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Appointment of Taoiseach and Nomination of Members of Government (Continued)

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 953 No. 4

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Danny Healy-Rae: Information on Danny Healy Rae Zoom on Danny Healy Rae] Fianna Fáil abstained and did not support farmers. I thank all those on the left - Sinn Féin, the Green Party, the Boyd Barretts and so on - for voting to support them.

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath And the Mary Lous.

Deputy Danny Healy-Rae: Information on Danny Healy Rae Zoom on Danny Healy Rae Farmers are being over-regulated. What will the MOT testing of tractors and the doing of away of splash plates on slurry tanks cost farmers? What about not being allowed to spread slurry at certain times of the year, even when the weather is fine? In Northern Ireland farmers can spread slurry the very same day above the ditch.

  The new drink driving rules, if introduced by the Minister, Deputy Shane Ross, will impact on and further isolate people in rural Ireland. That is to be deplored because they are already isolated.

  Brexit is a major concern for every farmer in the country. The Minister, Deputy Simon Coveney, has an almighty task on his hands.

  Am I out of time?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher No, but the Deputy is depriving his colleague of some time.

Deputy Danny Healy-Rae: Information on Danny Healy Rae Zoom on Danny Healy Rae I will finish on this point because I was interrupted.

Deputy Tony McLoughlin: Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin Keep talking.

Deputy Danny Healy-Rae: Information on Danny Healy Rae Zoom on Danny Healy Rae The Taoiseach is starting off on the wrong foot by acceding to the request made by Deputy Micheál Martin to curtail speaking time for smaller groups and Independents, denying us the right to speak in this Chamber on behalf of the people whom we have been elected to represent. It has become clear to me over time that Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil would like to get rid of all of the Independents and smaller parties, but try as they might, they will not muzzle us here or out there. Whether it be on the highways, back ways or other roads around the country, we will take them on. We are not one bit afraid of them. Try as they might, they will not stop us from representing the people who voted for us and elected us to Dáil Éireann.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher Deputy Mattie McGrath has five minutes.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath And the one that we lost.

  I, too, congratulate and wish the new Taoiseach, his Ministers and everyone else the best. I thank the Taoiseach for being helpful in his previous role as Minister for Social Protection on the many issues we raised. The Tánaiste was also helpful. I hope she has placed work on Clonmel Garda station in the safe hands of the new Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Charles Flanagan, and that the project will proceed.

  As I look along the line of Ministers still present in the Chamber, Deputy Charles Flanagan did well in his role as Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, as did the Ministers, Deputies Michael Creed and Simon Harris. As there is a lot of unfinished business in the area of health, I am glad to see that the Minister, Deputy Simon Harris, has been left in his role.

  As for the new Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Paschal Donohoe, it could be a case of smoke and mirrors, with him needing to look in the mirror every day to see which Department he is representing. Nonetheless, I am delighted that the two Departments are back under one umbrella. If the legislation has to to be changed, all the better. It was Deputy Brendan Howlin who wanted the little position of Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform for himself all those years ago and he was given it.

  The Minister, Deputy Simon Coveney, will welcome the move out of the area of housing. The Minister prior to him, AK47 or the King, was going to sort out the problems in housing provision, but he has not attended to hear one syllable of this debate. He got Deputy Brendan Howlin to speak for him. He failed as housing Minister. Big Phil the Enforcer failed before him. There is a massive housing crisis, with thousands on the housing list in every county and homeless persons all over the place. The Government is also forgetting about those in mortgage arrears. It is abandoning them and throwing them to the wolves and vulture funds. Will the Taoiseach, please, rein in the banks, NAMA and the vulture funds? He should show the compassion about which he has been tweeting for many years and deal with the ordinary people who are struggling.

  AIB is being fattened. I wish the former Minister for Finance, Deputy Michael Noonan, well in his retirement, but I did not support him in what he did with AIB. The shares in it are to be sold to vulture funds; some of the largest of which in the world will come in again. What about farmers and small business people waiting in their homes tonight for the sheriff to arrive, on behalf of the courts, AIB and all of the other funds that lent money recklessly? We paid them back and bailed them out. We have to look after the people and allow them to be re-energised to enable them to house themselves. Many of those in mortgage distress did not ask for council houses or free loans. The economy was wrecked and they suffered. They are now suffering again. The Taoiseach should instil some compassion into his Ministers, including those from the Independent Alliance, to enable people to help themselves and live reasonable lives instead of being forced into ill health by fear and strain caused by threats from the sheriff. A couple of years ago I brought a book into the Chamber, Waiting for the Sheriff, but nothing has changed since. Since I entered the Dáil, this is the third Government for which a Taoiseach has been appointed for which I have been unable to vote and that is the reason. I quoted the song "Won't Get Fooled Again" by the band The Who. We do not want to be fooled again and neither do the people.

