Saturday, 27 June 2020
Taoiseach a Ainmniú (Atógáil) - Nomination of Taoiseach (Resumed)
I thank the outgoing Taoiseach for his work in recent months and during the Covid-19 crisis. In fairness, for all politicians, much of the bickering went out the window and we rallied together. I also thank the people for the effort they have made.
Today is an historic day. I wish Deputy Micheál Martin the best of luck. It is probably inevitable that he will be Taoiseach and, for the course of the next few years or however long it lasts, I wish him good luck in his journey ahead.
Our group put together documents. We met representatives of the incoming Government a few times and have been constructive but, unfortunately, after a few text messages to say meetings would be held, they never prevailed. That is politics, however, and that is the way it goes.
I will oppose the nomination, although the reason is not personal. It is because I have read the programme for Government, which will destroy agriculture and the fabric of rural Ireland and which, once again, will not deliver despite many promises. It will destroy the likes of planning. I smiled earlier when Deputy Eamon Ryan, whom I wish the best in his new portfolio, stated people will be able to walk to work. He should tell that to the Bord na Móna workers who live beside the bog and have no job today, or to the people of rural Ireland who have to drive 20, 30 or 40 miles to the cities. If anything is to be learned from the Covid crisis, it should surely be a testament to the people living in rural Ireland, given the level of infection in the large cities, that outbreaks were not as severe in rural areas.
The road ahead will be bumpy but we have to represent the people who have put their faith in us. I do not know how anybody from a rural area could vote for this programme for Government, with the imprint of the Green Party and this 7% per year emissions reduction pledge. Another issue is planning. I listened to Deputy Ó Cuív the other day, a person I recognise and admire, saying that if someone wishes to build a house in a rural area, he or she will have to check whether there is a house in the local town or the next town down the road. Those are the problems we have to face and the crosses we have to bear.
I will leave Deputy Micheál Martin with an old saying from rural Ireland: may the road rise to you. Unfortunately, however, the Green Party has stated there will be no new roads.