Speech on Order of Business: Siege of Jadotville, Born Here Belong Here Campaign, Labour's Citizenship Bill, the Gender Pay Gap

11 November 2020

Ivana Bacik

I thank the Leader for facilitating the debate today on non-Government motion No.5 proposed by my colleague Senator Mark Wall on the siege of Jadotville. I am really glad that we have Government time today to debate that issue, which is of interest to quite a number of Members.

I also renew calls on the Leader for a debate on the gender pay gap. Monday was Equal Pay Day and I know that colleagues spoke yesterday in this House of the need to bring forward legislation urgently to tackle Ireland's continuing gender pay gap, which stands at 14.4%. Colleagues may be aware that in the previous Seanad my Labour Party colleagues and I introduced a Bill which passed all Stages in this House that required companies with more than 50 employees to publish anonymised data showing whether a gender pay gap existed in their organisation. Unfortunately, although the Bill passed Second Stage in the Dáil, it has been stagnated there and the Government has not made any progress on furthering the action needed to tackle the gender pay gap. We know that action is needed or the pay gap will simply increase. I know that the Deputy Leader is also anxious to see action taken on this and I ask her facilitate a debate in this House on how best to move forward with legislation on tackling the gender pay gap without delay.

Finally, on the issue of citizenship, the Labour Party also brought forward a Private Member's Bill in the last term which passed Second Stage in this House. We will be dealing with Committee Stage of that Bill on 2 December. I ask the Deputy Leader to seek Government support for the provisions in that Bill. It is hugely important and would go some way towards reversing the effect of the 2004 citizenship referendum by restoring citizenship or at least the right to apply for citizenship to children born in Ireland. It is a hugely important issue. Labour Youth launched its Born Here, Belong Here campaign last week about which I spoke in this House, which seeks to encourage greater support for this concept. I ask the Deputy Leader to make inquiries as to whether the Government will support the Bill on Committee Stage. It is hugely important. The number of children affected is small but this is a very significant issue for them and their families. We have heard reports of healthcare workers on the front line who are also facing an uncertain future because they are not sure if they will be granted the right to remain in Ireland. Clearly we need to be more generous in our approach to citizenship. It is in our own interests as a society but also in the interests of the children who were born in Ireland and whose status remains uncertain in some cases. I ask the Deputy Leader to pursue those issues and I again commend Labour Youth on its work on this.