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Meanwhile, back at the Seanad… from the land of Saints and Scholars – Tallafornia Special! March 23, 2012

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.

Well, not exactly, but…

Senator David Norris:     I call for a general debate on standards and values in Irish life. I call for a debate having watched a programme called “Tallafornia”, which is both compulsive and repulsive viewing. It is a seriously drink-sodden programme where young people are exploited.
Senator Catherine Noone:     It is desperate.
Senator David Norris:     Three young men and three young women are put into an atmosphere of continual drinking. They are encouraged to behave licentiously and compete to bring people home to bed them.
The last episode was obnoxious. One of the young women had an interest in somebody who was not particularly interested in her. She managed to bring somebody back to the house and the other guys decided to gang up and take a bet on whether she could be taken from him. There was simulated sexual activity, leading, apparently, to full sexual activity. I wonder what values such behaviour inculcates and whether it is appropriate? I am not entirely familiar on a habitual basis, even in my neck of the woods, with the language used.
While we are discussing standards, I wish to raise the question of how we care for elderly people, a subject we have debated in the House on a number of occasions. For example, I raised the case of Valentia Community Hospital; a perfectly valid, functioning hospital was being closed down, the closure of which would cost money and lead to the break-up of a community.
Senator Marie Moloney:     It was not closed down. Will the Senator, please, get the facts right?
Senator David Norris:     With the then Senator John Paul Phelan on this side of the House, I raised the case of Bethany Home in Carlow. Today I raise the case of St. Joseph’s in Ardee which has been in operation since 1922 and gone to strenuous lengths to meet the appropriate HIQA requirements. The people of the area provide personalised care for the elderly. If they are displaced and transferred to the local hospital, it will be at a multiple of the cost.
I will end by quoting the fine words of the Minister for Health before or during the general election:

Facilities like these are being closed down, being told that they do not meet standards and they may close, having been deliberately run down. We have seen in the past how they undermine smaller hospitals with a very simple formula – starve them of resources, make them unsafe, commission a report and then use that report to justify closure.

I would like to see some standards in place. The then Senator John Paul Phelan played a noble role in assisting the hospital in County Laois when it was threatened in a similar way. Let the House act in a unified manner to protect standards and look after the young and the elderly.
I will end by referring, again, to “Tallafornia”.
An Cathaoirleach:     The Senator has had too much time.
Senator David Norris:     What will happen to those people whose images are permanently on film when they want to get married ten or 20 years from now? What will their children think when their images turn up?

The Household charge…

Senator John Whelan:     I do. I would like to ask him to establish how it is possible to have strong local government and strong local services, such as libraries, good secondary roads, street lighting and fire stations, if local authorities are not being funded. Many Sinn Féin spokespeople have taken to the airwaves to appeal to people. It is lovely to hear them say they will not pay the household charge out of sympathy with those who cannot afford to do so. Such hypocrisy deserves to be exposed. They are speaking out of both sides of their mouths. On the one hand, they want strong local government and strong local services while opposing privatisation. On the other hand, they are telling people not to pay the household charge.
Senator David Cullinane:     We have never told people not to pay.
Senator John Whelan:     It is absurd in the extreme.
An Cathaoirleach:     Does the Senator have a question for the Leader?
Senator John Whelan:     I do.
Senator David Cullinane:     The Senator is misinformed as usual. He should listen to what people are saying.
An Cathaoirleach:     Senator Whelan, without interruption.
Senator John Whelan:     I have a serious concern in this regard.
Senator David Cullinane:     If the Senator is going to tell lies in this Chamber, which is what he is good at—–
An Cathaoirleach:     Senator Whelan, without interruption.
Senator David Cullinane:     He should not tell lies.
Senator John Whelan:     That is wrong.
An Cathaoirleach:     I ask Senator Cullinane to withdraw that word.
Senator David Cullinane:     I will not because he told a lie. He said that Sinn Féin representatives are calling on people not to pay. They have not done so. The Senator has told a lie in this Chamber.
An Cathaoirleach:     I ask Senator Cullinane to withdraw the word “lie”.
Senator David Cullinane:     I will not withdraw it.
An Cathaoirleach:     I ask the Senator to withdraw the word “lie”.
Senator David Cullinane:     The Senator has told a lie. Can the Cathaoirleach tell me how it is not a lie? The Senator said that representatives of Sinn Féin are asking people not to pay.
An Cathaoirleach:     Senator Cullinane, I ask you please to withdraw the word “lie”.
Senator David Cullinane:     I will not withdraw it.
An Cathaoirleach:     Senator, I ask you to withdraw the word “lie”, please.
Senator David Cullinane:     What does the Chair want me to withdraw?
An Cathaoirleach:     The word “lie”.
Senator David Cullinane:     What would you call it?
An Cathaoirleach:     Senator, I ask you to—–
Senator David Cullinane:     Why would I withdraw it if he has—–
An Cathaoirleach:     Senator Cullinane, I ask you—–
Senator David Cullinane:     Why would I withdraw it?
An Cathaoirleach:     Senator Cullinane, I ask you to withdraw the word “lie”.
Senator David Cullinane:     Why?
Senator Paul Coghlan:     It is unparliamentary.
An Cathaoirleach:     Senator Cullinane, I ask you to withdraw the word “lie”.
Senator David Cullinane:     I will withdraw the word “lie”, but the point still stands.

