Thursday, 29 November 1984
Seanad Eireann Debate
It is with no sense of pleasure that I seek this extension and have my name to this motion. It has been found necessary by the members of the Marriage Committee to seek an extension due to the magnitude of the task in hand. As you will know — to remind Senators — this Joint Committee were established by a motion in the Dáil on 7 July 1983 and in the Seanad on 12 July 1983. Since that time members have been working extremely hard and conscientiously in order to complete their deliberations. Advertisements were placed in daily newspapers seeking submissions, and such is the volume of public interest in the work of this committee that some 700 submissions came flooding in. Members were obliged to study these carefully and draw conclusions from them. In order to allow a process of consultation some 24 groupings who had made written submissions were invited in to meet the committee and to give oral submissions in order to further elaborate on the points that they had made and in order to allow themselves to be questioned by members of the committee as to various details within their submissions.
As a result of all of this, of course, the committee have acquired a body of information which is probably unique in Irish society, and this has provided source material which will be incorporated in  its report. We had initial difficulties in staffing, and these difficulties were experienced by all committees in the House. This led to a request for an extension which we made on the 28 June, and we looked at that stage for an extension until December. We did so in good faith because at that time we sincerely believed that we could have had our work completed by that date. I would like to assure Members that it certainly seems very clear to me and indeed to most members of the committee that this is the very last time we shall have a motion before this House seeking an extension of our time, and we do so with the greatest reluctance. We really did have a choice whether we should bring before you a report which was hastily compiled and hastily considered or whether we should extend our time and make sure that what we brought before both Houses was a worth-while, carefully considered and well-researched document with all the i's dotted and the t's crossed.
We have at this stage a final draft report. We have commenced examining it and consulting for the final time with all of those who we feel can give us any last-minute help and advice which we would need on it. So, it is with confidence that I say that this will be the final time we will come before the House seeking an extension, and I would ask the House to grant this to us in order that we can bring the best possible document for consideration, because it goes without saying that the problem of marital breakdown is one which is affecting a great number of people in Irish society. Very many people are looking to this committee for a well considered, well-thought-out report which shows a grasp of the complexity of the situation being suffered by individuals and which will bring forth realistic observations and — if I may use the word — recommendations as to what courses of action should flow on its findings. Thank you.
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