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Senator Bacik speaking on the Economy and Female Genital Mutilation

18 November 2008

Order of Business

Senator Ivana Bacik: I echo the calls made for a debate on the economy and the position of the banks. We should have this debate rather than the debate proposed for Private Members' time on Wednesday on tourism. Important though that subject is, the economy should be a more pressing issue of concern for us at present.

I note Senator O'Toole's point that there may be a cycle of fear whereby people are afraid to spend, even where their money and income are secure, because of the threat of recession looming. There is a human element of compassion to that as people do not want to be seen to be spending, or flathúlach in their spending when there is a recession and others around them are losing their jobs. A recession anxiety has gripped the country and it is not only a matter of talking things down. In that context we need a debate on that matter and a chance to put on the record the issues and criticisms which some Members on the other side of the House expressed about public services and the issues and criticisms those on this side of the House expressed about the banks' guarantee. The article in The Irish Times yesterday by a number of leading academic economists outlined for us the problems with the banks' guarantee and the prospect that we will need an investment, a conditional investment, so banks are obliged to lend to small businesses and not sit on the assets they have.

I call for a debate on the pressing issue of female genital mutilation and the need for legislation to prohibit that practice in Ireland. This issue is topical today when an unfortunate decision was made by the High Court to refuse leave to remain in Ireland to a Nigerian woman who applied to stay because she is in fear that her two young daughters will be circumcised if she returns to Nigeria. I took part in a dignified vigil at the weekend in support of this woman and her family. She has many supporters in her local community and throughout Ireland.

In the context of the court's decision, which is about female genital mutilation and the fear of that on return to a country of origin, I call for a debate, as a matter of urgency, on our attitude to female genital mutilation, the need for legislation to prohibit the practice in Ireland and to extend jurisdiction to where it is practised elsewhere and where there is a connection to this country.