I participate in weekly Seanad debates with different Government Ministers on a variety of issues and legislation before the House. I use these opportunities to voice my support or raise my concerns and propose amendments to Bills where appropriate.
Private Members’ Business
Under Seanad Private Members Business, which rotates among the Parties/Groups in the Seanad, the Independent Group (Nominees) as a whole or in our individual capacities can put forward Motions and initiate Bills (other than money Bills) which call on the Government to take some form of action.
Commencement Matters (formerly known as Adjournment Motions)
Seanad procedures allow Senators to ask for a debate at the commencement of the Seanad each sitting day to discuss a specific and important matter of public interest. I find this mechanism very useful for raising important issues, often brought to my attention by civil society and NGOs that arise at short notice. I actively encourage groups and organisations to contact my office if they have issues that might be suitable for seeking direct answers from Ministers in the Seanad Chamber via a Commencement debate
Order of Business
Under Seanad Order of Business and Seanad Commencement debates I raise matters that require immediate attention and I request the Cathaoirleach (Leader of the House) to call the relevant Government Ministers into the Chamber to address my concerns. To ensure that appropriate weight is given to the issues I raise I use the Order of Business mechanism selectively and strategically
Joint Committee on Health and Children
As a member of the Joint Committee onHealth and Children I actively participate in weekly Committee meetings and quarterly meetings with the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs and the Minster for Health and HSE. In advance of the latter meetings I submit questions to be addressed by the relevant Minister and again I invite groups and organisations to contact myoffice if they have issues that might be suitable for such dialogue.
Informal groupings of TDs and Senators
I am also a member of a number of informal groupings with like-minded TDs and Senators:
- Seanad Cross Party Group on Direct Provision
- All Party Interest Group on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and Development
- Victims of Symphysiotomy Oireachtas All-Party Group
- Children’s Future Health Cross-Party Group
- Parliamentarian group to link with Comhairle na nOg
I have participated in a new Seanad activity, whereby guest speakers are invited into the House to share their experience and ideas with Senators. We have been addressed by Jerzy Buzek, President of the European Parliament; Dr Maurice Manning, former Senator and President of the Irish Human Rights Commission; Dr Mary Robinson, former Senator and President of Ireland; and Drew Nelson, Orange Order Grand Secretary.