Friday, 27 March 2020
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
I join with everybody in thanking our front-line staff, both in our hospitals and care homes, as well as in addiction services and homeless services who are struggling right now to maintain staff and get crisis staff in. I would urge again, as I did last week, to remember there are other services outside of our traditional health services which also need relief staff. This should be communicated with anybody we know in the social care setting.
I also send my sympathies to the families of the ten people who have passed away so far. I know from attending my own nanny's funeral this week that it is a hard time to lose someone, especially when one cannot hold and embrace others through that grief.
I thank the Minister for Education and Skills, Deputy McHugh, who two weeks ago quickly agreed to meet me in the Department of Education and Skills, along with the Taoiseach's office, to look at plans to ensure vulnerable families and communities still had access to school meals. I made a proposal and the night before yesterday the Minister rang me to say they had now completed their plans to put it in place. It extended much further than any proposal I made. I thank the staff in the Department for acting quickly to ensure that all the families affected still have access to school meals.
If this is the last time that I stand here to speak after next week's elections, I know the communities like mine and the families I have aimed to support will be struggling massively. They have been struggling massively since our last economic crisis. We will struggle going forward into the future. If it is not within these walls, it will be in some guise that I will continue to support the families I have aimed to support for the past four years in this House. I thank everybody for the learnings but also for supporting me in being able to bring a message of change to the communities that I care most about.