Wednesday, 20 March 1985
Seanad Eireann Debate
Professor Dooge: In addition to the Order Paper for which I take responsibility under yourself, a Chathaoirligh, there has been a Supplementary Order Paper distributed in regard to the reporting back of the Joint Committee on Marriage Breakdown. I take no responsibility for this being introduced. Nevertheless,  the matter should be taken and disposed of today. Accordingly, I would suggest the Order of Business be No. a1 from the Supplementary Order Paper, followed by No. 1, followed by No. 4, that a break be taken from 5.30 p.m. to 6.30 p.m., and that No. 5 be taken at 6.30 p.m.
Mr. B. Ryan: The Housing (Homeless Persons) Bill, 1983 is being ordered as No. 4. I know that Members on both sides of the House are interested in this Bill and by and large subscribe to the objectives of this Bill, whatever about the manner in which I and those who assisted me formulated it. It is, therefore, a matter of considerable astonishment, not to say frustration to me, that notwithstanding that goodwill, the unwillingness, inability or lack of interest of the Government in the issue which has prevented them meeting their promises to the homeless over a period of almost two years have prevented this Bill being brought to completion. My patience and the patience of other Independent Members who have introduced this Bill, has been carried far beyond what is reasonable to expect. My final frustration was to discover that the Government have appointed the Department of the Environment as the focal point for the International Year for Shelter for the Homeless in 1987. A Department who are incapable of drafting legislation on homelessness are now to become the focal point for an international campaign in 1987 on behalf of the homeless. I regard that as something close to a gratuitous insult to the homeless, that the Department who apparently show no interest or ability have been chosen. Therefore, I wish to move an amendment to the Order of Business that item No. 4 be taken after No. a1.
Mrs. McGuinness: I would like to support the remarks made by Senator Ryan. While I appreciate the importance of both the Combat Poverty Agency Bill, 1985, and the National Archives Bill, 1985, I suggest that the Housing (Homeless Persons) Bill, 1983, has been before the House for a considerable length of  time. It has been stated by the Government that they are interested in this matter and that they wish to bring in legislation. If they do so wish, I suggest they put their money where their mouth is, so to speak. They should, at least, deal with the Bill before the House as quickly as possible, which would mean now. I do not think it will make any great difference to the processing of either of the other two Bills if the Housing (Homeless Persons) Bill, 1983, is taken second on the Order of Business and I would suggest that this be done now. If they had any legislation of their own to bring forward to replace this Bill, they had ample time to do it and have not done so.
Mr. Ross: Like my two Independent colleagues, I would like to support the motion that item No. 4 — Housing (Homeless Persons) Bill, 1983 — be taken. The Order of Business in this House is in something of a mess. This Bill has been on the Order Paper as Item No. 4 for perhaps a year or 18 months. It has been ordered several times. It is quite obvious that it is not going to come up. It is completely dishonest to order something and pretend that it is going to come up when it is not going to come up.
What I do not understand is if we do not have time to debate the Housing (Homeless Persons) Bill, 1983 — which apparently we do not — why did we not sit last Tuesday or Thursday? On Wednesday last, we took the National Archives Bill, 1985, for one lousy hour. We postponed the National Archives Bill this week because we had the Combat Poverty Agency Bill, which is a very good Bill. Why we could not have taken the National Archives Bill next Thursday, I do not know. If we are not very careful we will have to sit in Holy Week — and not just in order to take the Housing (Homeless Persons) Bill — and that would be sacrilege.
Professor Hillery: I want to ask the Leader of the House, through the Chair, if the House is sitting tomorrow and also if it is, will we get an opportunity to debate the Bill dealing with the State take-over of the Insurance Corporation of Ireland. Obviously this raises many issues, not least the totally outdated and inequitable jury system we find in civil cases and the scandal of having eight lawyers involved in jury actions in these cases, the tabs for which have to be picked up by the policyholders.
Mr. Smith: I support Senator Hillery and I would like to ask if we are having legislation in the Seanad tomorrow in that regard. Since the Government are on a blind date picking up the tabs for Allied Irish Banks without knowing the extent of the liability, it is a very serious matter and it should come to this House as early as possible.
Professor Dooge: I adhere to the Order of Business as proposed and would urge the House to adopt it. In regard to the question of the Seanad sitting tomorrow, I understand there is a wish to meet tomorrow, not in regard to any legislation on the Insurance Corporation of Ireland but because there is a Social Welfare Bill which must be law by 1 April I understood that it was the wish of the Opposition that we should at least start the proceedings tomorrow rather than have ourselves crowded in the discussion next week. The proposal is that the House should sit tomorrow to initiate the Second Stage of the Social Welfare Bill. By agreement, we would hope that the Second Stage would be resumed when we meet next Wednesday. I do not have any knowledge of any legislation in regard to ICI. The Seanad divided: Tá, 13; Níl, 24.
|de Brún, Séamus.
|McGuinness. Catherine I.B.
Ross, Shane P.N.
Dooge, James C.I.
FitzGerald, Alexis J.G.
Higgins, Michael D.
|Hourigan, Richard V.
Robinson, Mary T.W.
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