Saturday, 27 June 2020
Taoiseach a Ainmniú (Atógáil) - Nomination of Taoiseach (Resumed)
Yes, I am sharing time with Deputies Michael Collins, Michael Healy-Rae and Danny Healy-Rae.
Ar an gcéad dul síos ba mhaith liom comhghairdeas a ghabháil leis an gCeann Comhairle agus le Cléireach na Dála, Peter Finnegan, and all of his team for their organisation today. I also thank the Ceann Comhairle for his stewardship during the interregnum since the election when we did not have a real Government in place.
On 8 February, 140 days ago, I was privileged to be elected by the people of Tipperary. While I accept that the general election did not produce a clear and decisive result, I do not believe a Government made up of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party will offer much in the way of progress for my constituents in County Tipperary and, indeed, everyone in Ireland. Since the election, I have made myself available, as have other Deputies in the Rural Independent Group, to meet Deputies from Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Sinn Féin. Sinn Féin was not serious in continuing those negotiations and did not show any real intent of forming a Government.
I am worried about the proposals before us. I suggested on the day I was elected in Tipperary that we should have a national Government. Arising from the Covid crisis, we had a kind of national Government with a consensus agreement under which we all worked together. Ní neart go cur le chéile. We could have had a national Government because we had every reason to have one but we did not have one.
For the past four years, I have opposed the Fine Gael Government supported by Fianna Fáil under the confidence and supply agreement because of the way it treated the families of rural Ireland and working people - na daoine beaga, óga agus aosta. Fine Gael did not get it and showed no empathy with ordinary people. We also had the way people were treated by the banks, insurance companies and sectors across the board. Unfortunately, I do not have faith in the programme for Government. It has been published with no costings whatever and with not a shilling or euro accounted for. I am also very concerned about the 101 commissions, reports, investigations and reviews that are to be set up. These will all cost money. I detest all of the quangos that we have set up, yet we are now about to set up many more of them.
My independent colleagues and I made ourselves available to meet and discuss how we could make an input into creating greater fairness for rural Ireland but we were not given an opportunity or asked to do so. Two and a half weeks ago, three of the party leaders, the Taoiseach and Deputies Micheál Martin and Eamon Ryan, promised they would meet us immediately after the programme for Government was agreed but that did not happen. That is their choice.
I understand the primary function of the Dáil is to elect the Taoiseach and a Government and that is set to happen today. I hope it does, because the country needs a Government. I wish an Teachta Martin as Taoiseach-elect, his wife, Mary, and his clann go léir, and the Ministers he will appoint the very best for the future.
I will also outline today, a Chathaoirligh, that I will be constructive in opposition. I will support issues that are good for the country and for the people, but as I have said, I will not support the attack on families, on the elderly, on rural Ireland, and on SMEs. I will not undermine workers. Working people deserve to be paid a decent wage. Above all, our elderly have been left behind and have been punished right though the Covid-19 crisis. Over-66s did not get a ha'penny. They were forgotten about, and God help us we know what happened in the nursing homes. They way those people and their families were treated was unbelievable.
I look forward to representing the people of Tipperary to the best of my ability, and to support what is good and oppose what is not. I am worried about a Green Party Minister with responsibility for transport. I am worried about roads projects, such as a ring road for Tipperary town and a bypass and relief road for Thurles, Carrick-on-Suir and Clonmel. I am worried about these necessary programmes for rural Ireland, so I will hold the Government to account. While I wish everyone in the Government well on a personal basis, I will be constructive in opposition