Dáil debates

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Appointment of Taoiseach and Nomination of Members of Government: Motion

 

5:00 am

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context

B'áil liom cead a chur in iúl, mar eolas don Dáil, gur chuir mé m'ainmniú mar Thaoiseach in iúl don Uachtarán agus gur cheap sí mé dá réir.

I wish to announce, for the information of the Dáil, that I have informed the President that the Dáil has nominated me to be the Taoiseach and that she has appointed me accordingly.

It is a great honour for me to present to the House the names of those whom I am proposing for appointment by the President as members of the Government. In selecting my nominees, I have had regard to the record of achievement of many who have made an outstanding contribution to public life and to policy over recent years. I have also had regard to the talents and energy of others who have much to contribute. I am particularly conscious of the fact that a number of Ministers have held office in their Departments for only two and a half years. I believe there is a strong case to enable Ministers to continue in some Departments for a further period. There will be a particular opportunity at the mid-term review of the Government's programme to consider further the allocation of ministerial responsibilities. These considerations will also be reflected in the names I will propose next week to the Government for appointment as Ministers of State.

I do not propose on this occasion to make significant changes in the configuration of Departments. On the whole, I believe that the current structure of Departments is appropriate. I do, however, propose to make a number of changes in the interests of a better alignment of functions. Specifically, I propose to reallocate responsibility for sea fisheries to the Department of Agriculture and Food, which will become the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. In doing so, I will bring together the principal food production areas in one Department, in line with the norm in our partner member states.

I propose to transfer responsibility for non-national roads and the national vehicle and driver file to the Department of Transport. This will provide an even more comprehensive basis for the transport and road safety agendas. The principal responsibility for marine matters now lies with the Department of Transport, with the exception of the fisheries area. I propose, therefore, that the Department will be named the Department of Transport and the Marine.

There will be some other minor reallocation of functions to produce a better and more effective grouping of more specific activities. This will be announced in the coming days.

With those considerations in mind, I have pleasure in formally moving the motion.

Tairigim: "Go gcomhaontóidh Dáil Éireann leis an Taoiseach d'ainmniú na dTeachtaí seo a leanas chun a gceaptha ag an Uachtarán mar chomhaltaí den Rialtas."

I move: "That Dáil Éireann approve the nomination by the Taoiseach of the following Deputies for appointment by the President to be members of the Government:

Brian Ó Comhain Brian Cowen
I also propose to nominate him as Tánaiste.
Máire Ní Áirne Mary Harney
Nollaig Ó Díomasaigh Noel Dempsey
Diarmuid Ó hEachiarn Dermot Ahern
Micheál Ó Máirtín Micheál Martin
Séamus Ó Braonáin Séamus Brennan
Máirtín Ó Cuilinn Martin Cullen
Éamon Ó Cuív Éamon Ó Cuív
Máire Ní Chochláinn Mary Coughlan
Máire Ní Ainifín Mary Hanafin
Liam Ó Deaghaidh Willie O'Dea
Brian Ó Luineacháin Brian Lenihan
Seán Ó Gormlaigh John Gormley
agusand
Éamon Ó Riain Eamon Ryan.

They will be assigned Departments of State as follows:

An Roinn Airgeadais Brian Ó Comhain
An Roinn Sláinte agus Leanaí Máire Ní Áirne
An Roinn Iompair agus na Mara Nollaig Ó Díomasaigh
An Roinn Gnóthaí Eachtracha Diarmuid Ó hEachiarn
An Roinn Fiontar, Trádála agus Fostaíochta Micheál Ó Máirtín
An Roinn Ealaíon, Spóirt agus Turasóireachta Séamus Ó Braonáin
An Roinn Gnóthaí Sóisialacha agus Teaghlaigh Máirtín Ó Cuilinn
An Roinn Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta Éamon Ó Cuív
An Roinn Talmhaíochta, Iascaigh agus Bia Máire Ní Chochláinn
An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta Máire Ní Ainifín
An Roinn CosantaLiam Ó Deaghaidh
An Roinn Dlí agus Cirt, Comhionannais agus Athchóirithe Dlí Brian Ó Luineacháin
An Roinn Comhshaoil, Oidhreachta agus Rialtais Áitiúil Séan Ó Gormlaigh
An Roinn Cumarsáide, Fuinnimh agus Acmhainní Nádúrtha Éamon Ó Riain
Department of Finance Brian Cowen
Department of Health and ChildrenMary Harney
Department of Transport and the Marine Noel Dempsey
Department of Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment Micheál Martin
Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism Séamus Brennan
Department of Social and Family Affairs Martin Cullen
Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht AffairsÉamon Ó Cuív
Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Mary Coughlan
Department of Education and Science Mary Hanafin
Department of Defence Willie O'Dea
Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform Brian Lenihan
Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government John Gormley
Department of Communications, Energy and Natural ResourcesEamon Ryan.

I intend to propose to the Government, on its appointment, that Deputy Tom Kitt be appointed a Minister of State to become Chief Whip and Minister of State at the Department of Defence.

We are entering a period of significant activity in Europe. Next week, the European Council will consider the mandate for a new Intergovernmental Conference to address the issue of the future of the draft constitutional treaty. This will require intensive engagement to ensure that our national interests, as well as the interests of the European Union as a whole, are fully reflected in these negotiations and the subsequent debates in the European Council. I am pleased to announce that it is my intention to propose to the Government the appointment of Deputy Dick Roche as Minister of State for European Affairs. He played an outstanding role in the last IGC and was recognised across Europe as an outstanding Minister for European Affairs.

Deputies:

He was a good Minister for the Environment too.

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Finally, I am pleased to announce my intention to nominate Paul Gallagher SC as Attorney General. As a distinguished advocate, I am confident he will bring to the Government wisdom, experience and energy. I wish to pay tribute to the immense contribution made by the outgoing Attorney General, Rory Brady SC. I wish him every success in his resumed career at the Bar. I commend my nominations of members of the Government to the House.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

It seems to me that significant numbers of this Cabinet are already jaded. I would like to begin by warmly congratulating those appointed to the new Cabinet. Being appointed as a Minister in Government is a privilege reserved for relatively few people and for those chosen today it is a day to celebrate. For their families and friends watching from the Gallery, their appointment or reappointment will be an occasion to remember. Some of the Ministers may be tired already but even after ten years it is still an important occasion. It is a great day for them and for their mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, children and supporters who dropped leaflets, pounded pavements, took calls, shielded calls, put up the posters and picked them up and dusted them down when things might not have been going so well. I hope that at the end of their time in office, whenever that may be, their families and supporters will be as proud of their actions and achievements in office as they are of their appointment to office.

Great privilege brings great responsibility — collective Cabinet responsibility in the case of Ministers. Judging by comments made by members of the Green Party in the media recently, I am not too sure they realise that from now on they will also have responsibility for the actions of their partners in Government, both Fianna Fáil and what is left of the Progressive Democrats or Greens——

Deputies:

Hear, hear.

7:00 am

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

——and that from here on they will hang together or hang separately.

I welcome the new Deputies to this Dáil. Many are young with young families. I have noticed far more buggies around the House in the past few days. I want to welcome especially the new Deputies on the Fine Gael benches and wish them very well. By any standards this was a spectacular election by the Fine Gael Party and I am very proud of the honour, honesty and dignity with which this party fought the general election and achieved this unprecedented success. Over 564,000 people gave Fine Gael candidates their first preference votes, which was the highest number in a quarter of a century. This party won 20 additional seats, an unprecedented seat gain in modern Irish political history.

The men and women who won can be proud of their campaign and their election. This is a great day for them also and for their families and supporters, many of whom are around the House this evening. Today, we also remember those who were not successful. They should not be dispirited. It takes courage to contest an election and without their participation, our democratic system could not function to the strength that it does.

It is my privilege to pay particular tribute to my colleague, Deputy Rabbitte, and the Labour Party. It and Fine Gael were able to offer the people a real choice and, we believed, a better Government. We did not succeed this time but it was not for lack of effort by either of the parties involved.

While I congratulate the members of the Cabinet and wish them well personally, it is my duty to state that what we are witnessing today in this Government is not the marriage of true minds, but the ultimate, cynical marriage of convenience. It is broad based but it is certainly not compatible. In fact, to quote the Taoiseach, it is a dolly mixture confection that cannot work. The 78 Fianna Fáil Members, six Green Party Members, three Independents and let us not forget the two Progressive Democrats comprise the ultimate dolly mixture advertised by the sweet company as "little colourful candies... packed with fruity flavour", appropriately, perhaps, from the leader of the sweet company, Bertie Basset.

