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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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  10 o’clock

(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Leo Varadkar: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar] I acknowledge that we have made mistakes and that change has come too slowly, which frustrates people. I too am frustrated that this has been the case. Times are tough. Far too many people are out of work, far too many individuals and families are struggling to make ends meet and the burden on business is great, with many forced to close. However, when one considers what this Government inherited, it has made enormous progress in the past two years. The target set in respect of the budget deficit was 8.6% of GDP. We are beating that target, coming in at 8.2% and the deficit next year will be lower. I acknowledge it is still a huge deficit and that it is worse than that of Greece but we are at last for once moving in the right direction.

Unemployment has fallen to 14.6% and has now stabilised. The most recent quarterly national household survey indicates that for the first time since 2005, bearing in mind unemployment started to rise long before the recession occurred, the number of people unemployed is decreasing. This is not only because of emigration. We know from the same statistics that employment is increasing again for the first time, in particular in the private sector. While people will say that there are 26,000 fewer people in employment today than were in employment a year ago, this is because of the Government's policy of reducing the number of people in the public service.

Deputy Martin Ferris: Information on Martin Ferris Zoom on Martin Ferris What about the 150,000 people who have left the country?

Deputy Leo Varadkar: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Employment in the private sector is increasing. As stated by the Minister, Deputy Howlin, we now have growth as measured by GDP. Believe it or not - one would not believe it if one spent too much time reading the newspapers and listening to the media and I say that as a statement of fact rather than a criticism of the media - retail sales have increased for four months in a row, which has not happened for a long time. I sincerely hope this continues throughout Christmas and when the budget measures hit people's pockets in January. Property prices are showing signs of stability. We have been, to a degree, able to return to the bond markets and tourism increased by 10% in 2011 and at worst figures this year will be flat. It is hoped they will increase slightly. Also, our international reputation has been restored. A year ago people talked seriously about Ireland defaulting but that is no longer the topic of serious discussion. A year ago we were part of PIIGS along with Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain. That is no longer the case. People see a clear distinction between the countries of southern Europe and Ireland. This is important because it has allowed the IDA to have its best year since the late 1980s in terms of the creation of jobs in this country.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae We did not get one job in Kerry.

Deputy Leo Varadkar: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar It is also important because it has allowed us to become a credible exporter again. Exports have not only recovered to where they were prior to the recession. We are now exporting more than we did before the recession began. That is not to diminish the difficulties which people are facing.

When it comes to motions tabled by Sinn Féin Members on this side of the House often, and for good reason, like to refer to Sinn Féin's record in the North, the Troubles and the terrible things done in our name, without a mandate, in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. However, I will not speak about that tonight. Rather I will speak about Sinn Féin's record in recent years since it formed part of the Government in Northern Ireland. Rates in Northern Ireland, which is the property tax applied in Derry and Belfast, are approximately £1,000 per annum per household. I know bin charges are included in that fee.

Deputy Brian Stanley: Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley It is £700 per annum.

Deputy Leo Varadkar: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar It may well be £700 per annum for the average house. The sum of £700 is equal to about €900.

Deputy Martin Ferris: Information on Martin Ferris Zoom on Martin Ferris The Minister should read the list of what people get for it.

Deputy Leo Varadkar: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar That fee includes nothing else beyond bin charges. In the Republic of Ireland the property tax on the average house will be approximately €300 to €400 per annum.

Deputy Brian Stanley: Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley The people will get nothing for it.

Deputy Sandra McLellan: Information on Sandra McLellan Zoom on Sandra McLellan They will not even get free bin collection or free water.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt There has been respect for the-----

Deputy Jonathan O'Brien: Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien If the Minister is going to speak about the North he should at least get his facts right.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt There has been respect for speakers up to now. Please allow the Minister to continue as he has only five minutes remaining.

Deputy Leo Varadkar: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I do know my facts.

Deputy Jonathan O'Brien: Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien The Minister does not know his facts.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt The Minister, without interruption.

Deputy Martin Ferris: Information on Martin Ferris Zoom on Martin Ferris I will give the Minister the facts later if he wishes.

Deputy Leo Varadkar: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I know it may be difficult for some Members opposite to understand it but this country is still a democracy and we are allowed to speak in our national Parliament. I did not interrupt any of the speakers opposite nor do I intend to do so as long as I am here for this debate.

  At the same time, Sinn Féin members here called for a boycott of the household charge and are now calling for a boycott of the property tax.

Deputy Jonathan O'Brien: Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien That is another falsehood. I ask the Minister to name one Sinn Féin Deputy who called for a boycott.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Quiet, please.

Deputy Brian Stanley: Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley That is false information.

Deputy Martin Ferris: Information on Martin Ferris Zoom on Martin Ferris That is not true. The Minister is making a false accusation.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt The Deputy will have another opportunity to speak tomorrow.

Deputy Leo Varadkar: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar In which case, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, I am happy to clarify the record.

Deputy Brian Stanley: Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley I call on the Minister to withdraw that accusation and to say which Sinn Féin Deputy called for a boycott.

Deputy Martin Ferris: Information on Martin Ferris Zoom on Martin Ferris Name the person.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Deputies, please. Time for this debate is limited.

Deputy Brian Stanley: Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley On a point of order, will the Minister say which Sinn Féin Deputy called for a boycott?

Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin Stop shouting down the Minister.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt There is only limited time for this debate. I call on the Minister to continue.

Deputy Brian Stanley: Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley The Minister should deal with the facts.

Deputy Leo Varadkar: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar If the anti-democratic people across the floor would allow me to clarify I would be happy to do so.

Deputy Brian Stanley: Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley We are anti-lies.