The benefits of a classical education…

Senator David Norris:     I welcome the fact that the House is due to debate the fiscal compact treaty later. This is an appropriate day on which to consider this matter, particularly in light of the comments made by that Finnish Alice in Wonderland, Mr. Olli Rehn, who, perhaps unwisely as I have discovered, uttered the Latin phrase “pacta sunt servanda” which, as everyone is aware, roughly translates as “Croppies lie down”. Mr. Rehn made his comments at a time when, most appropriately, the Spaniards are being allowed to vary the terms in respect of their budget deficit.

A conspiracy… oh good!

Senator Rónán Mullen:     There is another issue on which I would like to engage with the Minister. As politicians we are not allowed take donations from abroad, which is understandable, as that provision is concerned with not skewing the political system. There are cases where charities and other civil society organisations receive what are sometimes large sums of money from foreign sources and benefactors. That may be very welcome in the funding of a university by Mr. Chuck Feeney, for example, but what would happen if the funding was involved with the children’s rights referendum on advancing a particular policy change?
An Cathaoirleach:     Is that a question for the Deputy Leader?
Senator Rónán Mullen:     There may be strong arguments for a policy change but would it not be a good idea to bring in the Minister to have a discussion on the lobbying issues? I would like to tease out the particular issue about when and in what circumstances it is appropriate for organisations or individuals in Ireland to accept foreign donations, particularly if they advance a specific political, legislative or referendum goal. I would be grateful for a response from the Government.

Where is everyone?

