Re-elected! A word of thanks from Senator Higgins
Senator Higgins was re-elected to Seanad Éireann on the NUI panel.
Since being elected to the Seanad in 2016, Senator Alice-Mary Higgins has sponsored 10 separate bills, and won over 50 amendments, making real change in policy and law.
These amendments were won by vote, by agreement of the Seanad or by persuading the Minister to accept the policy point of the amendment and bring it into law with their own wording.
She has also proposed and won cross-party support for a number of motions.
Alice-Mary has sponsored and co-sponsored the following bills:
Community Participation (Disability) (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2019
Electoral (Civil Society Freedom) (Amendment) Bill 2019
Public Authorities and Utility Undertakings (Contract Preparation and Award Criteria) Bill 2019
Prohibition of Conversion Therapies Bill 2018
Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018
International Protection (Family Reunification) (Amendment) Bill 2017
Controlled Drugs and Harm Reduction Bill 2017
Adult Safeguarding Bill 2017
Derelict and Vacant Sites Bill 2017
Seanad Bill 2016
Planning and Development (Housing) andResidential Tenancies Act 2016: 4 amendments including an amendment to strengthen rental protection and another to prevent fast-track planning permissions from being held in reserve for extended periods of time.
Adoption (Amendment) Act 2017 1 amendment to ensure that a review into open or semi-open adoption would take place within 10 months of the Act passing into law. Following that review, the Department have changed policy and introduced, post adoption contact plans and counselling supports for the first time in Ireland.
Data Protection Act 2018 4 amendments and a shift in policy to ensure that public bodies would not be exempted from fines for misuse of personal data but would instead face fines of up to one million.
Heritage Act 2018 1 amendment won and a number of other compromise amendments achieved. Through working with other parties across the Seanad, progress was made in the course of the debate to limit out of season hedge-cutting to only roadside hedges and to extend the opportunities for local authorities and members of the public to raise objections under the canals part of the legislation. Lengthy Seanad debates helped build public and political pressure and in summer 2019, the Minister announced that hedge-cutting would not be allowed in August for that year.
Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018 1 amendment won with a specific focus on limiting advertising and sponsorship by alcohol products where it may affect children.
Mediation Act 2017 1 amendment was won to ensure that in any situation where mediation is being recommended, each person is made aware that mediation is a voluntary process which may not be appropriate for everyone, particularly where they have experienced domestic violence or coercive control or feel there is a risk to safety, and no one should feel pressured to agree to it.
DomesticViolence Act 2018 Senator Higgins, along with a number of other Senators, proposed amendments to legislate for controlling and coercive behaviour as a criminal offence. After significant discussion and further stakeholder engagement a version of this amendment was introduced into the bill by the Minister.
Social Welfare Act 2019 1 amendment was won to provide for a report and recommendations to be made by the Minister and the department regarding one parent families. The report will particularly examine the issue of income disregard for parents of children between the ages of fourteen and eighteen.
Greyhound Racing Act 2019 3 amendments were won to improve the protections given to the welfare of greyhounds by ensuring that there is at least one vet on the board of the relevant association and that retirement and rehoming plans are put in place for greyhounds.
Data-Sharing andGovernance Act 2018 Approximately 24 amendments were accepted to bring the Bill in line with the Data Protection Act and GDPR - excluding special categories of personal data from the scope of the act except in very explicit circumstances, strengthening the security of data-sharing between public bodies, and strengthening the capacity of individuals and citizens to exercise their data protection rights.
Wildlife Bill 2016 9 amendments were won to maintain protections to peatlands as part of Ireland’s natural and cultural heritage, biodiversity and carbon sequestration sources. The amendments include a requirement that the Minister and department must complete an audit on the condition, restoration potential and re-wetting potential of any blanket bog before an order can be made for de-designation as a natural heritage area.
Senator Higgins was re-elected to Seanad Éireann on the NUI panel.
In passing the second emergency legislation relating to the COVID-19 crisis, Senator Higgins highlighted the importance of honoring the trust that has been placed in the government and the public services by members of the public during these extraordinary times.
On Friday, Senator Alice-Mary Higgins returned to the Seanad to pass the Health Emergency legislation in response to COVID-19.
Senator Alice-Mary Higgins today, 14 February, lodged her nomination papers to seek re-election to the next Seanad on the National University of Ireland (NUI) panel.
After debating the Wildlife Bill for 12 hours in the Seanad, Senator Higgins was happy to report last-minute wins in two areas. Senator Higgins succeeded in persuading the Minister to accept her amendment which requires a report to be produced on the condition, restoration and rewetting potential of ALL blanket bog National Heritage Areas before any order to remove protection of these bogs can be made. Which means no golf course or other ill-conceived developments in these National Heritage Areas for the foreseeable future. The Minister also accepted Senator Higgins' amendment to require a report on how turbury (peat cutting) rights operate – to include recommendations on a definition of ‘household use’ – important not only in terms of climate action but also a just transition.
The decision by the Minister not to extend hedge-cutting into August this year is an important recognition of the growing crisis in biodiversity in Ireland and worldwide.
Senator Higgins said in response to today’s announcement, “I am glad to see Minister Madigan has apparently given new consideration to the serious concerns expressed by myself and others during the extensive Seanad Debate in the Heritage Bill and has removed the threat of August cutting from the habitats which our insects, birds, bees rely on. The essential next step must be to review this flawed legislation and ensure that biodiversity is protected not just this year but every year.”
Speaking on the 'Contract Preparation & Criteria Bill', which successfully passed sec-ond stage in the Seanad today with the government abstaining and all other parties supporting, Senator Higgins said, “Procurement is an issue which impacts everyone, from the most intimate areas of our lives to the largest infrastructure. I believe this bill can be a game-changer for the cul-ture around how we deliver public procurement in Ireland”
Today, Senator Alice-Mary Higgins proposed amendments to the European Parliament Elections (Amendment) Bill to ensure that British citizens resident in Ireland and already on the electoral register would continue to be able to vote in the European Parliament elections after Brexit.
Proposed amendments would directly address loopholes which could be exploited by companies like Cambridge Analytica.