In the general election the parties now lined up on the Government benches actively campaigned against each other. The Green Party said that the issue of the Taoiseach's finances made him "a dead man walking". Its members said that Fianna Fáil "needs to go into Opposition and radically change itself before the Greens could even consider a coalition with it". Fianna Fáil, as the Ceann Comhairle will be aware, said "the Greens are a rabid crowd of tree-hugging muesli-eating wackos——

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin North Central, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Who could have said that?

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

——Ireland needs Green economics like a lettuce needs slugs....". Others described the party as "jihadists". Members of the Green Party said "if the PDs pull the plug, who exactly are they going to go into Government with?" They said "the Greens wouldn't touch those opportunists with a barge pole". I suppose that is why they are cycling out to Áras an Uachtaráin as well. They also said that with Fianna Fáil it is a case of "if you don't like our policies today, we can change them tomorrow".

I hate to disappoint the Green Party Members, but Fianna Fáil did not change its policies at all. The Green Party has naively wandered into a programme for Government with Fianna Fáil written largely over it. It is a Government with Fianna Fáil at its centre, unbowed, unshaken and as arrogant as ever. There are no new ideas and no new solutions. However, this time the Fianna Fáil bicycle has not one mudguard but two. At the front, well used but badly worn, there are the remains of the Progressive Democrats. At the rear are the eager Green Party Members, all shiny and new. This time the bicycle has three stabilisers, bought off in secret deals with the taxpayers' money. There are millions for south Kerry, hundreds of millions for Dublin and hundreds more millions for Tipperary.

Photo of Pádraic McCormackPádraic McCormack (Galway West, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

They took the shilling.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Nothing illustrates the nature of this coalition more than the programme for Government. It accurately reflects the mandate, or lack of mandate, which the two Progressive Democrats got in the election. It is not exactly surprising when one considers that this time the Progressive Democrats did not attempt to negotiate a programme for Government. Consider what their predecessors did and how much they achieved in Governments with Fianna Fáil in the past. Now, they saw power and went straight for it. The "policy driven" party has finally morphed into the power driven party.

The strongest Green Party input I can discern in the programme for Government is that it has saved a substantial section of some rain forest by managing to cut and paste so much of the Fianna Fáil manifesto, word for word, into this programme after ten days and nights of intensive discussion. It is difficult to see why it took so long to agree it. Any mess had more to do with scissors and glue than anything about policy. The Green Party has bought the Fianna Fáil manifesto, lock, stock and three pork barrels. It has swallowed huge chunks of Fianna Fáil policy, with all its failings in health and other vital public services. The Green Party has sacrificed its unique political identity, swapping principle for power.

What is the result? Are there specific commitments on key Green Party policies? No. Are there assurances of a strategic shift in Fianna Fáil thinking on the green agenda? No. The programme is full of promises to review, examine and consider policies. All of them are worthy but ultimately useless when it comes to forcing specific decisions in Government. The Green Party will discover, for example, that a promise from Fianna Fáil to publish a Green Paper on local government reform is just that, and no more. Fianna Fáil has, over the years, perfected the art of publishing reports and leaving them sitting on shelves. The Minister, Deputy Martin, produced 102 of them when he was responsible for health and they are still gathering dust and cobwebs.

That is how Fianna Fáil deals with policies it does not wish to implement. Whichever Member of the Green Party becomes leader of that party has wandered into a parlour where the spider knows exactly how to play the web. Fianna Fáil has had ten years of practice; ask cystic fibrosis sufferers, the women waiting for BreastCheck to come to their area and cancer sufferers waiting for radiotherapy. The Green Party has signed up and its Members have their ministerial jobs. They forgot that they should be men of values as distinct from men of success.

I believe the Green Party has made a fundamental political mistake. It has the mistaken view that what little it has achieved in the programme for Government can be dramatically expanded by it in Cabinet. Deputy Cuffe said today that the Green Party would change the way the Government does its business. This demonstrates a naivety about how Government works. History shows that any smaller party entering coalition without specific, tangible commitments will struggle once the day-to-day, hurly burly of governing begins. There is no better man to define that in beautiful terms than the Minister, Deputy Brennan. He has been around this course previously and he knows, as a chief negotiator, where those boys have been put in the last ten days.

Yes, they will have a voice. In the end, however, as with the two Progressive Democrats, it will be their master's voice. There are no better masters to let the servant take a hiding to save themselves. They might be the golden boys in the new Administration and give it a nice gloss — they deserve their short holiday — but soon they will find out what it is to become the whipping boys of Government when things start to go wrong. One thing is sure, however. Throughout the country Fianna Fáil parents can relax because they can be sure that when their Fianna Fáil sons and daughters are in Dublin, they will certainly be eating their greens.

There has been much talk from the Government side over the past month about the need for stability and, on every occasion, that mantra is related to the numbers supporting the Government. History, however, suggests that it is not numbers that ensures stability but trust between the parties in Government. The Fianna Fáil-Labour Party Government of 1992 to 1994 had over 100 seats. That Government ended because trust broke down. The preceding Fianna Fáil-Progressive Democrats Government also broke down because of a failure of trust. The last Government almost broke up three times — twice last autumn and again during the election campaign on the issue of the Taoiseach's finances.

The two parties now supporting the Taoiseach, the Green Party and the Progressive Democrats, were the most vocal in seeking explanations from him during the election campaign. The explanation eventually put forward by the Taoiseach has since been flatly contradicted by the opening statement of the Mahon tribunal on 28 May, four days after polling day. The failure of the Green Party and the Progressive Democrats to resolve that contradiction sows the seeds of mistrust and instability in this Government. It is a decision they have taken with their eyes wide open, and they will be held accountable for that decision in the months ahead. I wonder if Deputy Gormley knew at the Green Party conference that he would be replacing former Deputy Michael McDowell, the politician he called the Tammy Wynette of Irish politics, so intent was he in standing by his man.

This dolly mixture Government is also costing the taxpayer millions of euro in secret political deals. The Taoiseach warns of economic challenges ahead but at the same he is lashing out "millins", as Deputy Healy-Rae would say, so that he can buy the support of the independent Deputies.

Photo of Jackie Healy-RaeJackie Healy-Rae (Kerry South, Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Deputy Kenny would not give us a bob.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

They are like the L'Oreal independents — because they are worth it.

(Interruptions).

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Every year I go to Kerry and I cycle through the Black Valley and by Canon Sears' church, which Deputy Healy-Rae knows very well. These agreements will not compromise national security. They will not break the financial coffers of the Government. As they have been bought with taxpayers' money, they should be published.

Photo of Finian McGrathFinian McGrath (Dublin North Central, Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context

The Deputy should not worry. They will be.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I know now why the Ceann Comhairle is in the Chair. After strangling the Freedom of Information Act, he could not find out himself what was in the Healy-Rae deal. Now he cannot even answer back.

Photo of Jackie Healy-RaeJackie Healy-Rae (Kerry South, Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I have no intention in the world of telling Deputy Kenny.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

The people did not vote for the Green Party to keep Fianna Fáil in power. They did not vote for Fianna Fáil to put in the Green Party. A few of them voted for the Progressive Democrats to keep the Green Party out. That is some ringing mandate for a new Government. While Fianna Fáil's organisation on the ground can claim credit for getting its own vote out, the fact is that during the campaign the party offered no plans, no solutions and nothing new, focusing entirely on a negative campaign about the Fine Gael and Labour Party plan.

Photo of Dermot AhernDermot Ahern (Minister, Department of Foreign Affairs; Louth, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Fine Gael's advertising campaign was the most negative of all.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

On health, broadband, greening the tax code, upskilling workers, supporting single income families and preschool, Fianna Fáil offered nothing other than what they are doing now. The Taoiseach even asserted that the people should congratulate him on the state of the health services.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Deputy Kenny's time has expired.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

There was one policy for which this Government has no mandate, namely, the construction of private hospitals on public land. The last Government did not have a mandate for it and the Green Party voted against it, but it has now been sucked into it. The Government has no mandate for what it is doing. More people in this House voted against that policy than voted for it.

Photo of Willie O'DeaWillie O'Dea (Minister, Department of Defence; Limerick East, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Deputy Kenny's party supported it, depending on to whom one talked.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

That has been rejected by the people, but the Government is now privatising the public health service by stealth and running it down when we should all be involved in making sure it becomes world class.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I call Deputy Rabbitte.

(Interruptions).

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I regret very much that this is the case.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Deputy Kenny is eating into the time of other Members.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

You are the man who said to me in Dingle many years ago that down here time does not matter at all.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I do not recall saying that, but time does matter up here and your time has expired. I am calling Deputy Rabbitte.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I want to say to the Taoiseach——

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I am calling Deputy Rabbitte. Your time has expired.

(Interruptions).

