Thursday, 14 December 2017
Order of Business
The concerns of the workers in Ryanair are important and we should recognise that they have a right to be represented. Senator Lombard has raised the very important matter of road safety, especially at this time of year. I appeal to everybody who drives and uses our roads to do so with care and consideration for others. For those who might contemplate turning the key after consuming alcohol, please do not do so. It is reckless, irresponsible and dangerous. It was very heartening to see a checkpoint on Merrion Street the other night at 8 p.m. It puts it in the minds of people that gardaí are doing their job. Irrespective of who we are, there should be no tolerance of drink-driving at this time of year. Those of us travelling during the festive season should do so safely with care and consideration. It is important that we do not allow more people to be killed on our roads, especially at this time of year.
Senator Ó Ríordáin mentioned trade unions and I have dealt with the matter. I have also dealt with the matter of the committee on the eighth amendment. The Taoiseach has said there will be a referendum. It will be up to us as Members of the Oireachtas to ensure the legislation to enable the referendum can be passed. As the Senator said, it is important that the tone of the referendum campaign should be one of respect and tolerance. There are diverging views and there may not be a meeting of minds in many cases. It is a very contentious and vexed question that must be addressed and the Irish people will decide. I commend all members of the committee, particularly Senator Ruane, on her sterling work. I join Senator Norris in commending Senator Catherine Noone on her excellent stewardship of the committee. She was an impartial, fair and thoroughly professional chairperson who did a tremendous job. She does not deserve to be treated badly by the members of the committee who were on the airwaves yesterday. I condemn their comments out of hand.
I join Senator Burke in welcoming the additional €10 million for respite care. He is right in that more work must be done and I would be very happy to work with him in that. Senator Norris referenced the Irish Sign Language Bill that will come before the House tomorrow. I commend Senator Mark Daly on his stewardship of the Bill through the House and thank all Members for their co-operation in working on a very important piece of legislation.
As Leader of the House, on my behalf and that of the Fine Gael group, I thank all group leaders and Members in the Seanad for their co-operation during the term. I thank the Cathaoirleach's staff and the Cathaoirleach for his friendship and robust stewardship of the debate. It is about getting work done. I thank all Seanad staff, including Mr. Martin Groves and Ms Bridget Doody, who are here this morning, for their unfailing professionalism and courtesy, as well as their advice. I thank the Captain and the ushers for their courtesy, professionalism and dedication. I thank our stenographers and recording people for the work they do.In particular, I thank the staff for working very unsociable hours at times and for having the patience and flexibility to put up with us. I wish them a very happy Christmas. I thank the staff who work in our offices, including Orla and Stephen in my office, and the staff in the Bills Office, the Library and Research Service, the canteen, the restaurant and the bar, the cleaning staff and everybody who works in the Houses. We are very lucky that genuine, sincere people, who are committed to providing a service to the people, work in Leinster House. We are fortunate to be at the front line. I wish all the Senators a very happy Christmas and a prosperous new year. If Senator Conway-Walsh thinks I am not mellow, she should wait to see me in the new year.
In regard to the guillotine, it is not the intention to have one. I cannot find the Order Paper but I am sure the Clerk can advise me. I do not want to guillotine anything. It was said the Social Welfare Bill 2017 would be completed relatively quickly. It is scheduled to commence at 12.45 p.m. and conclude at 2.15 p.m. I am happy not to have a guillotine and to let the Bill roll over.