Dáil debates

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Post-European Council: Statements


3:05 pm

Photo of Mick WallaceMick Wallace (Wexford, Independent) | Oireachtas source

What is he like? God help us.

The notion that the Government is Brexit-ready is astonishing. I have said all along that if things work out well with Brexit, I will not give the Government the credit for it, but if they work out badly, I will not blame it either. It really depends on the Brits and what they do.

What is happening at Rosslare Europort is a serious indictment of the Government. For the life of me, I simply do not understand why it has not taken a more rational position. Some months ago the Minister for Finance, Deputy Donohoe, came into the Chamber to announce the provision of €587 million for infrastructure in ports in Dublin, Cork and Shannon. The aim was to enhance national and international connectivity. However, there was nothing for Rosslare Europort, the closest port to mainland Europe. Perhaps the Government is being dictated to by the private entities involved. Irish Ferries has decided that there is better money to be made elsewhere, but that is its business. It is a private entity and not even remotely Irish, but the Government allowed it to happen. It does not control any of the boats coming in. In fact, it does not even control the port. Irish Rail and an entity in Britain control it and the Government has done nothing about changing its ownership. It is an absolute disgrace. Some weeks ago the Taoiseach talked about Rosslare Europort needing infrastructural investment. It has needed such investment for a long time.

I could forgive those in government for finding it difficult to take what the Labour Party has stated. The Labour Party was in government for five years and watched Rosslare Europort go down the Swanny in that time. Those in the Labour Party watched as the Fine Gael-Labour Party Government looked to privatise as much as it could. God help us. The attitude is wrong, which is one of the reasons Rosslare Europort is in such a bad place.

I have heard that representatives of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport are due to meet Irish Ferries to discuss the announcement. I could be cynical and think Irish Ferries is negotiating to secure a better deal on berthing charges in Rosslare Europort, but it probably does not even go that far.

For the life of me, I do not understand why Rosslare Europort was not developed into a strategic harbour a long time ago. I do not understand why successive Government have not done this. The Government is made up of the Independent Alliance and Fine Gael. The last Government involved Fine Gael and the Labour Party. They have totally ignored Rosslare and Wexford. It is as if the place does not exist. It is as if the Government only cares about running a country that involves Dublin with miniscule crumbs thrown in some directions, although County Wexford is not one of them. It has the highest unemployment rate in the country. It has had the highest suicide rate for four years running. It has the third highest teenage pregnancy rate and one of the lowest educational achievement rates. What is happening about this? Who is doing anything about it? The answer is no one.

How do those in government get away with it? Clearly, they believe they can be re-elected. Will Deputies D'Arcy and Kehoe be re-elected in the next general election? They probably will, but that is what guides the Government's principles. It is nuts. It is totally unfair and not the way to run a country.

There is no rationale for how this country is run and how the Government has abandoned regional Ireland. The provinces have been left to go to hell. If the Government wanted to do things properly, there would be a far more even distribution of everything in this country. Instead, we are now probably the most centralised in all Europe. Anyone not within 50 km of Dublin is not at the races. Every county, including that of An Leas-Cheann Comhairle, is feeling it. It is nonsense and nothing is changing. It is a joke. How can the Government stand over it? I know their Members will be re-elected, but how can they stand over it? Do they not care how this country is run? Do they not care that Wexford has the highest suicide rate in the country for the last four years? Does it matter? Rosslare Port is part of the issue. The decision will represent a huge blow to Rosslare Port but the Government has not given a damn about it. Not only does Irish Rail not give a damn about it, but it took €2.5 million of its profits out of the port last year.

The Taoiseach can disappear and not listen to what we have to say. He can live on spin and Twitter and think he can get away with it. Maybe he will, but it will be time to leave the country and turn off the lights if the country keeps going as it is.


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