Dáil debates

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Advice to Dissolve Dáil: Announcement

 

2:30 pm

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)

I am glad you are calling all the Leaders, a Cheann Comhairle. It is important that they all contribute in a situation like this. I welcome the Taoiseach's confirmation that the people of Ireland will finally get to choose a new team and a new direction for our country to get Ireland working again.

Tá a fhios ag gach duine, mar a dúirt an Taoiseach, gurbh é seo Lá Fhéile Bríde. Casann an taoide, casann an bhliain, tugtar isteach spéis nua agus beatha nua. Fine Gael wants to bring that same new hope, new possibility and new life to Government, to our people and to our country.

On a personal level, I wish the Taoiseach, his wife Mary and daughters Sinead and Maedhbh, well as he retires from this House. Last year, I sat beside little Maedhbh at the national celebration in Kilmainham. When the Taoiseach came in with a guard of honour, I asked her: "Who is that man?" and she said "That's my Daddy". The Taoiseach has one strong supporter there and rightly so.

Despite strongly disagreeing with many Government policies that the Taoiseach and his party have pursued, I have no doubt about his integrity as a person or as a politician.

Ba mhaith liom aontú leis an méid a dúirt an Taoiseach faoi na Teachtaí atá ag éirí as an bpolaitíocht agus nach bhfuil ag seasamh don Dáil arís. Is dócha gur fíor a rá gur rinne siad an rud is fearr dóibh féin, thar gach páirtí polaitíochta, agus gur thug siad seirbhís dá ndáilcheantair. The Taoiseach is retiring after leading what many people consider to have been the worst Government in living memory. It displayed serious political misjudgment. His colleagues in Fianna Fáil are required to be accountable for their collective governance of this country over the past 13 and a half years. None of them will be able to dodge responsibility for driving Ireland into the arms of the IMF.

I have listened to the people of this country over recent years. I understand the depth of anger felt by people all over Ireland who have lost their jobs, their homes and their loved ones to emigration. Their anger is real and proper, but it will not get Ireland working again. In this election, we are offering them a chance to turn their anger into action. We are asking them to work with us and vote for us because we have a plan to get Ireland working. Our plan has been worked on for the past three years. It is sensible, realistic and credible. It will get people, systems and the Government working.

Public Ireland is not working at the moment. People in personal and private Ireland who are lucky enough to have jobs are working harder than ever. They are putting in the grind and coming up with plans. Our entrepreneurs have not run out of ideas. They are full of ideas that are more brilliant than ever. Our young people are more eager than ever to live and work in their own country. The trouble is that at a time when Ministers have two or three jobs, the Government is not working. The systems on which people depend are not working or are not working as well as they should in the interest of the people. We will change that with our plan to get Ireland working. Our plan gives clarity, credibility and light to what will be a difficult journey to a better future ahead.

The first important point is to protect and create jobs and opportunities. That will give us the best chance to keep our best asset - our young people - at home. We plan to create 20,000 new jobs a year over the next four years. We will cut employers PRSI and create a welfare system that encourages work. We will invest an extra €7 billion, gathered from State pension funds and the sale of strategic State assets, in the development of critical infrastructure that will make our economy really competitive for the future. In that way, by 2016 we will make Ireland the best small country in the world in which to do business.

Second, we will introduce fairer budgets and keep taxes low. We will fix Ireland's budget deficit by prioritising the cutting of waste over the raising of taxes. I know that high taxes kill jobs. We will keep taxes, particularly income taxes, down. No country has ever taxed its way to economic recovery.

Third, we will change and create a completely new health system. As a result of the creation of the HSE by the former Minister, Deputy Micheál Martin, each year €17 billion is spent on a health system that does not work as it should. That is going to stop. Our fair care plan, which is modelled on the reformed and proven Dutch health service, will cut waiting lists and end apartheid in our health service. With universal health insurance, we will offer equal access to everybody, for once and for all. There will be more and better community care. That will mean fewer hospital stays and fewer hospital patients, which, in turn, will lead to lower hospital costs for the taxpayer.

Fourth, we will provide for smaller and better governance. We will ensure the people's money is spent wisely on vital public services. By streamlining systems, cutting red tape and abolishing quangos, we will reduce public service costs by €5 billion. In making that system more efficient, we will protect the essential services provided by teachers, nurses, doctors, gardaí and local government workers. Any redundancies in that package will be voluntary.

Fifth, we will create a political system that achieves more and costs less, with the Government leading by example. We will cut the number of politicians by over a third. We will impose a ceiling on higher public service salaries. We will introduce car-pooling for Ministers. We will ensure proper accountability for decisions. A single chamber parliamentary system with powerful Dáil committees will hold Ministers to greater account. Under our plan, when cuts are needed, they start at the top; when accountability is needed, it starts at the top.

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