Friday, 30 April 2021
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
I thank the Leas-Chathaoirleach. I join with Senators McDowell, Ardagh and others in offering condolences on the sad death of Senator Mullen's father, who I know had been quite ill for a period. I acknowledge, as Senator McDowell did, the tremendous amount of care Senator Mullen gave to his father in his final few years. May he rest in peace.I was only returned to this Chamber last Friday and in the past week we have seen: a former Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy, resign his seat; Arlene Foster announce her resignation; a former Sinn Féin councillor arrested for murder; and it was announced that the pubs, hospitality generally and the economy would reopen. I will not try to claim credit for all or any of that but it is amazing how much has happened in a week. I welcome the reopening of the economy, which I thought would probably get more attention today than it has, although I know it has not all happened yet. I am delighted that I will have to get a new suit after losing a small amount of weight and I definitely need a haircut. I am sure half the country is the same in what they need.
I mention people's self-esteem and I was out of the loop for the past 13 months myself. Many people lost their jobs in the hospitality industry, tourism, restaurants and pubs, many of which have not been open at all and some of which had small stop-start reopenings. It is so important for them financially and mentally that their businesses see a pathway back and I really welcome that. At the same time I am also looking at the figures that came out yesterday and that are broken down by every local electoral area. They show that the figures are not falling the way I would like to see them fall. I urge people to keep washing their hands and doing all of the things we have been doing such as wearing masks. People should socialise responsibly outdoors. Vaccines are the answer but I want to make sure we get to such a situation.
I call on the Leader to arrange a debate post Covid on the things that happened during this time that were positive. For example, parent-teacher meetings went online. People did not have to take a day or a half-day off work to do those meetings as they could log onto them from their computers. We need a debate in the future on the benefits and the small silver linings to that awful cloud.