Sunday, December 23, 2007


Mobile Phone Bills - French Pay less and talk more

An interesting finding from the latest survey by the Communications Regulator was that Ireland pays very high rates for mobile phone usage compared to the rest of Europe. The French talk longer on their mobiles and yet pay about €100 less a year than we do. It's something I raised in the Seanad, asking the Minister to look at ways of reducing costs.

I also brought up the subject of the costs of electricity for industry. At the moment we pay 20% higher than the European average. It means that the costs of doing business are higher in this area, and given the economic outlook it's something that the ESB should be brought to task on - they made over €200 million last year in profit.

I am a member of the Joint Committee of Foreign Affairs and this week the issue of Extraordinary Rendition was discussed. We had invited in the Irish Human Rights Commission to talk through their recent report on the matter. Dr Maurice Manning from the IHRC attended with his staff, as did representatives from the Departments of Justice, Foreign Affairs and Transport. I was one of the (few) members calling for independent, real-time investigations to be carried out.

The Seanad broke up on Thursday afternoon for the year. I've certainly enjoyed the experience to date. A key part of being a member of the opposition is to highlight areas of concern and put pressure on the government for changes to be made in these areas. I've probably spoken in the Chamber about 40 or 50 times on a very wide range of subjects. Next year I hope to continue to do this.

This will be my last blog for 2007. It's been a hugely exciting year for me, what with the preparation for the general election, the campaign itself, the Seanad campaign and then settling in to my new role as a member of Seanad Eireann. I couldn't have gone through all of this without the support of a large number of people, so much thanks to everyone for their help in this and previous years. Happy Christmas and Best Wishes for 2008.

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