Seanad Éireann - Volume 184 - 25 October, 2006

Order of Business.

  Ms O’Rourke: I know that there may be a specific protocol for such matters, but I would not like to let the occasion pass without expressing our regret at the losses suffered by our Chief Whip, Senator Moylan, and Senator Ó Murchú.

The Order of Business is No. 1, statements on the Government White Paper on Irish Aid (resumed), to be taken on the conclusion of the Order of Business and to conclude no later than 5 p.m., with Senators’ contributions not to exceed eight minutes and the Minister to be called upon to reply no later than ten minutes before the conclusion of statements; and No. 25, motion 23, to be taken from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m.

  Mr. B. Hayes: I echo the condolences to both Members’ families.

  An Cathaoirleach: This is unusual, but I understand the circumstances.

  Mr. B. Hayes: It is very difficult to know what to say when asked to reflect on the carnage witnessed on the roads over the weekend. The most graphic case was that in Threemilehouse in County Monaghan in which five young men died, but I know of others. I believe that nine young men under the age of 25 were killed in night-time accidents over the weekend. We must respond to this issue because, whatever one says, the road safety campaign is not working for that age cohort. We will have to consider much more radical measures to get the point across to people of that age that society must address this serious issue.

One circumstance has been brought to my attention. Manufacturers and distributors can now install a limiter to determine the maximum speed at which a vehicle can travel. Will the Government consider whether we might take that route to ensure that everything possible is done to get the message across to the age group in question that action must be taken? If it requires limiting the maximum speed at which vehicles registered to owners in a certain age group can travel, we must consider that. It is simply unacceptable that such carnage be allowed to continue without a considered response.

When we returned following the summer recess, I asked the Leader when we might debate the reports of the Morris and Barron tribunals. We have now been back four weeks without such debates. The tribunals were asked to report to the Houses of the Oireachtas expeditiously, and it is no service to anyone if time passes without our being able to reflect on the reports’ conclusions. It is now urgent that both debates be brought for[1831]ward because they concern very important matters we asked the two judges to determine. The House is obliged to discuss their conclusions in the fullest possible sense. I ask that debates be tabled on the reports as soon as possible.

  Mr. O’Toole: We have had debates on road safety on many occasions in recent years, but there are still outstanding issues. The most difficult manoeuvre on the road is overtaking, but there is no overtaking manoeuvre in the driver test — quod erat demonstrandum. This is the kind of nonsense we maintain continually.

The Taoiseach was interviewed recently on “News at One” and he made the point that he had spent two or three happy weeks in August in County Kerry, specifically in the town of Dingle. In answer to a question, he pointed out to the nation that nobody had mentioned or raised with him the way people felt about the high-handed manner in which the name of their town had been changed. Will the Leader convey to the Taoiseach that Dingle people are used to seeing national and international figures on their streets and have rules about not interfering with them, but that he should now be aware of their feelings?

  An Cathaoirleach: The Senator should keep to the Order of Business.

  Mr. O’Toole: I refer to No. 8 on the Order Paper, the Official Languages (Amendment) Bill 2005, in my name and that of Senator Coghlan. Since we last met, the town of Dingle has voted on the name of its town. The result of the vote was that 1,005 were opposed to the decision that has been made as against 70 in favour. I look forward to debating this in the House.

However, there are two reasons I do not want to call for the debate now. First, the Minister intends to talk to Kerry County Council and the Dingle group over the next month and I would like to see how that plays out. Second, the plebiscite in Dingle took place under the Local Government Act 1946, but the Minister seems unclear about that and keeps mentioning the Local Government Act 2001 and the Official Languages Act 2003.

Under the 1946 legislation, after the plebiscite the returning officer is required to forward the result to the Government which will make the next decision on the town’s name. Lest there be any doubt, this is now a decision for the Government, unless the Minister intervenes somewhere along the way. Will the Leader find an opportunity to ask the Taoiseach where we stand on that and whether the Government is likely to take a decision on it soon?

Another issue of concern is the position of the unfortunate woman in County Cork who suffered sexual abuse as a child at the hands of her principal teacher and tried to find compensation through the State. Having failed in her case, [1832]which is understandable from the point of view of the State, it is horrific that she must continue to worry about losing her property, perhaps even her house, although in fairness the Taoiseach has said she will not. Nonetheless, the State is pursuing her for costs. This is wrong.

