Friday, 16 July 2021
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
I second and support the Order of Business as outlined by the Leader. Since we mark today what is more than likely our last day sitting in this Chamber and the start of the recess, noting that everybody's work in committees and elsewhere will continue, I want to take the opportunity, on behalf of the Fianna Fáil Party, to thank Mr. Martin Groves and all the staff for their unfailing courtesy over the past year. It has been a difficult year for everybody. I thank the members of the Opposition and of other parties and none for their collaboration throughout the year. I thank the Cathaoirleach for his courtesy and his non-partisanship in chairing the proceedings. I thank the Leader for her inspirational leadership. She has done her utmost to secure any debate requested on any side of the House. We are all proud of her leadership in this House.
It is important to mention the number of new Covid cases announced yesterday. The number spiralled quickly. The notion of personal responsibility comes to the fore strongly in that there is only so much the State can do and only so much that can be done through vaccination. It is great to see the portal opening for those aged over 25 but we all have to take personal responsibility as we proceed.
I wish Senator Hoey the best of luck. She is getting married today. I believe it is her third attempt. Everyone will join me in wishing her health and happiness on her big day.
I took the opportunity to join the demonstration outside the convention centre on the use of peat in the horticulture industry. It included everyone from nursery workers and mushroom farmers to strawberry farmers. Senator Boyhan has raised this frequently in the House, as have I. It is beyond me how nothing has been done to try to resolve the problem given that growers and so much of our employment, food and food security are dependent on peat. Those affected have no option but to import horticultural peat from Lithuania and Holland at a great cost to the environment and at a great financial cost. Responsibility extends across four Departments. It needs to be dealt with.
We had a long debate on Jadotville last night so I do not intend to raise the matter again. Suffice it to say that there was a high level of respect for members of our Defence Forces. An article in the The Irish Timestoday states the number of patrol days cancelled by the Naval Service this year is already four times greater than the number for 2020. A total of 148 days were lost in the first five months of the year. This shines a light again on how those within our Defence Forces are treated in terms of employment conditions and salaries. Something needs to be done about it soon.