Ar an gcéad dul síos, is cúis ghliondair croí dom a bheith ar ais anseo arís sa Tríocha-tríú Dáil. Gabhaim comhghairdeas le gach duine - iad siúd atá atofa agus iad siúd atá nuathofa. Tá súil agam go mbeidh rath Dé ar a gcuid oibre. I thank the Clerk and congratulate Mr. Peter Finnegan and his excellent team on the preparations for today that allow this assembly to function as efficiently as always. I am grateful for the opportunity to say a few words to Members this afternoon and to congratulate my colleague and friend, Deputy Naughten, on his entering this competition. Competition is an essential part of the democratic process and I know Denis to be a very fine parliamentarian and a man of considerable integrity.
Four years ago I stood here seeking support for election as Ceann Comhairle. I was then something of an unknown quantity to many Members. Today I seek a renewal of the mandate and I hope my work over the past four years has assisted the progression of the crucial Dáil reform agenda to make our Dáil more reflective of and responsive to the needs of a national Parliament in 2020. I work on the basic principle of respect for the mandate that each Member of the Dáil has received from the electorate. That mandate is in every respect equal and deserving of similar priority.
In the Thirty-second Dáil, we worked together in a more collegial fashion than ever to create a progressive Dáil reform committee at which each group in the House was represented. We achieved change by working in a collaborative way to alter how the business of this House is conducted. We established a fully representative Dáil Business Committee that succeeded, for the most part, in building consensus around the weekly and sessional Dáil agendas. We established an independent Parliamentary Budget Office, which is now fully operational, and which supports all Members in budgetary processes. We have also set in train that office's ability to cost legislative proposals and in time, it will be able to do the same for political manifestos. We have built that independent Parliamentary Budget Office to emulate the United States Congressional Budget Office on Capitol Hill, which is viewed internationally in a very positive light.
We have augmented our Office of Parliamentary Legal Advisers to offer expert advice and support to Members both in writing and amending legislation in an efficient and effective manner. The Irish Women's Parliamentary Caucus in the Houses of the Oireachtas was also established and within months of its creation and under the leadership of Deputy Catherine Martin, it hosted the first major international conference of women's caucuses in Dublin Castle. This is a clear and practical example of parliamentarians working together towards a clear and important end result for the benefit of all of us.
There were critical all-party committees on health under the chairmanship of Deputy Shortall, on housing under the chairmanship of the former Deputy Curran and on the Traveller community under the chairmanship of Senator Kelleher. These are just a few examples of how we have worked well for a common cause and the good of groups and individuals whose interests we must pursue in this Thirty-third Dáil with even greater enthusiasm, energy, effectiveness and absolute urgency. We have engaged with the youth of this nation on the crucial matter of climate change. We worked with RTÉ in bringing the young people protesting outside the gates of Leinster House into the Chamber to sit in the seats we now occupy. At that youth assembly - a world first - our country's future debated meaningful, sensible and often inspired proposals and practical solutions to that existential matter.
All this work must continue with efficiency and urgency so I seek Members' support this afternoon to continue that collegial approach to addressing our problems and to finding solutions with the necessary alacrity. In another example of a changed approach, we have provided a platform here for a variety of international voices to speak with us in this Chamber on matters crucial to our country's interests. We welcomed Nancy Pelosi, Jean-Claude Juncker, Guy Verhofstadt and Michel Barnier to engage with us on matters of the greatest importance. As we move forward, we can seek the views of other international voices in this Chamber to inform our work and challenge our views. Respectful debate is the lifeblood of this Chamber and I will strive to have all voices heard.
In the past two years we celebrated the centenary of both the first sitting of Dáil Éireann and women's suffrage. We did that with dignity, respect and public and international support. For our part, as an Oireachtas we must ensure the important commemorative events that lie ahead are conducted with sensitivity and absolute integrity.
In short, as I stand before the House and mention just some of the many valuable initiatives we have taken together over the past four years, I humbly seek Members' support to continue to work in partnership with them to make the Thirty-third Dáil an assembly of which the Irish people can be proud, one which, working with Government and Opposition, helps us to deliver the meaningful change that our masters - the people - urgently demand and deserve. Our challenge is to decipher, interpret, respect and act upon the people's voices, as articulated in the general election earlier this month. If honoured to take the Chair of this assembly, I resolve to continue my work in promoting and respecting all voices of this House without fear or favour.
We have challenges as we move to express the will of the people who have put us here. I seek to build upon the relationships made, the friendships formed and the consensus achieved in the last Dáil by serving the Thirty-third Dáil to the best of my ability. As I said in 2016, my ambition is to serve the Members rather than become a slave to any system. We have much important work left to undertake to make this Thirty-third Dáil a fit, productive and fully relevant assembly. I hope Members will honour me by allowing me to continue for now to chair this assembly.