Friday, 18 December 1998
Seanad Éireann Debate
Mr. T. Fitzgerald: Before I propose the adjournment, a Chathaoirligh, I wish to thank you for your co-operation in the business of the House throughout the year. I thank the Clerk, Clerk Assistant and the staff of the Seanad  Office. I also thank the Opposition Leader and Whip, my own leader and Assistant Whip, Senator Willie Farrell, for their co-operation. The Seanad can be very proud of its performance this year. We sat for 83 days and 74 or 75 Bills have gone through the House. There have been statements on almost every matter and demand we could accommodate. Although we sometimes complain about the media, I also extend my sincere thanks to them and those who cover our activities in the House. I also thank the ushers and other staff of the House.
It is approaching Christmas and for the first time in many years we look forward to peace in our country. This is very welcome and we should give sincere thanks to all the Taoisigh down the years, the Northern leaders, John Hume and David Trimble and all others involved, and wish them all a very happy and peaceful Christmas.
At Christmas our thoughts turn to those who have left us during the year and all those who have had deaths in their families. I would like to commiserate with them. I wish the Minister and everybody in the House a very happy Christmas.
Mrs. A. Doyle: I am delighted to endorse the sentiments of Senator Fitzgerald. On behalf of the Fine Gael Party and — if I may take the liberty — on behalf of this side of the House, I wish Senators, staff and all responsible for the logistical running and operation of Seanad Éireann, season's greetings and a very happy and peaceful 1999. I would particularly like to be associated with Senator Fitzgerald's remarks regarding peace on our island at Christmas for the first time in 30 years. It is the first time in many years we have had a democratically accepted peace on our island. May that be the future for all of us.
Minister of State at the Department of the Marine and Natural Resources (Mr. Byrne): I thank everybody who made it possible for this Bill to go through the House. It was essential and that is recognised. In particular I thank Senator Doyle — she is a colleague, neighbour and friend — and Senator Tom Fitzgerald. I agree wholeheartedly with the Senator's statements on peace in the North. There is some work to be done yet, but tremendous work has been done over the years. It is hard to believe it has come so far. Hopefully it will continue, the spirit of Christmas will prevail and the actions of this morning will be reciprocated by others. We would all be very happy if that happened. We live on a great island of which we are proud but we have a small distance to go together. There was some evidence last night of how co-operation with the North can be to the benefit of all.
I thank the staff. We have kept them here a little longer than we should have. I thank all the staff for their kindness and courtesy throughout the year. I also thank you, a Chathaoirligh, for your patience and guidance throughout the year. As Senator Fitzgerald said, it has been a historic year for the Seanad.
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