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Nomination of Taoiseach (Resumed) (Continued)

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 953 No. 4

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Louise O'Reilly: Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly] I have seen nothing from him in his career in politics to date that gives me the hope or the confidence that he will be anything other than the most right-wing Taoiseach this State has ever seen.

As Minister for Health, Deputy Varadkar missed targets, saw record numbers of patients on trolleys, oversaw botched recruitment schemes, saw the numbers on waiting lists soar, abandoned universal health care, perpetuated the drive towards the privatisation of the health service and generally stumbled from one disaster to the next. Added to this, he had the audacity to insinuate that investing in fixing the health crisis would somehow make front-line staff lazy and unmotivated. However, during his time as Minister, there was only one lazy and unmotivated person.

As Minister for Social Protection, he tried to become the Minister for fraud but he exposed himself. We now know that his crusade was nonsense and that his "Welfare Cheats Cheat Us All" campaign cost over €200,000. Interestingly, I have never heard him challenge the levels of tax avoidance and tax evasion in Ireland. He says he wants to take a special interest in health. He can start by looking at the failure to recruit and retain nurses, midwives, doctors and other vital front-line health workers. The Government's less-than-ambitious target of 130 nurses per month is not even achieving 50%. Nothing in his record or plans gives me hope that he will be the best person to lead the charge to recruit these vital staff.

I also note that he wants to ban strikes for front-line staff. He can spin his statement any way he likes. I have worked in industrial relations and I know a Thatcherite strike ban when I see one. I know that making Labour Court recommendations compulsory and binding is effectively a strike ban. This is the message he has already sent to emergency service workers and other health workers.

Finally, as I am running out of time-----


An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Order.

Deputy Louise O'Reilly: Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly ----- I come to his attitude to repealing the eighth amendment. In a State where women have virtually no reproductive rights, he has compared women travelling to get medically necessary procedures to a lads' holiday in Las Vegas. In 2010 he said that allowing rape victims to terminate their pregnancies could lead to abortion on demand and still the UN points out that our laws and our Government repeatedly fail to protect Irish women from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. I have seen nothing to convince me that he will not simply continue to administer this cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

While I wish the Deputy Varadkar well in his new role, I know that past performance is an indicator of future performance. Given his track record, that does not bode well for Irishwomen or Irish people in general.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe Nearly as convincing as Mary Lou.

Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin I propose to share time with Deputy Burton.

A Ceann Comhairle: Agreed.

Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin On a personal level, I wish Deputy Varadkar well today, particularly as we worked together in government. While my party cannot support his election as Taoiseach on the basis of the existing programme for Government, it is a very proud day for him personally. Equally, I know it will be a very happy day for his partner, Matthew, his parents Ashok and Miriam and all his friends and family, many of whom join us for what is a momentous day in their lives. For a gay man, the son of a migrant, to be elected Taoiseach of this country is an important step. As he pointed out himself, it speaks well of this Republic. However, I think he will agree that we should not - and will not - see today as the end of the story.

While I sincerely wish him well for his time as Taoiseach, I must inform him that Labour will continue to oppose his Government. The programme for Government and the confidence-and-supply agreement that underpins it are deeply flawed documents.

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