Friday, 18 December 2020
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
I will go through two serious issues before we get to the niceties. It came up in my memory that this day two years ago, the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018 passed through the Seanad. It has been two years since that legislation went through, which means it is up for review in the next 12 months. I know we have had a pandemic and things have been knocked off keel a little bit in terms of scheduling but I ask the Leader to make sure it is on the agenda for next year. It is an important matter. As we know, people are still travelling and still affected so we need to make sure we get the legislation right.
I also want to talk quickly about Transgender Equality Network Ireland, which is doing a talking census and information evening for journalists and people who will be talking about transgender issues and rights to show them how to do so in a way that is respectful of their lives and their truth. As we have seen, the discourse online over the last couple of months in Ireland has gotten unpleasant and cruel. I certainly encourage any journalist, or anyone who is interested, to take the time to engage with that evening session on how to talk about people, if we must talk about them. I do not know that we necessarily need to talk about transgender people the way we do. If we must, then we should talk in a way that is respectful for people who are simply trying to live their truth.
I join others in thanking, particularly, the Clerk, Mr. Martin Groves, and the Clerk Assistant, Ms Brigid Doody, who were patient with me when I was learning. I am still learning. The Cathaoirleach has been very kind. When I go blitzing through the place like a bit of a lunatic, the ushers and staff here are very patient with me. When I do not know where I am going, they walk me to rooms and tell me what is happening. Of course, I thank my Labour Party colleagues who have made me feel welcome.
As Senator Dolan said, we have only been in here for six months. I did not realise it was possible to ask so many questions and be so befuddled by things. It is great to be in a parliamentary grouping with people who are kind and generous with their time. Of course, I thank Ellen in my office, who is an eternal beacon of patience and kindness, and Ursula, who was working with me at the beginning. I wish all Members a very happy Christmas and thank everyone here who has been kind and made me feel welcome.