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Speech on Order of Business: Conflict in Palestine, Countering Anti-Choice Narratives & Calling for a Debate on Young People and the Housing Crisis

11 May 2021

I wish to take strong issue with the comments of Senator Mullen just now as to the reporting of RTÉ. Senator Mullen needs to remind himself that in 2018 the people voted by a two-thirds majority to repeal the eighth amendment having had sight of the legislation proposed to bring in legal abortion in Ireland. That legislation was sorely needed for the reproductive health needs of all women in this country. I wish to remind Senator Mullen of that. People were not, and should not have been, in any way perplexed by the legislation. It is reasonable and fair by European standards. I look forward to the review process that is under way.

I take strong issue with the comments of Senator Mullen to the effect that people are pro-abortion. Those of us who campaigned over many decades for repeal of the eighth amendment are pro-choice. We seek to ensure that women will have choices and access to the reproductive healthcare that we so badly need. I wish to remind Senator Mullen of that. We had a full debate in the House over that legislation even after passage of the repeal amendment in 2018. Again, I wish to remind all colleagues of that.

I welcome the fact that yesterday we saw some positive reopening of society in a cautious and careful manner. I welcome the ongoing plans for reopening, albeit on a careful and incremental basis. I welcome in particular the fact that now so many people will be able to see family and friends again and be able to get haircuts. I am one of those who is very much looking forward to that. More important, so many people will be able to see their businesses reopening and that is most welcome. I urge everyone to remain mindful of all the public health guidelines and restrictions.

I call on the Leader to convey to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Coveney, what is probably a shared view across the House to the effect that Ireland needs to condemn strongly the terrible carnage that we see unfolding in Israel and Palestine and, in particular, the dreadful killing of so many people. Some 24 Palestinians, including seven from one family were killed. Nine of the 24 killed were children. We are seeing appalling carnage.

Ireland needs to push for peace talks and for an end to the carnage. We need to demand that international law is obeyed and that Israel does not proceed with the eviction of Palestinian families to make way for settlers. We should also condemn of course the Hamas rocket attacks that we have seen injuring Israeli civilians. Clearly, the carnage we are seeing in Gaza is terrible and shocking. I call on the Leader to convey that to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Coveney.

I call on the Leader for a debate on housing and in particular on the housing crisis and the lack of provision for young people to be able to buy their own homes. My call is in light of the ESRI report by the economist Barra Roantree which shows us that the most severe impact of Covid-19 and the pandemic has been on our young people.