Friday, 14 July 1995
Seanad Éireann Debate
Mr. Manning: Today's Order of Business is item 1 without debate, item 2, all Stages, item 3 and item 4. Item 2 will probably be finished by 12 noon or 12.30 p.m.; the debate will not be curtailed but when it is finished we will take item 3, Statements on Nuclear Testing. If that concludes before 2 p.m. there will a sos until 2 p.m. and at 2 p.m. we will take the Ethics in Public Office Bill, 1994, Committee and Final Stages.
Mr. Wright: I asked yesterday about the business for next week on the basis of my own experience and knowing how Ministers operate in the last few days of the session. I presume that is why the Leader is adding to the list of legislation to be taken. How much time does he intend to allow each spokesperson on item 3?
With regard to the statement made in the House of Commons yesterday in relation to the release of prisoners, I ask the Leader to ensure that the views of my colleagues on this side of the House, as expressed by the leader of Fianna Fáil in the newspapers this morning, will  be communicated to the Government so that it is aware of our disappointment at the lack of progress in relation to the peace process.
Mr. Quinn: Although we will have the opportunity today to condemn French nuclear testing in the South Pacific, our minds must be drawn to the horrific photographs in this morning's newspapers of what is happening in Bosnia. While we are condemning France let us also take note that President Chirac's call for military intervention in Bosnia received no response from any of his allies. There must be some way this House can tell the people of the world that we are not going to sit by and not even notice what is happening in Bosnia. I am not sure what I should ask the Leader of the House to do. Is it possible to find time today for the House to condemn what is happening in Bosnia and, at the same time, to encourage the French call for military intervention? The French people have supported their President's call and are risking the lives of young French soldiers.
Mr. Quinn: Will the Leader find time for a debate today to ensure that Ireland will not be seen to be standing idly by? Only 150 years ago the world stood idly by and watched us go through the Famine. Those of us who have read our history could not understand why. The people of Bosnia need support. If we are not offering military support, let us at least give them vocal support. I ask the Leader to find time today for us to express that opinion.
Mr. Dardis: I support Senator Quinn's remarks. Anybody who saw the pictures in the newspapers today will see echoes of the appalling things that happened during the Second World War. Will the Leader of the House ensure that the Government does everything in its power, both at UN and  European Union levels, to bring whatever pressure it can to bear on this matter? We are not dealing just with the appalling situation in Bosnia but with the future of the UN itself. There is what is known as a rapid reaction force in Bosnia but it appears to be a slow reaction force. The Government must do everything in its power. I ask the Leader to bring this to the Government's attention and, if necessary, to have a debate on it in the House.
Mr. Magner: I do not disagree with Senator Quinn or Senator Dardis with regard to the situation in Bosnia. There is no doubt that the House should, if possible, register its deep anger at the situation and at the apparent powerlessness of the rest of the world. So much for the new world order. While I agree with Senator Quinn about the French call for positive military action, I deplore France's intention to test nuclear weapons, not on themselves but on others.
Mr. O'Kennedy: I join with Senator Quinn and other Senators in calling for immediate and effective action against the outrageous scandal of the treatment of the Bosnian people and the total failure and incapacity of the international community, particularly our partners in  the European Union, to take effective action. One hundred years ago this would have been regarded as a scandal of the greatest dimensions; in this day and age it is totally unacceptable. I hope the Government will make the strongest and most public protests on this issue.
I wish to turn to a matter nearer home. Will the Leader of the House bring to the attention of the Minister for Justice a major case of suffering in my home town of Nenagh? A young couple was yesterday committed to prison for one month for contempt of court because of an alleged failure to pay funds due to a credit institution. I do not question the judgment. However, I am speaking on behalf of my county in expressing our utter rejection of the circumstances that can give rise to this. They have asked that the Minister for Justice conduct a public inquiry into the case. I ask the Leader to bring this matter to the attention of the Minister for Justice with a view to seeing what action can be taken.
Mr. Fitzgerald: Senator O'Toole has secured £25 million to allay the stress of school teachers. Senator Magner has secured a bundle of money for facilities in the House, such as the restaurant and a creche. Could Senator Magner, Senator O'Toole and the Leader of the House get together over the next three months——
Mr. Fitzgerald: ——to do something about office accommodation for Senators? How can Senators make complaints? The Committee on Procedure and Privileges can probably do something for us but we should have a committee in the House with whom we can raise complaints.
