Dáil debates

Thursday, 10 March 2016

1:05 am

Photo of Seán Ó FearghaílSeán Ó Fearghaíl (Ceann Comhairle; Kildare South, Ceann Comhairle)
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We will now proceed to the next vitally important piece of business, which is No. 4, the nomination of a Taoiseach. I will now receive nominations.

Photo of Noel RockNoel Rock (Dublin North West, Fine Gael)
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Tairgim:

Go n-ainmneoidh Dáil Éireann an Teachta Enda Kenny chun a cheaptha ag an Uachtarán mar Thaoiseach.

I move:

That Dáil Éireann nominate Deputy Enda Kenny for appointment by the President to be Taoiseach.

I stand today to nominate An Taoiseach, Deputy Enda Kenny, to continue his work for the next five years. As the youngest Deputy in my party, I am immensely proud to do so. I may be new to this Chamber but I know the difference this Taoiseach has made to the country. Perhaps it is hard to see and sometimes, indeed, hard to hear through the sound and fury of political opposition. Yet, his achievements are there and his achievements will last. These achievements include marriage equality, the country being saved from the financial abyss, an end to the tide of emigration of people my age, two increases in the minimum wage, saying goodbye to the troika and a change in politics for the better and forever. Your election today is testament to that kind of change and I congratulate you most sincerely, a Cheann Comhairle.

When the Taoiseach was first nominated, the country was asked to trust in the untested and to hang out its brightest colours in faith. There is always the idealism of the untested, the ideal perfection, but that is not reality. We know the reality. The reality is that experience bloodies and experience bruises sometimes. There is no doubt that being in government has bruised us as a party too. However, while in government, we took on the challenges for the greater good of the country. I am proud this Taoiseach has always put the country first and confident he always will put the country first. A Taoiseach should always be fighting for the good of our society, economy and country, and Deputy Enda Kenny, always has. It has not been perfect and there is so much more to do. However, one can only build a house on firm foundations. There is no doubt that this Taoiseach has strived to build those foundations in a selfless, consistent way, day in, day out. We can now build on those foundations, if we so choose. In this year, the centenary of our Republic, it is perhaps worth reflecting on that.

When I was younger the Taoiseach gave me the advice of Thomas Jefferson - "In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock." I will stand with him today and always. He brought this party back from being written off. Far more important, he brought our economy and our country back when many had written us off. We should not lose sight of that. As we mark 100 years of independence, we can look forward to a brighter future. I believe Deputy Enda Kenny is the man to bring us towards that brighter future. I am proud to nominate Deputy Enda Kenny today.

Photo of Catherine ByrneCatherine Byrne (Dublin South Central, Fine Gael)
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I am seconding the nomination of Deputy Enda Kenny as An Taoiseach but, first, I congratulate you, a Cheann Comhairle, on your election. A Cheann Comhairle and Members of the Dáil, it is my honour to second the nomination of An Taoiseach, Deputy Enda Kenny, as Taoiseach to the 32nd Dáil. I have had the privilege to serve under his leadership of the Fine Gael Party and as Taoiseach of our country for the past five years.

3 o’clock

I believe Deputy Kenny is a man of honour, integrity and vision. He never fails to impress with his enduring energy and enthusiasm. His experience and vision for a better Ireland are qualities we need in our next Taoiseach. This is very important. Over the past five years, Deputy Kenny has shown great leadership, not only at home but also abroad. His hard work in very difficult times has helped to create a climate where people can return to work and education, providing hope and opportunities for the many young people who wish to return home from abroad. I believe that Deputy Kenny's strength of character and social conscience will provide the leadership that is required in the Thirty-Second Dáil. I therefore formally propose to Dáil Éireann the nomination of Deputy Kenny as the next Taoiseach.

1:15 am

Photo of Lisa ChambersLisa Chambers (Mayo, Fianna Fail)
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I congratulate the Ceann Comhairle on his election. I move that Dáil Éireann nominate Deputy Micheál Martin for appointment by the President as Taoiseach. Deputy Micheál Martin is very well qualified to undertake the duties of the office of Taoiseach. In nominating him, Fianna Fáil is making it clear that it is opting for a change of Government because that is what people voted for.

First elected to Dáil Éireann in 1989, Deputy Micheál Martin has been re-elected on every occasion since to represent the people of Cork South-Central. He is an honest and passionate republican who believes in Ireland and wants to deliver a fairer society for all. Deputy Martin has extensive experience in this House. He is a former Minister for Education and Science; Health and Children; Enterprise, Trade and Employment; and Foreign Affairs. He has represented the Government with distinction in Northern Ireland, Europe and across the globe. For the past five years, he has led the Opposition and tenaciously highlighted issues that were having a negative impact on communities across Ireland.

During his time in opposition, he reached out to people and listened to their problems with sincerity and empathy. He recognised that families and communities were struggling and that Ireland was experiencing a two-tier recovery with some of her people being left behind. He saw at first hand how public services were depleted, how frustrated people were and how difficult it had become to access even the most basic essential services. He is a strong believer in politics and has been a positive advocate for the people he serves. He has led the way in bringing forward proposals to reform how politics is done in our country. The failure to implement any meaningful political reform over the past five years is the single greatest failure of the last Dáil.

On a personal level, it is a huge honour for me as a new Deputy in the Thirty-Second Dáil to be nominating Deputy Martin. He has been an invaluable mentor to me throughout my time in politics and has always made himself available to assist me and other younger representatives within the party on our journey through political life. He has shown courage and determination in bringing a new generation into politics and bringing about real changes in the way we do our business. As party leader, he has always endeavoured to be inclusive and to ensure that all voices are heard and respected. I have no doubt that he will be a strong advocate for young people in this country and that he will continue his commitment to political reform and inclusivity in this House.

Deputy Martin believes in the people of Ireland. He knows this is a country rich with immense potential and generosity of spirit. People want an Ireland for all and not just for a few. With Deputy Martin's determination and work ethic, I know he could lead the next Government to achieve this objective. Throughout his political life, he has been approachable, fair minded and straight talking. He faces challenges head on and knows that people want a decent society. In conclusion, I and my party colleagues consider him to be uniquely well qualified to be Taoiseach and to lead Ireland towards the realisation of our shared objective - an Ireland for all.

Photo of Thomas ByrneThomas Byrne (Meath East, Fianna Fail)
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Is mór an onóir agus an phribhléid domsa ar an ócáid stairiúil seo seasamh os comhair na dTeachtaí go léir mar Theachta nuathofa do Dháilcheantar an Mhí Thoir. Seasaim anseo chun tacú le moladh an Teachta Chambers an Teachta Mícheál Martin a ainmniú mar Thaoiseach, le ceapadh ag an Uachtarán. Is Teachta stuama é an Teachta Mícheál Martin, a bhíodh agus atá leas an phobail i gcónaí chun cinn ina aigne aige agus é ag baint amach a obair pholaitiúil. Is ceannaire díograisach é. Measann seisean, agus tá a fhios aige, go bhfuil fiúntas ag gach uile duine sa tír seo.

Is í a fhealsúnacht ná gur cheart go mbeadh Éire, agus gach a bhaineann léi agus lenár náisiún, ar fáil do chách. Corcaíoch is ea an Teachta Mícheál Martin a éistíonn go cúramach le guth an phobail, an guth láidir sin a ghlaoigh orainn go léir i rith an toghcháin. Tá an pobal ag éileamh athrú treo. Tá siad ag éileamh athrú sa chaoi a dhéanaimid ár n-obair sa Seomra seo. Tá an pobal ag lorg athruithe chun níos mó cothromais a scaipeadh ar fud na tíre ach go háirithe, agus é a scaipeadh ar chuile carn den tír.

Labhair na daoine sa toghchán. Tá sé soiléir go bhfuil athrú Rialtais ag teastáil uathu. Tá ceannaire ag teastáil ón bpobal. Tá dualgas ar an Dáil agus ar na Teachtaí go léir éisteacht leis seo. Idir na hiarrthóirí atá os ár gcomhair inniu, is é an Teachta Mícheál Martin an t-aon fhear gur féidir leis éileamh an phobail a shásamh. Mar sin, is féidir fanacht ar an mbóthar briste, nó is féidir an tír a thabhairt ar an mbóthar ceart. Tá dán cáiliúil ag an bhfile Raifteirí. Tá an t-earrach tagtha agus tá an Dáil ina shuí arís. Tá véarsa eile sa dán cáiliúil le Raifteirí, véarsa faoin obair atá le teacht:

Tá cur agus treabhadh

is leasú gan aoileach

Is iomaí sin ní ann

nár labhair mé go fóill,

áitheanna is muilte

ag obair gan scíth ann,

Deamhan caint ar phingin cíosa

ná dada dá shórt.