Photo of Johnny BradyJohnny Brady (Meath West, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context

No respect is being shown to the Chair.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I want to wish the Taoiseach the best of luck with his new Cabinet. He can rest assured that he will be held to account in this House on the issues that really matter.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
Link to this: Individually | In context

The election of a new Government is one of the great parliamentary occasions, and one of the great set pieces in Dáil Éireann. It is the first opportunity for the newly elected Members to present themselves in Parliament and it allows us to make some initial remarks on the formation of the new Government. Best wishes to those who have the privilege of being selected to serve in the Cabinet. It is in that spirit that I want to wish this Government a fair wind and to extend my congratulations to those fortunate enough to serve in that Government. In particular, I offer my sincere congratulations to the new Ministers. It is a tremendous day for them and for their families and a great privilege has been conferred on Deputy Brian Lenihan and Deputies Gormley and Eamon Ryan. It is a day they will not forget and I wish them well. I also take the opportunity today to acknowledge the remarkable achievement of Deputy Bertie Ahern in being elected Taoiseach for a third time. Without any ifs or buts, caveats or cavilling, I acknowledge that achievement and wish him well.

Napoleon would have approved of the Taoiseach, Deputy Ahern. He certainly has been a very lucky general. He became leader of his party in unforeseen and unforeseeable circumstances and, in 1997, he inherited an economy that was the most successful since independence. Building on that economy since then has not been the only factor, but it was the main factor that contributed to his most recent electoral success. However, it is my conviction that the Taoiseach is running out of both luck and road. I do not know how long this rickety coalition will last, but I suspect that it is designed to survive its main architect. The growing assertiveness of the Minister for Finance and the fact that he is being treated by the Taoiseach as if he were the head of a neighbouring state confirms my view that the Taoiseach may be taking his leave of us sooner than we might have thought.

This entente cordiale between the Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance is another pressing reason that all documents relating to the formation of this Government ought to have been laid before the House and should now be laid before it. The Members of this House are entitled to see the content of all deals and side deals. Independent Members are running around with confidential deals. They include deals worth tens of millions or even hundreds of millions and there is no way in the wide earthly world that we are entitled to see them. I believe that we are entitled to see them. We are also entitled to know if there is an agreement or side agreement with the Progressive Democrats. We would also like to know if there is an agreement providing for an orderly transition between the Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance.

The Taoiseach has never been known for his sense of humour, but perhaps it is because of his planned early leave-taking that he has inflicted us with such a dolly mixture of a government, to use Deputy Dermot Ahern's description of a far saner alliance. However, we should look at the dolly mixture we have now, composed of Fianna Fáil, the Green Party, the remnants of the Progressive Democrats and Deputy Finian McGrath and his unique backing group.

Photo of Finian McGrathFinian McGrath (Dublin North Central, Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context

We will deliver.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
Link to this: Individually | In context

It is an extraordinary dolly mixture. Like Deputy Mary Harney earlier today, my heart goes out to former Deputy McDowell, wherever he is resting. When he sees this Government, I hope somebody will hold a wet towel to the noble forehead because heading into difficult economic times with this combination is a dispiriting prospect for many people.

When Deputy Finian McGrath was running around the place with that piece of paper, I had hoped that all he had got was a painting contract for Paddy the plasterer under some kind of CE scheme chaired by former Deputy Callely for houses in Dublin North-Central, but he states now that it will have not just national implications but international repercussions. I felt that it must have some kind of global impact if it was to separate him so easily from his comrade, Deputy Gregory, who has been left in splendid isolation as the Taoiseach tried to do to him what he did to Councillor Mary Fitzpatrick in the constituency.

Photo of Jackie Healy-RaeJackie Healy-Rae (Kerry South, Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context

No doubt it has gone to their heads.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
Link to this: Individually | In context

We should leave heads out of this.

The Taoiseach stated recently that we are heading into more difficult economic times and he has left us with a Government that, it seems, has nothing in common but a determination to be in power, a Government with two diametrically opposed parties with acting leaders and the third with a leader on the way out. That is not the way to head into difficult economic times.

Most informed citizens will be incredulous that Deputies Harney and Sargent have been prepared to enter Government with Deputy Bertie Ahern without challenging him to provide reassurance about questions at the planning tribunal that seem incapable of satisfactory answers. Both Deputies, in so far as we know, have been prepared to walk into Government with their eyes open and if they have raised this important issue, the House is entitled to know about it.

For example, it has been little commented on that the programme for Government contains a commitment to reinstate the Bill to permit the Government to shut down the tribunals. One might state that has or does not have merit, but it did not have merit when, in the 29th Dáil, the Greens fought that attempted shutdown tooth and nail. However, it is enshrined in the programme for Government.

Having said that, I offer my congratulations to the two new Green Party Ministers and I wish them every success. They will need every week to chalk up successes, given the bad start they have made. They approached the negotiations for Government with only one clear objective——

Photo of Pádraic McCormackPádraic McCormack (Galway West, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

That is correct.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
Link to this: Individually | In context

——that is, whatever happens we must get into power.

Photo of Pádraic McCormackPádraic McCormack (Galway West, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Get in.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Political power is taken by those in a position of political strength and the Greens are not in that position. They are, as they admit, not needed by this Government and therefore they were not in a position to demand policy goals and did not in the event succeed in achieving any policy goals. Of course, there are reviews, commissions, analyses and some minor worthy achievements, but this remains a Fianna Fail Government where the Greens are merely guests in power. If the two new Ministers are to prove otherwise, they will need to be a great deal more canny in the conduct of their Departments than they were in the conduct of the negotiations with Fianna Fáil.

It is difficult to argue with former Deputy Dan Boyle's own summary in the Irish Examiner this morning, when he stated:

It is not a great document, it may not even be a good document, but it does contain good elements and those elements come from us.

I do not dispute that frank and honest assessment, given the checklist of big ticket items that were so close to the hearts of the Green Party, that is, that they would re-route the M3 to save the Tara heritage landscape, scrap the private hospital building plan, withdraw tax reliefs from private hospitals and reallocate them to public health care provision, stop the use of Shannon by American military in time of war, stop Mountjoy being moved to Thornton Hall and end corporate funding of political parties — I would have loved to have been present when that latter matter was raised with the Minister, Deputy Cowen, and company. The list goes on. Deputy Sargent, for example, told the Portmarnock Residents Group, UPROAR, that he would stop the second runway at Dublin Airport and Deputy Gormley told his constituents in Ringsend that he would stop the incinerator. I know that as a party to coalition one cannot get everything, but by any standards this is a remarkable policy surrender.

I do not want to rain on the Greens' parade because this is an important night for them, but I have great difficulty understanding the party's approach to installing themselves in Government. It is almost as if the Green Party has evolved a new ideology that policy does not count with the people anymore; what counts is being around the Cabinet table. I have great regard for the personal qualities of Deputies Gormley and Ryan, and I am on the record as annunciating as much. The proposition advanced by Deputy Gormley, which I heard him again say this morning, that the Greens were negotiating with Fianna Fail and that it is really of no consequence who else was involved or who else — any other parties or individuals — wants to join it, is a mind-boggling concept. If the Progressive Democrats, for example, are still the Progressive Democrats — although I think that Deputy Harney has retreated mentally to the spiritual home — it is remarkable that a party which in its previous existence on this side of the House opposed the Progressive Democrats so strongly does not think it is of any consequence whether the Progressive Democrats are in or out.

If there is any truth in the rumour that they were foolish enough to try to move Deputy Harney, they most emphatically did not succeed. Deputy Harney thinks she won the election and she thinks she won the people over to her view of the private hospital building programme which, the Minister for Finance told me on a television programme, will cost the taxpayer €70 million per annum for seven years——

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Minister, Department of Finance; Tánaiste; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Gross.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
Link to this: Individually | In context

A further income stream from the private insurance companies to cover private patients in public hospitals amounting to €143 million will now be deprived from the public health service. The next day none of the three Ministers, not even the Minister, Deputy Brennan — whom, by the way, I congratulate as undoubtedly the great survivor and who I am delighted to see reappointed——

Photo of Ruairi QuinnRuairi Quinn (Dublin South East, Labour)
Link to this: Individually | In context

He is making it an art form.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
Link to this: Individually | In context

——not even Deputy Hanafin, had any idea of what was involved in funding the private hospital building programme. Deputy Gormley is now on the record as stating this is not a Progressive Democrat frolic, this is Fianna Fáil policy. If that is the case, it shows the distance that Fianna Fáil has moved in recent times. Deputy Gormley promised in black and white:

The Green Party is making it clear today [in the publication of its health plan] that we will scrap these plans.

There is nothing in the programme for Government about scrapping co-location. In fact, the Minister, Deputy Harney, has already slapped down the Greens, even before the first Cabinet meeting, stating that the extensive co-location plan which she has programmed will continue in full.

