Seanad debates

Friday, 27 March 2020

Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Bill 2020: Motion for Earlier Signature

 

12:00 pm

Photo of Alice Mary HigginsAlice Mary Higgins (Independent) | Oireachtas source

Thank you, a Chathaoirligh, because you have been so patient, so good, so fair and so even-handed. You have served extraordinarily well and honourably in your role as Cathaoirleach. I thank all the staff who I know are working under difficult circumstances, even to arrange these sittings of the Houses.

I am very proud to have been part of the Twenty-fifth Seanad. It has been an extraordinary Seanad in terms of the real changes it has made in law and in policy which has affected people's lives. Private Members’ Bills and ideas which came from different sides of this House have gone on to become law and shape lives. Democracy, as the Minister said, really does matter. We have just come out of the 70th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions which reminded us that human rights and laws matter, even in war. Human rights and laws matter when democracy matters, even in times such as this unprecedented challenge that we face.

The choices people make in terms of election are important. I urge those who can safely do so to cast their votes today because there are still elections under way. It is important because the choices they make affect the space and decisions we make together. If I am lucky enough to be in the next Seanad, I hope the Minister will recognise the key role the Seanad and its expertise has to play as we face into the next challenges. Whatever government may form, be it a national unity government or negotiated one, the Seanad will always give an additional expertise and different perspective. The 11 Taoiseach’s nominees should be those who can really contribute to this national debate and decision-making at this time, be they from a party background or not.

I commend the Minister for the work of the Government, particularly under duress at this time and for emphasising the importance of continued, active and civil engagement with all parties in the Oireachtas.

I wish us all safety.

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