Friday, 16 October 2020
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
Niall Blaney (Fianna Fail)
I second the proposal of Senator Gallagher about the helpline for those businesses caught up in level 4.
As a former Member of the Lower House, I was once appointed co-chair of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly at a time when unionist participation had never taken place in its 20-year history. I spent the next 21 months alongside former Secretaries of State for Northern Ireland, Mr. Paul Murphy and Mr. Peter Hain, doing everything we could to get participation from unionist parties. I am now a member of the Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement which met yesterday with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Coveney. That committee now finds itself in a situation similar to the one I was in with the parliamentary assembly and I have asked the Minister to do everything he possibly can to ensure unionist participation.I ask, with the agreement and support of the House if possible, that the Leader writes to both the Taoiseach and the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, with the support of the Upper House, for us in the Oireachtas to do everything we can to ensure that unionists are encouraged and facilitated to join the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. We know the work that is possible with a shared island now being put together and the €500 million pot for projects across the island over the next five years so it is imperative that this happens. I ask the Leader to facilitate a debate with the Minister for Transport and the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media to discuss a number of projects that were mentioned concerning the €500 million pot. I have a keen interest in the Dublin-Donegal railway line that no longer exists but could very well be one of the great greenways of this country.