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Order of Business

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Senator Ivana Bacik

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Order of Business
Snippet Contents:

I am not sure if colleagues in the Opposition are fully aware that the Minister has invited in the chief executive officers of the four Dublin local authorities, the Lord Mayor of Dublin City, the cathaoirligh of South Dublin, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown and Fingal county councils and the non-governmental organisations working in the sector, and he is also meeting the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, Dr. Diarmuid Martin. Clearly, there is a role for all those stakeholders in seeking to address this very serious problem. I spoke about this yesterday, as did many other Members. There are very particular issues involved. The Simon Community recently closed 37 units of accommodation for the homeless on Seán MacDermott Street and there have been calls that they should be immediately reopened. The Catholic Housing Aid Society has been in dispute over levels of rent and therefore 99 new units of accommodation on Gardiner Street have not been opened. There is some spare capacity. I know Archbishop Martin has sought to intervene there and that a good deal of work has been done to try to ensure that this large housing complex in the heart of the north inner city, which scandalously has been lying empty for more than six months, should be opened to provide facilities for people who are homeless. There is a good deal of work that needs to be done. I welcome the fact that this special forum has been convened by the Minister for tomorrow. It is a very prompt response by him. He will speak more about that in the House tonight. Colleagues on both side should acknowledge the work that is being done on this issue.
I also welcome the announcement made yesterday of the reopening by the Irish Government of the hooded men case in the European Court of Human Rights. Tribute should be paid to the RTE investigative journalism team whose work led to the reopening of this case and to the uncovering of new evidence. That should be welcomed on all sides of the House.
I had previously sought a debate on third level education, in particular on issues around gender among academics in third level. I note a new study shows there are very low levels of women's representation among senior academics across the third level sector, in particular in certain universities. I raised that in this House in the context of the successful case taken by Micheline Sheehy Skeffington against NUI Galway, but it is clearly an issue that goes beyond NUI Galway. I again ask the Leader for a debate on that issue in the new year.
In the context of education, I ask colleagues to have a read of Tom Collins's excellent article in today's edition of The Irish Times making the pedagogical case for changes to junior cycle assessment to ensure it is more student-centred with more emphasis on continuous assessment. That is something all of us engaged in education should acknowledge.