Iarraim ar na Teachtaí dá bhrí sin glacadh leis an moladh seo ón Teachta Chambers agus an Teachta Mícheál Martin a thoghadh mar Thaoiseach.

Photo of Mary Lou McDonaldMary Lou McDonald (Dublin Central, Sinn Fein)
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I congratulate the Ceann Comhairle on his success and wish him the very best during his tenure. I look forward to harmonious relations.

Photo of Seán Ó FearghaílSeán Ó Fearghaíl (Ceann Comhairle; Kildare South, Ceann Comhairle)
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So do I.

Photo of Mary Lou McDonaldMary Lou McDonald (Dublin Central, Sinn Fein)
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I also extend a word of welcome to all new Deputies from every party and none. I hope that we have the same enthusiasm and drive that is evident just now at the conclusion of the Thirty-Second Dáil, whenever that might be.

Photo of Finian McGrathFinian McGrath (Dublin Bay North, Independent)
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Five years.

Photo of Mary Lou McDonaldMary Lou McDonald (Dublin Central, Sinn Fein)
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Is mór an onóir dom an Teachta Gearóid Mac Ádhaimh a ainmniú mar Thaoiseach. Mar Thaoiseach, comhlíonfaidh sé na gealltanais atá tugtha ag Sinn Féin do mhuintir na hÉireann le linn an olltoghcháin. Tá na daoine a chuir a muinín ionainn agus a thug a mandáid dúinn ag brath orainn go géar. Tá sé de dhualgas orainn iontaoibh an phobail sa chóras polaitiúil a thabhairt ar ais. Ní dhéanfar sin trí na gealltanais úd a chaitheamh san aer ar thóir cumhachta nó tréimhse oifige.

It is a great honour for me to nominate Deputy Gerry Adams for Taoiseach. In this time of uncertainty, instability and hardship for many families and communities, Ireland now needs strong, proven leadership. Ireland calls out for a leader of vision - not the narrow vision of the conservative establishment parties, but a vision that embraces this entire island, that goes beyond the Border and encompasses both the North and the South of Ireland and all of its people, whether Catholic, Protestant, dissenter or other. As the leader of the only all-Ireland republican party and the largest all-island political party, and as one of the architects of the Irish peace process, Deputy Gerry Adams has consistently displayed qualities of strong leadership, courage and perseverance. He has clearly shown that he is willing to reach out to, listen to and work with those who have opposed him.

He has successfully built peaceful relationships between the most bitter of opponents. Ireland calls out for a leader who will give hope back to the people, to those who have struggled on the watch of previous Governments and who struggle still; a leader who will protect the vulnerable and the marginalised, our young people and our older citizens, who will create real opportunities for decent work and a decent standard of living; a leader who will lift the burden on low- and middle-income families who have been crippled by burdens not of their making and overwhelmed by stealth taxes such as water charges and the family home tax; a leader who is not afraid to take on the elites and the vested interests who laid this economy and society low. Deputy Gerry Adams will give a voice to those who have not felt recovery - that is, the majority of our citizens. His positive vision for Ireland will give hope back to the people and will deliver fairness and equality for all.

Tá sé tiomanta do chur chun cinn agus neartú na Gaeilge. Tiontóidh sé an meath agus an easpa measa, tacaíochta agus maoirseachta atá déanta ag na Rialtais a tháinig roimhe seo. Tá sé dírithe ar phobal labhartha na Gaeilge a chruthú ar fud fad na hÉireann.

If we are serious about realising the hopes, dreams and aspirations of the citizens who grant us mandates to represent them here in this Chamber, we have to be serious about who gives voice to those mandates. Deputy Gerry Adams has shown that he is a person of strong principle and endurance. He is someone who is focused and determined and who sees the bigger picture. Deputy Gerry Adams is someone who has never put self-interest above or beyond the national interest. In this centenary year of the 1916 Rising, in order to achieve a truly fair Ireland, an Ireland we can be proud of, an Ireland in which all of our people can say that we and they feel the recovery, I am happy and honoured to propose Deputy Gerry Adams as Taoiseach.

1:25 am

Photo of Imelda MunsterImelda Munster (Louth, Sinn Fein)
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I was very proud to be elected along with Deputy Gerry Adams to represent the people of Louth and east Meath, but I am especially pleased and honoured to be seconding him for the position of Taoiseach. For many years, Deputy Gerry Adams has demonstrated outstanding political leadership, especially on the peace process and as the leader of the real Opposition throughout the 31st Dáil. Deputy Gerry Adams offers a different vision for the Irish people, a commitment to Irish unity, to working with our Unionist neighbours and to pursuing policies based on fairness and equality - policies that will end the water charges and the family home tax, that will tackle the crisis in our emergency departments, that will provide homes for more than 100,000 people on the housing waiting list and that will ease the burden, especially in rural Ireland, for those who see no evidence of a recovery. I am honoured to second the nomination of my friend and party colleague Deputy Gerry Adams.

Photo of Ruth CoppingerRuth Coppinger (Dublin West, Anti-Austerity Alliance)
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The Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit group of Deputies would like to propose a socialist nominee for Taoiseach, and we propose Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett. As we approach the centenary of the Rising, about which we will hear a lot over the next number of weeks, it is clear that we live in a very unjust society, where vast wealth is concentrated in the hands of a tiny few while the majority have seen their living standards plummet. A crisis rages in health and housing, and an attempt is being made to turn water into a commodity capable of being privatised and fetching a profit. To this day, the church remains entangled with the State and women are denied their civil rights on abortion.

It is clear that, as James Connolly said a hundred years ago, the day has passed for patching up the capitalist system; it must go. We need democratic public control and ownership of wealth and resources if society is to be run for people's needs, not profit. We need a separation of church and State.

Today, we will not vote for the identical twin candidates of the two parties that imposed austerity in this country, nor can we endorse the candidate of a party that is claiming to be the friend of ordinary people while implementing austerity in the North and which is based on one side of the community. All three candidates who have been proposed accept the crumbs of the fiscal space and thus cannot deliver the real change that is needed by the majority in society. We need the immediate abolition of the water charges, which were clearly rejected by the majority of the electorate, and we support and call for an extension of the boycott to make sure those charges are finished off while the two parties dither over whether they will carry out abolition. Neither can we wait any longer for a State-backed housing programme to deal with the housing emergency and for NAMA to be declared an agency for affordable housing, which the previous Government refused to do. We need to end the 32-year hypocrisy of the eighth amendment to the Constitution and allow women to make this decision for themselves in all cases, not just a few. To fund our public services, we need to end the use of our country as a tax haven and to take control of the wealth of the 1%.

James Connolly wanted to change the system, and we agree with him. Sixteen days before the Rising, Connolly outlined who will change Ireland, and in whose interests, when he said in the pages of The Workers' Republic:

Not the rack-renting, slum-owning landlord; not the sweating, profit-grinding capitalist; not the sleek and oily lawyer; not the prostitute pressman – the hired liars of the enemy. Not these are the Irish upon whom the future depends. Not these, but the Irish working class, the only secure foundation upon which a free nation can be reared.

The candidates of the socialist left will not win the position of Taoiseach today but, in standing, we are making a declaration of intent in this Dáil. We intend to have a strong, independent voice for workers in this Dáil. We invite everybody who wants real change in this country to get involved in the political process and to join with us to help build a new mass party for working people in this country in order to finally replace the thoroughly discredited and compromised Labour Party, a party of working people for working people and for a society ruled and run by working people in the interests of the majority. To this end, I propose Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett for the position of Taoiseach in the 32nd Dáil.

