Thursday, 14 January 2021
Covid-19 (Higher Education): Statements
I thank Deputy Lahart. I read the speech the Taoiseach gave to the Irish Universities Association, IUA. We have joked about how it must be peculiar for a Fine Gael Minister to have read and now praised a then Leader of the Opposition’s speech, but it is a very fine speech. While Deputy Lahart rightly refers to the tremendously positive contribution that the late Seán Lemass made to this country, what most struck me from that speech was the contribution of Paddy Hillery. The Taoiseach referred in that speech to not enough having been spoken about the positive contribution that Paddy Hillery made during his period as Minister for Education because he indeed went on to do so many other wonderful things, including serving as our President. The Taoiseach and I have agreed in conversations that in many ways that speech is a manifesto for all that we collectively want to achieve. We have much to do in this Department and I will follow up on all of the Deputy’s ideas and respond to him in writing.
I am also very conscious that I am a Member of a Cabinet and have a responsibility, as does every Cabinet Member, to contribute constructively to our national response to Covid-19. I am also an elected representative for the people of Wicklow and also have a responsibility to raise their concerns at my parliamentary party meetings. We have much to do. We have a strong Government with a strong working majority and programme and I am excited about what the future has to offer.