Seanad debates

Monday, 26 April 2021

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business


10:30 am

Photo of Pauline O'ReillyPauline O'Reilly (Green Party) | Oireachtas source

I, too, welcome some of the reopenings today. My 13-year-old starts back in Galwegians this evening. That is very exciting for our family in our small part of the world. A report from today shows it does not take that long for children to get back up to where they should be developmentally, physically and mentally. We really need to concentrate on that. It is really welcome that children are returning to outdoor pursuits.

I welcome the findings of the Citizens' Assembly. It was very emotional at the event on Saturday where we were presented with the findings. Dr. Catherine Day has an article in The Irish Timestoday in which she states one of the major findings in the report is on caring. This has come as a surprise to many, but not me. Many Members will know that my position on the Labour panel is not as a result of a trade union association but because I started an organisation to advocate for stay-at-home parents. I am absolutely delighted that we are seeing a removal of the antiquated language concerning duty and women in the home. More broadly, we must continue to ensure that those who choose to care, be they men or women, or those of any gender, are supported. We must support individuals in meeting all their childcare needs. That is really important. Regarding older persons care, we must ensure people can be cared for at home as well as outside the home. The Government now has an obligation to examine all this and come forward with proposals. I would certainly welcome a debate here because, as Senator Bacik said, while we are 40% women, this also means we are 60% men. There is an impact on both so this is the appropriate place to talk about the matter.

There is another point I would like to raise. Sex education has come up today. Members will have seen the recommendations on relationships and sex education for Catholic primary schools. After a weekend when the Citizens' Assembly recommended the insertion of a formula recognising all family types into Article 41 of the Constitution, it is important that this be reflected in our education system. Bearing in mind the current constitutional references to the special place of families with two genders, or a marital relationship based on a man and woman, we must be really clear in sex education that ours is a country that has moved to a different place, where we accept everyone and do not talk about religion and God in the same sentence in which we talk about relationships and sex, because it can be very confusing.


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