Wednesday, 25 May 1988
Seanad Eireann Debate
Mr. Manning: I would like to ask the Leader of the House whether he could give us perhaps tomorrow, some indication of the legislation the Government propose to complete through this House before the summer recess and specifically whether he can give us some indication on the timetable for the Companies (No. 2) Bill?
Professor Murphy: I note that the item dealing with Northern Ireland and Anglo-Irish relations is slipping badly on the charts, being now at No. 12. Could the Leader of the House tell us whether there are any signs that the Taoiseach is relenting in his opposition to having this motion discussed in the House?
Mr. McCormack: Will there be any opportunity to discuss the matter of last week's agreement between the Archbishop of Tuam and the Government regarding the impasse on the rod fishing licences because it is a very serious matter in the West of Ireland.
Mr. Norris: I would like to ask the Leader of the House if he could give us some indication when Item No. 44, which deals with the rights of emigration of Soviet Jews, will be taken. I would like, in particular, an undertaking that we will reach this item before the business of the House concludes for the summer recess.
 I would like also to ask when it is intended to take Item No. 3, the report of the committee headed by Signor Cecchini. I ask this because this morning I attempted to get as much information on it as possible — it is important that Members of the Seanad should be able to prepare themselves — and I discovered that there was a 6,000 page document about the matter in the Library of the European Community but nothing available to Members of the Houses of the Oireachtas except a press statement, 12 pages long. This seems to me to be inadequate in terms of preparation. I would like a comment from the Leader of the House on that matter.
Finally I seek from the Leader of the House permission to move Item No. 17 formally, that is, a Bill entitled an Act to establish in Ireland a nuclear free zone, and so on, so that this Bill may be printed and a possible date for the introduction agreed.
Mr. G. Reynolds: I would like to support my colleague, Senator McCormack, regarding the agreement between the Archbishop and the Government over the rod fishing licences. It is very sad when an agreement is reached between the Archbishop of Tuam and the Government——
Mr. J. O'Toole: I raised last week and  the week before the question of the Companies (No. 2) Bill and I raise it again today. I made certain requests of the Leader of the House at that time. I asked that it be taken in a responsible and progressive manner, that we take it a section at a time or a number of sections at a time, that we take it over a number of weeks. I said at that stage that I am totally opposed to any attempt to rush this through in a small number of days and equally I am determined that it will be taken in this session. I do not want the Leader of the House to stand up in three or four weeks' time and say: “You asked for this Bill and now you are saying it is coming too quickly”.
We agreed to the Minister's request to have it deferred on condition, (1) that we would get the Government amendments as they were put together — we have not had any so far — and, (2) that it would be taken in sections. We have heard nothing about when it will be taken so far. It is grossly irresponsible and it is disrespectful to this House and to the reputation of this House that it has not been taken. I said last week that I would force a vote each week on this issue and I intend to do that. I intend to have a vote every week on this issue and I want to see the Government people walking into the lobbies and recording the fact that they are not prepared to take it each week from now until the summer. The next time the Leader of that party speaks in another place we can refer to that matter.
Mr. Hogan: A Chathaoirligh, as a new Senator I am at a loss to understand the procedure under which matters are raised on the Adjournment of this House. I know you have total discretion as to the selection of matters on the Adjournment of the Seanad but I understood last week in your office that I was well placed to raise a matter of public importance namely, Kilkenny Design Workshops. I am at a loss to know why I was not allowed to raise the matter. Perhaps the Leader of the House had a hand, act or part in that — I cannot say for sure. I  would certainly like to have clarification——
Mr. Hogan: I am glad you do not take the advice of the Leader of the House in relation to this matter. I have no option but to raise this matter, with you, a Chathaoirligh, reluctantly. As you know I am a very quiet, diligent person who minds my own business and certainly I would not dream of upsetting the Chair about any matter. I would like a genuine explanation as to why this matter was not allowed to be raised in the normal way.
An Cathaoirleach: To clear matters for the new Senator who yet has things to learn, as he said — he is actually a Senator who learns very fast — it is interesting that you are so concerned about your Motion on the Adjournment because I did not have it before me today to decide whether or not I would take it.
Mr. Hogan: You had it before you last week and you had ample opportunity to take it and you refused to do so. It is within your discretion to do so but motions were plucked out of the air last week and you know that well.
An Cathaoirleach: I do not pluck motions out of the air. Whatever motions are taken I have the right to take them. I have been fair to everybody. You should look at the motions I have scrapped. Since you asked the question it had better be put on the record. Your contribution has been a bit slanted. It would be interesting if a count was done of how many motions from another party were thrown in my bin and you were allowed to come in on the Adjournment of this House.  We had better get a balance in the contributions made here this afternoon.
Mr. Robb: In commenting on the matter raised by Senator Murphy I should like, in one sense, to support the thrust of his statement and, in another sense, to ask the Leader of the House to consider caution in relation to the matter at this time. It is essential that there is a debate in this House before the review of the Anglo-Irish Agreement in November. I would like a re-assurance from the Leader of the House that that debate will be held so that all Senators will have an opportunity to make an input into that debate, in anticipation of the sort of changes which are likely to take place at that time, or that we hope will take place at that time.