The last time a Government and Minister in similar circumstances apishly stood with legal advice was in the case of Mrs. McCole in Donegal. It was the worst political decision and especially bad for a decent man, Deputy Noonan, and damaged him eventually. The same could happen in this case. The people do not want to see this woman pursued for those costs.

  Mr. Norris: Hear, hear.

  Mr. Ryan: We should have a regular debate on road safety. Two students from a class of 28 students I teach have been killed in road accidents in the past six months, one at Easter and another last week. One could not meet a nicer bunch of young people; they are a credit to their age group. These deaths are an appalling tragedy. If we are to do anything for our young people, we must do what is necessary to curb some of their excesses of enthusiasm.

Ag tagairt do rudaí a tharla le déanaí sa Daingean, níl mórán le rá agam ach aire an Tí a dhíriú ar litir san Irish Times inniu. The letter is from an Englishman, but I will not quote it all. It states: “I have cancelled my two-week trip to Dingle next Easter. I will be holidaying in Scotland instead”. He gives many reasons, including the assertion that “the Scots are proud of their Gaeltacht and actively promote it to their foreign visitors”. The gentleman in question is apparently a regular visitor to Ireland and is insulted by the suggestion that he would not be able to find his way to a particular town if it was called An Daingean instead of Dingle.

  An Cathaoirleach: We should be careful not to have a debate on the matter.

  Mr. Ryan: I am being a good deal more restrained than the previous speaker and just because I was on the losing side——

  Mr. O’Toole: I was the essence of restraint.

  Mr. Norris: He was very factual.

  An Cathaoirleach: Order.

  Mr. O’Toole: I was informative.

  Mr. Ryan: The first impact on tourism of this allegedly pro-tourism decision was to reduce the number of tourists.

  Mr. B. Hayes: By one.

  Mr. Ryan: By one who made it public. Nevertheless, he is the person who felt obliged to do so [1833]and I hope that the people of Dingle have not made a profound mistake in terms of their tourism identity.

This morning, the treatment of mushroom pickers was discussed on “Morning Ireland”. For too long, I have heard of the treatment of migrant workers in that industry. People talked about being paid €5 per hour, a 60-hour week and seven days per week. They are paid by cash in envelopes and do not get payslips.

During the programme, a defender of the industry made the vigorous point that the workers are not productive enough and, if they are to be paid the legal minimum wage, they must increase their productivity by 40%, which is a nonsense. A second point made was that supermarkets have forced down the price of mushrooms by 25% in recent years. Approximately six major supermarkets could sort out this problem between them by asking their suppliers for guarantees that the workers, while not given significant privileges, are treated in accordance with the law. I want to call on the public to stop buying mushrooms in supermarkets if that guarantee is not given.

Senators make speeches in the House about fair trade around the world because many of them take it seriously, but the place to start fair trade is at home and its first principle is that people should be employed in accordance with the law. I cannot depend on the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment to protect the workers’ rights because it has failed to do so time and again. Therefore, the only course open to me is to appeal to the public. I also ask Senators to appeal to the public to tell supermarkets that they will not buy products if proper treatment for their producers is not guaranteed. This is the most effective way to address the problem and a one-week boycott would solve it.

  An Cathaoirleach: There was a show of hands to indicate that Senators wish to contribute on the Order of Business. I ask Senators to be aware of Standing Orders relating to time and to be brief.

  Mr. Glynn: An editorial in last Monday’s Irish Independent had another go at local councillors and asked whether what they do is democracy or “codocracy”. This article is media codology. It is obvious that the writer, like previous writers, knows little or nothing about what a local authority member does.

A number of Members, possibly including Senator Leyden and I, asked the Minister for Health and Children for a rolling debate on health. Will the Leader arrange the debate as soon as possible?

  Mr. Finucane: I welcome the Road Safety Authority’s request for submissions from the public on its 2007 to 2011 safety strategy. Will the RSA examine the 1998 road strategy report, in [1834]which it was stated that there would be spray suppression measures in respect of heavy goods vehicles? We all know the inherent dangers if one tries to pass a truck in rain, namely, one can be blinded by spray for ten to 20 seconds. The European Union has wanted these measures to be introduced since 1989. In that context, if the Road Safety Authority and the Government are serious about road safety, I want them to introduce these spray suppression measures for trucks which have been laid out by the European Union. That could certainly help improve road safety.

My other point has to do with the driving test. A previous speaker is correct on the point that one cannot overtake. The driving test is undertaken in an artificial environment, usually within an urban area. We see learner drivers practising in housing estates, reversing around corners, etc. None of that learning is done on the open roads or on dual carriageways, or during the hours of darkness. The entire driving test should be examined.

