Tuesday, 28 May 2019
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
I join colleagues in congratulating those who were elected in the local elections. I wish them well for the next five years. It is important that we thank those who retired at the election, some who served only one term and others who served many terms. Many of them made a contribution over a long number of years and contributed not only to the local council but also to their local community. We must acknowledge their work and their contribution. I note those who ran at the local elections who were not successful, especially local councillors. It is a difficult thing for people to face when they lose out on an election. We should acknowledge their contribution and that of everyone who puts himself or herself forward in the democratic system.
Irish people have been watching contributions in the House of Commons and wonder how some of these people were ever elected. At least in the Irish system, if a voter's first preference is not elected, their vote goes on to No. 2, No. 3 or No. 4 and so on down the line. It is a far better system that we have, even if we might criticise it sometimes.
I also raise the issues of the Defence Forces and Army pay. These very much need to be tackled. As someone who has acted in a legal capacity for members of the Defence Forces over the years, I can recall when someone who worked as an ordinary member of the Defence Forces was able to buy a three-bedroom house. There is no way now that someone working in the Defence Forces can afford to buy a property on the income he or she earns. We need to examine this issue and to bring forward serious recommendations that will encourage people to stay on and encourage new people to join. We are in a position of full employment, where we compete to retain good people in the jobs market. We must ensure that we pay the appropriate remuneration for the work they are doing. It is something we need to conclude at the earliest date possible.