Cross-border Trade
Thursday, 17 December 2015

During the Order of Business in the Seanad, I said: It is interesting to see the change in the direction of traffic to Northern Ireland. Some eight years ago, streams of cars were going to Newry from the South to buy as a result of the exchange rate. Now, it is the opposite. Dundalk is thriving due to the stream of cars coming South...

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Prosecuting Foreign Fighters including so-called 'ISIS' fighters
Wednesday, 16 December 2015

During the Order of Business in the Seanad, I said, Iwish to ask the Leader whether anything is being done about the jihadists who are returning to Ireland after going to the Middle East to fight for ISIS. I believe there is a need to ensure there is a massive disincentive for those who live in Ireland to go abroad to fight and then take an Aer Lingus aeroplane back to Ireland. I read recently that a number of people in Cork were refused, but, to the best of my knowledge, we do not have a penalty for them. I believe it is necessary to prosecute those who try to recruit these people online...

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Finance (Tax Appeals) Bill 2015
Wednesday, 16 December 2015

During the second stage debate on the Finance (Tax Appeals) Bill 2015 in the Seanad, I said:  I welcome the Bill and I hope it means that customers, that is, citizens, will benefit from a more transparent and efficient tax system. However, there are a few issues, one of which was raised by Senator O'Brien. The removal of the right to appeal to the Circuit Court is one of the more contentious parts of the legislation. For instance, sections 35, 36 and 38 delete references in the 1997 Act where a party can make an appeal to the Circuit Court. Unfortunately, amendments in the Dáil on Committee Stage to reintroduce the possibility of appeals to the Circuit Court were not accepted...

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Ibrahim Halawa / Flooding / Making it Easier to set-up a Business in Ireland
Tuesday, 15 December 2015

During the Order of Business in the Seanad, I said:  Senator Zappone spoke from the heart when referring to a crisis about which we must do something. Ibrahim Halawa has been in that jail for 800 days and there is no sign of a fair trial.

The crisis that Senator Mooney mentioned was that of the Shannon and the floods. After last weekend, we know that no single body is responsible for the Shannon. A Shannon river basin authority is necessary. It should be able to handle everything for the relevant local authorities, including flood relief, in the years ahead..,

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Fines and Imprisonment
Thursday, 10 December 2015

During the Order of Business in the Seanad, I said: Yesterday, the Leader said that instead of putting people in jail for not paying their fines, we should deduct the fine from their salary or social welfare payment. I remember this being proposed many years ago but I am not sure what happened to the proposal...

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Senator Feargal Quinn's Gradam an Uachtaráin Bill 2015
Wednesday, 09 December 2015

On 9 December, I was pleased to introduce my Gradam an Uachtaráin Bill 2015 to the Seanad. The Bil would facilitate the conferral by the State of an honour to be known as Gradam an Uachtaráin to recognise the exceptional achievements of its citizens and the outstanding contributions of others and to provide for related matters

I said: The Minister of State is very welcome to the House. I am pleased he is here to take this Bill because this is an issue I feel strongly about. I was with Dr. T.K. Whitaker yesterday. He was 99 years old yesterday. I was congratulating him on that occasion and it dawned on me that he is the sort of man who has served this country well and the sort of person we should have been able to reward over the years...

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The 'Living Wage' / Flooding
Wednesday, 09 December 2015

During the Order of Business in the Seanad, I said: I have just come from the launch of the document on low pay, decent work and the living wage produced by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Jobs, Innovation and Enterprise. We should find time to debate this document as it is quite a balanced report. Our colleague, Senator Cullinane, was the rapporteur for it and balanced it very well. One of the concerns is that in attempting to bring the living wage up to a level that would be acceptable, we could damage jobs...

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Finance (Local Property Tax) (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2015:
Tuesday, 08 December 2015

During the second stage Seanad debate on the Finance (Local Property Tax) (Amendment) (No.2) Bill 2015, I said: I welcome the Minister of State and I have listened very carefully to what he said. I also checked the Department website and realised the amount of work put into this by Dr. Don Thornhill. He is somebody who has served the State well and even many years after that, he is willing to give time to it...

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Prisons Bill 2015
Monday, 07 December 2015

During the second stage debate in the Seanad on the Prisons Bill 2015, I said: I sent a birthday card today to Dr. T. K. Whitaker, who will be 99 tomorrow. I will speak to him later on about today and the fact he has been mentioned so often. He is a former Member of this House, as was the Minister herself. It is a delight to see that something he recommended 30 years ago is taking place. He will be very pleased to know that. I remember speaking on a prison Bill many years ago when I was first elected the House. I was trying to work out in my mind why we put people in prison. Senator Bacik referred to the issue in one way, namely, to protect society. In another way it is a punishment, to ensure a person is discouraged from doing something again. However, by far the most principled approach to take to criminals is rehabilitation and to consider what we must do to ensure we give people another chance...

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Recognising service to the State / Private Inquests in the case of Suicide
Thursday, 03 December 2015

During the Order of Business in the Seanad, I said: We do not always recognise or praise the great work done by some people. I have just been at the human dignity award ceremony where the Ceann Comhairle presented an award to Barney Curley. I did not know the story of Barney Curley but the amount of work he does in Zambia, for which he is totally unpaid, is just wonderful...

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Finance Bill 2015
Thursday, 03 December 2015

During the second stage debate in the Seanad on the Finance Bill 2015, I said: I welcome the Minister of State. I am delighted to have him here. What is particularly pleasing in the finance results that are coming through is that we have a surplus way beyond that which we anticipated, on which I congratulate the Minister of State and Department. I got one piece of advice from Senator Sean D. Barrett, namely, not to forget the shoebox. I asked him what he meant. I am not sure who came up with the shoebox idea. I understand it was Brian Farrell who said when one get a one-off benefit, one should put it in a shoebox rather than spending it or including it in a budget because suddenly it will all be gone. There is a temptation to do that. Let us remember the shoebox and any surplus money we have on that basis...

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