If one looks at any other area of the programme for Government, pieced together with the assistance, I presume, of our expert Civil Service, one will find that it is, from the Greens' point of view, a policy-free zone. In the short document the word "review" appears 56 times, the word "examine" appears 23 times and the term "consider" makes 14 appearances. That is the content of this document.

If Deputy Sargent is getting restless on his first day, the last thing I want to do is weary him.

Photo of Finian McGrathFinian McGrath (Dublin North Central, Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Do not mind him, Deputy Sargent, hang in there.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Deputy Sargent stated that, like 91% of his supporters, he did not want to see Fianna Fail back in power. He has now taken a very selfless decision to resign the leadership of his party. I respect that but there was another way to honour his commitment to the people of Ireland, by not putting Fianna Fáil back in Government. He has put Fianna Fáil back in Government and the Greens are merely guests in that Government.

Photo of Noel DempseyNoel Dempsey (Minister, Department of Transport; Meath West, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I propose to share time with Deputy Sargent. I thank the people of Meath, who re-elected me as their representative for a sixth term. I thank the Taoiseach for the honour he bestowed on me by nominating me to Cabinet, giving me the opportunity to serve in a Government led by him. It is the 20th anniversary of my first election to the Dáil. I stand proudly to serve my constituents and the people of Ireland for another term.

All of us who start out in politics have one ambition, to make a difference. Those of us in Cabinet have a greater opportunity than others. It is our privilege to make this country as good as it can be. The first time I was elected, in 1987, the country was very different from what it is now. When I was nominated to Cabinet in 1997, the country had changed but had a long way to go. In the past ten years remarkable improvement and change have been made. This is due to the Governments, the Taoiseach who led them and all who participated in them. All sides of the House have worked to build economic success and secure a sustainable future for generations to come.

My colleagues in this Chamber across the political divide have worked hard to be here. We have dreams and ambitions for the future. To all the new Deputies making their first visit to the Chamber with their families, congratulations and well done. They are the lucky ones because it is a great privilege to be a public representative in this Chamber. With it comes great responsibility and being nominated to Government increases the responsibility. The mandate of a sovereign people is a great honour and opportunity, bringing great responsibility for public service.

In the general election for the 30th Dáil the people renewed and strengthened the mandate of this Government. Our policies were endorsed as a blueprint for our future. I was one of the negotiating team tasked with agreeing a new programme for Government with our new coalition partners. I pay tribute to my Fianna Fáil colleagues Deputies Cowen and Brennan, who worked with me to secure an ambitious programme for Government with our new partners. Those of us involved in Government pledge to keep the faith with the people and honour the mandate given to us by this House. An unprecedented opportunity has been given to us to continue to build a fair society of equal opportunity and sustained prosperity for an island at peace with itself. That is our ambition for the country, our mandate from the people and our pledge to the people.

It seems Deputies Rabbitte and Kenny are unable to accept the election is over and the electorate has spoken. Deputy Kenny offered the people his contract and the people rejected it.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I do not think they did.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Deputy Dempsey should not be like that.

Photo of Noel DempseyNoel Dempsey (Minister, Department of Transport; Meath West, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Deputy Rabbitte cannot accept the result of his decision, taken some years ago, to become cheerleaders on the sideline for Fine Gael, which cost his party so dearly.

I am honoured and privileged to be nominated as a member of the Government.

Photo of P J SheehanP J Sheehan (Cork South West, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Will Fianna Fáil be the stem or the stern of the boat? That is what we want to know.

Photo of Trevor SargentTrevor Sargent (Minister of State with special responsibility for Food and Horticulture, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; Dublin North, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Lá mór stairiúil don Chomhaontas Ghlas é seo agus don gluaiseacht glas ar fud na cruinne. Ba mhaith liom comhghairdeas a ghabháil le gach duine atá mar bhall den Rialtas. Is lá stairiúil do gach aon duine agus do chlann gach aon duine atá roghnaithe.

Apart from being a proud day for all those appointed, it is a particularly proud day for me and all Green Party members throughout the country. The Ceann Comhairle will understand if I focus on two of the new Ministers whom I am fortunate to have known as friends and colleagues for many years. Deputy Gormley has served for a long time in preparation for the job ahead. I have campaigned with our new Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government since the early 1980s before other parties started to play catch up on key environmental issues that face this country and the world. As a former Lord Mayor of Dublin, he knows about all sides of local government and will drive reform. I am confident we will see great improvements in that area.

Deputy Eamon Ryan is an excellent choice as Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. He worked hard at committee level when in Opposition and worked at national level to set up a cross-party partnership to address the long-term planning needs of this country as it prepares for the inevitable reality of a post-oil economy. That job must be done and we hope for movement on it with the co-operation of all sides of the House. This goes beyond party politics, beyond the lifetime of any Government and should be a focus that we should support.

Some have attempted to downplay my party's achievements in the programme for Government. From a political point of view, one does not like to give too much credit to the Government. There are significant changes that would not have happened if the Green Party did not lock horns in negotiations to focus on bringing about the change that cannot wait for another five years and cannot wait for the perfect arrangement that anyone in the Opposition may imagine. All they are doing is imagining. For example, the Kenny report has been neglected by every party in Government. Enough is enough, it must be implemented and included in the programme for Government. We will see that it is done. It is not an examination or a review but implementation of the recommendations of the all-party committee in which Deputy Cuffe and I had a role to play, along with Members of all parties.

There is a long list of measures in the programme for Government. Regarding Shannon, improvements will be made in respect of renditions. We did not achieve an end to US troops passing through Shannon but was that ever possible? I ask people to consider that realistically. Certain members of the Opposition were even more gung-ho about that issue but I do not know what they will do about it.

Organic farming is an issue of passion for me and the Green Party and there is an achievement of a minimum target of 5% acreage in the programme for Government. To have such a target is a new measure.

Photo of Seán SherlockSeán Sherlock (Cork East, Labour)
Link to this: Individually | In context

How much will that benefit farmers?

Photo of Trevor SargentTrevor Sargent (Minister of State with special responsibility for Food and Horticulture, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; Dublin North, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context

A GMO-free zone will enhance the livelihoods of farmers if Deputy Sherlock knows anything about them.

Photo of Seán SherlockSeán Sherlock (Cork East, Labour)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I know a lot about farmers.

Photo of Trevor SargentTrevor Sargent (Minister of State with special responsibility for Food and Horticulture, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; Dublin North, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context

We have to review waste policy to remove the problems being caused to many of our communities by the threat of incinerators and super dumps. Net metering, for which we called in Opposition, is now in the programme for Government. We can now review and reform the EPA in Government. That will help in many of those issues that have caused huge problems for communities around the country.

The big issue about which everybody talks but very few do anything is climate change. We now have 3% annual emission reductions as a target — on which the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance will report on budget day. This is a significant step forward in the realisation that every Department and sector of society has to pull its weight in that challenge.

It is very strange and difficult to listen to both Deputy Kenny and Deputy Rabbitte when they talk about questioning the Taoiseach. During the election I certainly questioned the Taoiseach, and in fairness to them, so did the Progressive Democrats, but the silence from Fine Gael and Labour was startling, on the basis that questioning the Taoiseach might lose them votes.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
Link to this: Individually | In context

We were not going into government with them.

Photo of Trevor SargentTrevor Sargent (Minister of State with special responsibility for Food and Horticulture, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; Dublin North, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context

If it was not appropriate to question the Taoiseach then in the teeth of a general election campaign it is most cynical to decide now is the time.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

It is after the election.

Photo of Trevor SargentTrevor Sargent (Minister of State with special responsibility for Food and Horticulture, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; Dublin North, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context

The votes have been cast; the result is in the box——

Photo of Conor LenihanConor Lenihan (Minister of State, Department of Foreign Affairs; Minister of State, Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs; Minister of State, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Minister of State, Department of Education and Science; Dublin South West, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Hear, hear.

Photo of Trevor SargentTrevor Sargent (Minister of State with special responsibility for Food and Horticulture, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; Dublin North, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context

——and we now have to work with what we have.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I call Deputy Bruton.

Photo of Trevor SargentTrevor Sargent (Minister of State with special responsibility for Food and Horticulture, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; Dublin North, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context

The tribunals will do their work and I have faith in them. The reality for Fine Gael is a very difficult one——

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin North Central, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

A Cheann Comhairle——

Photo of Trevor SargentTrevor Sargent (Minister of State with special responsibility for Food and Horticulture, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; Dublin North, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I did not interrupt Deputy Bruton. If he does not mind I will just finish.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I call Deputy Bruton.

Photo of Trevor SargentTrevor Sargent (Minister of State with special responsibility for Food and Horticulture, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; Dublin North, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context

If Fine Gael really wanted to be in Government, its members should have looked back at John A. Costello. He wanted to be in Government and he asked a man who was chief of staff of the IRA to serve as Minister for Foreign Affairs

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I call Deputy Bruton.

