Tuesday, 21 January 2020
Business of Seanad: Motion
That is true. I thank Mr. Martin Groves, Ms Bridget Doody and all of the team, including the ushers and everybody involved with the Seanad, for the contributions they make and for the way they do their business. In his absence, I thank the Leader, Senator Buttimer, and Ms Orla Murray for the fair manner in which they run things. We have had many a spat but we have not fallen out so far.
I thank my team. I have had the pleasure of leading the Sinn Féin team in the Seanad. There has been great diversity, consensus and debates among the group. It has really been a pleasure. I really want to acknowledge that. I thank the Senators. It is the easiest team I have ever led in my working life. To refer to Senator Ó Donnghaile, I want to say how important it is to have a voice from the North. Together with Senator Marshall, voices from all communities in the North are represented and that must be brought forward to the next Seanad. It has added a richness to the House and has educated us, encouraged a society inclusive of all, and has helped to shape the type of island in which we all want to live.
I also acknowledge Senator Lawless in respect of the work he has done with the diaspora. Irish citizens are Irish citizens. It does not matter whether they live in the North, the South, the east, the west, Chicago or anywhere else in the world; it is important we bring their issues to this House. These three Senators in particular have brought the voices of these citizens to the House and that is very necessary for us in doing our work.
We did not get to carry out the Seanad reforms we had hoped to. We hope to see work continue in that respect. My colleagues will talk a bit about that. It has, however, been a privilege and an honour to serve in this House. I have sought to make this House count for the ordinary decent people, particularly those living in rural Ireland. I have sought at all times to put rural Ireland front and centre in Seanad Éireann. I hope I have done that in some small way because it does matter.
One of the two things out of which I have got most satisfaction was the Domestic Violence Act 2018 on which we all worked together, particularly the Seanadóirí and women to my right. I will not name them because they know who they are and I would definitely leave somebody out. That was a really good achievement. I see it playing out on the ground, particularly with regard to coercive control. It matters. It makes a difference, it has made a difference, and it will continue to make a difference once the resources are in place to underpin the legislation we brought through. I acknowledge the Minister of State, Deputy Stanton, who worked with us; Women's Aid; Safe Ireland; and all of the other organisations.
The other major legislation which passed through the Dáil and then this House was the Consumer Insurance Contracts Act 2019, which I led through the Seanad. It is very important in order to put money back in people's pockets and to address the absolute crisis in the area of insurance.
I wish all candidates from all parties well. I know what it is like to be a candidate in this election; I know how tough it is. I made a point of being here today out of respect for the House. I could be knocking on doors in Mayo but I know that Mayo people will understand that this House also deals with their issues.