Photo of Bríd SmithBríd Smith (Dublin South Central, People Before Profit Alliance)
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To remark on this place, it feels much smaller than it looks on the television, I have to say. Maybe it is because there are lots of people in the seats, but it does feel a good deal smaller than the image that is portrayed. However, I feel quite tall in being here, first, to represent the people who elected us and, second, to nominate Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett as Taoiseach. I want to say a few words about Deputy Boyd Barrett. This is a man of principle who has led many struggles of ordinary people against austerity, against tax injustice, against the water charges and, indeed, what he has marked out himself, which was fighting on the question of the environment, the harbour in Dun Laoghaire and saving our forests. I believe Deputy Boyd Barrett would make a fine Taoiseach.

Having said that, we know he is not going to be elected. Indeed, according to the good man over there, the Taoiseach, Deputy Enda Kenny, nobody will get elected today, so we are in a bit of theatre. In this theatre, the radical left has as much right to be a player on the stage as anybody else. I would argue, in fact, that there are at least 90 Deputies in this House who were elected by the people to abolish the water charges and to deal with the punitive action of making people pay water charges. Over 50% of the population has said "We are not doing it." That has really set the stage, and that stage has been set on the back of people power. I want to talk about that, because the radical left, particularly as represented by Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett, is quite different in the sense that we are here as the voice of people, we are here to represent people and we intend to do a very strong and good job.

However, what really matters is what happens in society because people are constantly being treated as economic units. The measures engaged in by previous governments have been to see the economy as what we need to do to get jobs and all the rest. However, we have to start putting people before the interests of a tiny elite who gain from the profits in this country. People are not economic units. They are human beings with real needs in the areas of housing, health, education and all of the issues mentioned by colleagues. This is the way we need to go. We need to combine people power with our voice here and deliver a society that puts these interests first.

Deputy Boyd Barrett is being nominated, not because of him as an individual, but because of the issues the radical left has to bring to the table. In the spirit of the Proclamation, we want to see equality for young people and women. We want to see a referendum this year - the anniversary of the Easter Rising - on the repeal of the eighth amendment. These issues are a big challenge to the future government which I assume will be formed some time in the future. This is about how people see the shaping of the government. There is clearly a major crisis in political terms in this country. As far as we are concerned, the voice of people power has been brought into this Chamber and will be well represented by all of us here on the radical left and beyond, by all of the left and, in particular, by Deputy Boyd Barrett. I formally second his nomination.

1:35 am

Photo of Seán Ó FearghaílSeán Ó Fearghaíl (Ceann Comhairle; Kildare South, Ceann Comhairle)
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Are there any further nominations?

I acknowledge that we have heard four Deputies make their maiden speech on this occasion, in support of their party leaders. I am sure it has been a great privilege for Deputies Noel Rock, Lisa Chambers, Imelda Munster and Brid Smith to have done that. I thank them all for their contributions. Are any other Members offering to speak at this point? I call Deputy Healy.

Photo of Séamus HealySéamus Healy (Tipperary, Workers and Unemployed Action Group)
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First, I congratulate you, a Cheann Comhairle, on your appointment and wish you well in your role as Ceann Comhairle of the Thirty-Second Dáil.

On the various nominations, this new Dáil must see a fundamental departure from the failed policies of the past two Dáileanna. The past two Governments had the choice to protect the most vulnerable in society but instead both of them chose to protect the super rich, the bankers and the bondholders. There are now at least 1,600 children in emergency hotel accommodation. The Irish Association for Emergency Medicine claims that between 300 and 350 unnecessary deaths take place each year due to trolley chaos in our hospitals. This is more than the carnage on our roads. Yesterday, for example, there were 32 people on trolleys in South Tipperary General Hospital. In University Hospital Limerick, which serves the northern part of Tipperary, there were 50 people on trolleys. This is completely unacceptable and must be addressed urgently.

The people have rejected the approach of the Fine Gael-Labour Party Government and of the previous Fianna Fáil-Green Party Government. Both of those Governments caused this human emergency. This new Dáil must take a radically different course to the two previous Dáileanna. It must take a course that prioritises human need for adequate medical treatment, including death prevention and the care of all the children of the nation above all else. I believe there is and should be no higher priority.

Accordingly, I ask the new Dáil to enact the following emergency measure as its first legislative act, namely, that Dáil Éireann set aside and cancel all reductions in universal social charge and-or income taxation granted in the 2016 budget to the 5% of income recipients with the highest incomes and instruct the Government to bring forward amending legislation to enact this measure immediately. Today, I submitted a Private Members' motion to that effect. Approximately €125 million will be saved by this measure. This money should be immediately applied to rescue homeless children and prevent unnecessary deaths due to hospital chaos. This is the least we might expect on the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising. While this measure will, of course, not be enough to remedy the problems of homelessness and inadequate human services into the future, it will ameliorate the position in the short term while fundamental policy changes are formulated and enacted by the new Dáil. More importantly, it would give a signal that fundamental choices which prioritise the well-being of human beings above all else will be taken by this Dáil.

Broken promises are eroding democracy and flouting the will of the people. This Dáil must ensure that citizens are centre stage, with an ongoing input into the democratic process, including the recall of Deputies and the reintroduction into our Constitution of the people's entitlement to instigate referenda and legislation. I intend to submit proposals to that effect to the new reform committee, which I understand will be established later this afternoon.

As a founder member of the Right2Water group, it goes without saying that I will support the abolition of water charges. These charges and the family home tax are regressive measures designed to load the burden of the crash on those on low and middle incomes, who had no hand, act or part in creating the crisis. These taxes are designed to protect the super rich from fair taxation. A situation in which the Exchequer is paying more than €7 billion per year in interest at the expense of under-funded public services must not continue. That portion of the debt which arises from the compensation of large investors from their failed investments in private banks must be mutualised and negotiations must be reopened immediately on this issue with the European Union authorities.

I contested the recent general election as part of the Right2Water, Right2Change alliance. Therefore, I will be voting for candidates nominated for Taoiseach who supported and were part of that alliance, namely, Deputies Richard Boyd Barrett and Gerry Adams, and will oppose the pro-austerity nominees of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Minister, Department of Social Protection; Dublin West, Labour)
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In the general election, the Labour Party sought a mandate to continue implementing our policy in government, the job of rebuilding our society and our economy. We viewed as essential that Ireland would have stable, balanced government to continue addressing entrenched problems, such as health and housing, that will take more time and resources to put right. We believed the return of the Labour Party-Fine Gael Government offered the best possibility of stable, balanced government and for that reason, we support the nomination of Deputy Enda Kenny as Taoiseach today.

We also support the nomination because the Taoiseach supported key economic and social goals driven by the Labour Party in government, even when they did not form part of Fine Gael's manifesto. From minimum wage increases to marriage equality and from strengthening workers rights to enhancing maternal care for women, the Taoiseach brought his party with him in recognition of the fact that it was a coalition and that these progressive measures were in the country's and the people's best interest. That is the importance of compromise and partnership in the national interest. The electorate has given a greatly increased mandate to those currently on the Opposition benches. I believe there is, therefore, an onus and responsibility on those same parties, groupings and Deputies to step forward in the national interest and not sit back.

None of us is foolish enough to believe that Sinn Féin and the ultra-left are likely to suddenly play their part. If they are remotely serious about fixing Ireland's problems, they should be prepared to make sacrifices in the national interest, as opposed to promoting narrow partisan agendas. We sometimes forget that one of the basic demands that people make of politicians is that they should be prepared to govern and take decisions in the national interest or the people's interest. The Labour Party has never been afraid to take responsibility and sometimes the cost of taking responsibility is very high, as we know. As Shakespeare put it, "He jests at scars that never felt a wound".

Given the reality that quite a few on the opposition benches do not want to be in government, there is therefore an onus on those who have been there before, although Fianna Fáil presided over and created the crash. There is an onus on that party to step up to the plate and seek to remedy its wrongs. In 2011, the Labour Party did not stand idly by in its own best interest and we, as its members, stood by the republic. Fianna Fáil should do likewise now. Together with Fine Gael, it can provide a Government with sufficient numbers for stability, and such stability is vital now. To see why, we need only look at Spain. Three months after its election, there is still no sign of a government there and Spain's unemployment rate is still over 20%, with business leaders warning that the stalemate is having a chilling effect on investment.