I welcome the report on salmon stocks produced by what were described as the three wise men. It has been known for some time that scientific evidence has shown declining stocks. While there is no compulsion on the Government to introduce compensation measures for fishermen, the document stated that at least €30 million should be earmarked for hardship encountered for those involved in the drift net and draft net fishing who will be bought out owing to this proposal. This has been a raging debate throughout the country for some time. I welcome the document and I trust that its recommendations will be implemented.

  Mr. Scanlon: I wish to raise a matter brought to my attention by two families who contacted my office in Sligo yesterday. They have elderly family members in St. John’s geriatric hospital in Sligo town, and they wish to take them home but cannot do so without getting home help. Apparently, there is a dispute at present — it is a national problem — where the people who organise the home help are in dispute with the Health Service Executive. This is creating hardship for elderly people in our communities because for each of those who want to get out of these hospitals, I am sure there are many others who wish to get into them. I call on everybody concerned to resolve this problem as quickly as possible.

  Mr. Norris: I support the calls for a debate on salmon drift net fishing. I raised this matter previously, as have other Members, over many years. We know, for example, that the Government previously received scientific advice which it did not accept. The situation on fish stocks is now regarded as catastrophic, according to an independent group headed by Professor Tom Collins which has made a clear recommendation that drift netting should cease altogether. Although [1835]this is not required, the group also has suggested the provision of €30 million plus to compensate for the hardship of displaced fishermen. We should use a debate in this House to urge the Government to accept at last the scientific recommendations.

With regard to the tragic recent road accident, I send my condolences to the grieving families and community. I stated two years ago in this House that a clear profile was emerging and, tragically, at least some elements have been borne out by that dreadful accident. The profile is of young men travelling at speed on country roads in the early hours of a weekend morning, sometimes with drink taken. There were five or six elements, which I listed previously, and therefore we know the target group. There is a possibility, as Senator Brian Hayes stated, of installing a governor in cars. There is also a commercial product available, a device fitted to a car, that will alert parents immediately, wherever they are, to the fact that their car is being driven at excessive speed. This is a matter that we need to look at again.

This is quite a historic day. I have just come from the launch of an important document in the National Library. It was launched by the Minister of State at the Department of Education and Science, Deputy de Valera. It relates to a programme called Making Your School Safe and it has the endorsement of all the teaching unions, the Department of Education and Science, etc. It is about the alarmingly high levels of homophobic bullying in schools. This is a very destructive issue for young people and often it carries on into adult life with tragic consequences. In the past week, I have been dealing with two serious cases of bullying of adults in the workplace on this basis. It is time this was brought to an end. I was very proud of this country to sit in the National Library an hour ago as two young confident, courageous and articulate schoolgoing people — one man and one woman — talked about their experiences and demanded the right to be treated equally. The young man said somebody known to him had been bullied so much at school that he had to be hospitalised. He then left the school and education. That is a reproach to all of us.

  Ms Feeney: Like other speakers, my mind was focused over the weekend on the terrible tragedy played out in Threemilehouse, County Monaghan. One wonders about the request for a debate on road safety because we have had umpteen debates on the issue. I was very taken by the words of Fr. Martin O’Reilly during the funerals of the two little cousins, as they were thought-provoking and laden with common sense. Perhaps Members are too gentle and politically correct when the House debates road safety. Young men aged between 17 and 30 years who are caught speeding should be put off the road and their cars impounded.

[1836]  Mr. Norris: Hear, hear.

  Ms Feeney: Perhaps then we would not witness a repeat of the terrible pain and agony inflicted on all those families in Monaghan.

Could a debate on road safety cover both drug and alcohol testing? Many young people may be doing drugs rather than drinking and no testing is conducted for drugs. Other European countries carry out such testing and it should be mandatory in Ireland.

  Mr. J. Phelan: I support the call for a debate on the salmon drift netting report and I ask the Leader to arrange this as soon as possible. Senator Norris’s reference to the dangerously low fish stocks is correct. People involved in snap net fishing on the rivers Nore, Barrow and Suir in my constituency have witnessed low fish stocks in recent years and unless firm action is taken by the Government, the situation will be beyond repair.

I also support the comments of previous speakers about road safety and we should have a debate. Senator Feeney is probably right that we have been too politically correct in our comments but, at the same time, all young people should not be labelled dangerous drivers.

