Wednesday, 22 May 1991
Seanad Éireann Debate
Mr. Manning: Will this House have an opportunity to debate the terms of reference of the public inquiry into the beef industry? What is the present status of The Altamont (Amendment of Deed of Trust) Bill, 1990? I am concerned at the very light amount of work which appears to have been ordered for today; it looks as if it will be a very short sitting, which is not good for the House. I ask the Leader of the House and the Whip to see that this sort of thing does not happen again.
Mr. O'Toole: I would like to take the opportunity on the Order of Business to express my regret at the fact that one of our number, Senator Murphy, is not with us today. It is unfortunate and disgraceful that he is not present.
Dr. Upton: I would like to join with Senator Manning in asking the Leader of the House if it will be possible to debate the Goodman affair and, in particular, the terms of reference which are to be discussed in the other House on Friday. I would also like to ask him to consider making time available for a debate on the employment situation, given the report of the ESRI which has been produced indicating that things are very turgid at present. May I also ask what is the situation in relation to the numerous requests for a debate on agriculture? Is the debate going to be held, and is it likely to be held in the near future?
Mr. Norris: I would like to ask the Leader of the House if he would give further clarification with regard to item No. 6. He will recall that I asked him sometime ago and he said he would come back to the House on this matter. It is about a resolution concerning the continuation in operation of certain sections of the Criminal Justice Act. I wonder if those sections could be circulated to Members in advance of any such resolution being passed, particularly since a  number of us would have strong reservations about the continuation in operation of these sections.
I would like to ask the Leader of the House another two questions, if I may, the first being about the situation with regard to the control of pit bull terriers. This is extremely serious and there has been considerable pressure on the Minister for the Environment on this matter. He has eventually yielded and indicated he will use the regulations attaching to the Control of Dogs Act. However, there is, I believe, a very strong feeling that regulations alone will not be sufficient, that muzzling or keeping dogs on leashes is not going to resolve the problem. As he himself has given some indication that the introduction of legislation will be necessary, I would like to remind the House that in England what is being contemplated is the restriction of importation and the destruction of these dogs.
Mr. Norris: You have indeed. I believe the point has been made, so I will pass on to the third and final item. With regard to a very worrying situation that was adverted to in the other Chamber last night, I would like to ask what proposals the Government have to introduce a legislative remedy for the extraordinary situation in which apparently somebody who has applied for a barring order against a husband can be certified mentally ill and incarcerated. This is a matter of very considerable concern to anybody who has respect for the democratic process in this country and I believe there must be an examination.
Mr. Hanafin: In view of the fact that some Senators have asked the Leader of the House if there likely to be a debate on what they have described as the Goodman affair, I would like to say I regret that there is such inquiry. I think all we are doing is destroying ourselves.
Mr. B. Ryan: May I support my colleague, Senator O'Toole, in regretting the absence of the man who normally fills the seat I am sitting in? I was not sure whether I should leave it symbolically empty or simply attempt to fill it.
Mr. B. Ryan: I think I have made my point sufficiently. May I ask the Leader, in the light of what Senator Norris said if he could find out from the Government when they propose to bring into force the 1981 Mental Treatment Act, which contains within it provisions which would make the event Senator Norris referred to very difficult? It is ten years since that Bill was passed and it has never been given the force of law. It is quite an extraordinary situation to have a major piece of legislation ten years after it was passed by both Houses and signed by the President still not having the force of law. Perhaps the Leader would inquire on our behalf.
Can the Leader of the House tell me what is happening to the Child Care Bill, item No. 5 on the Order Paper? As Senator Manning said, we have, to say the least of it, a somewhat thin Order Paper. I am astonished that item No. 5, which has been waiting — apparently with considerable impatience on the Government's part — to be dealt with, could not have been taken today. Perhaps the enthusiasm for Irish-American educational exchanges is greater than I imagine, but I would have thought we would have considerable time to deal with item No. 5 today. The Child Care Bill has been awaiting attention as well as item No. 6. I would be grateful for the Leader's guidance as to when he proposes to take that matter.
Mr. Neville: I would like the Leader of the House to convey to the Minister for Justice our concern that in a week when we discussed the difficulties in the prison service a 17-year-old was incarcerated for  not paying her fare on the DART while, at the same time, it was announced that one of our citizens obtained a concession of £4 million on his tax.
Professor Raftery: I would like to ask the Leader of the House if we could have a debate on a very small but most unfortunate group of people. I refer to the haemophiliacs who are HIV positive through no fault of their own and who are not getting much help from the Government.
Mr. Hourigan: Again, I wish to ask the Leader of the House for a debate on agriculture and on health in the near future. These are two areas that should be addressed and I respectfully ask him to arrange for the debates at the earliest possible opportunity.
Mr. Fallon: In regard to the questions raised by Senator Manning and Senator Upton regarding the inquiry into the beef industry, as Members know a motion for the setting up of the judicial inquiry into the beef industry is being discussed in the Dáil on Friday. It is the intention that Seanad Éireann would discuss the same motion, on Tuesday of next week.
Senator Manning also referred to the Altamont Bill. I must confess, it is something I, too, would like to advance and I will certainly talk to people about it. I agree it has been on the Order Paper for too long and something should happen one way or the other.
Senator O'Toole's point was not relevant to the Order of Business. Senator Upton requested a debate on employment. I have no such proposal. He also asked, as did Senator Hourigan, for a  debate on agriculture. Again, I have no proposals at this time.
Senator Norris referred to item No. 6 on today's Order Paper. The position in regard to that item is as follows: section 2 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984, provides that each of the sections of the Act referred to in item No. 6 shall cease to be in operation at the expiry of four years from the commencement of the section unless a resolution has been passed by each House of the Oireachtas resolving that that section should continue in operation. As the Senators may know, there is a similar item on the Dáil Order Paper. The sections in question commenced by order of the Minister for Justice on 30 June 1987 and item No. 6 should, therefore, be passed before 30 June of this year. It may be passed with or without debate——
Senator Norris and others asked about the ongoing problem of the barring orders we read about. I will make inquiries about that matter. I have no information that anything positive is being done; maybe it is. I will make inquiries and advise the Members.
On the other matter raised by the Senator, I have no information except what I read in the papers, that the Minister, Deputy Flynn, is about to take action in regard to the control of pit bull terriers and other vicious dogs. A small number of breeds are clearly not suitable for this country and I hope the Minister will take action.
Senator Brendan Ryan asked about the Child Care Bill. Obviously, that is something we will have to deal with fairly soon and I can tell him that it will be taken as quickly as possible in this session.
Senator Neville raised a matter which is not appropriate to the Order of Business. I note what Senator Hanafin said in  regard to the Goodman affair. Senator Raftery asked about haemophiliacs; I have no proposal for a debate at this point on that matter. I noted also what Senator Lydon said. In regard to Senator Hourigan's request for a debate on health, I have no such proposal in mind.
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