Seanad debates

Tuesday, 9 July 2024

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business


1:00 pm

Photo of Paul GavanPaul Gavan (Sinn Fein)

Initially, I wish to be associated with the Cathaoirleach's own remarks on John O'Mahony. I had the pleasure of serving with John in the last Seanad. I agree with everything that has been said. He was an absolute gentleman and someone who was very passionate about the west of Ireland. He was very strong in his opinions but always very pleasant and modest for a man with his achievements. I offer my condolences on behalf of myself and our party to John's family and friends and indeed to the wider Fine Gael Party.

Earlier today, I raised an issue around the National Advocacy Service for People with Disabilities. Some Members will have noticed its workers were outside the gates of Leinster House today. The service consists of 48 workers who provide an absolutely essential service to frankly some of the most vulnerable people in the State, that is, people with disabilities. They provide advocacy and represent people who have no one else to represent them on many occasions. They are on strike because this Government is refusing to support and implement a Labour Court recommendation. I cannot get over the irony of that. We have heard Ministers urge Aer Lingus workers to accept the Labour Court recommendation only this morning yet there is a Labour Court recommendation in support of these really badly paid workers, who do incredibly important work, and the Government is refusing to implement it. It is an absolute disgrace. I am calling out the Minister, Deputy Heather Humphreys, on this and I am asking the Leader to intervene. These workers are on strike and for every day they are on strike, those vulnerable people receive no supports. They supported 1,500 disabled people last year. They support disabled people every year by way of representation, support and advocacy. They cannot do that while they are on strike. They are on strike because the Government refuses to implement the Labour Court recommendation, which is entirely unacceptable. I am asking the Leader to intervene to get the Government to cop on and allow these workers to get back to work and be given the respect, and indeed the pay, they deserve.

The second point I wish to raise is about the safe access zones Act. This is an Act that, for the most part, all of us supported. We worked collegially to get it passed. It was passed on 7 May but it has not been implemented. Two months after it was signed into law by the President, it is still not implemented and, for the life of me, I cannot understand why that is. A number of people have contacted me in recent weeks to ask me what is happening in this regard. I am raising this issue with the Leader. We should not be waiting more than two months to see this law actually implemented in order that we can put protections in place for women who badly need them when they are making their way to hospital or to private appointments.


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