Seanad debates

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

3:00 pm

Photo of Marc MacSharryMarc MacSharry (Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I apologise for being late and would not want anybody to interpret it as an expression of disinterest. It was as a result of a complete mix-up on our side as to whether I was to be here or somebody else. I apologise to the Cathaoirleach, as well as to Senator Bacik and the Labour Group, and the House generally.

Fianna Fáil fully supports this motion and I congratulate Senator Bacik for having tabled it. I welcome the Minister's intention to establish a cross-departmental team to progress the matter in a broader context. Notwithstanding people's traditions, the only arranged marriage that should be considered is one that the couple arrange themselves, rather than anybody else. Clearly, however, it is an issue. It is barbaric if it is forced in the way that has been suggested. There seem to be quite a few instances of that happening worldwide, which are linked to human trafficking. It is clearly a breach of human rights. There are traditions that have arranged marriages whereby people are introduced by design and they ultimately agree to the arrangement. I myself got married following a blind date, which I thought I might put on the record for fun. It was not a Cilla Black-style one, so we did not have to line up behind a curtain, but it certainly was not intended the way it turned out.

The Minister of State should provide the cross-departmental team with some deadline, rather than establishing a group that will meet once ever six months. We should not consider that the issue has been dealt with finally. If the question arises again, we do not want to be told that the cross-departmental group is examining the matter and we will have news soon. To that end, we should put an adequate six-month deadline after which the group can come back with tangible changes. These changes can be the specific ones suggested by Senator Bacik, which will certainly form part of it, as well as additional ones such as finishing secondary school studies, as the Minister of State mentioned.

I do not wish to delay the work of the House. I apologise again that the debate got under way without one of our representatives being present. I was supposed to be here but I did not realise that because I thought somebody else was coming. There are many reasons for failure but there are no excuses, so I am sorry.

Fianna Fáil fully supports the motion and I congratulate Senator Bacik and the Labour Group for having tabled it. I look forward to the Minister reporting on it in due course.


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