Is it? Good for the Senator. To get back to vaping and e-cigarettes, which are legal but which still pose a threat to public health, we should debate the matter.
Senator Pauline O'Reilly raised the matter of issues facing dialysis patients. There are so many vulnerable and at-risk groups in this pandemic and she has highlighted particularly vulnerable patients who are awaiting transplants. Many parts of our health service have suffered because of a slowing down and people not having access to services because all the focus is on the immediate threat of Covid-19. There will be a knock-on effect on other parts of our health service and this must be raised with the Minister for Health.
Senator Boyhan backed up Senator Higgins and I have addressed the question of the legislative process. The Senator is correct that we must have a debate on local government funding. Senators Kyne and Boyhan made those points today.
Senator Conway raised the question of the events industry. Dublin was busy and bustling this time last year, when it was difficult to get a hotel room and restaurants and cafés were full. It is a very different city today than it was before the pandemic.
If our capital city is not doing well, our country is not doing well. It is a real concern for the local economy here in the city, for people who run businesses and for their livelihoods. The suggestion from Senator Conway that we would engage with the events industry, which employs a lot of people and has been particularly hit because its business has come to a complete halt, is certainly a good point to raise.
Senator Byrne raised the issue of having a better strategy with France as it is now our nearest European neighbour. I absolutely agree with that. On the Lukashenko regime in Belarus, I share the Senator's sentiments. What we have witnessed is absolutely appalling and it is good to see world leaders step up to the mark and call it out for what it is. It is disappointing that not all Members would share those views but we are a diverse Seanad, as has been pointed out, which is good for robust debate.
Senator Warfield raised the issue of co-living. In the last Seanad and the last Dáil, Fianna Fáil raised serious concerns over co-living. Those concerns are even more serious now that things have changed because of Covid. It simply is not a suitable way to live, in my view. Certainly, the review needs to happen and I will raise the issue directly with the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government to get an update. I thank the Senator for raising this important issue.
Senator McGahon raised the issue of the retail and hospitality sectors. Like the business and events industry, retail and hospitality have been massively hit. There are stark figures with 292,000 employed in hospitality and a further 250,000 in retail. It is a huge number of jobs. As Senator Black also identified, there are a lot of younger people working in those sectors and a lot of people on lower pay. They have been disproportionately hit in terms of the loss of jobs and opportunity. The retail and hospitality sectors are in a most difficult period. Somebody said to me that it would actually be easier to go back and deal with the financial crash than what we are dealing with now. At least there was more certainty, remarkably, around the financial crash. We knew what we were dealing with and there was an end and a way to move forward. With Covid, it is changing every week and month. We do not know what we are dealing with. We do not know when it is going to end. That prolonged uncertainty is crippling the retail and hospitality sectors. They are areas that need specific and targeted support.
Senator O'Loughlin raise the issue of the hospice movement. I join her in saying that without the hospice movement and the local hospices, I wonder where many families would be today. Certainly the areas of Laois, Offaly, Longford and Westmeath need to have a hospice service. My own local hospice, Mayo-Roscommon hospice, does fantastic work helping families at the most vulnerable and stressful time. It is a really important service. I am certain that the Minister of State with responsibility for older people would be happy to come before the House. I will request that debate for Members.
I thank Senator Ruane for raising medical detox and the addiction services. It very much hit home for Members here today that if we remove these services, people lose their lives. It is a stark reminder of what some people are going through and the services that are needed. I will raise the matter directly with the Minister for Health. A lot of services have been put on hold, delayed or slowed down right across the health service. It is having a deeply negative impact on people. We have not really felt the full effects of it yet. Senator Ruane has presented the House with clear evidence of the impact of removing that particular service.
Senator Seery Kearney referenced Make Way Day. I thank her for doing so. The Minister of State, Deputy Rabbitte, has a campaign out today to get people to make way for those with disabilities. It is really important that we do our best to move towards not just a more accessible society but a more inclusive one. They are distinct and different things. We take for granted the ability to walk down the path and step off if we need to get around a parked car or broken pavement. That is not possible for every member of our society. Every local authority should be doing its part to improve local services and access to public spaces.
Senator Keogan raised the issue of adult day services. She probably saw that I was nodding along while she was speaking. This is the harm that has been caused to so many people. We are leaving people in absolute isolation. I refer to services for families where an older son or daughter is still living with at home and the parents are in their 70s or 80s. It is a most difficult position for elderly people who are still caring. Lots of Alzheimer's day services have ended and are not back operating. A lot of families are in highly pressurised environments, six months in with no day services, respite or break from full-time caring. They are doing the work that the State should be doing. We owe it to them to at least provide a break every now and again from that. I will request that the Minister with responsibility for disabilities come before the House to debate that issue.
Senator Mullen might be surprised to hear that I agree completely with everything he said about the debate on the right to assisted suicide.
It is a very important debate for both Houses to have. It should not be rushed and it should be properly considered and thought out. There are many aspects to it. I do not yet know where I stand on the issue, and how we can be compassionate and assist with the difficult cases of which we are all aware, and also protect those who may be vulnerable if it does not work in the way we want it to work. There are many issues to be debated on the subject and I agree with the need for a full and proper debate. We should not rush this particular issue, and every aspect of it should be properly and carefully considered.
I agree that the extra resourcing of palliative care services is needed, regardless of the end-of-life debate. Palliative care is important at all stages of life, whether it concerns a young baby, a child, an adult or an elderly person. Everyone needs that sort of care towards the end of his or her life.
Senator Fitzpatrick raised the issue of mortgage holders during Covid-19. It is an issue that needs to be looked at by the Minister for Finance, because we have come to the realisation that we are in this situation for the long haul, and for the next number of months at least. People will need a break from paying their mortgages, and they should not be penalised for it. Given the recent findings of the Central Bank against KBC Bank and what we have seen some of our pillar banks do to Irish citizens and people living in this country, and the real harm and hurt they have caused, it is time for the pillar banks to step up and show leadership. They must give back to the Irish people in a time of need because the same was done in reverse when the banks needed help. We need to see the reciprocation of that now.