Seanad debates

Friday, 16 October 2020

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business


10:30 am

Photo of Fiona O'LoughlinFiona O'Loughlin (Fianna Fail)

I was very saddened during the week, as I have no doubt all of us were, when we got an email from Senator Norris telling us that, sadly, Cathal Martin had passed away. During the debate on Senator Norris's Bill three weeks ago, he and Senator Casey spoke very passionately and compassionately about Cathal and the difficulties he had in life. On behalf of my grouping, I extend our deepest sympathy to Les, Linda, Ciaran and Holly, and acknowledge the incredible work Les has done on the National Screening Advisory Committee Bill. We commit to doing all that we can to support the Bill. It is very difficult for any one of us to lose any member of a family but to lose a child is especially traumatic. I cannot even begin to imagine the great sense of loss and grief the Martin family have. In saying that, I also think of all those who have lost children, especially during this national week of child loss and the fact that yesterday was Pregnancy and Child Loss Remembrance Day.

It is an incredibly difficult time for those who are pregnant. It is a very welcome event in people's lives but our thoughts go to those who perhaps have had miscarriages previously or who are at a difficult stage of pregnancy. In particular during the Covid crisis, we all want mothers and new babies to be as healthy as possible and to make sure every precaution is taken to ensure they do not contract Covid. However, I believe some leniency could be shown, especially at the time of the 20-week scan, in order that partners would be allowed to accompany pregnant women to hospital for the screening. I urge the Leader to take that on board. I am aware that it has been raised here previously.

The second issue I wish to raise concerns respect and loyalty. I am from Kildare and I am very close to the Defence Forces family and I have been involved with their issues for many years. The budget gave an extra €32 million to the Defence Forces, which was very important. Much of that will go to capital funding and €10.5 million is to support and improve pay and conditions but we still have a journey to go. In talking about respect and loyalty, I wish to speak about the respect and loyalty the State should show to those who have served this country both at home and abroad. That is most important. Senator Craughwell and others in the House raised the siege of Jadotville in 1961 in the Congo, five days of heroism and courage by 155 men, led by Commandant Quinlan. As we know, Commandant Quinlan recommended that 33 of these men would be awarded medals, five with the highest honour. Only eight of these 33 still survive. It is incumbent on the State to ensure that those eight individuals are awarded the medals and that the others are awarded posthumous medals. It would mean so much to their families and to their comrades in the Defence Forces. It would be beyond tragic if that did not happen.

The final issue I wish to raise today relates to justice, which is very important to all of us, as is ensuring that the justice system is fair and equal and that people do not lose out. While I am conscious that speaking about judges is a sensitive issue at the moment, I wish to-----


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