Monday, 22 February 2021
Ábhair Ghnó an tSeanaid – Matters on the Business of the Seanad
I support the issue raised regarding the Deliveroo front-line workers. I have submitted a Commencement matter, which the Cathaoirleach may consider for debate later this week, with the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Deputy Leo Varadkar. This is a huge issue affecting not just the northside and southside of Dublin, but other cities around the country.
I express to the Leader of the Seanad the feeling that people have expressed to me over the last couple of weeks. We have been dealing with the pandemic for almost a year and people are at their lowest point in some respects. We are coming into spring and the weather has improved but the emotional and psychological strain of the pandemic, the closures and the increased restrictions since Christmas are taking a huge toll on people. The Government is meeting and will look at restrictions for the next phase. I ask the Leader of the Seanad to thank everybody who has put in such an enormous effort, particularly healthcare workers. Some 40,000 people received the vaccine last week, 100,000 will receive it this week and that will increase to 250,000 vaccines a week or a million a month. It is an enormous undertaking and we are eternally grateful for that effort which gives us all great hope.
As the Government looks to the next stage, the 76% increase in welfare reports to Tusla about children and young people is alarming and concerning. I ask the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Deputy Roderic O'Gorman, to actively sit down with Tusla to examine the backlog and the cause of delays in responding to these most vulnerable children.
Regarding the restrictions, all the supports should be extended as they are critical for the hospitality and tourism sectors and small businesses. However, young people are going back to school. It is great that some have gone back and some will be going back but let us give them a break by giving them a bit of outdoor space. Before Christmas, 145,000 online Covid submissions were made to the GAA every week for children engaged in socially distanced outdoor training. Can local authority, GAA and soccer pitches be made available to them, with social distancing? Let us give young people a break. We are putting them back into classrooms, so let us give them some outdoor space too.