Gnó na Dála - Business of Dáil

As this is the last sitting day before Christmas, it is appropriate to take the opportunity before we move to Leaders' Questions to express my sincere thanks to all Members of the House, including the Taoiseach and the various leaders, for the co-operation - most of the time, I have to say - and courtesy they have shown throughout the year to everyone who has occupied the Chair. I do this on my behalf, on behalf of the Ceann Comhairle and on behalf of the Acting Chairmen, who are so helpful to us. I wish to express my sincere thanks to the Clerk of the Dáil and Secretary General of the Houses of the Oireachtas Service, Mr. Peter Finnegan, and to all the staff of the House. They play a very important role in the smooth running of the House. I thank the entire staff for the professional manner in which they look after all of us and the support they provide to Members. I thank the press corps for the role they play in our democracy by reporting our proceedings.

Christmas remains most special to all of us. When we go to our homes over Christmas, we have to remember those who struggle on the margins of our society. This Christmas will be a very lonely one for the many people who find themselves without homes of their own. We should remember those people. Christmas is a time to reach out and assist those who find the journey of life very difficult and burdensome. I wish all of you a very happy and blessed Christmas. I know this will be a Christmas where we have a break to recharge the batteries. This might be necessary, bearing in mind events that may take place in 2020.

Ar mo shon féin, thar ceann an Cheann Comhairle agus thar ceann na Cathaoirligh Ghníomhacha a bhíonn sa Chathaoir seo go minic, ba mhaith liom mo bhuíochas a chur in iúl leis na Teachtaí go léir. Gabhaim buíochas freisin le Ard-Rúnaí Sheirbhís Thithe an Oireachtais, an tUasal Peter Finnegan, agus le foireann an Taoisigh as ucht an tacaíocht a thugann siad dúinn i rith gach seisiún. Tá mé buíoch freisin as an obair a dhéanann na meáin cumarsáide chun an scéal a chur amach chuig an domhain mhór. Guím Nollaig shona agus bliain úr faoi mhaise oraibh go léir. Tá súil agam go mbeimid go léir ar ais anseo ag tús na hathbhliana.

As this is the last day of this year's session of Dáil Éireann, I am really pleased on behalf of the Government and on behalf of my party to extend my thanks to the Leas-Cheann Comhairle, the Ceann Comhairle and their staff, the Bills Office and all the general staff in Leinster House for the phenomenal work they have done for us in the past year. I would particularly like to mention the staff of the Whips Office, who keep so much running like clockwork in this House. I thank Alice, Les, Elaine and Katie for the help they have given all of us in the year gone by. I thank everyone. I really hope everyone has a phenomenal Christmas and a great break. We will see everyone in the new year.

Ar mo shon féin agus ar son mo pháirtí, ba mhaith liom Nollaig shona agus athbhliain faoi mhaise a chur in iúl leis na Teachtaí go léir. Gabhaim buíochas leis an Leas-Cheann Comhairle agus an Ceann Comhairle as ucht a gcomhoibriú i rith na bliana. I thank all of your team, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle. We extend our best wishes to the Ceann Comhairle. The wonderful courtesy of the Captain of the Guard and his team throughout the year is deeply appreciated. I thank all of the staff in Leinster House, including those who work in the Bills Office and those who feed us consistently and well in the various restaurants and in the bar. They keep us sane from time to time in this very exciting House. We genuinely appreciate the co-operation and friendly engagement of the staff of the House at all levels. I thank the Leas-Cheann Comhairle for expressing his appreciation and gratitude for the degree to which I have co-operated so excellently throughout the year. That has really gladdened my heart.

Do we believe that?

Deputy Mattie McGrath has been very conscious of that throughout the year. We wish him well. I wish the Taoiseach a very restful and peaceful Christmas. I wish everybody an interesting and exciting 2020. I am sure it will be exciting and interesting. I wish the best of luck to everybody and hope we all have a good and restful Christmas with our families.

I thank the Leas-Cheann Comhairle for his kind words, even if they were not wholly truthful as regards the co-operation of some Members. I want to place on the record our great appreciation for the hard work and diligence of the staff of the Oireachtas. They often demonstrate their patience with all of us. This place simply could not function without them. Christmas is a time for family, for renewal and for hope. I wish everybody beannachtaí na féile. I hope people have an enjoyable Christmas. To those who are on my Christmas list and those who are not, Nollaig shona in equal measure.