  Senators: Hear, hear.

  Mr. J. Phelan: Senator Norris outlined pretty well the cohort of drivers involved and it is not long since I was in that age group. As a young man in a rural area, one must have a car to have a life because there is no other way to get around and to do what one wants. Most of the horror accidents occur in rural areas and involve young men. One must have a vehicle to socialise and work. There is a danger of casting all young people as villains on the road. Many road accidents are caused by drivers who are not in this age cohort and there are serious problems in that regard.

3 o’clock

Will the Leader ask the Minister for Health and Children the status of the primary school medical examination? I have been trying to find out for the past number of months because the implementation of the examination differs throughout the country. The Minister says it is still in use but I am aware of a number of schools in my constituency where it is not undertaken. The examination is important in preventing illness among children. A thorough primary school examination should be implemented, as happened in the past.

  An Cathaoirleach: Many Senators are offering and I would like to accommodate everyone. I ask for brevity, otherwise a number of Members will be disappointed.

  Dr. M. Hayes: Will the Leader ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment to attend the House for a debate on the proposals to exclude citizens of the new accession countries, [1837]Bulgaria and Romania, from the labour force? At a time when we are protesting about quotas being applied to our people in America, this decision sits badly with our traditions. I appreciate the preservation of the common travel area, as it affects me every day of the week, but the British proposals in this regard are not well thought out either, nor can they be policed. Therefore, I would like us to have a debate on this matter.

  Ms O’Meara: In deference to the Cathaoirleach’s request, I will be brief. We will deal with child care legislation relating to fostering and adoption tomorrow which is welcome, but I ask the Leader of the House to arrange for a debate specifically on the publication by the Minister of State, Deputy Brian Lenihan, of proposed new regulations in the child care area. I very much welcome their publication, having called for them in this House for a considerable time. The regulations were published on Monday, 9 October and service providers have until the end of the year to give their response to them because the new regulations will come into place on 1 January next. I understand from providers that this is too short a period and they need a longer time to meet the requirement for the putting in place of them, that they have implications for the Garda vetting unit in Thurles and providers are greatly concerned that the new regulations will further increase the cost of child care for parents. That is not acceptable as many parents and providers are at the pin of their collar in trying to cope. I ask the Leader to arrange for a debate in this House on the proposed regulations in the next month or two.

  Mr. Brady: I call for the resumption of the debate on No. 17 on the Order Paper, the drugs strategy. There was another major seizure of heroin in Dublin last night, which is the second one in as many weeks. I congratulate the Garda units on their success. Guns were found along with the drugs. We must start to think radically in regard to tackling this problem. It is generally accepted that the drug seizures represent only 10% of drugs available on the streets. Therefore, I call for a resumption of the debate on the drugs strategy.

  Mr. Coghlan: Ba mhaith liom cúpla focal a rá mar gheall ar Uimh. 8 ar Riar na hOibre. Now that we have had a decisive democratic decision from the good people of Dingle, unless the Minister responsible is a language fascist, I hope he will not choose to ignore their wishes. As Senator O’Toole said, I would also be happy not to move the Bill, pending consultation——-

  An Cathaoirleach: The Senator is being repetitive on this matter and I ask him to be as brief as possible on it. If he wishes to raise another issue, he should do so.

[1838]  Mr. Coghlan: Brevity is my middle name, as the Cathaoirleach knows.

On an another matter, I would be grateful if the Leader would enlighten the House. I have asked her before about the Privacy Bill which is on the Order Paper, but I missed some comment the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform made in the meantime about having some further consultation on it or whatever. This is where the Leader will come into the picture, namely, in being able to enlighten us all on it. Does this mean tweaking the Bill or dropping it?

  Mr. Minihan: I join previous speakers in calling for a debate on the report on salmon conservation published yesterday. The report is welcome and its recommendations should be acted on promptly. I seek a debate on it in the short term given that the salmon season will start on 1 January next and if the lead-in time is to be given to a Government decision, this House could play an active part in debating the report in the near future.

  Mr. Norris: Hear, hear.

  Dr. Henry: The Cathaoirleach and other Senators may have heard on radio this morning that Fr. Peter McVerry has published another report on the deplorable state in which people leave our prisons, particularly St. Patrick’s Institution, and that they are more likely to become involved in crime after they have been in prison than they were before they went to prison. I have asked the Leader — I know she has tried — to arrange for a debate in this House on the Inspector of Prisons and Places of Detention’s report for 2005 and the reports of the visiting committees.