Photo of Trevor SargentTrevor Sargent (Minister of State with special responsibility for Food and Horticulture, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; Dublin North, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context

If Fine Gael wanted to be in Government it would have gone to Sinn Féin and asked it to do business. Fine Gael does not want to be in Government.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I call Deputy Bruton.

Photo of Trevor SargentTrevor Sargent (Minister of State with special responsibility for Food and Horticulture, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; Dublin North, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Fine Gael cannot take being in government and that is why the party is in Opposition.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
Link to this: Individually | In context

The Deputy's time has expired. I call Deputy Bruton. I understand he wishes to share time.

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin North Central, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I wish to share time with Deputies Ring and Crawford.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Deputy Bruton has five minutes and the other two Deputies have two and a half minutes each.

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin North Central, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

It would be churlish not to congratulate Deputies Brian Lenihan, Gormley and Eamon Ryan on their elevation to the Cabinet. These are decent and fair-minded people and I wish them well in their jobs.

I take issue with Deputy Sargent on the Taoiseach's finances. He questioned this before the election but after the election we heard reports from the Mahon tribunal that disputed the explanation provided by the Taoiseach during the election. I refer to the explanation the then Tánaiste and leader of the Progressive Democrats said had resolved everything; that there were no dollar dealings. That evidence has proved since to be threadbare. It appears that Deputy Sargent has done nothing to challenge that. He asked his questions when it did not matter.

Photo of Trevor SargentTrevor Sargent (Minister of State with special responsibility for Food and Horticulture, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; Dublin North, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context

How does Deputy Bruton know?

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin North Central, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Deputy Sargent had his opportunity.

Photo of Trevor SargentTrevor Sargent (Minister of State with special responsibility for Food and Horticulture, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; Dublin North, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Tell us, so.

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin North Central, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Deputy Sargent lectured us on what we should have done but he is not willing to explain what he has done. I will cede time to allow Deputy Sargent explain if he wishes what he has done about the Taoiseach's finances.

Photo of Trevor SargentTrevor Sargent (Minister of State with special responsibility for Food and Horticulture, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; Dublin North, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Fair enough. Is this in order a Cheann Comhairle?

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I do not believe it is. It is Deputy Bruton's time. I call on him to please——

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

According to the rules of the House, he is able to give time.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Deputy Sargent did not ask Deputy Bruton to give way. Deputy Bruton should proceed with his contribution.

Photo of Michael RingMichael Ring (Mayo, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Stand up.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Deputy Bruton should proceed with his contribution. Deputy Sargent did not ask him to give way.

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin North Central, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

He did.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
Link to this: Individually | In context

No, he did not.

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin North Central, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

He asked, and what is more, we are being asked to endorse a Taoiseach and a Government today in the vote that will be taken later. The issue under discussion is fundamental to the stability of that Government. We have a Minister of State in that putative Government willing to offer the Dáil an explanation as to how the issue of the Taoiseach's finances has been resolved to the satisfaction of the Progressive Democrats and the Green Party. The Ceann Comhairle is denying the opportunity for the Dáil to have that knowledge. It is clearly germane——

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I insist Deputy Bruton withdraws that comment. I cannot force any Deputy to make a statement.

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin North Central, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

He is willing to do it. He has asked that it would be done and I am quite happy to cede time.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
Link to this: Individually | In context

At no point was the Deputy asked to give way. Deputy Bruton should proceed with his contribution. If he does not do so, I will call on Deputy Ring.

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin North Central, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I am ceding.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Deputy Sargent has not offered.

Photo of David StantonDavid Stanton (Cork East, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Deputy Sargent has offered.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

He should stand up and explain it now.

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin North Central, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Deputy Sargent has offered.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Deputy Sargent has not offered. Does he wish to speak?

Photo of Trevor SargentTrevor Sargent (Minister of State with special responsibility for Food and Horticulture, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; Dublin North, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I have no problem.

Photo of Michael RingMichael Ring (Mayo, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Tell us.

Photo of Trevor SargentTrevor Sargent (Minister of State with special responsibility for Food and Horticulture, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; Dublin North, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context

The issues I have discussed with the Taoiseach are most relevant to the tribunal and I believe they will be dealt with satisfactorily.

Photo of Noel TreacyNoel Treacy (Minister of State, Department of Foreign Affairs; Minister of State, Department of An Taoiseach; Galway East, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Hear, hear.

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin North Central, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

That is rich.

Photo of John GormleyJohn Gormley (Minister, Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government; Dublin South East, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context

That was exactly Deputy Bruton's position.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Deputy Bruton should be allowed to speak without interruption.

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin North Central, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

The tribunal suggested that an explanation offered during the election — one which influenced many voters and led to the Progressive Democrats saying this was the most marvellous Taoiseach ever and he should be allowed to continue, having just previously said the explanations were partial and did not stand up to scrutiny — does not tally with the explanation offered by the Taoiseach. We have never seen an explanation as to why the evidence recorded by the Mahon tribunal is inconsistent with the explanation offered by the Taoiseach.

Photo of John GormleyJohn Gormley (Minister, Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government; Dublin South East, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Deputy Bruton has changed his tune.

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin North Central, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I have not changed my tune. It is you and your party who are saying to us that we have failed in our duty by not asking questions and leaving it to the tribunal.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Deputy Bruton must address his comments through the Chair.

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin North Central, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

You entered into Government without resolving this issue and you are now saying we looked into our heart and we are happy——

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Deputy Bruton must address his comments through the Chair.

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin North Central, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

The Ceann Comhairle should bear in mind that it was the Green Party that initiated this attack on Fine Gael after its time for speaking had elapsed.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
Link to this: Individually | In context

The Deputy has one minute remaining.

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin North Central, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I am pleased the Minister, Deputy Dempsey, has not been given mathematics in addition to his marine and transport responsibilities because he suggested there was an increase in the mandate for the Government. I remind him the Government lost nine seats. Independents and the Green Party have been brought in to prop up the Government.

Photo of Noel DempseyNoel Dempsey (Minister, Department of Transport; Meath West, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context

We have 89 seats.

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin North Central, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

The previous Government did not increase its mandate.

Photo of Noel DempseyNoel Dempsey (Minister, Department of Transport; Meath West, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context

The Fianna Fáil Party on its own has 350,000 more votes than the Fine Gael Party.

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin North Central, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I looked at the programme for Government. I was surprised to see that once again we have a commitment on the establishment of a Dublin Transport Authority and the introduction of integrated ticketing. Members may recall we heard about these previously in the Fianna Fáil election manifesto of 2002. They were also suggested by the then Minister for Public Enterprise, Deputy O'Rourke.

Photo of Noel DempseyNoel Dempsey (Minister, Department of Transport; Meath West, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context

The election is over. You lost.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Deputy Bruton's time has expired and he is now eating into his colleagues' time.

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin North Central, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

The truth is that seven years later nothing has been done by the Government. Deputy Sargent finds solace in the fact that promises have been made and that measurements will be taken. Members referred to measurements in the past. We were to have class sizes of 20 and no hospital waiting lists. These were all in previous programmes for Government but nothing happened.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I must call Deputy Ring.

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin North Central, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

This Government will be judged on how it changes the lives of people not the words written in programmes for Government.

Photo of Trevor SargentTrevor Sargent (Minister of State with special responsibility for Food and Horticulture, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; Dublin North, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Deputy Bruton should sit down and let us get on with it then.

Photo of Michael RingMichael Ring (Mayo, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I congratulate the Ceann Comhairle and the Government. I would have liked if the Green Party members were colleagues of Fine Gael but that did not happen.

Photo of Paul GogartyPaul Gogarty (Dublin Mid West, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context

We would have liked it as well.

Photo of Michael RingMichael Ring (Mayo, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Will the Deputy keep quiet and have a bit of manners, something he has not had for a long time.

Photo of Paul GogartyPaul Gogarty (Dublin Mid West, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I was paying Deputy Ring a compliment.

Photo of Michael RingMichael Ring (Mayo, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I address my remarks to the Green Party and particularly to Fianna Fáil.

Photo of Paul GogartyPaul Gogarty (Dublin Mid West, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context

If Deputy Ring does not want a compliment he will get plenty of insults from this side over the next five years.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Get that Deputy some crayons.

Photo of Michael RingMichael Ring (Mayo, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I see my good friend, the Minister from Galway, who with Deputy Brady and all the Fianna Fáil Ministers and backbenchers, told the people that if Fine Gael, the Green Party and the Labour Party went into government, rural Ireland would be destroyed; there would be no farming, no planning, no rural Ireland.

Photo of Noel TreacyNoel Treacy (Minister of State, Department of Foreign Affairs; Minister of State, Department of An Taoiseach; Galway East, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context

We never said that.

