Senator Alice-Mary Higgins calls for “green networks of cycle and pedestrian lanes and new ambition for rural public transport” at launch of new Committee report on Transport and Climate Action

The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Environment and Climate Action launched its Report on Reducing Emissions in the Transport Sector last Wednesday 3rd June. It is the first in a series of sectoral analyses on how Ireland will meet its target of a 51% reduction in emissions by 2030. 

Ireland has the fourth highest level of transport emissions per capita in Europe and the transport sector is responsible for around 20% of our overall CO₂ emissions, with private cars being the largest contributors to transport emissions.

Senator Higgins welcomes Minister’s change in position on COVID legislation after Senators protest “indefinite extensions” of emergency COVID measures

Following pressure during yesterday’s second stage debate and the tabling of amendments from Senators Alice-Mary Higgins, Lynn Ruane and Frances Black, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly told the Seanad today that he had “reflected overnight” and accepted the demands for a clear “endpoint” to the emergency legislation.

The Bill as published had allowed for what Senator Higgins described as “indefinite extension of emergency powers by simple resolution with no requirement for legislative scrutiny and no ultimate end date”.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins welcomes “important shift in policy and approach” as Minister O’Gorman publishes legislation to give adopted people access to birth certs and early life information

Senator Higgins has welcomed new draft legislation published by Minister O’Gorman yesterday “as an important shift in policy and approach which could finally give adopted people proper access their birth certificates, and birth and early life information.”

Speaking today Senator Higgins said “This proposed legislation seems to offer long-overdue recognition and support for the rights of adopted people to access their birth certificates, and birth and early life information.”

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins calls on Government to support a TRIPS waiver for COVID-19 vaccines at crucial WTO meeting as daily death toll escalates in India and Brazil

Independent Senator Alice-Mary Higgins has said “there is an urgent moral responsibility on the Irish Government to support a Trade and Intellectual Property Rules (TRIPS) waiver and publicly press the European Commission to vote in favour of that TRIPS waiver at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) meeting on April 30th”.

A TRIPS waiver would allow for the sharing of the intellectual property for COVID-19 vaccines. The proposal has been supported by NGOs such as Oxfam and Médecins Sans Frontieres.

The 'low-ball' public procurement model is broken and needs reform

Read my op-ed in The Journal here - https://www.thejournal.ie/read...

IN 2019, IRELAND spent €12 billion on contracts for goods, services and construction. This figure is set to rise considerably in the coming years as €116 billion in major capital works projects are rolled out under the National Development Plan.

The public has a right to expect that when money is spent on their behalf, it is spent in a way that delivers the best results. That requires a carefully thought-through approach to the quality of standards and performance in areas like sustainability, social impact, decent employment and design.

Senator Higgins highlights inequalities in education arising from COVID-19

Over the last number of weeks, I have been corresponding with the Minister for Education and Skills on issues raised by Covid 19 at every level of our education system. This crisis has deepened inequalities already faced by many students, I have called for particular action on the difficulties faced by students in direct provision. I have also pressed for a ‘no detriment’ policy and policies that ensure real opportunity and choice for all leaving cert students. In a time of emergency we cannot allow vulnerable communities to be left behind -  I have also highlighted the challenges faced by Ireland’s research sector and called for more flexible and ambitious funding across science and the humanities, including more public-public research. The collective challenges we will face in terms of society, culture, economy and environment over the coming months and years will require research of many different kinds. The Irish Research Council funding for research on the Sustainable Development Goals is one example of a project which could and should be scaled up as we try to ensure future resilience and sustainability. Education can and must be an accessible and enriching social good. 

Lastly, as part of the wider reimagining of our public spaces, I have called for an investment in better cycling and pedestrian infrastructure around our schools to ensure that safe and sustainable transport is an option for more families next September.