Thursday, 12 May 2022
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
Victor Boyhan (Independent)
Earlier, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine announced a €45 million emergency package under the Brexit adjustment reserve, BAR, fund, which is really good news. This is the second BAR announcement in recent times. The impact of these packages is critical, particularly in the context of capital and diversification in the fishing and marine industries. That is clearly critical not only in parts of Cork and in Donegal but also around the coast. Dún Laoghaire Harbour, which I live beside, received funding in the previous BAR announcement. That is really important. We on this island, particularly those of us in the Seanad, do not spend enough time talking about fisheries and the marine. Perhaps at some stage in the future we might have focused statements on the fishing industry and the challenges that go with it. I acknowledge and salute the enormous work the Minister has done in that regard. This scheme is operated by Bord Iascaigh Mhara and all the details of it are on its website.
This morning, I received a really nice postcard. We in Leinster House receive a lot of angry letters but we also receive a lot of nice letters. This is a little postcard with an image of the Proclamation on the front. On the back is a thank-you note regarding the debate we had in this House - a very respectful debate, might I add - on the mother and baby homes and illegal adoptions. It is from a group called the Irish Registered Adoptees. It does not have an address on it but it came through the post today and I thought it was nice and fitting that it was on this Proclamation postcard, which is clearly bought and not homemade. I have never seen it before. It is just an acknowledgement that people are always listening in. I acknowledge the way in which the Minister for Children , Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth conducted himself and interacted with many of the visitors after the debate that night. He engaged extensively with a number of the people in the House well into the night, and they really appreciated that.
In that context, I call again for a debate on children. We have spent a lot of time talking about the history of children in care, vulnerable children, displaced children and children disconnected from their parents or families through various circumstances. At this time, we can learn so much from the past and put into place supports for children. I am thinking especially of Ukrainian children and education. The Leader will be aware that I have asked before for a focused debate on education, and I call for it again. I was reminded of that because there was a segment on "Morning Ireland" about it. Some Department officials are meeting today to talk about how they will manage and cope with school places in September, specifically in the context of Ukrainian children and the importance of full integration of and support for both them and their parents. I ask that we have that debate and a focus not only on education but also on play for children because that is critical to their personal development.
I call for statements on the latest annual report of the Ombudsman for Children, Dr. Niall Muldoon. He has done amazing work. The Cathaoirleach talks about Seanad reform. Let us make it real, let us make it relevant and let us bring before the House current reports and discuss and debate them here.