Since my first election in 2007, I have had five private members’ bills accepted by Government which are now law – a record for any Senator! These are: a bill to criminalise Female Genital Mutilation; a bill to legalise secular wedding ceremonies; a bill amending s.37 of the Employment Equality Act and end discrimination against LGBT teachers by religious-run schools; a bill to provide vulnerable freelance workers with collective bargaining rights; and a bill to ensure pension equality for same-sex couples. I have another bill at an advanced stage before the Oireachtas to tackle the gender pay gap and ensure greater equality for women at work.

The five which have become law already are:

(1) Criminal Justice (Female Genital Mutilation) Act 2012, which for the first time created a specific offence of FGM;

(2) Civil Registration (Amendment) Act 2012, which enables non-religious solemnisers like those from the Humanist Association of Ireland to conduct legal wedding ceremonies;

(3) Equality (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2015, which amends section 37 of the Employment Equality Act to prohibit discrimination against LGBT teachers or hospital workers; and

(4) Competition (Amendment) Act 2017, which provides collective bargaining rights to vulnerable self-employed workers like freelance journalists, actors and musicians. This was developed in conjunction with trade unions including NUJ, Equity and SIPTU, and was the first private member’s bill to become law since the general election 2016

(5) A bill to provide pension equality for same-sex couples, which was included in the Government’s social welfare legislation in November 2019.

In September 2018, the Gender Pay Gap bill that I had introduced in the Seanad in May 2017 was passed through the Seanad. Labour TDs tabled the Bill before the Dáil where it passed Second Stage on 3 October 2018. My bill would require all companies with 50 or more staff to publish anonymised data showing pay levels and gender breakdown in their organisations, in order to see if a gender pay gap exists. The bill would then empower the Human Rights and Equality Commission to take action against companies which pay men more than women. Overall, women in Ireland earn on average 14% less than men. Laws that require wage transparency have reduced the gap between the earnings of women and men in other countries. The government have now introduced their own legislation to tackle the gender pay gap, currently before the Oireachtas – if passed, it will meant that we can finally have transparency on the real gender pay gap in Ireland.

Contributions are sorted by the date I spoke in the Seanad, legislation is sorted by the date it was first introduced into the Oireachtas.

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If you are looking for a particular debate, please use the search bar above. Legislation is dated according to the date it was first introduced into the Oireachtas. You can also see the most recent debates I have contributed to, as well as the most recent legislation to be introduced.

Useful terms:

  • Acts – primary legislation of Ireland. Part of the work of the Oireachtas is to make laws, called Acts of the Oireachtas.
  • Bills – proposals for new laws. To become law a Bill must first be approved by both the Dáil and in most circumstances the Seanad, although the Dáil can override a Seanad refusal to pass a Bill. Once the Bill has been passed by the Oireachtas, the Taoiseach presents it to the President to sign into law, and it then becomes an Act.

*definitions taken from the Oireachtas website.

Latest Legislative Contributions

  1. Committee and Remaining Stages
    Health (Amendment) Bill 2021 I move amendment No. 1: In page 5, to delete line 2 and substitute the following: “ ‘designated state’— (a) on the coming into operation of …

  2. Second Stage
    Health (Amendment) Bill 2021 I welcome the Minister, Deputy Donnelly, to the House. On behalf of the Labour Party I voice my support for the Bill, although we do not believe it goes far enough. Others have …

  3. Second Stage
    Student Nurses (Pay) Bill 2021 I welcome the Minister, Deputy Donnelly, to the House. I thank the Minister for coming in to personally take the Bill. I commend my colleague, Senator Annie Hoey, on her great and …

  4. Second Stage
    Children (Amendment) Bill 2020 I welcome the Minister to the House. On behalf of the Labour Party I welcome this important Bill, which we are glad to support, and I commend Senator McDowell and his colleagues for …

  5. Report and Final Stages
    Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) (Amendment) Bill 2020 I join in thanking the Minister of State for moving these amendments, which I fully support on behalf of Labour. It is very welcome to see common sense prevail, …

  6. Second Stage
    Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) (Amendment) Bill 2020 I welcome the Minister of State to the House and I welcome this Bill on behalf of the Labour Party as my colleague, Deputy Howlin, did in the Dáil. It is an extremely important …

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