Order of Business: Climate Action

12 December 2019

Senator Ivana Bacik

Yesterday, Senators Norris and Gavan spoke very eloquently about the British general election. I want to add my own voice to say that I very much hope that, as a result of the vote today in Britain and Northern Ireland, we will see a change of Government in Britain, see the Labour Party in Britain entering office and see a change of policies and the introduction of Labour's socialist policies that emphasise equality for all and that would reverse the Tory cutbacks that have caused such hardship and poverty across Britain. I hope that in Northern Ireland we will see really good, pro-remain people elected, particularly Claire Hanna in south Belfast, who I know well and who is a really admirable candidate. I wish her and remain candidates generally the very best of luck. I hope that we will have an opportunity in the new year to debate the impact in this jurisdiction of whatever outcome transpires in the British general election. I, for one, very much hope it will be a Labour victory and that we will see a second referendum which will reverse the decision relating to Brexit. No doubt we will have a chance to debate that in the New Year.

I want to ask the Leader to arrange a debate on climate change in the new year. We are due to have debates with different Ministers on the various impacts of the Government's climate action plan. I draw colleagues' attention to an email many of us received this week from Mia Treacy on behalf of the school council of Coláiste Éinde girls secondary school in Galway, putting forward a novel but brilliant idea from that school community for a Foraoise na bPáistí, a Government plan to plant a tree for every schoolchild in Ireland as a Christmas present. I thought it was a lovely plan and a very practical way to implement a measure to tackle the climate crisis. The school points out that there are over 800,000 primary and secondary school pupils in Ireland. While there may not be time to plant a tree for each at them this Christmas, it would be nice to incorporate this plan into our discussions on climate action in the new year and to urge the Government to take on board this novel but very positive suggestion. Clearly, the Government, through Coillte, owns a great deal of forested land but we need to see more reforesting. This proposal for over 800,000 trees to be planted, which is symbolically one for every child in Ireland, given how schoolchildren have led so proactively and brilliantly in terms of the climate change movement across the world, would be a really fitting gesture. I am delighted Time magazine has named Greta Thunberg as its international person of the year. That is very fitting and, again, it is great to see the huge initiative of schoolchildren being marked in this important way.