Email Newsletter – January 2012

Welcome to my first email newsletter! If you don’t wish to receive my newsletter in the future please click on the unsubscribe button at the bottom of the email.

As a recently appointed Senator I am working to find ways to communicate my work effectively to you. Being an Independent I have no natural constituency but having worked in the community and voluntary sector for the past six years I see my new role as a great opportunity for engaging with and representing civil society and achieving our shared objectives. I am acutely aware of how difficult it can be for civil society to advocate for and provide services, especially in the current economic climate. Equally, I am eager to ensure that I remain plugged in and connected with people’s realities and the challenges they face.

In my first six months as a Senator I have spoken on many issues including the new Department of Children and Youth Affairs, the Keane Report, the community and voluntary sector, the infrastructure and capital investment plan, job creation and innovation, constitutional amendments, the Irish language, Special Needs Assistants, a Missing Children’s Hotline, child care and protection, school transport, human trafficking and prostitution, female genital mutilation, the National Vetting Bureau, the Cloyne Report, alcohol pricing and whistleblowing legislation.

I am looking forward to working with you in the future and sharing our knowledge and expertise. Please feel free to share this newsletter with anyone you think might be interested in it!

Kind regards,
Senator Jillian van Turnhout

On a weekly basis I participate in Seanad debates with various Government Ministers on a variety of issues and Bills before the House. Here, I have the opportunity to voice my support or raise my concerns. To propose amendments to Bills or to support those made by others.

Under Seanad Order of Business I can raise any matter, which I feel warrants immediate attention, and can call on the Leader of the House to invite relevant Government Ministers into the Chamber to address the concern I have raised.

As well as being able to initiate Motions, which call on the Government to take some form of action, I can initiate a Bill.

I also have the opportunity to participate in the new Seanad tradition whereby guest speakers are invited into the House to share their experience and ideas with Senators. To date 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, and Dr. Mary Robinson, former Senator and President of Ireland.

I welcome your input into any of these debates and processes.

Independent Group:
I am the Leader of the Independent Group of Senators (Taoiseach’s Nominees), comprised of my fellow Senators Eamonn Coghlan, Martin McAleese, Fiach Mac Conghail, Mary Ann O’Brien, Marie-Louise O’Donnell and Katherine Zappone.

In addition to operating in our individual capacities, coming together in a group allows us to draw on our diverse range of backgrounds, experience and skill sets and to maximise our effectiveness in the Seanad.

To date, the Independent Group has brought three Motions before the Seanad on Seanad Reform, Criminalising the Purchase of Sex in Ireland and Physical Fitness in Schools.

We are looking forward to raising many more important issues in 2012.

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