Human Rights Issues
I have been involved in the pursuit of human and civil rights for many years. There have been and still are so many parts of the world were human and civil rights are abused whether this is in the name of religion, politics or sheer corruption. We who are lucky to be living in a democracy must not forget the oppressed and the disenfranchised.
Let us think in particular of those suffering in Yemen and Syria. Many need our help and I will continue to do all I can to highlight their plight.
I am delighted to see that Direct Provision Centres in Ireland will be closed by 2024 and that asylum seekers will be moved into state run accommodation and newly arrived asylum seekers will spend no more than 4 months in state owned reception centres before moving into not for profit housing secured through the Approved Housing Bodies Agency.
I have been pushing for reform of the Direct Provision Process for many years and even introduced a bill called ‘The Immigration (Reform) (Regularisation of Residency Status) Bill’ but regrettably the Government did not support it. At long last the appalling Direct Provision Centres will be removed and replaced with a more humane and equitable system
For over 40 years I have been advocating for Seanad Reform. My latest endeavour was to eliminate Standing Order 41 which prevents the Senate from introducing bills or amendments to bills which incur a cost on the state. If this ban was removed it would make an incredible difference to the power of the Seanad. As you can imagine there is resistant to this by the larger political parties. However I will continue to keep the pressure on.
In fact the issue was recently raised on my behalf by an independent representative on the Seanad Committee on Procedures and Privileges who are instrumental in making such a decision. In relation to the university seats we are the only truly democratically elected element in the Seanad particularly if you compare us with the Taoiseach’s nomination of 11 Senators who do not have to go through the rigors of an election but are elevated to their position at the whim of the Taoiseach. That is power.
Gay and Civil Rights
It has been my pleasure to work on behalf of the Gay community for over 50 years to secure equality in almost all aspects of life. The passing of the Same Sex Marriage Referendum was a particular pleasure and it is a great source of joy to me to see young people expressing themselves openly without fear of the law. However there are still many countries around the world where it is a crime to be gay and in many cases lives have been lost.
It is incumbent on us to push for decriminalisation and to support the oppressed. Our work is not over.