Nomination of Members of Government (Resumed).

Wednesday, 12 December 1979

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 317 No. 8

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Atógadh an díospóireacht ar an rún seo leanas:

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

Seoirse Ó Colla

Brian Ó Luineacháin

Pádraig Ó Fachtna

Deasún Ó Máille

Gearóid Ó Coileáin

Mícheál Ó Cinnéide

Salbhastar Bairéad

Eoghan Mac Gearailt

Sean P. Mac Uilliam

Réamann Mac Searraigh

Máire Nic Eochagáin Uí Chuinn

Micheál Ó hUadhaigh

Pádraig de Paor

agus

Ailbhe Mac Raghnaill

Debate resumed on the following motion:

That Dáil Éireann approve the nomination by the Taoiseach of the following Deputies for appointment by the President to be Members of the Government:

George Colley

Brian J. Lenihan

Pádraig Faulkner

Desmond J. O'Malley

[1521] Gerard Collins

Michael O'Kennedy

Sylvester Barrett

Gene Fitzgerald

John Patrick Wilson

Ray MacSharry

Maire Geoghegan-Quinn

Michael J. Woods

Patrick Power

and

Albert Reynolds.

Mr. Hegarty: Information on Patrick Hegarty  Zoom on Patrick Hegarty  Like my colleague, Deputy White, I am prepared to give the new regime an opportunity to prove itself. I hope that those Ministers who have been left in their Ministries, the Ministers who have been changed around and the new people in the Cabinet have as a result of recent European elections and the by-elections learned the lesson that their policies have been rejected by the people in those areas where the people got the opportunity to reject them. As Deputy White pointed out, Fianna Fáil have gambled on a new leader and on a new team.

As we are discussing the various Ministries, not necessarily in the order of priority, I would like to refer to a Minister who has been sacked, Deputy Gibbons. While we had our sparring matches with him across the House I do not think he deserved this treatment as a farmer who understood the game pretty well. It has to be said now that he is going through a difficult time so far as EEC legislation is concerned. There is not all that much sympathy for agriculture at the Council of Ministers. He should have been given the opportunity to see through to the end what he had begun.

It is certainly a gamble, and a very real gamble, putting a young, inexperienced man into the thick of the fray involving hardened operators such as Deputy Gibbons and Deputy Clinton before him. I hope and pray that the new Minister, Deputy Ray MacSharry, will be able to take up where the present Minister has left off. Certainly he is facing a very tough task. Already we are hearing about quotas of dairy products, [1522] a reduction of dairy produce, a penalty for over-producing dairy products. He will have to resist these with all his might if that industry is to survive.

Deputy White referred to the mountains of foods. So far as this country is concerned we do not have a surplus of food. Because of the efficiency of our various co-operative societies and marketing organisations we are capable of selling all that food. Deputy Clinton was highly successful in this arena; Deputy Gibbons who has now gone was less so but at the same time he understood the game and as a result of prodding from this side of the House he did, belatedly perhaps, take up the cudgels on behalf of the Irish farmers and on behalf of the nation. Certainly, looking two years ahead, if the Government are to survive and succeed in stemming the present drift into more borrowing the only way they will do it is to get agriculture moving, to make money freely available to agriculture. This message should be got across loud and clear to the Central Bank.

In addition, we must cope not merely with dairy quotas but with sugar quotas. The new Minister for Agriculture is from the west and if he does not move quickly he will have a problem on his hands. He will have the problem of the Tuam sugar beet factory. The only reason that it is holding on at all is because of the amount of sugar beet we are sending up from the Cork area. With a 10 per cent reduction in sugar I cannot see much hope. So the new Minister is faced with some very real problems. I hope and pray that he will overcome them for the sake of the industry. He will get every support and help from this side of the House.

When I was Chairman of the Sugar Beet Growers' Association we had this task as far back as 1972. We were faced with sugar quotas. Now the task is back in the lap of the new Minister. He should point out to his EEC colleagues that, while we in Ireland welcome regional aid and any help for our roads, and so on, what we really need is an opportunity to develop and expand our industry and [1523] agriculture. We go back to the old Chinese proverb that we want to be taught to fish and we will live forever, rather than giving us fish which would last for one day only.

I am convinced that if the case is properly made, and if the Minister adopts what I consider to be a real fighting spirit, he will not only save our dairy industry, our sugar beet industry and our agriculture, but he will also save the jobs of many thousands of people. Some of those workers are so concerned that they are meeting weekly and indicating their fears and their worries to their elected representatives. They are prepared to go to Brussels in support of the Minister in his fight for the survival of the sugar industry.

Deputy MacSharry is a young man. He may not have a great knowledge of agriculture but, if he listens carefully to the people in his Department and to the farming organisations—and I am quite sure they will be talking to him fairly quickly—he will adopt a completely new approach to agriculture. First, he should get rid of all the levies which have created so much confusion and so much frustration in the minds of the farmers.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  We are now getting into an agricultural debate. All these matters would be appropriate to the Estimate. This is not an agricultural debate. We are dealing with the new Cabinet.

Mr. Hegarty: Information on Patrick Hegarty  Zoom on Patrick Hegarty  I am very sorry to see Deputy Molloy leaving the Department of Defence. I come from the constituency where we have our naval headquarters. Deputy Molloy engaged in great activity in that area. He did a good job. He is young. He is popular with people down there. It is a pity he has been demoted, for whatever reason.

Deputy Faulkner is taking over that Ministry. I hope he will have more success than he had in the Department of Posts and Telegraphs. As Deputy White said, and perhaps this administration believe this is an area which can afford to be neglected and one in which [1524] more and more money may not be needed. I should like to remind Deputy Faulkner that the strides which have been made in building up our naval service cannot be halted. The Naval Service is looking to us to provide the necessary finance to build up a proper fleet, not to harass Irish vessels, as has been said here from time to time, but to ensure that foreign trawlers which are blatantly fishing off our coasts, in defiance of all the rules and regulations, are brought to heel. To do that we need a proper Naval Service.

I hope Deputy Faulkner will be energetic enough and capable enough and persuasive enough when he goes to the Department of Defence to ensure that the shipbuilding operation which is giving so much employment in Verolme dockyard will be continued and that we will build more and more ships which are so badly needed. I hope he will continue to upgrade the Naval Service and to pay the personnel so that young people who are now looking for jobs will look to the Naval Service as an area in which they can fulfil their ambitions and have a satisfactory job with a good future.

Deputy Barrett has retained responsibility for the Department of the Environment. This is a difficult area. It was never easy. When the Coalition Government left office the emphasis went away from house building by local authorities to the private sector. Where possible it is good for young people to be encouraged to “do their own thing”. The Minister will have to spend more money on local authority housing. The cost of housing has escalated so much over the past few years that it is beyond the bounds of possibility for many young people to build their own houses. It is the Minister's job to provide those people with houses. I hope he will be able to convince the new Taoiseach and the new Minister for Finance that more money will have to be found for local authority housing especially in that highly industrialised area of Cork.

On the whole question of housing I suggest State funds could be spent usefully in the area of serviced sites where [1525] they can be provided at reasonable cost for young people who, in turn, will be prepared to “do their own thing”. Very often it is the site cost which causes the problem.

Work is continuing on our main roads and national primary roads. I appeal to him for God's sake to do something about county roads throughout the country. They were sadly neglected by the last Fianna Fáil administration. Because of the area he comes from, the Minister must realise the special importance of county roads and I hope he will be able to find the necessary funds for this purpose. This Minister has been performing well in the House, he has worked his way through some difficult legislation, he has been reasonable at Question Time, he is a man of ability. However, he came to office with the handicap of the manifesto, which to date has put the tin hat on Government performance.

