Friday, 18 December 2020
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
I have two points, one being on the matter of the new Standing Order, which I acknowledge is included on the Order Paper today. I thank the Cathaoirleach for the initiative on bringing in outside constituencies in this way. It concerns sexual harassment and bullying within the university sector but, most important, the use of non-disclosure agreements, NDAs, not only to move people around a university but also as tools to silence victims of abuse or bullying. Over the past few years, many people from various universities have contacted me in this regard. I will not elaborate on the issues raised now as we can tease them out in the new year. Reference was made to certain staff members having several NDAs within one university, which just perpetuates a culture of silence and abuse. I look forward to being able to debate this in the new year. My office has legislation ready to go on the use of NDAs but I regard this as the very first port of call in being able to understand the severity of the culture of using NDAs in the university sector.
In the debate on deportations and the deportation moratorium a few weeks ago, we were assured there would be no more deportations during the pandemic. This has not been the case. Two days ago, a young many was brought to the airport and put on an plane to England, from where he was to continue to Sudan. Another young man was taken from his accommodation last week and put in Cloverhill Prison until deportation. I hope the Leader will speak to the Department of Justice and ascertain whether the message on deportations has been clear. The Taoiseach and Minister for Justice have referred to the moratorium but maybe there is a lack of communication with the authorities who deport people. If we are to say something in the House on deportations, we need to be really clear and strong in our stance, and we need to reassert the position that nobody will be deported during the global pandemic.