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An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business

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An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business

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An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business

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Senator Ivana Bacik

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Snippet Contents:

I support Senator Conway-Walsh's proposed amendment to the Order of Business to take statements on the Shane O'Farrell case and the need for an inquiry in that case instead of Report Stage of the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2017, at 4 p.m. today. I had not been aware that Senator Conway-Walsh was proposing that amendment but I did last week call on the Leader to arrange for further debate on the case of Shane O'Farrell. I have been supportive of the family, and I know other colleagues in the Chamber, notably Senator Norris, have also been very supportive of the family. I think there would be great support for Senator Conway-Walsh's proposed amendment and I am happy to second it. In the Dáil last week, there was significant movement forward on that debate. It would be useful for us to take a similar approach in the Seanad, in keeping with the approach we have taken before on the issue of Shane's tragic death.
The recent unfortunate comments by candidates from different parties, although not the Labour Party, in the by-election campaigns in several constituencies – I am not going to go into them – exemplify what the Labour Party Leader, Deputy Howlin, has called the toxic discourse that is seeping into public discussion about migrant communities in particular, new communities in Ireland and the nature of inward migration. It is a really unfortunate development. It is important that the Government and all public representatives be seen to lead, to take a stance against language that is disrespectful of others, particularly minority communities. It is important that we show in a concrete and visible way that we are taking a stand against this. The language we use as public representatives really matters. There are two ways in which we could move forward on this and I ask the Leader to take these on board.
First, we need to see the introduction of legislation on hate speech. The Department of Justice and Equality is conducting a review of the prohibition of incitement to hatred legislation. That is a very welcome review. It is due to conclude in December. We should have a debate early in the new year on the shape of proposed hate speech laws. There has been a good deal of discussion already about these in this House and the other House but it is long overdue that we reform our incitement to hatred legislation and ensure greater protection for our communities against that sort of hate speech. Second, and more immediately in the Seanad, we could give Government time to Committee Stage of the Labour Party Bill that would have given rights to undocumented children in Ireland. We brought that Bill forward this time last year. It passed Second Stage, despite Government opposition. It got support across the House, apart from Fine Gael, and it was introduced specifically in response to cases of children who had been living all their lives in Ireland, who had been born here or had come to Ireland as very young children, had all their schooling here yet had no regularised status in Irish law due to long delays in the asylum applications system and other flaws in the system. It is within the scope of our Oireachtas to legislate to give residency and citizenship rights to such children. It would be a really positive, concrete step for the Government to be seen to move on this. I understand the Taoiseach is favourably disposed to some form of regularisation system and I am proud to support the Migrant Rights Centre, which yesterday brought people into Leinster House and brought a letter signed by many people in this situation to the Minister of Justice and Equality. It is not a huge number of people overall. Will the Leader give Government time to Committee Stage of the Labour Party Bill on undocumented children?