Wednesday, 6 February 2019
Parental Leave (Amendment) Bill 2017: Committee Stage
I agree with all of what Senators have said but it is important to acknowledge Deputies Róisín Shortall and Catherine Murphy, who got the ball rolling. Some of the other groups who are claiming credit for this Bill were quite slow to pick up the ball in response to some of the many emails that were sent some months ago.We had a difficulty in getting time and it came back to other groups to see could it be facilitated. I acknowledge what the Labour Party has done. Senator Bacik has prepared some helpful documents.
I fully support the Bill. It is great that there is a consensus but it took a long time to gain traction and we need to acknowledge that. I never suggested that the Government was totally against it. I have had a look at some of the documentation put out in relation to the Government's commitments in this area. There was some excuse, or suggestion, that it was not analysed enough under pre-legislative scrutiny. The committee took a decision and that is its call, of course, if it decides not to proceed with pre-legislative scrutiny. It cannot be used as an excuse.
It is ironic that this matters falls under the responsibility of the Department for Justice and Equality rather than the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. What does that tell us? It could be argued that the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection has a role to play. There has been confusion as to whom parliamentary questions should be addressed. When the matter came before committee, the Minister for Justice and Equality stated that it was not something he wished to discuss at that time and left it to the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection to answer the questions of the committee in January of last year.
I fully support the Bill. I have read the letter from the IBEC and I do not agree with it. We should say that clearly and not be quiet in saying it. IBEC has a view on most things that go on in Parliament, and I have no difficulty with that, but I categorically do not agree with what it suggests about this Bill.
I support everything that has been said here. This will be a good day's work. I take on-board Senator Ó Ríordáin's point that it is important that we have Government co-operation in time. Let us face the fact that the Government would not previously devote time to this issue. I accept, however, that things may have changed in the meantime. I wish everyone well. I particularly acknowledge the cross-party support for this legislation.