Deputy Leo Varadkar: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar May I speak?

Deputy Martin Ferris: Information on Martin Ferris Zoom on Martin Ferris The Minister should clarify the matter.

Deputy Brian Stanley: Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley He should name the Sinn Féin Deputy concerned.

Deputy Leo Varadkar: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I have been allocated ten minutes to speak but have not been allowed to do so by the anti-democratic forces in this House. I will clarify what I said. Sinn Féin is campaigning against the property tax and some elected representatives of Sinn Féin are boycotting that tax.

Deputy Brian Stanley: Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley Which Sinn Féin Deputy called for the boycott? The Minister said a Sinn Féin Deputy had "called" for a boycott.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt This is not Question Time.

Deputy Leo Varadkar: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I have clarified the matter. There is no greater act of disloyalty or infidelity to the State than that. These Sinn Féin representatives have no difficulty paying tax to Tory councils in Westminster. They pay Tory taxes on their empty apartments in Westminster and pay rates on their mansions in Northern Ireland yet they will not pay taxes that are due to local government and this State. Never has there been greater disloyalty and infidelity than that.

When it comes to welfare, in Northern Ireland, where Sinn Féin is in power, the minimum wage is £6.19 per hour for people over 21 years and is much lower for people below that age. In some cases, the minimum wage is just over £2 per hour. The carer's allowance in Northern Ireland, where Sinn Féin is in power, is £58.42 per week. It is reduced if a person is in receipt of other welfare payments or income.

Deputy Jonathan O'Brien: Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien By whom?

Deputy Leo Varadkar: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar That payment here is more than €200 per week. The State pension in Northern Ireland is £175.45 per week. Here it is €230 per week.

Deputy Martin Ferris: Information on Martin Ferris Zoom on Martin Ferris Who fixes that pension?

Deputy Leo Varadkar: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar As I understand it, based on research I have carried out, there is no respite care allowance in Northern Ireland. One has to apply to one's health trust in respect of a holiday. When it comes to child benefit-----

(Interruptions).

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Deputy Ferris.

Deputy Derek Nolan: Information on Derek Nolan Zoom on Derek Nolan Sinn Féin takes credit for jobs but nothing else.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Deputy Nolan, I can handle this.

Deputy Leo Varadkar: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar If there are any other examples as to why these people should not be allowed ever get into power, it is their failure to allow people to speak.

Deputy Jonathan O'Brien: Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien That will not be the Minister's decision.

Deputy Leo Varadkar: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar They cannot tolerate opposition or anyone who disagrees with their views.

Deputy Jonathan O'Brien: Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien That will be the decision of the Irish people, not the Minister.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Deputy O'Brien.

Deputy Jonathan O'Brien: Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien I will not be lectured by the Minister.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt The Deputy will have an opportunity tomorrow to reply.

Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin Stop shouting people down.

Deputy Jonathan O'Brien: Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien I will not be lectured by the Minister.

Deputy Leo Varadkar: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar This is the alternative to the current Government.

Deputy Martin Ferris: Information on Martin Ferris Zoom on Martin Ferris One would expect the Minister to tell the truth.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt I will have to suspend the House if this continues. The Minister has a minute and a half remaining.

Deputy Leo Varadkar: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I thank the Chair for his protection. Thank God we have the protection of the Chair in this House and the protection of the Garda Síochána and Defence Forces because God forbid if people like Sinn Féin ever got into power.

Deputy Sandra McLellan: Information on Sandra McLellan Zoom on Sandra McLellan That is a disgraceful comment.

Deputy Leo Varadkar: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Leas-Cheann Comhairle, I think you should suspend the House.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Silence please, Deputies.

Deputy Leo Varadkar: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar As I said, there is no respite care grant in Northern Ireland and one has to apply to the health trust for a holiday. Child benefit in Northern Ireland is £80 for the first child, reducing to £60 for each subsequent child.

Deputy Martin Ferris: Information on Martin Ferris Zoom on Martin Ferris That is set by the British Government.

Deputy Leo Varadkar: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The only interest Sinn Féin has taken in economic policy is to seek a transfer of corporate taxation powers to Northern Ireland so as to reduce corporation profit taxes for corporations. At the same time, it refuses to take an economic Ministry because it does not want to take responsibility for the measures in place in Northern Ireland. Sinn Féin will of course argue that it is only implementing Tory policies. In reality, Sinn Féin is party to a Government of a State which is dependant on Tory subsidies. When they have to balance the books in the way we here have to balance our books they will be reducing those already paltry welfare rates further.

In its pre-budget submission Sinn Féin proposed €3.5 billion in spending cuts and new taxes. Yet, it claims to be against austerity. Regardless of how one does it or dresses it up, the removal of €3.5 billion from the economy is austerity. Regardless of from whom one takes money, it will have a dampening effect on the economy. Sinn Féin can dress it up any way it likes. It is a pro-austerity party and should stop pretending otherwise.

Sinn Féin also proposed the taxing of pension contributions at the standard rate in its pre-budget submission. What does this mean? It means a pay cut for every public servant earning €35,000 per annum or more because they will be taxed at the standard rate on their pension levy. It means a pay cut for any private sector employee or self employed person who contributes to a pension because they will be taxed on their pension contributions. Sinn Féin wants pay cuts not only for the high paid but for everyone earning more than €35,000 per annum.

Deputy Martin Ferris: Information on Martin Ferris Zoom on Martin Ferris That is not true.

Deputy Leo Varadkar: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar It is true. Deputy Ferris does not even know his own party's policies. It is hilarious that people like Sinn Féin think they could actually be involved in governing this country.


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