Friday, 16 October 2020
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
Paul Gavan (Sinn Fein)
I support the amendment to the Order of Business. I wish to put on the record of the House that I am genuinely disturbed by the way in which the House is being used. Every Senator should be disturbed by it. As Senator Warfield stated, having received a commitment just three or four weeks ago that legislation would not be rushed through the House, that is exactly what is being done again today in a way that is entirely inappropriate. It is being done for a Bill that, as was so eloquently explained by Senator McDowell, is not an emergency. It is being done in the face of the significant concern of thousands of people. The very reasonable request is that the Bill would be paused after Committee Stage. I ask all Members to bear in mind that there is no way the Minister or the Government could have read the thousands of emails Senators have received this week, many of which give harrowing personal testimony. There simply has not been enough time for those emails to be read or the issues they raise to be considered. For the Government to railroad the Commission of Investigation (Mother and Baby Homes and certain related Matters) Records, and another Matter, Bill 2020 through today because it has the numbers to so do is, frankly, disgraceful. When the House was dealing with the Retention of Records Bill 2019 last year, Senators in every corner of the House were rightly horrified. The members of the Joint Committee on Education and Skills worked together to ensure that Bill would not go any further. Where are those voices today? The very same issues arise with regard to the Bill before the House today. The threat to transfer information to Tusla and seal records for 30 years is an affront to the thousands of victims. Senators are aware of the harrowing testimony in that regard in particular. If Senators disagree with me on this issue, that is fine but, for God's sake, they should not agree to have this Bill ramrodded through today. Senators on the other side of the Chamber should stand up and state there is something fundamentally wrong with the way this is being done.