Seanad debates

Thursday, 20 December 2018

11:10 am

Photo of Kevin HumphreysKevin Humphreys (Labour) | Oireachtas source

I join in expressing our thanks to the staff for the support they have given to all Senators in the House. I wish them a happy Christmas. I thank all the Senators who have chaired the Seanad over the year for their work. I thank the Leader for his courtesy during the year and I wish him a happy Christmas. As Senator Rose Conway-Walsh said, this is his first Christmas as a married man. I hope he has as many years of marriage as I have. I am coming up to my 39th year. Practice makes perfect. I wish the Leader the best of luck.

I raise a serious issue related to the Christmas period. Unfortunately, the number of road deaths on our roads over the Christmas period is frightful. Many relate to alcohol. The Labour Party in the Seanad supported the Government's recent road safety legislation, which was common sense and not anti-rural. Unfortunately, most of the lives lost on the roads are in rural Ireland. If the legislation saves one life, it will have been worthwhile. I hope to be in a position to support other proposals on road safety the Government may bring forward in the coming years. It is sad to note the number of people who die on our roads.

My only negative point relates to the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Ross. It is a case of "Do what I say, but not what I do". I was disappointed to see pictures in the Irish Independentthis morning of a car with its roof decked out with a box and a Christmas tree. This creates road safety dangers. The Minister has to practise what he preaches. Everyone in the House wants our roads to be safer so that they do not put lives in danger. What is the Minister doing in that regard? One motorist said he saw the car and pulled back further because he thought it was precarious and a danger to road safety. If he wants to be taken seriously on road safety, the Minister must lead from the front. He cannot simply preach but must live by example. I would be grateful if we could have a general debate on road safety in the new year and ask the Minister to come to the House to discuss practical measures to save lives on our roads over the coming year.

The Leader was not here during previous statements. I do not mean that in a negative sense. I know he was doing important business in Washington during the week in question. We heard statements on climate change. We had seven Ministers for five minutes, one after another. None stayed for the debate. One Minister of State replied to the debate for five minutes. Climate change will be one of the greatest challenges facing not only this country but the planet over the coming years. I thought that was a one-off or a reflection of how the Seanad was treated or, more important, how the issue was being treated. However, it was repeated the following week in the Dáil. We heard seven Ministers for five minutes and only one stayed for the debate and discussion. That was not the intention of the climate change legislation. I urge the Leader to arrange early in the new year for the seven Ministers to come back and be accountable for their targets and delivery as well as to properly engage.

We talk to young people about climate change but it is not only a matter for young people. It is an issue for all those who are worried about the climate we will leave our children and grandchildren. The response was in no way sufficient on the part of the Ministers and Ministers of State who came into this House and the Lower House. It is almost as if they talk the talk but will not walk the walk. I hope that will change in 2019. Certainly, the public is leading and politicians are following. We need to catch up and take action. I hope the new Minister will not only talk the talk but will actually take action in 2019 by starting to hit our targets. They are so important not only for Ireland but for the planet as a whole.

I second the amendment from Senator Craughwell.


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