I heard an Leas-Cheann Comhairle's very wise words on how we should recall those on the margins and people who are struggling this Christmas. Sometimes when those words are said very sincerely, they sound rather hollow to those who are struggling. I would like us to make a new year's resolution that when we return we will make true and be true to that Christmas promise. I wish the leaders of Government, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, a good rest as we undoubtedly head towards an election. I wish them well under the mistletoe as they snuggle up together over another Christmas season. I suggest that in the new year, the best present that could be brought is a new Government, new politics, new hope and renewal because those things are not just for Christmas.

I join other leaders in wishing An Leas-Cheann Comhairle a restful and happy Christmas and I thank him for all his work during the year. I extend good wishes to the Ceann Comhairle and hope that he will rejoin us here in full health and vigour early in the new year. I wish every Member a restful sojourn over the Christmas break. As others have stated, we probably face into more challenging times early in the new year. I do not mind winter elections, we have had them in the past, and whatever comes, comes. I thank all the staff of the House, the Captain of the Guard and his team, all the ushers, the catering staff and everyone who works in this place to make it function. I always say that it is an extraordinary privilege to be elected to this House, the national assembly of the Irish people. We clash with each other during the year but it is an extraordinary privilege and I thank everyone who makes it work as well as it does. Sometimes we are critical of ourselves but when we look at the functioning of other places, we are not a bad democratic House and democratic forum for the people of Ireland. I look forward to reconvening here in the new year, early or late, and to carry on our collective work on behalf of the people of the country. I re-echo the view that there are people who find Christmas very difficult, who do not have homes to go to and who do not have what we all expect to have, such as a decent Christmas dinner. It is appropriate not only that we reflect upon them but that we resolve to ensure that things are better for all citizens of Ireland in the coming year.

I wish everyone a very merry Christmas and a happy new year. I give a special thank you to all the staff of the Oireachtas, the ushers and other staff, in the work they do to help all of us see our way through this House and its various machinations. I look forward to coming back in the new year. I hope that the election will happen sooner rather than later in order that we will have the opportunity to change the roles of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, which I would welcome. On behalf of the group, we echo the views of An Leas-Cheann Comhairle in respect of those who are having a difficult time and who will have a difficult time over Christmas. It is important that we remember them as well.

I thank the staff who make this place work. I would not want to be in their position of having to deal with many of the Deputies and Senators in the Houses. I thank them for making this place tick and I wish everyone a happy Christmas.

I also want to associate myself with the good wishes for a happy, holy and peaceful Christmas. I thank everyone, including an Leas-Cheann Comhairle, for the lovely ceremony we held last week with Sister Consilio and all the people who do what they do. Brother Kevin was given that wonderful award last year. I wish the Ceann Comhairle well and I look forward to his return. I send Christmas greetings to everyone outside the House and to the Members who left us during the year and went to Europe, as well as our work colleagues in our constituency offices. I thank the Captain of the Guard, the ushers, the canteen staff, cleaners, An Garda Síochána and everybody who is involved in this House. It is an honour and a privilege to be here. I hope Santy will come to the Taoiseach and enlighten him to give us the election date. The Taoiseach and Deputy Micheál Martin are writing love letters over and back in order to decide when we will have a date. It is like a couple meeting at a dance at a dance hall years ago. There was no communications then. The Taoiseach and the Deputy can talk. We should get a date for the election in order that there will be no more uncertainty.

I always communicated when I was in a dance hall.

I did not say that the Deputy did not but he has lost a lot of the skill of it since if he has to be writing to the Taoiseach. He and the Taoiseach should talk to each other, end people's anguish and give us a date. Let the romance begin for a new Government.

Go raibh maith agat, a Theachtaí agus a cheannairí. I will pass on their good wishes to the Ceann Comhairle who will be back here at the beginning of the next session, not saying when that might be.

In addition to Peter Finnegan and the Members, the Captain of the Guard and the acting superintendent, I thank all their staff, the ushers, those in the Members' dining room, the self-service restaurant and the bars and everyone who services this House. Go raibh mile maith agaibh go leir agus bain sult as an mbriseadh seo.

We will move on. I suggest that we finish this year as we would hope to start next year-----

----and adhere to the times.

Why is An Leas-Cheann Comhairle looking at me?

We know what Santa is getting the Deputy.