It is about time the Irish people realised once and for all that the only money the Department of Finance have to spend is that taken from the people by way of taxation. It is on the manner which that money is collected but more important, how it is spent that a Government can be judged. If a party aspiring to Government should ever again come along pre-election and promise the sun, moon and stars, all the people need to do is to refer back to 1977. We can all see now how that situation has developed.

I agree that the outgoing Minister for Fisheries was efficient but I have my doubts. He very rarely said “no” but neither did he say “yes”. The fishermen were as confused as were Opposition Deputies because the Minister did not seem to be making the necessary impact, and that is why I am slightly worried about him as Minister for Foreign Affairs. It is all very well to have a nice guy in that Department but he must be confident and he must be ruthless, right up to the calibre of his EEC colleagues. His performance in Fisheries does not give me any reassurance in regard to his role in Foreign Affairs where he will be handling [1526] a much more difficult situation.

Deputy Power has admitted that he knows very little about fisheries. He will not be short of people to tell him all about the subject. I feel sure he will have the fishermen on his doorstep in the next week or so because they are so worried about their livelihood. We are now working against the background of a ban on herring fishing. Before the election we heard a lot about a 50-mile limit but not a word has been said about it since. At weekends we have been having deputations of fishermen who are on the dole, people who purchased boats from Bord Iascaigh Mhara during the Coalition period and who are unable to meet repayments as a result of curtailment of fishing hours in regard to salmon and the ban on herring. I hope the new Minister will try to come to grips with the situation, that he will point out to his EEC colleagues that, far from damaging fishing stocks in the Atlantic, over a period of years the inshore fisheries of this country have improved from the point of view of herring stocks. We must be capable of distinguishing between the kind of fishing engaged in by the Dutch and the French and the sort of fishing traditional to Ireland. I hope the new Minister will prove to be a fighter at the Brussels bargaining tables, that he will stay well away from his counterpart in Britain and do his own deals, because Britain can also be considered to be in the same league as the Dutch and the French. Our fisheries position is unique. We are a nation of small boats, of small operators. We must not have any tie-up with Britain, who will not have any sympathy for us in Brussels.

Deputy White mentioned tourism, which will be in the hands of Deputy Colley. In the Department of Finance during the years Deputy Colley has shown himself to be a man who understood finance. I had met him long before my election to this House and I always considered him to be a tough, tight-fisted Minister. Such a man was needed in Finance and I think it is a pity he has been removed from that area. I doubt very much if he had anything to [1527] do with the manifesto, because it was outside his style. I am not sure if he will be responsible for tourism in the next few years, but while he is there I hope he will give this important area the attention it deserves. It is one of our greatest industries.

We have had our tough years and over the years we have had a very negative approach to tourism. Deputy White, a hotelier himself, pointed out some of the problems facing the hotel industry at the moment, such as the difficulties of obtaining finance and the sort of grants that on paper look so good while in reality the amounts are so little. Deputy White also mentioned the importance of our image abroad and this the new Minister will have to work on. In this island we still have a very beautiful country and a wonderful tradition and Deputy Colley should treat them with the seriousness they deserve. He is now in the different capacity of having to go to a Minister for Finance for money but from his experience on the other side of the fence he will know how to approach him and convince him. At one time or another down the years he must have noted the potential of tourism and if he devotes his time to fostering tourism we will reap the benefits. I wish him well.

Deputy O'Malley is again Minister for Industry, Commerce and Energy. He is probably not the most popular Minister but he is energetic. We have noticed in our own area what he is endeavouring to do through the IDA to further the industrial progress which was initiated so successfully in a big way by his predecessor, Deputy Justin Keating. Certainly the progress is being maintained although perhaps not as quickly as one would like. The IDA buildings are going up and the land is being developed, but of late he seems to be having some very real problems with industrialists. His abrasiveness may be the reason, but I wish him luck and I hope he will be a little more successful in the few years ahead in bringing in worthwhile industry. Far too often we have noted in the press that some international groups have gone away. We do not hear why, but [1528] they came, they looked and they went. Surely these are opportunities that were missed along the line. The fact that these people came at all proved that they were interested. Deputy O'Malley should devote more of his time to these industrialists. More than once he was not available when they arrived. He should be available and he should regard it as a top priority to make himself available. We are talking about real jobs for people. Even though Deputy O'Malley may have a point about the distribution of industries, it is not easy to talk to an industrialist and tell him where he should place his industry.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  The Chair is saying to the Deputy that we are now getting into a debate on each Department. That should not be. We are dealing with the Cabinet as a whole and the Deputy should make a general statement.

Mr. Hegarty: Information on Patrick Hegarty  Zoom on Patrick Hegarty  What am I to say?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  The Deputy is spending a lot of time on each Department. That does not arise on this motion. We are dealing only with the fitness of the Cabinet as nominated to govern the country. It is not in order to go from one Estimate to another and deal with each Department in that way.

Mr. Hegarty: Information on Patrick Hegarty  Zoom on Patrick Hegarty  I am telling them all why I think they are good or bad. For Health and Social Welfare we have a new Minister, Deputy Woods. He has a very difficult task. It is a pity that the Taoiseach did not sub-divide this responsibility. Perhaps he will rectify that over the next few days because this is one of the biggest portfolios in Government and probably one of the most important. There is a division between Health and Social Welfare. In the Coalition Government Deputy Cluskey and Deputy P. Barry proved in the sub-division how important it was. I believe that these aspects cannot be handled by any one man. The present Taoiseach, while he held that office, was a good man to deal with correspondence but there is this [1529] terrible backlog in the Department of Social Welfare and Deputy Woods has a tough job ahead of him. The nurses are completely and utterly dissatisfied and they are too important a section of the people to be up in arms. I hope that the new Minister will be capable of handling that situation and that also he will solve the problems in the Department of Social Welfare. Social Welfare payments are overdue for 13, 15, and 20 weeks and to blame the postal dispute for that is not good enough. I wish Deputy Woods well in it. I would like to see him doing a lot more in the area of medical cards and in regard to even partial help for people, especially parents of young families, who by their incomes do not qualify but who do require a lot more help.

Deputy Fitzgerald is holding on to the Ministry for Labour. I would have thought that he was a Minister who could lawfully be moved out, but maybe there was no better to replace him. As Spokesman for Labour when his party was in Opposition he had all the solutions. Prior to the general election of 1977 he had the solution to the problems of Irish Steel, but once appointed Minister he suddenly lost his tongue. The whole industrial relations situation in this country is chaotic and he has to accept a lot of the responsibility for this.

When he was in Opposition he could shout loudly enough. I do not know whether he was being kept down and told to be a good boy, but now under a new leader he should get out and solve our industrial problems. He should set up good relations with the trade union movement and with the employers. He must realise that society is interdependent. We all need one another and this industrial confusion would be resolved if the right man were handling it. His performance to date in this area has not been good. For the sake of the country and for the sake of the jobs in industry and agriculture I hope he will be more successful over the next couple of years. When industrial disputes move into vulnerable areas such as food processing, [1530] dairying and so on, the results can be disastrous and then we have to look to the Minister for Labour. We cannot afford to let this happen but at the end of the day the blame must rest with the boss, and in this case the boss for the time being is the Minister for Labour. Hopefully, he will pull up his socks and tackle the job for which he is being appointed.

