Speech on Order of Business: International Migrants Day, Corrmac Ó Braonáin, Coco's Law, Happy Christmas!

18 December 2020

Ivana Bacik

I join others on behalf of the Labour Party group in wishing all colleagues across the House well for the Christmas break and the new year. In particular, I wish you well, a Chathaoirligh, and Martin, Bridget, Grace and all in the Cathaoirleach’s office, the Leader and all in her office, Orla Murray and others, who make the Seanad run so smoothly. I thank them all for their hard work this year. Undoubtedly, it has been a very tough year. At this time, we also remember the many who have been bereaved or whose health and livelihoods have been so badly affected by the Covid pandemic. We look forward to a better year for us all in 2021.

Today is International Migrants Day. I look forward in the new year to making rapid progress on our citizenship law, being brought forward by the Labour Party group in memory of our dear colleague, Cormac Ó Braonáin. In keeping with our Born Here, Belong Here campaign, I met this week with the Minister for Justice, Deputy McEntee. I thank her and her officials for their engagement with me and I look forward to further engagement in the new year and to making progress on that issue.

I also thank colleagues for their support for the other Labour Party Private Members' Bill on which we have seen great progress on Coco's Law. We will be dealing with all Stages of the harassment Bill today. I know some colleagues have tabled a number of amendments. This Bill is being brought forward more swiftly than Bills are normally brought forward, with the agreement of all of us, in particular those of us in the Labour Party group and of my colleague, Deputy Howlin. We ask colleagues to bear with that and to engage constructively with us to ensure that it is passed before Christmas. There is clearly an urgency to this Bill, as we have seen in dreadful reports of breaches of privacy for people, and with their images being disclosed online. We heard that from Jackie Fox herself, whose daughter committed suicide after a campaign of online bullying. That is why we call this Bill Coco's Law. I look forward to the debate this afternoon. I thank the Leader for accommodating it on the last day of the term. It will be a positive note to be legislating on this important new law before we break for Christmas.

I thank Chloe Manahan in my office, who has done sterling work with me over the past year. I again wish everyone a happy Christmas. Nollaig shona dóibh go léir.