Saturday, 27 June 2020
Ceapachán an Taoisigh agus Ainmniú Chomhaltaí an Rialtais: Tairiscint - Appointment of Taoiseach and Nomination of Members of Government: Motion
Michael Healy-Rae (Kerry, Independent)
I congratulate all the Ministers. I am especially delighted that the county I represent, County Kerry, has an excellent representative at the Cabinet in Deputy Norma Foley. I know her late Dad, Denis, is looking down privately today, and rightly so. I wish her nothing but success in her role. I remind her, starting today, that many of the schools in my county are in danger of losing teachers or are desperately trying to hold on to them. I remind her of Gaelscoil Mhic Easmainn, schools in Glenbeigh, Aghatubrid and the Black Valley, and other schools like them around County Kerry and the rest of the country. There is a massive job of work to be done. With regard to SUSI grants, the whole system will have to be overhauled to make education more accessible and affordable. That is desperately important.
Why has rural affairs been lumped in with social protection? I have every confidence in Deputy Heather Humphreys, whom I know is excellent, but I just do not agree with treating rural affairs in this way. I do not believe it is right.
I challenge the Green Party and ask it to prove me wrong. The people of rural Ireland are afraid of the Green Party and of what its policies are going to cost and they are afraid they will be adversely affected. I ask the party to prove me wrong, if it can. I do not want it to attack our family farms or live exports. I do not want it to make it impossible for family farms to keep going.
I thank the outgoing Ministers who are no longer Ministers in the new Government. I sincerely look forward to working with the new Ministers.
I ask Deputy Catherine Martin, in particular, to consider the VAT rate in the tourism sector, which is desperately trying to get back up on its feet. She should remember County Kerry is the tourism capital not of Ireland but of the world.
I congratulate the new Minister for Health, Deputy Stephen Donnelly. I ask him not to forget the name of the young man I named here earlier today. I ask the Taoiseach, Deputy Micheál Martin, to remember Ronan Foley, Dungeel, Killorglin, who has a 90-degree curve in his spine and who is in agony as we speak. He has been waiting for 20 months for an operation that he should have had within four months. I say respectfully to the new Minister for Health, Deputy Donnelly, that if he can start off by looking into that case and trying to get the young man his operation, I will be forever indebted to him.
I am not a negative person. On a day like today, I wish the Government and each of its Ministers success. I will do my job diligently in opposition, keeping each and every one of the Ministers and their Departments on their toes in the best and most workperson-like way possible for the betterment of the people of Kerry and the rest of the country.