More than 20 years ago the Whitaker report recommended that St. Patrick’s Institution be closed. It is deplorable to think there is still no training or education provided there. It costs the taxpayer €86,000 per person, per year, to keep people there and Father McVerry says they come out worse than when they went in and I agree with him.

  Mr. Mooney: I support Senator Henry in her remarks. I have read much of what she has contributed on this subject in the House, which was like something from a Charles Dickens novel. I could not believe what was going on in an institution that was supposed to be engaged in the rehabilitation of young offenders. We talk in this House about road safety and responsibility among young people, yet here is an example of a situation where those who are at the lower end of society ——

  An Cathaoirleach: Does the Senator have any other matter he wishes to raise on the Order of Business?

[1839]  Mr. Mooney: In that context, I support Senator Henry because——

  An Cathaoirleach: I am seeking brevity from Senators.

  Mr. Mooney: I will give the Cathaoirleach as much brevity as I can.

  An Cathaoirleach: I will decide on that.

  Mr. Mooney: I will be as brief as I can.

  An Cathaoirleach: If there is an item on the Order of Business the Senator wishes to raise, I ask him to do so now.

  Mr. Mooney: If we are to have a debate on road safety, I ask the Leader to consider drawing together the various recommendations, especially in light of the establishment of a road traffic authority. If that authority is like any of the other statutory bodies set up recently, Members of this House may not have any direct input whatsoever because the authority will make its own rules and regulations.

The ESRI published a report on the national development plan which questioned the priorities of the National Roads Authority regarding the development of the road network. It specifically referred to two roads, namely, the one from Mullingar to Athlone and the other going through the spine of the country, through Birr, Roscrea and into Tipperary, which carry enormous volumes of traffic. I have never been able to understand why bringing those roads up to dual carriageway standards was not made a priority. I hope the forthcoming debate will give us an opportunity to discuss that issue.

  Mr. Bannon: I agree with Senator Scanlon on the roll-out of the home care packages for our elderly people. What is happening is scandalous and disgraceful. We are told by the HSE that there is nobody in place at the moment to sign off on the packages. The delays are all due to bureaucracy and red tape. At the same time, we had HSE representatives circling this House all day today——

  An Cathaoirleach: Is the Senator seeking a debate?

  Mr. Bannon: ——promoting their image and so forth. It would be better if they stayed within their remit and get rid of their answering machines. Last week I had to make representations on behalf of a very elderly person——

  An Cathaoirleach: We will be able to hear all of that when we have the debate. That can be a subject for the debate.

  Mr. Bannon: I encountered 11 voice mailboxes rather than a human being at the other end of the [1840]telephone line. This is something of which the HSE must get rid.

I also call for a debate on the condition of our county, secondary and regional roads in the context of road safety. Some of our roads and signage are in a deplorable state. What is happening in this regard is scandalous. One sees overgrown hedges, badly maintained surfaces and very poor sign posting. Indeed, the latter is particularly also true of the N4 from Dublin. It is virtually impossible for people to access the old N4 because of bad signposting. It has caused several accidents——

  An Cathaoirleach: I am sure the Leader will accommodate the Senator with a debate and he can raise these matters then.

  Mr. Bannon: It is important that we have a debate on the condition of our roads, many of which are in a deplorable state, despite what the Minister has said on numerous occasions, namely that there is plenty of money for our county roads.

  Mr. Kenneally: With regard to the salmon report to which other Members have referred in the House this afternoon, I wish to make it clear that the report is only a recommendation and no decision has been made as yet. I have no problem supporting the call for a discussion in this House on the subject. However, other reports have been prepared on the topic, including one by the Joint Committee on Communications, Marine and Natural Resources. I hope the final Government decision will involve a meshing together of the recommendations in those two reports. I wish to make it clear I am not happy with what is in this report, but there will be much discussion before the final decision is made.

Many contributors have raised the matter of road safety. A person in my constituency is developing on his own land a simulated driving instruction area. He is installing roads, roundabouts, traffic lights and everything that could possibly be met on the roads to train people to drive properly. He is not being funded to do this, and the Government should consider this and support that type of enterprise.

  Mr. B. Hayes: Hear, hear.

