Thursday, 17 May 1990
Seanad Éireann Debate
Mr. Fallon: The intention was to take items Nos. 1 and 2 today but because of the unusual interest in item No. 1 — and I know on this side of the House there are at least 11 or 12 speakers — it has been decided that item No. 1 shall be taken and concluded today. It must be  concluded today; it must be passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas by 21 May, which is next Monday. The Order of Business today is that item No. 1 will conclude not later than 4 p.m. and there will be a sos from 1 o'clock to 2 o'clock.
Mr. Manning: I would like to ask the Leader of the House what the proposals are for the Finance Bill next week, or when it is coming here; I would also like an assurance that there will be at least two days debate on the Finance Bill because it is a very complicated piece of legislation which in some ways was rushed through the other House.
I would also like on this, the 20th anniversary of the bombs in Dublin, to draw the attention of the House to and condemn the bomb attack yesterday in London, the car bomb in London. When we reflect on what happened here 20 years ago, we realise what the people of Northern Ireland have been living with these past terrible 20 years. There was no sight more nauseating this week than the presence of the two godfathers of Provoism in St. Patrick's Cathedral as the Bishop of Down and Connor was calling for peace, as they knew in their hearts that an active service unit was active in Britain probably planting the very bombs which killed that poor, unfortunate yesterday. I would like to put on the record my utter condemnation — that of my party and, I am sure, of the whole House — of this dastardly outrage.
Mr. McGowan: I also strongly condemn the atrocity that was carried out yesterday and the murder of innocent people because of their association with the British Army. That has done a lot of harm to those of us who have to live in Border counties. I strongly support the call by Senator Manning that we condemn at every single opportunity those who are murdering and maiming people on this island and prolonging the day when we can unite as a people in this country.
Mr. O'Toole: On the Order of Business, I want to ask the Leader of the House if he would give us an indication at some stage next week — I do not expect him to give it this morning — of the programme of legislation for the rest of the term. It is important that we now plan where we are going for the next number of weeks. The Order of Business today is clear enough and there are no difficulties with that, but I think it would be important that next week we set out a plan of legislation and know what we intend dealing with on a weekly basis from that period on.
Mr. Norris: I would like to join the other Senators who have expressed outrage at the bombing in London and I do so particularly because I live very close to one of the principal bomb sites of 20 years ago. All the windows of my house were blown out. Although I did not then live there, I am well acquainted with local people whose lives were very seriously affected and I was close to the other blast near Trinity College, Dublin. I am particularly glad that Members from all sides of the House have expressed this outrage.
I would like to formally move an amendment to the Order of Business that item No. 30 be taken first. I will, however, not be pressing this to a vote because I do not wish to be tedious. I do so formally to register a protest. The Cathaoirleach did, in fact, at the moment when Senator Farrell made his statement to the House — which I fully accept — rule out discussion at that point. I would like, however, to make one comment on the matter and that is to say how deeply I appreciate the support that came from all sides of the House yesterday when certain unfortunate remarks were made——
An Cathaoirleach: In fairness, I have made a ruling on the matter and I request you not to conflict with the ruling. The statement of explanation is made. The matter is closed. To take advantage of the Order of Business to make any further comment would be inappropriate and it  contributes nothing to the situation at this stage.
Mr. Norris: I will accept your ruling, a Chathoirligh. However, please allow me just to express my appreciation particularly to Fianna Fáil and to make this comment which I really feel I owe it to myself to make. I accept what Senator Farrell said. However, no later than last weekend I had on two occasions to call the police because of personal attacks directed against myself, my house and my life. These remarks will only exacerbate that situation. I am glad of the protection of the House.
Miss Keogh: I would like to add my voice and that of my colleagues to the condemnation of the bombing yesterday in London. I found it very affecting this morning, remembering the 20th anniversary of the bombing here in Dublin, to hear how traumatised people are even at this stage, 20 years later. It is a grave lesson to all of us to take to heart the trauma and the maiming that occurs. We should remember the forgotten victims of all bombings. I would like to support the words of Senator Maurice Manning.
