Friday, 30 April 2021
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
I would have opened the proceedings today by expressing all our condolences to our colleague Senator Mullen but I was not aware of his loss. I apologise for that. On behalf of every Member of this House, I wish him well in what must be a horrific loss after his daddy passing away. I express our condolences to him and his entire family.
I wish Senator Cummins well with his meeting today. Please God this will be the start of something wonderful and great for the south east in getting its own technological university.
Senator McGreehan spoke about the need to get campus life back for our young people. They are one of the cohorts most adversely affected over the past few months and we need them to be able to just enjoy a rite of passage that so many of us have already enjoyed.
I was not aware of the social media blackout to which Senator McGahon referred but it is a genius idea which shows the solidarity present in sport. Maybe it is a sign that we should be showing solidarity in other aspects of public and private life with regard to the continuous abuse that exists on social media. I have no idea why we cannot just pass a law that bans anonymous accounts on any platform. There is no need for them. The Senator noted that there was a need for them in a particular instance but we certainly do not have that kind of environment or a need for that kind of engagement in the democracy we all enjoy here in Ireland. That is a challenge for each and every Senator, namely, to draft legislation that will outlaw anonymous accounts. I wish the participants in the blackout well over the weekend. It will be interesting to watch the reaction to it.
Senator Pauline O'Reilly spoke about the postcode lottery in the delivery of healthcare. I fear that it does not just exist in maternity services, unfortunately. There is a disparity in the delivery of services across all our regions, not just for women but for children as well. That is something of which we should be very mindful in the future.
Senator Ahearn asked if it was unusual for a man to bring up the topic he raised. It is unusual but I applaud him and thank him for doing so. Fair play. Hyperemesis was raised in the Seanad on a previous occasion. Arising from that representation, I wrote to the Minister regarding the illogical attitudes towards State supports for these women, who are supported either through financial or income supports, because they cannot work, or through their stays in hospital, where many of these one in ten women have to stay for prolonged periods during their pregnancies. That €2.40 per tablet is nothing in comparison with what the State is already paying. Women could have productive and healthy pregnancies, supported by the State. It is disturbing to hear the Senator read out that woman's current state of mind and what she is expecting to experience during what will be a much wanted pregnancy, if and when she gets pregnant in the future.I will write to the Minister again and ask him to respond to the request for a meeting from Hyperemesis Ireland. We might see some progress, please God, in the very near future.
Senator Wall referred to our first responders. I have one of them at home and we have a defibrillator that sits at the front door on the nights he is on duty. First responders have not been included in any vaccination programme and, to my mind, particularly in our area, it means they have not been able to resume their services which are obviously vital in supporting our ambulance services. That is a real pity. I will write to the Minister and ask if he will have a look at that issue.
I will write to the Minister about the commencement of the Act to which Senator Seery Kearney referred. I will send her a copy of that letter today. That is no problem.
Senator Cassells talked about the general scheme of the body cam Bill that was published yesterday. I think it will add another tool to the armoury of gardaí in being able to support and mind us in the course of their duties.
I will also write to the Minister about the courthouse in Navan. The allocated budget for family law services' budgets should not in any way impact on the delivery of the three regional courts in the programme for Government. I will write to the Minister and ask for an update on that matter.
Senator Craughwell referred to the governance of education and training boards. I am at a loss to know what to say in reply because I am probably as surprised as he was when he discovered the issue. I will write to the Minister for Education and see what comes back. I will send a copy of the letter to the Senator.
Senator Conway referred to a matter about which that most of us do not even think. I will not speak for everybody, but it is not something about which I thought when we were talking about having an outdoor summer yesterday. I did not even think about the impact on our streetscapes of parklets or outdoor furniture. It will impact on mothers, and I did not think of that because my kids are not in buggies anymore. It will also impact people with disabilities. Perhaps that is something of which we should be more mindful. I will write to the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications on that matter to ask him to be mindful of that.
Senator Garvey brought up the need for our local authorities to have centralised areas. There are an awful lot of facilities that do not have an outdoor area on which to put tables, chairs, benches or whatever. Perhaps we need a more holistic approach to that matter.
Senator Ardagh asked for a debate on Syria, which I am happy to request. She also asked for a debate on a TRIPS waiver, which I will request of the Minister today.
Senator Gavan, as he always does so passionately, talked about the virtues of, and real need for, collective bargaining in this country. While there is no impediment to anybody joining a union, and it is our entitlement, there is not always as free-flowing a relationship between employers and unions as there should be. I do not know whether the Senator would like to me write to the company concerned, as we did previously on an issue relating to Rehab. I think that elicited a comprehensive response.