Shatter defends proposed changes to military tribunals


SEANAD REPORT:A PROPOSED change in the law about the appointment of persons to military tribunals had nothing to do with giving an advantage to any particular individual, Minister for Defence Alan Shatter said.

He dismissed claims that a section of the Bill was intended to achieve this aim. The Minister rejected Opposition claims that he was withholding information from the House on the matter.

John Crown (Ind) urged that an additional €5 health tax be imposed on each packet of cigarettes. The revenue raised should be ringfenced for health-related purposes, with a large chunk of it being earmarked for research.

Consideration should also be given to making the Leinster House campus a non-smoking zone to set a good example to the rest of the State in terms of reducing the incidence of smoking.

Dr Crown was speaking in the second-stage debate on the Bill to facilitate the use of graphic photo warnings on cigarette packets.

Minister of State for Primary Care Róisín Shortall said the aim was to reduce the number of people smoking and more particularly to encourage children and young adults not to start smoking.

Responding to Dr Crown, she said cigarette prices in Ireland were the highest in the world. “We have been successful, in spite of a lot of opposition, in maintaining cigarette prices at that high level.

“Notwithstanding that, the Minister has signalled his intention to seek further increases in the price of tobacco products in the forthcoming budget. I hope there will be cross-party support in that connection.”

John Whelan (Lab) said it was important that the House noted that the National Union of Journalists, through its Irish secretary, had said there was irrefutable evidence that across a broad range of print and broadcast media outlets that attempts had been made to shape the coverage and to interfere with the reporting of the Moriarty tribunal. This would be of grave concern to the House.

“It does not take too much to consider in a small country such as ours how a small group of people or individuals, media moguls, could stymie the reporting of important matters of public interest. I raise this in light of the shocking revelations regarding the News of the World,” he said. “It would be naive in the extreme to think it is only going on in the UK and not here.”

Mr Whelan asked that the Minister for Communications address the House on plans he had regarding legislation on media ownership.

Averil Power (FF) said she was fully committed to full marriage equality for same-sex couples. She said civil partnership legislation had been one of the best achievements of the last government, but it had been just a stepping stone.