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

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 786 No. 2

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

The following motion was moved on Tuesday, 11 December 2012:

That Dáil Éireann has no confidence in the Fine Gael and Labour coalition Government which has failed to fulfil its obligations to make political decisions and choices which benefit the citizens of this State.

- (Deputy Pearse Doherty).

Debate resumed on amendment No. 1:

To delete all words after “Dáil Éireann” and substitute the following:
“has confidence in the Government as it deals with the current economic crisis in as fair a manner as possible, while prioritising economic recovery and job creation.”

- (Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform).

Deputy Seamus Healy: Information on Seamus Healy Zoom on Seamus Healy I wish to share my time with Deputies Catherine Murphy, Luke Flanagan, Shane Ross and Mattie McGrath.

The Labour Party has absolutely no mandate for the policies it is pursuing - policies which make a blunt and brutal assault on middle and lower income families, children, the elderly, social welfare recipients and the working poor. On taking office last year there was a deliberate, shocking and cynical U-turn by the Labour Party. One should remember that it was to be "Labour's way or Frankfurt's way", that the poor and vulnerable were to be protected and the banks were not to receive another cent. What we have now is a savage assault on low and middle income families. This brings shame on the Labour Party.

The trade union movement, particularly the unions affiliated to the Labour Party, has a responsibility to stand up to the party and the policies it is pursuing. The unions must take responsibility because the ability of the Labour Party to pretend it represents the interests of workers is being supported by them. They must disaffiliate immediately from the Labour Party and start creating a new party of labour, as occurred in Clonmel in 1912 when James Connolly and Jim Larkin established the Labour Party. Unfortunately, that party has now turned its back on its founders, members and the general public. The leaders of the trade unions, including the bigger unions and those affiliated to the Labour Party, must take responsibility for this. They must disaffiliate from the party and start creating a new party of labour. If they do not do so, they will be as much responsible for the attacks on their members and the public as the Labour Party. They should do so immediately.

Deputy Catherine Murphy: Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy The benchmark against which the Government will be measured is what it committed to prior to the general election. It will also be benchmarked against three big issues, namely, debt, job creation and reform. The very fact that a figure of €8.1 billion is included in the budget to service the national debt is testament to the failure to negotiate a reduction or writing-off of some of the debt we should never have been responsible for assuming. Let me put this in context. When the Maastricht treaty was negotiated - I believe Mr. Albert Reynolds was Taoiseach at the time - the negotiators came back with £7.2 billion that was to transform the country. It was to be paid over five years. We are paying €8.1 billion next year in interest alone on the national debt. This obviously reduces the prospects for stimulating the economy and creating jobs. We have no strategic investment bank and the five point plan seems to have disappeared.

With regard to reform, there was an expectation that the political and public service systems would be radically reformed. I acknowledge that reform takes time, but under the Government, we have seen a series of box ticking exercises and minor changes that just tinker at the edges. It is not what the people bought into. If the Government is to continue what it is doing and does not do what is was elected to do, it should go.

Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan: Information on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Zoom on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan At this stage even the Christians do not believe we should have confidence in the Government. I am not a Christian - I am agnostic - but I understand Fine Gael is meant to be a Christian democratic party. I received a letter from a priest today. It includes a sermon in which reference is made to the "wilderness" carers have been in since the last budget. The priest asked me to represent their cause in any way I could. The sermon states:

  A Voice Cries in the Wilderness. Second Sunday of Advent.

  There are many forms of wilderness. There is the personal and also the communal:

  The wilderness of doubt, uncertainty, fear, breakdown, break-up, sickness, illness, unemployment, recession, debt, bereavement, enforced emigration ... the list is endless. The Church also has experienced a wilderness over the past number of years.

  It could be said that Europe is in a financial wilderness ... and that Ireland is also swamped by this wilderness and the debt crisis that overshadows us all as a nation.

  The Budget last Wednesday has generated a lot of comment. We all are aware of the challenging task that the Government has in reducing the spiralling national debt. We are also aware of the solemn pre-election promises that they made NOT to remove any grant or respite allowance that carers relied on.

One has to ask was this a promise made to dupe carers for a cynical grab for power?

  I want to link the Advent theme of spiritual wilderness with various conversations I had on my First Friday Communion Calls - where I met people in long-term care and their carers who feel let down, dismissed and betrayed by the cut in the respite care grant.

  Anyone who is sick or ill is vulnerable. They require the very best of care - not as a handout - but by right. The respite grant enabled both the cared for and the carer to literally have some respite from the constant demands that a carer's job entails. […]

  This cut is unfair, unjust and unpatriotic.

This letter is from a Christian, which the Members opposite claim to be. They do not sound very Christian any more, do they?

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross If we had an audience here of the great powers of Europe - the Central Bank, the IMF, European banks and Irish bankers - perhaps the motion of confidence might be passed. There are those who applaud the Government and those great outside powers to whose tune the Government is dancing. Ms Merkel salivates every time the Taoiseach arrives in Berlin with a bouquet of roses. He goes as a puppet to dance to her tune. The Central Bank is very happy and the Department of Finance is delighted with the Minister for Finance, as we can see. The IMF and others that have lent us money are also pleased. It is very difficult, however, to say the Government has acted in the interests of the people of Ireland rather than those of external forces. That is the main problem I have with the direction in which it is moving. It is external forces that are driving the Irish economy and wagon.

The Government is not different from its predecessor. The Government which so obviously promised to differ from Fianna Fáil is, however, different in certain respects. It has certainly done fewer things that are so obviously corrupt, unethical and unacceptable and has a more honest appearance, but its economic performance is as bad, if not worse, because it had other options and refused to take them. I will vote to express no confidence in the Government because it has refused to differentiate itself from the economics of Fianna Fáil and the Green Party.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath I, too, welcome the Taoiseach to the debate and want to take up where Deputy Shane Ross left off. He said the Government had options. Of course it did but, worse, it made so many promises. On entering office, the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste and all of their colleagues, including the Ministers of State at the Departments of Finance and Health, Deputies Brian Hayes and Alex White, respectively, had the relevant books and papers, knew the state the country was in and did not have to promise anything. The last Government was to be banished from office because of grievous mistakes. The Taoiseach may laugh if he likes - bí ag gáire - but, like me, the public are tired. I put him on notice that the public are tired of his shenanigans in Brussels. They are tired of his trips and the "Heil Hitler". He is bound to Angela and giving her a kiss on the lips or fingers. The public are tired of this. What the Taoiseach needs to grow is a pair of you-know-what and tell Angela that we are a sovereign people, that we are in trouble and will not take any more of this penury and misery. The Taoiseach is an honourable man-----

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny It is Angela, with a hard "g".

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath I would say "Angera" is the right word. I do not know whether the Taoiseach talks in Irish, English or Latin to her, but when I hear that parish priests are writing to Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan, it is time for the Taoiseach and his colleagues to wake up and smell the coffee.

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