Seanad debates

Thursday, 12 May 2022

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business


10:30 am

Photo of Gerard CraughwellGerard Craughwell (Independent)

Over the weekend, we learned of another member of the Defence Forces from the vital bomb disposal services who is leaving because he cannot afford to keep his family on his income. A payment of €35 for a 24-hour duty is hardly an incentive to stay. There are talks commencing with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, ICTU, with respect to the current pay round because of inflation etc. For years, the Department of Defence and the Minister have dithered on whether they would allow affiliation.The Representative Association of Commissioned Officers, RACO, has balloted its members and they also want to be affiliated to ICTU. The Commission on the Defence Forces, which was established by the Government and the report of which was given to the Minister last February, recommends that it be allowed to affiliate, but still no decision has been made. This is nonsense. It is a simple stroke of a pen by the Minister. I ask the Leader to write to the Minister to ask him if he would please make a decision, once and for all, and allow these people to have the same parity of esteem when it comes to negotiating on pay.

The second issue relates to Hong Kong and the human rights abuses taking place there on a daily basis. Yesterday, a Catholic archbishop was arrested in Hong Kong. Could we organise to have a debate on the situation in Hong Kong? I am fully aware of the sensitivities of anything to do with China, but we cannot sit on our hands and allow human rights abuses to take place in any part of the world purely because there are a couple of tonnes of beef on the other side of the equation. We just cannot do that. I ask the Leader if she would be willing to hold a debate on human rights, specifically in the context of Hong Kong.


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