I will withhold my comments on the budget until we discover what it contains and whether all the reports relating to it have been accurate.
I echo Senator Darragh O’Brien’s call for a debate on palliative care. This is an issue I have also raised on several occasions. I will do whatever is required in order to ensure that the debate is held at the earliest opportunity.
I wish to request a debate on the proposed new child and family support agency. When created, this will be the second largest agency in the State and it will have the potential to impact on the lives of all children in Ireland. I am extremely concerned by the fact that the report of the relevant task force into the agency was published in July. I have requested a debate on this and other issues relating to children on a number of occasions. I am of the view that this is a particularly pressing matter. The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs is supposed to introduce a Bill to facilitate the establishment of the agency, which was due to be in place by 1 January next. In order to facilitate a debate on this matter, I took the opportunity this morning to write to the Cathaoirleach and suggest the names of three people who could be invited to address the House on the proposed new child and family support agency. Even if the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs is not available, the Seanad should proceed to engage in a debate on this matter. This agency is too important and we should not be obliged to await the publication of the Bill before engaging in a discussion on it. As already stated, a report has been produced in respect of what will be the second largest agency in the State. Regardless of whether it is resources or children’s lives, we should engage in a debate on this matter at the very earliest opportunity.