Thursday, 10 September 2020
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
I thank the Leader for her intervention. We could have saved ourselves an awful lot of trouble by proceeding with a normal Order of Business. As the Cathaoirleach noted at the opening of today's sitting, there are people on the front line. They have desperate concerns. People are working in schools, or are not sure whether they can return to school because of the health and safety rules that have been introduced. There are questions around Medmark, the treatment of children who become ill in school and the mixed messages from the HSE and the Department of Education and Skills. Principals are struggling to understand the rules. Important issues needed to be raised today and we were unable to raise them. We should never shut down the Order of Business because of any one item. Vital national issues must be discussed and debated. It is deeply regrettable that in recent months this House has been turned into a rubber stamp. We are literally passing legislation in a couple of hours. I understand the State's need to get certain emergency legislation through, but non-emergency legislation is also being passed. For example, I refer to the Civil Law and Criminal Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2020, that went through under the cover of Covid-19 in the last days of the Dáil and Seanad's last term. Things like that should never be allowed to slip in under the rubric of emergency legislation.I think I have made my point. It will be difficult to agree the Order of Business. I support Senators Bacik and Higgins on how we might proceed with the Bill.