Thursday, 14 June 2007
Appointment of Taoiseach and Nomination of Members of Government: Motion
Bernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
I too congratulate you, a Cheann Comhairle, on your elevation to that important role. I am sure you will sleep easy at night knowing that your colleague, Deputy Jackie Healy-Rae, is looking after matters in your constituency. Deputy Healy-Rae will certainly sleep easy, from what we hear.
Elections are part of the process of democracy. There was a general view during this most recent election that, for whatever reason, the public wanted a change. It did not secure that change, however, but rather the same again. I recall the Minister for Finance, Deputy Cowen, said at the count centre in his constituency that he did not need to be cleaned up by the Green Party or anybody else. Does the formation of the new Government mean he has had second thoughts about that and that the Sunlight soap has come on board?
As a long-serving Member of this House, I am of the view that there should be an avenue for change after a democratic election, particularly when the people have registered their vote in such a way as to ensure that change is possible. What we have had in recent years, however, is more of the same. Fianna Fáil has achieved this by drawing to its side various groups from the Opposition, one after the other. The late Sean Doherty, with whom I shared many hours, used to say that Fianna Fáil would be in government forever because, on every occasion, it draws somebody from the Opposition to suit that occasion. The Green Party may say that idealism has brought it into the formation of this Government and that it is a question of what it can give to Government. Green Party Members should not cod themselves. The reality is that the only reason they are included in this Administration is that the party that is currently in a majority in this House would take anybody. The Green Party was merely convenient, no matter what it says about idealism.
I wish all Cabinet members success in their Ministries. We on this side of the House will provide a trenchant Opposition where that is necessary. There will be no time for sleeping on the job. Democracy is not about jobs for the boys and girls but about delivering to the people on the issues that cause them concern. I will not go over the points that were raised in the course of the general election but it was clear there are many issues that are causing people serious concern. These are issues that have not been addressed for several years. While Deputy Ryan and I were members of the same Oireachtas committee in recent years, he was also making goo-goo eyes at the Minister. I knew then where we were headed.
We in Opposition have a major role to play and we will play that role fairly and honestly, but we will also play hard. We will leave no room for whinging. We will be watching the Minister for Defence, Deputy O'Dea, at every possible moment.