Seanad debates

Monday, 31 May 2021

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business


10:30 am

Photo of Lisa ChambersLisa Chambers (Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

My County Mayo colleague, Senator Burke, raised the very important issue of the scarcity of broadband in many rural areas. Mayo is a perfect example of a county where in some pockets broadband is very good and in others there is none, and there is no sign of it coming any time soon. It is great that the connected hubs network was launched in Swinford this morning. It is fantastic and it will give people the option to work remotely but have somewhere to go where they can have reliable broadband so their broadband does not crash in the middle of a meeting or when they are trying to upload a file. People living in rural areas are concerned their broadband will fail, as I am sure it has done for many Members, myself included. Senator Aisling Dolan raised the same issue with regard to hubs being rolled out throughout the country. It is a welcome step towards a new era of working from home and flexible working, which is something all citizens want to see maintained.

Senator Robbie Gallagher raised the issue of the Tidy Towns competition, which he has raised many times in the Chamber. He particularly congratulated Glaslough, the outgoing champion in County Monaghan. He spoke about the importance of the competition. He raised an important and interesting point regarding the virtual adjudications this year. I agree with him that it seems a strange decision to have taken given that we are opening up. It would certainly be better to adjudicate on the ground with a view of the town or village and meeting the committee on-site. This would be preferable for all those who have done so much work. I will ask that this be reconsidered and that those responsible for the Tidy Towns competition might change their minds and get out on the ground to meet the Tidy Towns committees.

The Senator also raised the important issue of farm accidents. We are heading into a busy season for farming and I concur with him that it is important that farm safety is paramount on all farms and that children on farms are also watched. We know farms are particularly dangerous workplaces at times and many people lose their lives. Many also get injured every year and we do not often hear about these particular instances.

Senator Boyhan made an impassioned speech on behalf of the residents of Dublin city and throughout the country with regard to the outdoor summer and people recreating outdoors, which we expect them to do. There is a responsibility on citizens to pick up after themselves. We should not have to say this but clearly we do. Many Members made this point this morning. Senator Boyhan was correct that it is disrespectful to council staff to leave rubbish behind. It is very unsavoury for others who want to use the public spaces and cannot do so because they are so filthy.There is a point about civic responsibility and being responsible for one's own actions. It is an important message.

Senator Bacik raised the matter of the Affordable Housing Bill and welcomed that the debate will be extended. It is worthwhile having as much debate as is needed, as I believe it is the defining issue of this Seanad and Oireachtas. It deserves adequate time for debate. We are getting a good opportunity for people to share their views on the floor of the House. Senator Bacik also mentioned the new strategy of public consultation around sexual and gender-based violence that was launched this morning by the Minister for Justice, Deputy Humphreys. That public consultation is open until 18 June and I encourage all citizens to participate. It is really important we hear directly from people who may be or have been affected and they should have their say on this really important strategy we are developing. It is around keeping this on the agenda, really, as it will be an ongoing matter. We saw the increase in rates of domestic violence throughout the pandemic, which is one of its really sad outcomes. It is a very important matter.

Finally, Senator Bacik raised the matter of the TidyTowns competition in her local area of Portobello and Dublin Bay South, where she is running in the by-election. I wish her well in the election.


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