Friday, 18 December 2020
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
I wish everyone a happy Christmas. It is great that we have reached this stage of what has been an amazing year. Some of us have fought a general election and a Seanad election, we have endured a pandemic and have been locked up at home for long periods. It has been a year that none of us will ever forget. I wish to acknowledge the courtesy of the Cathaoirleach and thank the staff of Seanad Éireann for their kindness over the past six to eight unusual months. I also thank the Leader of the House and the Members who have helped me over the past few months.
The news that emerged last night in terms of the uncertainty regarding the catering trade is worrying. I realise that we are very close to Christmas but, as many speakers have said, clarity vis-à-vissupply chains and so on is very important for traders and society at large. I hope the Cabinet will convene sooner rather than later and make a decision on this because the longer the uncertainty persists, the more difficult the situation becomes. Clarity is needed.
I compliment the Leader on her statement earlier this week on the anti-vaccination campaign. Public representatives should not proffer medical advice on who should or should not be vaccinated. Some public representatives are using their platform to speak on behalf of the anti-vaccination campaign, which is not appropriate. We have medical experts in this country who have the ability to dispense medical advice. They should lead the vaccination campaign and public representatives should not comment on matters as if they are experts. It is unfortunate that some are doing this for nothing other than political gain. People's lives will be lost because of the anti-vaccination campaign being conducted by certain public representatives. They are just doing it for their own benefit and it sickens me. We need to stand strong, particularly given the good news around the roll-out of the vaccine. Hopefully by the time this House sits again, the vaccination programme will be up and running and people will be getting the vaccine. That is really positive news and something that we must continue to talk about. I am no medical expert but I listen to the medical advice on the ground. Every single expert I have spoken to has said that we should back the vaccination programme. I ask the Leader to organise a debate on this matter after Christmas. We need to call out the people who are saying that they will not get vaccinated because that cannot continue. If it does continue, lives will be lost and that is something that nobody in this House can stand over.