Deputy Wilson is to remain in the Department of Education. In all my dealings with him as Minister I have found him to be most helpful. The problems facing him are immense, but many of them are of Fianna Fáil's own making. Perhaps the first big mistake made by the Fianna Fáil administration related to the policy to close small country schools. In that way there was begun something that has caused Deputy Wilson and his predecessors a lot of trouble. There is chaos in relation to the school transport scheme and neither Deputy Wilson nor his former Minister of State have been able to cope with the situation. Every night we find children standing along our roadsides waiting for transport while their parents come to us public representatives at weekends in the hope of our being able to help.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  Again, the Deputy is going into detail on matters that are appropriate to Estimates and some of which are local matters.

Mr. Hegarty: Information on Patrick Hegarty  Zoom on Patrick Hegarty  On the broad spectrum of education Deputy Wilson has not brought forward any new idea. It may be said that there is nothing of the visonary in him. We had hoped that some of the policies initiated by the Coalition, such as a study of the whole job situation and of the question of gearing young people into those areas where they were likely to find jobs, would have been pursued but we have been disappointed. There is not any point in turning out large numbers of BA's, or batchelors of anything else for that matter, if at the end of the line, there are not job opportunities for these people. On the other hand one of the other Ministers had been impressing on us the necessity to import technology [1531] from other countries by way of bringing in experts in this field but we would have sufficient experts of our own if we channelled our young people into the right spheres of education.

The new Minister for Finance will find himself in the situation of having to face up to the policies of the Fianna Fáil manifesto, hat document which was the instrument by which the people opposite gained their places, which, presumably, was based on a collective decision of Fianna Fáil and for which they must accept collective responsibility. It cannot be reneged upon now merely because of a change in leadership. It was that manifesto which was responsible for putting our country into the situation in which we find ourselves regarding our balance of payments which are at a level unheard of in the history of this State or of any comparable state in Europe.

The new young Minister has a frightening task ahead. One may well ask how the present trend is to be reversed so far as industry and business generally is concerned. He must be asking himself how he might right the situation now when so much money has gone down the drain as a result of promises made in a document designed to put Fianna Fáil back into office. It is about time the people realised that the only money any Minister for Finance has to spend is what he can collect by way of taxes and that on the use to which that money is put, whether it is used wisely or otherwise, depends the success or failure of the Government. If Deputy O'Kennedy decides to squander the money—and there was a big element of squandering so far as the manifesto was concerned—there will not be any way in which he can redress the situation. What we have been experiencing is not a once-off situation. It is an annual dumping of money. A reversal of that situation will require the ability of a superman, but Deputy O'Kennedy is not a superman.

The lady member of the Cabinet is being given responsibility for Gaeltacht matters. I consider it regrettable that, for reasons best known to himself, the Taoiseach saw fit to demote Deputy [1532] Gallagher. When Deputy Gallagher as Minister paid a visit to our Irish classes in Youghal and Ballinacurra we found him to be very courteous and efficient. In addition, he speaks Irish beautifully. I am sorry that he has not been included in the new Cabinet, but I take this opportunity of wishing Deputy Geoghegan-Quinn every success in regard to the job to which she is being appointed, though I am a little confused about her statement concerning a bilingual state. Perhaps she would endeavour to have the boundaries of Gaeltacht areas opened up somewhat and not confined to little pales, as it were, so that the benefits enjoyed by those areas might be spread to those areas in which the Irish language is being encouraged and where the Irish language and Irish culture might be fostered. I refer to the breac-Ghaeltacht areas. If the Gaeltacht areas are to remain as they are they will not fulfil their purpose. There is no reason why the Irish language should not prosper but young people must be encouraged to speak the language and, above all, to enjoy speaking it.

I wish the new Government every success. They are facing a tough task. Deputy Collins has been retained as Minister for Justice. He is doing a reasonable job with regard to the recruitment of young men to the Garda Síochána but he still he has not succeeded in getting violence under control. Things are at a frightening stage when, as happened yesterday, my local bank manager's wife was kidnapped and taken away in the boot of a car. Thank God she is safe and well now. It is obvious that the Minister responsible for law and order must tackle the problem and take the necessary action. His failure in this area is causing much consternation in the business sector. I hope that in the next few months he will take steps to protect life and property from those violent, irresponsible people who seem to a large extent to be able to escape the rigour of the law.

I hope the Minister will continue to build up the Garda Síochána and ensure that in every town and village there is a [1533] Garda station. The Minister should make sure that in towns and housing estates there is an adequate number of gardaí on the beat. There is no better deterrent to criminals than the visible sign of the law. I do not think flashing lights are as good as the appearance of a garda in a peaked cap. The most effective way to ensure that there is law and order is to have the stations properly manned.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  The Deputy might deal with that matter on the Estimate. We are dealing now with the suitability or otherwise of the team nominated for appointment to the Cabinet.

Mr. Hegarty: Information on Patrick Hegarty  Zoom on Patrick Hegarty  I have dealt with most of them and I must say I am not greatly impressed. As far as I know, there is no farmer in the Cabinet. I should like to wish the Taoiseach well; personally if I had half of what he has got I would go to Inishvickallane and stay there for the rest of my days. I wish his Cabinet well also. This country needs good government and it needs it now. I am not saying it is going to get it. If Fianna Fáil do not provide good government, we will.

Mr. Taylor: Information on Francis Taylor  Zoom on Francis Taylor  This debate affords an opportunity to Deputies on all sides of the House to give their views on the suitability of the Taoiseach's selection of Ministers in their new posts. The selection of those Ministers is very important for the people. There are many and varied views on the importance of the Departments and I suppose decisions are arrived at by Deputies in accordance with their particular interests in the Departments.

Changes in government are important in any country. In a state like ours which has been described as one of the most disturbed countries in Europe, the Departments of Defence and Justice play an important role. If there is not confidence throughout the country with regard to matters of defence and justice we cannot have economic progress.

[1534] I have complete confidence in the selection of the Minister for Defence. He has held many portfolios in many governments and it can truthfully be said that he enjoys the confidence and respect of Deputies in this House. That can also be said with regard to the holder of the office of Minister for Justice. As things stand at the moment the Government should have the loyalty of people inside and outside the House and there should be a proper understanding of the functions they are expected to perform.

We are a rather peculiar people in that few of us take little interest in the role Government Departments play in our lives. It is true to say that few people take an interest in what is happening in the North. In this connection, I should like to remind the House of the importance of the Department of Foreign Affairs. I should like to combine the functions of that Department with those of the Department of Justice and the Department of Defence. In the past nine years there has been much talk about peace on this island. The Ministers in the Departments I have mentioned have a very important role to play. We all know about the bloodshed and the aggression in the North of Ireland and this cannot be tolerated. The Government have a responsibility to tackle the problem in a methodical way.

We cannot continue to accept the state of warfare within this small island. The people cannot continue to tolerate the unrest which has brought to the surface the savage instinct to destroy one another. Within the year I am sure that this problem will be approached in the proper way. In the meantime, we have to rely on the Army and the Garda to maintain respect for our institutions of State. I am confident that Deputy Faulkner will uphold the standards of some of our best Ministers for Defence.

I should like to pay tribute to Deputy Molloy. He was successful and had the confidence of all ranks in the Army. I am sure they regret his leaving office but I am also sure that Deputy Faulkner will have the loyalty of the Defence Forces. Few people appreciate the roles of the [1535] Ministers for Defence and Justice. The judgment which they exercise determines the course of history.

I should like to compliment my neighbour and friend, Deputy Barrett, the Minister for the Environment on the steady progress which he has made since his appointment. I wish him well in this Ministry during the short time left to this Government. The Department of the Environment control the expenditure of money in the west and the Department needs a Minister who understands the area. I am sure that the people of Clare wish him a successful term in office. He is a man who can be approached easily and has a gentle disposition. It is important that Ministers should be approachable and should encourage their constituents to approach them. I hope Deputy Barrett will introduce some necessary changes. According to a policy document which was published some time ago, expenditure on some roads in the west has been deferred until 1989. That policy should be reconsidered because people will not accept that areas remotest from the seat of power should be the last to receive finance.