Photo of Michael RingMichael Ring (Mayo, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I did not say that, it was said by Fianna Fáil members. Deputy Brady made a big statement which was reported in the Irish Independent and on INN. He is a big farmer and when he brings his pedigree bulls to the mart he will have to put shoes on the cattle because they will not want them to dirty the grass. People will have to bring the thing they use to pick up the dog poo because the Green Party will not allow that in rural Ireland either. What will he do about that?

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Minister, Department of Finance; Tánaiste; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context

We could use it on humans as well.

Photo of Michael RingMichael Ring (Mayo, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

You should be quiet. We had decentralisation in your constituency. We decentralised him and he is staying down there. You destroyed him with 19,000 votes.

I like Deputy Harney very much as a person.

However, I cannot understand her leading the Progressive Democrats into Government again when they were destroyed by the people, who rejected them. Although they did not want them in Government and wiped them out as a party, she is back as Minister for Health and Children. That speaks for the Taoiseach. He is a mighty man who can do this.

Photo of Noel DempseyNoel Dempsey (Minister, Department of Transport; Meath West, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context

We know that.

Photo of Michael RingMichael Ring (Mayo, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Some of his colleagues believe they won the election.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
Link to this: Individually | In context

The Deputy's time is up.

Photo of Michael RingMichael Ring (Mayo, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

It could not be up yet. Deputy Finian McGrath, the Independent——

Deputies:

He is gone.

Photo of Michael RingMichael Ring (Mayo, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

He will be gone soon. Deputy Finian McGrath appeared on RTE with a big envelope on which he had his name and signature——

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Deputy Ring, it is Deputy Crawford's turn.

Photo of Michael RingMichael Ring (Mayo, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

He said there would be no Shannon stopover. Next he came out of the Taoiseach's office with his signature on the deal he got.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I call Deputy Crawford.

Photo of Michael RingMichael Ring (Mayo, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Which of them was the forgery? Both of them could not be right.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I call Deputy Crawford.

Photo of Seymour CrawfordSeymour Crawford (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I thank the almost 11,000 people who voted No. 1 for me and those who gave me their second preference in this election. I appreciate this vote of confidence and thank all those who helped. I also congratulate the Ceann Comhairle on his appointment to what is an extremely important job. I hope he will be, as he stated, unbiased. I congratulate the Taoiseach, Deputy Bertie Ahern, on his third term in office. I also congratulate him on the peace in Northern Ireland. While all Members worked towards that goal, he was its spearhead and all Members welcome it. I also welcome the incoming Tánaiste to his post.

However, this is a different Government. As some Members have already noted, given what has been said in recent weeks and months, it is hard to reconcile how this Government can come together. I clearly remember the Minister for Finance's comments about the Greens and the damage they would do. When matters became tough in my constituency, the issue raised was that Fine Gael would need the support of the Greens to enter Government, which it was said would not work as farmers would be destroyed. As five of the six Green Party Deputies are from Dublin, I hope the Minister for Finance, Deputy Cowen, the Taoiseach and all others——

Photo of Paul GogartyPaul Gogarty (Dublin Mid West, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context

We have relatives who live in the country.

Photo of Brian HayesBrian Hayes (Dublin South West, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

They do not talk about it.

Photo of Seymour CrawfordSeymour Crawford (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

——will ensure that rural Ireland is preserved and that we are not wiped out.

However, my main reason for speaking is——

Photo of Trevor SargentTrevor Sargent (Minister of State with special responsibility for Food and Horticulture, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; Dublin North, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context

There are still farmers in Dublin.

Photo of Seymour CrawfordSeymour Crawford (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

We will know that after a while. We will know that after the Deputy's party gets its things done.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Deputy Crawford's time has expired.

Photo of Seymour CrawfordSeymour Crawford (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

The re-appointment of Deputy Harney as Minister for Heath and Children obviously raises frightening anxieties for those who live in Cavan-Monaghan. I ask her to visit the people there and to examine its hospitals and their capabilities. She should not depend on people from London to decide our futures. She is a reasonable person and as Deputy Ring noted, I have always liked her as an individual. However, as Minister for Health and Children, she must take some responsibility, as must the Taoiseach, to ensure the excellent people and services that obtain in these counties are maintained and improved. We cannot allow them to be taken away——

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
Link to this: Individually | In context

The Deputy has greatly exceeded his time.

Photo of Seymour CrawfordSeymour Crawford (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

——when there is no other service available to us.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I am sorry. I must call——

Photo of Seymour CrawfordSeymour Crawford (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

There is no other service. This is vital and I ask the Minister to be responsible in this regard.

Photo of Mary HarneyMary Harney (Minister, Department of Health and Children; Dublin Mid West, Progressive Democrats)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I will share time with Deputy Brennan. I am happy and privileged to be invited to serve for a third time in a Government within a decade. As all Members who have spoken have acknowledged, it is a great privilege to be elected to this House and to have the opportunity to serve in Government. I have been in this House since 1981 and in the Oireachtas for 30 years and the political landscape in Ireland has changed dramatically during that period. In my early years in this House, it was Fianna Fáil versus the rest. These were the years when Fianna Fáil did not form coalition Governments with other parties. This changed in 1989 and has changed quite fundamentally subsequently. We pride ourselves in Ireland in saying that our economic future is centred on innovation and our political future must also be centred on innovation. We would be foolish to rule out the possibility of parties with different perspectives being able to come to an agreement in respect of a programme for Government and working together as loyal colleagues with shared Cabinet responsibility.

Given some of the comments made by Members opposite, I find it hard to understand that I was the subject of so much political seduction over the past few weeks. I had a very good meeting with Deputy Enda Kenny, who is someone for whom I have enormous personal regard. During the five years since he became leader of his party he has been enormously successful, which I acknowledge. His party won a further 20 seats in the most recent election, much of which was due to the considerable effort he put into the reorganisation of his party. I acknowledge this. However, Deputy Kenny and I met for more than an hour in a Dublin hotel only ten or 12 days ago because my party has been open to forming a Government that was led by either Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael. There are no other possibilities in this House either now or for the foreseeable future. In those discussions, as well as in discussions I had with other members of his party, I was told that co-location could be sorted out.

Photo of Paul GogartyPaul Gogarty (Dublin Mid West, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Really.

Photo of Mary HarneyMary Harney (Minister, Department of Health and Children; Dublin Mid West, Progressive Democrats)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I find it hard to understand that when an effort was being put together to create what was called a dolly mixture, suddenly, we are reverting to form.

While I have had differences with the Green Party, I very much welcome it into Government.

Photo of Paul GogartyPaul Gogarty (Dublin Mid West, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Not in Dublin Mid-West.

Photo of Mary HarneyMary Harney (Minister, Department of Health and Children; Dublin Mid West, Progressive Democrats)
Link to this: Individually | In context

No. I welcome it into the Government, where it will be a breath of fresh air. Between 1989 and 1992, I had the privilege of serving as a Minister of State at the Department of the Environment when the environment was not considered to be important by many people. It was in the early days of recycling, of establishing the EPA and of banning smog in Dublin and we have come a long way since then.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Deputy Harney was sent in the side entrance.

Photo of Mary HarneyMary Harney (Minister, Department of Health and Children; Dublin Mid West, Progressive Democrats)
Link to this: Individually | In context

It is now an issue for every party and the Green Party has genuinely placed this issue on the centre stage of Irish politics, which I welcome.

Every small party that aligns with a much bigger party faces the issue of losing its identity. Moreover, there is also the responsibility of being able to give effect to some of one's policies by going into Government, reaching agreement on a programme for Government and being focused on implementing that programme, which I hope we will be able to do in the next five years.

I have already paid tribute to the Ceann Comhairle. I also wish to pay tribute to Deputy Dick Roche, who will no longer be a member of the Government. However, I am delighted that he will become Minister of State with responsibility for European affairs. I also warmly welcome the new members of Government and Deputy Brian Lenihan in particular, who served as a Minister of State with me at the Department of Health and Children during the past two and a half years. He has been a terrific colleague and I welcome him into the Cabinet as Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform. I also welcome Deputies Ryan and Gormley and look forward to working with them. I also pay tribute to the outgoing Attorney General, Rory Brady, for his ongoing professionalism and assistance in that regard and welcome his successor, Paul Gallagher SC.

Obviously today is special both for new members of the Government and for all its members. As I noted earlier, it is also a special day for new Members of the House and I am delighted to acknowledge the presence of some new female Members. Unfortunately neither the Progressive Democrats nor female representation in this House did well in the election. Such representation is more or less where it was in the outgoing Dáil, which is a great pity. When Members discuss innovation in politics, they must examine how they can encourage more women to be elected to this House. Notwithstanding my party's disaster in the general election, we still remain gender balanced at 50%, which is unique, as it was the same in the outgoing Dáil.

