senator Catherine Noone: Information on Catherine Noone Zoom on Catherine Noone We are. It is due to take place next Tuesday.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins Okay. I am saying it would be useful to make sure we are not planning to move to Report Stage next Tuesday without the report having been published.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan I will call the Minister to clarify the matter after Senator McDowell has spoken.

Senator Michael McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell I will be brief. Senator Higgins is ignoring the huge difference between Committee Stage and Report Stage. Senators can speak just once on amendments that are proposed on Report Stage, and that is the end of the matter. The time for us to look at criticisms of this legislation by GRECO, if there are such criticisms, is on Committee Stage.

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

Senator Michael McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell We have made some progress on this Bill this evening, although less than I would have liked. I think we should see the GRECO report before we make any further progress with this Bill. The Minister seems to be sufficiently clued into the contents of this report - or draft report, as the case may be - to be in a position to tell Senator Craughwell he will be disappointed by its contents.

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys He told me he has not read it.

Senator Michael McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell However, he is unable to tell us what is in the report and let us judge for ourselves whether we are disappointed by its contents.

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell In light of the debate that is taking place, I propose that this House should adjourn until tomorrow morning. This would give all Members an opportunity to inform themselves regarding what has happened here this evening before revisiting this matter on tomorrow's Order of Business. I do not see the point in progressing-----

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan That is a matter for the Leader or the Deputy Leader. Neither the Senator nor I can do it.

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell I ask the Deputy Leader to do it. We have got to-----

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan I am sure he is listening in. He will be here shortly to consider the Senator's request.

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell No, no.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris The Deputy Leader is here.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan I cannot accept Senator Craughwell's request for an adjournment of the House. Such a proposal has to be made by the Leader. The business has been ordered.

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell This is the most serious matter. As my colleague, Senator Humphreys, said some time ago, we expected that the amendments proposed in this Bill had been introduced in light of the GRECO report. We have heard tonight that the Minister has not read the report.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris Maybe he read what was in The Sunday Business Post.

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell Perhaps he did, but that is not the point. We are talking about passing legislation to appoint people to the courts of our land. This is the most important legislation. A dog's dinner has been made of it since the day it started. I believe it is wrong and disingenuous of us to go any further. I ask the Deputy Leader, who is in the Chamber, to adjourn the House until the Order of Business tomorrow morning.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan I will let the Minister in after Senator Higgins.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I wish to clarify that I voted earlier to postpone this debate.

Senator Michael McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell I know that.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I also want to give due recognition to the Minister's statement that the matter will go before the Cabinet on Thursday, because on Tuesday it was-----

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell He did not say that.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris He did not say that.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins He said he would bring it to the Cabinet.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris At the earliest opportunity.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins Which is Thursday.

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys No, it is not.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins Okay. I am asking for clarification on the timeline. That is something that can be put through.

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell With all due respect, we cannot let this Bill go through Committee Stage at this time.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins: Information on Alice-Mary Higgins Zoom on Alice-Mary Higgins I am simply asking for clarity on the timeline.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan I will give the Minister an opportunity to clarify a number of points that have been made.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan The GRECO process is ongoing with our colleagues in GRECO and the Council of Europe. There has been engagement between officials in my Department and GRECO. It is an ongoing process. A finding in last year's draft GRECO compliance report was critical of the manner in which our judicial appointments take place. Ireland was given an opportunity to comment and we engaged with GRECO in that regard. GRECO made specific and particular reference to the absence of members of the Judiciary on the appointments commission, on foot of which I successfully brought an amendment through the Dáil to allow for representation on the commission of the presidents of all the courts. That was one of the points mentioned in the draft GRECO report. I am not at liberty to publish the report without the assent of the Government. As I said earlier, I intend to seek the assent of the Government to the publication of the report at the earliest opportunity.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris When will that be?

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan On Thursday of this week.

Senator Michael McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell After Committee Stage has concluded.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I cannot pre-empt what Government will say. What I can say is that we embarked earlier this evening on a process involving 112 amendments. We are on amendment No. 3 because amendments Nos. 1 and 2 were ruled out of order. To suggest the absence of the GRECO report is in some way impacting on the debate so far is neither true nor accurate because we are on amendment No. 3.

