Dáil debates

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

1:00 pm

Photo of Michael Healy-RaeMichael Healy-Rae (Kerry South, Independent)

The Ceann Comhairle will be glad to know that I intend to be brief. I begin by congratulating Deputy Barrett on his election.

I offer my support to Deputy Kenny on his proposed election as Taoiseach. I am in no doubt as to the difficulties facing him on the economic front. I shall offer constructive views and support all reasonable measures that may be necessary to get this country on the right track. This must be the new Government's priority if it is to have the possibility of securing existing employment, maintaining the living standards of workers and retaining the freedom to promote the expansion of the economy and the creation of jobs. We must work cohesively to maintain an environment where the creation of employment is a priority. We must eliminate all obstacles that hinder the creation of employment.

I am glad and profoundly grateful to have the opportunity to serve the people of south Kerry to the best of my ability. I remind the other 165 Deputies in this House that, regardless of whatever position they may hold, we are all servants of the people. We are in difficult times and harsh and severe decisions will have to be made by this House. I remind the incoming Taoiseach, Deputy Kenny, of the document published by the late Declan Costello in the 1960s, Towards a Just Society. Now more than ever there is a need to adhere to the principles of social justice and equality set out therein. We must legislate in a fair and transparent way with the common goal of fairness and equality for all.

It is of paramount importance to restore the trust of the Irish people in the way this House conducts its affairs and how legislation is passed through the Oireachtas. We must work together to achieve this aim. Bills will have to be teased out and discussed in detail. One way of achieving this is to enhance the powers of all-party committees. Let they be the first stop for Bills and let there be open and frank discussion on all aspects of legislation. Committees should have powers to propose amendments before legislation is brought to the House for further debate. There should be provision for all Oireachtas committees to include non-elected persons by invitation where a particular expertise is required. The closer to the people that decisions are made the more effective they will be. I do not label myself as an Opposition Deputy nor do I presume to be a Government Deputy. I am a servant of the people. With that in mind I shall facilitate the passage of all measures that are required in the national interest.

Both Deputy Kenny and I are rural-based Deputies. We have both faced our begrudgers in the past. Today Deputy Kenny will be elected Taoiseach of the country and I stand elected as a Deputy for my constituency. They said Deputy Kenny would never make it and they called me and others gombeen politicians. However, the people have spoken and here we are. Now is our chance to work together to get this country back on its feet.

With regard to the serious situation in Castleisland, where jobs are under threat, I am glad to say I have already raised it with the incoming Government.


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