  As Deputy Danny Healy-Rae said, the Government must look after ordinary people - the homeless, the sick and the 400 or 500 on trolleys everyday. Thousands of people are on waiting lists; some of whom have been waiting for five years - I receive letters which I would not even send to them - for simple procedures, for example, cataract or hip operations. There is a four or five-year waiting list for orthodontic treatment. Young children who are entering secondary school and going out to meet their peers cannot have these desperately needed operations performed. There are no psychology services available in County Tipperary, which has been abandoned. Last week we found out, however, that 9% more managers were employed last year in the HSE. We can have managers but not nurses. There is something rotten in the state of Denmark. We have to rein in the HSE and HIQA. I wish the Minister, Deputy Katherine Zappone, well in what is a troubled time for her, but she has to rein in Tusla also. There is quango after quango that the Government stated it would not set up but which it did.

  I see the new Minister, the Minister of State, Deputy Michael Ring, looking at me. That fellow did a Pontius Pilate on post offices. He could not get away from them fast enough, but he is being appointed Minister with responsibility for rural development.

Deputy Michael Ring: Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring Just like the Deputy ran away from Fianna Fáil.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath I am shocked that he will now be the Minister with responsibility for rural development. If that is what he did to oifig an phoist, what will do to small farmers? What will he do to Tús workers? What will he do to the farm grant schemes? God help us all. I am very disappointed by the poor judgment shown. I know that he came out and said he would vote for the new Taoiseach to undermine the Minister, Deputy Simon Coveney, from the perspective of a rural constituency, but he is being shoved onto the people of rural Ireland. A man who comes from rural Ireland should know better, but he handled the post office issue appallingly. He could not wait to hand over the issue for Cabinet decision and dissociate himself from it. I do not look forward to what is going to happen.

I do look forward, however, to the Minister, Deputy Richard Bruton, who is laughing, dealing with DEIS schools in my constituency next year.

Deputy David Stanton: Information on David Stanton Zoom on David Stanton The Deputy is all over the-----

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath I am glad that the Minister is still in the Cabinet and the Minister, Deputy Heather Humphreys, likewise as she will look after the issues that the Government-----

Deputy Michael Ring: Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring Go away out of that. The Deputy would be over here if he got the chance.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath It is welcome that-----

Deputy Michael Ring: Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring He would love to come over here.

(Interruptions).

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher Will the Ministers of State, please, not interrupt?

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Yes, please. They were going to-----

Deputy Michael Ring: Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring We should hear the truth. He would come over here if he got the chance.

Deputy Danny Healy-Rae: Information on Danny Healy Rae Zoom on Danny Healy Rae They never stop interrupting.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher If the Ministers of State get an opportunity to respond, they can share time, if their party colleagues agree to it.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Some of them have left and more are half asleep. Some are waking up, however, and realising they are still in government. They will need to pinch themselves, but they should know that they must look after the people. It is a privilege to be elected to this House. Our duty is to be Teachtaí Dála, messengers of the people. I welcome the Taoiseach's command of the Irish language and his appointment of a Minister with responsibility for the arts, culture and heritage, which is important, but Government members must know that they are public servants and represent the people. They should not forget about them when they are re-elected, pull up the ladder and to hell with the rest.

We need to fill the places that IDA Ireland did not fill if we are to deal with the impact of Brexit. It is too serious.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher Next are the speakers for the Social Democrats and the Green Party who I understand are sharing time.

Deputy Catherine Murphy: Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy I seek to share time with Deputies Róisín Shortall, Eamon Ryan and Seamus Healy.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher Self-discipline, please.

Deputy Catherine Murphy: Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy I read with interest the manifesto of the new Taoiseach, particularly where he described Fine Gael as a compassionate party that was committed to open rather than closed politics. He used the foreword to tell us that as a young man he had been attracted to Fine Gael because he had been inspired by what he described as the party's "unshakeable integrity" in how politics should operate. Today, however, we watched as someone who had been the subject of the gravest findings by the Moriarty tribunal became Fine Gael's kingmaker. Deputy Michael Lowry now has access to the Government and the highest political office in the land because the Taoiseach can count on him. The Moriarty tribunal ran for 13 years and cost the State in excess of €55 million, yet its findings have not been acted on. We find ourselves in a situation where the election of a Fine Gael Taoiseach is being facilitated by one of the key players in that tribunal, while a controversial company, Siteserv, now known as Actavo and owned by the other person against whom the tribunal made its findings - they were about corruption - was the supplier to the Houses of the Oireachtas of the barriers used for the Taoiseach's walk of honour in the grounds this afternoon. It beggars belief and serves only to remind us why trust in government and politics has been decimated. If the Taoiseach believes in the phrase "Start as you mean to go on", the events of today mark an inauspicious start for the Government. Is this the unshakeable integrity the Taoiseach says inspired him about Fine Gael's politics?

Politics and governing must be about an ethical enterprise.


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