Before I read the Commencement, I welcome to the Distinguished Visitors Gallery the ambassador from Italy. He is most welcome. Today marks Italy's Republic Day, the establishment of the Republic of Italy in 1946. The Irish and the Italians have a great shared history of emigration. We are known as builders of nations, in particular in the United States of America. Migration between our two countries has been going on for thousands of years. Irish monks, led by Columbanus, founded a monastery near Genoa in the 7th century. There is a strong Italian-Irish community here, dating back to the 19th and early 20th centuries, and strong links to the homeland near Valle di Comino in Frosinone province near Rome, which is where all our fish and chips experts come from. There are approximately 50,000 Italians living in Ireland at present. Italian companies employ more than 1,600 people here and since 2020 we have an Italian-Irish Chamber of Commerce.
Last year marked the 700th anniversary of the death of the father of the Italian language, Dante, who was a giant of world literature and is famous for The Divine Comedy. This year, Ireland and Italy share the celebrations of the centenary of the publication of James Joyce's seminal work, Ulysses. Joyce was at heart a Dubliner but spent 15 years in Trieste and was a pioneer of modernism. During his time, he was a giant of the Italian literary scene and was a close friend of the best known writer of the 20th century, Italo Svevo. Italy's day is known as Festa della Repubblica. I wish the ambassador and all the Italians living here in Ireland a happy republic day. I thank the ambassador for being with us. I also thank colleagues for being here.
From that celebration to this celebration of democracy. I have received notice of the following Commencement matters from Senators this morning. I thank them for being here for Italy's national day.
I have received notice from Senator Fiona O'Loughlin that, on the motion for the Commencement of the House today, she proposes to raise the following matter:
The need for the Minister of State with responsibility for planning and local government to provide an update on the provision of a second bridge for Newbridge, County Kildare.
I have also received notice from Senator Eugene Murphy of the following matter:
The need for the Minister for Transport to make a statement on the need for investment in remedial safety works on the N5 from Scramogue to Ballaghaderreen, County Roscommon.
I have also received notice from Senator Jerry Buttimer of the following matter:
The need for the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine to ensure Cork is a designated port for the importation of non-EU fresh produce.
I have also received notice from Senator Martin Conway of the following matter:
The need for the Minister for Health to provide an update on the payment of the pandemic bonus to HSE and community-based workers.
The matters raised by the Senators are suitable for discussion and they will be taken now. The Minister of State who is taking the first Commencement matter this morning is Deputy Malcolm Noonan, who informed me that his home town is twinned with a town in Italy. It is fortuitous that he is the first Minister in the House this morning.