  Ms Tuffy: I welcome the calls for a debate on road safety. I sympathise with the families of the recent victims of road accidents, especially that which occurred in Monaghan. We must discuss the issue in terms of its broader application. I live in a community where there is a constant sound of the revving of car engines. It is becoming a significant feature of life in estates. Young drivers go into estates to do wheelies and turn-arounds, among other types of very dangerous practices. We should be very conscious that there is a part of popular culture that is normalising and glam[1841]orising speeding as well as displays of bravery by motorists. It involves very popular films, television programmes and games being viewed by children and young adults.

  An Cathaoirleach: That is a point for the debate, when we have it.

  Ms Tuffy: It is very important to look at other countries, because it is not just unique to Ireland. Perhaps we need to look to bringing in legislation dealing with dangerous driving practices. We do not have it in this country yet. It is called anti-hooning legislation in other countries, such as New Zealand.

  An Cathaoirleach: There are many Senators offering.

  Ms Tuffy: I feel that matters such as safety, practices such as wheelies and the revving of car engines in estates——

  An Cathaoirleach: There is a time limit and the Senator has made her point.

  Ms Tuffy: If young drivers do this——

  An Cathaoirleach: I call Senator Kitt.

  Ms Tuffy: I would like to finish my call for debate.

  An Cathaoirleach: No, I am asking people to be brief——

  Ms Tuffy: Yes, well——

  An Cathaoirleach: ——until the debate. The Senator is making a debate out of the Order of Business.

  Ms Tuffy: I have been briefer than any other speaker. That is not fair. The Cathaoirleach is not being fair to me.

  An Cathaoirleach: I am fair to everyone.

  Ms Tuffy: We need a debate on bringing in legislation where cars can be confiscated from dangerous drivers.

  An Cathaoirleach: I call Senator Kitt. I should point out at this stage that I am trying to be fair to everyone. I have only four or five minutes and I will have to break the rule to accommodate everyone. To be accused of not being fair is completely wrong.

  Mr. Kitt: I join in the calls for a debate on road safety. A Drive Safe programme has been devised by a young person in County Galway. The Department of Education and Science has deemed to accept much of the programme, except for the question of driving tuition. The Department does not agree that this should be part of [1842]the course. This should be included. It has already been carried out in Carndonagh in County Donegal and Dunmore in County Galway. If driving tuition can be carried out there it can be done in a general programme.

I hope if we have a debate on road safety and this programme is implemented by the Department, the driving tuition section will be part of it.

  An Cathaoirleach: There will be a debate but we cannot have it now.

  Mr. Kitt: It is very important.

  Mr. Browne: I call for a debate on fireworks.

  Mr. Norris: Which fireworks?

  An Cathaoirleach: There are time constraints.

  Mr. Browne: I ask the Leader for a debate on fireworks. The Criminal Justice Act 2006 introduced changes which we hoped would make a difference. The situation is worse than ever. In the past three years there have been 11 court appearances relating to fireworks, yet there was not one conviction. While I accept it has not been a full year, this year there have been 30 seizures in comparison with 126 for 2005. The changes made have had zero impact and the situation is worse than ever. I understand one man in Clontarf had his car burnt out lately. Every part of Ireland is badly affected by fireworks. We must have a debate to see what we can do to resolve the matter. The changes made last year did not work.

I also call for a debate on road safety. It is regrettable that Fianna Fáil voted down the drug testing element in the Private Members’ Bill in the Dáil last week.

  Mr. Leyden: I join with everybody in complimenting the Garda Commissioner and the Garda Síochána on the €10 million haul of drugs last night in Clondalkin. I agree with Senator Brady that many drugs come into the country through small airports. Weston Aerodrome is the focus of attention at the moment but other small airports are totally uncontrolled. Drugs are coming into the country and they must be coming in somewhere. There should be a clampdown on smaller airports in that regard. Air traffic control should know the number of aeroplanes that have come in through Weston Aerodrome in the past five years and there should be an investigation into every person using that facility, as well as every other private airport, so that we can find out the extent of the drugs coming in. There is an insatiable appetite for drugs and we need more awareness. I call for the Minister to report to this House on the actions of his and other Departments in that regard.

  Mr. McHugh: I have learned, from representations made to me this week and from speaking to colleagues in other parts of the country, that a [1843]wave of anti-social behaviour is spiralling across the country in the form of the annual pre-Hallowe’en use of bangers and other fireworks. In one example, which illustrates the link between anti-social behaviour among young people and driving, young people threw bangers out of a car at a petrol pump attendant. People now live in fear of the potential consequences of such incidents, because had there been a leakage of petrol at the pump in question there would have been serious trouble. We must call on parents to be extra vigilant, because their children regard such anti-social behaviour as fun. However, it is not fun and the consequences could be serious.

