Thursday, 19 June 2014
Address to Seanad Éireann by Ms Catherine McGuinness
It is a great pleasure to have Ms McGuinness in the House. She is a role model for women of all ages in Ireland. As Senator Cáit Keane said, I hope she goes on forever because we need her. She speaks with feeling and passion. There are many politicians who do not speak with passion; we need passion.
I was elected to the Seanad in 2002. In 2005 I held public meetings as to how I could contribute best to the social and economic issues in Ireland, having set up a business that created employment. I saw the transformation in a human being when he or she was offered a job. It was not just about the money but the social interaction on a daily basis and how they grew in self confidence. As I have said many times here, it is printed indelibly in my mind, there is a huge transformation in a human being when he or she gets a job. While the employment position has improved we still have an unemployment rate of 11.8%. At my public meetings two of the main issues that arose were child care provision and abolition of the retirement age for people who did not wish to retire at the age of 65 but were forced to. I produced policy papers on both issues. My policy paper, A New Approach to Child Care in 2005, which I presented to the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party made a major contribution to the first initiative taken by any Government in Ireland on child care provision. We still have a long way to go on that because it is a huge issue. There is still a large gap between children who are born into families that are less well-off. In 20 years' time I think there will be a big gap between the children who have two parents working and those who have only one parent working. I feel very strongly about this issue.