On June 29th I was honored to be elected as the Cathaoirleach of the 26th Seanad by my fellow Senators. As the first person from Kerry and second youngest of the Cathaoirligh since the foundation of the State, this is a great privilege.
The honor is enhanced given the fact that my term as Cathaoirleach will coincide with the 100th anniversary of Seanad Éireann. The position, role and responsibilities of Cathaoirleach is one of the few of those in the State described in our Constitution. These responsibilities are wide and varied, and include being the sole judge of order in the Seanad.
The Cathaoirleach is also a member of the Council of State and part of the Presidential Commission. On the Presidential Commission I am joined by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and the Ceann Comhairle of Dáil Éireann. In the absence of the President, the Commission takes over certain matters in relation to the exercise and performance by the President of his powers and functions. I will of course continue to work hard on behalf of all people on local and national issues.
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The Director of Public Prosecutions, Ms. Claire Loftus, has stated that her office has noted an increase of 87% in the number of files submitted relating to domestic abuse or a breach of order so far this year. In 2019, the total number of such files received by the DPP’s office was 464. This has risen to 684 by the end of October this year.
Such figures indicate an increasingly worrying trend being experienced across Europe, and much of the world, that lockdowns and movement restrictions related to Covid-19 are inadvertently giving rise to cases of domestic violence and abuse.
While the €160,000 of funding provided by the Department of Justice has helped voluntary and community groups, and enabled them transition to providing online services, it is clear that much more needs to be done to combat this problem and assist victims.
These are challenging times for us all, however it is important to recognise that for many people the home is no longer a safe place. I would implore everyone to be mindful of those in our family, friendship and community circles who may be suffering. Victims are not alone, support systems are in place to provide assistance where needed and our work on this issue will continue.
In the interest of public safety & health my Saturday advice clinics and the option of home visits are no longer available in face to face meetings. Regardless my work on your behalf continues. If I can be of assistance please contact me via the avenues below.
I would like to send my sincere congratulations to President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their recent victory in the US general election.
As invitations are sent to President-elect Biden from all over Ireland, the Ceann Comhairle & I have written to An Taoiseach Micheál Martin TD, to ask consideration be given to inviting the President-elect to Ireland & to address a Joint Sitting of the Dáil & Seanad as soon as possible.
In these uncertain times nurturing and expanding the relationship between our two nations remains a priority. We look forward to working with the Biden administration in pursuit of our common goals and a brighter future.
“History says, don’t hope On this side of the grave. But then, once in a lifetime The longed-for tidal wave Of justice can rise up, And hope and history rhyme.” – Seamus Heaney
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Fianna Fáil Seanad Spokesperson on Transport Mark Daly has called on the Minister for Foreign Affairs to ensure that Irish citizens, stranded in Australia, are brought home.
Senator Daly said, “I have been contacted by families across Ireland whose loved ones are trying to get back to Ireland, but whose flights have been delayed or cancelled. Some of these people want to come home to help out in the health service, while others are coming to the end of their visa and need to get home before it runs out.
“Many of those stranded have no work and are worried about running out of money. They, or their families have shelled out huge amounts of money for flights back to Ireland, but now those flights have been cancelled.
“I am calling on Minister Simon Coveney to ensure that flights are arranged to bring those who are stranded in Australia back to Ireland. He must engage with the relevant airlines and authorities to ensure that flights are scheduled in the coming days to cater for those wanting to come home”, concluded Senator Daly.
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