Garda Checkpoints / Burglaries / Ploughing Championships /
Tuesday, 29 September 2015

During the Order of Business in the Seanad, I said: Senator Cáit Keane referred to the Garda using technology to check car tax, insurance and licences. I am not sure it is the job of the Garda to check tax and insurance. Modern technology enables us to do that in a much more efficient way. I saw a huge traffic jam recently where gardaí had stopped traffic on the north side of the city. It must have gone back 2 km or 3 km while they checked insurance and the tax discs. That can be done readily nowadays, and it is being done, with a smartphone. We should investigate the possibility of doing something like that because there is little doubt that it does not make sense for the Garda to be doing it...

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Seanad Reform / Car Safety Kits / Defibrillators
Wednesday, 23 September 2015

During the Order of Business in the Seanad, I said: The legislative programme published yesterday does not include Seanad reform, yet Senators Crown and Zappone and I have put down amendments, motions and Bills on this matter. The Leader organised a debate on the report of the working group on Seanad reform in May with former Senators Maurice Manning and Joe O'Toole. It gave great attention to the matter and we got significant promises but where has it turned up? Seanad reform is not even included in the list for planned legislation in the coming session...

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Personal Insolvency (Amendment) Bill 2014
Thursday, 16 July 2015

During the second stage Seanad debate on the Personal Insolvency (Amendment) Bill 2014, I said:  The Minister of State is very welcome to the House and I am glad to have him here again. I always get concerned when I hear about an item of legislation that we want to rush through and particularly rush through in such a short period of time. I get embarrassed when I hear that but I also get frustrated when I see something taking a long time to get done. I was delighted to hear the Minister of State say "let us get this done and let us get it though because it is urgent"...

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Farm Income / Air Ambulance
Thursday, 16 July 2015

During the Order of Business in the Seanad, I said: I wish to say a few words on the points raised earlier by Senator Rónán Mullen on farm income and the Teagasc report. We are not giving nearly enough attention to this area. I read recently that the United States is concerned that it is currently creating jobs that will not exist in the next generation. An example given was that at the beginning of the 20th century, 50% of the US workforce worked in agriculture but only 2% work in agriculture now. We must ensure that when we concentrate on creating jobs that they are jobs for the long term...

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Urban Regeneration and Housing Bill 2015
Tuesday, 14 July 2015

During the second stage Seanad debate on the Urban Regeneration and Housing Bill 2015, I said, I welcome this Bill. Senator Norris made the point that we are debating legislation on housing and urban regeneration so obviously we are aiming to achieve quite a lot.   I welcome the opportunity to speak on this Bill because it is about gathering information that can help us to better plan for the future. However, it seems strange to have a Bill on the housing shortage that does not mention NAMA and the possibility for NAMA to play a greater role in the provision of housing...

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Food Provenance / Imprisonment for Non-payment of Fines
Tuesday, 14 July 2015

During the Order of Business in the Seanad, I said: We need to remind ourselves that when we raise a matter in this House, it can result in action, sometimes much later. We had a very good debate here two years ago on food provenance. It was suggested that we should be able to determine where food comes from. The Minister was not able to accept the proposition that was before the House at the time because he wanted to go through Europe first to ensure it was in line with anything being introduced there...

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Mortgage Interest Rates / Fines / Seanad Reform
Thursday, 09 July 2015

During the Order of Business in the Seanad, I said: I welcome the publication of the European Commission's third report on Ireland since we exited the bailout. In particular, I note the Commission's observation that the standard variable rate charged by banks here is "relatively high". One might conclude, therefore, that the authors are operating under a misapprehension - I am trying to be polite - when they go on to say Irish banks must be given sufficient leeway in setting mortgage interest rates...

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Report of Working Group on Seanad Reform 2015
Wednesday, 08 July 2015

During a Seanad debate on the Report of the Working Group on Seanad Reform 2015, I said: I again welcome the former Senators Dr. Manning and Mr. O'Toole. I congratulate them on the work they have done. They have obviously put a lot of work into the issue. The Constitution was adopted in 1937 and we are subject to its constraints. Therefore, we have had to adjust to this fact. The working group on Seanad reform has done a very good job in looking at the issue and looking at what has been established on that basis...

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Defective Buildings
Tuesday, 07 July 2015

During the Order of Business in the Seanad, I said: I have a concern about defective buildings. We have had the experience in recent times of Berkeley in California but also of Priory Hall and the row of homes in County Kildare that burned down. It seems there are defective buildings likely to be occurring even yet. During the Celtic tiger building went up at such speed that I do not think there were controls on them. I understand the Minister is looking at introducing a review of building regulations. I think it would be very useful to have him come to this Chamber so that we would have an opportunity to discuss matters...

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"Kenny must act soon on Seanad reform" - by Senator Feargal Quinn
Sunday, 05 July 2015

Ninety weeks have passed since the people voted in October 2013 to retain Seanad Éireann. That afternoon, when the referendum result was announced, Taoiseach Enda Kenny spoke in Dublin Castle. While acknowledging that he had received a 'wallop' from the electorate, he spoke frankly of how he recognised the will of the people expressed in the vote, and that he would "reflect upon the best way" in which the Seanad "could make a contribution to change in politics".

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Mortgage Interest Rates / Carbon Monoxide Alarms / Call for Mandatory Swimming Lessons
Thursday, 02 July 2015

During the Order of Business in the Seanad, I said: Yesterday marked the passing of the Government's deadline for banks to reduce their mortgage rates, and the banks have almost completely ignored it. Some of them have said they have no intention of doing so. I ask that the House debate as a matter of urgency No. 32 on the Order Paper, which is the Central Bank (Emergency Powers) (Variable Interest Rates) Bill 2015, which I introduced three weeks ago....

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