Friday, 27 March 2020
An Bille um Bearta Éigeandála ar mhaithe le Leas an Phobail (Covid-19) 2020: An Dara Céim - Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Bill 2020: Second Stage
I welcome the Tánaiste to the House. Like many speakers before me, I compliment him and his ministerial colleagues on the speed and response so far to this crisis. It has been excellent.Behind the Ministers are the dedicated public servants and civil servants who have worked extremely hard to draft the Bills we have seen come through so quickly. I thank them. I take at face value what the Tánaiste said about the legislation we are facing today, that is, that if there are problems they will be fixed in the coming weeks. It is the Labour Party's intention to support the legislation today to ensure it passes speedily without amendment. That is the only way we can get the legislation on the Statute Book quickly to support people in dire circumstances.
The Tánaiste is quite right that we have not seen the peak. Unfortunately, we have already seen many people with serious illnesses pass away. I offer my sympathy to the families who have lost loved ones in very tragic circumstances.
At the end of the Order of Business, we applauded the front-line workers, whom I call the real risk-takers, namely, the staff working in the hospitals, stacking the supermarket shelves, manning the tills and driving the lorries to make sure there is a food supply for the vast majority of us. Those are the true risk-takers. While we have not reached the peak and circumstances will become more difficult, we have to have hope and look to and plan for the future. The Tánaiste referred in his speech to planning for the recovery after the crisis. After the crisis is over, we will really need to do more than stand outside the hall door and applaud the risk-takers, the people who have put their lives on the line, the very people who have suffered the worst over recent years, including nurses, supermarket workers, supermarket suppliers, those who work from day to day and the bin men and bin women who collect domestic refuge. They have not been able to afford to buy their own homes or the super rents we have seen in recent months. We have to plan to reward the real risk-takers to ensure that, when this is over, they will have the right to a home of their own, a place where they can rear their families. We must reward them.
In many ways, when we talk about risk-takers, we talk about businesspeople and tax incentives to bring businesses to Ireland but we now know who the real risk-takers are. It is the nurses, who are probably looking after somebody we love, who cannot afford to buy homes of their own. When we get through this, I would like us to apply ourselves in the same manner to ensure that everybody, including every citizen, will have a right and entitlement to a home of their own.
I acknowledge the work the Government has been doing. I acknowledge the Tánaiste's statement that if there are mistakes, they will be fixed. It is a matter of speed over perfection. I acknowledge everything has that has been done to produce legislation that is as perfect as it can be but since we need it passed speedily, there will be risks. I wish the Government and the country every success because we need to get this right to reduce the number of loved ones who will be lost in the coming weeks.
I am not standing for re-election to the Seanad. I extend to my colleagues who will be re-elected my very good wishes. I am aware of their hard work and of their diligence in considering legislation. In this manner, in this time, speed trumps perfection. We must move quickly to put in the supports our society badly needs. I will not delay the legislation and will be supporting it as it passes through the House. I hope the peak will not be as bad as we fear and that we can start planning for a good future for all our citizens.