Mr. Mooney: I have no monopoly on sympathy and understanding for the Bosnian cause. Senator Quinn's comments were motivated purely by humanitarian concern. If we do nothing else in this House it is important that our outrage about Bosnia should be voiced and that the Leader of the House communicate our sentiments to the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Mr. Mooney: Please allow me to continue briefly. If there were minerals or oil in Bosnia-Herzgovina would the rest of the world stand idly by? They went to Kuwait without any problem. It is past time something was done about Bosnia. I hope the attitude adopted by Chamberlain before the Second World War when he said that the troubles of Czechoslovakia were the troubles of a far-off land about which we know little, will not be adopted.
Mr. Lydon: I support many of the comments of other Senators. I understand the Cathaoirleach's ruling on the matter raised by Senator Daly although I am disappointed by it. Last week the Leader of the House, following my request, said he would try to get the Minister for Health to the House next Wednesday. The Minister is probably  abroad but perhaps a Minister of State could attend. Will these regulations be laid before the House? This is a serious question because if the regulations go through without debate, they will affect St. John of God's and St. Patrick's hospitals and both hospitals will be forced to impose the charges currently operating in Great Britain which are two to four times current charges. Both hospitals are non-profit organisations. Psychiatric patients will be discriminated against as they are the only patients who will be affected by this. I beg the Leader of the House for his assistance. This is not a political issue. We are prompted by our concern for two excellent institutions that have served the State well and by our concern for psychiatrically ill patients.
Mr. Roche: I support Senator Lydon. This is not a party political issue. Senator Manning has, on previous occasions, indicated his concern about how regulations, non-statutory law, are handled by both Houses. This issue is about an important principle and some way should be found to deal with it.
I also support Senator Quinn's comments. It is correct and politically profitable at this stage to criticise France for its extraordinary arrogance in the Pacific. However, it is equally correct to suggest that President Chirac has shown leadership. Other world leaders and other parliaments should pay attention. What is happening in Bosnia is unacceptable.
I wish to raise a third matter. Would it be possible to hold a brief discussion, before the recess, on the evident evolution of the role of State-sponsored bodies as there is clear evidence of political pogroms in a number of them. Perhaps this is the order of the day in the new political climate. However, there is disturbing evidence of a new relationship between the boards and chairmen and I am not just talking about CIE in this regard. I have some experience of this matter over the years and there is disturbing evidence that a number of  the chairpersons of State bodies are taking excessive powers to themselves. If the boards of State-sponsored bodies are to become——
Mr. Roche: Will the Leader make time available to discuss the change in recent years in the relationship between the boards and chairmen of State bodies? This would ensure that we have a better understanding of the roles played. It would be a bad day for everybody if the boards become one man bands.
Mr. Manning: I wish to clarify the time available for contributions today. On item 2, each speaker will be allowed 15 minutes. I suggest 30 minutes for the statements on French nuclear testing; perhaps short contributions of three to five minutes would be acceptable.
Senator Quinn and others raised Bosnia. We have all been shocked and horrified by the outrageous happenings there recently and we are concerned about what should happen. I wish to make some time available today in response to the request for a debate on this matter. If we spend 30 minutes on French nuclear testing, I could make 15 or 20 minutes available by ordering item 15 on the Order Paper, which is statements on Foreign Affairs. This would allow Members to place their concerns on the record. If the House agrees, we will also take item 15 today for 15 minutes after item 3. Under Standing Orders, do I need to amend the Order  of Business announced earlier or is it agreed if the House agrees?
Senator Fitzgerald's point has struck a chord close to all Members' hearts. It is time for a review of facilities and accommodation. Perhaps the Committee on Procedure and Privileges could put this matter at the top of its agenda for its meeting the week after next.
I have great sympathy with the point raised by Senator Daly, Senator Lydon and Senator Honan in relation to the new health regulations and there is concern on all sides of the House regarding their implications. I will see if it is possible to hold a debate next Wednesday. The Minister for Health will not be available then but I will see if even a short discussion on this matter can be held. I will take advice about what is possible as I understand the concern of Members.
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