Dear Supporters... Break for the Summer 2015

Posted on July 30, 2015

Dear Supporter,

As we approach the summer break, I here's a short update on the work that I have been doing politically in recent months. As always, you will see more information on all these issues and more throughout sections of the website www.ivanabacik.com, on facebook (Ivana Bacik) and twitter (@ivanabacik).

The political highlight of the past year so far has been the great success of the Marriage Equality Referendum on 22nd May – a resounding 62% for the Yes vote – a wonderful result!

Many thanks again for your continued support,

Very best wishes, Ivana. 


SEANAD NEWS

The last term has seen an extensive array of legislation passing through both Dáil and Seanad. The bills that I have led on or contributed to recently include: the Children and Family Relationships Bill; the 34th Amendment of the Constitution (Marriage Equality) Bill; the Gender Recognition Bill; the Redress for Women Resident in Certain Institutions Bill; the Workplace Relations Bill; the Garda Siochana (Amendment)(No 3) Bill; the Social Welfare and Pensions (No. 2) bill, the Health Insurance Amendment bill, and the Finance bill. On 1st April 2015, I proposed a motion on integration and new communities in the Seanad during Private Members time, which was taken by Minister Aodhán Ó Riordáin – we had representatives from the Polish community and the organisers of the inaugural PolskaEire festival present for this lively and engaging debate. On 1st July 2015, I spoke to second Senator Lorraine Higgin’s bill to combat cyberbullying – a bill which was accepted in principle by the Minister for Justice.

‘BIKE TO SCHOOL’ SCHEME

In July 2015, I spoke in the Seanad to call for the introduction of a new ‘Bike to School’ scheme. I have asked the Government to consider including in Budget 2016 an extension of the very successful Cycle to Work Scheme, to enable employers to provide employees with tax-exempt bicycle/safety equipment for their primary & secondary school-age children. If that mechanism is not considered appropriate, I have asked the Government to examine a means of introducing tax exemptions where the bicycles/equipment are bought through schools. The health benefits are obvious - this would be a really good way to help tackle childhood obesity and improve children's health more generally. As a daily cyclist, a member of the All-Party Children’s Future Health group and a founder member of the Oireachtas All-Party cyclists group, I will continue to press for this – the idea has received strong support on social media too! (#biketoschool)

MY PRIVATE MEMBERS BILL ON SECTION 37 PASSED THROUGH SEANAD

Since my first election in 2007, I have had three private members’ bills accepted by Government. The most recent of these is the Employment (Equality) (Amendment) (No.2) Bill 2013, which I introduced in March 2013 and which was accepted as a Government bill; now re-named the Equality (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2013, we finally passed it through the Seanad on 9th July 2015. This Bill amends section 37 of the Employment Equality Act and prohibits discrimination against LGBT teachers or hospital workers. It has been welcomed by teachers’ unions and LGBT groups and its final passage through the Dáil in September will add to the great equality successes we have been celebrating this year.

REPEAL OF THE EIGHTH AMENDMENT

In November 2014, I announced the establishment of a Labour Women Commission on Repeal of the Eighth Amendment, to work on drafting legislation to replace the Eighth Amendment, assisted by a panel of independent legal and medical experts including former Senator Mary Henry (our Chairperson) and Drs Peter Boylan and Veronica O’Keane. I was Rapporteur to the Commission. On 27th February 2015, Labour Party members voted unanimously to endorse the Commission’s Report and to support repeal of the Amendment, and its replacement with legislation allowing abortion on grounds of risk to life or health; rape; and fatal foetal abnormality. I am now working with Labour Women to prepare this draft legislation, to be launched in September 2015 – and the Labour manifesto for the next General Election will include a commitment to hold a referendum on repeal of the Eighth Amendment.

INCREASED NUMBERS OF WOMEN IN POLITICS

A framed picture is now on permanent display in Leinster House of the ‘Oireachtas Women’ event I organised in 2008 to mark the 90th anniversary of the first election in which women could vote in Ireland. In January 2014, I invited all current women TDs and Senators to the Seanad Chamber for the taking of another photo to celebrate women members of the Oireachtas. I have spoken on the need to increase the numbers of women in politics, and in support of our new ‘gender quota’ legislation, at numerous conferences, including a North-South conference in EU Parliament House, Dublin, on 6th July 2015.

MARRIAGE EQUALITY REFERENDUM

On 22nd May 2015 history was made, as Ireland became the first country in the world to decide by popular vote to extend full civil marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples. I was very proud to have been actively involved in the marriage equality campaign over many years; indeed ten years ago I had acted as junior counsel in the legal case taken by Katherine Zappone and Ann Louise Gilligan seeking equal rights to marry for same-sex couples – a case which paved the way for the referendum to take place. Congratulations to all those who were involved with the lead campaign organisation ‘Yes Equality’, and to all the groups and individuals who got involved in securing this tremendous referendum victory.

SEANAD REFORM – ‘CHECK THE REGISTER’

I have contributed extensively to the ongoing debate on Seanad reform, in particular during Seanad debates on the topic on 5th May and 8th July 2015. I have called for the introduction of wide-ranging reforms of the Seanad, and made constructive proposals based upon the 2015 Report of the Working Group on Seanad Reform. I have also recommended that the existing registers of voters on the University Seanad panels - the registers kept by the NUI and by Dublin University- should be accessible online by graduates, in the same way that the General Election register is accessible online at www.checktheregister.ie. I am working to ensure that this becomes reality for our voters before the next Seanad election.

For more information on these or any other issues, please do contact me on ivana.bacik@oireachtas.ie

Posted in: ConstitutionEducationEqualityEurope/InternationalHuman RightsJusticeLGBT RightsNewsSeanadSocial Policy