Seanad debates

Friday, 30 April 2021

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business


10:00 am

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Independent) | Oireachtas source

On behalf of the members of the Independent Group, and I think I speak for everyone in the House in this regard, I wish to express sympathy to Senator Mullen on the death of his father. I want to mark what may not be generally known, which is how many years of devoted home care Senator Mullen and his family provided for the late Thomas Mullen. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

The exit from Irish politics of Arlene Foster is something which raises very considerable issues for politics on this island, no matter where we come on the green-orange spectrum. She broke the glass ceiling by becoming the First Minister of Northern Ireland. She came from the Church of Ireland official unionist camp into the DUP camp. She attempted, and it was a difficult task, to nudge that party towards a more inclusive and liberal view on many social issues. It has been recorded that in the end the straw that broke the camel's back in terms of support for her was her abstention on the gay conversion therapy policy of that party. She is and was a tough exponent of her views. In a popularity contest south of the Border she might not rank towards the top but it is sad to see somebody of her ability and bravery go. We have to bear in mind that her father was the subject of an attempted assassination. We are seeing somebody such as this effectively bounced out of politics for taking not a very daring stance but a compassionate stance to support young people who were in the same position as those mentioned so notably by Senator Warfield in the House the other day. We speak about reconciliation on this island. I believe we made an error in not having Ian Marshall not reappointed or re-elected to this House. It would be remiss of us to let Arlene Foster's departure go without comment and without some expression of gratitude for what she attempted to do in her own way.


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