In a further link between anti-social behaviour and driving, some young people drive up behind cyclists and try to knock them off their bicycles. I call for a debate on anti-social behaviour.

  An Cathaoirleach: I am sure there will be a debate.

  Mr. Ross: I ask the Leader to set up a sub-committee of the House to deal with advertising, in particular to address the peculiar activities of some Members. I wake up in the mornings and listen to Senator Henry telling me I should have a happy heart, followed by Senator Norris telling me I should buy Tesco products, which are very bad for a happy heart.

  Ms O’Rourke: What about Senator Ross himself?

  An Cathaoirleach: The Senator will not listen to that in the Seanad. If he does not want to listen he may turn off his radio.

  Mr. Ross: Then I hear Senator Quinn——

  An Cathaoirleach: This is not relevant to the Order of Business. The Senator’s time has elapsed.

  Mr. Ross: It is a very important issue. If the Cathaoirleach sat beside the Senators in question on the backbenches he would feel rather left out. We are all entitled to a gig of that sort.

  An Cathaoirleach: We must not spend the morning giggling.

  Mr. Ross: The Senators will undoubtedly make declarations of interest over such activities.

I agree with Senator Norris and others that we must have a debate on salmon drift net fishing.

  An Cathaoirleach: There will be a debate. I call Senator Coonan.

  Mr. Ross: It is a prime example of political activities by parties taking precedence over public interests.

[1844]  Mr. Norris: Hear, hear.

  Mr. Coonan: Following the deaths of two young people, aged 17, in Templemore I support calls for a debate on road safety. Our sympathies go to their families. Not only were the families of the young people who lost their lives devastated but so were those of the other people involved in the accident.

A debate is necessary on three issues. It is time road safety was a part of the national and secondary school curricula. We must examine facilities for young people, particularly in rural areas, because there is very little for them to do, though that is not an excuse. The third issue for debate is the implementation of legislation which already exists and the necessity for appropriate deterrents and penalties. For example, the Garda Síochána caught a person speeding at 197 km/h but it was not deemed to be dangerous driving. We must have consistent implementation of the law.

  Mr. U. Burke: I support calls for a debate on road safety. Many Members have mentioned target groups but one group has escaped the net in that regard, namely, the local authorities. It is alarming to see that the Health and Safety Authority has issued proceedings against 29 local authorities with regard to sections of the roads which are being repaired or realigned, etc. As long as local authorities neglect their duties there will be road accidents. This is highlighted by the fact that only yesterday did Meath County Council at last put up its hand and accept responsibility for the tragic event in Meath more than 12 months ago.

  Mr. Norris: Hear, hear.

  Mr. U. Burke: Will the Leader ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, who also has a role to play, to advise local authorities that road safety is of the utmost importance, especially when so many road repairs are under way around the country?

  Ms O’Rourke: Senator Brian Hayes, the Leader of the Opposition, brought up the topical, sensitive and sad issue of carnage on the roads, accentuated by incidents involving groups of young men. The recent events in Monaghan brought us all up short but there were disturbing aspects of that crash which people are not inclined to discuss at a sensitive time. Nevertheless, they are serious facts.

He also asked about debating the Morris and Barron tribunals. We have been trying to arrange those debates in this House. The Minister wishes to attend himself, rather than give them to a junior Minister. The question is when he will have the time to do so. We pursue him on the matter every week.

Senator O’Toole spoke about the recent vote in Dingle and the 1946 Local Government Act. [1845] The result of 1,005 to 70 was brilliant. He also mentioned Ms O’Keeffe. As the Taoiseach said, she will not lose her home but the case is sub judice at present because she has appealed to the Supreme Court.

Senator Ryan asked for a road traffic debate. He wonders if the people of Dingle have not made a great mistake in their vote. That is up to them. He also called for a boycott of mushrooms until the mushroom pickers receive their due entitlement in pay, etc., because we all talk about fair trade.

Senator Glynn spoke about the editorial referring to councillors and asking if this is democracy or “codocracy”. He requested too a rolling debate on health. Senator Finucane said that the public has been asked for observations on the road traffic programme. He also mentioned spray suppression equipment for trucks. We have all experienced dirt from wheels being thrown onto the windscreen when no matter how good one’s wipers are, they are not quick enough to clear it. He also mentioned the discussion document on salmon by the three wise men. We will try to organise that debate.

