Marking International Women's Day 2017

Dublin Declaration Cropped
Dublin Declaration Cropped

I was glad to begin International Women's Day at the World Congress on Women's Mental Health which was hosted by the National Women's Council of Ireland and Trinity College Dublin. The event shone a light on mental health issues affecting women, including the issue of reproductive rights.

The morning's panel discussion ended with the reading of the "Dublin Declaration", a powerful call for governments worldwide to provide abortion services and recognise women's full reproductive rights. There was further solidarity all across the country in the tens of thousands who came out to Strike4Repeal, a powerful and timely call for the repeal of the eighth amendment of the constitution. 

In the Seanad chamber itself I had the opportunity to speak on the need for better pay and conditions for women workers, particularly women in hospitality industry. Lastly, I attended an important event to highlight domestic violence, an issue that will be debated in the Seanad in the coming weeks. 

Although we have come a long way towards gender equality in Ireland, it has never been clearer that inequality runs deep and is resistant to change. There is still much work to be done to ensure the full achievement of women's rights and justice for all who have faced abuse and neglect by the state.

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Senators Alice-Mary Higgins and Frances Black co-sign letter from 1,000 parliamentarians calling on European leaders to take a stand against annexation and protect the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins, Senator Frances Black, Senator Lynn Ruane and Senator David Norris and more than 100 other Irish Oireachtas members have joined over 1,000 other parliamentarians from across Europe, in co-signing a letter calling on European leaders to act decisively against plans for illegal annexation of Palestinian territories by Israel which have the potential to undermine peace negotiations and further destabilize the region.

The joint letter, initiated by Avraham Burg a former speaker of Israel's parliamentary assembly, the Knesset, underlines the importance of a "rules based global order" and calls for a lasting solution to the conflict that meets “legitimate aspirations and security needs and guarantees equal rights of both Israelis and Palestinians.” It emphasizes that “Europe has the diplomatic tools to promote this just goal, and we stand ready to support such efforts.”

Senator Higgins said: “Europe has a responsibility to follow through on its long-stated commitment to a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to take a firm stand against attempts to undermine core principles of justice, human rights and peace. Europe must make strong use of its diplomacy to oppose any proposed new settlement or annexation and Ireland, in particular, needs to show leadership”

Senator Black said: “With the threat of annexation, the international community must recognise one thing above all else: Condemnation is not enough! It has not stopped decades of settlement expansion. We need real accountability and action before it’s too late. “

“I introduced The Occupied Territories Bill into Seanad Éireann in 2018, it prohibits the importation of goods from illegally occupied lands, including the illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The international community has an obligation to oppose annexation & the expansion of illegal settlements: we can start by refusing to support them economically.”

The letter, signed by 1080 parliamentarians, is addressed to EU Foreign Ministers and EU High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell. It calls on Europe to “take the lead in bringing international actors together to prevent annexation and to safeguard the prospects of the two-state solution and a just resolution to the conflict.”

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins urges Government to “Step up the Speed and Ambition on Climate Action”

JOC on Climate publishes report with 78 recommendations to improve Climate Bill. 

 After eight weeks of intense pre-legislative scrutiny, the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action’s today published its official report on the ‘Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2020’ including 78 “significant recommendations on how the Bill should be strengthened.