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

Saturday, 27 June 2020

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 994 No. 3

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Acting Chairman (Deputy Mary Butler): Information on Mary Butler Zoom on Mary Butler The next speaker will be Deputy Bríd Smith who, I believe will share time with Deputies Paul Murphy and Barry.

Deputy Bríd Smith: Information on Bríd Smith Zoom on Bríd Smith I also will share time with Deputy Gino Kenny.

I will start by saying I have absolute confidence in this Government and that confidence is based on what we know about the parties in government and what they did in the past decades when they were in power. I am confident that Fine Gael will look after the very wealthy in this society. I am confident that Fianna Fáil will look after the developers and the builders and I am confident that the Green Party will act as a mudguard for both of them. We know from recent history that Fianna Fáil and the Green Party had no problem punching down when they needed to make cuts and we know that Fine Gael have no problem enriching the 1%.

People Before Profit will make sure that the next Dáil remembers those who the previous Government forgot and those who this Government will try to ignore, namely, working people, the homeless, tenants in rented accommodation, pensioners who have lost out and our older citizens in the nursing homes, to mention but a few. We will bring them into the Dáil each day the Dáil sits, just as this Government will bring in the rich, the investors, the bankers, the vulture funds, and the lobbyists that they employ.

Among those forgotten by the previous Government, I want to ask a few questions of particular Ministers.

Will the new Minister with responsibility for justice, who happens to be female, do what the previous Minister failed to do, and indeed what the previous Taoiseach has ignored, and extend the maternity leave and benefit for women who have been affected by the Covid-19 crisis? Will she end the flagrant injustice visited upon the O'Farrell family and commission the independent inquiry into the death of Shane O'Farrell as voted for in the previous Dáil?

Will the new Minister with responsibility for education act on the recommendation of the Committee on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution and ensure that young people receive a non-ethos-based sex education?

I call on the new Minister with responsibility for trade and employment and former Taoiseach to act without haste and to save the sectoral employment orders threatened by the recent High Court judgment. I call on him to appeal that decision to ensure workers in the electrical and construction trade, as well as further workers in security and contract cleaning, do not have their wages and conditions minimised. Will he act now to ensure that workers who are being dumped on the scrapheap by the insolvency Act, like the Debenhams workers, workers in Instant UpRight and other companies, are put at the top of the list of creditors in those situations?

Will the new Minister with responsibility for housing please end the trauma and stress facing many thousands of renters by immediately extending the ban on convictions until at least 2021?

I will end my contribution by congratulating the Green Party, because it has succeeded in reintroducing the wolves into one habitat, that is, the wolves of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael austerity back into the Government. I hope not but that may be one of its most prominent achievements.

Deputy Gino Kenny: Information on Gino Kenny Zoom on Gino Kenny There are times when one has to make a stand, not because it is popular or unpopular but because it is the right thing to do. The omission of the occupied territories Bill from the programme for Government was the time to make that stand. The people of Palestine are tired of platitudes from the EU and the international community. My appeal is that the occupied territories Bill be passed and legislated for by this Government. The time for platitudes is over. The time for showing solidarity to the Palestinian people is now. We have let down the Palestinian people because of the omission of this occupied territories Bill. It is time to pass this legislation.

Deputy Paul Murphy: Information on Paul Murphy Zoom on Paul Murphy There has been some discussion in the media over the course of the day about what the character of this Government is. Brian Dobson on RTÉ asked whether we might put the label "centre-left" on this Government. If he is watching, the answer is "No", we might not put the label "centre-left" on this Government, because if one puts together the two right-wing parties that have ruled this country in the interest of the rich for almost a century, if one adds the Green Party, which signed up to a neo-liberal programme for Government, and then one throws in some of the most right-wing Independent Deputies in this Dáil, what one gets is not a centre-left Government. What one gets, very clearly, is a right-wing Government.

I want to use my speech to appeal to the left-wing green activists who put up an impressive fight against this coalition to leave the Green Party. The fact that the deal passed does not change one single fact and the truth they spoke about the programme for Government. It is still a programme for austerity. It is still a programme that will worsen the housing crisis. It is still a programme that gives a tax cuts to the very highest earners with one hand while preparing for eco-austerity taxes for working-class people with the other.

The point has been made that this Government brings to the fore a left-right divide in Irish politics. The question to green activists is which side of that divide do they want to be on? Entering into government with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael ends any possibility that ever existed of the Green Party being a vehicle for the radical change that we need. It will be wiped out at the next general election. More importantly, those young people, the people mobilising on the streets demanding system change, not climate change, will not be attracted to a party that is managing the capitalist system. We need their involvement in social movements that will drive change. We will need to work together to build movements for climate, housing and social justice, because even with a right-wing Government in power, we can win victories. We need also to build a broad party of the anti-capitalist and eco-socialist left. Left activists who leave the Green Party could play a crucial role in that. There should be a space in that party for all who share a commitment to people power movements to drive change, for all who oppose environmental destruction, austerity and oppression and for all who rule out coalition with the establishment parties. Leave the Green Party. Join with the left in fighting against this right-wing Government. Do not be a mudguard for it. Help us to fight for a left Government to implement a socialist green new deal.

Deputy Mick Barry: Information on Mick Barry Zoom on Mick Barry The former Taoiseach, Deputy Varadkar, told the House this morning that Civil War politics has now ended in Ireland's Parliament. I do not often agree with Deputy Varadkar but I think he is right on this one and the official end of Civil War politics is a significant moment.

Irish capitalism has had two key parties down the decades. For almost 100 years now, there has not been a single Government that has not been led by one or other of those parties or their direct predecessors. When Fianna Fáil lost popularity, Fine Gael could fill the breach. When Fine Gael dropped the ball, Fianna Fáil could step in and save the day. That strategy has run its course. It is a game that can no longer be played. I suspect that the more far-sighted strategists of capital may pay more attention now to courting Sinn Féin in an attempt to make it a safe alternative if and when this Government's time is done. Before the last general election, IBEC's Danny McCoy said the business community absolutely could work with Sinn Féin. Johnny Ronan, no less, described Sinn Féin's investment policies as sensible stuff. Sinn Féin received a big vote from working people in February, a vote for real change, but, of course, one cannot deliver for working people while keeping IBEC and the Johnny Ronans of this world onside. If there is a charm offensive from big business on that front, Sinn Féin should not succumb to it.

For our part, we will promote the politics of class in this Dáil. We will vigorously promote workers' interests on issues such as jobs, taxes and the defence of public services. We will approach the July stimulus and the new economic plan in October from the point of view of vigorously promoting those interests. On green issues, we will oppose attempts to make working people pay for the environmental crisis, as shown by increases in the carbon tax, while advocating for environmentally-friendly policies that benefit ordinary people, such as free public transport. We will seek to expose the profit system as being the central danger to the environment in the world today. Finally, we will seek to advance the socialist ideas of Connolly and Larkin in a suitable way for the 21st century and to provide a vigorous socialist opposition both inside and outside this Dáil.

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