Fire Hazard Buildings / Seanad Reform / Genetically Modified Organisms
Wednesday, 30 September 2015

During the Order of Business in the Seanad, I said: News emerged last night of how it may be necessary to vacate a large number of homes in the Dublin docklands area or how their owners may be obliged to pay a large sum of money because they were built, I think in 2006, but now turn out to be a fire hazard. The cost to the individuals living in those homes will be approximately €20,000 each and they simply cannot afford to pay this. The reason I raise this matter is that this is not the first time this has happened...

It happened last year or two years ago, when it was necessary to vacate a large number of homes in north Dublin at an extremely heavy cost to the State. There is an answer to this issue, which I supported when it was put forward to the Minister by a well-known legal expert in this area, which is to have some form of insurance on new homes being built.

Consequently, even years afterwards, up to ten to 30 years hence, were it to turn out that those homes were built incorrectly, they then would be covered by insurance. The Minister showed no enthusiasm for it and nor did others who were approached because they thought it would increase the cost considerably. However, given the news that emerged last night of what is happening in the Dublin docklands and the large number of home owners who must either pay a large sum of money or vacate their homes, this is something that must be done. I welcome the opportunity to have a debate on this matter in the near future.

Another issue to which I have not really received an answer is the question of Seanad reform. I asked what is happening with Seanad reform both last week and two weeks ago. Members received a promise from the Taoiseach that action would take place and he then brought former Senators Maurice Manning and Joe O'Toole into the Chamber to put that reform programme before Members. While there was a good debate on it, Members have heard nothing more since. They had hoped something would happen before an election but while one does not know when the election will take place, it appears as though nothing will happen until the next Government takes office. On that basis, I urge the Leader to find time in order that something be done about that.

My final point pertains to genetically modified organisms. Northern Ireland has now banned their production and importation and while it may well be right, and there certainly are two views on this issue, a debate is needed on the issue but none has been held on genetically modified organisms here for years. There is little doubt but the world has changed over the past century and many successful scientific developments in food have meant that people who otherwise would have starved are not starving now. I do not suggest we should automatically do what Northern Ireland is doing and ban the production and importation of genetically modified organisms, but there should at least be a discussion and this House is the perfect place in which to have it. I urge the Leader to find time for such a debate in the next few weeks.

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