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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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Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher In September, Fianna Fáil tabled a motion of no confidence in the Minister for Health, Deputy Reilly, because of his handling of the health services and Sinn Féin has now tabled a motion of no confidence in the Government. The reason we are speaking on this motion is not because of what happened yesterday or the day before but because of what was said by the two parties in this Government before the election. An analysis of the commitments made by Fine Gael and the Labour Party in advance of the election will show the extent of the betrayal in this budget's measures on child benefit, the back to school clothing and footwear allowance, farm assist, jobseeker's benefit, redundancy payments, supplementary welfare, back to education allowances, respite grants, household benefits packages and fraud and overpayment controls. This is another regressive budget.

Deputy Jan O'Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan It is ironic to hear Fianna Fáil speak about betrayals.

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher There is no point in dressing it up in any other way. It is regressive because those who are on lower pay and social welfare will have to pay proportionately more than those on higher income.

Deputy Jan O'Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan Take all the measures into account.

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher It is a mathematical fact, as has been pointed out by the ESRI in regard to last year's budget. The Government's statement of common purpose announces:

On the 25th February a democratic revolution took place in Ireland. Old beliefs, traditions and expectations were blown away. The stroke of a pen, in thousands of polling stations, created this political whirlwind. The public demanded change and looked to parties that would deliver the change they sought. [...]

That is why Fine Gael and Labour, the two largest political parties in the State having achieved historic levels of support in the general election, now seek to use their mandate to form a Government for National Recovery.

Deputy Jan O'Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan That is exactly what we are doing.

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher The next line is important from the Labour Party's point of view: "A Government that will be built on partnership and parity of esteem between our two parties." This budget was a Fine Gael budget.

Deputy Jan O'Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan That is not true.

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher It completely stymied any attempt by the Labour Party to defend the vulnerable and those who need the support of the State.

Deputy Jan O'Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan Fianna Fáil cut the social welfare rates by 8% in its last budget.

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher That is a fact. Prior to going into government, the Labour Party promised it would not cut child benefit or social welfare rates. It would not even increase the price of a bottle of wine.

Deputy Jan O'Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan It was not quite like that.

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher It was as if Fine Gael wanted to rub the Labour Party's nose in it. Fianna Fáil supports this motion of no confidence partly because we do not have confidence in the ability of the Minister, Deputy Reilly, to continue in office. He was supported by the Government in the vote on our motion of no confidence in him. The Labour Party lost a colleague in that vote.

Deputy Jan O'Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan Fianna Fáil lost the vote.

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher We lost the vote but the Minister of State, Deputy Jan O'Sullivan, lost a colleague. She is losing colleagues on a regular basis. We know we will not win the vote on this motion, but I assure her that when she meets the people on the streets, they will tell her they feel betrayed by the Labour Party. There is no point in it claiming the challenges are huge. It knew about these inordinate challenges when it gave its commitments.

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform is now taking credit for implementing the programme which his party claimed was the worst thing that could ever happen.

Deputy Jan O'Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan We got it changed.

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher It is little changed. The only changes have been made by Ministers who introduced savage cuts in areas where they could have been avoided.

Deputy Jan O'Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan We restored the minimum wage.

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher If the Labour Party wanted to look after the most vulnerable, it would have fought tooth and nail for an increase in the universal social charge for those earning more than €100,000.

Deputy Jan O'Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan We have taken €500 million from the rich.

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher I am confident they would not begrudge carers and those who need respite care grants. It is shameful for the Labour Party to defend this budget when it threatened to walk out of Cabinet if it did not get its way. It walked back in rapidly when it thought it might be left outside the door.

This motion gives us the opportunity to hold the Government to account. The Oppositions should not be ridiculed for holding the Government to account because it is our duty to highlight and expose the massive U-turn by the Labour Party from what it said to what it has done. It was going to burn bondholders. The Tánaiste was like a modern day Genghis Khan about to sack Europe. He was on his way to Frankfurt, but nothing has been done. If the Government gets a deal on the promissory note, it will be because it has accepted the principle that Irish people will carry the burden of banking debt.

Deputy Jan O'Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan We are not the ones who put it on the people. We voted against the guarantee.

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher It is merely kicking the repayments down the road. The Labour Party stated clearly it would renegotiate banking debt and that it had no intention of adding it to our sovereign debt.

Deputy Jan O'Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan Deputy Kelleher has some neck after what he did to the country.

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher I have accepted what I did. I am on this side of the House and the Minister of State is opposite, but her party is in Government on a flawed mandate because what it promised and what it is doing are at variance. We support the motion for many reasons but primarily because of the Government's attack on vulnerable people and because the Minister, Deputy Reilly, continues to sit at the Cabinet table. To those Government Deputies who are crying crocodile tears and promising to make every effort, I remind them:

When sorrows come, they come not single spies

But in battalions.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív Ní fhéadfainn a rá ar chor ar bith go gcuireann sé áthas orm labhairt ar an rún, ach tá sé fíor-thábhachtach go bpléifí an rún seo agus go ndéanfaí scrúdú ar na geallúintí agus an méad a bhí ráite ag páirtithe an Rialtais seo sula ndeachaigh siad i gcumhacht agus ag aimsir an olltoghcháin deiridh.

The Government should do the honourable thing by seeking a fresh mandate. If recall elections were allowed in this country, it would have been recalled long ago. Despite its protestations, it knew before it came into office exactly what the financial situation involved. Right up to the election the parties now in power accused us of understating the financial difficulties we faced and that things were a lot worse than we claimed. Despite their concerns, however, they wooed the electorate with extravagant promises. I do not doubt that the Minister of State, Deputy Jan O'Sullivan, will protest that the Government is doing a good job in the circumstances and that the electorate realises that. If she believes that argument, she should go before the electorate, apologise for the fact that all the promises the Government parties made were empty, and state that this time they are going to stand on the programme they are following, which happens to be the programme of the previous Government. They would then have an honest mandate rather than one built on a tissue of false promises.

The bank guarantee is a hardy perennial for the Government. Unlike its colleagues in Fine Gael, the Labour Party argued before the election that the guarantee should not have been provided, but it has since renewed the guarantee on two occasions. It was happy to accept the receipts from the guarantee, which totalled €1.2 billion this year, and it paid unsecured bondholders in full. It has failed to achieve any form of debt write-off from Europe and has tacitly admitted that it will never do so. It neglects to explain that if the banks had collapsed, their depositors would have lost their savings.


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