Seanad debates

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business


10:30 am

Photo of Gerard CraughwellGerard Craughwell (Independent)

Yesterday, I attended the Representative Association of Commissioned Officers, RACO, biannual conference. It was probably one of the most depressing conferences I have ever attended. Clearly, nobody in government takes the Defence Forces seriously. Nobody cares about the way the organisation is being run into the ground. Yesterday, we had a Minister for Defence tell the assembled group that the conciliation and arbitration adjudicator, which RACO has been waiting for since June of this year, is awaiting authorisation from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. What sort of organisation have we created in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform that a Minister cannot make one part-time appointment? It is outrageous.

Another story that has been published widely over the past couple of days is the state of the accommodation in the Defence Forces. The Curragh, our flagship, is being run into the ground. The United Nations school is in the Curragh. The place is derelict. One would not put animals in parts of it. The way it has been run into the ground is outrageous. All of these barracks were handed over in pristine condition more than 100 years ago. Today, they are red rotten and falling apart due to a lack of investmentIt is simply not good enough that this is the way things are going.

The second issue I wish to raise is vaccines and, in particular, the booster shots. I received a message from some friends on Saturday that people could walk into Citywest and get a booster vaccine if it was five months since their last vaccine. I make no bones of the fact that I am scared stiff of Covid. I have underlying conditions. I turned up at Citywest and was stopped at the gate and asked where I was going to which I replied I was there for my booster vaccine. I was asked if it was five months since I had my last vaccine to which I replied it was or there or thereabouts. I was asked for my certificate and told I was five days short of it being five months since my last vaccine and that I would have to go home. Yet, other people I know who were vaccinated on the same day as I was got in and got their booster shots. My niece in County Galway received eight requests to turn up for a vaccine after she had been given it. She then received text messages advising she would be regarded as a no-show. We need to get the roll-out of the vaccine booster shots up and running.

The issue with respect to our secretarial assistants within the Oireachtas is outrageous. The woman who works for me is not only a secretarial assistant but does a massive volume of research on my behalf. To think our secretarial assistants are not regarded in the same light as personal assistants in the Dáil is outrageous. We really need to sort that out.


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