Monday, 26 April 2021
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
Like Senator Chambers, I was listening to the radio on the way up this morning and I heard Mr. Andrew Geary speaking. I am not acquainted with this man at all. He is from Cork and he was speaking about his son, Calum, who is deaf. and he made a statement that as a country he felt that Ireland does not cherish his child and that he had been a failure as a father. I want to say one thing to Andrew, which is coming from a father of a child with additional needs as well, that he is by no means a failure but that I honestly believe he has been an inspiration to all parents of children with additional needs in the way he spoke this morning on the national radio.
As I was coming in the front door, which I am so proud to do every morning that I come here, I looked over to my left to see the copy of the 1916 Proclamation underneath the portrait of Michael Collins. I went over and read it and the reference to cherishing all of the children of the nation. It made me think. I asked myself whether we as a country cherish children. I honestly believe the answer is “No”. We are in the Decade of Centenaries celebrations, and we will celebrate 100 years since the signing of the Treaty next year. Can we honestly say as a country that we have followed up what was put up in the 1916 Proclamation that we cherish all of the children of the nation? The answer is “No” when he we are still fighting for services. I have always advocated here for services, especially for autism services as I have a young lad with special needs. I felt that this was a poignant moment on our national radio and I want to say to that gentleman that he has opened up a conversation that we need to expand on to ensure that as legislators, as a country and as a State, we can say that we cherish all of the children of the nation equally.
On the issue of outdoor dining and the recently announced scheme, this needs to be expanded and I have sent correspondence to the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, in that all pubs and restaurants need to be part of this. I do not want there to be any distinction, as there has been in the past, between them as to eligibility to apply for this. Can the Minister, Deputy Martin, extend that scheme so that all are allowed to apply for inclusion in it? I also welcome the minimum price of alcohol Bill, which was mentioned in the national media yesterday. This is an issue that I have always pushed in the House as well. Moves are now afoot to introduce that, which will be very important for the health and well-being of our younger generations in the years to come.