Dáil debates

Saturday, 27 June 2020

10:35 am

Photo of Seán Ó FearghaílSeán Ó Fearghaíl (Ceann Comhairle; Kildare South, Ceann Comhairle)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I welcome everyone this morning for this sitting of the full Dáil. My sincere thanks to our friends in the Convention Centre for facilitating our attendance here today and for all their hard work, with Oireachtas officials, in the preparation for this important event. Thanks to all concerned for a job very well done.

The last three months have been unprecedented in the memories of all of us here. We have seen an unrelenting and capricious enemy visiting our homes, towns, cities and communities, with devasting consequences. Many lives have been lost. We continue to remember all those personally impacted by the cruel touch of Covid-19.

Our lives have been put on hold for weeks. While many of us are hampered in what we can do, who we can see, where we can go, many others have taken up the challenge to assist their communities in healthcare and medical provision and the maintenance of vital food and energy supplies.

We Members of Dáil Éireann can be proud that we have done our small part by continuing to meet in challenging circumstances. I warmly thank all Members and staff for their work in this regard, and I particularly acknowledge the work of the Dáil Business Committee, the members of which have worked in a spirit of collegiality to schedule the taking of important business in Leinster House over the past weeks. I also compliment the members of the Covid Committee on their ongoing, important work programme.

I pay tribute to the Taoiseach and members of the Government for their service and hard work in facing the Covid 19 crisis. They have worked closely and diligently with the many dedicated experts who have become household names and I think we should be grateful to all concerned for the openness and engagement we have seen in each step of this exhausting process. I acknowledge those members of the Government who are no longer members of this House but who have honourably continued in their roles by rolling up their sleeves in the national interest.

However, it is now exactly 20 weeks since the people spoke in the general election. While all reasonable people will appreciate the exceptional circumstances facing all political parties and groups since that date, the people who spoke on 8 February now expect leadership from us all as Members of this Thirty-third Dáil. While it is true that the people spoke in many different and competing voices, the onus is on us sitting here today, honoured to be placed here as representatives of our communities, to find a solution to the current impasse. I will not pre-empt the business to be taken shortly, but I urge all present to continue to work in the broader interest of a nation which is still suffering and is in need of both ongoing political leadership and the flickering signs of a more hopeful future for our damaged economy and for our caring, but challenged society.

Hopefully we are entering better times in the coming weeks. We must remain cautious and vigilant. We must also seek to address the damage done to us by this virus in the past few months. Now, more than ever, is a time for this Chamber to continue to be relevant and engaged with those who put us here. I strongly urge speedy progress in the formation of a strong and lasting Government.

I refer to the work of our Houses of the Oireachtas Services team, led by the Clerk of the Dáil, Mr. Peter Finnegan, and in particular I mention Mr. Charles Hearne and Mrs. Breda Burke from the Service, who invested an inordinate amount of time and effort in making this event happen. Go raibh míle maith agaibh go léir.