Saturday, 27 June 2020
Ceapachán an Taoisigh agus Ainmniú Chomhaltaí an Rialtais: Tairiscint - Appointment of Taoiseach and Nomination of Members of Government: Motion
Michael Fitzmaurice (Roscommon-Galway, Independent)
I congratulate the new Taoiseach, Deputy Micheál Martin, and I wish him and all the new Ministers well. I wish the Minister with responsibility for agriculture, Deputy Barry Cowen, well and there are a few pressing matters for him to address straight away, especially with regard to farmers under the new farm to fork initiative in Europe. The Minister comes from a fairly peaty area and there is an effort to block farmers from farming areas like that. The Minister will need to put the foot in straight away. I know him well as I have worked with him through the years. I wish him the best of luck in that.
We must also ensure the beef and sheep sectors are looked after. They have gone through turmoil and we must ensure these matters are sorted out immediately. I wish every new Minister the best of luck.
Deputy Darragh O'Brien is the new Minister with responsibility for housing. We have often discussed how €100 million was cut from the Irish Water budget. If we do not have the roads, the water network or sewers, we cannot build anything else. I hope the new Minister will get a grip on that straight away. Cutting funds, as the previous Government did, will not solve anything.
It is really disappointing to see that a Department that was fought for in 2016 is being changed. I compliment the former Minister, Deputy Michael Ring. It is the Department of Rural and Community Development. I am not referring to the Minister, Deputy Heather Humphreys, and I wish her well in her new position. With Covid-19, social protection is one of the busiest parts of governance, and lumping rural affairs in on top is neither fair to the Minister nor the people in rural Ireland.
I have a map of Ireland with a significant area marked in red. The Taoiseach did not deem it fitting to have one senior Minister from the top of Donegal to the bottom of Limerick. I am baffled that the west and north west will not have a senior Minister. I am throwing down the gauntlet to the Taoiseach. It is his job to have equality in all parts of the country, ensure regional development takes place and see that people are treated equally no matter where they are. There are 1.2 million people in the area I have marked in red, which is the same as the number of people in the city of Dublin, which has eight senior Ministers. The gauntlet has been thrown down for the Taoiseach to treat those people in the red area properly when they do not have a senior Minister representing them.