Friday, 16 July 2021
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
I thank the Cathaoirleach for the way he has conducted his business over the past year. This is our last day of this term. I thank the Leader and, particularly, her staff and Ms Orla Murray, who are responsible for the Order of Business and our agendas every day. I thank Mr. Martin Groves, our clerk, and his staff for the way they keep us on track. Without them, I do not know where any of us would be. I ask Mr. Groves to tell his staff that we really appreciate them, the staff of the Bills Office and, more important, the greater Oireachtas family. We have ushers here. We have security people and people who clean these offices every day. We have many support-team staff. There are staff from the Office of Public Works who keep this building and these grounds. Sometimes they are forgotten. Politicians are great at talking about themselves, what they want and their hurts but it is important to remember there are many people in the big Oireachtas family. I acknowledge them for the role they play in keeping the light burning and this place open for us.
I want to be positive as we finish our term but I would like to put down an indicator of concern for the Leader concerning how we do our business in this House. We have talked about Seanad reform, enhancement and renewal. Opposition Members are not very many, as the Leader knows, and the Government has the numbers. The Government Members do not even have to be here every day; we all know that. We know the numbers, we know the position on votes, and we know the records. That is not a criticism of anybody because many who are not in this House are at this very moment in their offices doing work. Others are in committee rooms during committee business. I understand, appreciate and acknowledge that but it is important to remember that there will come a time when some people on the other side of the House will be on this side. I spoke to some Green Party Members recently. We remembered when they sat at the back and got no look in. We all have an equal and democratic mandate to represent the people who elect us. I suggest, on a positive note, that we need to sit down and examine how we are doing our business. That is important. Everyone has a voice, experience and something to add value to the proceedings of the House. I realise the Leader respects that but I just wanted to say it.
I wish the Taoiseach and Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage well as they open, at 2 o'clock this afternoon, a housing scheme under Tuath Housing in partnership with Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown County Council. They will launch 32 new homes this very day, which is positive.We had much debate about the Land Development Agency yesterday. It was a good healthy debate. We also had a great deal of debate about planning and housing. The one thing we all want, though, are more homes for more people and this is a positive start. I also wish the Government well on its launch next week of the Housing for All policy. I hope that it will be a new start. We have had the Rebuilding Ireland policy in operation for many years, but we have not had a critical appraisal of it yet. These new initiatives are positive and should continue.
Finally, more than anyone, I wish our colleague, Senator David Norris, well. He has not been well recently, but he was in here working yesterday and I had a conversation with him. I hope the sun and the heat will boost him up. I hope as well that he will be back with us in the next term. He is a remarkable man who has shared so much and given this House so much. I hope that in the next few weeks he will have time to rekindle and re-energise himself, get well again and be back among us as his usual great self. He is a remarkable man and I would not like this term to close without acknowledging it and I wish him, and Miriam, well. I look forward to seeing him back here in the next term.