  I did not make any reference to anybody engaging in filibustering. I am happy to sit here all night and listen to Senators, but in a way that I hope can ensure we have a form of constructive engagement. Yes, I hope that Senators would see the report at the earliest opportunity. I do not want to assume what Cabinet will do, but it would be my hope we would be in a position to have sight of this report. I will not comment on what was in a Sunday newspaper or otherwise, but I would like the report to be published in its entirety, if it is to be published, and the Senators would have the opportunity to look at it. I do not know of any report, published or unpublished, that is impacting on amendments Nos. 2 or 3, which we have not been in a position to process.

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys The Minister is backtracking.

Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik Zoom on Ivana Bacik I have a copy of what purports to be three pages of the GRECO report in my hand, and it seems to be very up to date. Paragraph 35 of it states that GRECO has significant concerns about the composition of an appointments commission as proposed in the judicial appointments Bill, as amended, on 31 May 2018, which would place judges in a clear minority position in favour of a strong lay representation, including the chairperson, accountable to Parliament and that this move is not in line with European standards which, in situations where final judicial appointments are taken by the Executive, call for an independent authority drawn in substantial part from the Judiciary to be authorised to make recommendations or opinions prior to such appointments.

  Paragraph 36 states that GRECO urges the authorities to reconsider this matter in order to limit potential risks of improper influence from the Executive or political power over the appointment process to the Judiciary, or any perception thereof, and to do so in close co-operation with the judicial authorities. It appears to be an up-to-date excerpt from an up-to-date report. I am happy to hand it to the Minister. We cannot say it is not relevant to Committee Stage. It is relevant to the amendments we are trying to draft to be helpful, and it should be relevant to the amendments the Government is drafting, and that we are supposed to be debating. It is not good enough to say it will be published at the earliest opportunity. Clearly, if newspapers have got hold of some of the report, and if there is a report out there, we should have got it, in advance at least of Committee Stage, so we could assist in drafting amendments. We would clearly have got a lot further on Committee Stage had we had sight of the GRECO report in advance of it. We are expected to finish Committee Stage apparently tomorrow night and go to Report Stage next week, only on the basis of a vague assurance that the report will be published as soon as possible, when we know the report is there and has expressed some very strong criticisms of a process which it says is not in line with European standards, as of 31 May 2018.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan Senator Bacik, along with all Senators, will be well aware that the Government makes decisions on these issues in accordance with our Constitution, not in accordance with any other body of laws on the international stage. No other authority decides who we recommend for judicial appointment. This is the sole function of Government. That is not changing under this Bill in draft form or otherwise. The Government must operate within that basic point at all stages. Irrespective of what is in the piece of paper in Senator Bacik's hand, that does not change. We operate our own laws under our own Constitution and, in fact, a reading of this Bill now, as compared to in its original form, will show it increases the independence of the Judiciary, rather than reducing it. I refer to the inclusion of all judicial promotions, currently done outside of the appointments board process; the statement that all appointments will be on merit, which is what we have discussed for the past number of hours here; and the professionalisation of the judicial selection process. I do not see anything in what any of the Senators said that precludes us from proceeding with the debate this evening until 11.15 p.m., which is the order of the House, and proceeding with the amendments tomorrow. I intend to bring the report to Government at the earliest opportunity, which is Thursday. We are not having a constitutional referendum to change the constitutional position on the appointments of judges. I am not sure what Senators want.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris We want the report. That is what we want.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I am not in a position to publish that report, or to give it to Senators.

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys The Minister has not even read it.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan There are a number of Senators wishing to come in. I would like to make a brief observation, and I am trying to be fair as Cathaoirleach. I can see this GRECO report impacting on every amendment from here to the 111th one, or whatever it is, and being a stumbling block. The Minister will be aware we will have the same circular arguments for the next day or two.

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell In the light of what Senator Bacik just read out, I ask we adjourn the House. We cannot proceed with this legislation, given there is a report that is damning of the legislation unless the Minister is right and, when we get our hands on the report, I will be sorely disappointed, in which case I will come in here and prostrate myself on the floor in front of the Minister and apologise.

Senator Kevin Humphreys: Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys Do not do that.

(Interruptions).

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris Ah, keep your clothes on, for God's sake.