Ireland and its people cannot afford a similar stalemate when we have returned to strong growth and added 140,000 new jobs. We have put the public finances back on a much healthier footing, created room for additional investment in our schools, begun the process of raising living standards after a very traumatic time for our people and made significant social progress too, including legislating for the X case, strengthening children's rights and delivering marriage equality. We also delivered significant political reform. Some of the first legislation brought before the House by my colleague, Deputy Howlin, was to protect whistleblowers and there was also legislation to regulate lobbyists and restore the Freedom of Information Act. It will fall to the next Government to protect and extend those gains. Given that Fianna Fáil was the party that shredded the Freedom of Information Act, I would welcome an assurance from Deputy Martin today that he would commit to retaining these new laws.

1:45 am

Photo of Timmy DooleyTimmy Dooley (Clare, Fianna Fail)
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Did the Deputy vote for that?

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Minister, Department of Social Protection; Dublin West, Labour)
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As Labour leader, I know that if a conservative coalition comes about, there is a real risk that economic policy will veer to the right and further social progress will be limited, if it is perceived at all. Labour will apply pressure for further economic and social progress by providing principled, responsible opposition. When we went into government in 2011, we put the country first and I have no regret about that, despite the losses we incurred. I am proud of the work undertaken by my colleagues and my party and as we rebuild from the opposition benches, we will continue to fight for a recovery that works for all and puts equality at the centre of everything that this republic stands for.

Photo of Eamon RyanEamon Ryan (Dublin Bay South, Green Party)
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The Green Party Members - Deputy Catherine Martin and I - will be voting against all four nominees not out of any disrespect to the individuals but on the sound reasoning that none of them is presenting to us a clear and credible government. I will give a personal reflection if I may regarding the circumstances as I see them. I will refer to my family roots at a time when we are all looking back. I knew all four of my grandparents very well. I saw one as from a Labour background and one as an Independent. The two others lived with us for ten years and I knew them very closely. One of those was as dyed-in-the-wool Fianna Fáil Sliabh Luachra as possible and one was a staunch Michael Collins west Cork Fine Gael supporter. They hated each other's politics but they got into bed together for 50-odd years and it seemed to work as a relationship despite their dramatic differences. In the recent days, I sense Fine Gael Members opposite, clutched together, the boys all in the bed with the sheets right up to themselves, pointing across and saying that the rest can have a civil partnership but we know it would not work or be a proper partnership. It would not be civil, given the circumstances we have in this Dáil.

We need a Government and it may be time, as the numbers work, for the civil war divide to come to an end. It may be possible to do that without opening a new divide, pretending that a left-right divide is the defining issue of our time. We know the right has to learn that business must show it has a soul and social responsibility. The left must know how wealth can be generated to pay for the social services we also need. I heard Deputy Varadkar the other day on the radio speaking a truth that my party learned as part of a Government. We must start on the basis of trust and certain civility. It takes time to achieve the changes we must make. It would not be right or in the interest of a party or the public to set up some sort of short-term arrangement that everybody knows will fail.

In thinking big for the long term and about taking time, I indicate that the progeny of the grandparents I mentioned turned out to be green. I say to those in the position to form a Government that we would like to see them take some leadership in this respect. There was a meeting in the audiovisual centre last night that set out the stark reality of the science that is facing us. These issues, including the protection of our living systems upon which we depend, trump everything. If a Government is not formed that is willing to show leadership and position Ireland to take its place in the nations of the world as a country accepting that responsibility, grabbing the opportunity to create a new economic model that is socially just, it is not worthy of anyone's support.

We have four or five weeks to see whether that is possible. We will not be voting for any Taoiseach today and it is likely we will go into opposition in a proposing mode. We suggest to those who have the opportunity to create a Government that they should not miss this historic opportunity or let the Irish people down. Let us have a civil coalition arrangement and let this Dáil work in the way the Ceann Comhairle suggested when he spoke earlier.

Photo of Carol NolanCarol Nolan (Offaly, Sinn Fein)
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Bravo.

Photo of Peadar TóibínPeadar Tóibín (Meath West, Sinn Fein)
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Go raibh míle maith agat, a Cheann Comhairle. Ba mhaith liom gach rath a ghuí ort i do ról nua. Tá a fhios agam go mbeidh stádas iontach ag an nGaeilge faoi do chúram. Most people watching at home would be struck by the deep disconnect between the rhetoric of this Chamber and their own lives. The speakers from the former Government parties have spoken left and right. Between unemployment, activation schemes and emigration, there are 500,000 people who are the collateral damage of this last Government's economic policies. I met an elderly woman in Meath recently who had to battle her way through the health service in this country. She felt the health service had been deeply vandalised by the last Government. She was experiencing delayed diagnosis and treatment and hundreds of thousands of people are like her. The answer of the previous Government is to delay the proper functioning of the Dáil, so her issues will not be dealt with.

For the past four years we have had an immediate housing crisis, but that term is an oxymoron. Homeless people can see closed housing estates across the State. Today, they will see the two largest parties talking about closing this House down for another month before those issues can be dealt with.

We cannot divorce the realities and immediacy of the crisis facing people outside this Chamber. The Irish people are tolerant but that tolerance is a limited resource and will soon be spent.

1:55 am

Photo of Pearse DohertyPearse Doherty (Donegal, Sinn Fein)
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Déanaim comhghairdeas leat, a Cheann Comhairle, as an oifig ard ina bhfuil tú tofa. Lá stairiúil atá ann don Dáil, duit féin agus do do theaghlach. Tá súil agam go n-oibreoimid go maith le chéile sna seachtainí, míonna, nó b’fhéidir blianta atá amach romhainn. Níl a fhios againn go fóill caidé a tharlóidh nó caidé a thitfidh amach.

Ba mhaith liom tacaíocht a thabhairt don méid a bhí ráite ag Teachtaí Munster agus McDonald ó thaobh an moladh atá curtha chun tosaigh ag páirtí Shinn Féin leis an Teachta Gerry Adams a cheapadh mar Thaoiseach. Ba mhaith liom a rá feasta nach mbeidh páirtí Shinn Féin ag tabhairt tacaíochta don Taoiseach, Teachta Enda Kenny. Beimid ag vótáil in éadan an ainmniúcháin faoi choinne an Taoiseach a chur ar ais sa chathaoir sin, agus in éadan an Teachta Martin feasta. Ní rud pearsanta é. Is é an fáth ná gur lig an Rialtas síos an tír seo - daoine a bhí ag brath orthu - go millteanach le cúig bliana anuas. Tá sé le feiceáil i ngach carn dár Stát.

Not only will Sinn Féin propose Deputy Gerry Adams as Taoiseach - as Deputies McDonald and Munster have said, he would be the most fitting person as Taoiseach to represent the real values of the Irish people - but we will not support the nomination of Deputy Kenny or Deputy Martin and will be voting against them when the votes are cast in a couple of minutes. It is nothing personal against either Deputy but if one looks at the role the Taoiseach has played over the past five years it is clear that he betrayed the mandate he was given in 2011. Long gone is the democratic revolution that he proclaimed. There are many reasons we should not elect Deputy Enda Kenny as Taoiseach of the 32nd Dáil. I will give him 203 reasons. That is the number of people who lost their homes to the banks in the past three months of 2015. I will give the Taoiseach 511 reasons, which is the number of people who have been lying on hospital trolleys as we sit here discussing these issues today. I will give him 1,600 reasons, which is the number of children who will go to sleep in emergency accommodation in our capital city and elsewhere as we discuss these issues here. They are the reasons he should not be elected as Taoiseach because he allowed that to happen on his watch.

The Taoiseach talks about how he said goodbye to the troika but he rolled over on every single occasion. He adopted a policy of no bondholder being left behind, and he picked the pockets of the ordinary people of this State to pay for that indulgence. He did so in the form of water charges and property taxes.

There has been much discussion about political reform, which is the new buzz word in recent weeks.

Photo of Mary Mitchell O'ConnorMary Mitchell O'Connor (Dún Laoghaire, Fine Gael)
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What about Northern Ireland?

Photo of Pearse DohertyPearse Doherty (Donegal, Sinn Fein)
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As a young child I used to watch "The Twilight Zone" on a black and white TV in the corner of my room. Sometimes I feel that when one walks through the gates of Leinster House one is entering a twilight zone because everybody believes that Dáil reform is the number one issue. Dáil reform is important; of course it is important that we figure out how to divvy up speaking time, who chairs different committees and how we deal with x, y and z. However, of the thousands of people I met and canvassed in Donegal, not one mentioned the issue of Dáil reform. I did not hear one whisper of Dáil reform on the doorsteps in Donegal and I would say that was also the case in many other constituencies.