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour)
Link to this: Individually | In context

With a few less votes it could have been 100%.

8:00 am

Photo of Séamus BrennanSéamus Brennan (Minister, Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism; Dublin South, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I congratulate the Ceann Comhairle on his election and pay tribute to the negotiating team from the Green Party with whom my ministerial colleagues, Deputies Cowen and Dempsey, and I worked so closely in the past ten days or so. I refer to Deputy Gormley, Dan Boyle and Dónall Geogheghan. Despite whatever comments have been made, they constituted a formidable team. They had strong opinions and put them forward. At the outset of our talks they stated they wished to enter into discussions in good faith. I firmly believe that at their conclusion we ended up with good faith on both sides and deep respect for both participants in the talks, namely, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party. From those discussions, we got a programme for Government that is ambitious, will be good for the country and will transform it during the next five years. The new arrangement with the Green Party and the Progressive Democrats gives us what the Taoiseach set out to put together, namely, a broadly based Government.

In the next couple of years, the country will face strong challenges. There are major issues to deal with in terms of immigration, environmentally sustainable economic growth, investing more in services, continuing to eradicate the remaining levels of poverty and dealing with an Ireland that is getting into its stride. This governmental configuration is strong and dedicated to written policies that will allow us to tackle the issues in the years ahead.

I thank my colleagues who took part in the discussions. A special thanks is due to every Member of the House, particularly those who find themselves on the Opposition benches. Politics is a difficult business, an honourable profession where public service is important. All of us, including those opposite, fought strong campaigns for the same cause, namely, to advance our country and to make it more successful and a better place for us and those who follow us. The parties opposite provided a valuable service in the recent campaign by showing up policy differences and options for the nation and then accepting the decision of the people in terms of the options put to us.

There is a great deal of cynicism regarding politics, but if one asks those in the Chamber who fought successfully to get elected, the leaders who needed to fight tooth and nail in every corner of the land or those in the front lines of the recent campaign, they will say the profession of politics is about public service. It is not easy and everyone plays his or her part. Every Deputy should feel enormous pride in being sent here by their people and communities to help this nation take more steps forward, for which reason we are in attendance. Whatever policy differences, rows and acrimony are on the floor of the House, we must remember our duty to remove some of the cynicism and to realise that those present are honourable, have the confidence and faith of the people who sent them here and deserve respect because of their mandates.

I wish to pay a special word of congratulations to my constituency colleague, Minister to be, Deputy Ryan. With Deputy Tom Kitt as Chief Whip, Dublin South will be well served.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
Link to this: Individually | In context

The Minister's time has expired.

Photo of Séamus BrennanSéamus Brennan (Minister, Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism; Dublin South, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context

If my colleagues are too busy, I am sure I will find a chance to serve the constituency for them. I wish Deputy Ryan luck with his assignment and I congratulate Deputy Tom Kitt.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I understand Deputy Timmins will share time with Deputy Brian Hayes.

Photo of Billy TimminsBilly Timmins (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

And Deputy Durkan.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
Link to this: Individually | In context

The Deputies have ten minutes.

Photo of Billy TimminsBilly Timmins (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I congratulate my constituency colleagues, Deputies Behan and Doyle, on their election to the Dáil. I also wish the Ceann Comhairle well. I congratulate the Cabinet members, particularly the new appointees, Deputies Brian Lenihan, Ryan and Gormley. However, when I saw the new Cabinet members entering the Chamber, it struck me that little had changed. The most disappointed people in the House are the many Fianna Fáil Deputies who believed there might be a new-look Cabinet.

Photo of Noel DempseyNoel Dempsey (Minister, Department of Transport; Meath West, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context

No. Fine Gael was the most disappointed.

Photo of Billy TimminsBilly Timmins (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

In his speech the Taoiseach stated:

There will be a particular opportunity at the mid-term review of the Government's programme to consider further the allocation of ministerial responsibilities. These considerations will also be reflected in the names I will propose next week to the Government for appointment as Ministers of State.

I do not know whether this is a warning to the Cabinet or a carrot to those aspiring to be in the next Cabinet, but the Taoiseach has done it again. He has held out a little olive branch to keep those like Deputy O'Flynn on side in the months ahead.

It is ironic that Ministers spent the past year using terms such as "slump coalition" and "dolly mixture government", but the current term is "broadly based government", as used by the Ministers, Deputies Cowen and Brennan.

Photo of Séamus BrennanSéamus Brennan (Minister, Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism; Dublin South, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context

It is the green gene.

Photo of Billy TimminsBilly Timmins (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

It must be what the focus groups are telling the Ministers. Fianna Fáil did not need the green gene. The Minister for Health and Children, Deputy Harney, deluded herself when she spoke about smaller parties playing a role in Government with Fianna Fáil. It will digest the green gene like it did the Progressive Democrats. It was clever of the Taoiseach to be all-embracing. In a number of years, the Green Party will have paled into oblivion.

Photo of Noel DempseyNoel Dempsey (Minister, Department of Transport; Meath West, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Fine Gael managed to do the same to the Labour Party despite not being in government together.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Fianna Fáil did not do the Labour Party any favours.

Photo of Billy TimminsBilly Timmins (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I will miss the Green Party wailing over my ear and shouting obscenities at the Government, saying it was so out of touch that I sometimes felt like going over there to attack it myself.

Photo of Trevor SargentTrevor Sargent (Minister of State with special responsibility for Food and Horticulture, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; Dublin North, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context

There is hardly much difference.

Photo of Billy TimminsBilly Timmins (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Once the Green Party saw the black and white tiles of Government Buildings — I do not know what colour the carpet is, but it is plush — and stood on them, there was no going back. The party's Deputies might not have liked the coffee, but they liked what they saw. I do not necessarily blame them, but I accuse them of collective hypocrisy. They masqueraded as something different on this side, but they are no different from the rest of us.

Deputies:

Hear, hear.

Photo of Billy TimminsBilly Timmins (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

They should not purport to lecture us from that side of the House. It was bad enough lecturing the Government and others when they were on this side. They should take responsibility——

Photo of Trevor SargentTrevor Sargent (Minister of State with special responsibility for Food and Horticulture, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; Dublin North, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Freedom of speech.

Photo of Ciarán CuffeCiarán Cuffe (Dún Laoghaire, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I take it that the Deputy does not like us.

Photo of Billy TimminsBilly Timmins (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

——for what they sign up to. I do not read blogs, but I will start. However, I will not read those of the Deputies, as they do not mean much.

I wanted the Taoiseach to make changes to the Cabinet and I am glad to see Deputy O'Dea remain as Minister for Defence, although he might not be happy about it.

Photo of Willie O'DeaWillie O'Dea (Minister, Department of Defence; Limerick East, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I am ecstatic.

Photo of Brian HayesBrian Hayes (Dublin South West, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

The Minister looks it.

Photo of Billy TimminsBilly Timmins (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

He is definitely up for a mid-term review.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
Link to this: Individually | In context

So is Deputy Timmins, as his time has expired.

Photo of Billy TimminsBilly Timmins (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I wish to mention outgoing Minister Deputy Roche briefly. Fianna Fáil's focus groups stated that he needed to be off the air during the election campaign, but the Deputy went out and batted for the Government when it was at its most unpopular. He took the hit for the Government's unpopularity in the months leading up to the election. It is a sad day for County Wicklow, as Deputy Roche had done a half day's work before the rest of the Government got out of bed. The Taoiseach should reconsider his position during the mid-term review.

Photo of Noel DempseyNoel Dempsey (Minister, Department of Transport; Meath West, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context

He is the only chance of a Wicklow Minister.

Photo of Brian HayesBrian Hayes (Dublin South West, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I congratulate the Ceann Comhairle on his appointment and the new members of the Government, specifically Deputies Ryan, Gormley and Brian Lenihan. I thank my constituents in Dublin South-West for returning me to the 30th Dáil.

This Dáil has a significant advantage over previous Dáils in that we do not need to face the continuing threats of paramilitarism and subversion or threats to the security of the State. Given the amount of time previous Parliaments needed to invest in dealing with the threat to security, we have an advantage in terms of the opportunities ahead.

I have a great personal regard for the Minister for Health and Children, Deputy Harney. She is a formidable politician. She stated in her contribution that it would have been foolish to rule any individual or party out in terms of talks, but that is what her party's former leader, Mr. Michael McDowell, did when he stated categorically that he would not have done a deal with the Green Party. It is not in the long-term interests of the Progressive Democrats to be in government with the Green Party, as we will eventually see.

