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

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 786 No. 2

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(Speaker Continuing)

[The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny] The Fianna Fáil Party, now absent from the Chamber, implemented across the board cuts to basic core welfare rates for carers and the blind. It signed up for a property tax when in government, only to state it does not want it now.

Sinn Féin, a party with uncosted economic plans, would tax the country back deep into recession, while trying to reconcile its severe split personality problem as it continues to implement cuts and increased property taxes north of the Border. How hypocritical of speaker after speaker to say that. Notwithstanding these facts, the Government stands on its own record.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Where is the Labour Party?

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe Take it easy, Mattie.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Every day I speak to people who understand tough decisions must be made in these difficult economic circumstances.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Will the Labour Party be here at 9 p.m?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny They ask us to keep on this path in as fair and equitable a way as we can. We will get the country back to work, emerge from the bailout programme, restore our economic sovereignty and offer hope, inspiration, comfort and motivation to the people by creating wealth and job opportunities in the time ahead.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath And peace and quiet.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The Government was elected to resolve the deep crisis inflicted on the country. This is a crisis with its roots in the greed and recklessness of the banks and the developer class, as well as the irresponsibility and political opportunism of the party opposite that they supported. For too many of the people, the crisis is about surviving. It is about surviving the loss of a job, with a business intact, providing for their children, keeping their home and keeping going. What they really want to know - the question they ask of every Member - is what we are doing to fix the problem.

Deputy Martin Ferris: Information on Martin Ferris Zoom on Martin Ferris That is what we are asking the Tánaiste tonight.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore What are we doing by our actions to leave the country in a better position than we found it? That is what every single Member was elected to do, not to exploit the problem but to fix it. The motion tabled by Sinn Féin is about exploiting the problem. It is not an attempt to be constructive or about offering an alternative approach. It is sheer political opportunism, which is nothing new for Sinn Féin.

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Ask Deputy Pat Rabbitte about opportunism.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore Only three weeks ago, out of the blue, it had a sudden conversion to legislating for the judgment in the X case because a tragic case had pushed it to the top of the news.

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh We made our case then.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Liam Twomey): Information on Liam Twomey Zoom on Liam Twomey Please, let the Tánaiste continue.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore Yet when the report of the expert group on the ABC judgment was published, a report which outlines the options to achieve a clearer, safer legal framework for pregnant women, Sinn Féin Deputies were nowhere to be found.

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh We had already made our case.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald The Tánaiste did not do anything.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore Only three Sinn Féin Members bothered to speak on the report in the House. Then they asked for the time allocated to that debate to be cut short. It seems that party's passion only lasts as long as the next news cycle. There is no interest in solutions, just soundbites.

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh That is a bit rich coming from the expert on soundbites.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The Government was elected by the people on a single promise and with a single purpose - to solve the crisis and to do so in a way that was fair and balanced.

Deputy Dessie Ellis: Information on Dessie Ellis Zoom on Dessie Ellis Is this Frankfurt talking?

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath The Labour Party made a hundred promises at the last general election.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore Unlike others, the parties in the Government have not promised fairy-tale solutions to the complex problems the country faces. This is a three-pronged crisis - there is a banking crisis, a fiscal crisis and an unemployment crisis. We have to tackle all three and do not have the luxury of picking and choosing our fights.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath The Labour Party got away with it.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The Labour Party went to the people and entered Government with the same mandate.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Labour's way or Frankfurt's way.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Dinny McGinley: Information on Dinny McGinley Zoom on Dinny McGinley Deputy Mattie McGrath is just a loudmouth.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Labour's way or Frankfurt's way.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore We promised to fix the banks at the lowest possible cost and are doing so.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Labour's way or Frankfurt's way.

Deputies: Be quiet.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Dinny McGinley: Information on Dinny McGinley Zoom on Dinny McGinley Deputy Mattie McGrath, will you keep your mouth shut?

Deputy Ciara Conway: Information on Ciara Conway Zoom on Ciara Conway If he would just keep quiet, he might learn something.

Deputy Dinny McGinley: Information on Dinny McGinley Zoom on Dinny McGinley He is a serial interrupter.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Liam Twomey): Information on Liam Twomey Zoom on Liam Twomey Please, Deputies.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The people who sent us here expect us to be serious. If there are Members who want to act the clown, let them go off and act it somewhere else.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Economic treason.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore There is no one solution, such as defaulting on our debts, which would only rebound on our children and their children. There is no one tax that someone else always pays that will make our problems go away. Instead, the Labour Party was honest with the people. We said it would be difficult and that every single person would have to play his or her part and that every aspect of public spending would be on the table.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Tell the people that.

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Like cutting child benefit.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore Those who can afford to bear a greater share of the burden will do so. In this and the last budget it was the Government's priority to protect the incomes of low and middle income households, while also making the necessary decisions to continue fixing the public finances, as well as helping to encourage job creation. Yes, we have had to cut expenditure and there is no easy way to do this. Between them, the areas of social welfare, health and education account for 80% of Government spending. It is simply wrong to pretend they can be sheltered from all cuts.