In regard to the appointment of Deputy MacSharry as Minister for Agriculture, I think we can anticipate a better understanding of the difficulties faced by farmers in the west. As he comes from Sligo he should have a better understanding of their problems. I am hopeful that he will advocate maintaining the common agricultural policy which is of vital importance to agriculture and its associated industries. Expenditure on drainage in the less developed areas is also important. I hope the Minister will do something to alleviate the problems caused by waterlogged rivers and streams.

The appointment of Deputy O'Malley is a good one. He has been a firm and decisive Minister. As Minister for Justice he performed his duties firmly and promptly. I will always have the greatest of respect for him for the work he has done in that area. I hope he will see to it that there is greater diversification into [1536] the less developed areas and that his approach will not be a long-term one. I would like to see the new measures introduced rapidly.

Up to now Deputy Gene Fitzgerald has been responsible for a very vital section of Government, the Department of Labour. It is a most disturbing area for any Minister to function in, particularly in recent years. That has been brought about by a combination of factors. There is less recognition of the authority of our trade unions. Unless we have a proper acceptance of the role of trade unions and of the discipline which must be enforced on members we will destroy any opportunities that may arise to bring about greater prosperity here. A great amount of harm is being done by the acceptance of this new outlook in our civilisation by a small number of people without the authority of their unions. Many of our people have experienced hardship as a result of such action. The people of Dublin and other centres are suffering at present because of the absence of public transport. Unless this situation is corrected and there is an acceptance by all people of the necessity for discipline to bring about an ordered State we will head rapidly to ruin. As a small nation we cannot afford to overload taxation on to the backs of citizens who are already overtaxed. We cannot afford to have such money wasted due to unnecessary strikes. I consider that one of the greatest dangers in our society.

As a parliament we must give every assistance to the Minister for Labour to enable him to get a contented and disciplined labour force. I accept that that would be a slow process but we must remember that if we do not get that acceptance there is only one way for us to go and it is not forward as a prosperous nation. I am sure no Member would wish the nation to go backwards.

I welcome the decision to appoint the efficient Deputy Geoghegan-Quinn to the Cabinet, the first lady appointed to such a post since Countess Markievicz. The Deputy's late father, a man of fine personality, served with distinction in [1537] this House. Deputy Geoghegan-Quinn has resided in Gaeltacht areas and I look forward to a return to the activities carried out by former Minister, Deputy O'Donnell who bestowed many benefits on Gaeltacht areas from Donegal to west Cork. I regret that Deputy Dennis Gallagher was not appointed to the Government in some capacity. He is a very honourable and approachable man who was accepted by the Opposition. The appointment of Deputy Woods to the Departments of Health and Social Welfare is an indication that the Taoiseach considers him able to cope with this dual Ministry. An enormous workload is being placed upon him. It is too much to place such an enormous workload on a Member with so little parliamentary experience. I have no doubt about his ability. The State needs men of the calibre of Deputy Woods. In this regard I should like to refer to the departure of a Member of great ability, Deputy O'Donoghue, whose Department of Economic Planning and Development has been wiped out. The State cannot afford the loss of a Member of such intelligence from the Cabinet and I cannot see the wisdom of dropping him. He possesses unlimited potential and should have been given an opportunity in another Department. Those who criticised him forgot that all decisions reached by a government are on a collective basis. I do not think he got a fair chance.

Deputy Wilson remains in the Department of Education. He is a man who is accepted as being suitable for that position. People may criticise him, referring to his stentorian voice, but he has a manner which varies the tone in this House occasionally, which is no harm. I hope the policy of the Department, which appears to encourage rundown national schools in rural areas, will discontinue or be revised, that the Minister will ensure that the wishes of people in rural areas are respected, where the village school is looked upon as having a social status which, in turn, will mean that the rising population will dictate [1538] that the closure of rural schools be shelved, with more thought being given to research into what will be likely population trends in the future. These constantly changing policies in relation to rural schools must be discontinued. The standard of these schools and their equipment at least should be equal to that in our second- and third-level educational institutions. We have tended to accept the standard of our rural national schools being almost commensurate with hovels. This should not be tolerated any longer from any government. It is the Minister's responsibility to ensure that the necessary moneys are collected in an endeavour to restore the image of a bright, cheerful, rural national school.

Deputy O'Kennedy has a new role to play. It is generally recognised that he has the capabilities but we shall have to await the reflection of his attitude to finance and its collection within the next few months in his first budget. Because his Department is such an important one his approach to the dispensing of funds to the various other Government Departments, in some measure, will determine the success of those other ministries. I hope he will have a re-think on the policies of the present government in regard to reducing taxation on people with low valuations and small holdings, that he will revise thinking on the taxation of people in the dairying industry, and if so, he will be successful. But, if he continues along the path taken by the Government prior to the appointment of the new Taoiseach, people will reject and resent their continuing heavy load of taxation. I hope also that his attitude to the PAYE sector will give them some reason for hope and that they will not be asked to bear more than their fair share.

Deputy Power from Kildare is our new Minister for Fisheries and Forestry. He is afforded great scope to demonstrate what can be done in an area, the surface of which has only been scratched to date. I hope much greater encouragement will be given our young people to engage in industry which has unlimited potential. Bearing in mind the [1539] extra protection afforded industry and our fishermen—with the injection of EEC funds—I hope such will be properly exercised. I have had experience on the west coast of failure to provide adequate protection for our fishermen, when the law was flouted, when hooligans—indeed almost a type of criminal—have come out, threatening to assault the Garda Síochána. I have seen this happen on the west coast where arms have been used. That is a type of attitude that must be controlled. I hope the new Minister will exercise a strong hand in ensuring that our fishermen receive adequate protection.

I regret that Deputy George Colley has not found favour, that he has now been transferred to the Department of Transport and Power with responsibility also for tourism. However, because of his cultural disposition he is eminently suitable to adapting himself to the area of tourism. We in the west are very dependent on a Minister who recognises its growing potential, one which has shown itself to be a vast reservoir which could yield huge income were it not for the troubled state of our country over the last 10 years or so. Unless there is proper appreciation of the needs of the people who engage in this seasonal industry, unless Bord Fáilte are authorised to allocate more money to the different sectors encompassed in the Department of Tourism, unless there is a greater understanding of the entitlement of the smaller operator to grants for development purposes, whether it be the farmhouse, or small hotel or guesthouse type scheme, progress cannot be made.

Some encouragement should be given to the family business, which is not being helped at the moment. I hope the new Minister will bring a fresh approach into this Department. In regard to Transport and Power there have been huge losses over the last few years. A rejuvenation is needed to ensure that our transport services satisfy the people. It is important that greater use is made of those services. The CIE services depend a lot on imported fuel. The new Minister should ensure that greater use is made of public [1540] transport. The new Government deserve the goodwill of this side of the House. We depend on the collective action of the Government to ensure that we have a brighter future. I hope the new Government will attack all our problems with courage.

Mr. Bermingham: Information on Joseph Bermingham  Zoom on Joseph Bermingham  I want to offer my congratulations to my colleague from Kildare, Deputy Power, who has been given a ministerial post. I am rather disappointed about the Ministry he has been appointed to. I know he has the ability, by hard work, to master any portfolio he is granted. He has earned his new position. I am glad that Kildare has at last been recognised by Fianna Fáil. I do not believe we ever had a Kildare Fianna Fáil Deputy appointed a Minister. I know that there were Ministers in former Coalition Governments from Kildare.

