Adjournment of the Seanad

21 January 2020

Seanad Éireann debate - Tuesday, 21 Jan 2020

Go raibh maith agat, Cathaoirleach. I am delighted to speak on behalf of the Seanad Technical Group as the group leader on behalf of myself, Senator David Norris, and my Labour Party colleagues, Senators Kevin Humphreys, Gerald Nash and Aodhán Ó Ríordáin. I wish them the very best of luck in the general election, along with other Senators who are running, of course, and along with all of the Labour candidates in particular. We have 32 candidates running in the general election. This is an historic day, not just for us here in the Seanad, but also because 101 years ago today at 3:30 p.m., on 21 January 1919, the First Dáil Éireann sat in the Mansion House. It is worth reflecting on that historic anniversary and on the privilege and the honour it is for all of us to be here as elected Members or, indeed, nominated Members of Seanad Éireann.

I, for one, will never forget that and I know others will not forget it either.

I pay tribute to all the colleagues who are stepping down and will not be running for the Seanad again. It was a pleasure to work with them all. I also wish the best of luck to those of us who are running again for this House. I will run again on the Trinity College panel, as will Senators Norris and Ruane. I am aware that many others will also run again on the NUI panel and the other panels. I wish them luck in that.

It has been my privilege to serve three Seanad terms. This has been a strong Seanad, which has had some notable achievements. I was very proud to have proposed some Private Members' Bills that have become law in the lifetime of this Seanad, notably the Competition (Amendment) Act 2017, which gives collective bargaining rights to freelance workers; a Bill to ensure pension equality for LGBT couples; and the gender pay gap legislation, which I would like to see passed. There is much unfinished business to be done, as Senator Kelleher pointed out, not only on the gender pay gap but also on other issues. These include Senator Black's Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill, which we would all like to see passed, and Seanad reform, an area on which Senator Conway-Walsh and others have worked. We have had real achievements with legislation on domestic violence, sex offences, parental leave and several other fronts. It has been a hardworking and effective Seanad. Personally, I am especially proud of the role I played in the referendum to repeal the eighth amendment, which passed in May 2018, and in helping to steer through this House the legislation to provide for abortion services in Ireland. I was also very proud to serve as chair of the Vótáil 100 programme committee which ran a series of events in 2018 to commemorate the centenary of women's suffrage in Ireland. It was a real pleasure to work with Oireachtas staff, including staff in the communications unit, ushers and many others.

I express sincere thanks to the Cathaoirleach and his team, Martin Groves, Bridget Doody, Aisling Hart, as well as the Leas-Chathaoirleach. I thank all the Oireachtas staff, including Orla Murray in the Leader's office who has been such a help and support to all of us. I also thank Ms Ursula Ní Choill in my office who has worked so hard with me over the past four years. It has been a real pleasure to work with her.

I wish all Members the best in their future careers, be it here in the Seanad - and I hope to work with many of them again in this House - or be it in other areas of life. Go raibh maith agaibh go léir agus go n-éirí an t-ádh libh.