Seanad debates

Friday, 16 October 2020

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business


10:30 am

Erin McGreehan (Fianna Fail)

I would like to request a debate on equality, or more importantly inequality. In the programme for Government we have a commitment to a national strategy for women and girls. I would like to invite the Minister to the House to discuss this issue, to set out when work on the strategy will begin and to clarify when it will report. In light of the debate we have been having this week, it is really important that we have a proper national strategy on gender equality and inequality across the Houses and across the country. The programme for Government also commits to examining the addition of socio-economic disadvantaged status as a ground for discrimination. This is very important. We heard earlier this week from Senator Ruane about coming from a Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools, DEIS, school and going on to study law at third level. A person can suffer prejudice for a basic thing like their accent or address. I was told as a young one that I would not get anywhere in the world - some people might say that I still have not - but I am damn proud to be here with my County Louth brogue and to talk in it. Inequality based on who a person is or what he or she looks like is not acceptable. We need to have a proper national strategy on how we are going to deal with this because, for the first time in our nation's history, class and where a person comes from really matters. It is really disappointing because I grew up in an area where I went to school with the children of people who were on the dole and the children of solicitors, doctors and tradesmen but that is changing. Different levels of class, for want of a better word, are coming to the fore more and more. We disadvantage and marginalise people at our peril and I would very much welcome a debate on this in the House.


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