Friday, 18 December 2020
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
I wish a Nollaig shona agus athbhliain faoi mhaise to everybody in this House and to the staff. Since I have come in here, many people have surprised me with how much they are committed to public service, but one thing I have been amazed by is the people who transcribe the words of our debates, and do it so quickly. They often make us sound a lot better than we are. Their work should also be acknowledged.
Often in this House we complain and give out about certain things in society but sometimes we need to reflect on how much we have achieved. I welcome the publication this week of the United Nations Human Development Index, which placed Ireland second only to Norway. I accept that there is much about this Republic that needs improving and there are a lot of changes that we collectively in these Houses need to ensure happen, but let us look at what we have achieved. We have achieved much greater levels of participation in education and training and longer life expectancy. It is a safe country in comparison with many other parts of the world. It is important, in particular at this time, that we reflect on those other parts of the world and those who are not as lucky to live in as a safe democracy as this one.
What struck me about the UN Human Development Index and the report itself is that a lot of our success is being attributed to our investment in education. Over many years, successive governments have taken the decision to invest in education and it is what has led us to where we are today. Education does not necessarily mean that we get to see the results overnight. It is a long-term investment. I hope we learn from that and we appreciate what we have and that we continue to make that long-term investment in education, not just for young people but in lifelong learning.