Wednesday, 9 March 2011
Nomination of Taoiseach
John Halligan (Waterford, Independent)
I welcome Deputy Barrett to his new position. I wish him well. I also wish Deputy Kenny well and I genuinely mean that. The seconder to the motion referred to a national Government. My interpretation of a national Government is that everybody is included and, therefore, I thought for a moment that the Technical Group had missed a telephone call from Deputy Kenny. However, it is not possible for me to support him as Taoiseach.
The previous Government was put out of office primarily because of the pain, hurt and distress inflicted on hundreds of thousands of people in various constituencies throughout this country. This manifested itself in severe cuts to the living standards of middle class income groups and low paid workers. People voted for change and a reversal of these cuts, not the programme for Government put forward by the incoming Government.
I have good time for Deputy Gilmore but it is regrettable that on this occasion when there was no discernible difference between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael that the Labour Party did not attempt to ensure an alternative left-right divide in this Parliament, as there is in many other parliaments across Europe. Promises were made on placards and posters and in statements issued all over the country to reverse the cuts in child benefit, the dreadful cut in the carer's allowance and, most important, the universal social charge, which I describe as a super tax that has inflicted untold hardship on hundreds of thousands of families.
However, it is my position, as an Independent Member, that I will do what I think is right for my country and for my constituency. If the Government puts forward policies I can support, I will support them. I will try to be as positive as I can. However, I told the people who voted for me - the middle income groups, those less well-off in society and those suffering dreadful hardship - that when I got to the Dáil if all of the cuts were not reversed I could not support the Government and I will not do so.