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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)

[Deputy Jonathan O'Brien: Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien]  Naturally, I will be supporting this motion tonight because I, like tens of thousands of fellow citizens, have lost all confidence in this Government's ability to carry out the mandate which it was given in February of last year. I do not have confidence in this Government to deal with unemployment or to stem the tide of emigration, particularly when a Minister describes it as a "lifestyle choice". I do not have confidence in this Government to protect the most vulnerable in our society or to allow the elderly of this State, who have given a lifetime of service, to live their final years with dignity, free from stress and financial worries.

On 10 November last, the people of this State voted to enshrine the rights of children in the Constitution in what the Government described as an important, if not one of the most important results of any referendum. Just four short weeks later, the same Government that talked the talk about children's rights failed to walk the walk when it came to budget 2013. The Government launched an all-out attack on children in this budget and in doing so, it continues the failed and bankrupt economic policies of those who went before it, who also happily targeted those in society who do not have, while protecting and shielding the wealthy and the golden circles in Irish society. Cuts to child benefit, the back-to-school clothing and footwear allowance, not to mention the despicable cut to the respite care grant are just three of the cuts contained in budget 2013.

Every day since I was elected to this Chamber I have heard the Taoiseach and various Ministers point out - and rightly - the hypocrisy and the double standards of the current Fianna Fáil position in opposing measures such as the tax on the family home, the increase in the student contribution and the attacks on carers. However, what this Government is doing is exactly what Fianna Fáil did when it was in power and what Fianna Fáil is doing now is exactly what members of the current Government did in opposition. If one is a hypocrite, then all are hypocrites. Fine Gael and the Labour Party are doing what Fianna Fáil did in government and Fianna Fáil is doing what Fine Gael and the Labour Party did in opposition.

This Government was elected on a mandate of change, a mandate of renewed hope, a fresh start or, to use the words of the Taoiseach, on the promise of bringing about a "democratic revolution". Of course, it was also elected on the back of various promises and pledges made to the Irish people. What of those promises now? What of the promise not to cut child benefit or increase the student contribution? What of the promise to protect children and those with disabilities? What of those promises? I will tell the House what of those promises. They are out of sight, stuffed down the back of the cushy ministerial couches that people like Deputies Gilmore, Rabbitte, Burton, Quinn and Howlin now enjoy resting their backsides on. They so desperately wanted those couches that they sold their souls and betrayed the people who entrusted their vote and their hope in them. All in exchange for a lousy blue shirt and a hefty pension.

What of the citizens who trusted and believed in those promises which were made by the Labour Party and Fine Gael before the last election? What do they get for entrusting this Government with their hopes and their dreams or for believing that this Government would be different from and less cynical than the previous one? All they are left with is empty political rhetoric about how this Government is making tough decisions in the interests of the State and its people. Maybe someone from this Government can tell the carers who were outside Leinster House yesterday and who will be there again tomorrow how tough a decision it actually was to cut €325 from the respite grant and not take a brass copper from their own salaries. How tough a decision was that, Deputy Sherlock? Maybe someone from this Government can explain the comments of Deputy Burton last week, when she told people, having cut the back-to-school clothing and footwear allowance, to shop around. In all fairness. How tough a decision is it for those parents who will struggle next July to send their children back to school?

I have no confidence in this Government and if there was a shred of decency left on the Labour Party backbenches, those Deputies would stand by the carers, the sick, the disabled and the most vulnerable in this State by supporting this motion. If they fail to do so, they are standing by the Labour Party leadership, whose only interest is self interest.

Deputy Peadar Tóibín: Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín There is a chasm between what this Government thinks is happening and the reality in our society. What the Tánaiste and the Taoiseach said earlier is so different from the reality. Ireland has lost more jobs in the last four years than any other western society since the Great Depression. More than 87,000 people have emigrated in the last year, the highest figure since the 1800s and a third of a million have emigrated in the last four years. There has been a net reduction of 20,000 people working in this State since this Government came into office and year-on-year, every single growth projection made by the Government is reduced in hindsight. The Government has said that we take delight in what is happening but we take no delight in the fact that our families and friends are being pushed into poverty, into unemployment and into emigration. However, we would take delight in roll-over Gilmore standing up for his pre-election manifesto. We would take delight in the Government doing the job it was elected to do and would delight in it leaving office if it does not do that job.

  Having listened to the earlier speeches, one would expect that the Irish people would be glad to see the Government doing what it is doing. In that context, I will read a letter from a constituent, addressed to Fine Gael and Labour Party TDs and copied to me. The writer says:

I would like you to know that I, for one, am grateful to your party. Grateful for the chance you have given me to learn to value every penny I haven't got in my battered old purse. I am grateful to be unemployed, as it has given me the opportunity to rear my own children and rejoice in their brilliance. I am so grateful for you as you are showing our young people what not to do when they gain power. I am grateful that we have no oil to heat our bedrooms as it draws us, as a family, around the open fire and improves communication among us. I am grateful for the day that we ran out of bread and had no money to buy any because it gave me an opportunity to learn to bake my own.

  I am grateful that the children's allowance is cut by €30 for my family every month as it will motivate me to find further night-time work. And hey, let's not forget to be grateful for the property tax, because it reminds me that I am so so lucky to have a house which will give my son, who has a disability, a roof over his head long after I'm gone, so he won't be a burden on the State. I am also grateful for what's left of the respite grant, as it will pay for the property tax, not like last year, when it paid for a break for us all. I am grateful for my car, as it helps me get my son to all his hospital appointments and for the hundred euros that I conjure out of thin air every week, as that is what it now costs me to keep my car on the road. I am delighted that, despite my lack of employment, I am able to contribute to the economy by paying the Government 57 cent for every euro I put in my petrol tank as I now feel I am more than paying my way. I am grateful that I had enough petrol in my tank on Monday night to drive my son an hour's drive to casualty when he fell for the seventh time that day and for the lovely nurse and doctor who, despite their long shift and awful working conditions, were able to staple him back together. I am also grateful to our local mechanic who, luckily, fixed my car only that morning and is letting me pay in instalments.

  I am grateful that my home support hours, which were sanctioned as necessary by every social worker that assessed us are now all gone, because if I was angry about it it would blacken my heart and make me bitter. I am grateful to my parents who are very proud to have reared an honest girl and I can look them in the eye, knowing I am true to my word and haven't lied to get to where I am today. I am glad that I gave your party a vote at the last election, as now I am very clear on who not to vote for at the next one and clarity can only be a good thing. Finally, it would be helpful if you could think about how the cuts your party has designed are going to impact on the vulnerable people of our society because I can't guarantee that I will be standing next year if something isn't reversed and how much do you think the collapse of all the carers in Ireland will cost the State?

Kind regards,

Pauline,

Oldcastle, County Meath.

  How will the Government putting its hand into this woman's near-empty pocket cure Ireland's debt crisis while at the same time it stuffs the pockets of the bondholders with billions of our euro?


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