Senator Scanlon mentioned a dispute between home help staff and the HSE as a result of which elderly people cannot get the necessary home help. Senator Norris mentioned salmon drift net fishing and a fund of €30 million to buy out the fishermen. He asks that the Government consider the recommendations which have been submitted to it. He also spoke about the profile of young men involved in car accidents. He said too that he had been to the launch by the Minister of State at the Department of Education and Science, Deputy de Valera, of a document called Make Your School Safe. This deals with homophobic bullying which can be terrifying for young people.

Senator Feeney also spoke about the tragic deaths in Monaghan at the weekend and the priest who gave a homily at one of the funerals. Everybody is desperately seeking a scapegoat for these sad occasions but in the end young people and their parents must exercise control. Ladling out blame at a time of great sadness is not correct. She also spoke about the need for drug testing as well as alcohol testing. Alcohol used in abusive measures is a drug.

Senator John Paul Phelan wants a debate on drift netting. He also wants to know the status of the primary school medical examination. It would be an ideal subject for an Adjournment matter. From working in Departments, I have found that when an issue is raised as an Adjournment matter, the minds of officials become sharply focused as they prepare a reply.

Senator Maurice Hayes called for a debate on the stay put on Romanian and Bulgarian workers entering the Irish labour force after their countries join the EU. Senator O’Meara requested a debate on the proposed new regulations, promul[1846]gated on 9 October, for providers of child care.

Senator Brady wants to resume the debate on the drugs strategy. He congratulated the Garda on the massive haul it made last night. From the quantities involved, one cannot imagine the huge devastation that would have been wrought on communities. I guess it is only the tip of the iceberg.

Senator Coghlan said he would not move the Official Languages (Amendment) Bill 2005, No. 8 on the Order Paper. He asked if the recent statement by the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform on the Privacy Bill was a tweaking or a dropping of it.

  Mr. Coghlan: What is involved?

  Ms O’Rourke: The Minister wishes to engage in a further consultative process but the Bill will not be dropped.

  Mr. Coghlan: That means the Bill will not be taken by the House before Christmas.

  An Cathaoirleach: The Leader, without interruption.

  Ms O’Rourke: It will not be taken this term.

Senator Minihan raised the issue of salmon conservation. He pointed out that 1 January is the beginning of the new salmon season and decisions on the salmon conservation report will have to be made by then.

I love hearing Senator Henry’s voice on her recent radio advertisements. She raised the deplorable state of our prisons and again asked for a debate on the Inspector of Prisons and Places of Detention 2005 report. The Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, again, wishes to deal with this matter himself so it is a question of him being available.

Senator Mooney called for a debate on road traffic safety and raised the ESRI report. I am tired of professors telling us what we should be doing with ourselves in our country and how we should not spend any more money on this, that and the other.

  Dr. Mansergh: Hear, hear.

  Ms O’Rourke: They will be the very people with the big report another year on claiming there is not enough money being spent on A, B, C and D. Economists are a most doleful clique.

I agree with Senator Bannon on the roll-out of home care packages. He is aware I raised the matter at a recent HSE meeting. He also called for a debate on the conditions of secondary and regional roads.

Senator Kenneally wants a debate on the salmon conservation report. He pointed out there were other reports, including that of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Communications, [1847]Marine and Natural Resources. He praised a simulated driving instruction area in his constituency developed to train people to drive properly.

Senator Tuffy spoke about the revving up of cars and dangerous driving in residential estates. The day after the awful crash in Monaghan, I saw an exhibition of dangerous driving on single line roads. Senator Kitt also called for a debate on road safety and a drive safe programme which was implemented in Galway.

Senator Browne raised the issue of fireworks. Senator Leyden congratulated the authorities for the latest drug haul. He also highlighted the issue of private airports and drug trafficking. Senator McHugh bravely raised the matter of young people’s anti-social behaviour and the need for parental vigilance.

Senator Ross has taken issue with those fellow Senators appearing on radio advertisements. I find their voices very reassuring when I hear them on the radio. He is on the radio himself and I enjoy listening to him too. He also has a whole newspaper to himself every weekend which makes for very good reading. Why is he going after other Senators? He also called for a debate on salmon drift netting.

Senator Coonan called for more facilities for young people, particularly in rural areas. Senator Ulick Burke called for local authorities to be targeted with regard to negligence in road conditions which could lead to road deaths.

Order of Business agreed to.