Saturday, 27 June 2020
Ceapachán an Taoisigh agus Ainmniú Chomhaltaí an Rialtais: Tairiscint - Appointment of Taoiseach and Nomination of Members of Government: Motion
Peadar Tóibín (Meath West, Aontú)
Ar an gcéad dul síos, ba mhaith liom mo chomhghairdeas a ghabháil leis an Taoiseach nua, an Teachta Micheál Martin. Is onóir ollmhór é a bheith tofa mar Thaoiseach ar an tír. Is lá iontach é seo don Teachta agus dá chlann agus tá súil agam go mbainfidh siad taitneamh as. I also congratulate the newly minted Ministers. The role they have been given is a massive opportunity for them, but if it is used properly, it will also be a massive opportunity for the country. My advice to them is not to be passengers on the bus they are on. They should drive their Departments in the direction they need to go. Nevertheless, I am amazed that, from what I can work out from the list of Ministers, there will be no Minister from counties Donegal to Clare on the west coast of Ireland. It is quite clear that the centre of gravity of both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael is moving eastward all the time. There was a saying when I was growing up: the west is awake. It is clear the west is not awake in either Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael at the moment.
People have said this is an historic day, but the parties that have ruled Ireland since the foundation of the State are still ruling the State. What we are witnessing today is the creation of a Government that nobody wanted. Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party did not want this Government. We in Aontú have been saying since January that if one votes for Fianna Fáil, one will get Fine Gael, and we were hammered by those in Fianna Fáil for saying so, but we were right. Deputy Micheál Martin has become Taoiseach, but at the cost of deleting the core principles of Fianna Fáil's founding fathers, of Irish unity and economic justice. Many of the thousands of people within Fianna Fáil who voted against this will see it for what it is, namely, a swap of power for principle. It is also noteworthy that this building, in which Deputy Micheál Martin was elected Taoiseach today, was bailed out by the National Asset Management Agency as a result of decisions made by Deputy Micheál Martin's previous Cabinet. The big wheel keeps on turning in this country.
Ireland finds itself again on the verge of a very significant crisis. The programme for Government is completely oblivious to the economic tidal wave currently hitting this country. The State is likely to have a budget deficit of €30 billion this year, yet that mountainous debt, which casts a radical shadow over everything the incoming Government will do over the next five years, has hardly been mentioned in this Chamber. Not only does the programme for Government, the founding document of this Administration, not deal with that fact, but it hardly recognises its existence.
When we in Aontú sat down with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to test whether they were really about change in this proposed Government, it became blindingly clear to us that only vague generalities about finance would be discussed. It also became clear to us that signing up to the programme for Government would be akin to signing a blank cheque. It also struck us how promises made before the general election by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael Deputies throughout the country have disappeared like snow off a ditch from the programme for Government. Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael candidates just five months ago made serious promises on housing, health, fair income for farmers, protection for workers and regional development and, in my constituency, the undergrounding of a North-South interconnector and the Navan to Dublin railway line. These promises are impossible to find within this programme for Government. As one political cynic said, it is not about what one does in election campaigns anyway.
I have heard Fianna Fáil representatives being questioned about the lack of Fianna Fáil influence in the programme for Government but I disagree. Fianna Fáil's fingerprints are all over it. The proposed coalition Government has pledged to establish no fewer than three citizens' assemblies, two working groups, four committees, at least four task forces, an expert group, at least two councils, two forums, seven commissions and at least 73 reviews. This is the hallmark of a can-kicking Government. It is a manifesto for indecision. We, the people of Ireland, are better than this. The will, the skills and the passion of the people of Ireland are better than this.
The best of this nation has burned most brightly in the most difficult times, from the United Irishmen right up to 1916. If we were able to remove the largest empire the world had ever seen from this country 100 years ago, we in this generation can build a prosperous, united, fair Ireland based on liberty, equality and fraternity, but it is clear this will not be done by a political class built on career politics and personal ambition.