Thursday, 14 June 2007
Appointment of Taoiseach and Nomination of Members of Government: Motion
Enda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
——and that from here on they will hang together or hang separately.
I welcome the new Deputies to this Dáil. Many are young with young families. I have noticed far more buggies around the House in the past few days. I want to welcome especially the new Deputies on the Fine Gael benches and wish them very well. By any standards this was a spectacular election by the Fine Gael Party and I am very proud of the honour, honesty and dignity with which this party fought the general election and achieved this unprecedented success. Over 564,000 people gave Fine Gael candidates their first preference votes, which was the highest number in a quarter of a century. This party won 20 additional seats, an unprecedented seat gain in modern Irish political history.
The men and women who won can be proud of their campaign and their election. This is a great day for them also and for their families and supporters, many of whom are around the House this evening. Today, we also remember those who were not successful. They should not be dispirited. It takes courage to contest an election and without their participation, our democratic system could not function to the strength that it does.
It is my privilege to pay particular tribute to my colleague, Deputy Rabbitte, and the Labour Party. It and Fine Gael were able to offer the people a real choice and, we believed, a better Government. We did not succeed this time but it was not for lack of effort by either of the parties involved.
While I congratulate the members of the Cabinet and wish them well personally, it is my duty to state that what we are witnessing today in this Government is not the marriage of true minds, but the ultimate, cynical marriage of convenience. It is broad based but it is certainly not compatible. In fact, to quote the Taoiseach, it is a dolly mixture confection that cannot work. The 78 Fianna Fáil Members, six Green Party Members, three Independents and let us not forget the two Progressive Democrats comprise the ultimate dolly mixture advertised by the sweet company as "little colourful candies... packed with fruity flavour", appropriately, perhaps, from the leader of the sweet company, Bertie Basset.
In the general election the parties now lined up on the Government benches actively campaigned against each other. The Green Party said that the issue of the Taoiseach's finances made him "a dead man walking". Its members said that Fianna Fáil "needs to go into Opposition and radically change itself before the Greens could even consider a coalition with it". Fianna Fáil, as the Ceann Comhairle will be aware, said "the Greens are a rabid crowd of tree-hugging muesli-eating wackos——