Thursday, 14 December 2017
Order of Business
I thank the Minister of State, Deputy John Paul Phelan, for his announcement yesterday that he has established two committees to review the local electoral boundaries, which is important. The issue will affect all the 31 local authorities at some stage. The committees are being formed, the people have been nominated and approved and I understand they must commence their work early in the new year, which is welcome. I ask the Leader to contact the Minister with a view to setting a timeline. Local elections are expected to take place in June 2019. Therefore, it is reasonable and fair that the work to review boundaries should be completed as soon as possible. I know it is a matter for the commission and not a matter for me. I simply want to express a view that my colleagues have asked me to convey. It would be ideal if the work could be wrapped up by the middle of 2018 to allow a clear 12-month period for local councillors to bed-down and get to know their new areas. The reality is there will be changes. It is open to people to make submissions under the public consultation process before the final document is agreed. I welcome the initiative. The Minister of State said he would do such work. He is not that long in office but he has established the committees and clear terms of reference. All we await is the date that public consultation will take place. It will happen sometime in the spring but I ask that happens earlier.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the people in the House, in particular the Leader and his support staff, for the work they have done throughout the year. I also thank the Leas-Chathaoirleach, the Cathaoirleach, the Clerk of Seanad Éireann and their staff for their work. I also thank the ushers and all the people who deal with us in catering and in the facilities area, all of whom make both Houses work well. We could not do our work without them. People do not see the background work, the support and the preparation that makes the sittings of the Seanad, in particular, work smoothly and well. It is important we acknowledge all that work. We appreciate it and do not take it for granted. The public and the people who view us in here do not necessarily see it but we rely heavily on such support. I want to acknowledge that work and thank everyone concerned. In particular, I thank the staff in the Leader's office. We meet them every week and they do an awful lot of preparation, in conjunction with the Seanad office, to make the proceedings here run smoothly.
Finally, I wish to draw attention to the fact that the environment and space in which we work and the facilities provided only happen due to the Trojan work done by the staff of the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission. I thank the ushers, porters, catering staff and all the other people involved for their hard work.