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Confidence in Taoiseach and Government: Motion (Continued)

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 861 No. 1

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  4 o’clock

(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Frances Fitzgerald: Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald] For 28 months in a row the unemployment rate has fallen. The Government target of creating 100,000 jobs by 2016 will not only be met, but exceeded, based on current growth levels and job creation. This is not happening by accident. It is the result of a determined effort by, and the policies of, this Government. We have rebuilt Ireland’s international standing. We have implemented our Action Plan for Jobs. We have pursued sector-specific initiatives such as the 9% VAT rate. In three separate deals, the Taoiseach, Deputy Enda Kenny, and the Minister for Finance, Deputy Michael Noonan, working with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Brendan Howlin, secured a reduction in the high interest rates on EU loan repayments, cancelled the Anglo Irish Bank promissory notes and secured agreement to pay back International Monetary Fund, IMF, loans early.

Fixing Ireland’s finances was immeasurably difficult but we have done that. Let us not forget why. At the beginning, when we took over, the job situation was so bad that people queued for the prospect of even a temporary, basic-pay position. It was so bad, couples in their 20s and 30s, looking at their children and their teenagers, had to assume the worst, that they would be forced to emigrate, as their peers had to emigrate in order to find work. That was the position at the beginning but from the start, we promised we would find ways to create jobs, and create them we did. The reality, now, and let us neither miss nor forget it, is that, thanks to the strong, realistic hand of this Government, the children who were four and five when disaster struck, the teenagers who were 13 and 14 have a radically improved chance of getting a job, developing a career and building a life for themselves in Ireland. That is never recognised by the Opposition or commented on.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney This motion has been tabled in response to yet another Sinn Féin political stunt, another cynical move for easy headlines, more sound bites with the usual aim in mind: to encourage discontent, stoke up anger and resentment, and divide communities, which is what Sinn Féin has thrived on in this State for the past few years. That is the hypocrisy of those opposite who attempt to undermine the mandate and legitimacy of a Government elected with a larger democratic majority than any other in the history of the State to do the very difficult job of cleaning up a Fianna Fáil created crisis that virtually broke Ireland and rebuild a new future that is fairer and more sustainable. The proposed motion of no confidence was the latest Sinn Féin kangaroo court, setting itself up as judge and jury, this time of the Government and Taoiseach, as if Sinn Féin was the only representative of the people. Sinn Féin talks about transparency, fairness, new politics and of course its Ireland of equals, yet it protects its own hard men, some of whom are rapists and child abusers. As always, a different standard applies to Sinn Féin soldiers, when the spotlight is on them for openness and transparency and justice, even relating to incidents long after the Good Friday Agreement. A man who claims such loyalty to his cause that he even denies his own involvement in it demands a new honesty and transparency in the politics of his Ireland of equals - what a hypocrite. His deputy leader claims to lead the fight on sexual abuse and women’s rights but at the same time turns her back when challenged to deal with the disgraceful failings of her own party exposed by a brave young woman who was the victim of her people, all to protect and maintain a loyalty to her leader. We have had enough of that hypocrisy, these stunts, the sit-ins, the aggressive promotion of divisions within society that Sinn Féin promotes as its new way of politics.

Meanwhile, the Taoiseach and this Government are focused on providing a better future here and in Northern Ireland, on reform, recovery, job creation, supporting families, and vulnerable people who have suffered through hard times. Through some of the toughest times this country has ever faced our Taoiseach has provided leadership, optimism and an unfailing belief that our country can and will recover when many others opposite were giving up and despairing of the future. We do not have a perfect track record, not by a long shot, but we have achieved, as a Government, under the stewardship of the Taoiseach and Tánaiste, and our record stands for itself, if people are honest in their judgment, with 80,000 jobs created since 2012, unemployment at the lowest rate since 2009, an exit from the enforced bailout, a return to strong economic growth - the strongest now in the European Union - and a reduction in the tax burden for low and middle income earners for the first time in seven years. On social issues, such as the Cloyne diocese, the Magdalen laundries, marriage equality, homelessness, the rights of children, gender balance and much more, the Taoiseach has demonstrated a humanity and openmindedness to bring about real change for people who have been wronged and ignored by successive Governments.

This Government will learn from its mistakes. We have made more than we should have, particularly this year. We will try harder, motivated by what is right for Ireland and all our people, as opposed to trying to divide society. While others will continue to try to undermine the progress and stability this Government has fought so hard and asked people to make sacrifices to build, Sinn Féin will try to replace it with something much more sinister, divisive and negative for the future of our country. We will work to bring people together behind a new vision of a changed, not perfect, but much better Ireland. We will finish the job that people elected us to do over the next 15 months or so. The Taoiseach and Tánaiste are leading that effort and have my full support and the support of both parties in government in this motion.

Deputy Sean Fleming: Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming The motion before us here today states: “That Dáil Éireann reaffirms its confidence in the Taoiseach and in the Government.” The Taoiseach should enjoy his victory today when he wins this vote but he should remember it is a pyrrhic victory. It will not last long. History shows that many who feel the need to have a vote of confidence in themselves and their leaders come to a sticky end not too long after. This pyrrhic victory will give the Taoiseach a glow for this evening but the real test will be in the ballot box. I believe the public has already decided it has no confidence in this Government. The Taoiseach will win today. He should enjoy his hour of glory.

The people are cross because the Taoiseach promised a democratic revolution. He had, as Minister after Minister has said, the biggest majority in the history of the State but he squandered it. People expected more from him. He promised them more. He promised a democratic revolution but the public got nothing. It was short-changed and let down. This is why people are not happy with how politics is conducted in Ireland. The public, as we have seen in election after election, is not happy with any of the established political parties. That is in part because the two parties to which it gave the biggest mandate since the foundation of the State have let it down badly in promising reform and not delivering it.

People expected honesty and openness as the hallmark of this Government but not even the Cabinet is in the loop for some major decisions of the Economic Management Council. We have seen on some occasions, whether to do with banking or other EU issues, the Minister for Finance reading a script in the Chamber and members of the Government are so far excluded they do not know what will be on the next page. Not only is there no honesty and openness, but that does not even apply within the Cabinet ranks.

The Government has been in office for four years. For the first three years of that time the troika held its hand. It has been on its own for one year and what a year that has been. It has been a political disaster in the way the Government has managed the country. For the first three years its hands were tied. It had very little to do but show up and read pre-ordained scripts in here. It got along well for the first three years. People will disagree about whose programme it was implementing but it implemented a programme. Once it was left on its own the Government started to collapse almost immediately.

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