People were talking to me about other matters. A woman with two children wondered what she would do since she was up in court because the banks want to repossess her house. She does not know where to turn. Another mother spoke to me almost in tears. She has a child with life-limiting conditions yet she cannot get support from the HSE. She is exhausted from battling the system. I spoke to a grandmother who worked to build this country into what it is today. She talked about her disappointment after Christmas when she saw her daughter and granddaughter leaving for Australia again. Those are the issues the people of this country voted each and every one of us in here to deal with. If we want to fix Dáil reform we can do it overnight, it is simple. Let us get down to the real issues, however, and deal with the real problems we have. There was a crisis in health just before the election, but there is still a crisis in health. There is a crisis in accommodation, including housing, which is still there. There is also a crisis in homelessness. If we put names to it does it make it more real to people? If we mention the names of John Corrie and others, or the name of a woman on a trolley, will it make it real for people? We need to get real here because there is a sense of disconnect, as Deputy Tóibín mentioned. Political reform, including Dáil reform, is important so let us do it, but let us also deal with the real issues that people want us to address.

Photo of Tony McLoughlinTony McLoughlin (Sligo-Leitrim, Fine Gael)
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What about Northern Ireland?

Photo of Pearse DohertyPearse Doherty (Donegal, Sinn Fein)
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We will not have a Taoiseach elected today because the two parties who were given a mandate will not lift up the phone and deal with each other.

(Interruptions).

Photo of Seán Ó FearghaílSeán Ó Fearghaíl (Ceann Comhairle; Kildare South, Ceann Comhairle)
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Please.

Photo of Pearse DohertyPearse Doherty (Donegal, Sinn Fein)
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Let us get on. We have a number of motions before the House this evening.

Photo of Seán Ó FearghaílSeán Ó Fearghaíl (Ceann Comhairle; Kildare South, Ceann Comhairle)
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Could we have some order please?

A Deputy:

That has woken them up anyway.

Photo of Seán Ó FearghaílSeán Ó Fearghaíl (Ceann Comhairle; Kildare South, Ceann Comhairle)
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Could we have some order please?

Photo of Pearse DohertyPearse Doherty (Donegal, Sinn Fein)
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We have motions before this House, one of which concerns the crisis in the health service. It is not an issue for many who would rather talk about how they will divvy up the positions and all the rest. Let us deal with the real issues. If we are really genuine about this, we should not only establish a committee on Dáil reform but also committees to deal with homelessness and the 511 people on hospital trolleys. That is what the public demand of us and that is why I will not support Deputy Kenny as Taoiseach.

I welcome the maiden speech by Deputy Lisa Chambers, as I welcome all new TDs to this House. She spoke of Deputy Martin as being the champion of political reform. Let me remind Deputy Chambers, however, that when I made my maiden speech after winning a by-election in 2010 it only happened because I had to take Deputy Martin and his colleagues to court. He sat on the Government side of the House and voted not once or twice, but on three occasions to deny the people of Donegal South-West for over 18 months the most precious right to cast their vote to elect a TD. Now we have champions of political reform but I do not trust them.

Photo of Seán Ó FearghaílSeán Ó Fearghaíl (Ceann Comhairle; Kildare South, Ceann Comhairle)
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I call Deputy Shane Ross. Could we have just one speaker please?

Photo of Shane RossShane Ross (Dublin Rathdown, Independent)
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I join in welcoming your selection and appointment, a Cheann Comhairle.

Photo of Seán Ó FearghaílSeán Ó Fearghaíl (Ceann Comhairle; Kildare South, Ceann Comhairle)
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Thank you.

Photo of Shane RossShane Ross (Dublin Rathdown, Independent)
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I wish you well, as do all members of the Independent Alliance. At this stage, we do not feel that we can possibly support any candidate who has been proposed for Taoiseach.

Photo of Patrick O'DonovanPatrick O'Donovan (Limerick County, Fine Gael)
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But you will form a government.

Photo of Shane RossShane Ross (Dublin Rathdown, Independent)
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That may be difficult for those on this side to take.

Photo of Seán Ó FearghaílSeán Ó Fearghaíl (Ceann Comhairle; Kildare South, Ceann Comhairle)
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Can I ask the Government Deputies to restrain themselves and let the speakers contribute?

A Deputy:

You got your answer.

Photo of Seán Ó FearghaílSeán Ó Fearghaíl (Ceann Comhairle; Kildare South, Ceann Comhairle)
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Excuse me please. Deputy Ross has the floor. Could we now please have a little bit of mutual respect? I ask Deputy Ross to continue.

Photo of Shane RossShane Ross (Dublin Rathdown, Independent)
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I thank the Government for their tolerance. The issue here, as Deputies on this side of the House have raised, is something which we should welcome but which surprises us. We welcome the fact that, on all sides of this House, they are converts to political reform but where did this come from? We got a message from the electorate which was very strong and very definite. It was particularly pointed at that side of the House. It was that there was to be a new politics in this country and that they were tired of the resistance of the major parties to political reform. They wanted something new, different and radical. Let us not pretend that this conversion has been sitting there simmering ready to erupt on the Government side; it has been forced on them. Let us welcome that because that is the message from the electorate. We will participate eagerly and enthusiastically in all efforts, and in the committee that the Ceann Comhairle is setting up today, for political reform in the full knowledge that that zeal for reform has come from the smaller parties and Independents in this House, and not originally from the major parties.

It is only right that the Members opposite be reminded that they spent the past five years resisting that particular policy which they are pretending to champion today. If that committee does not succeed in introducing radical reform by agreement, we will all look like hypocrites who have not delivered a message that has been given to us by the electorate. I want to put the Members opposite on notice that that is the message they should be getting.

2:05 am

Photo of Patrick O'DonovanPatrick O'Donovan (Limerick County, Fine Gael)
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Is the Deputy recommending any candidate for the Central Bank these days?

Photo of Shane RossShane Ross (Dublin Rathdown, Independent)
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It is very important that we recognise something revolutionary that has happened. We welcome the result of this election. The result is not a problem; it is a solution. It is a message that the shape of politics in this country has changed forever. It is a message that Fine Gael and other major parties cannot simply unite to block radical reform in this country.

We in the Independent Alliance are very happy and more than willing to help and support a Government, or form a Government, that espouses reform in all areas, not just Dáil reform. Why is it that we have we set up a committee today, laudable as it may be, on political and Dáil reform? Why have we not set up a committee to deal with the issue of housing, and other more acute problems, before the Dáil returns? Deputy Pearse Doherty was right. Dáil reform may be fascinating to us, and it may be necessary, but it did not really come up on the doorsteps. It was not mentioned as an immediate problem. Why did we not set up a committee to address those immediate problems and come back in four weeks' time with proposed solutions to issues such as homelessness, negative equity, reform of the banks, and other things that have so crucially hurt the people of this country in the past five years? We have an opportunity and we will engage enthusiastically with those parties to whom we are speaking, and others, if they are serious about addressing the reforms this country and the electorate have demanded from us. However, I fear that there is a movement once again towards traditional old politics. We must resist that. That is the message we are giving today, and we will not and cannot support anybody who does not come to us with what we regard as a solution for which we can vote. We will enthusiastically help to form a Government with the six members of the Independent Alliance, who increased their representation by 50% - a lot more than many others in the last election - and, regardless of personality, support those who embrace our reform agenda.

Photo of Seán Ó FearghaílSeán Ó Fearghaíl (Ceann Comhairle; Kildare South, Ceann Comhairle)
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We are getting to the point at which many very valid points are being repeated. I ask Deputies to try to avoid that and to try to avoid being provoked or provoking speakers.

Photo of David CullinaneDavid Cullinane (Waterford, Sinn Fein)
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I commend the Ceann Comhairle on his election and wish him well over the next number of weeks, months or years. This is an important day for everybody in this House who has been elected. It is particularly important and special for all those who have been elected for the first time, myself included. What we have seen over the past hour or so is a piece of political theatre. There are many issues affecting people outside this House that need to be addressed. We all know what they are.