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell Right now, the Minister is asking us to pass legislation, and the Cathaoirleach was right when he said this is going to come up at every amendment.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan That was the decision of the House at 5 p.m.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan I ruled before that Senators cannot move an adjournment. There are 12 minutes left, and there are four or five speakers. We might as well let this run out. I want to take people who have not been in before.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Rónán Mullen Zoom on Rónán Mullen I just heard the Minister say we should not be worried because, in the end, the Government-----

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan No, I did not say that. I did not say Senators should not be worried.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Rónán Mullen Zoom on Rónán Mullen Well, the Minister sought to reassure us that-----

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan It is important that I am quoted properly and accurately, as Senator Norris well knows.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I do, and I always quote the Minister meticulously.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Allow the Senator to proceed. I am sure the Minister will duly clarify his position in due course or tomorrow.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Rónán Mullen Zoom on Rónán Mullen Let us put it this way. The Minister sought to allay fears on the basis the Government acts in line with the Constitution, and that nothing in the GRECO report or otherwise will interfere with that. This is not the point. The point is there is a very significant change in public policy going on with this legislation. In the belief of Senators here, a very important body issued very troubling recommendations against this new direction in public policy. I cannot think of any other situation. Let us say there was some legislation dealing with the workings of the Garda Síochána, and let us say there was a report that we knew of that was on a civil servant's desk somewhere, and that it was not clear how much sight of that there was. The Minister comes in here like, dare I say it, Archbishop McQuaid after the Second Vatican Council saying not to worry, that there is nothing in this to disturb the tranquility of our Christian lives and that there is no change.  It is simply not acceptable in a modern democracy that the Government would have a report recommending strongly against a particular direction being taken by proposed legislation, that the Minister says there is nothing to worry about in the report but he would not have read it himself. We are being asked to go ahead and vote for this legislation despite the report potentially condemning what is being legislated for. The Minister is a decent guy but, with respect, his best answer is that he cannot move on this until Thursday because for a magic reason he cannot get authorisation from the Cabinet to issue the report until then.

We are the second Chamber of the Oireachtas. It seems that the Minister has a credibility problem with what he is proposing because an important body - not just a Ballygobackwards organisation but a significant and important body within the architecture of the Council of Europe - has said it has concerns about it. Senator Bacik has read an excerpt from the report but the Minister is not even in a position to confirm whether it is authentic. I cannot think of a precedent for this kind of exchange in these Houses. Will the Minister get on the phone to his Taoiseach or whoever makes the decisions for the Cabinet or secretary of the Government? Will he ask what we do in ad hoc positions where we need quick decisions from the Government?

Senator Michael McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell There could be an incorporeal meeting of the Cabinet and a decision from that.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Rónán Mullen Zoom on Rónán Mullen Yes. It happened during the bailout process that certain Green Party members were woken up and there were all sorts of events in trying to get hold of some Cabinet members. Gardaí had to be sent around to knock on doors and people were ringing them and trying to find mobile phones. They were shouting down the chimney at them. We must do whatever it takes.

  All we are asking is for the Government to move swiftly to allay concerns. We may speak of new politics and the previous Taoiseach from Fine Gael spoke about government from behind a pane of glass, meaning there would be transparency. Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell, not generally an opponent of the Government, today spoke about "clear water". This all points to basic transparency and respect for the people in this House, who must do their job of scrutinising legislation properly.

  We are not suggesting for a moment that if this legislation passes, it will be unconstitutional. If Senator McDowell contradicts me, I will have to take it as he is the more senior man. However, that is not the point. The point is if this legislation passes, it will be bad public policy and set a bad precedent in terms of our need to protect an independent Judiciary. Senator Craughwell is right and we should withdraw from debate at this point until the Minister can get a decision from the Government to publish this report, whether it is relevant or not. The perception now matters as to whether there is something damning in the report, whatever about the content. On the face of it, the legislation must be seen to be unproblematic. It is not the current position and there is a confidence problem with the legislation.

  Nobody expects the Minister to speak for the Government right now. He could speak to his own intentions, which are that he will seek clarification on whether we can get an early decision from the Government about the publication of this report. I am not asking for something unrealistic and neither are my colleagues. Will the Minister start from the point that there must be a shift of paradigm? It is about accepting there is a credibility problem and we need clarity. It is not as though the report has not issued, as it is somewhere in the corridors of power. The second Chamber, the Upper House, is entitled to know what is in the report, even if the Minister has not yet read it. It is hard to expect us to believe that nobody in the corridors of power knows the content of the report. Right now there is an information gap and it is in the Minister's interest, taking account of the kind of politics he wishes to promote, and in our interests as a Legislature seeking to scrutinise legislation properly, that we would have all the information at our disposal. It is about making our best judgment on this legislation with the fullest possible access to the facts.

