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Martin, Micheál

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Appointment of Taoiseach and Nomination of Members of Government

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Appointment of Taoiseach and Nomination of Members of Government

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Appointment of Taoiseach and Nomination of Members of Government

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Senator


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Deputy Micheál Martin

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Micheál Martin

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Snippet Contents:

In recent days, it has been widely trailed that the Taoiseach intends to abandon the rainy day fund and spend it on infrastructure. However, the fund is not yet in place and its creation is part of the deal which allows this Government to exist. He has no freedom to unilaterally change this policy and any attempt to manoeuvre on the ground for the next election by playing with overall budgetary limits will not be tolerated.
Few areas have been more disastrously managed by Fine Gael than health. A series of damaging decisions and an obsession with managing headlines rather than services have led to real deterioration and hardship. Its record is a lot worse than merely unfinished business. It is a sad reflection on the recent Fine Gael leadership contest that health is seen as a place to keep a Minister to be punished, rather than a challenge to be tackled head on. We have run out of patience over the implementation of agreements on the funding and provision of mental health services and no more delays will be tolerated. The National Treatment Purchase Fund is a proven way to immediately tackle waiting lists and waiting times. Its abolition caused real harm and its proper restoration is required immediately to reduce waiting times for patients. There are now 666,000 people waiting for inpatient and outpatient appointments.
On its first day in office, Fine Gael abolished the place of community development at Cabinet. This has caused hardship in urban and rural communities and the damage is obvious to anyone who cares to look. We regret that this damaging policy will continue. We also regret the fact that no significant effort is planned to address the rising crisis in many rural communities. There is no better demonstration of this than in the massive cuts to and underspending in respect of the Leader programmes. At a time when rural communities are literally terrified of the implications of Brexit, the failure to give their concerns any serious attention to date is an important omission. Investment in education and research is the most effective way to underpin the economic and social development of this country in the future. It will fireproof us against Brexit and other external threats. The Cassells report is a key policy intervention in this regard that needs to be advanced. Investment in and reform of preschool, primary and second level education are also essential. Education should be at the heart of a strategic approach to our people's future and we are prepared to engage constructively with the Minister for Education and Skills, as well as the new Minister of State with responsibility for higher education, in pursuing and advancing that agenda.
The ongoing crisis of confidence in key parts of the justice system has been the hallmark of recent years and was the most important impulse in the decision of Fine Gael to have a leadership contest. This is a topic which requires much fuller discussion. However, we have not yet heard anything that goes beyond the empty promises of reform of which we have been hearing since the days of the former Minister, Alan Shatter. The manner of the appointment of the former Attorney General to the Court of Appeal stinks. This can not be overcome by comments such as, "Ah sure, we'll do better next time". The silence from the Labour Party on this issue is deafening. Why has 23 years of precedent been abandoned for no real reason?