Order of Business, 17 April 2013

Wednesday, 17th April 2013

I am disappointed the matter I wished to raise on the Adjournment was not taken as it was lodged before some of the others that were accepted.

I welcome the Government’s acceptance of the cross-party Private Members’ Bill, along with Senator Ivana Bacik, to set aside the Statute of Limitations for the survivors of symphysiotomy. I am aware from the debate in the House last May that many Senators advocated this position. It is a horror story which I have followed closely as a member of the victims of symphysiotomy all-party support group. I pay tribute to the survivors, their families and supporters and those who advocated and campaigned tirelessly on their behalf. I pay tribute to Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, convenor of the all-party group, whose determination and commitment to seek justice for the survivors has kept the issue firmly on the Oireachtas agenda. While I do not condone the length of time it has taken to get here, this is how things should be done. It has restored my faith in consensus politics and how we can work together to achieve good. While the agreement by the Government to support the Bill through Second Stage is welcome, I ask the Leader to urge the Government to begin actively engaging with the survivors and their representative groups to address their immediate health and support needs and, in parallel, to put a structure in place that will ensure redress.

I wish to raise the plight of the 32 thalidomide survivors. At an Oireachtas briefing they shared some of their specific support needs. Regrettably, they are being shunted between Departments. I ask the Leader to urge the Government to engage with them and their representative groups at the earliest opportunity.

On Monday, in response to the publication of the European Commission’s report on trafficking in human beings, I called on the Government to transpose immediately the EU anti-trafficking directive into national legislation. This was due to be done by 6 April. The directive has the potential to impact significantly on the lives of trafficked victims and will help prevent others from falling victim to this heinous crime. I welcome the publication yesterday of the criminal law human trafficking Bill to give effect to certain provisions of the EU anti-trafficking directive. I look forward to comparing the Bill against the directive and hope to find all the necessary elements incorporated. Significantly, the Bill defines forced labour in accordance with ILO convention 29. This is something I have called for in the past and I welcome its inclusion. I ask the Leader to commend the Government for initiating the Bill in this House.

I welcome the appointment of the members designate of the new Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission. They are of fine calibre and will bring extensive expertise to their role. I hope a suitable chair can be found at the earliest opportunity.