Irish Embassy in Vatican / Life Expectancy in Ireland
Thursday, 14 March 2013

During the Order of Business in the Seanad, I said: the election of Pope Francis represents a new beginning. We have heard words today from everybody and there is a sense of hope. This has been brought about by the demeanour and sympathetic manner of the new Pope. He showed this when he was elected yesterday. It gives us a chance of a new beginning. Therefore, I support entirely what Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú said. This is our opportunity to reopen the embassy in the Vatican. It is exactly the time we should do so...

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Measures to Support Independent Businesses
Wednesday, 13 March 2013

During the Order of Business in the Seanad, I said: yesterday's meeting of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation we had a very interesting debate on town centres. It was initiated by RGDATA, the body representing smaller independent shops. While the town centres of Ireland are being devastated in many cases, I do not believe it is up to the State to solve this - it is the sort of thing that needs to be solved by each individual town...

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Call for a debate on Public Procurement / Measures to Control Obesity
Tuesday, 12 March 2013

During the Order of Business in the Seanad, I said: Can the Leader find time for a debate on public procurement? When the EU directive on public procurement came through it seemed sensible that we should accept it wholeheartedly, but the effect it is having on a large number of smaller Irish businesses is huge...

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Education and Training Boards Bill 2012: Second Stage
Thursday, 07 March 2013

During a Seanad debate on the Education and Training Boards Bill 2012, I said: the Minister of State is welcome back to the House. It must be borne in mind that the VEC system has been around almost untouched since the 1930s. This Bill is a positive move to improve their functioning. It will also reduce the paperwork associated with the various vocational Acts.

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Food Labelling / 'Crowdfunding'
Thursday, 07 March 2013

During the Order of Business in the Seanad, I said: I support Senator Mary Ann O'Brien's words on food labelling, especially on Irish food. There is a huge amount of work to be done in that regard. I imagine it is for the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to do it. It is not just a question of identifying Irish food and putting customers' minds at rest, it is also a question of using "best before" instead of "use by" when it comes to the date used. There are other aspects too which may require new food labelling legislation..

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Finance (Local Property Tax) (Amendment) Bill 2013:
Wednesday, 06 March 2013

During a second stage Seanad debate on the Finance (Local Property Tax) (Amendment) Bill 2013, I said: The Minister of State is welcome to the House. Nobody welcomes any tax. This is one we debated some time back and we are not here to debate it again. We are here to debate the exemptions. I will make a few suggestions...

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Call for a debate on Nuclear Energy / Attracting Chinese Tourists
Wednesday, 06 March 2013

During the Order of Business in the Seanad, I said: I would like the House to debate energy matters again. The last time we talked about the issue and attempted to bring up the question of nuclear energy we came up against the argument that the disposal of spent nuclear fuel posed a huge danger. A solution to this problem was developed recently. On that basis, it would be timely to have another debate on nuclear energy because, compared with almost any other country in Europe, we have a history of importing a huge amount of our energy resources, the cost of which is in the hands of other states...

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Electoral (Amendment) (Dáil Constituencies) Bill 2012: Second Stage
Tuesday, 05 March 2013

During a second stage Seanad debate on the Electoral (Amendment) (Dail Constituencies) Bill 2012, I said: I welcome this Bill for its rather limited effect in reducing the number of Deputies. I have long called for a reduction. We really need a much greater reduction in the number of Deputies in order to make them work. The taxpayer is paying for backbenchers who say very little - or sometimes, nothing - during the year and who are told how they must vote by their own party.

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Call for a debate on Organ Donation / Need for a 'Minister for Food'?
Wednesday, 27 February 2013

During the Order of Business in the Seanad, I said: this week it was reported that Deputy Jerry Buttimer, a former Member of this House, is planning to introduce legislation for presumed consent for organ donation. He has a very solid reason for doing this because there has been a considerable drop in the number of organs being transplanted...

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Ireland's Presidency of the European Council
Tuesday, 26 February 2013

During a Seanad debate on Ireland's Presidency of the European Council in 2013, I said: The Presidency is a great opportunity for us to restore our reputation, which has been damaged. As Senator Higgins said, it has been hit in recent years. I am delighted the Minister of State is on board doing something about it. I will concentrate on one topic, namely, trade. The EU-US deal on trade is one on which we should concentrate...

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Report on Child and Family Income Support
Tuesday, 26 February 2013

During a Seanad deate on Report on Child and Family Income Support, I said: We cannot sustain a nation when the basic Irish weekly social welfare payment of €188 is more than twice the amount paid in the UK and Germany. Jobs fund social welfare and social protection and we must encourage job creation...

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