Seanad debates

Wednesday, 18 November 2020

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business

 

10:30 am

Annie Hoey (Labour) | Oireachtas source

Senators may have seen over the weekend a rather discouraging piece in TheJournal.ie. A series has been done by Noteworthy on the way staff in the higher education sector are being treated. Many are on zero-hour or term-time only contracts or are not being paid for the enormous amount of overtime they do. Institutions will argue that they do not have the budgets to pay all of their staff, hence the use of these contracts and postgraduate students for unpaid tutorial or lecturing work. This is no way to treat staff.

Over the summer, postgraduate students in NUI Galway were expected to teach as part of their postgraduate studies with no remuneration. This has been a widespread practice for a long time, but it is the first time it has been so blatant. It is no coincidence that in Ireland vocational roles are treated so poorly. Teaching and healthcare staff are affected. I mention again the plight of our student nurses and midwives who are on the front line and are still unpaid. I request, via the Leader, that the Ministers for Enterprise, Trade and Employment and Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science come to the House for statements on employment practices in the higher education sector.

This is stand up awareness week, which is co-ordinated by BeLonGTo, an organisation providing a stupendous service for LGBT youth. This week, schoolgoers and everyone else are being asked to come together and take a stand against homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in schools, for our friends and ourselves. If people wish to show support to the LGBT people in their communities, I invite them to do so online with the hashtag #standup20 and reach out and see some of the incredible work BeLonGTo is doing in our schools in supporting LGBT youth. As someone who came through the school system a number of years ago, I would have loved to have had support like that when I was in secondary school. I commend BeLonGTo on that work.

This week is trans awareness week and Friday, 20 November, is trans day of remembrance. I remind everyone that trans people would just like to get on with their lives without having to defend their very existence. From this House, I send my solidarity to the trans community this week. I think of those in the trans community in Ireland and globally who are no longer with us, either through their own hands or through violence perpetuated against trans people. An enormous number of lives are lost every year through violence towards the trans community.

Transphobia and hate are not welcome in Ireland. We will not tolerate it. The extraordinary amount of hate towards the trans community online is unacceptable and we will not stand for it. I invite people to take note of trans awareness week and the trans day of remembrance this Friday, and to be supportive of those initiatives.

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