You can watch my contribution here.
Two years ago, on this same date in fact, we were debating the Report of the Expert group on the A,B,C judgements.
I spoke in that debate, and nothing I say now is different from what I said then.
We can talk about our own personal feelings on this issue. And people’s own personal viewpoints are important.
But do I have a right to force my views on another person?
Whether as a legislator or not, do I have a right to tell a woman what she must do with her body?
Does the state have that right?
I believe it does not.
Continue reading here.
The National Treasury Management Agency (Ammendment Bill) 2014 is currently going through the House. This Bill, when enacted, will create the new €6.8 billion Ireland Strategic Investment Fund which is being created as a new national investment vehicle using the proceeds of the former National Pension Reserve Fund.
At second stage debate I spoke on this important legislation and made the following points (click here to watch a video of my contribution):
That employment practices in the NTMA should be examined and replicated across the civil service and public sector given the success of this state organ through the crisis and after;
A strategic investment fund should be seen as a long-term investment as opposed to spending, and that is must be invested based on an expected return and not used for political or other purposes;
That the fund should have an ethical investment policy to prevent the state from investing in companies that manufacture certain devices, for example nuclear weapons.
I also raised the possibility of using circa 7% of the €20 billion that the NTMA has ass cash on balance in the upcoming budget as a tax relief dividend for people earning €32,800 or more.
I will be tabling an amendment to this Bill regarding the ethical investment policy proposal. This amendment will be based on the legislation I produced previously on this matter. You can find out more here: ethical investment policy.
Draft remarks – click here to watch the video.
I would like to congratulate the Minister on bringing forward this amendment to the electoral bill and welcome the amendment.
In the context of the title of the Bill and seeing as the Minister is present in the chamber, I would like to raise the electoral issue of the proposed plebiscite of the people of Dublin on a directly elected Mayor for Dublin.
I think it is disgraceful that a minority of elected representatives acted in an anti-democratic fashion and chose to deny all of the people of Dublin, and not just the ones they represent, their say in this matter. I believe the outcome of the vote in Fingal should be ignored, and that a plebiscite should be put to the all the people of Dublin on whether or not they want a directly elected mayor for the city.
And to those who claim that such a decision by the Minster would also be anti-democratic, I believe that it is undemocratic to give elected members in Fingal a say over Councils and constituencies and people whom they do not represent.
The Councillors of Fingal have no mandate in Dublin City – why should they have a say over the people of Dublin city? But the people of Fingal should have a say over the Fingal Council and should have a say in whether or not the Dublin region has its own mayor.
I would urge the Minister, now that he has consulted all of the Councillors in the region and has a clear view of what the majority of them wish (75% of them are in favour), to proceed with a ballot of the people of Dublin on whether or not they would like a directly elected Mayor for the city region. And for this ballot to take place on 23 May.
The Minister has brought in many excellent reforms in a brief period of time – but this could be, if implemented, his most important yet.
Today the Dáil debated the Seanad Reform Bill 2014 which was brought to the House by Deputy Michael Martin. As you may know, my focus has always been on reforming the Dáil – doing so would also reform the Seanad as these reforms would automatically flow down to the second chamber (you might recall I published a pamphlet on Dáil reform in March 2013 – click here).
For example, we should allow the Dáil to order its own business – an independent parliament would not be an irresponsible one. We should also allow members to submit, and subsequently vote on, their own amendments to legislation at committee stage – such change currently takes place in the backrooms but we need to make it a more open process.
Today the Government approved the drafting of the Education (Admissions to Schools) Bill 2014. This legislation will reform the school admission process at primary and secondary level.
The majority of schools – 80% – are able to admit all pupils who apply for enrolment and the changes envisaged in the Bill will have little affect here.
But for the 20% of schools that are currently over-subscribed, and the parents who find themselves grappling with this issue, the reforms will play an important role.
You can read more details about these reforms here.
The Roads Bill 2014 is before the Dáil. It merges the National Roads Authority with the Railway Procurement Agency and makes provision for updating previous roads Acts. During my contribution to the debate, I raised the following issues:
-The importance of reducing the number of state agencies and the size of government generally
– Focussing on light rail as the future for Dublin transport
-The importance of achieving efficiencies in merging the two agencies
– The necessity of first-rate communications to visitors during the construction of Luas Cross City
– The possibility of using the East Link Toll to expand DublinBikes south of the canal
– The importance of introducing the relevant regulations as per my Smarter Transport Bill 2011
Click here to watch.
Minister Richard Bruton has published his legislation dissolving the City and County Enterprise Boards ahead of new enterprise structures being put in place for SMEs. I spoke on the Bill and directed my comments towards the following areas:
– The Action Plan for Jobs 2014 and the need for tangible supports for Peer-to-Peer financing
– Making it easier for businesses to navigate through red tape using a One Stop Shop model
– The burden of charges on local businesses – the need to move to a new commercial rates system – the need to reduce taxes on employment
– The importance of treating Dublin differently when devising SME strategies given its importance to the economy (and whether or not the Dublin City Enterprise Board should be moved into Dublin City Council)
Click here to watch my contribution.
Update: The Oireachtas Committee on Education & Social Protection has published its report on the draft Education Bill which seeks to reform the admission process for primary and secondary schools. You can read a summary of their findings here and the full report here.
The government has published the heads of a new Education Bill to reform the school admission process at primary and secondary level.
Consultation on the draft proposals is currently taking place, both at the Oireachtas Committee on Education and Social Protection and elsewhere, thanks to new reforms to the legislative process. This allows for maximum input from all stakeholders before the enactment of legislation by Dáil Éireann. The Committee will hold hearings on submissions from interested parties in January 2014.
As part of this process I recently held a meeting in Donnybrook to explain to parents and educators the changes envisaged in the Bill. There was a full house on the night with a wide cross-section of participants and I was happy that so many members of the community took the time to take part in a discussion about the proposed legislation. It’s an important issue in Dublin Bay South, as it is around the country.
A report from the meeting has been issued to all in attendance, as well as to the Department of Education and the Oireachtas Joint Committee.
You can read the report here.
Draft remarks on Social Welfare & Pensions Bill 2013:
Though the working age is going up, incrementally, our working lives still are shortening. People are starting work later as they receive more education, with the expectation of retiring earlier and living longer. How is a shorter working life meant to financially sustain a lengthening non-working life? And when you take changing demographics in to consideration, despite baby boom blips, it’s like constructing an inverted pyramid. It will not stand…
On Friday we discussed a Private Member’s Bill from Deputy Timmy Dooley concerning ‘hit and run’ collisions. Elements of the Bill were accepted by Leo Varadkar, Minister for Transport. This is a welcome demonstration of how backbenchers from any party can make a contribution to the work of the government.
I chose to focus my remarks mainly on investing in road maintenance and introducing on the spot fines for cyclists and pedestrians in breach of the traffic laws.
Click here to watch.