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Leaders' Questions

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 786 No. 3

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Leaders' Questions

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt We are on Leaders' Questions. There are two minutes for the first question, three minutes for the reply and one minute for supplementaries. I call Deputy Martin.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin As chairman Keaveney tweeted last night, the die has been cast. Labour and Fine Gael Deputies have voted, one and all, for some of the most regressive cuts to child benefit, respite grants and child clothing allowances, and an increase in tax for low paid workers. This is despite the fact the Labour Party made extraordinary commitments before the last general election. It has now broken every single promise it made. To quote the Tánaiste himself on 11 February 2011, before the election date: "The Labour Party will not agree to having child benefit cut anymore and Fine Gael need to drop their plans to cut child benefit". That is the solemn promise he made to the Irish people. Labour then put posters up all over the country, "Protect child benefit, vote Labour", "Families Need Labour in Government" and "A Cut Too Far – Fine Gael – Every Little Hurts".

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan The Deputy should know all about it. He did enough of it.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin They then go and take €10 per month in child benefit off the first and second child and €18 off the third and fourth child.

When pressed on breaking those promises, the Minister, Deputy Rabbitte, said the other night: "Isn’t this the kind of thing you tend to do during an election campaign?" - in other words, you tend to make these kinds of promises. This basically means Labour never had any intention of keeping these promises in the first place. They knowingly deceived the people of this country. They knowingly betrayed the people of this country. Labour's way was the ultimate deception.

Deputy Noel Coonan: Information on Noel Coonan Zoom on Noel Coonan That is rich from him.

A Deputy: He has some neck.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan That really stretches the imagination.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The Tánaiste might not like those words coming from me. To be fair, Senator John Whelan has perhaps put it far more succinctly, when he said he was one of the Labour candidates who put up and delivered those leaflets. He said: "We have broken that promise on child benefit, we misled the public and I have been made a liar of by the budget cuts to child benefit."

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Thank you, Deputy.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin That is what Senator John Whelan wrote in yesterday's The Star newspaper. He continued: "The betrayal of the public's trust just adds salt to wound." He then said in a message to, I think, every Deputy in the House, particularly to his own Deputies: "We know in our hearts and souls it is wrong, morally wrong, inequitable and unfair as these budgetary measures penalise ... low-income families the worst."

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Thank you, Deputy.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin I want to ask the Tánaiste one very basic question. No one forced him to make those promises and no has forced him to break them. Why is the Fine Gael promise not to increase taxes on people earning over €100,000 more important than the Labour Party promise not to cut child benefit?

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore Fianna Fáil has a hard neck.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan He is right about that. It is getting harder.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley Labour has a soft neck and it is being tickled by Fine Gael.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Order for the speaker.

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore Its legacy to this country-----

Deputy John Perry: Information on John Perry Zoom on John Perry Is appalling.

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore -----was to bring in the IMF. This Government's legacy will be to get rid of the IMF.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley And everybody else as well, by the look of it.

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore Its legacy was to put this country into a bailout with the troika.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley Answer the question.

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore This Government will be sending the troika home. This budget is a tough and difficult budget. Nobody has said anything other than that for it but it is a budget that is necessary in order to bring about the recovery that my party promised we would do at the time of the general election and that the Government committed itself to doing when we signed the programme for Government and committed ourselves to-----

Deputy Willie O'Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea What about the pledge in Trinity College?

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore -----bring about economic recovery to this country, and that is what we are doing. We undertook that we would deal with the problem in our banking system and we are doing so at less cost than Fianna Fáil said would be possible. We committed ourselves to renegotiating the deal with the troika-----

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley What about child benefit?

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore -----which Fianna Fáil said was impossible, and we are succeeding in doing that. We committed ourselves to putting the public finances on a sound, solid footing again after Fianna Fáil brought the country to the brink of bankruptcy, and we are doing that. We promised that we would-----

Deputy Willie O'Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea They promised they would protect child benefit.

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore -----provide for increased employment in this country and we are now seeing increased investment and jobs coming into this country, something that was flying out of the country when Fianna Fáil left it to us.

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher He promised to protect the vulnerable. The Tánaiste made a lot of promises, all right.

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore We promised we would restore economic growth to this country, which is happening after four years of recession under Fianna Fáil.

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher Come to the tea party.

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore This Government, and the Labour Party in this Government since the Deputy fingered us particularly, is going to bring about the recovery that the people of this country need. The people of this country are sick of recession. We need recovery in this country. This is a difficult budget but it is a budget that is necessary in order to bring about the recovery that this country needs and to secure the future.

(Interruptions).

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Order, please.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The Tánaiste did make commitments. We all remember, "It is Labour's way or Frankfurt's way".

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan We remember Fianna Fáil's way as well.

A Deputy: Has the Deputy forgotten about himself?

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin We all remember that deception. The Tánaiste voted against every measure to correct the public finances in 2009 and 2010. He spoke on budgets from this side of the House-----

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon Zoom on James Bannon Sit down.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin -----saying the Government was going to rob child benefit from people's pockets.

A Deputy: Because he was crazy and he still is.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin He was Mr. Angry. Does he not remember Mr. Angry over there? He has now done a U-turn on every single thing he protested about.

Deputy Ciara Conway: Information on Ciara Conway Zoom on Ciara Conway What about Mr. Forgetful?

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley We might forget about you very quickly.

Deputy Ciara Conway: Information on Ciara Conway Zoom on Ciara Conway Who are "you"?

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The point is he made promises he had no intention of keeping. That is why one of Labour's former Ministers, Deputy Shortall, has described its performance in government as "embarrassing".

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan Not as embarrassing as the Deputy's.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte Deputy Martin cannot lecture us.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin That is why Senator Whelan said what he said. He said the Tánaiste had made a liar out of him, and he wrote it in yesterday's The Star newspaper.


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