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McGrath, Michael

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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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Deputy Michael McGrath

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Michael McGrath

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Snippet Contents:

I congratulate the Taoiseach, Deputy Varadkar, and all the members of Government on their appointment this evening. It is a huge personal honour for each and every one of them and I genuinely wish them well in their portfolios. There is no doubt that, collectively, they all face enormous challenges. Among the priorities must be protecting Ireland against Brexit, managing the economy, fixing the health system and delivering houses for people.
I wish the Minister, Deputy Donohoe, well in his role. The forthcoming budget in 2018 will have to be built on those key priorities. Delivering homes for people has to be a top priority. I wish the Minister, Deputy Coveney, well in his new role and I congratulate him, but we will now have the third Minister with responsibility for housing in less than 16 months to face up to what is the single biggest emergency that people face. We will now have a three-month review of a plan, Rebuilding Ireland, that is less than 11 months old. I question the level of priority the Government is giving to the issue.
I say to the Minister, Deputy Ross, that as the man who has been such a fearless opponent of cronyism, such a passionate advocate for judicial reform, that when it came to what he reassured the House is an absolute coincidence, namely, that the announcement of the reopening of Stepaside Garda station and the appointment of Máire Whelan to the Court of Appeal without the Government even going through the process he regarded as inadequate – the principled opposition to cronyism, the principled advocacy for judicial reform went up like a puff of smoke. As they say in Cork, the Minister is a gas man indeed.
Among the priorities the Taoiseach and Ministers will have to face are helping people in this country who are in dire straits, who cannot get home help, who cannot access home care packages or get respite care for people with profound disabilities. There are young people in an absolute crisis who cannot get access to mental health services. I could give the Government a list of them. There are children with special needs in my constituency and I am sure all over the country waiting 18 months and longer for even an assessment of need not to mention gaining access to any service whatsoever at the end of the process.
The Government is facing some very big questions. The performance to date of the Government has not been good enough. It has not been up to standard. Among the big questions it faces is the future of the universal social charge. The new Taoiseach said it will remain but the programme for Government says it is on the way out. Are we going to deal with the pensions crisis? Are we going to have auto-enrolment into pension schemes? Are we going to do anything about climate change – the greatest challenge to human kind? Are we going to even aim for balanced regional development across the country? Are we going to tackle the issues of social inequality and child poverty? Are we going to prioritise the best long-term investment of all that we can make in the country, namely, the education system? Those are the challenges. The Government has not succeeded so far and it now has one final opportunity to do so.