Statement on the Commencement of Irish Sign Language Act 2017

15 December 2020

Ivana Bacik

I welcome the Minister of State to the House. It is always a pleasure to have her with us in the Seanad. My colleagues, Senators Hoey and Wall, have spoken very eloquently for the Labour Party to say how much we welcome the commencement of this important Act and how pleased we are to see the Minister of State announce 23 December as the date for it. It is very positive news to receive this week, before we go off on our Christmas break. I could not let the opportunity pass without paying tribute to the Cathaoirleach, or Senator Mark Daly, as he was known then, for his incredible persistence and commitment in steering the Bill through the House. Many of us did our best to help him along the way with it and it is great to see it come to this point. Therefore, I pay tribute to him.

As a Senator representing the University of Dublin, I want to pay tribute to my great colleagues in the Trinity Centre for Deaf Studies. Others have spoke of their immense work on this project, in particular, Professor Lorraine Lesson and Dr. John Bosco Conama, both of whom have been tireless advocates for ISL and the deaf community. I also want to pay tribute to the Irish Deaf Society. As the Cathaoirleach will recall, we had many meetings with activists from the deaf community, the Society and the Trinity centre over the period of time when the Bill was being steered through the Houses of the Oireachtas. It is really great to see this day arrive, and I want to take a few moments to put my thanks on the record and to pay tribute to the Minister of State for taking the final step in the commencement of the Act. I also want to pay tribute to, and thank, the brilliant signers who we see at the bottom of our screens currently and who also stand quietly - but play such an important role - on so many stages and podiums at all our live events pre-Covid, and all recorded events now. I thank all those involved in bringing this Act to its final point. Finally, I would also like to echo Senator Murphy's words. It would be a great idea to have lessons in ISL. I know that Senator Hoey has spoken about trying to learn ISL. I think it would be a great new initiative to introduce in the Oireachtas.