Thursday, 28 November 2019
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
I did not read the article the Senator referenced but there is a need for a wider debate on housing policy and those kinds of purchases. Many of the housing developments being built at the moment are either 100% private or 100% social, and we need to be looking at the mix. I come across many people on the doorsteps who do not expect a house from the State, who are quite willing to pay for it and who are trying to access the housing market. While there is an urgent need for social housing, there is also a very pressing need for those individuals who wish to live in their own localities and only want access to purchasing. I agree with much of what the Senator said on this issue. We should have a proper debate about it in the House in the new year.
Senator Richmond suggested inviting the new President of the EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, to a joint sitting of the Houses. We would all welcome and enjoy that if it is possible to do so.
Senator Boyhan raised three issues. He stated that he would like a debate on the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission's report, which is a good suggestion. The report highlights hate speech, crime and discrimination against certain groups in society, as well as trafficking which has been in focus recently. That would be a good debate to have.
Senator Lombard raised the issue of school transport, which is a huge issue for rural Ireland and which he is quite right to highlight.
Senator Gavan raised the issue of Limerick hospital, as he and Senators Byrne and Kieran O'Donnell do regularly in this House. There is a very serious crisis in the management of that hospital. We could do with a specific debate on that particular hospital, but it should also be addressed in the context of a wider debate on the health services.
Senator Mulherin raised an issue which I also read about during the week. It is frightening to think that 40,000 children as young as four years old are in mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It beggars belief that such a thing could happen to such young people, at the start of their lives, in this day and age. Climate action is very important and is all anyone is discussing. We are trying to come up with policy solutions, but I would personally rather drive a diesel car than be a part of policies which require so much cobalt that children are forced to work in mines. We need a debate on that, perhaps in the context of a global climate conversation with the Minister. Many countries are involved in this, and we are in the frame because of our agricultural sector and various other sectors where we need to make improvements. Serious human rights violations in countries around the world must be faced up to, as well as very serious climate violations. Some of those countries are not making serious efforts, in comparison with the efforts of many countries in Europe. The Senator has raised a very important point about something I personally find very disturbing.
Senator Mullen raised the issue of the NUJ and celebrity RTÉ salaries. He is highlighting a point with which many people would agree. Certain presenters on RTÉ earn three times the Taoiseach's salary - not that the Taoiseach is looking for a pay rise - and the idea that the person-----