Dáil debates

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Advice to Dissolve Dáil: Announcement


2:30 pm

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)

On behalf of the Sinn Féin Teachtaí Dála, I welcome the dissolution of the Dáil today. It is long overdue. Cuirim fáilte roimh lánscor na Dála seo. Tá sé thar am agus tá sé in am don phobal anois cinneadh a dhéanamh ar thodhchaí na tíre.

All Deputies receive calls to their Dáil offices from members of the public. Often the callers are the old, sick and vulnerable. Yesterday, my office received a call from an elderly man whose blind pension was cut in the budget. He had one simple message: "Give us a voice". We all must listen to him and to countless others like him.

On this day when the Dáil is dissolved, the cut to the minimum wage comes into effect. That is just one of the ways the least well off in society have been forced to pay for what I repeat are the disastrous decisions made by the outgoing Government.

People are being impoverished so the Government can throw money into the banking black hole. Some €873 million was cut from social welfare in the recent budget, yet only yesterday Anglo Irish Bank, the zombie bank that is being propped up with Irish taxpayers' money, paid out €750 million, which is almost as much, for a maturing bond, despite the fact that the debt is not covered by the State guarantee.

We in Sinn Féin are proud of the part we have played in the 30th Dáil in defending people's rights and in holding to account one of the worst Governments ever seen, not only in this country but anywhere. Sinn Féin played a key role in finally removing this Government, through exposing the full extent of its contacts with Anglo Irish Bank executives. We have stood firm against the consensus for cuts. We have stood for the democratic rights of the people, including those in Donegal South-West, in which constituency we won the by-election. The election of Deputy Pearse Doherty set in train the events that have resulted in the fall of this Government.

We have stood against the IMF-EU deal. I call on all parties in this general election to make clear to the European Union, the IMF and the wider international community that this deal is not acceptable, not affordable and ruinous to the Irish economy and the Irish people. It was negotiated and imposed by a discredited Government and it must be set aside. Any parties going before the electorate should make it clear that is their intent if they are to form a Government.

At the start of the 30th Dáil, we stood against the Lisbon treaty and warned that it would reduce economic and political sovereignty. We were proven right. The "Yes" parties in this Dáil urged people to vote "Yes" for jobs. Where are those jobs now? For so many of our young people, they are in Australia and other foreign locations.

This general election will be about what we and the other parties stand for. The most critical issue, on which I hope we are, at least, agreed, is employment. We cannot protect and create jobs without strategic investment to develop infrastructure, foster enterprise and enhance public services. Sinn Féin has put forward a plan to do that.

We need to protect our public services. They are the people's services – health, education and, for those dependent on them, social welfare supports. All of these areas must be defended. We need to stop the attacks on the incomes of families struggling to survive and we need political reform. We need politics based on commitment, not careerism. We need a vision and a strategy for an Ireland of equals and a united Ireland.

Sinn Féin in the days and weeks ahead will be setting out our proposals in detail and we look forward to the debates that will offer. We are confident that we will return to the Thirty-first Dáil with a greatly strengthened mandate to serve the Irish people. More important, the Irish people need a new Dáil that will put the people's interests first.

I listened with interest to Deputy Gormley's contribution, in particular his closing remarks. He has made a prediction regarding the formulation of Government and who the Taoiseach and Tánaiste might be. I have been listening carefully, not only this afternoon but for some considerable time, and I am not so sure his prediction is on solid ground. As to the notion that we are facing Tweedledum and Tweedledumber, for heaven's sake, I thought that was what was going out the door today.

At this juncture, I would be remiss if I did not extend my personal thanks and good wishes to my Dáil colleague, Deputy Arthur Morgan, and thank him for his service and his years of colleagueship in this Chamber since 2002. I wish Arthur and Marion health and happiness for all the years before them. I take the opportunity sincerely to wish all retiring Dáil Deputies the very best for their respective futures, too.

I extend to the Taoiseach and his wife and children in these last moments of his holding that office my personal best wishes for the future that lies before you all. Gach beannacht daoibh i gconaí.

I will conclude with words from the Democratic Programme for the First Dáil. Dúirt an Clár Oibre Poblachtánach:

Is mian linn an ceart, an saoirse agus cothrom do chách a bheith mar bhuntacaí rialú na tíre...

We declare that we desire our country to be ruled in accordance with the principles of liberty, equality and justice for all.

Now let the people decide.


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