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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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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley] The audacity of this approach of spinning until caught red-handed has continued through the life of the Government.

We saw a similar example of this approach during the medical card fiasco. The Government began culling discretionary medical cards to reduce budget overruns in the Health Service Executive, HSE, but it was never announced as official policy. When extreme cases of hardship were raised in the House by Deputy Martin and others outlining the outrageous swiping of medical cards from people most in need, the official Government line was to deny, deny and deny, day in and day out on Leaders’ Question. We were told by the Taoiseach there was no problem and no change in policy. He stated the number of medical cards was not being reduced. Only when public anger grew at this increasingly perverse policy in the run-up to the local and European elections, and particularly after the drubbing it got in the results, did the Government finally acknowledge its inhumane policy and sought to address it. Notwithstanding these changes, medical cards are still not being returned. When my office contacted the HSE about this, it was informed the policies have not yet been implemented even though they were announced more than ten days ago.

We saw the same approach in justice where honourable members of An Garda Síochána sought to highlight serious malpractice in the force, only for them to be told by the responsible Fine Gael Minister that they would be got if they raised concerns about accountability or malpractice. The Government had no place for whistleblowers to go, until eventually an independent report sided with those whistleblowers and commended their bravery in speaking out when political pressure was pushing them to stay quiet and disappear. Yet we are still in the dark as to why the former Garda Commissioner, Martin Callinan, resigned and as to the Taoiseach's role in that event. We are still waiting on the commission of investigation to be established to investigate the issues of serious concern arising from the Guerin report.

Even the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has not escaped the Government’s cynical political approach. Fine Gael and Labour showed their utter contempt for the arts and cultural sector by seeking to undermine the arm's length principle with regard to government interference in the arts. It has reduced the arts budget year on year while our national cultural institutions are struggling to function on their ever decreasing budgets. The boards of our national cultural institutions have been used by the Government for purely cynical and political ends. The recent controversy surrounding the appointment of John McNulty to the board of the IMMA, Irish Museum of Modern Art, showed the promised democratic revolution was nothing more than an election gimmick.

Other commitments have led to further disappointment among our people. Our health service waiting lists are soaring while there appears to be no clear policy on how best to reform our health service. The Government sought to abolish the HSE but did not outline with what it would replace it. It has watched over the past four years as a housing crisis on an unprecedented scale developed, leaving hundreds homeless, thousands in fear of being evicted and families giving up on their dream of owning a home of their own. We have seen no action to address the drug problem witnessed across the country, the increasing waiting lists for nursing homes and the appalling abuse of so many families in their inability to get access to the fair deal scheme. There is now a waiting list of up to 15 weeks for the scheme which is putting enormous hardship on families. The scheme is worse than it ever was but the Government claims it is a backlog. It is not. It is about saving money. There are times, if the Government confessed to the people that it finds itself in difficult circumstances, that the people would understand.

Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor: Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Of course, the IMF was not here, was it Deputy?

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley The people have taken and given a lot and would work with the Government. It is this continued spinning of half-truths and half-answers that is causing problems for people. We have had it over the past two days. The Minister of State can put his head in his hands and feign some kind of mock indignation about my ability to recognise what the people expected.

Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin: Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordán Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordán You said the IMF was not here.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Through the Chair, please Deputies.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley We have seen the spectacle over the past two days where the fallout from the IBRC, Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, liquidation has led to the potential where junior bondholders ultimately might be paid back. The Government’s spokespeople have hedged, ducked and dived on this rather than coming out stating the facts.

Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin: Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordán Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordán The Deputy should stop. He is on seriously shaky ground here.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley The Tánaiste did such a fantastic job at the weekend, stating she would solve the problems and that there was no way on her watch would any of these junior bondholders be paid back. The facts belie what she said. Some of the more honourable Government spokespeople have said the junior bondholders will be paid back if the resources are there. If the one billion of euro that can only be attributed to the taxpayer in that particular formation is paid back, then the bondholders get paid back. The Tánaiste has indicated that this will not happen. That will be an interesting discussion at the EMC, Economic Management Council, which she fought hard to be on. We will see how she will bring forward special legislation to give effect to what she desires. I presume she hopes the returns from the liquidation of IBRC will not be as beneficial as might be. If it overachieves, however, she will have one hell of a problem resolving what she said at the weekend.

Rural Ireland feels abandoned too by the Government as Garda stations are closed, schools are threatened and post offices face an uncertain future.

Deputy Alan Kelly: Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly Fianna Fáil closed more post offices when it was in government.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley While I have already welcomed our improved economic growth, I equally condemn the fact it is a two-tier one. Rural Ireland feels left behind, a fact which the Government continues to fail to address.

We have also witnessed a total failure to reform the political institutions of our State. If anything we have seen the people's trust in our political institutions fall even further under this Government. Stroke politics, cynical politics and politics for the elite is practised by Fine Gael and Labour instead of the new politics they promised us in the 2011 general election.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley Some Ministers and backbenchers fail to accept that they promised something different but they have gone back to age old politics of the past. They are still coming in here believing they can hoodwink the people. I do not believe that will work in this instance.

Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin: Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordán Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordán Fianna Fáil’s EMC was its tent at the Galway Races.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan It has all changed.

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe This is a motion about leadership. Ireland in the early weeks of 2011 was a country devoid of hope. Some commentators question whether the experiment of an Irish State had failed. The people gave this Government under the Taoiseach, Deputy Enda Kenny, a mandate to fix the economy and to rebuild the State. That work is now well under way.

As a Government, we have not gotten everything right. Mistakes have been made. Our successes, however, have far outweighed our mistakes. The country is in a better place than it was just three years ago. The achievements of the Government under the Taoiseach, Deputy Enda Kenny, include rebuilding our economy and exiting the bailout. The number of people in employment is growing monthly and the impact of the Action Plan for Jobs under the leadership of the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Bruton, has started to take hold. The minimum wage has been restored with the low-paid taken out of the universal social charge. A process of tax reform for middle-income earners has been started. The Government has allowed the tourism sector to be reborn through initiatives such as The Gathering and the reduction in the VAT rate to 9%. The Government has carried out more reforms of the Oireachtas than any other Government in the past. Steps have been taken to reform our political system at local and national level. The Government has faced up to some of the most tragic episodes of our past, such as abuse in institutions and the Magdalen laundries, in an open and honest way. These are just a few of the achievements under the leadership of our Taoiseach, Deputy Enda Kenny, and this Government.

The Opposition wants to vote no confidence in the Government and bring about a general election. It is unfortunate that Deputy Adams who tabled this motion is not in the Chamber now.

Deputy Michael Colreavy: Information on Michael Colreavy Zoom on Michael Colreavy It was the Government which tabled this motion.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe Has his party confidence in him? Is it forced to have confidence in him out of fear, instead?

The Opposition parties ask us to trust them. I would not trust any of them to run this great country. What does the Opposition offer in the way of leadership? Contrast the leadership provided by our Taoiseach, our Tánaiste and this Government over the past three and a half years with the critics on the other side of the House. The Fianna Fáil Party, led by Deputy Martin, offers nothing positive. He was a Minister who sat at the Cabinet table under Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen, a Minister who was involved in the decisions which destroyed the economy.


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