Wednesday, 18 November 2020
Seanad Bill 2020: Second Stage
I welcome the Minister of State to the House. It is a privilege to stand in front of a Minister of State who I know believes in equality. I have many notes on this issue, but I will be brief and refer to the most important issues. Referring back to what my great friend, Senator Ruane, said earlier, since 1937 people like me have not belonged in our own Parliament, the Houses of the Oireachtas, both the Upper House and the Lower House.
I strongly support this Bill. As Senator Higgins said, if we need to push this process out further, we should do so only for six months. Let us have a look around us. Do we see people of colour in the Chamber? Do we see people with disabilities? Do we see people from the Traveller and Roma communities, people who live and belong in Ireland? We do not see those people.
This process is now in the hands of the Minister of State. I have all the faith in the world in him and I am not in any way being a lickarse in saying that. Like me, he has been a community development worker and I understand that he fully believes in equality. We can work together in the Seanad, which can be a platform for Travellers and others in society. This is our House as much as it is everyone else's. The Seanad is being reformed and the process is in the hands of the Minister of State. I am delighted that is the case. I know I am putting a lot of pressure on him by saying that but I have hope that reform will happen. I beg the Minister of State to let it be sooner rather than later so that this House can be one for all of us in Irish society.