Written for Trinity College Dublin's Covid-19 Law and Human Right's Observatory. A link to the article on their website is available here. Updated 14 September 2020
What is a ‘Lockdown’?
Over the past year, governments worldwide have used ‘lockdown’ strategies to suppress transmission of Covid-19. But this has meant different things in different countries. Some authoritarian regimes have imposed tough restrictions on public movement, with penal sanctions attached. But in Ireland - as in most Western democracies - ‘lockdown’ has involved a combination of ‘soft’ guidelines without sanctions for breach; and ‘hard’ rules carrying the force of criminal law.
Speaking today on the Seanad Order of Business in advance of the debate on the Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Bill 2020, Senator Ivana Bacik expressed condolences to the families of all those bereaved as a result of the coronavirus, and to all those affected by it through illness or loss of income.
The Presidents of all of Ireland’s Universities and Institutes of Technology have today (Monday March 16th) issued a plea to every student to fully follow set guidelines on social distancing to protect themselves from infection and to slow down the spread of Covid 19 in order to protect others.
The Presidents have issued a joint letter which is being emailed to up to 250,000 students today to recognise the seriousness of the public health challenge and to act responsibly in the weeks and months ahead.
Thank you for the great ongoing support. I am emailing to update you on the Seanad campaign. Ballot papers have now been sent out by registered post to the approx. 64,000 voters on the Dublin University/Trinity register and must be returned by 11am on Tuesday 31st March – exactly three weeks from today!
I am emailing to update you on the 2020 Seanad elections for Dublin University. I submitted my nomination papers in advance of the closing date (14th February 2020), and wish to thank all of those who kindly proposed and nominated me, and those who have offered me support. If you would like to be listed as a supporter on my website, I would really appreciate that – please do let me know.
As we approach the end of the year, this last week has been very much overshadowed by sad news, with the sudden death of Cormac Ó Braonáin, national Chairperson of Labour Youth, and a good friend and comrade. Along with other Labour colleagues, and TDs and Senators from other parties and groups, I spoke in the Oireachtas this week to express my sympathies to his family, friends and to the many communities with which he had been so actively involved.
I welcome the Cathaoirleach back; it is good to see him back with us. I commend all our colleagues who are taking part in Senator Ruane's football match tonight. It is good to hear about it and may the best team win.
I support Senators McDowell, Gavan and Ruane on the issue they have raised about the pay of secretarial assistants in the Seanad. It is something we have all been aware of and Senator Gavan is correct that we have not been giving it enough attention.
I welcome the Minister of State. It is welcome this week that we are marking International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which was yesterday. It is a United Nations day aimed at promoting the rights and well-being of people with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, and increasing awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life. It is worth remembering the purpose of the day when we are reflecting on the current state of society for persons with disabilities here in Ireland. I have listened to the other contributions and acknowledge the work done on this issue by our colleagues, particularly Senator Dolan, whom Senator Ruane rightly commended for his unstinting work in highlighting issues for persons with disabilities and inclusion and equality since the start of his time in this Seanad in 2016. I also acknowledge Senator Conway, who has really been to the fore on this issue for Fine Gael.
As Senator Conway says, undoubtedly we should acknowledge the immense progress that has been made on advancing the rights of persons with disabilities in recent years. In schooling and education we now have much greater resourcing and recognition of the need to ensure supports for children with additional needs and to ensure accommodation for persons with disabilities in education. That is fairly well established. We also have increased awareness about inclusion, which is part of the United Nations aim, through initiatives like those which others have mentioned, the exhibition that was launched yesterday, Someone Like Me at City Hall, and the Purple Lights campaign that has been promoted by the Disability Federation of Ireland. The Labour Party website went purple yesterday to mark the Purple Lights campaign. These are all important initiatives to enhance and increase visibility. I am a member of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade and we have pushed to ensure that there is inclusion of disability and disability-proofing in our international development programmes. I commend Irish Aid and the Government's work on that issue. That is all positive.
I support the amendment proposed by my colleague, Senator Ó Ríordáin, to substitute a debate on crime for one hour of the debate on the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill. I also support Senator Leyden's amendment, which would substitute a debate on the important issue of Cuisle for the other hour and a half of debate on the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill. Both are hugely important issues and are far more urgent than the ongoing debate on Report Stage of the Bill. My group and I will certainly support both amendments. I thank the Leas-Chathaoirleach for his excellent-----