This Bill seeks to address the small number of cases where retired employees who were legally not permitted to marry persons of the same sex before a particular date may be deprived of certain pension benefits.
I welcome the Minister back to the House. I also welcome the opportunity to debate this important issue. All of us and others outside the House have spoken of the wider context in which the Bill is being proposed. All of us have seen horrific murders in recent weeks and months. Many have mentioned the shooting today in Lusk and there was another shooting last week very close to where I live in a busy shopping street in the south inner city. All of us have been shocked by the brutality of these murders and shootings and by the recent violence, although we acknowledge they represent only a small number of individuals who are connected to an international and national drugs trade and to criminal organisations. That is the context within which the Bill is being introduced and, clearly, a key aim of the Bill is to act to seek to tackle those involved in criminal organisations at low and middle level. I recognise that tackling organised crime at all levels is a priority for the Government and all of us acknowledge that. There is no doubt that the escalation of crime, particularly in inner city Dublin in recent months, requires a proactive approach.
I and my party colleagues in the Labour Party would emphasise, and I am sure most would agree, that tackling this level of this type of organised crime requires tackling the core issues of disadvantage, of drug use and of tackling these in a way where we do not only have a criminal justice approach. I share Senator Ruane's concern about criminalising addiction and my colleague, Senator Ó Ríordáin expressed that view recently in a debate on the misuse of drugs legislation. We would clearly support a model that would examine much broader issues and that would redirect attention and investment towards disadvantaged communities suffering from a lack of opportunity. We drafted our amendment along the lines of the amendment, to which Senator Mac Lochlainn referred, concerning the ring-fencing of any proceeds or money confiscated towards disadvantaged communities.
Speaking this morning in the Seanad, Senator Ivana Bacik called for an urgent response from the Taoiseach and the Government to the ruling last week by the UN Human Rights Committee that Ireland had breached the rights of the applicant Amanda Mellet due to the prohibition in Irish law of termination of pregnancy under the Eighth Amendment, even in cases of fatal foetal abnormality.
Commending Amanda Mellet and the Termination for Medical Reasons group for their courage in taking their application to the UN and in raising the issue of fatal foetal abnormality, Senator Bacik said:
Trinity College Dublin organised an event last week 'Meet the Candidates', where all 16 #TCDSeanadElection candidates were given 4 minutes each to speak to the audience. It was also live streamed on Periscoope TV for anyone who couldn't make it.
I took the opportunity to run through my Trinity life, my legal career and my Seanad record. Here are my 4 minutes - #VoteIvanaBacik No.1
Senator Jillian van Turnhout lends her support for my Seanad Election campaign!
Children's Rights advocate and 'Politician of the Year 2015', Senator Jillian van Turnhout lends her support to Ivana Bacik who is running for the Dublin University Panel in the Seanad Election 2016. #SE16 #TCDSeanad #UseYourVote
A huge thanks to Jillian for her endorsement! It's been an enormous pleasure and honour to work together over the past 5 years and I have no doubt we'll get the opportunity to work collaboratively again in the future. Many thanks, Ivana.
Supporters Video: Dr. Mary Henry was a former Dublin University (Trinity) Panel Senator, former President of the Penal Reform Trust and retired medical practitioner. In this video she talks about why she is supporting my campaign. #RepealThe8th#SE16
Many thanks to Dr. Mary Henry for her call to support my Dublin University Panel TCD Seanad Election campaign and all her years of support to me, but more importantly the issues and her own commitment to equality, health and social justice.