Employment Equality (Amendment) (No.2) Bill 2013: Report Stage (Resumed) and Final Stage, Thursday 9th July 2015
"A revolution is required... we need to break the hold, the stranglehold that the Churches, plural but in particular the Catholic Church have on our primary education system and indeed our secondary education system too."
Report of Working Group on Seanad Reform 2015: Statements
Speaking during a debate on Seanad reform in the Seanad yesterday, I called called for the introduction of wide-ranging reforms of the Seanad, and made constructive proposals based upon the Report of the Working Group on Seanad Reform.
The proposals included the recommendation that the existing registers of voters on the University Seanad panels (ie the registers kept by the NUI and by Dublin University) should be accessible online by graduates, in the same way that the General Election registers is accessible online at www.checktheregister.ie.
I thank the Leader for scheduling the resumed Committee Stage of the Employment Equality (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill for this afternoon. I advise colleagues that this Bill started life as a Private Members' Bill introduced by Senator Moran and myself on behalf of the Labour Party in March 2013. On Second Stage, 11 Members spoke and, as such, there is significant interest in the legislation, which is intended to amend section 37 of the Employment Equality Act to ensure that discrimination against teachers, in particular, on the basis of sexuality or family status will no longer be possible. It is a very important Bill and there is great interest in it from civil society, the unions and LGBT rights groups. It was delayed and we had Committee Stage over two dates in March 2014, at which time there was again a great deal of interest from colleagues. In light of that, we are scheduling the resumption of Committee Stage, which will hopefully conclude this evening, as the Government has now approved a set of amendments for Report Stage. We hope Report Stage will take place next week. Those Senators who tabled amendments on Committee Stage, Senators Zappone and Power, have been briefed by the Minister of State, Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, and a further briefing has been arranged for next Tuesday, 7 July, at 3 p.m. for all Senators with an interest in the Bill so that people can have a full briefing on what the Report Stage amendments will entail. The meeting will take place in meeting room C in LH 2000. I have circulated a notice on that at the request of the Minister of State. It is a very important Bill and it is a good day for the Seanad to see it progress as a Government Bill, having started life as a Private Members'
Yesterday in the Order of Business I used the opportunity to raise the issues and call again for a much needed debate with regards to the Clery's workers.
"We might also have a general debate in due course on industrial relations with regard to business closures and having respect for workers. The Minister of State, Deputy Nash, was in the House yesterday dealing with the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Bill. I, along with many colleagues, met some of the former Clery's employees outside Leinster House yesterday. Those employees were treated with immense disrespect by the new owners of Clery's. Along with many colleagues, I signed a petition in support of the former employees who are seeking a meeting with Natrium, the new company with ownership of Clery's, and asking that it treat them with greater respect. We must ensure there is greater respect for both the employees and the concession holders, who were also so badly treated in the very sudden closure of Clery's, which was carried out without notice. I believe we can achieve cross-party consensus on the need to reform industrial relations in that area."
It was an honour to attent the unveiling of a bust in honour of the late Václav Havel, former President of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic, at 5 p.m. in Leinster House. This is an important event. Václav Havel, of course, was a real figurehead for democracy and democratic values across Central Europe, but also internationally. It is fitting that we are unveiling this memorial. I have been involved somewhat in the plans to unveil it and as somebody with Czech-Irish heritage, I am glad that we will have this bust in place in Leinster House from this afternoon.