In the course of the Taoiseach's remarks, he stated he and his colleagues will be entering into the Intergovernmental Conference to determine whether it is possible to establish a new constitutional treaty for Europe. I hope his efforts have the support of the Government. In the past 25 years, the Green Party has been the most cynical and dishonest party when discussing European matters in Ireland. It has distorted every referendum on this issue, as the Minister for Finance well knows, and has used those opportunities as a blatant and cynical political ploy for the purposes of public relations. I only hope the Government speaks with one voice on this crucial issue. In trying to work towards a new constitutional treaty that will ultimately be put to the people, I hope the Taoiseach will have the support of the entire Government. We must wait to see whether that is so in the weeks and months ahead.

Health was the issue that dominated the discussions and debates of the election campaign. The cynical about-turn by the Green Party on the issue of co-location will be recognised as such by its supporters. That party took a deliberate policy position in this House and in the public domain of opposition to the Government's plan. That plan will hand out massive benefits to the private health care sector and will ultimately widen the difference in our society between the haves and the have nots in terms of public and private health care. The people will see through the Green Party's sell-out on this issue.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I too congratulate you, a Cheann Comhairle, on your elevation to that important role. I am sure you will sleep easy at night knowing that your colleague, Deputy Jackie Healy-Rae, is looking after matters in your constituency. Deputy Healy-Rae will certainly sleep easy, from what we hear.

Elections are part of the process of democracy. There was a general view during this most recent election that, for whatever reason, the public wanted a change. It did not secure that change, however, but rather the same again. I recall the Minister for Finance, Deputy Cowen, said at the count centre in his constituency that he did not need to be cleaned up by the Green Party or anybody else. Does the formation of the new Government mean he has had second thoughts about that and that the Sunlight soap has come on board?

As a long-serving Member of this House, I am of the view that there should be an avenue for change after a democratic election, particularly when the people have registered their vote in such a way as to ensure that change is possible. What we have had in recent years, however, is more of the same. Fianna Fáil has achieved this by drawing to its side various groups from the Opposition, one after the other. The late Sean Doherty, with whom I shared many hours, used to say that Fianna Fáil would be in government forever because, on every occasion, it draws somebody from the Opposition to suit that occasion. The Green Party may say that idealism has brought it into the formation of this Government and that it is a question of what it can give to Government. Green Party Members should not cod themselves. The reality is that the only reason they are included in this Administration is that the party that is currently in a majority in this House would take anybody. The Green Party was merely convenient, no matter what it says about idealism.

I wish all Cabinet members success in their Ministries. We on this side of the House will provide a trenchant Opposition where that is necessary. There will be no time for sleeping on the job. Democracy is not about jobs for the boys and girls but about delivering to the people on the issues that cause them concern. I will not go over the points that were raised in the course of the general election but it was clear there are many issues that are causing people serious concern. These are issues that have not been addressed for several years. While Deputy Ryan and I were members of the same Oireachtas committee in recent years, he was also making goo-goo eyes at the Minister. I knew then where we were headed.

We in Opposition have a major role to play and we will play that role fairly and honestly, but we will also play hard. We will leave no room for whinging. We will be watching the Minister for Defence, Deputy O'Dea, at every possible moment.

Photo of Willie O'DeaWillie O'Dea (Minister, Department of Defence; Limerick East, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context

Deputy Durkan should keep playing his role in opposition; that is where he belongs.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Minister, Department of Finance; Tánaiste; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I join with others in congratulating you on your elevation to the Office of Ceann Comhairle and I wish you well for the future. I have been allocated one minute to close this debate and that is all that is required. The situation as we find it is that we have formed a Government with the Green Party and the Progressive Democrats Party with the support of Independents. This coalition has won the majority support in this House and we will now have the honour of going to Áras an Uachtaráin to receive our seals of office from the President.

It is true there are huge challenges facing this country. The one fact of which we can be certain after this election is that when the people were asked who they wished to lead an Administration, there is no doubt that the Taoiseach, Deputy Bertie Ahern, was their choice. Arising out of the result of the election, where the people made their choice and sent 166 Deputies of different political parties and none to this House, it is the job of politicians to put together a coherent, stable and credible Government. In the past two weeks, we have seen that exercise and effort being successfully concluded by parties who, whatever their policy differences in the past, have come forward with a policy programme today that will serve the people for the next five years. That is the basis of our co-operation and it is what will generate the cohesion required for an effective Administration.

I thank the Taoiseach for the great honour he has bestowed on me and my family by appointing me Tánaiste. I will continue to work with him and other colleagues day in and day out to ensure this is a successful Administration. I welcome new Government Members and I commiserate with those who will not continue with us in Cabinet. That is in no way a reflection on the tremendous work they have done but on the political realities of needing to accommodate the new configuration of Government that is in place. Deputy Roche, for example, will continue to work with us in Government on an area of policy in which he excelled and where he served under me. I offer my congratulations to all concerned. It is a great honour and privilege for us to be appointed by the Dáil to be the Government of this country. I look forward to working with everybody to ensure the policy programme we have hammered out will provide us with the necessary Government stability to bring about the continued peace and prosperity that is now the inheritance of the Irish people.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
Link to this: Individually | In context

As it is now 8.15 p.m. I am required to put the following question in accordance with the resolution of the Dáil of this day: "That Dáil Éireann approves the nominations by the Taoiseach for the appointment by the President to be members of the Government."

Question put.

The Dail Divided:

For the motion: 87 (Bertie Ahern, Dermot Ahern, Michael Ahern, Noel Ahern, Barry Andrews, Chris Andrews, Seán Ardagh, Bobby Aylward, Joe Behan, Niall Blaney, Áine Brady, Cyprian Brady, Johnny Brady, Séamus Brennan, John Browne, Thomas Byrne, Dara Calleary, Pat Carey, Niall Collins, Margaret Conlon, Seán Connick, Mary Coughlan, Brian Cowen, John Cregan, Ciarán Cuffe, Martin Cullen, John Curran, Noel Dempsey, Jimmy Devins, Timmy Dooley, Frank Fahey, Michael Finneran, Michael Fitzpatrick, Seán Fleming, John O'Donoghue, Pat Gallagher, Paul Gogarty, John Gormley, Noel Grealish, Mary Hanafin, Mary Harney, Seán Haughey, Jackie Healy-Rae, Máire Hoctor, Billy Kelleher, Peter Kelly, Brendan Kenneally, Michael Kennedy, Tony Killeen, Séamus Kirk, Michael Kitt, Tom Kitt, Brian Lenihan Jnr, Conor Lenihan, Michael Lowry, Martin Mansergh, Micheál Martin, Jim McDaid, Tom McEllistrim, Finian McGrath, Mattie McGrath, Michael McGrath, John McGuinness, John Moloney, Michael Moynihan, Michael Mulcahy, M J Nolan, Éamon Ó Cuív, Seán Ó Fearghaíl, Darragh O'Brien, Charlie O'Connor, Willie O'Dea, Noel O'Flynn, Rory O'Hanlon, Batt O'Keeffe, John O'Donoghue, Mary O'Rourke, Seán Power, Dick Roche, Eamon Ryan, Trevor Sargent, Eamon Scanlon, Brendan Smith, Noel Treacy, Mary Wallace, Mary White, Michael Woods)

Against the motion: 73 (Bernard Allen, James Bannon, Seán Barrett, Pat Breen, Tommy Broughan, Richard Bruton, Ulick Burke, Joan Burton, Catherine Byrne, Joe Carey, Deirdre Clune, Paul Connaughton, Noel Coonan, Joe Costello, Simon Coveney, Seymour Crawford, Michael Creed, Lucinda Creighton, Michael D'Arcy, John Deasy, Jimmy Deenihan, Andrew Doyle, Bernard Durkan, Damien English, Olwyn Enright, Frank Feighan, Martin Ferris, Charles Flanagan, Terence Flanagan, Eamon Gilmore, Brian Hayes, Tom Hayes, Michael D Higgins, Phil Hogan, Brendan Howlin, Paul Kehoe, Enda Kenny, Ciarán Lynch, Kathleen Lynch, Pádraic McCormack, Shane McEntee, Dinny McGinley, Joe McHugh, Liz McManus, Olivia Mitchell, Arthur Morgan, Denis Naughten, Michael Noonan, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Kieran O'Donnell, Fergus O'Dowd, Jim O'Keeffe, John O'Mahony, Brian O'Shea, Jan O'Sullivan, Willie Penrose, John Perry, Ruairi Quinn, Pat Rabbitte, James Reilly, Michael Ring, Alan Shatter, P J Sheehan, Seán Sherlock, Róisín Shortall, Emmet Stagg, David Stanton, Billy Timmins, Joanna Tuffy, Mary Upton, Leo Varadkar, Jack Wall)

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Kelleher and Tom Kitt; Níl, Deputies Kehoe and Stagg.

Question declared carried.