Seanad debates

Wednesday, 18 November 2020

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business


10:30 am

Photo of Malcolm ByrneMalcolm Byrne (Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I endorse the remarks of my colleague, Senator Chambers, on the actions of the Governments of Hungary and Poland and the continual breaches of the rule of law and the attacks on freedom of the press and on minorities. They are not European values. I certainly support the call for this debate.

I welcome the arts and culture recovery task force report that has been published, in particular the recommendation that the Minister, Deputy Catherine Martin, will champion on the introduction of a universal income scheme for a three-year period for those involved in the arts, cultural, audiovisual and event sectors. We have spoken a lot in the House about those working in the arts and event sectors being among the hardest hit during the pandemic. This is something that is very important but the quicker we can start this scheme to get the money into artists' hands and, more important, to allow those in the sector to help us through this recovery, as they have already been doing, and help us rebuild as a society, the better. They will play a very important role in this.

We have spoken about the successes and progress we have seen in the vaccines. A worrying trend has been the development on social media and other sources of anti-vaccine fake news. While I am not opposed to debate between medics on how vaccinations will be rolled out, for unqualified people to spread anti-vaccine messages is simply not acceptable. I ask that we have a discussion on the House and that, if necessary, legislation be brought forward to ensure that the tech giants in particular take responsibility to prevent the spreading of anti-vaccine nonsense.


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