Thursday, 14 December 2017
Order of Business
Senator Ó Ríordáin was right in what he said about society moving on. We can wish the Leader well with confidence and in the sure knowledge that society has indeed moved on.
I came in to speak on the Order of Business today, having listened to Senator Ruane's contribution. She is somebody for whom I had high regard, even though I did not know her. Having gotten to know her and having worked with her, I must say I now have enormous time and respect for her. She is a phenomenal person and someone of whom I am very fond. When she speaks about these issues, she speaks with authority. There is a role here for the Seanad Public Consultation Committee, chaired by the Leas-Chathaoirleach, in terms of doing some work in this area. Senator Ruane is right that we need to have a proper dialogue on this issue and how we address it. It is something that the aforementioned committee should look at in the new year. The committee has done great work on issues like the national anthem, farm safety and so on. One can see results from the work of that committee, as with the mental health report that was done recently. I urge the Leas-Chathaoirleach to put this on the committee's agenda. Perhaps he will consult Senator Ruane and others in terms of the approach that could be taken. Big issues like this must be dealt with, head on. This Oireachtas is dealing with the eighth amendment and hopefully there will be a referendum on it next year. We need to be dealing with difficult, contentious and challenging issues head on and the Seanad Public Consultation Committee is one mechanism by which we can do that.