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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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
    Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill 2017 (AKA Coco's Law) I do not propose to speak at length on any amendments but just want to make a point on this group. To follow on from what the Minister of State said at …

  2. Second Stage
    Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill 2017 (AKA Coco's Law) I thank my Independent Group colleagues, particularly Senator Craughwell, for swapping their time with the Labour Party Senators. In light of the unusual origins of the Bill, it is …

  3. Committee and Remaining Stages
    Deportation Moratorium (Covid-19) Bill 2020 I thank the Minister of State for her response on Second Stage, particularly to my question about the relocation of the Central Mental Hospital, albeit …

  4. Second Stage
    Central Mental Hospital (Relocation) Bill 2020 I welcome the Minister of State to the House, where she is always welcome. As Senator Conway said, she is now a very regular visitor. On behalf of the Labour Party group of …

  5. Second Stage
    Deportation Moratorium (Covid-19) Bill 2020 I welcome the Minister to the House and congratulate her on her personal news. I am glad that I had the opportunity to congratulate her personally. I note that my former Labour …

  6. Report and Final Stages
    Seanad Electoral (University Members) (Amendment) Bill 2020 I welcome the Minister of State. I echo the words of Senator Wall. As he rightly said, we in the Labour Party entirely support the Government's efforts to ensure a deal is reached …

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