When I listened to the Tánaiste's speech, it was very clear that she and Labour Party had not learned the lessons of the election campaign and were not prepared to take responsibility for their failures. The reason the Labour Party was decimated in this election was that we have people lying on hospital trolleys, children sleeping in emergency accommodation and people in dire straits and living in poverty.

Photo of Seán Ó FearghaílSeán Ó Fearghaíl (Ceann Comhairle; Kildare South, Ceann Comhairle)
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This is a debate about nominees for Taoiseach. Nobody from the Labour Party has been nominated; therefore, that element of the debate is irrelevant.

Photo of David CullinaneDavid Cullinane (Waterford, Sinn Fein)
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The Ceann Comhairle said he would treat people equally. The Tánaiste made a very partisan speech, as did many people, and she attacked my party and its record and singled out my party, so we should have an opportunity to respond. It is about electing a Taoiseach and a Government at some point, but the parties that failed need to take responsibility for their failures. There is no point in the Tánaiste, the Taoiseach or anybody else blaming Sinn Féin or anybody in the Opposition for their failures. They need, first of all, to be humble and to take responsibility.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Minister, Department of Social Protection; Dublin West, Labour)
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And you need to take responsibility.

Photo of David CullinaneDavid Cullinane (Waterford, Sinn Fein)
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We will take responsibility, but what we will not do is take the policies of Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil, implement them and end up with more people in poverty, on hospital trolleys or in emergency accommodation, which is what will happen. We have tabled four motions - on health care, water charges, NAMA and Moore Street - that we want discussed. I have heard reform mentioned by almost every speaker in this House, yet one of the first acts of this new Dáil is a decision to take four weeks off. This is outrageous when we have so many issues that need to be dealt with. That is the point I wanted to make. We have a job to do. I turned up to do my job. All 23 Sinn Féin Deputies want to do their job and we do not want this House to go into recess for four weeks. We want all outgoing Ministers to be made available to address the clear and real issues that affect the people of this State.

Photo of Michael MoynihanMichael Moynihan (Cork North West, Fianna Fail)
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On a point of order, my understanding is that the Dáil is to reconvene on 22 March 2016 and that it is not going into recess for four weeks.

Photo of Seán Ó FearghaílSeán Ó Fearghaíl (Ceann Comhairle; Kildare South, Ceann Comhairle)
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We have not made a decision on that, so it is premature for anyone to-----

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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It is wrong to say that-----

Photo of Seán Ó FearghaílSeán Ó Fearghaíl (Ceann Comhairle; Kildare South, Ceann Comhairle)
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It is premature. The House will decide when it reconvenes and no decision has yet been made, but Deputy Michael Moynihan's point of order is appreciated.

Photo of Michael FitzmauriceMichael Fitzmaurice (Roscommon-Galway, Independent)
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I congratulate the Ceann Comhairle on his appointment. I do not envy his job, given some of the bickering I have heard today. I have not been in the Dáil long. I hope that, across the divide, we will give everyone an opportunity to speak and not butt in and criticise what they have to say. Every Member of this Dáil is elected by people who went to a ballot box and put their stroke down for these people. I would like to see a Dáil where we are all treated in a fair and equitable manner.

There is an opportunity in this new Dáil for all of us to start working together. As we went around the country, we saw an island of two economies. We have seen people whose children are in a foreign land crying on the doorstep. We have seen people who have problems with unemployment and a rural Ireland that has been forgotten. I welcome the fact that all the main parties have been talking about a Minister for rural affairs over the past few days. However, I urge that power and muscle be put behind that to make sure that rural Ireland gets the lift it needs. I have seen a health system that is in chaos in different parts of Ireland. Let us be honest with the people. It will not be solved tomorrow. The only way it will be solved is for people right across the divide to put their heads together and work together. We must give hope to the people out there who are losing hope and show that things can be changed, because that is the responsibility on our shoulders as newly elected politicians.

As Deputy Ross said earlier, we are not afraid to stand up and be counted.

4 o’clock

I would ask the new Government to make sure that the five pillars required, including agriculture, infrastructure, communications, jobs and enterprise for rural Ireland, are fair and equitable and that there is rural-proofing of all decisions. I know there is a housing crisis in Dublin and around the country but there are solutions to this if we use our heads and do not act in a complicated way. In this country we are great at complicating simple matters. Working together we can solve many problems.

2:15 am

Photo of Danny Healy-RaeDanny Healy-Rae (Kerry, Independent)
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I congratulate the Ceann Comhairle on his election by the Thirty-Second Dáil. This day four weeks ago I had no idea or ever dreamt that I would be addressing Dáil Éireann as a Member of the 32nd Dáil. However, the people of Kerry sent me up here, alongside my brother, Michael. Many people went to a lot of trouble to ensure we got up here. They are looking at us today and wondering what is going on. In the same way as the parties proposed their leaders for Taoiseach, I could have proposed my brother, Deputy Michael Healy-Rae, for Taoiseach but I would never try to make a laugh of the country. That is what is going on here today. I am sorry to say I will be voting against the four nominees proposed here because they are not providing a permutation that will work as a government this evening. More talking needs to be done, and more should have been done in the past two weeks since the election.

The people of Ireland played their part. They voted for every Deputy here. They are relying on all of us to come together and form a government. There is talk that we may have to have another election. What difference will that make? Will the people of Ireland change their minds in a few weeks? I do not think so.

I do not know what happened in the Civil War; it was long before my time but there is a lot of talk about it. The bigger parties must get together and offer us a government and give over what I call posturing because time is slipping by. Imagine if a referee was in Croke Park on the third Sunday in September and Kerry and Dublin were in the field and the referee had no ball. That is what we are like here today. We have nothing substantial to vote for from any side. I will be voting against the people proposed today.

There is talk about four weeks. That is too long. Two weeks is too long. The parties will have to get together and give us a proper permutation that will provide a stable government for the country. The people voted; they have spoken. It is up to the parties to forget about the past. The future is what we want. We are living for today. They have the ball in their hands. They should not drop it. They will have to get around the table and work together because the people are asking for that. When I go down to Kerry tonight, they will be very disappointed that there is no government.

The whole of Ireland is looking at us today. There are many people from Kerry outside the building today. It is sad to think we are going down without a government after all this. As Deputy Michael Healy-Rae said this morning, what if this number of people turned up for a wedding and the bride and groom never turned up? It is much the same here. The parties do not have their figures right. They have not added them up together. No permutation or leader proposed offers us a real chance to provide a stable government for the future. I ask them to work better at it now.

Photo of Seán Ó FearghaílSeán Ó Fearghaíl (Ceann Comhairle; Kildare South, Ceann Comhairle)
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I am reminded of the maxim that if one marries in haste, one repents at leisure.

The next speaker is the Minister, Deputy Brendan Howlin.

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Minister, Department of Public Expenditure and Reform; Wexford, Labour)
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I congratulate the Ceann Comhairle on his election. To be Ceann Comhairle of this House is a great honour. I know he will carry out that duty with great distinction, as he has conducted his role as a Deputy over the years.

I was not minded to speak in this debate but perhaps my physical proximity to Deputy Ross was the catalyst for me to feel I should speak. The election is over and we do not need to hear re-hashes. The people have spoken. That is not a cliché. The 158 people assembled here have been entrusted by a vote of the people to make important decisions. I do not think that over the duration of this particular Dáil I will repeat the next sentence too often: I agree with Deputy Pearse Doherty that the issue of Dáil reform, important as it is, was not the issue that people talked about to me at the doors of Wexford.

The first constitutional duty of this House is to elect a government. We have no quibble about the selection of the Members of this House. That is the people’s choice and prerogative. Our job is to accept that and get on with providing a stable government to address all the issues. The Labour Party stood up in 2011 and did that. The then leader of the party said that we would face enormous difficulties and that the next time we met we would be wading through a sea of placards because we had been briefed by the National Treasury Management Agency, NTMA and the Central Bank. We knew the economic morass the country was in and we stepped up to the plate. I will not argue the case for Labour again. The people have made their choice. It is now for others to stand up for the Republic, stand into that breach and provide a government. The notion that somehow there are parties in this House that are exempt from that responsibility until they reach some magic quotient of numbers is not true and it is not acceptable for people to talk about crises or difficulties or people’s terrible wounds without being willing to share the responsibility of providing a solution.

