Dáil debates

Saturday, 27 June 2020

Taoiseach a Ainmniú (Atógáil) - Nomination of Taoiseach (Resumed)


10:40 am

Norma Foley (Kerry, Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

Go raibh maith agat, a Cheann Comhairle, as ucht an t-am agus an deis seo a thabhairt dom. Rachaidh mé gan mhoill chuig obair thábhactach an lae. Tairgim:

Go n-ainmneoidh Dáil Éireann an Teachta Micheál Martin chun a cheaptha ag an Uachtarán mar Thaoiseach.

I move:

That Dáil Éireann nominate Deputy Micheál Martin for appointment by the President to be Taoiseach.

"Wisely and slow; they stumble that run fast." When the great playwright, William Shakespeare, composed these lines some 400 years ago, I imagine he never envisaged the 160 Deputies of the 33rd Dáil taking his advice quite so much to heart, but here we are.

It will soon be five months since each one of us was given a mandate to serve as a Member of Dáil Éireann. When we first met on 20 February, the unprecedented diversity of this Dáil meant that we were unable to elect a Taoiseach. Soon afterwards, our country began and continues to feel the impact of a global pandemic of a scale and magnitude that has not been seen for over 100 years. These have been difficult months, during which every part of our society has experienced an unprecedented strain. The priority has, quite rightly, been on trying to bring the pandemic under control and to limit its impact. Exceptional efforts have also been undertaken to make sure that we have continued to have a functioning Government and Parliament. However, the constitutional and political imperative to form a new Government after a general election has always remained.

The Fianna Fáil Party has worked within its mandate to engage with others, first on core principles and then on the much harder work of agreeing a detailed programme for Government.

We have also engaged with a range of non-party Deputies. The resultant programme for Government sets out a clear roadmap for recovery and renewal in our country. It commits to an investment-led recovery and urgent, proactive action. On housing, health, education, the historic challenge of tackling climate change, and many other areas, it is a comprehensive plan that, without doubt, involves compromise, but at its very core it is true to the democratic mandates we all received on 8 February last. Without question, there have been trying and testing days in recent months but, as always, a hard beginning maketh a good ending. And so it followed yesterday that the memberships of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party voted overwhelmingly and unequivocally to ratify the programme for Government. It is now my very great honour to begin our work together by proposing that Dáil Éireann nominate Deputy Micheál Martin for appointment by Uachtarán na hÉireann to the office of Taoiseach.

If one looks through the record of the Dáil, one will find that the debate and nomination of Taoiseach has often been full of angry, partisan speeches. The debate in 1959 when Seán Lemass, our most transformative Taoiseach, was nominated was just such an occasion. In the midst of all, however, Deputy Noël Browne showed a very different and positive side of politics. Without in any way minimising the differences he had with Lemass on policy, Browne said that if one looked back on his ministerial record, one "must give credit to the man". That is the case today. When one looks at the record of Deputy Micheál Martin, one must give credit to the man. By every fair measure he has used his time in high office to deliver vital and sustained progress for the people. He was, without question, a reforming and progressive Minister for Education and Science. He created the first ever programme of support for children with autism and support for special needs in mainstream education. He created the National Educational Psychological Service, the core of the DEIS programme for disadvantaged schools, and many other initiatives. The rapid expansion of multidenominational schools and Gaelscoileanna was begun by him and he implemented the only reform to the primary school curriculum in the past 50 years. In fact, in every part of our education system, Deputy Micheál Martin has left both a lasting and a positive legacy.

As Minister for Health and Children, he faced down many challenges to deliver policies that have, according to every independent study, saved tens of thousands of lives. As Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, he continued his radical work in developing the research capacity of our country and reorientating inward investment towards industries that could compete and thrive in the new economy. These are the very sectors that have survived and supported public finances in the face of, first, a global recession and then a global pandemic. At the Department of Foreign Affairs, he led successful negotiations both in Europe and with all parties in Northern Ireland. Internationally, he pushed forward Ireland's work on nuclear non-proliferation and placed Ireland at the centre of the push for action on humanitarian issues such as the Gaza blockade.

For those who see politics only from a cynical or competitive perspective, nothing will ever persuade them, but so be it. As Theodore Roosevelt reminds us, it is not the critic who counts. Deputy Micheál Martin has a proud record of valiantly delivering for the people of this free Republic. Many of the loudest and most angry voices, who fill our debates with attacks on the right of the majority in this democratically elected Parliament to form a Government, will no doubt once again make partisan and perhaps personal comments, but we will not be deterred. The programme for Government agreed by Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party is a positive programme of change.

It is a progressive programme of change. It is a proactive programme of change.

Deputy Micheál Martin has the record, talent and tenacity we need to lead this new Government and to serve all the people of our country with distinction in the office of Taoiseach. Arís, a Cheann Comhairle, tairgim go n-ainmneoidh Dáil Éireann an Teachta Micheál Martin chun a cheapadh ag an Uachtarán mar Thaoiseach.


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