Mr. O'Reilly: As somebody from a Border county I would like to join in the condemnation of yesterday's bombing and to say that I believe it is time, after so many years of human tragedy and a whole series of disgusting events in Northern Ireland, that sanity would prevail with all sections. It is time that violence should leave the political landscape of our country, and that we begin the process of reconciliation. I very strongly agree with Senator Manning, our leader, in relation to the points he made about the gentlemen attending St. Patrick's Cathedral the other day while this kind of thing was being concocted. All of us in Ireland have a responsibility to eradicate violence and bring about constructive politics in this country. It is a terrible human tragedy, a terrible reflection on a Christian society.
I move from that to say that I endorse the view of Senator O'Toole that we  must, in the interests of the image of this House, in the interests of Parliament in general and for the sake of reassuring the people of this country, bring before this House — I suggest that the Leader should do it next week — a full legislative programme and indications of legislation to come to cover a whole set of areas and to show in no uncertain fashion to the people of the country that we are serious about the politics and serious about our role here.
If I could specifically mention one issue that I believe will have to come high on our political agenda in the next session in the Seanad: it must be the question raised here often by my colleague, Senator Hourigan, and will be developed later by him, the question of falling farm incomes. I am not being alarmist when I say that right through this country at the moment farm incomes are falling——
Mr. Hanafin: Now that the matter has been raised I, too, would like to condemn the violence that has taken place and the violence that has been there for 20 years. I am completely opposed to violence in any form, whether in the form of euthanasia against the old or whether it is against the unborn. I would have to say that far from condemning, as has been done, people who attended a religious ceremony last week — and I feel obliged to say this — I do not think anybody who attends a religious ceremony should be condemned in any way. The pity of it is that a lot more of them do not attend religious ceremonies because the sermon of that day was anti-violence and spoke  about reconciliation between all the different persuasions in the North of Ireland. If the people who are responsible for violence in the North on either side attended more religious ceremonies perhaps we would have a lot less violence.
On the Order of Business, a Chathaoirligh, may I ask the Leader of the House if he would be prepared to make time available for a debate on the problem of bovine spongiform encephalopathy or, in the public parlance, mad cow disease.
On the Order of Business, I would like to refer to Item No. 86 on the Order Paper which I have raised with the previous leader of the House. I ask the leader if he would consult the Minister for Justice regarding the case of District Justice Mahon. This was again highlighted last Friday when Richard Galvin, on appeal to the High Court, was acquitted. I understand that 1,200 people are in jail as a result of decisions made by justice Mahon. I would ask the leader if he would ask the Minister for Justice what action the Government will take to correct the situation.
Mr. McMahon: I am sure all Members of the House would like to be associated with the remarks of Senator Manning and others with regard to the bombings in London. I, too, am glad to be associated with them. I regret very much that these happenings are still taking place. There is a Mass being offered today at 12.45 p.m. in the Pro-Cathedral for the repose of the souls of those who were killed in the bombings 20 years ago in Dublin. I am sure other Members of the House have been invited and quite a number will attend if possible.
On the Order of Business, I am afraid that we are being pushed into a corner with regard to the debate on local government reform. The debate is to finish at 4 o'clock and it has been indicated by the Leader of the House that the Government Party have listed 12 Members to speak. I have not checked how many Members my party have listed and there are other parties who will want to make a contribution. I hope we are not getting into a corner where at the end of the day, coming up to 4 o'clock, we are going to limit contributions; but it looks like that. It is not in accordance with the Minister's sentiments yesterday when he said that the Government are serious about reform and have set down clearly how they intend to go about it in a businesslike way. The Minister further said that the debate “gives the Members of the Seanad a change to make an input on the important matter of local government reform. I have no doubt but that the Seanad will use this opportunity”——
Mr. O'Donovan: As spokeman on Justice on this side of the House, I would like to be associated with the outright and proper condemnation of the atrocity that has happened in London yesterday. Having lived in London during the 1973 and 1974 espisodes and having lived there subsequently I know the extreme damage that this does to the Irish people living there. It does extreme damage to the case of the Birmingham Six also. This type of atrocity must be condemned outright because the Irish community in Britain suffer as a result of this sort of atrocity.
