Thursday, 17 December 2020
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
Before proceeding to questions on promised legislation, I thank all the Members for their good wishes and express the hope that everybody in the Oireachtas community will enjoy a peaceful, restful and happy Christmas with their families. I thank, in particular, the leaders and all the Members of Dáil Éireann for their courtesy, co-operation and support throughout the year. We managed not to fall out with anyone, I think, in the course of the past 12 months.
On the Members' behalf, I extend a very sincere thanks to the Clerk of the Dáil, Peter Finnegan, and the Clerk Assistant, Elaine Gunn, who is here in front of me. We are blessed in the calibre of people who we have working in the service of the Oireachtas, whether in an administrative capacity, as ushers or in the catering service, right across the whole spectrum. That was borne out to us particularly this year as they successfully managed the transition from Leinster House to the national convention centre here. At a time when 75% of the Oireachtas staff were working from home, the work of the House continued without a glitch, and even though seven of our community suffered from Covid-19 in the course of the year, we succeeded in keeping the service intact. I thank the service most sincerely.
I extend a word of thanks as well to Dermod Dwyer and the team here at the national convention centre. This is a wonderful resource for this country and we are fortunate, as an Oireachtas, to have had this facility available to us.
One could be forgiven for forgetting that this is a year in which we had a general election. It seems a very long time ago. Elections are always very stressful times for politicians. On top of the stress of that election has come the worry and deep concern that we have all had for our people and our country afflicted by an unprecedented pandemic. On top of that we have had, all of us, in various ways, to contend with the impending debacle that is Brexit. I ask Members over Christmas to take some time for themselves, look after themselves and their families and come back to face the mighty challenges that will be there in January refreshed and invigorated.
I remind the House that there are 22 Members seeking to contribute on promised legislation. I will try and get through everyone today if Members are quick. I call Deputy Pearse Doherty.