Seanad debates

Thursday, 20 December 2018

11:30 am

Photo of Kieran O'DonnellKieran O'Donnell (Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I join colleagues in wishing the Oireachtas staff and, more particularly, the Seanad staff all the best and thank them for all their assistance during the year. The Seanad staff have been exceptionally patient. I wish my colleagues and their families good tidings.

I note an update on the point that Senator McDowell raised about the man producing a firearm in a Smithfield courtroom. He has now been apprehended by An Garda Síochána and disarmed. This shows how important the members of An Garda Síochána are to us. They uphold law and order and provide stability. They are an unarmed force, which sends out a strong statement that the Irish people like to have a system which basically operates law and order. People cannot take the law into their own hands and that message has to go out loud and clear. I do not want to guess what would have happened in the family court if the gardaí were not there today. The judge and the staff were going about their business. People in the family court are in trying circumstances because anything to do with family law is difficult for everyone involved. I am glad that situation has concluded and that the gardaí on scene have apprehended the man. I pay tribute to An Garda Síochána and all areas of the rule of law and order which uphold a very good country in which to live.

I support Senator Humphreys' comments on climate change, but wish to elaborate. Brexit is happening. I note that Ms Amber Rudd, a UK Minister, has called for a second referendum. I support that call. I brought up that point a year ago and was laughed at. It is the only common-sense solution to this. We do not need Britain to leave the EU. I hope common sense prevails.

I wish the Leader well. It has been an eventful year for Senator Buttimer.

We need, as a Chamber, to set aside a day or two for a specific debate on climate change. We should bring in our own witnesses, Ministers included, and come up with a body of work on climate change. Climate change is now in the common lexicon and people are talking about it on a daily basis. That was not the case six months ago but it is now.

Following on from what Senator McDowell stated, the Seanad has a specific role to play. I was a Member of the Lower House and each House has a distinct role to play. The Seanad can play a role in terms of teasing out particular areas of national interest. Climate change is one of those areas. I would like to see the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, the Ministers and perhaps international bodies appear before us. We could look at the body of work already done and emerge with something that adds to it. David Attenborough was interviewed on a programme recently, and he was compelling. He said that the future of this planet is now in our hands. Ordinary people will take note of that. We as a Chamber can become exceptionally irrelevant in the context of a climate change debate. I would ask that we take two or three days in the new year to do a serious piece of work on climate change. It is now, outside of Brexit, the single biggest issue facing mankind. To finish-----


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