Seanad debates

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

2:30 pm

Photo of Billy LawlessBilly Lawless (Independent) | Oireachtas source

On this last sitting of the Twenty-fifth Seanad, I would like to say that it has been the greatest honour and privilege of my life to serve in Seanad Éireann for the past four years as Senator for the diaspora. During my time in the Seanad I have worked with the most enthusiastic and passionate group of people I have had the pleasure and honour to meet. I would like to start by thanking the Leas-Chathaoirleach, the Cathaoirleach and the Leader of the Seanad, Senator Buttimer, for their leadership in the past four years. I pay tribute to Members from my own Seanad Independent group. I thank them for their friendship and guidance since I entered this House. We have worked very well on many issues over the course of the Seanad. I give very special thanks to my loyal assistant, Ms Tracy Young. She is one of the finest and most efficient people I have ever worked with.

One disappointment of this Seanad has been the failure to implement the excellent report of the Seanad reform implementation group, which includes my colleague Senator McDowell. Ireland needs to modernise and reform its electoral system and perhaps create a global panel in this House. I give sincere thanks to Mr. Martin Groves and all the staff of the Seanad Office for all their assistance in keeping it running like a well-oiled machine.

It was a privilege to serve on the all-party Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Defence, which was ably chaired by Deputy Brendan Smith and assisted by Mr. Noel Murphy. As Senator for the diaspora one of my ambitions was to hold a national referendum on giving Irish citizens worldwide and in Northern Ireland the right to vote in presidential elections. Unfortunately, due to issues such as Brexit, by-elections and the current general election, the referendum did not happen. I hope it is included in all the parties' manifestos and is discussed as part of a Government programme in the future.


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