Friday, 18 December 2020
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
I join all my colleagues in particularly thanking those who work in the background in Leinster House and make this House work like a well-oiled machine. I wish the Cathaoirleach and the Leader a very happy Christmas. Senator Bacik has blown me away today. I congratulate her on her marriage.
This year will stand out in my mind for the coronavirus and everything that goes with it. What really stands out in my mind is the impact it has had on children. It is no secret I was locked down for a fortnight because my three-year-old granddaughter tested positive. I recall visiting the house after we were all locked down and going up to visit the grandchildren. The five-year-old, Ellie, stood in front of Isabel and shouted across the corridor to me to stand back as there is a virus here. That is what 2020 means to five-year-old kids. When she is with me going into a shop, she will frequently pull me back to say there is no social distancing and we should not go in there. I do not mean to put a downer on Christmas but if five-year-old children can see that, I must ask why adults cannot see the same. Last night, I walked into a gastropub not too far from here and it was thronged. I turned on my heel and walked out the door. It is not an awful lot to ask.
My colleague, Senator Dolan, spoke about people travelling west. Many people travelling west, south or north - it really does not matter - will be coming home to vulnerable grandparents or parents. I believe the HSE message going out today is the right one. Before people walk through the door, they should consider whether it is worth putting their lives at risk. It really is a serious time.
I thank everyone in this country who made it continue to work during a most horrendous year. I am talking about the truck drivers, the packers of shelves in supermarkets, the nurses, doctors, gardaí, and particularly, the love of my life, the Defence Forces, the guys who went out and set up tents and made this country work. I hope we look after them better in 2021 than we have in 2020. The Cathaoirleach is generous on the clock today.