There are a few things in relation to Kildare which come under the control of Deputy Power's Department which I feel confident he will tackle, one of which is the setting up of a State company for the timber industry with particular reference to the closure, for which the Deputy's predecessor bears some responsibility, of the wallboard factory in Athy. I know that Deputy Power is as interested in the reopening of that factory as I am. I also know that he is interested in setting up a State company to look after the timber industry, which is very vital to our economy. I am sure he will try to start that State company and that he will keep in mind that Athy lost that industry.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  Now that I have allowed the Deputy to go so far, I ask him to come back to the motion before the House.

Mr. Bermingham: Information on Joseph Bermingham  Zoom on Joseph Bermingham  I was congratulating my colleague from Kildare, Deputy Power.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  I understand the Deputy's feelings but there is nothing about Athy or Kildare in the motion.

Mr. Bermingham: Information on Joseph Bermingham  Zoom on Joseph Bermingham  Deputy Power is aware of the two things I am talking [1541] about. The second one is the Pollardstown Fen near Newbridge, on which I will not elaborate. I also want to congratulate the other new Ministers. I am sure they deserve their appointments. I do not know as much about the other new Ministers as I do about the Deputy Power. Their appointment seems to me to result from more than a change of leadership. It appears to me that there was a coup within Fianna Fáil. Fianna Fáil after the last election made new Ministries which are now being scrapped. In the last election they got the greatest number of seats and the greatest majority in the history of this State. The Taoiseach and the new Ministers seem to be saying that this is a completely new Government. It is ridiculous for anybody to say that it is a continuation of the previous Fianna Fáil Government because anyone who looks at the new Cabinet knows that it is not.

I wonder if the person who is forming this new Cabinet is serious about doing a good job when I see the retention of the Minister for Labour in that Department. I have always found him to be a gentleman in the Department, in this House and outside it but his performance in the Department of Labour was a disaster. Anybody who has had anything to do with industrial disputes since the last election must realise this.

The former Minister for Posts and Telegraphs, who is in the House at the moment, was also a disaster. He has now been changed to another Department. I do not know how he could be retained in the Cabinet if the new Taoiseach is serious about changing the performance of the Government.

Mr. D. Andrews: Information on David Andrews  Zoom on David Andrews  Now Deputy Faulkner knows.

Mr. Bermingham: Information on Joseph Bermingham  Zoom on Joseph Bermingham  I say that without rancour because he is a nice man. His performance in the previous Government did not warrant his retention in the new Government. I say that in all sincerity and with no personal rancour against him—I want to make that clear. This is [1542] a new Government, not a continuation of the previous Fianna Fáil Government and we cannot afford to give honeymoons to any Government every time Fianna Fáil have the whim to change leadership. It is important that we speak our minds about the changing of Ministries and I shall do so. We were told by the previous Taoiseach that there would be a complete reshuffle of the Cabinet in the New Year, but this came sooner than even he thought and is here now. That is all right by me. As a representative of my constituents, I must criticise the decisions that I have mentioned and others that I shall come to later.

It is not wise to maintain in the Department of Labour a Deputy who gave such a disastrous performance over the last two-and-a-half years. It is not wise to retain, in the Cabinet, an ex-Minister for Posts and Telegraphs, who is now to be the Minister for Defence —an area in which I am deeply interested. I hope this Deputy's performance in Defence will be a lot better than his performance in Posts and Telegraphs. I do not know if the public in general, the people who count, will approve of this move to change completely the Government within their period of office.

Another serious matter is the Ministry that has just been stamped out—the Ministry for Economic Planning and Development. With one stroke of the pen, that was wiped out. Fianna Fáil got an unprecedented number of seats at the last election. They swept the country on a programme to be initiated by this Ministry of Economic Planning and Development, which was created with loud fanfare by what is claimed to be the present Fianna Fáil Government during their present term of office to solve all our problems, to give full employment. The ex-Minister's words to me across this House were that, if they failed to create full employment, then we could have our own judgment on it. He said he would change over to our way of thinking if he was not able to do it by his methods, which were generally relying on private enterprise.

[1543] After all that fanfare and the manifesto, we find that Ministry to be superfluous. Whether this is a personal thing, or a change of policy, I do not know—we have been told there is no change in policy. The ex-Minister for Economic Planning and Development was brought in and held out as the great magician of our time. I agree that his performance in this House, or in this country did not match that title. I have sympathy with the man who said that that Ministry was a waste of time; the way it was being operated, it was a waste of time, and the non-results are there. The ex-Minister is a nice person. I have nothing personal against him, but he failed miserably to carry out the promises of the Government, of whose programme he was principal architect. Fianna Fáil say they are not changing their policy, that they are carrying on with it, but getting rid of him. I say they are starting a new form of Government after two and a half years of disaster. If proof is needed that the people on the street think so, one has only to look at the results of the two Cork by-elections. In fact, one has only to go out anywhere and talk to anyone to find out that the two and a half years were considered a disaster although the first six months may have been a honeymoon period which a change of administration would. bring about.

So much of this manifesto and of these Fianna Fáil policies has gone by the board that we are waiting to hear the remedies to be delivered by the people now in office. This is a completely different ball-game, with different people involved. They have dismissed Deputy O'Donoghue and have reduced the influence of his principal assistant and co-architect, Deputy Colley, who is still Tánaiste but with greatly diminished influence as a Minister—the two people who told us that this Fianna Fáil policy was the be all and end all and would solve all our problems. The Taoiseach and his Ministers must intervene to tell us what direction they are going to take, because that is what we shall be expected to vote on later this evening.

[1544]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  I must point out that it is not the practice for Deputies, whose nomination is under discussion to intervene. That has never been the practice.

Mr. Bermingham: Information on Joseph Bermingham  Zoom on Joseph Bermingham  I accept that. However, by some public statement, or in some manner, we should be told what economic and social policies the new Government are going to pursue.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  There will be another day. At the moment, the suitability, or otherwise, of the team nominated is what we are discussing.

Mr. Bermingham: Information on Joseph Bermingham  Zoom on Joseph Bermingham  I want to speak further and I shall keep within the Chair's rules——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  Please.

Mr. Bermingham: Information on Joseph Bermingham  Zoom on Joseph Bermingham  ——but we must know what programme is now to be initiated. The principal architects of previous programmes, which Fianna Fáil claim is still their policy, are gone from office.

On agriculture, of which I have the honour to be spokesman, I congratulate the new Minister for Agriculture on his appointment. I know nothing about his knowledge of agriculture, but wish him well. He has before him a huge field. The previous Minister for Agriculture knew his business, although I violently disagreed with most of his policies. That Deputy must feel very hurt to have been dispossessed of his office in this manner.

I congratulate the new Minister and look forward to his changing the policy of the previous Minister on the activities of the Land Commission and to his reactivating the acquisition section of the Land Commission which has been dead and buried since the advent to power of the previous Minister. I look forward to the new Minister changing the thinking on the new agricultural structures Bill because an acreage limit on agricultural holdings is a vital necessity if the small farmers are ever to become economic. I hope this Minister will have a totally new attitude to this Ministry.

[1545] I am amazed that the Minister for the Environment continues to hold office because his performance in the housing field has been disastrous. Under that Minister it was impossible for a local authority to build local authority houses and the number of local authority houses built during the last two and a half years clearly indicates that the Minister was trying to encourage the building of houses other than local authority houses. I hope the Minister will change his attitude now.

I am glad that there has been a change in the Department of Finance in the sense that a proper approach to taxation and to spending is vital if this country is ever to get on its feet again. In relation to the administration of finance, people have only to look at the condition of the roads, the state of the housing programme, the price of houses and the way in which local authorities were financed to know that it was a disaster.

