Senator Daly: The political commentator, Gore Vidal, once said that the four most beautiful words in the English language were “I told you so”. I will not say “I told you so” to Senator Coghlan but I think I did. When it comes to the NAMA and Irish Bank Resolution Corporation Transparency Bill, which in–I meant Senator Paul Coghlan. In 2012, my side of the House tried to pass the NAMA and Irish Bank Resolution Corporation Transparency Bill. I think we were told at the time that it would be fine, that there was nothing to worry about and that all would be well. Now we see that all is not well. If the Government had accepted the NAMA and Irish Bank Resolution Corporation Transparency Bill, we would not find ourselves in the situation we find ourselves in today. Senator Paul Coghlan said that “too many Members are willing to buy the line on transparency peddled by some, such as Senator Daly, without looking at the facts”.
We now we have an inquiry thanks to the fact that the Government would not accept the transparency Bill we proposed. We lost that vote 17 to 24. Now the Government is acting but it is after the horse has bolted.
I ask for a debate on an Irish citizen, Ibrahim Halawa, who is in prison in Egypt. Amnesty International has said he is entirely innocent of all the charges he is facing. He has been in prison for 666 days – one year, nine months, 28 days. No trial has been held to date. A new trial date, the sixth, has been set for August but that could also be postponed. In a note he smuggled out from prison, he said that he wakes up to the screams of people being tortured and wonders whether he will be next.
The Government needs to act. The Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade has asked that these Houses send out a delegation. If Members opposite would like to visit this Irish citizen in prison in Egypt, they should join that committee delegation if it receives permission from the Government to go. The Government needs to act as well and the Taoiseach needs to get involved in the same way the Prime Ministers of Canada and Australia got involved in similar situations where their citizens were being held in prison in Egypt under President Sisi. The Government has not acted to date. If Ibrahim Halawa was a Catholic from Mayo rather than a Muslim from Dublin there might be more action. He was born in Ireland, was 17 years of age when he was arrested and has been in prison for two years.
The Government’s policy on Roscommon and its mental health services is a matter of concern. It involves the most vulnerable people in our society – those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and mental health issues.To quote Dr. Kelly: “The Government’s policy in Roscommon re … the Rosalie unit in Castlerea in tantamount to elderly abuse.” The former chairperson of the Western Health Board is accusing the Government of elderly abuse. A meeting is taking place tonight in Roscommon. Our motion is No. 16 on the Order Paper. I note that Senator John Kelly from Roscommon is not present today to support the motion.