Thursday, 20 December 2018
Order of Business
I wish to propose an amendment to the Order of Business to the effect that No. 10 be taken before No. 1. I am introducing my second Private Member's Bill today, the Criminal Justice (Rehabilitative Periods) Bill 2018, which will provide for broader and fairer access to spent convictions and ensure that people with criminal convictions are given a fair chance to be rehabilitated and to move on with their lives. I will bring it forward for Second Stage debate early in the new year. I hope that it will receive cross-party support. I would be happy to go over any provisions of the Bill with interested colleagues in the meantime.
I want to talk about the homelessness crisis and the signal that we, as politicians, send to young people as we try to solve it. I have received an incredible letter from the justice and peace committee of Loreto College Wexford. These young women have collected over 500 signatures from fellow students on the letter, which addresses homelessness.
I will read it into the record. It states:
We are the Justice & Peace group from Loreto Secondary School Wexford. We are writing this letter to express our frustration at the current homelessness crisis in Ireland and the lack of action our government are taking to help end this crisis. Homelessness is a word I’m sure you have heard in Irish Media recently, as it is something so prominent in our nation today. However, little action has been taken by our government to combat this national emergency.
Imagine it was your own child or family without the security of a house. Imagine having no choice but to endure Ireland’s harsh winter on the streets. Imagine moving from one care centre to the next without a home to call your own. But imagining it is one thing. We can conjure up this image in or mind and feel sorry for those who must suffer through it, but it isn't until we experience it ourselves, that we are faced with the harsh reality of the issue. We have the power to change this.
We can raise money, we can build shelters or homes and even utilise the unoccupied buildings we already have. We can do so many things to help this crisis, yet we don’t. Why is this? Our government is paid to run our country, but they are pushing some of their people to the side. Our government is supposed to be here for all of its people, but where is it now when 9,572 of its people are homeless and are in desperate need of help? Where is it now when 3,800 of its children are without a home, this is excluding the hidden homeless? This is the same amount of people that are in the five main secondary schools in Wexford. As busy and hardworking students in a stressful time of our lives, we cannot possibly begin to imagine what it would be like to be without the comfort of a home to go to after school.
By failing to help these students, you are damaging Ireland’s future. They simply cannot study in cramped, uncomfortable conditions such as tiny hotel rooms. These students have so much to offer and you are denying them their chance to make Ireland a better place. Toddlers are experiencing delays in reaching development milestones, such as walking, because they are living in such inadequate conditions where infections such as chicken pox, ear infections and head lice are common.