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Snippet Contents:

I have to express sincere regret at the tone and content of the Minister of State's contribution. I know that it is not personal and that a departmental official would have assisted in drafting the speech, but as always, it focused on the many reasons not to do something. The Minister of State reeled off a series of examples, some of which were extreme, and asked what we would do in this or that instance. The focus of the Government should be on finding reasons to do things rather than looking for ways to undermine or throw them under the bus. Sadly, the Minister of State's contribution was not in keeping with his normal commitment to the House and his normal contributions on various subjects which are always so thoughtful. I regret that whoever penned the particular response to this most thoughtful Bill got out on the wrong side of the bed. We should be seeking to embrace equality, rather than undermining it or kicking the can down the road. Clearly, it is going to be passed and we are putting it into purgatory for Bills. No doubt it will be put in the room that stores all of the reports on unbalanced regional development about which I have harped on in this House and Seanad √Čireann for many years, but I would like to think this Bill will see the light of day.
Another point about more general equality issues is that we have a lot of equality legislation in place, to some of which Deputy Jim O'Callaghan alluded, but we do not follow or enforce it. I have come across instances where the State is inadvertently sponsoring discrimination against people. One example I would like to bring to the Minister of State's attention relates to protocols within the Department of Education and Skills governing the process under which teachers are transferred on particular grounds. When challenged, there are protocols to outline the procedure which is followed but, following court cases, they are at the discretion of education and training boards, ETBs, and other governing bodies. That is regrettable because it discriminates against people on the basis of mental health. There are legal cases that I can bring to the Minister of State's attention privately on this matter.
As I do not want to eat into the time available for my colleagues, I simply ask the Minister of State to take on board those few brief points.