Senator Alice-Mary Higgins addresses Michel Barnier about Brexit Negotiations

On Wednesday 11th May, Michel Barnier, the EU Chief Negotiator for Brexit attended a special combined sitting of the Dáil and Seanad.

 I had the opportunity to address him and joined others in emphasising the importance of freedom of movement and need to ensure we do not have a militarised border. I further emphasised the importance of Ireland's neutrality and the Good Friday Agreement, in particular the Human Rights Act which is a crucial pillar of that agreement.and one which the UK have indicated they might repeal. 

I sought assurance from him that any Brexit deal would seek to protect international standards in employment, equality and the environment as well as supporting the practical cooperation in areas like health and education which are so important in the daily lives of many. 

Lastly I asked him to ensure that the message sent by the EU through the Brexit negotiations is not simply one of "a strong Europe" or a "Europe of the economy" but rather a Europe that is grounded on social rights and social cohesion, one which respects democracy, listens to civil society and demonstrates positive leadership.

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Senator Higgins calls for the 26th Seanad to convene

Senator Higgins, Senator Lynn Ruane and Senator Frances Black wrote to the Taoiseach to affirm their position that the Seanad should be allowed to sit. They agreed with the analysis of the Constitution put forward by Senators Bacik, McDowell and others and believe that the 26th Seanad can indeed convene prior to the appointment of the Taoiseach’s eleven nominees and that the 49 members who have been elected should be allowed to express their mandate.

 Moreover, they noted that the Dáil has been meeting for a number of weeks now to engage with non-legislative parliamentary work including scrutiny and oversight of public policy and that the Seanad should also have the opportunity to engage in such scrutiny. 

They believe that as an absolute minimum, a date must be set for a sitting of the Seanad for the purpose of selecting a Cathoirleach and re-establishing a committee to order the business of the house.