Thursday, 11 July 2019
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
I join Senator Dolan, among others, in his very moving tribute to Noel Whelan whose death, sadly, was announced today. Like Senator Dolan I had the pleasure of knowing Noel. I had the privilege of serving with him on the steering group of the Together for Yes campaign and the Repeal the Eighth campaign last year. I had also campaigned alongside him on marriage equality and on the campaign to retain the Seanad. He was a great colleague at the Bar also. I express my sincere sympathy to Sinéad, his wife, and to their family and friends on the sad and shocking loss so young of Noel Whelan. He did so much by way of public service. I join others in paying tribute to him.
As we head into the recess I ask the Leader that we might have a debate on Brexit early in the next term. Clearly that will be the pressing issue as we return, and I have no doubt it will also dominate the political discourse through the summer. I welcome the incoming President of the European Commission, Ms Ursula von der Leyen's confirmation today that there will be no change to the backstop provision of the withdrawal agreement. This is very welcome to hear. I also welcome her commitment to gender balance on the membership of the Commission, which is very important. I very much look forward to hearing who the Government will name as its woman candidate, alongside Commissioner Phil Hogan.