Deputies:

Hear, hear.

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Minister, Department of Public Expenditure and Reform; Wexford, Labour)
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That solution will require compromise which is the basic normal course of politics in every elected chamber in the world. There are people here who regard the very notion of having to do that sort of business as beneath them.

Even the notion of the centrality of reform is not a one-off issue. Reform is a process that will go on. Before the last Dáil assembled, I was asked by my party to put forward 140 proposals, the vast bulk of which we implemented. They were groundbreaking reforms, like the legislation to protect whistleblowing, the major expansion and empowering of the ombudsmen, the reform and repositioning of the Freedom of Information Act 2014, and much more. Those things are for another day.

Today we will vote on four nominees for Taoiseach. By common consensus, none will command a majority in this House. It then falls on all of us not to stand back but to stand forward and those who have sought and received an enhanced mandate need not to reject that mandate, but to use it to provide the stable government that this country and our people need.

Photo of Louise O'ReillyLouise O'Reilly (Dublin Fingal, Sinn Fein)
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I join my colleagues in wishing the Ceann Comhairle well. It is his first day in a new job as it is mine. I wish him the best of luck.

Photo of Seán Ó FearghaílSeán Ó Fearghaíl (Ceann Comhairle; Kildare South, Ceann Comhairle)
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Thank you.

Photo of Louise O'ReillyLouise O'Reilly (Dublin Fingal, Sinn Fein)
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I will not be voting for the Taoiseach, Deputy Enda Kenny, or Deputy Micheál Martin for the position of Taoiseach. Until very recently I worked as a full-time union organiser. I represented people working in the public service so I have seen at first hand the work of the Taoiseach and Deputy Martin.

The recruitment moratorium was introduced under Fianna Fáil and it was continued under Fine Gael and the Labour Party. I have seen the impact of the policies of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Labour Party on front-line health, education and local authority workers. These people have systematically kicked the heart out of our public services. I could not face the people who voted for me or face the people I was privileged to represent as a trade union organiser if I were to vote for either Deputy Enda Kenny or Deputy Micheál Martin.

2:25 am

Photo of John HalliganJohn Halligan (Waterford, Independent)
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It is regrettable that already three Deputies have been attacked essentially because people on the Government side of the House did not like what they said. I refer to Deputies Cullinane, Ross and Pearse Doherty. The fact remains that the people voted for these Deputies because of what they said on the doorsteps and the manifestoes they put to the people. Have we not learned that this is how people have voted?

Irrespective of what those in the press or the two major parties might think, the people have made a decision. They have said they want members of the Socialist Party, members of the Green Party, members of Sinn Féin, members of Fine Gael, members of the Labour Party, members of the Independent Alliance, members of the Social Democrats and non-party people. They have dealt this deck of cards to this House. I forgot Fianna Fáil - my apologies.

(Interruptions).

Photo of John HalliganJohn Halligan (Waterford, Independent)
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I also wish to acknowledge the new Deputy for Waterford, Deputy Butler.

They have dealt this deck of cards and have told us this is what they want. Are we seriously thinking that in the very near future, in a few months, we can go back to the people and say, "We are not happy with how you voted; would you please vote again". We cannot do that. We have a responsibility to the people of Ireland to form some form of government. Can we please stop going back five years to Fianna Fáil or going back two months to Fine Gael? We are as we are. This is what we have. This is what people want. There is no point in making derogatory remarks to people calling them ultra-left, ultra-right or whatever. These people have to be treated with respect. They have been voted for by the electorate. Everyone here has been voted in with a mandate to form a Government. We have a responsibility to speak to one another and forget the idea that one party will not speak to another party or that one party will not go into power with another party or whatever. That is not what the people have voted for. The people have voted for the 158 people present today. It does not matter to me if it takes the next two, three or four weeks. I do not think it matters to the people of Ireland; what they want is stability.

We are coming into some very desperate times. In June the United Kingdom could be facing exit from the European Union. It is not home and dry that will not happen. That could have a detrimental effect on Ireland, depending on one's point of view. The markets are unstable, including the markets in Japan and Germany, and we do not know what will happen in America. We do not have six months or a year. Having said that, we should take our time over a short or medium period of time to form a government. I do not want to go into Civil War politics, the Blue Shirts, Sinn Féin, the IRA or whatever. The fact remains that all 158 Members here have been voted in by the people of Ireland to form a Government; so do it.

Photo of Eoin Ó BroinEoin Ó Broin (Dublin Mid West, Sinn Fein)
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Like Deputy Howlin, I had not intended to speak today, being my first day. I have listened very carefully to all the speeches made but in particular to the speeches proposing Deputies Enda Kenny and Micheál Martin for the position of Taoiseach. During those speeches people spoke about the progress that has been made over the past five years of the outgoing Government and the commitment of Deputy Micheál Martin to tackle the many crises that all Deputies know exist in our health system, housing system, child care and schools.

As I was listening to these comments, what struck me were the families that will spend tonight in emergency accommodation and the families that will become homeless tomorrow and the day after. What struck me when I listened to those words were the sick people lying on trolleys for which the numbers have increased again this year on last year as they did on the previous year. In all areas of public services we can talk about families and particularly women locked out of the workforce because of the cost of child care. We can talk about the increasing numbers of children who will go hungry because of rising child poverty rates or the still unacceptable level of young people unemployed and continuing to leave the country.

I mention these people in the context of this debate on the election of Taoiseach because these people have been left behind by the outgoing Government. They have been left behind by Deputy Enda Kenny's two-tier unfair recovery. They are also the people who were let down when Deputy Micheál Martin last sat around the Cabinet table. To reuse a theme that Deputy Burton used, these are the people her party sacrificed when it abandoned promise after promise and voted for five regressive budgets introduced under the outgoing Government.

Deputy Howlin made a very important point for all of us. I did not get elected to stand on the sidelines. I did not put my name forward and ask people to vote for me in order not to take responsibility. However, my responsibility goes beyond just the election, as Deputy Howlin says, of a stable government. It is to stand up for those people who have been left behind by the parties that formed the previous two Governments. I do not believe that a Government led by Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael is in the interests of those people who have been left behind.

Today on Kildare Street outside Leinster House there is an Oxfam campaign van calling on this Dáil to make equality its top priority. We have had 88 years of the inequality in Irish society led by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. My responsibility as a new Deputy, whether in government or in opposition, is to champion that cause of equality and challenge the policies that have generated such deep levels of inequality in order to try to make this country a better place. That is the reason that not only will I not be voting for Deputy Enda Kenny or Deputy Micheál Martin, but also the reason I will proudly vote for the president of Sinn Féin, Deputy Gerry Adams.

Photo of Seán Ó FearghaílSeán Ó Fearghaíl (Ceann Comhairle; Kildare South, Ceann Comhairle)
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Tá ceathrar ainmnithe le bheith ceaptha ag an Uachtarán mar Thaoiseach. Is é an chéad ainmniúchán atá faighte againn ná ainm an Taoisigh, Deputy Enda Kenny.

Cuireadh an cheist: "Go n-ainmneoidh Dáil Éireann an Teachta Enda Kenny chun a cheaptha ag an Uachtarán mar Thaoiseach."

Question put: "That Dáil Éireann nominate Deputy Enda Kenny for appointment by the President to be Taoiseach."

The Dáil divided: Tá, 57; Níl, 94.


Tellers: Tá, Deputies Paul Kehoe and Joe Carey; Níl, Deputies Michael Moynihan and Aengus Ó Snodaigh.

Níl

Question declared lost.

Faisnéiseadh go rabhthas tar éis diúltú don cheist.

Cuireadh an cheist: "Go n-ainmneoidh Dáil Éireann an Teachta Micheál Martin chun a cheaptha ag an Uachtarán mar Thaoiseach."

Question put: "That Dáil Éireann nominates Deputy Micheál Martin for appointment by the President to be Taoiseach."

The Dáil divided: Tá, 43; Níl, 108.


Tellers: Tá, Deputies Dara Calleary and Michael Moynihan; Níl, Deputies Paul Kehoe and Aengus Ó Snodaigh.

Níl

Question declared lost.

Faisnéiseadh go rabhthas tar éis diúltú don cheist.

