Seanad Éireann - Volume 146 - 14 March, 1996

Order of Business.

Mr. Manning: Today's Order of Business is items 1 and 2. Item 1 will taken [1458] from now until 1 p.m. with 15 minutes for each speaker; Members may share time. If Members who wish to contribute have not been accommodated by 1 p.m., the debate will not conclude and will resume on another day. Item 2 will be taken at 2 p.m.

Miss Ormonde: The Order of Business is agreed.

I wish the Minister for Education a speedy recovery; I understand she is unwell. Far be it from me to knock a Minister when she is down, but perhaps she, when she is recovered, or the Minister of State could arrange to come to the House to make a statement on the proposed legislation in relation to the regional education boards. There is a huge ground swell against the regional boards and many of the Leader's colleagues have expressed concern that the goalposts keep moving. People do not know exactly what is involved and it is reasonable to ask the Minister or the Minister of State to come to the House and outline the precise contents of the legislation. This will ensure that people know what to expect.

The same applies in relation to the proposed legislation on the universities. I have been asked questions which I cannot answer because I do not know the position. Nobody knows the exact situation, although transparency is supposed to govern all matters these days. We are supposed to be open and accountable about everything we do.

Mr. Neville: Senator Wright should watch out.

Miss Ormonde: I want answers to many questions and it is reasonable to request the Minister or the Minister of State to come to the House and explain the situation before the legislation comes on stream.

Mr. O'Toole: I would not mind contributing to that debate if I had the opportunity. I am delighted the House has an opportunity today to discuss the mandatory reporting of child abuse.

[1459] The issue of inviting speakers to the House to discuss the intergovernmental conference has fallen off the agenda. A date appears to have slipped by and perhaps the Leader could confirm a definite date for that discussion.

Mr. Roche: Is it possible for the House to put on record its dismay regarding the belligerent activities of the People's Republic of China in relation to Taiwan? The activities in the Taiwan Strait threaten peace in that region and, given the economic strength of countries in that area, they also threaten the entire economic stability of the Pacific Rim. This is a most important area in world terms and it would be no harm if the House recorded its dismay regarding the belligerent activities, which are aimed at disturbing a democratic election.

Mr. Manning: Regarding the points raised by the Acting Leader of the Opposition, the universities legislation will be published in June or July. The expectation is that it will be taken in the autumn. The legislation regarding the regional education boards is being drafted at present. However, it might be useful if the House discussed this reform of the education system in the coming weeks as it did in relation to the universities. I will try to organise that and I will pass on the Senator's good wishes to the Minister for a speedy recovery.

Senator O'Toole raised the intergovernmental conference. It has been agreed with Professor James Dooge that he will address the House and answer questions on that matter on 28 March. He spoke to a subcommittee of the Committee on Procedure and Privileges and that date has been fixed.

Senator Roche raised the war games and obvious acts of aggression by the People's Republic of China against Taiwan, a matter which was also raised yesterday. I would welcome an opportunity to discuss this issue in the House and I will examine whether time can be made available in the near future. All [1460] Members have a strong view on the type of aggression taking place at present.

Order of Business agreed to.