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Senator Rose Conway-Walsh

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Order of Business
Snippet Contents:

It is not every day that I stand here and agree completely, fully and wholly with Senator McDowell. It is disturbing that the Garda Commissioner is refusing to step aside for the duration of the public tribunal of inquiry. It is even more disturbing that the Government, the Cabinet and their partners in government, Fianna Fáil, feel that this is okay. It is wrong and I would ask all involved to reflect on that and to understand the predicament they put some witnesses in. The mere fact the Commissioner will not step aside and will be left in her position will do a disservice to Sergeant Maurice McCabe and his family. I hope that by the time Senators return to the House next Tuesday the situation will have been resolved and the Commissioner will have stepped aside to allow the tribunal to do the work required to get to the truth.
The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Deputy Zappone, did not answer one question last night in this House. I understand the Minister ran out of time but I and other mothers and citizens of the State need to know that there are not files held by Tusla on our children or on ourselves. We need to be given confidence that this does not happen. The Minister needs to put in place some kind of facility whereby we can check if that is the case, especially those of us who have spoken out against the justice system and against the behaviour of some senior members of An Garda Síochána or who have spoken out against the behaviour of the gardaí in disputes such as at the Corrib gas project and the protests at Shannon Airport and so on.
I also want to discuss the fact we are in the third week of the ongoing dispute at the Tim Hastings Volkswagen garage in Westport. This is the third week where workers and their families have had to stand out in inclement weather to try to engage with management to bring about a resolution. Last week the Leader of the House said it was a matter for the mechanisms of the State, specifically the Workplace Relations Commission, WRC, and that it was important the mechanisms of the State were used to reach a solution. I absolutely agree with the Leader, but SIPTU members in the Tim Hastings garage have utilised all the industrial relations machinery of the State available to them. This was the third time that SIPTU members had to ballot for strike action in an attempt to get management to engage. In the first instance Tim Hastings Limited refused to attend the WRC to discuss the dispute. The company relented and attended the WRC eventually but no agreement was reached. The management side would not even sit in the same room as the union. The entire conciliation process was held in a side session. As no agreement was reached at the WRC, the next logical step was to refer the issue to the Labour Court, a highly reputable organisation for resolving disputes. Again, management only agreed to attend the Labour Court under the threat of strike action and a hearing was held on 4 November 2016. The Labour Court issued a recommendation on 20 December which said that for the positions genuinely made redundant, the staff affected should be paid an ex gratia redundancy payment of two weeks' salary per year of service in addition to the statutory redundancy and that the parts manger would be given the option of retaining the job or accepting the redundancy.
I ask that the Taoiseach would get involved in this matter to ensure the company, which is in the Taoiseach's constituency, takes heed of the very institutions and mechanisms of the State that he asked people to recognise. I ask that Volkswagen Ireland also gets involved to resolve this dispute in order that the workers who want to can return to work and that the Labour Court recommendations are fully implemented.