Friday, 16 December 2022
Election of Leas-Chathaoirleach
I thank colleagues. I know the time is moving on and I hope we will get home safely in these weather conditions. I pay tribute to Senator Joe O’Reilly, the former Leas-Chathaoirleach. He is our man in Europe and has been for many years. He is on the Council of Europe. It is in that role, as our man in Europe, that I asked him, on behalf of the Seanad, to take up the role of engaging with Members of the European Parliament. This has been very beneficial in ensuring connectivity between our MEPs and Senators. They are now taking up a role on the issue of climate action and climate justice, which is one on which the former Senator and President Mary Robinson challenged the Seanad to be a voice. He also did that when he chaired the session of Seanad na nÓg, which was hugely successful in debating the issues of the day that are important to young people. It opened up the doors of the Seanad to make sure the voices of all people are heard in this Chamber. I pay a huge tribute to Senator Joe O'Reilly. I spoke already about Senators Doherty, Chambers, Pauline O’Reilly and Garvey, and the leadership team throughout the House. I also pay tribute to Senators Higgins, Moynihan, Boyhan and Ó Donnghaile. The leadership across the seven groups has been extraordinary. The Whips have done a great job of working together. I pay tribute to the outgoing Whip, Senator Kyne, and the incoming Whip, Senator Gallagher. All the Whips of the groups have worked together. This has been a great Seanad to work for.
A little like Senator Joe O’Reilly, hearing people say nice things about me, I must say it is nice to hear them while I am still around. We looked back over the last 100 years and we are looking forward to the next 100 years. The only ambition is that everybody achieve his or her full potential. All we want in this country is that people can be who they want to be, regardless of where they come from.
We referred to the issue of women in the Seanad and the art in the House. It is great that we have more women Members proportionately than are in the Dáil. We now have 223 pieces of art representing women. Today, we will have another one. As Senators leave by the staircase today, they will see on their left-hand side a correction of a historic wrong. For many years, nurse Elizabeth O’Farrell was airbrushed out of Irish history, as were many other groups in our country. That has been corrected now because she is in the foreground of the historic painting of the surrender in Moore Street, whereas Pádraig Pearse is in the background. We are rectifying that wrong with this very powerful image of nurse Elizabeth O’Farrell and the surrender on Moore Street.Finally, I compliment the Cathaoirleach on his work over the last 20 years or so in public service in all its guises. I pledge my support for him in his role. I greatly appreciate the programme he outlined in terms of what he hopes to do in his role as Cathaoirleach. I offer him my full support, as does everybody in this House, with regard to ensuring we continue to build on making sure this Seanad works for all the people of this island. Go raibh maith agaibh go léir; safe home.