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Confidence in the Government: Motion [Private Members] (Continued)

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 786 No. 1

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Michael Colreavy: Information on Michael Colreavy Zoom on Michael Colreavy] The general election in 2011 was an exciting time for me, as a first-time TD, but it was also an exciting time for the Irish electorate who were crying out for change from the tried and failed ways of the previous Government. During the election campaign I recall that Fine Gael and the Labour Party tried to outdo each other in portraying themselves as being different from the Fianna Fáil-Green Party Government. The change of government seemed to herald a new dawn, a new way of governance. Perhaps I was a little naive but I believed the now-Taoiseach when he said on my first day in the Dáil that there would be openness, transparency and a willingness to work with the Opposition parties and Deputies in the interests of the Irish people. Were we really going to see the promised democratic revolution? After nearly one year and nine months in government my only question is: where is its democratic revolution?

  I will read a summary of an e-mail I received from a distressed constituent last week. It states:

  This time twelve months ago my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. He was a decent hard-working man who provided for his family and paid his way all through his working life. Over the past year the situation has become increasingly difficult. My elderly mother is now my father's carer. My father is in need of 24-hour care and attention. The situation is so severe that my mother's dress size has reduced from size 14 to a size 8 in one year. My father is still very physically active despite his disease. From early afternoon until his bed time at 10.30 p.m. he walks laps of the house, attempts to go home even though he is already at home and is constantly anxious about the farm that he has retired from. He has very poor co-ordination due to the medication that he is on and is prone to accidents. Only last week he fell and cut his cheek.

  Daily tasks are now a struggle for him. Shaving has left him with many cuts and scratches; finding the toilet has caused him problems and has led him to urinating in random places around the house.

  His HSE transport to day services was withdrawn last month. My 72 year old mother, a frail nervous woman who was never the main driver, now has to drive Dad for respite care.

  The only saving grace for my mother has been the respite care that my father has been receiving. My mother is 72 years old and these periods of peace are possibly the only reason she has not fallen sick herself. My mother is saving the state major money by caring for her husband at home and she is doing it because she thinks it is the right thing to do.

My question is this: is it part of Fine Gael's and Labour's democratic revolution to take respite care from this elderly woman? What is in the happy Christmas and new year greeting card to this couple? A reduction of €325 in the respite care grant, a increase of €250 to €350 in the family house tax, and a continuing reduction of respite care services and transport as the HSE and voluntary organisations struggle in vain to meet people's needs with diminishing resources. The Minister's only response when we in Sinn Féin point out that there are fair alternatives, choices that could be made, is for those on the Government benches to shout abuse at us - abuse that has nothing to do with the cases we put forward - just like their Fianna Fáil and Green Party predecessors. A merry Christmas and healthy and happy new year indeed. Shame on the Government.

Deputy Sandra McLellan: Information on Sandra McLellan Zoom on Sandra McLellan The motion proposing no confidence in the Fine Gael-Labour Party Government comes in the wake of one of the most savage budgets in the history of this State. This week will see a reduction in child benefit payments, cuts in the back-to-school clothing and footwear allowance and cuts to the respite care grant. The Government is clearly anti-children. More importantly, it is anti the ordinary man and woman on the street who are struggling to make ends meet. Attacking the poor and the vulnerable, introducing measures that increase inequality and poverty, and protecting the rich and affluent by refusing to introduce a wealth tax are, by any standards, the hallmark of a vicious and cruel state. When these same facts are pointed out in this House, the Taoiseach, Deputy Enda Kenny, has no defence. Instead, his only response is to resort to personal insult, defamation and slander of my party's leader, Deputy Gerry Adams. Let me tell him that the Irish people are not fooled by such diversionary tactics. They know only too well the lengths to which the Government is prepared to go to defend its own power and privilege and, more importantly, to protect the class interests of a rich and pampered minority of Irish society. On what basis, I might ask, has the Government reserved for itself the right to become the political and moral conscience of the Irish people? The Taoiseach presides over a Government that misled the Irish people and that has reneged on almost all of its election promises. He is the head of a party that has at its core a deep-rooted ideological belief that places the primacy of the market over the welfare and well-being of ordinary Irish men, women and children. If there is an ethical, moral and political bankruptcy present in this House, it is to be found not in the Sinn Féin Party but in Fine Gael and its lackeys in government, the so-called Labour Party. The country is led by a puppet Government that takes its instructions from the institutions of market capitalism. Let us not be under any illusion: Fine Gael and Labour Party politicians, by virtue of the policies they are now implementing, are nothing more than heartless, bureaucratic functionaries administering the Irish State in the interest of bondholders, speculators and a European political elite.

The Government has betrayed the Irish people and its own election promises. In terms of a vision or a plan, it is morally and politically bankrupt. It has one and only one agenda and that is to cling to power at all costs. To do this it is willing to cut child benefit when the incomes of households with children are already falling further and faster. The same households are three times more likely to be in debt arising from ordinary everyday living expenses than households without children. Yet, according to the Government, a family with children is fair game and it will be penalised. Even worse, if one is a carer who works 24 hours a day, seven days a week in the home, then in the eyes of the Government one is also fair game.

What type of government, one must ask, would go after two of the most vulnerable groups in Irish society - children and carers? The answer is simple: a Fine Gael-Labour Party Government that has turned its back on the people who elected it, that is politically bankrupt and that is prepared to wage war on the most vulnerable and powerless groups in Irish society. In the coming months the same Government plans to introduce a tax on the family home. It appears there are no depths to which the Government will not sink when it comes to attacks on the living standards of the vulnerable and the overworked. I call on the Government to do at least one decent thing since it came to power - that is, to reverse the proposed cuts to the carer's respite grant.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Deputies Ferris and Healy Rae are sharing time.

Deputy Martin Ferris: Information on Martin Ferris Zoom on Martin Ferris The performance of the Government since coming into office has been and continues to be disgraceful. It consists of a litany of broken promises and betrayal of the trust of the electorate. It has conducted its campaign with false promises that it has since betrayed. It has also betrayed the promise not to continue with the failed policies of Fianna Fáil. Unfortunately the Government continues on that path.

The Government has no mandate to punish or pauperise ordinary working-class people and the less well off.

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