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Order of Business- Thursday 12th December 2019

Today is a monumental day in UK and Northern Irish politics. We are all aware of the significance of the vote today. There will be change. We all know that sometimes change is a good thing so we will have some change of personnel. It is important to note that this gives Northern Ireland a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate leadership. When there is a bit of a shuffle and shake up, it provides the people with a chance to shine and show that leadership. Whatever happens in Great Britain today and whatever happens with regard to Brexit, it is important to note that the sky will not fall in. The relationship between Dublin and London is very important and needs to be maintained. As Senator Richmond said, there has been a lot of work behind the scenes and credit must be given to those people who have tried to prepare Ireland and Northern Ireland for a potential Brexit.

To echo what was said by Senators Craughwell and Conway-Walsh, I extend my sincere thanks to all Senators and Deputies who attended the screening of "Lost Lives" last night. It was my second time to watch the film and I thought naively that it would be an easier watch the second time around but it was equally powerful. I am told by people that no matter how many times one watches it, it is a very powerful piece of cinematography. In particular, I thank the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade for taking time out of a very busy schedule. Not only did he come in advance of the screening, he stayed for the duration and participated in the question-and-answer session afterwards. I am very grateful for that. He did add to that conversation. One word that really summed up what we witnessed last night is "futility" - the futility of the conflict and what happened and the pain, loss and suffering that very often we did not see on the television news reports. I mean this completely respectfully but it was a side that many people in this House did not see. It was something that happened up there - something in the distance - and it was horrible but we did not really understand it. The film must serve as a reminder that we can never allow ourselves to go back to that situation because it was a horrible time. My family and I lived through it and like the book, the film triggered memories and horrible images of what happened. It was the pain, the hurt and broken people. The point was well made last night by the Tánaiste that this was not about 3,700 people; it was about tens of thousands of people's lives that were impacted by this. These people would never get over the pain and suffering.

Due to the significance of today with the UK general election, it is worth noting that the role of the Tánaiste in the talks on getting the institutions in the North up and running is critical. I would like everybody in this House to give as much support as possible to getting those institutions up and running because we must give credit to the people living and working in Northern Ireland every day - the politicians who are still there albeit without an Executive. That work is still being done. People are working tirelessly behind the scenes. There are loyalists and republicans who are working very hard to make sure that the institutions are up and running to give a degree of normality back to Northern Ireland. Unlike some of the negativity reported through the media, a lot of positive things are happening in Northern Ireland and there is a good opportunity to move the conversation forward.

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