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Order of Business

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Senator Alice-Mary Higgins

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Order of Business
Snippet Contents:

I join in the thanks to all who have facilitated this temporary move of the Seanad Chamber, including the Office of Public Works, the National Museum and the staff of the Oireachtas, who played a key role. Of course I also thank the Cathaoirleach himself for his work in that regard. I would like to make an appeal that this temporary movement of the Seanad Chamber be accompanied by long overdue movement on the issue of Seanad reform. We know that such reform is in the programme for Government and that it has been committed to repeatedly by all parties, yet we have still not seen movement. Given that the Government has not indicated any intention to hold any referenda on this issue as part of its political reform agenda in its list of expected referenda, we need to assume that it will therefore be pursuing a legislative approach by implementing the Manning report and ensuring the passage of the Seanad reform Bill.
I also note that yesterday was the second anniversary of Ireland signing the United Nations' sustainable development goals, SDGs. This was a revolutionary moment internationally. The SDGs set out a universal global blueprint for what good development might look like. Ireland played a key role in driving that agreement for a long-term stability of economy, society and environment. I ask whether the debate about budget 2018 and the discussions we are having around development match the ambition of that international blueprint, which we called on all nations to pursue. I ask the same about the proposals we are looking at in terms of social and economic sustainability and equality. Do these proposals come from the ground up, or are they still rooted in the trickle-down dynamic which has been discredited by the International Monetary Fund and by so many others?
When we think about the SDGs, it is important that the challenges which we face, nationally and internationally, cannot be tackled with an individualised approach. These challenges require long-term planning and collective action. This is recognised by civil society, with more than 100 very diverse organisations in Ireland having signed up as part of Coalition 2030, which had a march through the city centre yesterday. It is important when we look at international issues such as climate change. Over the summer, all of us witnessed the devastation which climate change is causing and contributing to around the world. When we look at crises such as that in homelessness, where numbers are spiralling, simply telling people to take their chances in a market, or even giving them some small amount of cash to take those chances in a market, is not an adequate solution. We need to recognise collective responsibilities.
I urge the Government to remember that it is not simply responsible for providing opportunities. It is responsible for delivering outcomes. We need joined-up and long-term thinking. I note that the commitment to equality proofing which the Government has made is a very positive step in that regard. I ask the Leader whether he expects an equality statement to accompany budget 2018.