Senator Darragh O’Brien:     I ask the Deputy Leader how many Ministers are here this week. Earlier in the week those of us in this House mentioned the importance of the events held on St. Patrick’s Day and the week in which it falls. The two Houses are sitting this week, but yesterday, for the first time I can recall, the sitting in this House had to be suspended because there was no Minister available to take a Private Members’ motion we had tabled on a number of items for which the Government should answer. We tried to facilitate the relevant Minister, but all we were offered was one hour. Whether the Government likes it, this Chamber is part of the Oireachtas. If it wants to treat it with such scant disregard and disrespect, it should bring it on. It may not like the robust nature of debates here, but as I am sure all Senators know, we take our job very seriously. I received a telephone call at 2 p.m. yesterday to indicate to me that it was not possible to find a Minister to take the Private Members’ motion, which was an absolute disgrace.
Senator Ned O’Sullivan:     Shameful.
Senator Darragh O’Brien:     There was a common trend yesterday. The Seanad adjourned early yesterday and Private Members’ business was delayed in Dáil Éireann for 15 minutes because a Minister could not be found. The Government also lost a vote called by the great Deputy Peter Mathews at the finance committee as Fine Gael could not find enough Deputies to vote for it.
Senator Marc MacSharry:     They could not vote.
Senator Darragh O’Brien:     Where is everyone? Why not adjourn the House for the week and be done with it? The common theme running through all three issues that arose yesterday was the mortgage crisis. In Private Members’ business, when we discussed the Government report card, the first item related to the thousands of people in mortgage arrears, an issue I will discuss further in a moment. Private Members’ business in the other House yesterday focused on the interest rates being charged by Permanent TSB and other banks to hard-pressed mortgage holders. I note a Minister did not bother turning up in the Dáil Chamber until 15 minutes after the debate was scheduled to commence. Yesterday, when members of the Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform called for the Governor of the Central Bank, Professor Patrick Honohan, to appear before it the only Government member present was Deputy Peter Mathews. Perhaps the great Deputy Mathews will explain to the joint committee the reason he voted against the motion he tabled. This is a very serious matter. The Seanad was forced yesterday to move business to next Wednesday and effectively lost an entire afternoon’s business. What Ministers are available this week?
I heard the Minister of State, Deputy Brian Hayes, interviewed on radio this morning. While I do not wish to make a personal criticism of him given that he comes before the House regularly, he was available to come to the House for only one hour yesterday. Which other Ministers are available? Senators will not put up with this. I want an absolute commitment—–
An Cathaoirleach:     The Senator should conclude.
Senator Darragh O’Brien:     Given that we had to conclude business early yesterday, I ask the Cathaoirleach to indulge me.
I understand this is the first time this has happened and I want a commitment from the Leader that it will not happen again. It shows utter disregard for all Senators, especially the Fianna Fáil Party group, nine of whose 14 members contributed in detail yesterday on the fiscal compact. My party contributes to debates and we were ready to contribute on our Private Members’ motion yesterday before it was pulled. That is not acceptable.


1. Jim Monaghan - March 23, 2012

“…the long European legal and historical tradition is, in Latin: pacta sunt servanda, meaning “respect your commitments and obligations”.”
I think David Norris gave a freer and more accurate translation. “Croppie lie down”. And Greeks, etc.
If only Versailles was enforced.


2. sonofstan - March 23, 2012

One is forced to wonder if Senator Norris has ever taken a stroll around the Trinity Ball in the last hours before dawn? He would certainly see two out of three of the cocktail he so deprecates in Tallafornia – drink- soddenness meaningless sex……… can anyone guess the missing element?


3. TheOtherRiverR(h)ine - March 23, 2012

Norris has gone downhill since the Presidential Election – first the Tallafornia comment and now that Privacy law bill he’s proposing along with Senator Barret. Section 13 of the bill essentially allows for superinjunctions.


Starkadder - March 24, 2012

In fairness, “Tallafornia” is atrocious television. Though whether
it warrants Senatorial scrutiny is debatable.


4. Mark P - March 23, 2012

I’d like to congratulate Senator Cullinane for his honesty in pointing out Sinn Fein’s cowardly stance on the household tax. Whelan was giving them far too much credit and thus may have misled some of the four people who give a fuck what anyone says in the Seanad.


Jack Jameson - March 24, 2012

… Sinn Fein’s cowardly stance on the household tax.

“Cowardly” stance? Doesn’t cowardice apply to actions by oneself?

Would SF be ‘brave’ by Mark P’s standards in calling on others to do something it believes has unquantifiable legal and financial consequences?


5. Double blow to cruel "sport" of hare coursing | Irish Free Press - March 24, 2012

[…] Meanwhile, back at the Seanad? from the land of Saints and Scholars ? Tallafornia Special! 19:29 Fri Mar 23, 2012 | WorldbyStorm […]


6. Wendy Lyon - March 24, 2012

I would guess Rónán Mullen is talking about this. Which, I have to say, made my irony meter explode.


WorldbyStorm - March 24, 2012

Great link, the chutzpah in the ‘do as we say not as we do’ line is… well, wow!

BTW, some interesting stuff in comments, refs to a very ‘traditional’ political grouping.


7. irishelectionliterature - March 28, 2012

I see over 1000 people have applied to be on series 2 of Tallifornia .


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