Wednesday, 6 February 2019
Children's Rights: Motion [Private Members]
I support this important motion. I am somewhat taken aback by the rancour that it has generated. As the eldest of ten children who grew up in the 1960s when times were tough, I am acutely aware of how difficult circumstances are.
I will focus on the substance of the motion. It appears that some are peeved by the fact that the motion is both comprehensive and important in the context of ensuring every child in the Republic will be given a fair start. The motion emphasises the objectives set out by the first parliamentary leader of the Labour Party, Thomas Johnson, in 1913, the centenary of which we celebrated just a few years ago.
It further appears that some in this House would, with attempts at bullying, intimidation or something else, try to circumscribe our rights to pursue political actions or policies. My grandmother stood at the 1913 Lock-out and we will not be bullied or intimidated by anybody. We will bring forward policies on the floor of the House that are legitimate and correctly mandated by the people we represent. We will take people to one side if they try to bully, intimidate or call us names as we have had enough of it. It is not good enough and name calling should not be allowed. We will pursue this as what has happened is not appropriate to this House. I am going on 27 years in this House and I have never seen such rancour or name calling.
The question of the Labour Party's record and its effect on people has been raised. Allow me to put a few facts on the record. Has anybody forgotten that the economy crashed in Fianna Fáil's term and before the Labour Party came into government in 2011? The other day I heard somebody say houses were not built from 2008 onwards and that the Labour Party was responsible for that. That is the type of misleading statement and fake news that is out there. I went into the Department at the time and tried to save the €36 million for the disabled persons' grant. I recall it clearly. I fought my guts out and only €2 million was taken when the troika wanted to take everything.