Thursday, 14 January 2016
Order of Business
All too often the system fails people and it often fails the most vulnerable and those who cannot speak up for themselves. When the system fails the citizens, it is the responsibility of the State to acknowledge that it has failed, give assistance and right the wrong that has been perpetrated. In the case of Louise O'Keeffe, the State failed the citizen. It failed to protect her when she was in national school and failed to give assistance and protection when the abuse became known. Instead of the State acknowledging its wrong and its failure, Louise O'Keeffe had to take the State to the High Court and Supreme Court and eventually to the European Court of Human Rights, which ruled against the State.Now, however, the State is taking the narrowest possible view of that ruling. Louise O'Keeffe said she had been asked to attend a meeting with the Government and this was, on her own interpretation, to give a veneer of activity masquerading as action. Louise O'Keeffe has described the Government's current behaviour as deplorable. I am seeking an amendment to the Order of Business so that the Minister for Education and Skills would attend the House to explain why the State is continuing to fail to assist those who have been wronged, and who failed to get the protection they rightly deserve from the Government.
I see from the Government's legislative programme, which was announced yesterday, that one of the Bills promised by the Minister for Finance in 2012 is not on the programme. It concerns the protection of the national anthem whose copyright has expired. Given the historic significance of 2016, the national anthem should be protected from any inappropriate use. We will be publishing a Bill to this end and hopefully the Leader and Deputy Leader will provide Government time to pass this copyright legislation. It would protect the anthem, which is a national symbol and deserves to be protected. I hope the measure will attract cross-party support and that the Government will accept it.