Seanad debates

Wednesday, 18 November 2020

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business

 

10:30 am

Marie Sherlock (Labour)

I support the call by Senator Gavan for a debate on the childcare sector. I also support the call by Senator Chambers to ask the Tanáiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment to come into the Chamber to talk about the groundbreaking judgment in the UK High Court last Friday because there is a long-standing issue with regard to the rights of self-employed persons and gig workers in this country.

In Britain, it is a little different because there are a number of classes of workers and so we had the judgment. In Ireland, the answer will be that the health and safety legislation does not apply to the gig workers. Having the debate here, however, is important, because for a number of years now, legislation on the rights of gig workers and the self-employed has come before the Dáil and the Seanad and has gone nowhere. That debate is an important first step.

I wish to put on the record my grave concerns with regard to the Government's handling of the pandemic and the decisions that now need to be taken in advance of Christmas. We are at level 5 but the case numbers at the moment suggest level 5 is not working. A number of serious decisions must now be taken with the expiry of level 5 restrictions in a short period. The question must be asked of Government that if the message is not getting through under level 5 restrictions at the moment, what research and efforts is it making to ensure the message gets through to the population? A behavioural subgroup was set up under NPHET and disbanded last July. My information is that there was no sufficient commissioning of research or, indeed, understanding of what people are responding to.

Finally, we know behaviour is the single greatest defence against this virus. I, and many of my party, are not convinced the Government is taking behaviour seriously at this point. I ask the Leader to convey that to the Government

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