The previous Minister in the Departments of Health and Social Welfare had a lot of gimmicks but I look forward to the new man doing something far more practical in providing proper health facilities. The giving out of tooth brushes to people who probably could not afford to buy toothpaste was a gimmick. Some of the gimmicks and some of the programmes carried out to make people more health conscious were all right but we must first provide a proper health programme. I hope the new man does far better in that area than the present Taoiseach did when he was there. I congratulate Deputy Woods on his appointment but must warn him that he is coming into an area of social welfare which is in a disastrous state. Every Deputy is inundated with genuine complaints from people who are not receiving their social welfare payments. Deputy Woods should use all his administrative capacities to bring this Department back to some form of sanity. People who should be in receipt of social welfare payments are left waiting on their cheques and many of them are hungry. This has been going on and particularly over [1546] the last three months it seems to have built up into a crescendo and it seems that nobody is being paid, or at least that is the impression given to an ordinary Deputy. People coming to us have certificates and claims of all kinds which were sent in ten, 12 and 14 weeks ago and they have not had a reply from the Department. I appeal to the Minister in the name of humanity to remedy this state of affairs. This is not, or should not be, a political issue. The administration of the Department of Social Welfare seems to have completely collapsed under the previous Minister, especially as far as paying benefits is concerned. All one needs to do is to meet the people to know that this is true.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  The Deputy is dealing with Departments rather than with Ministers.

Mr. Bermingham: Information on Joseph Bermingham  Zoom on Joseph Bermingham  I am advising the new Minister about the situation he will be faced with when he takes office because under the present Taoiseach the Department of Social Welfare was a disaster. The Taoiseach and others have made statements blaming the post office strike which took place over six months ago. One would be laughed to scorn if one were administering an ordinary private business and talked in that fashion. Hundreds of people are coming to me and to the other TD's with problems about their claims. We try to phone that Department every day but they will not even answer the phone. I do not attack people in the office because they are understaffed, but surely the present Taoiseach could have used his undoubted ability as an administrator to get new staff. Surely a post office strike that took place six months ago is no excuse for the state of that Department. Indeed, if that is the kind of attitude that the present Taoiseach had and I know he is not under discussion, except as a Minister——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  He is not under discussion and neither is the Department of Social Welfare.

[1547]Mr. Bermingham: Information on Joseph Bermingham  Zoom on Joseph Bermingham  ——and it permeates through his Cabinet, I am worried about the poor in the future. I wish the new Ministers well. The Ministers who previously held office have no right to expect congratulations from me. I hope the new Ministers will infuse the kind of enthusiasm necessary if we are to survive. Again I appeal to the Taoiseach and the Ministers to tell us what their policies will be and how they will counteract and correct the disasters of the past two and a half years.

Mr. Creed: Information on Donal Creed  Zoom on Donal Creed  We have a new Taoiseach and a new Government. Normally some time would elapse before we would comment on their performance. Consequently I will be very brief. There are a few things which concern me about these appointments. Very few of us are aware of the motivation behind the appointments and sacking of some Ministers but that is a matter for the Taoiseach over which we have no power.

Like Deputy Bermingham I think it is rather strange that we have not heard a single voice from the Fianna Fáil benches in the last two days. This shows there is something amiss. I hope the new Government will begin to govern and to tackle the problems that confront the people because in the last two-and-a-half years of Fianna Fáil Government, internal wrangling took priority over the problems that existed. The origin of the downfall of that administration is simple. It had its origin in the Fianna Fáil manifesto which was produced because of lust for power by Fianna Fáil. Every member of the outgoing Government and every Member of this House is responsible for that.

The problems on which the people expected action were not tackled by the Government but I hope this Government will tackle them with the vigour they deserve. I am very concerned that in this new team there is not a member with practical knowledge of the problems of our greatest industry—agriculture. I take this opportunity to wish the new Minister for Agriculture well in the enormous problems facing him. I do not [1548] want to downgrade him, but is it accepted that a man like Deputy MacSharry—a decent man but very often decent men do not make good Ministers—will face the might and main of our negotiators in Europe to defend the common agricultural policy which is so vital to our economy. Has he the experience to deal with these problems when there are powerful voices in the Council of Ministers and the Community who are set to wreck the common agricultural policy?

Whatever we say about Deputy Gibbons, we must admit that he had practical knowledge and experience of running a farm, and at one stage, of earning his livelihood from the land. We are threatened in Europe with a reduction in our sugar, milk, and beef quotas and with the dismantling of the common agricultural policy. Has Deputy MacSharry, who will be Minister for Agriculture in a few hours, the experience necessary to deal with that challenge? That is something about which I am concerned and I am sure it is the concern of many people interested in that industry.

A number of recent events prove that whether one lives in O'Connell Street, Patrick Street or if one is removed far from the land, agriculture makes a vital contribution and that this is an area where many more jobs can be created. At present all our co-operatives and agricultural institutions are geared for expansion at a time when there are severe restrictions on the agricultural industry as a whole. I hope the new Minister will have the benefit of advice from his predecessor to help him deal with the problems confronting him.

I am concerned about the Department of Labour. My colleague, Deputy Fitzgerald, has been reappointed to that Department. In his two-and-a-half years as Minister for Labour I never publicly criticised his performance. Since his appointment not one day has dawned that we did not have a strike or even a series of strikes. People who are concerned about industrial relations and the untold damage which official and unofficial [1549] strikes are doing to our economy, expected some change in that Department. Whether he is entirely responsible for this, the general public are aware that it is his job to look after that Department and to ensure that the country is not brought to its feet by strikes. We had CIE, ESB and the postal strike, and in nearly every other area we had strikes during the past two-and-a-half years.

What do we find in this new Government? Deputy Fitzgerald is reappointed to the Department of Labour with added responsibilities. That does not give a new image. I realise it can be difficult to deal with strikes because we are living in a time when everybody talks about his rights and privileges and very few people talk about their duties and responsibilities. Be that as it may, a new appointment should have been made in that area. There was a lot to be said for transferring Deputy Fitzgerald to another Department.

I want to deal now with the reappointment of the Minister for Justice. We talk about the preservation of democracy and the institutions of this State but, in my opinion, one of the ingredients necessary for the preservation of democracy is a respect for law and order. That is not there and crime has escalated at an enormous rate. A new Minister could have given a new image and tackled the problems that seem to have gone unnoticed or have been unattended to by the present Minister who has been reappointed to the Department. There have been a number of instances, not least of which was the Garvey affair, which have not helped the image of that Department or that man.

The security forces must have confidence in any Minister for Justice. I do not accept that they have the necessary confidence in the present Minister. I am disappointed that the Taoiseach did not appoint a new and vigorous Minister for Justice who would be firm in the control of his Department and ensure that law and order would be maintained. They are the important and sensitive areas in which it was necessary to pick a [1550] man capable of giving a new image to and restoring confidence in the Department and in the security forces. That was not done and we continue to have a Minister for Justice who has failed.

I hope the Government will not be out of touch with the people. Their predecessors were totally out of touch. That was borne out clearly in the recent elections in the slogans, advertisements and television performances of their candidates and of their leader at that time who said that social welfare recipients never had it so good. Deputy Bermingham dealt with that. We were told by the then Taoiseach that they had only two and a half years to clear up the mess left by the National Coalition after four years' mismanagement. Can one imagine the present Ministers clearing up the mess left after their predecessors —Agriculture, Labour, Justice? The former leader of Fianna Fáil, prior to those elections, said cattle prices were up by 50 per cent since 1977. If that was not adding insult to injury I do not know what was. Everyone knew—even the dogs on the street knew—cattle prices were down by about 30 per cent. That is not good for democracy nor does it lead people to have confidence in Governments, new or old. I hope the Government under the Taoiseach, who is a capable, cute and intelligent politician, will keep in touch with the people. That is very important.

