Saturday, 27 June 2020
Ceapachán an Taoisigh agus Ainmniú Chomhaltaí an Rialtais: Tairiscint - Appointment of Taoiseach and Nomination of Members of Government: Motion
Marian Harkin (Sligo-Leitrim, Independent)
Earlier I stated I would work constructively with this Government and hold it to account. To be honest, I did not believe I would have reservations quite so soon.
I will start by wishing all the Ministers well as they face significant challenges. I look forward to working with them for the good of the country. Like many others, however, I am extremely disappointed there are no senior Ministers appointed from Connacht, Donegal or Clare.
A balance of development between the regions is at the core of my political philosophy and, I believe, the political philosophy of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. The problem is that we have been promised it time and again, Government after Government, yet it does not happen. The most recent report from the Northern and Western Regional Assembly shows the economic gap between the regions, with lower levels of per capitainvestment in health infrastructure, third level education infrastructure, local, regional and national roads infrastructure, high-value job creation, and research and development in the Northern and Western Regional Assembly area. A balance of development allows the regions to play to their strengths but it is very difficult for that to happen if there are no voices around the Cabinet table representing those regions that have slipped behind. Geography matters; that is the reality. We might like to say it does not matter but it does. Ministers represent the national interest but a specific interest in and passion for the region they represent really matters. I said I would loan my vote for today and I will not walk back from that commitment but the Ministers appointed today have a huge responsibility, individually and collectively, to ensure the economic gap is closed. They can do that both in their own Ministries and by co-ordinated Government action. I await to see what will happen.