Thursday, 16 April 2015
Order of Business
I agree with Senator Ivana Bacik that we should have a debate fairly soon on the proposals regarding Seanad reform. I have not had an opportunity to read the report in full, but I have looked at the recommendations and I have issues with some of them. I look forward to an opportunity to put those concerns on the record.
I agree with everything Senator Paul Coghlan has said. He has been raising this issue for some time, along with myself and many other colleagues, not only in this Seanad but in the previous Seanad. As the Senator has said, we have people at the front line of our democracy, who have been drastically reduced in number and who are finding that the workload has increased dramatically. However, their recompense and the facilities afforded to our councillors have not kept up with the demands on their time. That is not only in respect of their wages. There is a major concern that they are being charged PRSI and pension levy but are not entitled to any of the associated benefits when they cease to be members of the local authority. It is a major issue. It might not be popular - I acknowledge Senator Gerard P. Craughwell's comments on Commencement Matters yesterday - but this is an issue that has existed for decades and one that has been put on the back burner by a number of Administrations because it is not popular with the media. The reality is that the media set the agenda as to how the general public feels about politicians in particular, and it is conditioned to feel in a certain way. The people who are at the front line of our democracy are entitled to be paid properly and given the facilities necessary to carry out their democratic function. I call on the Leader to arrange for that debate, and the sooner we have it the better.