Thursday, 20 December 2018
Order of Business
At the outset, I wish all the staff of the House and all of my colleagues a very happy, peaceful and joyful Christmas. I endorse the words of Senator Leyden and Senator McDowell on the events in Roscommon and the pending rally there at the weekend. I have more than a minor connection with County Roscommon in the form of strong family ties. It is important we call publicly for peace and restraint in that situation. I also endorse the broad points being made by Senator McDowell about the separation of powers and our responsibilities in that area. I was a witness to the events in that committee which Senator McDowell referred to earlier. I will also not name the Deputy concerned. I support Senator McDowell's view that we do not need people to be a grinch for 365 days of the year.
The substantive point I raise today is pertinent to the season we are in. There is a real, active and live daily threat to our rural towns and retailers at the moment. I know the Leas-Chathaoirleach has a special interest in this area. Small retailers in our small towns are greatly threatened and damaged by online sales, the burden of rates and insurance and myriad other charges and regulations. It has become very difficult to sustain a small retail business in our towns and villages. That is why I appeal publicly and genuinely, and not in some bland sense because I am very serious about this, for people to make a real effort this year to support local retailers. I appeal to them to shop in those outlets and to bear in mind that those retailers are the very people who sustain our communities by supporting local good causes and whose rates payments keep services going in our counties.
If we as a society do not get actively involved in supporting our small retailers, they will close. They are already closing every day in each rural town in the country. It is a very serious matter and I notice it in small towns throughout Cavan and Monaghan. Many of the small shops are having closing down sales. That is happening because of online sales and the burden of rates, insurance and all of the other charges. I ask, in the House and through the media, for people to shop in these small outlets. I also ask our Leader to organise a special debate on this topic when we come back from recess in the new year. It is an urgent matter. We cannot let our communities die before our eyes.