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 Header Item Pre-European Council Meeting: Statements (Continued)
 Header Item Topical Issue Matters

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 786 No. 2

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath] I watched the present Government when it was in opposition and most of the time I admired it. Whatever it is that happens when Deputies take those seats, we will have to reshuffle the House and put the seats on this side, or whatever, in order to change the contamination that has got into our being as a political race. We are subservient and no longer proud of ourselves and we do not stand up for our people, which is what we were elected to do. We should fight back and demand rights and respect rather than give the Taoiseach pats on the back and have awards and different images on front pages of magazines. I will not stray and use the wrong word. I wish him well, as I do the Tánaiste. However, the people are not able, willing or ready to suffer any more at the behest of the harsh austerity being imposed by the troika, whose representatives I have met on three occasions. The Government has done a good job in hoodwinking and fooling them and telling them untruths, a word I hate to use. I asked the troika people to send their own scouts into towns, villages and cities and workplaces to see what is going on and find out for themselves that what they are being told is a pack of gobbledegook. The reality of what is happening in Ireland must be brought home to the people in Europe.

The Government has the opportunity, in the EU Presidency it will assume shortly, to take this up, engage meaningfully and do the job it is paid to do, namely, to represent the Irish people as their solemn elected Government rather than to kowtow and lie down under the bully boys of Europe. We are entitled to a reasonable standard of living and time to pay back our debts - which we never fail to do. We are entitled to have a bit of dignity.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore I listened to what Deputy Stephen Donnelly said about the debate he had on radio with the German ambassador. He told us much of what the ambassador and other people he has been speaking to have been saying but unfortunately he did not tell us what he said in return, although I imagine we can find that out. l hope he drew the attention of the ambassador and others with whom he spoke to the agreement that was made in June in respect of a banking union and the separation of bank debt from sovereign debt and, in particular, to the commitment made by European leaders at that meeting that the Irish financial situation would be examined with a view to improving its sustainability. I hope that he and other Members of the House who engage, whether with ambassadors, Members of the European Parliament or people they come across in their own Europe-based political parties and groupings, mention the fact that a clear agreement was made in June that the Irish situation would be examined, a banking union would be set up and there would be a separation of bank and sovereign debt. That is critically important for this country.

As many Members of this House have rightly pointed out in the course of this debate, the separation of bank debt from the State is critically important in order to lift the burden of that debt from the backs and shoulders of the Irish taxpayer. It is the objective of this Government to achieve that. The Irish people have borne a very big burden for what happened in both our own and the European economy. Decisions were made in October about the establishment of the single supervisory mechanism which is key to the putting in place of the banking union. It is important that those decisions are implemented. Today, for example, the finance Ministers at the ECOFIN Council will be discussing that very matter and I hope and expect this issue will be before European leaders when they meet at the meeting of the European Council. I hope the discussion that will take place around economic and monetary union and the strengthening thereof will be very much about issues which, ultimately, are about lifting the burden that has been placed on the taxpayer and ensuring there is a shared approach to the banking and financial crises across Europe. I hope that the burden the Irish people and their State have had to bear is something that will be approached in a shared way for the future.

I am disappointed at the degree of cynicism that has been expressed in the Chamber about the Nobel Peace Prize. There has been much discussion about Europe in terms of its economic issues, the banking and financial crises and the difficulties of the euro. It is worth reflecting on the origins of the European Union. The Continent was ravaged by war in the 20th century - two of the biggest wars the world has ever seen, in which the main protagonists were European states. Those protagonists are now part and parcel of a European union. It is not only the great world wars that took place - one must also think of the dark night of fascism that hung over Spain, Portugal and Greece. This was lifted and those countries brought into the European Union family. There was the huge change that took place after the collapse of the Berlin Wall. There was the contribution the EU made to the bringing of peace, in particular to the Balkans. There is the work the Union is doing now in trying to bring peace to areas where conflicts are still murmuring away, such as those in the Caucasus. There is the work the EU is doing in areas such as Syria, and also in Africa, using the so-called "soft" power of the Union, as well as development aid and the strengthening of issues such as policing, civil society and so on.

In itself, the European Union is probably the best example of how Europe moved from resolving its differences by having wars to resolving them around the conference table. It continues to make that contribution, bringing peace to other parts of the world. It is not a subject for cynicism, rather it is something of which we, as European people, ought to be proud. We should contribute more to it.

Topical Issue Matters

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt I wish to advise the House of the following matters in respect of which notice has been given under Standing Order 27A and the name of the Member in each case: (1) Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan - the reduction of weekly payments to those on the back to education scheme; (2) Deputy Alan Farrell - local property tax and proposed exemptions within the pyrite panel report; (3) Deputy Patrick O'Donovan - the need to make provision for transport for those patients requiring transport to and from hospitals from remote areas for life saving and prolonged treatment, including cancer care; (4) Deputies Clare Daly and Joe Higgins - the possible closure of the adult refugee programme; (5) Deputy Pearse Doherty - concerns in isolated rural communities arising from the reduction in Garda resources in recent years; (6) Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh - the change to the PLC teacher-pupil ratio; (7) Deputy Willie Penrose - the need for the HSE to honour agreements and commitments made to home helps in 2009 and to engage meaningfully with the Labour Court; (8) Deputy Noel Harrington - the imminent closure by the Courts Service of the courthouses in Kinsale, Skibbereen and Clonakility, County Cork; (9) Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív - the need to maintain the rural social scheme; (10) Deputy Charlie McConalogue - the impact of a number of cuts in budget 2013 to the further education and training sector; (11) Deputy Paul J. Connaughton - the closure of Garda stations in County Galway; (12) Deputy Derek Keating - the increased incidence of tuberculosis throughout Dublin city and county; (13) Deputy Shane Ross - the proposed closure of Stepaside Garda station, County Dublin; (14) Deputy Thomas P. Broughan - the need to address the growing housing waiting lists on Dublin's northside and particularly in the Dublin City Council administrative area; (15) Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy - the need to ensure that those on low incomes or the elderly will receive grant aid in the event of requiring a septic tank replacement following an inspection; (16) Deputies Gerry Adams and Micheál Martin - the publication today of the de Silva report and the support for the Finucane family's demand for a public inquiry; (17) Deputy Patrick Nulty - the decision of the HSE to recruit 1,000 nursing graduates on lower terms of employment than existing staff; (18) Deputy Robert Troy - the Supreme Court's judgment in the case of Mark McCrystal and the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, the Government of Ireland, Ireland and the Attorney General; (19) Deputy Kevin Humphreys - the need to introduce a regulator for the waste industry; (20) Deputy Seán Kyne - the need to recognise and plan for the distinct challenges faced by Gaeltacht schools; (21) Deputy Mattie McGrath - the McCrystal judgment handed down by the Supreme Court yesterday; (22) Deputy Michael McGrath - the possible introduction of legislation to address the issue raised in the Dunne judgment concerning home repossessions; (23) Deputy Dessie Ellis - the implications of cuts to St. Michael's House national school, Ballymun, Dublin; (24) Deputy Mick Wallace - the need to prevent the repossession of family homes in the new year; and (25) Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett - the agreement with the troika concerning bank repossessions of family homes.

The matters raised by Deputies Gerry Adams and Micheál Martin; Marcella Corcoran Kennedy; Kevin Humphreys; and Éamon Ó Cuív have been selected for discussion.

  Sitting suspended at 1.48 p.m. and resumed at 2.30 p.m.

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