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Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile

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Order of Business
Snippet Contents:

Déanaim comhghairdeas leis an Seanadóir Ruane. I saw on Senator Ruane's Instagram this morning that she is feeling a bit delicate, and rightly so. The Senator has earned it. I hope all of our congratulations and commendations at least go some way to help the Senator. Well done, and fair play.
I will start by expressing my disappointment at yesterday's decision by the Cabinet to allocate the State's two additional European constituency seats to Dublin and Ireland South. The House will be aware there has been a longstanding request that the two additional seats would be allocated northwards. There is no legal or constitutional impediment on the Government taking that decision. It would stand by and affirm the Taoiseach and the Government's commitment that citizens in the North would not be left behind.
We have all agreed on a cross-party basis that we must be steadfast, clear and coherent in ensuring that there is no diminution of rights as a result of Brexit and no undermining of the Good Friday Agreement. This would have been an ideal way, certainly, the first opportunity in a practical and tangible way, and probably, when all is said and done, in quite a modest way, for the Government to live by that commitment. Given that the existing seats in the State would not have been undermined, I do not see where anyone would have any political or even electoral opposition to that. I am very disappointed.
The Government should review this decision, particularly in the context of the clear legal advice that there is no barrier to such a decision. Quite a number of states across the EU allocate panels and constituency seats to citizens outside of their particular jurisdiction. There will be much disappointment. The House will remember just a few weeks ago that over 1,000 civic leaders from within Northern nationalism wrote to the Taoiseach again and pleaded with him not to relent and to remain steadfast in defending our rights.
The most disappointing aspect is that while these seats have been taken away from us, this vote has been taken away from us. We can all agree that the most basic entitlement of any citizen is the right to elect representation. While that has been taken away from us by the British Government, it seems by the decision taken at Cabinet yesterday that the Government here is rubber-stamping that decision. It is an unfortunate decision. It is the wrong one. Hopefully, the House may, through the Leader, have an opportunity to hear directly from the Taoiseach on the issue of Brexit and the next steps before the end of this term.