Thursday, 14 December 1995
Seanad Éireann Debate
Mr. Manning: It is proposed to take items 1, 2 and 3. Item 1 will be taken until 3 p.m. and item 3, Committee Stage of the Harbours Bill, will be taken  from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m. This may conclude and I hope that will be the case. If item 1 has not concluded by 3 p.m., it will recommence at 5 p.m. and continue until it is concluded. Item 2 will be taken at the conclusion of item 1 and there will be a sos from 1 p.m. until 2 p.m.
Mr. Wright: I have experience of the difficulties and pressures faced by the Leader and, in the interest of the wellbeing of the House, we will play our part to ensure the legislation before the House is dealt with today.
Mr. Farrell: Will the Leader ask the Minister of State at the Department of Health what is being done about children begging on the street in this cold weather? The situation is a disgrace. Many pieces of legislation were introduced to put an end to it and to ensure children could be taken into care. The children do not beg from necessity; it is a racket. The money is collected by their parents for drink or drugs. It is scandalous that somebody cannot go to O'Connell Bridge and take those children into care. If this was happening in Bosnia or elsewhere, the House would discuss it. Those children are shivering with the cold. It was pitiful to see them sitting there yesterday. It is obvious they are afraid to move. The Minister should be asked to do something about it.
Perhaps the Leader could arrange a debate about the report on the abuse of prisoners. There is much discussion about this matter, and correctly so. However, is there a body which could investigate the abuse handed out by criminals to their victims? Photographs of such victims, two old men, were featured in the newspapers recently. How can it be——
Mr. Farrell: ——that criminals were in a position to tie those old men to chairs and leave them hungry and cold in an isolated area? Who knows how long they could have remained in that situation.
Dr. Henry: Will the Leader ask the Minister for Justice the reason for the long delay in the publication of the Council of Europe report on the treatment of detainees in prison and Garda stations in Ireland? I realise the Department must be given time to make a response. However, 18 months is a long time.
I join Senator Wright in thanking the Irish soccer team for the great entertainment they provided last night. Players such as Aldridge, Townsend, McGrath, Babb and Cascarino are old friends and perhaps this is part of the problem. However, they have given a great deal of pleasure and it is pity the team is out of the competition.
Mr. D. Kiely: When is it intended to take item 12, motion 23 on the Order Paper? This calls on the Government, as a matter of urgency, to formulate a policy to counteract the growing trends where satellite television channels demand exclusive rights to sporting events. I raised this matter previously. For example, people in Ireland had the right to watch the Irish team's performance last night, but Irish people in North America had to pay exorbitant fees to do so. It involves a type of scam where a signal is taken from RTE and beamed in from Canada. Remuneration is demanded by some smart individual in Canada and Irish people living in North America must pay exorbitant fees to enjoy——
Mr. D. Kiely: I raised this issue previously and it is a serious matter concerning Irish emigrants. It is important the House discusses it. Somebody from RTÉ should come to the House and explain the position. If the taxpayer is paying for a service——
The Environmental Protection Agency is carrying out a study on the state of the environment which I understand was supposed to be published before the end of this year. The last study was done over ten years ago, around 1985, by An Foras Forbartha. There is a quite a lot of interest in the results of the new study. Can the Leader raise with the Minister for the Environment what the present state of the study is and when we are likely to see it?
Mr. McGowan: Can the Leader arrange a debate on various aspects of European funding? I have been asking the Leader for a long time to try to arrange such a debate. We are reaching a crisis situation, although it is not my intention to sensationalise the request  for a debate. The Taoiseach was in Donegal on 27 October 1995 and stated that there would be no additionality to the funding available under the INTERREG scheme. However, when the Minister for Finance was in Monaghan last Friday he said there would be additionality. He was speaking in the presence of the European Commissioner for Regional Development, Monika Wulf-Mathies.
There is confusion because we have 70 organisations concerned with funding at the moment. There is a task force controlled from the Taoiseach's Office to supervise all 70 of them. In view of the alarming statement the Taoiseach made in Donegal that there would be no additionality, I believe this House should have a debate.
Mr. McGowan: I am sure the Leader would also welcome the opportunity to have this matter discussed. We can help to clarify the problem for anyone contemplating putting a small business together. Such people do not know where to turn at the present time. There is organised confusion and internal difficulties. It would appear to the general public that there is a serious difference between the Taoiseach's Office and the Office of the Minister for Finance.
Mr. Manning: I thank the Leader of the Opposition for his co-operation in getting our workload through today. I join with him, Senator Henry and others in thanking the Irish football team for ten great years. Nobody is writing them off at this stage. We are into a stage of renewal and we all hope that the next ten years will be equally if not more successful and enjoyable.
Senator Kiely will have an opportunity on the first Wednesday of the next session when Fianna Fáil has Private Members' time. I am sure he could have a word with his Chief Whip and his leader. If need be he will certainly have an opportunity to have that motion debated then. I have promised a debate on broadcasting in the new session which will cover many of these issues.
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