Having said that, I urge caution because at the moment there is a very sensitive situation in Northern Ireland. There are signs that people who were not formerly, for one reason or another, prepared to undertake dialogue across various divides are now at last engaging in that sort of dialogue. We all hope something constructive will come out of it. Therefore, I suggest that we should treat this matter with great sensitivity and that we should get an assurance from the Leader of the House that we will have an opportunity for a very wide-ranging debate on Northern Ireland before the review of the Anglo-Irish Agreement.
Mr. Ross: I should like to support Senator Murphy's call for a debate on Item No. 12 on the Order Paper. I understand what Senator Robb has said but we made a plea long before this session for a debate on Anglo-Irish relations. Every single time we have been told that it is a particular sensitive time. I should like the Leader of the House to tell us whether it is the Taoiseach who is opposing us having a debate on this and whether he thinks there is any point in the Seanad debating relevant matters, matters of urgent, topical, public interest. It seems  to be absurd and a pity for the relevance of this House if we continually shy away——
Mr. Ross: I want to talk about something else as well. It is important for the Seanad that we should have debates on matters of public relevance and immediate relevance and that we do not shy away from them. I should like to support what Senator O'Toole said about the Companies (No. 2) Bill. What we need is for the confusion about where it is to be taken away. We do not know whether we are taking it this week, next week or before the summer recess. It is a very important Bill. It has been before the House for over one year now and I see no prospect of it getting out of the House before the summer.
Mr. Doherty: I have Item No. 33 on the Order Paper. I beg this House to take this motion. It is the intention of the Land Commission to divide all the land in the midlands in the coming year. Many people are refusing to take the land, bought at exorbitant prices. I ask the House to take Item No. 33 on the Order Paper for discussion.
Mr. Lanigan: I will start with the last suggestion in connection with Item No. 33. I will discuss that matter with my colleagues at an early stage. A number of Senators referred to the Companies (No. 2) Bill. The Companies (No. 2) Bill will not be taken this week. There have already been 132 amendments to this Bill circulated and by the time we get through half of those I am sure there will be a number of other amendments. It is intended to start on the next section of the Companies (No. 2) Bill next week. The business for today is the Insurance Bill and the remainder of the motion.
We will start the debate tomorrow on the Intoxicating Liquor Bill and we will go on to Mr. Paolo Cecchini's report. I agree with Senator Norris that it is a disgrace if the Library do not have a full copy of that report. Any Member of the Oireachtas should not have to rely on newspaper reports to find out exactly what is in that report. The Committee on Procedure and Privileges will take up that matter this afternoon because it is disgraceful if the Library do not have that report. We will have to do something about it. It will be taken tomorrow.
Numerous pieces of legislation will be concluded before the summer recess such as the radio and television Bill, 1987, the forestry Bill and an agriculture Bill. As to the timing of these Bills all I can say is that this week's Order of Business is the Insurance Bill today with the motion. Tomorrow from 10.30 a.m. to 1 p.m. we will start the Intoxicating Liquor Bill. We will then go into the reports, including the report by Mr. Paolo Cecchini.
On the Order of Business a number of points were raised which were totally irrelevant and which I do not intend to deal with. The Anglo-Irish Agreement motion will remain on the Order Paper — I have not decided that it will be taken  off the Order of Business — until it is debated. In relation to the request for permission to move Item No. 17 there is no permission to raise that or to have that item published. I think I have dealt with anything that is of relevance to me or of relevance to the House which was raised.
Mr. Manning: On the Companies (No. 2) Bill, clearly from what the Leader of the House has said there is no way in which we will have that Bill in the House next week if we spend the entire week on the Intoxicating Liquor Bill. I fear we are going to have a major clash on the Companies (No. 2) Bill because time is running out. It will be rushed in at the end of the session and I feel the Whips should get together as a matter of urgency to see if some satisfactory arrangement can be found to deal with the Companies (No. 2) Bill.
Mr. McCormack: I am very disappointed that the Leader of the House considers the fisheries question irrelevant as he stated. I do not consider it irrelevant  and it is not irrelevant in the part of the country I represent.
Mr. Norris: I would like to make a slight correction. I did not intend any criticism or imputation against the staff of the Library here. I wished to purchase or to acquire a copy of the shortened version of the Cecchini report. It is not available for sale here and it is only printed in England. I have always found the Library staff to be extremely helpful, courteous and efficient. I feel I should, in deference to them, place that on the record in case it appears as if I was being unfairly critical of them.
Bulbulia, Katharine. Ferris, Michael.
Doyle, Joe. Manning, Maurice.
Murphy, John A.
Robb, John D.A.
Robinson, Mary T.W.
Ross, Shane P.N.
Haughey, Seán F.
O'Toole, Martin J.
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