The approach of the Government has been realistic and fair. The social protection budget accounts for 40% of public spending, but it only accounts for 10% of the €3.5 billion adjustment. We have protected the most important payments for those who depend on social welfare.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath What about carers?

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Like cutting child benefit.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore Their weekly rates are unchanged. We found the money to reduce the amount asked for from the Departments of Health and Social Protection by €150 million each. We have protected class sizes for primary schools, special needs and disadvantaged schools, protected household benefits for older people and, as far as possible, the aid we give to the world's poorest people. We have restored the budget for home helps and home care packages. We have reinvested €30 million in 6,000 child care places for low income parents, school meals, tackling child poverty in the most deprived communities and10,000 extra training places for people out of work.

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh The Government took it out of their pockets.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath This is a farce.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore We have done so in a way which raises more than €500 million from the assets and income of the highest earners, wealth that is not captured by the PAYE system, into which the majority of people pay, such as large pension pots, multiple properties, rental income, share dividends, the buying and selling of assets or private income streams.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath And the sale of VEC sites.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore That is a €500 million contribution from real wealth that has up to now been lightly taxed, if at all. Unlike the Deputies opposite, members of the Government actually want to solve the problem.

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh The Government is making it worse.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore We do not pull magic figures out of thin air like Sinn Féin and its pretend wealth tax that excludes pension pots, family mansions, farms and whatever else might lose the party votes.

Deputy Peadar Tóibín: Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín Has the Government even tried to introduce a wealth tax?

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore Even Deputy Pearse Doherty has admitted he cannot say how much such a tax would raise. Sinn Féin's tax proposals have more holes than its leader's biography.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore As for Fianna Fáil, its approach to the budget has been a tour de force of cynicism. When the country was high on receipts from a property bubble that was rapidly overheating-----

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh The Tánaiste is overheating.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore -----it was all down to Fianna Fáil's economic genius. When that bubble burst, taking the banks and the economy down with it, it was all the fault of Lehman Brothers.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath The parties opposite wanted greater spending at the time.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore Now Fianna Fáil is in opposition, it is the fault of the Government elected to clean up its mess.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath The parties opposite wanted more.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore In Fianna Fáil's scramble to distance itself from promises it had made to the troika such as a property tax, it has left the last scraps of its dignity behind, exposing the full breadth of its naked self-interest. The Government - every one of the Members who sit on these benches - is in this fight for a reason. We are moving forward, day by day, taking the steps that will stabilise the finances, get the economy moving, businesses hiring and us out of the bailout programme. The alternative proposed would have us moving backwards. We are taking the decisions that will stop the Exchequer haemorrhaging money. The parties opposite are bottling it. We are laying the foundations for a recovery that will last. The parties opposite are playing a short-term political game.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald The Government is punishing carers and women. Well done, Tánaiste.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore In the past 20 months the Government has made significant progress.

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Backwards.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore It has stopped the rot in the banks and got credit moving again, with new initiatives, where necessary. It has restored our international reputation with foreign investors and jobs are returning.

Deputy Dessie Ellis: Information on Dessie Ellis Zoom on Dessie Ellis While people are suffering.

Deputy Peadar Tóibín: Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín While they are emigrating.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore Exports are growing again. We are turning our energies to helping people get off the dole and into jobs, to gain work experience or take up training. A stimulus package focused on job creation, health and education has been introduced. We are taking a balanced approach to spending, while protecting those who need it most and getting more from public services.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath For God's sake, this is propaganda.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore We know the sharp end of the crisis is being felt every day in households in every town, village and suburb. We will not exaggerate our achievements, but the end is in sight. We will win this fight and say goodbye to the troika at the end of next year.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath The Government will be saying "How high?" to the troika then.

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Auf wiedersehen.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore When the economy is sound and healthy, and more jobs and opportunities are being created, it will be the men and women of the Government alone who will be able to say we stood shoulder to shoulder with the people at the country's darkest hour.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty How dare the Tánaiste say that? I did not see him standing shoulder to shoulder with carers outside Leinster House yesterday.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore We will be able to say we did not falter because the task was too hard.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Liam Twomey): Information on Liam Twomey Zoom on Liam Twomey Deputy Pearse Doherty, please sit down.

(Interruptions).

Acting Chairman (Deputy Liam Twomey): Information on Liam Twomey Zoom on Liam Twomey Order, please.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath The Tánaiste is making a mockery of the people.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty How dare the Tánaiste say that? He did not stand shoulder to shoulder with carers or those who lost child benefit.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The country has had enough of bullying tactics from Sinn Féin, and we are not going to listen to their fairy-tale economics on top of that. The Government is solving the country's economic problems. We are going to continue with that mandate and we are not going stop it.


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