Friday, 18 December 2020
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
I am delighted to be standing here just before Christmas. It is a real honour and a privilege for all of us to be in this House. I am conscious of what a difficult year it has been for everyone, with most of us facing into a difficult Christmas. I and all of us in this House are very privileged to be here and I am grateful for that. I thank all my colleagues in the Seanad. I thank you, a Chathaoirligh, and Grace Coyle in your office. I thank Martin Groves and Bridget Doody. I thank the Captain of the Guard and the ushers. I thank the catering staff and everybody who works in Leinster House. I thank the gardaí who work outside and the postmen who come in. They all help us to serve the people. We have a great privilege. I thank all of those who help us and enable us to do that.
I am my party's spokesperson on housing. The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Deputy Darragh O'Brien, has made a great start. The budget has made an unprecedented investment in housing of €3.3 billion. Significant sums have been allocated to homelessness prevention. There have been announcements of investment in affordable and public housing. We will have significant work to do when we come back in the new year. I look forward to working with everybody on all sides of the House to deliver on that.
I have listened to my colleagues, Senators Casey and Crowe, and others who work in hospitality, including suppliers to the industry. While we might feel we will not have the full Christmas we would have had in previous years, many people are risking their lives and their livelihoods to try to provide others with a Christmas. The Government has a very difficult task and has done very well. We have all done very well by keeping our distance, washing our hands and reducing our contacts to suppress the virus. I believe everybody will try to do that.
I urge the Leader to ask the Government to give certainty to the hospitality sector so that for the next two weeks at least, it can manage or attempt to manage the situation. Those in the sector have had difficult choices to make on whether to open. Many of them have, but uncertainty has been created in the last 48 hours. NPHET has a job to do and I thank all those on NPHET for doing their job. However, the hospitality sector needs some certainty over the next two weeks. I urge the Leader to address that with the Government. Nollaig shona do gach duine.