Seanad Éireann - Volume 189 - 22 April, 2008

Order of Business (Resumed).

  An Cathaoirleach: I ask Senator Walsh to withdraw the remark.

  Senator Jim Walsh: Could the Cathaoirleach clarify what remark I am being asked to withdraw.

  An Cathaoirleach: As I understand it, the remark was that chairmen of these tribunals use their position to act as shop stewards for the legal profession. That is as I understood it and as I listened to it. I am asking the Senator to withdraw that remark.

  Senator Jim Walsh: That is a comment that I would have made in this House previously. It is a comment which——

  An Cathaoirleach: I do not want any elaborations.

  Senator Jim Walsh: Can I just finish——

  An Cathaoirleach: Please, I do not want any interruptions.

  Senator Jim Walsh: Can I finish without interruption?

  An Cathaoirleach: I do not want this to be made awkward for me as Cathaoirleach and I want all Members of the House to respect that. I am asking you a “Yes” or “No” question. You fully understand, as an intelligent Senator. I am asking you to withdraw the remark. If you withdraw it, that is acceptable but if you do not, I will have to take another step.

  Senator Jim Walsh: I am not prepared to withdraw that remark but I am prepared not to put my colleagues in the position of having to vote on the issue. I would like to withdraw from the House.

(Interruptions).

  An Cathaoirleach: I am asking you to leave the House for the remainder of the sitting today.

I ask the Leader to reply to the Order of Business.

  Senator Nicky McFadden: I understood that I was going to be given the opportunity to speak before the incident arose.

[223]  An Cathaoirleach: Time has run out. Two Senators on the other side of the House also missed out.

  Senator Nicky McFadden: The Cathaoirleach made reference to three Senators and I thought I was the third one. That is fine.

  An Cathaoirleach: No, there were two more Senators due to speak and I regret that they could not do so. I was doing the best I could. I call on the Leader to reply to the Order of Business.

  Senator Donie Cassidy: Senators Fitzgerald, O’Toole, Alex White, Regan and Bacik all expressed their concern for the unfortunate child in Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children, Crumlin, who had the wrong kidney removed during an operation. We can all sympathise with their sentiments.

On the issue of the pharmacy dispute, the Minister for Health and Children will be in the House this evening, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Senators can raise the matter with her then.

  Senator Paddy Burke: We only have ten minutes to speak.

  Senator Liam Twomey: There will not be enough time.

  Senator Donie Cassidy: On the issue of the Lisbon treaty, I did not mean to give the impression that Fine Gael was not actively involved, on a national basis. That was not meant to be the basis of my remark. I was speaking locally and I believe that is obvious if one checks the transcripts. I can tell Senators what is happening in County Westmeath.

  Senator Nicky McFadden: That is unreal.

  Senator Maurice Cummins: I have the transcript in front of me.

  Senator Nicky McFadden: There have been several local meetings in that county.

  Senator Maurice Cummins: We have checked what the Senator said.

  Senator Donie Cassidy: I am pleased Fine Gael is going to play a full part.

  Senator Nicky McFadden: Deputy Enda Kenny spoke on Midlands Radio. It was all over the Westmeath Independent ——

  An Cathaoirleach: The Leader to reply, without interruption.

  Senator John Paul Phelan: The Senator should give credit where credit is due.

  Senator Donie Cassidy: I join Senators in condemning the attack on Mr. Prionsias de Rossa, MEP. That cannot be condoned by the membership of any political party. No matter how strongly people may feel about an issue, they do not have the right to make personal attacks such as the one made on Mr. de Rossa. I join with Senators in strongly condemning those who carried out that attack.

Senators Alex White, de Búrca and Bacik called for the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform to come to the House to have a debate on e-mail and Internet activity. I will endeavour to put time aside for such a debate. Senator de Búrca drew our attention to the fact that today is Earth Day and congratulated the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Gormley. I agree with the Senator’s sentiments regarding the challenge of climate change.

[224]I join with Senators Reilly, Buttimer and Mullen in congratulating Senator Leyden on his appointment as vice president of the political grouping within the Council of Europe. I also wholeheartedly congratulate Senator Cannon on being elected leader of the Progressive Democrats Party and I wish him well in his appointment. I look forward to working with him as the leader of his group. I commiserate with Senator O’Malley and I also wish her well in the future.

Senators O’Sullivan, Quinn and Boyle called for a debate on energy security. I will set time aside for this, particularly to address the serious issues faced by Senator O’Sullivan’s constituency of Kerry North.

Senator Hannigan sought a debate on broadband speeds. Everyone supports the Senator’s request and this issue will be debated at the earliest opportunity. I will pass on Senator Harris’s strong views on the issue he raised to the Taoiseach.

Senator Twomey referred to the two-hour debate to be held later with the Minister for Health and Children. The Senator may not be aware that this debate will represent a new departure with the Minister engaging in a question and answer session for the final ten minutes of the debate. She will be present for two hours and this was agreed by the group leaders. The Senator should confer with his party leader if he wishes to raise a serious issue at the meeting of group leaders before the Order of Business on the first sitting day of the week.

  Senator Liam Twomey: It is not long enough.

  Senator Donie Cassidy: We are not in the Dáil.

Senators Buttimer and Boyle called for a debate on aviation policy, with particular reference to Cork Airport. I would like to extend the debate to cover all airports, which serve our people well.

Senator Mullen raised the issue of conduct in sport and I will arrange a debate on this. Senator John Paul Phelan called for a debate on the WTO talks. This was scheduled to be debated last week but due to the death for former President, Patrick Hillery, it had to be deferred. I will make the debate a priority in the coming weeks. The Senator also called for a debate on the economy, on which I previously made a commitment to the House.

Senator Walsh sought a debate on the tribunals of inquiry. We could have a lengthy debate on this and I will endeavour to have it take place at the earliest opportunity.

Senator O’Reilly asked about the rail link to Navan. The Minister for Transport, Deputy Noel Dempsey, who is from Navan, will be in the House tomorrow to introduce a Bill that will assist the Senator. He will be able to drive or avail of park and ride from Navan in a few years and he will have all the time in the world to deliberate on the way.

Order of Business agreed to.