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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 Thomas Pringle: Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle] It picked up the programme brought in by Fianna Fáil, ran with it and kowtowed to its masters in Europe at every opportunity. The Taoiseach went to Davos and said we all partied and it was all our own fault. That is where the betrayal of the Irish people started and that is the betrayal that the Government has carried on and it can never recover from that.

The people have moved on. They have gone beyond the politics of this House. The people have no confidence in this Government and no matter what it does, it cannot restore it. The only thing it can do is to go to the country, have an election and let the people elect a Government that will respect them, respect their rights, respect their vote and act on their behalf and not on the behalf of its master in Europe to betray the people. That is what it has failed to do and that is why the citizens have lost confidence in it and why we say it must go now.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross The U-turn the Government did on the economy is not a matter of shame but a matter of pride. When the Taoiseach talks to us about the figures, which he did today, he ignores the fact, to which Deputy Halligan referred, that many of us go into our constituencies and see hard cases on a daily basis. Imagine them reading the Taoiseach's speech today telling them not to worry that the deficit targets have been met, unemployment is down and the emigration figure is improving. Imagine telling that to people at the airport at Christmas saying goodbye to their third child going to Australia forever.

There is a complete disconnect between what is happening on the ground and what was in the Taoiseach's speech, which could easily have been written in the corridors of IBEC or the banks. I forgive the Taoiseach for his U-turn because I have got used to them. He did not do the easy bits; he did the hard bits. I do not forgive him for the fact he never tackled those great reforms he promised so openly. The easy bits, the bits that do not cost money, were never touched. What happened to the reform of the quangos? What happened to the reform of the banks? Bank boards are still picking insiders like there is no tomorrow. In his manifesto, the Taoiseach promised that the quangos would be reformed, the boards would be moved and there would be cost savings.

Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin All done.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross That did not happened at all because the Minister, Deputy Howlin, with his reforms, still comes back with the same old formula. Ministers, like himself, are still appointing their cronies to the boards of semi-State bodies. Maybe the Minister, Deputy Howlin, has never heard of John McNulty and perhaps that issue did not reach his ears. As Deputy Martin said, the response to that has been another bogus little committee to once again look at Seanad reform and to allow Ministers appoint their own people to boards and to the Senate, as they have always done.

Deputy Clare Daly: Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly Methinks the Minister, Deputy Howlin, doth protest too much. If anybody was in any doubt about how out of touch this Government is, he or she would be shattered by the content and demeanour of what we have been subjected to today. That the Taoiseach would attempt to use elderly women, the victims of symphysiotomy, who were butchered in their youth as an example of how great his Government has been is a continuation of that abuse when he knows that as we sit here, they are assembled across the road with the Irish Council for Civil Liberties and Amnesty International to plead for the Government to overturn the scheme it has thrown in front of them. That is a graphic illustration of how utterly out of touch this Government is.

It is the case that it says one thing but the reality is entirely different for people outside these gates. I do not agree with the people who say this Government has not achieved anything. It has achieved something that nobody believed would ever be possible. It has succeeded in galvanising an opposition throughout this country from the self-employed to struggling farmers to unemployed people to people who have seen their children leave these shores and in unleashing a mass movement which is unprecedented in modern times in absolute opposition to the policies of this Government, best presented in its religious adherence to the toxic brand and dead duck, which is Irish Water.

The Government has pauperised and penalised the middle ground and driven them out of the ranks where perhaps they would have traditionally supported it into an opposition that is united against it. If the Government is as confident as it says it is - a confidence that was very much belied by the worried faces and sourpusses behind the Taoiseach earlier - end this lame duck Administration and go to the people.

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald To speak in favour of this motion, expressing confidence in the Taoiseach and the Government, offers an opportunity to answer one of the easiest and one of the most damaging accusations that can be put to a politician, which is "You’re all the same." By its actions in recent weeks, Sinn Féin has established how untrue that accusation is. We are not all the same. We are not even similar – not in background, not in motivation and not in ideology. Above all, we are not the same when it comes to our responsibilities as public representatives.

  I got into politics because, having been a social worker and an activist on women's issues, I desperately wanted to improve the life prospects of children and families under pressure and to create a society that was just and where people had real opportunity. I do my job every day for that reason, as do my colleagues in government. It is because I believe that my responsibilities to children and families under pressure are so important, I would not engage in the cheap shot headline-grabbing and play-acting that characterises Sinn Féin and others. Play-acting is easy. Doing the right thing by the Irish people is not easy. It is not easy in the middle of the worst financial crisis ever faced by this country.

  The people of Ireland have suffered greatly, of which there can be no doubt. When I stand on the doorsteps of my constituency and listen to individuals and families and listen to the stories of good people coping with one financial pressure after another, I am left in no doubt of their struggles. We are in touch. The one-sided narrative presented by Sinn Féin and others is that, in some way, the Government decided to impose tough decisions on its own people for the sake of it. That is not so.

  Instead, this Government, led by the Taoiseach, Deputy Kenny, took tough decisions in order to save Ireland from the consequences of economic collapse. The Taoiseach and the Government held back the threat of disorder and chaos – economic and social chaos as witnessed elsewhere.

  Political parties and individuals who trade in Toytown economics shrug that off. I cannot do that. I am in politics because of what I want to do, which is to protect families and children. I am committed to policies that keep disorder at bay and that ensure our services are kept working so that in better times they can be further developed for our people. Funding services and dealing with social issues require a functioning economy.

  I notice Deputy Adams said very little about the economy and how well it is functioning. I would say that of other more recent contributors to the debate also. All of that was under threat and this Government fought that threat and won. It made Ireland a case study in economic recovery because the people of Ireland chose to believe in the diligence, the decency and the honour of the Taoiseach, Deputy Enda Kenny. They knew he was not a sound-bite and headline man because they knew we were not in a time when sound-bites and headlines mattered. This was down to the wire, as has been clearly illustrated in the speeches today. This was a time to look past show business politics. It was a time for people to trust and to hope for better times ahead. The people did that and we did what they empowered us to do under the firm leadership of a man not intimidated by the terror of the collapse – the Taoiseach.

  We retrieved our financial sovereignty; we pulled our finances back from manifest disaster; and contrary to the narrative out there, we have been one of the most reforming Governments in the history of the State. However, we went further and we delivered on our promise to create the conditions that would create jobs.

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