Order of Business - Seanad Eireann, Wednesday 9th July

Posted on July 10, 2014

Order of Business - Wednesday 9th July

Senator Ivana Bacik: I echo Senator Darragh O'Brien's comments of concern and disappointment at the cancellation of the five concerts. It is not fair or appropriate to blame one official.

Senator Darragh O'Brien: He is the boss.

Senator Ivana Bacik: Permission was granted for three concerts.

Senator Darragh O'Brien: Yes.

Senator Ivana Bacik: Apparently, the decision was taken by the artist and promoter. I am aware another promoter went on radio this morning to express his view which was somewhat critical of the way it was done. We need to look at how we ensure change to ensure it does not happen again. As legislators we have allowed a practice to grow up where concert tickets were being sold in thousands, subject to licence. Clearly that process is no longer workable and needs to be changed.

Like Senator Darragh O'Brien I call for a debate on the Middle East. All of us must have a huge concern about the escalation of military action by Israel in the Gaza Strip and the fact that women and children have been killed in attacks by Israel overnight. Of course, we all condemn the brutal murder of the three Israeli teenagers and the subsequent horrific murder of the Palestinian boy. The Israeli Defence ministry, in suggesting in comments this morning that Israel is merely responding to Hamas rocket attacks, does not ring true. Certainly to target civilians and civilian homes is not a legitimate use of force. All of us would have huge concern about what appears to be a further escalation of military action that is pending. I call for a debate as soon as possible with the new Minister for Foreign Affairs to speak about how the EU can seek to resolve matters and ensure this warfare does not escalate further. As we have witnessed horrific warfare in the Gaza Strip previously I hope we do not see it developing in the coming weeks.

I welcome yesterday's announcement by the Minister for Social Protection, Deputy Joan Burton, and the Minister for Children, Deputy Charlie Flanagan, of an expansion for access to after school and community employment child care programmes. In that context, I ask the Leader for a debate on child care in the autumn. Yesterday's important announcement, which went under the radar, will greatly enhance the State provision of child care to low income families. The eligibility criteria will be expanded for the after school programme. A new option is being made available which is important for the parents of primary school children. It will provide not only subsidised after school child care places but also a pick-up service from schools. That will be a huge support to parents who wish to re-enter employment or upskill or train so as to enhance their employment opportunities. That the programme is being extended to children up to 13 years of age, an increase from the current age limit of five years, as well as the general expansion of child care provision for low income families is welcome. I hope we can have a broader debate on child care provision in the autumn.

I commend the advocacy initiative conducted by a large range of social justice NGOs, civil society groups and the community and voluntary sector.

It held its final conference yesterday at the RDS - I was privileged to be invited to speak at it - to look at the future of social justice advocacy in Ireland and the role of the community and voluntary sector in pressing for a more equal and inclusive society. I ask the Leader for a debate in due course on the role of the community and voluntary sector in enhancing social justice and seeking a more equal society. I commend Ms Anna Visser and all her team in the Advocacy Initiative.


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