Dáil debates

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Electoral Representation (Amendment) Bill 2010: Second Stage


2:30 pm

Photo of Ciarán LynchCiarán Lynch (Cork South Central, Labour)

The general public knew that when they were going to the poll that day. In fact, what happened on that day is that the people of Cork reflected the national mood across the country. When the Minister states here that he does not trust a particular constituency, what he is saying, in effect, is that he does not trust the national public mood. Ultimately, what we are debating here is a matter of confidence or, more accurately, an absence and lack of confidence by Government.

Three seats have been vacant for unacceptably long periods. These vacancies, which are in Donegal South, Dublin South and Waterford, date back to February and March of this year.

It is clear that Fianna Fáil and Greens are running scared of the electorate and there is now a distinct possibility that there may be no by-election writs brought before us until this Dáil sees itself through to its final conclusion. That is an affront to democracy and it is a direct slap in the face to every citizen and member of the voting public in those three constituencies and every other voter in the country.

The Minister may well dress this up and state that it will distract Government and could lead to some destabilisation of the economy, but the truth is the Government is rattled and scared and afraid to face the public. In fact, so afraid is Fianna Fáil that it is not merely afraid of the general public but afraid of its own membership. It will not hold a party conference this year for fear of what will come off the floor inside in its own conference.

What we are witnessing with Fianna Fáil is a series of regional love-ins or, as we might call them, "hug-ins", where the only issue on the agenda is "have a go at Gilmore" motions. They come out at 4 p.m. or 5 p.m. after being huddled inside in their rooms and have a go at my party leader.

What Fianna Fáil needs is a big group hug in one of these meetings because any level of confidence and self-esteem has certainly disappeared from them, particularly, as I stated, as witnessed by the absence of a party conference this year.

Fianna Fáil might be punch-drunk. It might need to be put into the recovery position and the best recovery position I can think of is the Opposition benches. The passing of this Bill may not deliver the knock-out punch this Government needs but I assure the House it will lead to a standing count that will ultimately result in this Government being out of power.


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