Seanad debates

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

2:30 pm

Photo of Pádraig Ó CéidighPádraig Ó Céidigh (Independent) | Oireachtas source

Gabhaim buíochas mór leis an gCathaoirleach agus leis an Leas-Chathaoirleach as ucht a dtacaíocht le trí bliana go leith anuas. I also thank Martin, Bridget and the team. We would not be able to do what we are doing without their support and commitment.

The person who supported me most here was Ms Cáit Nic Amhlaoibh, my personal assistant. The Senators probably all know her. She is a very special lady. She is one of the best people, if not the best, I have ever had the privilege of working with. She was absolutely committed. It was not 35 or 40 hours a week but whatever it took to do what had to be done.

Ba mhaith liom, ar an ócáid seo, comhbhrón a dhéanamh le fear uasal as an Spidéal, Joe Steve Ó Neachtain. Cailleadh Joe Steve cúpla lá ó shin. Bhí sé taobh thiar de chearta sibhialta na Gaeltachta – civil rights for the Gaeltacht regions – 40 years ago. Bhí Joe Steve, Timín Joe Tim Ó Curraoin agus Seosamh Ó Cuaig taobh thiar de Raidió na Gaeltachta, TG4, agus go leor imeachtaí eile. Bhí Údarás na Gaeltachta dhá scór bliain ar an saol i mbliana. Ba cheann de na daoine a thosaigh Údarás na Gaeltachta ná Joe Steve Ó Neachtain – file agus drámadóir. Go ndéana Dia grásta ar a anam. Táimid ag smaoineamh inniu ar a bhean, Máirín, ar a chlann, agus ar na cairde uilig atá aige. Bhí mé ag iarraidh é sin a rá.

On another front, as Senator Lawless and others have said, this has been the biggest privilege of our lives. I have done many things, tried many things and failed many times but this has been a great privilege. Just like Senator Kelleher, I got a telephone call from Micheál Martin. He said to me he would like to suggest me and Senator Kelleher as candidates to the then Taoiseach, Enda Kenny. Thankfully, Mr. Kenny accepted our names. We made a great effort in making a difference. I have a whiteboard at home. Written on it is, "The world with you versus the world without you." We must ask whether we make any real difference. Senator Higgins and I go back a long time. We had lovely years together in Coláiste Iognáid in Galway. I have got to know all the Senators very well. We agree on some matters and disagree on others but yet there is passion and we are here for the same reason. Regarding the phrase "The world with you versus the world without you", it is about the difference we make, small or big. When I was not a wet week in here, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney, contacted me and asked me whether I would chair the committee on water to try to sort out the issues with Irish Water. On that, I did not know where I was going. Like Senator Ruane, I had not a clue. I was nervous and did not know how to do it but the secretariat here was absolutely amazing.It supported and directed me in working through the issues with a wonderful committee, and while many of us disagreed on a number of matters, we got a result.

As for the Perjury and Related Offences Bill, there is not one of us inside or outside of the House who has not been blamed in the wrong or lied about. The Bill, which seeks to address a lacuna in the law, received the full support of Seanad Éireann and reached the final Stages of its passage. It would have been passed in the Dáil but for the snap election that was recently called.

There was a motion on the Irish language policy and thug chuile Sheanadóir anseo tacaíocht ó thaobh polasaí na Gaeilge an tSeanaid de. Is doiciméad Seanaid é. Thosaigh sé liomsa ach is doiciméad Seanaid atá i gceist ansin.

I served as rapporteur to the Seanad Public Consultation Committee on SMEs. With the involvement of the Leas-Chathaoirleach and others in that committee, we created a White Paper - a blueprint - for SMEs. Some 250,000 such companies employ more than 1 million people. That is the backbone of who we are and what we are about, not least in regional Ireland.

From the Joint Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport, I highlight Senator O'Mahony. While he has been a hero of mine and of many others for many years, I got to know him and observed his integrity, commitment and passion, which are considerable, as one will see if one works closely with him. Senator Wilson and I have become good friends. I value his direction, passion, friendship, humour, integrity and unique spiritiuality.

Déanaim comhghairdeas le Tuaisceart Éireann, leis na haontachtóirí ach go háirithe agus le mo chomhghleacaithe as Sinn Féin. Tá sé seo fíor-thábhachtach. Feicim go bhfuil sé ar an Seanadóir Ó Donnghaile agus nár laga Dia é. Tá an Ghaeilge fíor-thábhachtach do dhaoine sa tír seo. Má bhíonn aon ghuí agam, is í go labhródh muid níos mó Gaeilge sa Teach seo, go bhfeicfeadh muid í, go mbeadh aitheantas againn aisti agus go mbeadh muid bródúil as sin. B'fhéidir an chéad uair eile, cibé duine a bheas anseo, go ndéanfar turas go dtí An Cheathrú Rua nó go dtí Gaeltacht éigint eile. D'fhéadfadh muid tuilleadh Gaeilge a fhoghlaim agus í a chleachtadh le chéile.

The Cathaoirleach and I come from a similar background, like many other Senators who come from a working class background. There were no silver spoons and we were brought up the rough way. It has been a great privilege for me to be in their company - every one of them. It has been the greatest privilege of my life. They are special people who are all here for the same reason, namely, the betterment of community. The world is better with them than without them.


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