Family Day in Leinster House
02 July 2008
Order of Business
Senator Ivana Bacik: I support the comments of my colleague Senator Norris regarding civil partnership. In particular, like him, I was very disappointed to read of a small rump of Fianna Fáil Senators who are opposing the principle of civil partnership. I hope they will not have any influence on the Government in changing tack on this policy.
I also support those who have spoken about the Oireachtas family day, which I attended on Sunday. It was hugely encouraging to see so many people coming in, enjoying the sunshine and having the Houses of the Oireachtas open to them for the first time. It was a wonderful experience. I am sure I am not the only Member who agrees with what Miriam Lord wrote in yesterday's The Irish Times, namely, that at a time when we are reading about appalling and horrific events in Zimbabwe and the dreadful distortion of democracy in that country, there is lesson for us all on how important it is that we make our Houses of Parliament accessible to all and that we make sure our democracy works in a transparent and open way. The events on Saturday and Sunday were part of that process.
I should point out that the hot air balloon was not working when I was here on Sunday and a few people commented to the effect that it was the first time there was a shortage of hot air in Leinster House, but we can take such quips on the chin.
I support Senator Fitzgerald's call for a debate on the economy. I read that the Minister for Finance, Deputy Brian Lenihan, has described himself as having to make “savings”, not cutbacks but one person's savings are another person's cutbacks. As others have said, when HSE frontline staff are being told that they cannot recruit people to replace colleagues on maternity or annual leave, it is time for an urgent debate on the economy.
I also support calls for a debate on human trafficking. I read of Ruhama's recent figures on trafficking and one issue of particular importance is that the majority of the women that organisation is working with who were trafficked here for sexual purposes last year are living outside Dublin. Although we have legislation in place, we must also have supports in place, particularly for those women in isolated rural areas where organisations like Ruhama cannot provide a service.