Mr. Howard: I wish to speak on the point made by Senator McMahon. On my calculation we have about 21 speakers to contribute on this Bill in four hours. Perhaps we would look at the situation as the day progresses. We might leave the question of the sos open.
Before I come to the Order of Business, I wish the new Leader of the House well in his job and also the new Chief Whip and Assistant Whips, Senators G.V. Wright and Tom Fitzgerald, and to pay tribute to Senators Michael Lanigan, Paddy McGowan and Willie Farrell for their contributions.
I am disturbed about motion No. 73, which deals with farmers incomes for the  current year and subsequent years. We were given an answer last week about debating composite motions. I have no difficulty in motions Nos. 72 and 73 being a composite motion, but I would urge strongly that motion No. 73 is of such a nature that it requires an urgent and immediate debate. I would remind the Cathaoirleach that we are now in the second half of May and more than half the farming year has gone. Therefore farmers in a no income position, or a minus income position——
Mr. Hourigan: This is a matter of great seriousness. I know that my colleagues on the Government side as well as those on this side of the House are fully aware of the seriousness of it and I would appeal to the leader to have a debate on this at the earliest date possible.
Mr. Hederman: I resent and oppose any curtailment of the debate on the local government elections motion. I consider this to be one of the most important issues facing this country. It was quite clear that the Minister intends us to take this opportunity to make an input on the important matter of local government reform and for Members from all sides to put forward positive and constructive inputs. I do not intend to be restricted in my remarks. If necessary the debate should go on beyond 4 o'clock and most certainly we should not have an adjournment at lunchtime.
Mr. McMahon: Before the leader comes in, a Chathaoirligh, you did ask me to sit down. Two other speakers followed. I estimate that the number of speakers that have now been notified to you will get 11 minutes each. I am quite sure there are other Members who will want to speak during the day.
Mr. Fallon: Along with the other speakers, I would like to condemn the bombing in London. I say this with some experience. I had the unpleasant experience 14 years ago of being on holidays in Rosslare and the room in the hotel where I stayed was bombed. It is not a nice experience and I understand the feeling of many people.
On the Order of Business, Senator Manning referred to the Finance Bill. I indicated yesterday that the Finance Bill would be taken on 24 and 25 May and I would ask Senators to note that 24 and 25 May are Thursday and Friday.
Senator McGowan referred to the bombings. Senator O'Toole asked for a programme for the next weeks. If a programme is possible, I will endeavour to do something like that. I regret, Senator Norris, that I cannot accept item No. 30 on the Order of Business today. Senators Keogh and O'Reilly referred to the bombings. Senator O'Reilly also asked for further details on the future legislation programme. I will endeavour to do that.
Senator Hanafin was not specific on the Order of Business but he commented on the bombing. Senator Upton referred to a specific agricultural problem. I would suggest that it is suitable for Private Members' Time. He might consider that. I do not intend taking item No. 86, but I have noted what Senator Neville said. I would say to Senator McMahon that we are not talking about local government  reform. What the quotation says is “That Seanad Éireannn confirms the following Order: Local Election (Specification of Local Election Year) Order, 1990 — in other words, the postponement of the local elections.
Mr. Fallon: I am talking about what is on the Order Paper. I have no doubt that there will be plenty of time in the future for debate on the reform of local government. I would welcome that. The reform of local government is something which I would personally welcome. I am sure it will come. Senator O'Donovan was not specific to the Order of Business. Senator Howard indicated a welcome for a change with regard to the sos from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. I have no difficulty in that. If that is what Members want, I certainly will accept it. In response to Senator Hourigan, I do not intend to take item No. 73 which deals with the income of the Irish farmers.
An Cathaoirleach: Senator Norris has moved an amendment to the Order of Business, but he indicated that he was not pressing that amendment. The amendment has not been seconded at this stage. I would remind Senators that unless an amendment is proposed and seconded prior to the conclusion of the reply from the Leader of the House, it lapses. In this case that amendment lapses.
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