Cuireadh an cheist: "Go n-ainmneoidh Dáil Éireann an Teachta Gerry Adams chun a cheaptha ag an Uachtarán mar Thaoiseach."

Question put: "That Dáil Éireann nominate Deputy Gerry Adams for appointment by the President to be Taoiseach."

The Dáil divided: Tá, 24; Níl, 116.


Tellers: Tá, Deputies Jonathan O'Brien and Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin; Níl, Deputies Paul Kehoe and Michael Moynihan.

Níl

Question declared lost.

Faisnéiseadh go rabhthas tar éis diúltú don cheist.

Cuireadh an cheist: "Go n-ainmneoidh Dáil Éireann an Teachta Richard Boyd Barrett chun a cheaptha ag an Uachtarán mar Thaoiseach."

Question put: "That Dáil Éireann nominate Richard Boyd Barrett for appointment by the President to be Taoiseach."

The Dáil divided: Tá, 9; Níl, 111.


Tellers: Tá, Deputies Ruth Coppinger and Brid Smith; Níl, Deputies Joe Carey and Paul Kehoe.

Níl

Question declared lost.

Faisnéiseadh go rabhthas tar éis diúltú don cheist.

3:00 am

Photo of Seán Ó FearghaílSeán Ó Fearghaíl (Ceann Comhairle; Kildare South, Ceann Comhairle)
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I now call on the Taoiseach, who wishes to make a statement to the House.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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First, I would like to congratulate the many Deputies who have been elected to this House for the first time. This is a special day in their lives and one I am sure they will remember. It is a special day for them and their families, and I hope that after the proceedings die down they will remember it with a degree of fondness. I would also like to express my commiseration to the many former Members who were not re-elected on this occasion, many of whom did sterling work in the interests of the country and its people, particularly during the recent crisis years.

The Dáil has so far failed to agree on the nomination of a Taoiseach. Therefore, in accordance with the precedent set in 1989 and followed through in 1992, after today's sitting has concluded, I will inform the President of my resignation from office. In accordance with Article 28.11 of the Constitution, Bunreacht na hÉireann, the Government and I will continue to carry out our duties until a new Government has been appointed. Let me assure the Irish people that the Government remains in place and that I and my Cabinet colleagues will continue to work hard in the best interests of the country and of all the people. My immediate duties as Taoiseach include official travel to Washington to meet the US President, Mr. Obama, the Vice President, Mr. Biden, and the Speaker, Mr. Ryan, for the St. Patrick's Day celebrations. Following that, I will attend the European Council meeting in Brussels, which will discuss a number of important issues, including in particular the migration crisis, which has enormous implications for European Union, the future of the Schengen area and the Dublin Convention itself. The Government and the State agencies are also fully engaged in preparation for the centenary commemoration of the Easter Rising, which will be a respectful and inclusive occasion to mark a truly seminal moment in our democratic history.

Beyond these immediate events, a range of important issues and challenges face Ireland. The careful management of the economy and the public finances must and will remain a priority, particularly in the complex and uncertain international economic environment. The presentation of the Spring Economic Statement, the introduction of a new way of dealing with the Estimates, and the presentation of the budget in approximately 28 weeks' time are matters to be focused on. In a matter of a few short months, the people of the United Kingdom will vote on their future relationship with the European Union, the outcome of which has huge implications for this country and for Northern Ireland. While Brexit may not have been an issue on the doorsteps in the recent election, it is an issue that is coming at us and the implications are not to be underestimated. We will continue to provide jobs for our people by driving the implementation of the Action Plan for Jobs, which has been so successful at reducing the rate of unemployment from 15% in 2011 to 8.8% today. We will work in a diligent way on the critical discussions that must take place at a European level now in respect of climate change issues that are arising and that must be dealt with in the near future.

Five years ago, when Fine Gael and the Labour Party entered government, we did so at a time of unprecedented economic uncertainty for Ireland. At that time, our very survival was in doubt. Public finances were out of control, jobs were decimated at an alarming rate and Government had to face unprecedented difficulties. Many believed the situation was hopeless and that rescuing the economy and ending the bailout was virtually impossible.

The Government faced that crisis head on, with tough and very difficult decisions taken that we knew well would be unpopular, and they still have a lasting effect on many people. They were necessary, and as a result of those decisions being taken to end the crisis, the bailout was ended and the country is in a different place now.

As I have acknowledged on many occasions, we did not get everything right over the past five years and we were not able to achieve all we had hoped, but the country is moving in the right direction. I note the official Central Statistics Office preliminary figures published today demonstrate that our economy grew by 7.8% in 2015, the highest rate for 15 years and the highest rate in Europe for the second year running. Our proposition for the re-election of the Government of Fine Gael and Labour did not receive the mandate of the people in the general election and it is incumbent on us all to work with the outcome of the recent election and the verdict given by the people.

I thank all those who served as Members in the outgoing Government in the very difficult circumstances we inherited five years ago. In particular, I thank the former Tánaiste, Mr. Eamon Gilmore, who was leader of the Labour Party, and the current Tánaiste, Deputy Joan Burton, for their diligence, commitment and courage in standing up and making very difficult decisions in the interest of the country. Beyond that, the backbenchers of both parties were on the receiving end of a very difficult public onslaught and I thank them for their courage in standing by the country and its people. Many of them are not here today because of the outcome of the general election.

We must continue to address the very real issues in the health area, homelessness and housing. These are not issues that can be put on hold until a new Government is appointed and they will not be put on hold. It is incumbent on us all with the privilege of serving in the 32nd Dáil to intensify our efforts to provide this country with a lasting and durable Government. Since the general election, my colleagues and I in the Fine Gael Party have been deeply engaged in dialogue with many of the parties, groupings and individual Independent Deputies. These discussions have been very constructive and I have found a strong consensus across the groups on the need for a stable and lasting Government. As Taoiseach and leader of the largest party in the House, I am fully committed to working over the coming weeks to ensure the people get the Government they need and deserve and on which they have given a verdict. I invite all those who share that common objective to work with us in the time ahead and see that it can become a reality.

From many of the contributions I have listened to, it seems that a substantial number of people do not want to serve in a Government and to have the responsibility of making decisions for the future direction of our country. That is their right and they are entitled to that view. Those of us who accept the responsibilities of a mandate given by the people in respect of providing a Government for the future of our people and country have a duty to face those responsibilities and deal with them in the best way possible. There are options and it behoves those of us who accept responsibility, as I do as Taoiseach, Head of Government and leader of my party, to examine all those options in the interests of providing this country with a working Government that will last.

While the work of forming a stable Government is going on, there must be clear consensus, as there is in the House, that a process should be put in place to make that become a reality. I am glad the Ceann Comhairle is the recipient of his authority after being independently voted on through the reform example of a secret ballot in the House. It is true that Dáil reform was not the issue on every doorstep in every constituency; of course it was not. We also made the change when Dáil committees are set up of allocating members according to the d'Hondt system. The committees will no longer be the preserve of the Taoiseach or the ruling parties of the day but will be weighted in terms of the numbers of seats that groups and individuals have. In that sense, I am very glad to see the increased number of women Members in the House. I know there was controversy about the selection process and the issue of quotas, but regardless of whether it was a help, everybody is here in his or her own right and on the basis of his or her qualities, personality and strength of conviction. Long may that continue and we would like to see such reform increase in the years ahead.

Pre-legislative scrutiny has been an important issue of reform that has allowed further engagement for Members. Having spoken to most Members at this stage, I am very committed to understanding that the respect and integrity of every Deputy must be seen. In return for that, there will be a change in the way business is done at committee level. It will not just be a case of wanting more money for this or that every week. The pot is not endless and people must make recommendations based on their own views about how issues are prioritised. That will change the nature of debate and the work of committees so that the Executive and Cabinet can make decisions in a much more informed manner arising from a really comprehensive set of discussions. I wish the Ceann Comhairle the best in his chairing of a standing committee to deal with issues that Members on all sides, including new Members and those here for years, can raise.

This is obviously not the outcome I personally would have liked to see. I respect the verdict of the people in the general election and that of the House. I shall in due course tender my resignation to the President in accordance with the relevant article of the Constitution and see that the Government continues its work in the interests of the people and the country until a new Government is endorsed by the House.