Friday, 20 March 2020
Gnó an tSeanaid - Business of Seanad
Before we proceed, I would like to say a few brief words. I welcome Senators to this special sitting, which I summoned using the authority given to me by Standing Orders in cases of necessity, having received a request to do so from the Taoiseach. Our country is in the midst of perhaps the most serious public health-economic crisis in living memory. As parliamentarians, we are called on to provide the leadership, legislation and means that will allow our health service workers, the Garda Síochána and our civil and public servants to deal as effectively as possible with the challenges we are facing and the escalation that is expected in the coming weeks and months. I pay tribute to all those people, our Ministers, public and private sector workers, health service workers, teachers, employers, families, carers and so many others who have put their shoulders to the wheel to get us through this exceptionally difficult time. I know that the thoughts and solidarity of the Members of Seanad Éireann are particularly with those who have fallen victim to Covid-19 and with those who have already felt its economic impact on their lives.
Before I call the Leader to propose the Order of Business, I remind Senators that this is a special sitting convened for the particular purpose of dealing with the Health (Preservation and Protection and other Emergency Measures in the Public Interest) Bill 2020. The purpose of the Order of Business is to consider the proposal to take the Bill and the arrangements for debating it. I will not permit a wide-ranging discussion on other issues or allow amendments proposing that other business be taken. Debate on substantive issues arising out of the Covid-19 crisis should be reserved for the debate on the Bill itself.
I thank Senators for limiting our attendance in the Chamber. In the course of the sitting, they should maintain an appropriate distance from others and observe recommended hygiene practice.
I call the Leader to outline the Order of Business.