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell Hear, hear.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I have already said I will seek Government approval at the earliest opportunity to have the report published and I expect that on Thursday.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Rónán Mullen Zoom on Rónán Mullen So we cannot proceed until then.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan In the meantime I am in the hands of Senators. The Senators took a democratic decision early in the day to facilitate this debate and that is what has happened.

Senator Gerard P. Craughwell: Information on Gerard P. Craughwell Zoom on Gerard P. Craughwell Without the full knowledge-----

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan It was with full knowledge.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan Senators Ó Ríordáin and Norris are next, time permitting. Senator Norris has been extremely quiet all evening.

Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin: Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin I will be as quick as possible. I have a level of sympathy for the Minister in trying to defend the process in which he clearly does not believe. He has been compared to Archbishop McQuaid but he reminds me of the band Maroon 5 in that insufferable World Cup advertisement, which sings "Don't worry about a thing. Every little thing is going to be all right". If the Minister was part of the Opposition he would rail against this process. If Sinn Féin had not been bought off, it would rail against this process as well.

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

Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin: Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin This is a circus and it is really embarrassing. I am glad the journalists have all gone home. A reputable European body has issued a report stinging in its critique of this legislation. It is only in front of us because the Fr. Ted alliance feels strongly about it. There are bits of this report in Sunday newspapers and in front of me. The Minister has said he has not seen it but again he says not to worry about a thing. With the greatest of respect, if the Minister is going to ask the Cabinet to publish the report on Thursday, could we not just halt everything until then?

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

Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin: Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin We could then have a much more informed debate. The Minister will be able to go back to the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, who clearly feels very strongly about this and who I half-expected to be sitting in that chair instead of Deputy Flanagan when I came in this evening-----

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris At least until after the next election.

Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin: Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Let us do this properly. If the Minister was part of the Opposition, along with the Fine Gael representatives, it is just the kind of exercise that they would rail against. This is important legislation being railroaded through despite eminent European bodies raising serious questions about it. Fine Gael is meant to be the party of law and order so let us do this properly.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I have a certain grudging sympathy for the Minister, who has been pretty good-humoured during this debate. He has been, to me at least, a little contradictory nonetheless. He has said the report is irrelevant as we have our Constitution. That implies he will ignore the report. If he indicates it has no relevance and we are not bound by it or beholden to anybody outside Ireland-----

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan That is true.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris We must take those views into account. Does the Minister agree with that?

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan It is what we are doing.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris It is what we are doing but the Minister cannot do it because he has not come across those views yet. The Minister has indicated we are more or less going to ignore the GRECO report but he has also said he is in discussions with the body. That is a clear contradiction. One cannot ignore it on one hand and be involved in discussions on the other. I say to my colleagues in Sinn Féin that it is about time they reconsider this matter.

Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile: Information on Niall Ó Donnghaile Zoom on Niall Ó Donnghaile We are considering all options.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris Good. That is excellent. We will see what happens tomorrow morning. One can call this filibustering or whatever one likes but this House will be extremely reluctant to pass a Bill of this nature. Why should it do so? We are discussing very serious legislation on appointments to the Judiciary and information is being deliberately withheld that is germane to the discussion of the principal items of the legislation. It is astonishing. I am quite certain we will rehash this again and again. If the Minister is going to raise this in Cabinet on Thursday and get a response then, why not suspend discussion until we have the agreement of the Cabinet and the report is published so it can be taken into account in these discussions?

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan We are up against the clock, and as Senator Norris is in possession, I ask him to report progress, or lack of progress as the case may be.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris Zoom on David P.B. Norris I am very happy to report lack of progress.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Denis O'Donovan Zoom on Denis O'Donovan We have reached 11 p.m. Tomorrow is another day, and I am sure there will be considerable debate tomorrow on this issue.

  Progress reported; Committee to sit again.

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

Senator Catherine Noone: Information on Catherine Noone Zoom on Catherine Noone Tomorrow morning at 10.30 a.m.

  The Seanad adjourned at 11 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Wednesday, 4 July 2018.


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