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Confidence in Taoiseach and Government: Motion (Continued)

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 861 No. 1

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy John Halligan: Information on John Halligan Zoom on John Halligan] Thousands of children with disabilities are waiting years for assessments and supports. No matter how much Government officials attempt to massage the figures, these are the facts. We have one of the most expensive child care systems in the world and more than 750,000 of our people, including 200,000 children, live in poverty. Food poverty is experienced by 10% of the population and we have very stark income related health inequality. Calls to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul have increased by 100% since 2009 and the organisation is spending almost €80 million per annum helping individuals and families in need. Parents wave goodbye daily to children who cannot find work here and indigenous small and medium enterprises and brave entrepreneurs - which should have been given every support possible - are on their knees.

The Taoiseach can see where I am coming from and I tend to be at one with the people who come to my office and the very many people I speak to every day. In the little time I have left, I will tell a story about a woman called Paula Bergin, who died at Waterford Regional Hospital a short time ago. She had private health insurance but shared a ward with four men and while she was dying, there was a soccer match on television, so the men were shouting and jumping up and down. The Taoiseach may have read about this in the newspapers or heard about it. What a way to die and what an undignified death. Her husband and child could not hear her last words. In 2014, that would not happen in most other countries or in the Third World. Does the Taoiseach believe that family in Waterford would have confidence in the health system or this Government? The Taoiseach knows where I stand. I stand with them.

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath I thank the Leas-Cheann Comhairle for the opportunity to speak to this very important motion of confidence in the Government. My criticism will not be personalised but refer to Government policies and its record. This vote will be about overall Government responsibility. It is about competence, leadership and the way our people were being treated in the recent past. That is why I will be voting that I have no confidence in this Government. There can be no fudge on this very important issue by any Member of the House. This is about serious political issues and the future of this country.

We all know difficult decisions had to be made in the recent past but there was injustice in many of those decisions which hit the old, sick and disabled. We have seen cuts in services to people with a disability, with a 19% cut in the respite care grant. We have seen Fine Gael and the Labour Party implementing the home tax despite opposing it in the past. The same people who said they were opposed to water charges have now implemented them, and there was a debacle in forming Irish Water. At the same time, there is talk of cutting taxes for people who are better off in our society.

In the other Ireland, there are disadvantaged areas and communities riddled by drugs, crime and mass poverty, as well as people devastated by gangland crime. We have also witnessed the issues surrounding discretionary medical cards. These are the reasons I support the call for no confidence in the Government. The school completion programme had a budget to help the most disadvantaged children in this State, but it has been cut from €32.9 million to €24 million over recent years, which is a cut of 33%. For this and many other reasons, I am calling for a vote of no confidence in this Government.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett There is something completely shambolic and surreal about holding a confidence vote in this Government in the Dáil when everybody knows the real confidence vote will take place on the streets tomorrow when, at 1 p.m. at Merrion Square, tens of thousands of people will assemble in the real people's parliament. They will cast a decisive vote of no confidence in this Government.

Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin The Parliament seems to have no role.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett They will vote against the injustice of the water charges and the Government's failure to listen to what the people have said on that issue. They will vote against the equally cruel, unjust and regressive universal social charge and home taxes. They will vote against the cruelty of leaving people needing vital operations on waiting lists for over a year. They will vote against the fact that we have some of the most overcrowded classrooms in Europe and that all of this has been done when the big corporate investors in property and landlords are coining it and while hundreds of thousands of our citizens cannot put an affordable roof over their head and people are dying on the streets. They do this as the Government refuses, point blank, to levy even a small amount of extra tax on the super-wealthy or the corporations which are making absolute fortunes. That is why people are protesting and the Government has already lost the real vote of confidence from the people in this country. No matter what game or manipulation happens in this Parliament, the Taoiseach should remember that real power lies with the people and real change has always come from the people mobilising on the street. Reforms have been won in recent weeks because people have gone on the streets and refused to accept water charges or expressed their outrage against the homelessness crisis. That is more than anything achieved by the Government in the past four years and more reforms will be won as those protests continue. It is about time the Government listened to them.

Deputy Joan Collins: Information on Joan Collins Zoom on Joan Collins I agree it is shambolic that the Government has introduced the motion of confidence to the Dáil today, knowing that all the backbenchers will march in here and vote at the appropriate time to support the Government, the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste.

Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin The Deputy is of course open to persuasion.

Deputy Joan Collins: Information on Joan Collins Zoom on Joan Collins The latest polls place Fine Gael at 19% and the Labour Party at 6%. We can compare this to the Red C poll of February 2011, when Fine Gael was at 40% and the Labour Party was at 20%. The Government is now as unpopular as the Fianna Fáil and Green Party Government which presided over the bank guarantee, the bank bailout, the economic crash and the troika bailout. That is some achievement.

The Taoiseach indicated he would overhaul the flawed bailout plans of the previous Government but he has done nothing of the sort and instead implemented it in full. The Government has defended bankers and the wealthy while imposing austerity on those who can least afford it. We are still waiting for the promised deal on the bank bailout, which is not even mentioned at this stage.

The Labour Party is the party of broken promises. We heard of "Labour's way or Frankfurt's way" but this quickly became Fine Gael's way. There were Tesco-style advertisements indicating that "every little hurts" produced by the Labour Party before the election. These argued that Fine Gael would increase VAT by 2% but if people voted for the Labour Party, that would be stopped. Fine Gael was supported by the Labour Party in introducing that VAT increase. The Labour Party argued it would stop Fine Gael cutting child benefit but it has supported those cuts in this Dáil.

Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin We have restored that benefit.

Deputy Joan Collins: Information on Joan Collins Zoom on Joan Collins Before the 2011 general election, the current Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Howlin, indicated that his party was not in favour of water charges and did not believe in a flat rate. He argued that everybody's home could not be metered. He and many backbenchers made that claim. Nevertheless, the Government introduced and implemented those water taxes, which affect ordinary people.

The Tánaiste indicated that trust is an essential part of public life but the Government has lost that trust. Tomorrow, on international human rights day, the people will send the message to the Government that they have no confidence in it. I will be out there with them.

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath Hear, hear.

Deputy Thomas Pringle: Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle As if we did not need another example of the betrayal by this Government of the citizens in this country, this morning I listened on local radio to people who are trying to restore mammography services to Sligo General Hospital. The radio show played a clip of the former Minister for Health, Deputy Reilly, when two years ago he stated that mammography services would be re-established within 12 months, or quicker if he could manage it. That was a promise. We are two years down the road but the campaign group was informed yesterday that mammography services will never be reinstated at Sligo. That is another example of this Government's betrayal of the people. There may be an economic recovery in some parts of the country - perhaps on the east coast - but it is certainly not happening in the north west. That arises from this Government's betrayal of the people.

The Government lied its way into power and turned its back on citizens and the promises made to them.


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