Rabbitte questioned over potential earthquake fallout


SEANAD:CALLING FOR a statement by Minister for Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte on yesterday’s earthquake off Mayo, Trevor Ó Clochartaigh (SF) warned that any damage to off-coast oil and gas pipeline infrastructure as a result of seismic activity could have absolutely catastrophic repercussions.

During the development of the Corrib gas field and other fields off the west coast, had environmental impact studies taken account of the possibility of seismic activity of this relative severity and had it been “factored in” when decisions had been made, he asked.

Seanad leader Maurice Cummins said Mr Ó Clochartaigh might seek a specific debate on the issue.

Consideration should be given to raising the price of the morning-after pill in the light of the astonishing increase in sales of it, Catherine Noone (FG) said.

Responding to what he termed her “extraordinary suggestion”, John Crown (Ind) said it was akin to attempting to reduce the incidence of abortion by “increasing the waiting list to 10 months”.

Ms Noone said the use of the pill should be a last resort. The rise in sales seemed to indicate that it was being used as a contraceptive.

Young women in many instances were putting themselves at risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, she said. The use of the pill also had many side effects in terms of reproductive health as well as all sorts of problems down the line for women in the younger cohort.

Perhaps consideration should be given to raising the price, which had been cut from €50 to €15 last year. She believed that a rise in price should be accompanied by an accompanying awareness campaign.

Opposition leader Darragh O’Brien (FF) called on Sinn Féin to pay the estimated €420,000 cost of its High Court challenge to views of the Referendum Commission on comments on the fiscal treaty. David Norris (Ind) said no one should have to pay costs when an important constitutional issue was raised.

Jimmy Harte (Lab) said the cost of the litigation which Sinn Féin was expecting taxpayers to fund could have funded the employment of many teachers or care-givers.