Wednesday, 18 November 2020
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
A proposal was brought yesterday by me, on behalf of my colleagues, to the CPP. It was discussed at the CPP and I acknowledge that I was not present. A message was sent from the CPP, by the administrative people, that the proposal had been agreed yesterday and, as a result, it was placed on the Order of Business this morning. If the proposal was not agreed, the motion should never have been put on the Order of Business. I was not at the meeting yesterday but the reports were that Sinn Féin, the Labour Party and the Independent Senators who were present agreed with the proposal. I assume that is why the administrative people who look after us in this House asked me to put the motion on the paper this morning so that what was agreed at CPP yesterday could be passed in our Standing Orders. If it was not agreed, I am more than happy to send it back to CPP. I will not tolerate Senators saying that we are trying to reduce Private Members' time to 90 minutes when, in fact, the motion is for the full two hours and Standing Orders denote that it is two hours. All we were trying to do was to allow more Members the opportunity to speak and for leaders not to have 12 minutes but to give everybody here the chance to offer their opinions and views during Private Members' business.As I said, it can certainly go back to the CPP. I will withdraw No. 2.
On the number of debates that have been requested this morning. I agree with Senator Chambers regarding sthe directive that was issued a few days ago. We have spent the past eight months genuinely looking at elements of our society that have contributed greatly to the functioning of it, whether they are communities, businesses, public services, that in many of our day-to-day dealings, we probably heretofore took for granted. One could probably delve even further to look at some of those who are perhaps not treated as well as they should be by businesses. Based on my own experience, there are probably tens of thousands of people working in the gig economy, and I will certainly ask for a debate on that ruling to make sure that they are looked after and that the reflective rule of law on that EU directive is transposed.
There is also a need for a debate on the reaction yesterday of our Hungarian and Polish colleagues to the multiannual financial framework funding. It is not, and should never be, good enough or accepted by the other 25 member states that two member states that have a questionable way of observing the rule of law in the EU, which we all accept, assert that it does not stand in their countries. We certainly need a debate on that issue.
I will certainly make a request for a debate on higher education funding. I absolutely agree with Senator O'Loughlin that the announcements by the Department of Education yesterday that every and any new school will have ASD units and individual ASD teams is welcome. Indeed, two colleagues raised the much-needed school buildings in Duleek and Ballinasloe. There is not a community that we all live in or represent that does not have children with special needs. What absolutely should be made a rule of law today is that every school in the country should be compelled, as was the case in south Dublin last year, by directive of the Department of Education, to have ASD units, however small, and reflect on the needs of the children that they serve.
The last thing I will bring up is our much loved Dublin Zoo. One can see from the representations that were made here this morning how valuable an institution it really is. I do not know if Members heard the director on radio this morning, but one would have to commend the zoo for having the reserves that it had accumulated and that allowed it to stay open for the past number of months without any income and that will allow it to survive until early next spring. However, I believe it is incumbent on the Government to look after the zoo, Fota Wildlife Park and other institutions that are much loved by families. This is the case whether they have young children or not; my own children are no longer small, but we still love going to the zoo. It is incumbent on us to look after the zoo. On behalf of all Members, I will write to the Taoiseach today to ask him to make sure that the funding is looked after.