We now have a crime which was completely alien to our society but which we read about in foreign lands. It is the crime of kidnapping. That is happening here in an alarming number of instances. The Taoiseach made a mistake by not putting somebody into the Department of Justice who would be firm and tackle the problems. It is sad for some Ministers who have served and who are not here for us to comment on. That is the cruelty of politics and this is what happens when a new leader takes over.

I have only recently been appointed as spokesman for my party on Defence. I wish the Minister for Defence well and, as far as I am concerned, he will have my co-operation and that of the party. I [1551] should also like to say thanks to his predecessor. On behalf of my predecessor, Deputy White, I should like to say thanks to Deputy Molloy who was a popular Minister, most co-operative and a man one could approach. He was somebody who did not believe that it all happened over there without sharing some of the burdens of his office or discussing them. I should like to put on record my appreciation of his co-operation when he was Minister for Defence.

As regards the appointment of Deputy Woods to the Department of Health and Social Welfare, these are important Departments. I hope he is not going into the office with the idea that if one doles out social welfare to everyone one is a good Minister. We must have a detailed examination of that Department. Very often the moral fibre of the people is ruined by giving handouts. We must examine cases of people who are drawing social welfare and who are not entitled to do so. These matters need to be tackled.

We will be watching and monitoring the progress of the Taoiseach and the Government. I hope there will be opportunities to voice our opinions and criticisms of them. It is not good enough to say that they should have a honeymoon period. They should come back at the start of 1980 and lay on the table what they propose to do in their Departments and by way of tackling the problems which are getting progressively worse. I am disappointed that in the number of speakers since yesterday at 11 a.m. there was not one voice from Fianna Fáil to defend what had been said or to support the appointment of the Taoiseach or the new Ministers. It is incredible that we have had nothing but a thunderous silence from the Government benches since yesterday morning.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  I should like, without in any way wishing to be snide, to congratulate the occupant of the Government benches for holding his position. It would appear that the entire debate and struggle for power over the last week [1552] was about holding positions. To anybody who is in the position of wondering whether he will hold his position I express a sincere good wish. Anyone speaking from the Labour benches does not like the prospect of redundancy particularly when for Ministers and Ministers of State there is no redundancy payment or pension.

The spectacle and prospect to the nation of what has happened in the last week is not the kind of spectacle that would encourage any young person. What has been reaffirmed with a savage reality is the old principle in relation to getting jobs: it is not what you do, it is whom you know. To be more precise, it is not whom you know but whom you vote for. On no account can it be reasonably said, allowing for the devaluation of the English or Irish languages, that politics sometimes forces on us in this Chamber, that people lost their jobs because of incompetence. Regrettably it could accurately be said that some people held their jobs despite their manifest incompetence.

There is no way that the procedure for hiring and firing staff—this is what it is about—that we have witnessed would have been found to be legal, let alone acceptable, to the Civil Service Commission or the Local Authority Appointments Board. Jobs for the boys provided they voted for you and big jobs for the boys who held their vote until the last minute, this is democracy, Fianna Fáil style, 1979. I have always tried to be reasonably honest in the House and they do not have a monopoly of that vice or virtue in jobs for the boys. In terms of voting in a new Cabinet there appears to be no other criterion of assessment than that, because if it were competence why do we still have the same Minister for Labour burdened, on top of his existing problems, with the Public Service Department? If it was competence and the display of competence why is the Minister for the Environment still holding the post when these statistics in the Quarterly Bulletin of Housing Statistics are as damning an indictment of that Minister's performance as we [1553] could have? It is not that I would be sorry to criticise the present Minister for Education but I have not followed the politics of education sufficiently to make the same authoritative condemnation of him that I can make in the case of the Environment. I think my colleague, Deputy Horgan, is more than capable of dealing with Education.

We have lost—either fired or refused to serve; we do not know—the Minister for Agriculture, Deputy Gibbons; the Minister for Economic Planning and Development, Deputy O'Donoghue; the Minister for Defence, Deputy Molloy, and the Minister for the Gaeltacht, Deputy Gallagher. Were they fired because they were incompetent? Does the Taoiseach or any Government speaker propose to say here: “We have a manifesto and a mandate. We have 15 members of the Cabinet and after the two-and-a-half-years review in the normal assessment of the performance of these Ministers we have found that certain Ministers have not maintained the standard we require and therefore they have been moved sideways—as in the case of Deputy Faulkner—or have been relieved of office.” If that argument is to come from the Fianna Fáil benches, in the interests of democracy and decency and for the sake of the principles of meritocracy, let somebody from those benches say it if it can be said.

Actually, I do not think it can be said. Therefore, we are faced with a palace revolution which has all the subtlety and finesse of the Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran with a little less bloodshed. There is no doubt in this House, and there was none yesterday because one could smell it, as to who were the losers and who the winners. Or, so Fianna Fáil would have you to think and so indeed the press would have you to think. But the real losers do not have a voice or a vote in this Chamber. The real losers are outside the House in our constituencies. They are the people of the country who have suffered the incompetence of some Ministers, the people some of whom are [1554] today walking to work because of an unofficial strike provoked by the lethargic response of the Labour Court, people who today are unhoused because of the disastrous performance in the Department of the Environment by the responsible Minister, and people who are still unemployed despite the incredibly naive promises of the Fianna Fáil manifesto of 1977. They are the real losers. Even the ex-Ministers have their Dáil salaries and even the “Colley camp”—so described in the national press—has been afforded recognition in a magnanimous gesture, we are told by The Irish Times leader today, by Deputy Colley being maintained in his post as Tánaiste. The fact that now himself and Deputy O'Malley are going to do together the job that Deputy O'Malley did on his own is somewhat glossed over. They are not the real losers.

We have yet to hear from the Government, from the Taoiseach, the Minister for Education or any member of the Government what new economic direction there will be at the beginning of the eighties now that the 1977 manifesto has been buried as it has been. That entire edifice of economic theories created by Deputy O'Donoghue, published initially in the pre-election economic programme of Fianna Fáil in 1976—the Minister for Education will correct me if my dates are wrong—published with the goodies in 1977, confirmed in the first budget and the first Finance Act of this administration, reiterated in the second budget and the second Finance Act, has now collapsed. The architect has been fired, in my view disgracefully, in a way that would certainly warrant an appeal for unfair dismissal in any decent court in the land, and his Department has been put back into the Department of Finance as Dr. Whitaker suggested it should be when he spoke in the Seanad on the Bill for its establishment on 23 November over two years ago.

What was that economic policy? To use racing parlance, now that we have a horse owner as Taoiseach, it was equivalent to somebody coming to you and saying: “I have a sure tip from the horse's mouth, from a professor of horse [1555] education and training; it cannot possibly lose. We should put a lot of money on it; it is bound to win.” They did not really tell us at the time that they went to our bank, yours and mine, in the House and outside it and that the guarantee signature in the bank manager's office on the bet is that of the people. The horse has not come in and we are left with the debt.

There were times when Deputy Haughey, as he then was, spoke on economic affairs in the House before coming into office. In regard to the 1977 budget introduced by the then Minister for Finance, Deputy Ryan, his criticism of that economic policy was as follows: I quote from the Official Report of 3 February 1977, column 806:

The fatal flaw, in my view, in the approach of the Minister for Finance to budgetary policy is reliance on current expenditure financed by deficits to generate economic growth.

Does that sound familiar?

