Dáil debates

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Advice to Dissolve Dáil: Announcement


2:30 pm

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)

I welcome the fact that the people will have their say in a general election which is long overdue.

The Taoiseach has announced his retirement from politics. I wish him, his wife, Mary and his family the very best for the future. He and I have clashed in robust debate. He has always stood by his position and I have stood by mine and now the time has come to put our case to the verdict of the people. We have just over three weeks to decide the future of our country.

From this point on, the future of Ireland lies in the hands of its people, all of us, together. On polling day all of us are equal as voters, and each of us has an equal responsibility for the way we mark our ballot paper. All of us, each and every voter together, have the opportunity now to decide the future of our country. Ireland is a great country with a great future. We have grave problems, but we especially should not doubt our capability. Our abilities are far greater than our problems.

We can and will get through this recession. We can and will get the country on the road to recovery, creating jobs and forging opportunities for the future. We can and we will change the way this country is run and fix the system that is broken. Our country's best days are still to come.

It is not enough to wish for a better future. We must grasp it and work for it and on polling day we have to come together and decide on change. That is what this election is all about, change for the future and for the kind of Ireland we want to rebuild now, not just for ourselves but for our children. Change is nothing new for most people in Ireland today. Most people have already had to change their lives out of necessity; the change from work to no work, change in living standards and changes in everyday living.

Now we have to change our country and its politics and we have to do it together - to change from being the victims of change to being the drivers of change. For the first time ever in the 90 year history of this State, we can elect a Government led by neither Fianna Fáil nor Fine Gael. For the first time people have a choice to elect a Government led by Labour.

This is not simply a choice of party label. It is a choice about the future direction of our country. This election is a three-way contest. Those who want more of the same can vote for the Fianna Fáil party that brought down the country, that tied the State to the sinking and stinking misfortunes of the banks and that sold us out in the deal with the EU and IMF. People can, if they wish, choose a Government driven by the same old ideas that have already failed us. It is clear that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are comfortable with each other's policies. They both voted for the blanket bank guarantee. They are happy to embrace austerity – to line up behind the EU-IMF deal, whatever the cost in jobs. It is clear that neither has any wish to break up the Celtic Tory consensus that has brought us to where we are-----


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