Seanad Éireann - Volume 147 - 11 June, 1996

Order of Business.

[1610] Mr. Manning: Today's Order of Business is item 1 to conclude.

Mr. Wright: I take it that it is the Leader's intention, with the goodwill of the House, to finish this Bill during daylight hours?

Mr. Manning: Yes — or tomorrow.

Mr. Wright: In light of the recent report on tourism where a major marketing initiative is to be taken in relation to the selling of the corporate image of Ireland, will the Leader make time to debate the tourism motion on the Order Paper before the end of the session? Many Members are involved in the tourism industry and a debate on the selling of a corporate image of Ireland would be worthwhile before this initiative is put into action.

Mr. Norris: I did not attempt to intervene during the expressions of sympathy in relation to Detective Garda McCabe, but I call now for a debate on the civil strife which is a backwash from the situation in Northern Ireland. It is time we delivered a clear message to Sinn Féin/Provisional IRA. I note the leaders of that movement were, once again, reluctant to involve themselves in what they call “the politics of condemnation”. That is very selective because they are quite prepared to condemn politicians — I have heard them condemn the Taoiseach, Deputy John Bruton, and John Major. They mean they reserve the right to condemn Irish citizens to death but they will not disassociate themselves from murder.

An Cathaoirleach: We are not discussing that matter today. I ask the Senator to put a question on today's Order of Business.

Mr. Norris: It is time the Irish people served notice to them that there is a form of truce at the moment between [1611] this Parliament and these people. That truce has a limited duration and any further acts of provocation will lead to the ending of that implied truce and the extinguishing of Sinn Féin/IRA.

An Cathaoirleach: A question to the Leader.

Mr. Norris: Will the Leader arrange for a debate during which the very strong feelings of the vast majority of people on the island can be made plain to these unrepresentative people who have 2.5 per cent of the vote in the South and a huge increase to 15 per cent in the North?

An Cathaoirleach: We are not discussing the matter.

Mr. Norris: Can we have a discussion on the situation in the East Timor? We have had significant debates on this area. The House will be as concerned as I am to learn that another outrage was committed yesterday by Indonesian troops after an Indonesian settler had desecrated an image of the Virgin Mary. The local inhabitants were so incensed they came out on the street in thousands. The Indonesian troops then opened fire on them, killing at least one and injuring a considerable number. Would the Leader agree to have further debate on East Timor?

I welcome the Leader not asking for a vote of sympathy on the death of Pol Pot. Although there are different views on this matter I understand this man, who was responsible for the death of two million people, recently died. Some of those who were badly affected by him regret the peaceful manner of his passing and would much prefer this war criminal to have stood trial.

An Cathaoirleach: That is not relevent to the Order of Business.

Mr. Dardis: I support Senator Norris's call for a debate on the circumstances surrounding the killing of Garda [1612] McCabe in its widest possible context. The House should, as it has just done, find some time to reaffirm its belief and confidence in law and order and the way democracy has progressed.

On the wider issue of Northern Ireland and what has been happening there over the past day or so, if things settle down over the next few days and the forum progresses in its important work, it would be appropriate for this House to debate Northern Ireland again. We should at least have statements on the issue so that our point of view can be articulated and made public.

Mr. Maloney: The Fruit of the Loom company in Donegal announced yesterday it was putting 3,000 workers on short time. Among the reasons given were the slump in the European market and European tourism. It is a tough time for this company which brought badly needed jobs to Donegal. The Department of Enterprise and Employment should brief themselves fully on the situation and see what can be done to help the workers, the union and the company.

Mr. McGowan: I join other Members in asking the Leader for a debate on the current situation in the North of Ireland. There is a school of thought that it is a time when one would be well advised to keep quiet and say nothing. Having listened to “Questions and Answers” last night, I think most Irish people would feel like vomiting at the response to direct questions about condemning the killers of Garda McCabe. Nobody in this country should be in any doubt that the people who will not condemn this act, whatever their shade of politics, have no place in society. They are the same people who are planning to map out a political career for themselves in the North of Ireland. This House has got to have an opportunity to make it crystal clear——

An Cathaoirleach: We are not discussing the matter now. I take it the [1613] Senator is supporting calls for a debate on the matter.

Mr. McGowan: I appreciate the Cathaoirleach's guidance. I am calling on the Leader to arrange a debate as soon as possible because, between the antics of Conor Cruise-O'Brien on “Questions and Answers” last night and Peter Robinson this morning——

An Cathaoirleach: We cannot name people who are not here to defend themselves.

Mr. McGowan: While travelling from Donegal to this House this morning, I listened to Peter Robinson on the radio. These people are light years away from reality. The people of Ireland do not support them. This Parliament has no more important function than to state clearly that those people do not represent anybody.

An Cathaoirleach: You are asking for a debate.

Mr. McGowan: I am asking for a debate on the untimely death of Detective Garda McCabe and the statements by Sinn Féin——

An Cathaoirleach: We are not discussing the matter.

Mr. McGowan: I ask the Leader to treat this matter urgently. There is no more urgent business to be discussed in the House.

Ms Honan: I support the call for a debate on the failure of Sinn Féin, at which we are all appalled, to condemn the murder of Detective Garda McCabe.

Will the Leader inquire from the Minister for Health when the national cancer strategy will be published? It was stated by the Minister last year that this was a priority and was due for publication last year. A number of medical personnel involved in the treatment of cancer consider that, for the effective [1614] and efficient use of resources, it is a matter of great urgency.

Mr. Manning: A number of related issues were raised which effectively concern both a debate on Northern Ireland and a need for the House to be given an opportunity to express its outrage at the atrocity last week and the response of Sinn Féin to it. If Members believe it will be helpful I will have no difficulty in arranging a short series of statements. I will discuss this with the other party and group leaders later. I am not sure it will be helpful but I am prepared to discuss it. I am sure the people who turned out in County Limerick — 20,000 on Sunday evening and equally large crowds yesterday — spoke for everybody in Ireland and emphasised that there is no ambivalence in the Republic as far as these kinds of activities are concerned. I am not sure that saying it again would be helpful, but if Members believe it will be, I have an open mind on the matter.

A wider debate on Northern Ireland would not be helpful. There is too much uncertainty and fluidity. All of us would hope that the opportunity given to the politicians in Northern Ireland will be availed of, that the IRA will renew its ceasfire so that Sinn Féin can take part in the talks and that the Unionist parties will stop the play acting which has been taking place over the last two days and allow the talks to proceed under an impartial and internationally renowned chairman. If it is useful in the next week or two to have a debate I will certainly consider it, but I do not believe it would be appropriate this week.

I agree to Senator Wright's question on the conclusion of the Fianna Fáil Private Members' motion on tourism. However, it may be better to start a new debate on this given that new proposals have been made. There will be a debate, whether it be the conclusion of the Fianna Fáil Private Members' motion or a longer debate. I will discuss it with the Leader of the Opposition and [1615] the leaders of the other parties and groups.

Senator Norris asked for time to discuss East Timor. If I can find an hour between now and the end of the session I will make it available. Senator Maloney raised the question of Fruit of the Loom International. I am sure he has conveyed his concern to the Department and I will do likewise on behalf of the House.

I will make inquiries regarding Senator Honan's question. The Minister will attend the House on Thursday when she can question him directly.

Order of Business agreed to.