Friday, 14 December 2001
Dáil Eireann Debate
Mr. Dukes: I wish the Ceann Comhairle a happy and peaceful Christmas. I wish the members of the present Government enjoyment of their last Christmas in office, and wish the members of the Government parties enjoyment of their last Christmas before they return to their rightful place on this side of the House.
Mr. Sargent: Tá an Nollaig ag teacht agus guím Nollaig shona ort féin, ar chomhaltaí an Oireachtais, ar an Rialtas agus sa bhFreasúra, agus ar gach duine d'fhoireann Thithe an Oireachtais chomh maith. Is cinnte go bhfuil ath-bhliain, ní hamháin fé mhaise ach an-shuimiúil os ár gcomhair amach. Tá súil agam, le cúnamh Dé, go mbeidh sé chomh síochánta agus is féidir i gcúrsaí polaitíochta, ach is ar éigean é.
I hope one and all will get room at the inn this Christmas, a basic need denied to Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem. To many, that saying will be taken literally as getting room at the local pub but it is important to remember those who will get no room at all, particularly the homeless. I refer especially to the volunteers at the Irish Seal Sanctuary who will be put out of a job as well as put out of home, along with their wildlife charges, this Christmas. We should bear in mind their  needs when we think of those most vulnerable in society.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (Mr. Walsh): I wish to respond on behalf of the Government and join other speakers in wishing a happy Christmas to the Ceann Comhairle, the Leas-Cheann Comhairle, the staff of the Houses of the Oireachtas and all connected with the parliamentary democracy which we have in Ireland. I say to Deputy Dukes that the members of the Government will enjoy themselves for Christmas and face into the new year in buoyant mood. I hope we will not have musical chairs when we return next Christmas.
 It was a difficult year for the agriculture and farming industries. It is a great tribute to those industries that they came through the year quite well, and with regard to the concerns, they had a relatively good year and protected their industry and the economy from the worst effects of a dreadful virus which could have caused a great deal of devastation.
Mr. Wall: On behalf of the Labour Party, I wish the Ceann Comhairle, the members of staff in the Oireachtas, and our staff in the constituencies, a happy, holy and peaceful Christmas. I hope no-one in the House, or in any part of the country, should suffer tragedy over the Christmas period and that, come January, we will be all back in the House, hale and hearty, to fight the final stages of the battle.
An Ceann Comhairle: I thank all Members for their kind wishes. In return, I extend to each and every one, Members of the House, officials and all staff who serve in the House and those who serve the House in every and any way, a happy Christmas and a happy New Year.
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