He does not, even yet, seem to have learned the lesson of the last four years in that respect. In his period of office we have borrowed heavily at home and abroad to finance Government spending to promote economic growth. We have not got the growth but we are left with the crushing burden of financing the borrowing. The cost this year of financing that borrowing will be £448 million out of a total budget of somewhere in the region of £2,200 million.

The two aspects of that borrowing which are particularly unfortunate—and I do not blame the Minister entirely for them—are that a great deal of it was done abroad and the real residual burden has been multiplied by the fall in sterling. The second feature was the high proportion of the borrowing that was wasted in meeting current budget deficits.

Then Deputy Haughey goes on to give the figures. That is what this economic wizard criticised, this marvellous Minister, as Deputy Kelly described him. [1556] He is a member of the Government, lest the Chair try to interrupt me.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  I was not going to interrupt the Deputy but I would remind him that this is not an economic debate.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  The entire issue is about a new Cabinet, the principal aspect of which has been the sacking of the Minister for Economic Planning and Development and the abolition of his Department.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  It is not an economic debate. We are dealing with the Cabinet and their suitability. In a general fashion the economy may be mentioned as the Deputy goes along but we are not going to continue debating it.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  On that occasion Deputy Haughey, now the Taoiseach, stated that that economic policy was wrong and, as Deputy Kelly said, he had all the wisdom of having the capacity to make a million on the side when he was employed full-time in this office—I am saying what Deputy Kelly said. He, and therefore the new Cabinet which he has selected, are perceived throughout the country in their various multitudinous talents as having a unique economic capacity. He himself said in 1977 that the budgetary policy pursued by that Government was wrong although it was virtually identical to the one that Fianna Fáil subsequently pursued in this manifesto, even down to the two aspects which he regarded as being particularly unfortunate—the devaluation of sterling, which multiplied the problems, and the high proportion of borrowing that was wasted in meeting current deficits. One finances current budget deficits if one abolishes car tax and borrows abroad. But there is no capital benefit coming back with that kind of carry on.

We knew, two years in advance, that Deputy Haughey disagreed fundamentally with that economic strategy no matter how it was dressed up. It would appear that he bided his time, suffering [1557] in the Cabinet, even though he endorsed the manifesto of Fianna Fáil on RTE radio the Sunday before polling day. Now that he has obtained the glittering prize, he has sacked the architect of that economic strategy, which at least is consistent with his statement of 1977. He abolished the Department and, on the advice of the former secretary of the Department of Finance and former Governor of the Central Bank, now Senator Whitaker, he has now reincorporated that Department into the Department of Finance. The country waits with bated breath to see how this alleged economic expert with his new Cabinet will transform the country in a way that the manifesto manifestly did not do. He has appointed new Ministers whose appointments we are debating today to help him achieve that objective. He has sacked others.

Let us deal with those who lost their jobs with no redundancy payments coming to them. Whatever about Deputy Gibbons' reservations on the Family Planning Bill and whatever about his differences with Deputy Haughey in 1970—differences to which I was not party and which history alone will reveal, if history is ever written by Deputy Haughey himself—nobody in this House would deny that Deputy Gibbons was a competent Minister for Agriculture, and he has been fired. He has been fired at a time when the CAP is under enormous attack, and not just from its traditional enemies, Mother England, with Prime Minister Thatcher bleating and whingeing because, for the first time in her life, Britain has been asked to make a net contribution to somebody after spending the last 200 years taking from everybody else. It is also under attack because the budgetary system of the EEC itself is under considerable pressure with very damaging repercussions for this country in general macro-economical terms if the CAP is damaged, as damaged it undoubtedly will be. The Labour Party has argued about farmer taxation and about how the wealth that the CAP has generated for the rural community should be internally [1558] redistributed. But we have no argument about getting the money into this country in the first instance. In the midst of this crisis, despite the experience that Deputy MacSharry has obtained with regard to the budget generally, we shoot the jockey because we do not think the horse is running fast enough—we fire the Minister for Agriculture.

Does anybody in this House seriously think that agriculture is not important to this economy? We can only conclude that Deputy Gibbons was fired not because of competence or incompetence, not because of his understanding of agriculture, but because he voted the wrong way on the wrong occasion, according to the new Taoiseach. Is that a criteria for hiring and firing that we would accept in the Local Appointments Commission or in the Civil Service Commission? It has been applied here today.

Deputy O'Donoghue, clearly described as the architect of the Fianna Fáil manifesto, has had similar treatment. When the figures appeared to be working right for Fianna Fáil in the first year and we were spending the money that was borrowed in our name, there was no objection from Deputy Haughey. We got no sustained professional criticism about the dangers of deficit budgets to finance current accounts. We could even buy some tooth brushes out of it if we got lucky. Deputy Haughey made no economic criticism of the strategy, no refutation of the assertion by Deputy Flynn that the manifesto was the most important book published here since the Bible. There were no doubts that it might be a little bit wrong. Two-and-a-half years later Deputy O'Donoghue is fired and his Department abolished. Was it because he was incompetent or that the figures did not come out right, or that all along Deputy Haughey thought that it was all a bit of nonsense and when his time came he would simply get rid of the whole lot and follow the advice of Senator Whitaker?

I cannot assess Deputy D. Gallagher's performance as Minister for the Gaeltacht because I am not directly involved, but obviously he does not appear [1559] to have been as successful as Deputy O'Donnell. But neither does he appear to have been as disastrous in his task as Deputy Fitzgerald is in Labour. Yet he lost his job and Deputy Fitzgerald has been promoted.

Deputy Molloy was undoubtedly performing well in Defence. One of the manifesto pledges of introducing a Women's Corps has been honoured. Capital expenditure for capital equipment for the Defence Forces has been improved. They produced a very attractive advertisement for recruiting and, while levels of enlistment have dropped somewhat, nobody would say that Deputy Molloy was a failure in the same way that his Clare colleague, Deputy Barrett, has been a manifest failure as far as anybody who is on a local authority housing list is concerned. But Deputy Molloy has been sacked and Deputy Barrett holds his job. There is a motion in the name of the Taoiseach asking us to approve that, but there is no argument. I do not know whether members of the Government propose to speak. With 83 seats it is not clear whether members of the Government need to speak. It is difficult for a Deputy to speak to the motion when there is no argument.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  There is a convention on occassions like this that the appointees do not speak.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  I appreciate that enlightenment. I am still serving my apprenticeship in this House and I have a lot to learn. There are 14 proposed members of the Cabinet, but there are many backbenchers, campaign managers indeed, who might have an insight into why Deputy Molloy is now a backbencher and why Deputy Gibbons will retire, it would appear according to the press, back to his farm to ply his undoubted agricultural talents. They will vote for this motion. They will trot in and support it. Is democracy reduced to the extent of simply having the numbers and calling for a count? Are we now to dispense with argument and, once you [1560] have the numbers in your back pocket, you do not have to worry? That would appear to be the case.

We are two-and-a-half years, approximately, into the life of this Fianna Fáil administration who, it was claimed in their election victory, had achieved de Valera's first miracle, the 84 seats and, with the apparent success of their economic policies, they were on the road to achieving the second miracle. Suddenly a power struggle, which has been eroding and eating away at the core of this party or group—because it is hard to call them a party—erupts and we have a new alignment of forces and personalities, and a new Cabinet. We are asked to approve of that new Cabinet. We are not a party to the internal power struggle, but we are asked to comment on the competence and capability of the Cabinet.

In every other member state of the EEC a change in Cabinet such as this would have the commentators, the press, the business community, the trade unions, commenting upon the political implications and the political position, left or right, of the new Minister for Finance, whether he will be more radical or more conservative, more monetarist or Keynesian in his economic approach. What about the political complexion of the new Minister for Energy? Will he be a State interventionist or will he be for private enterprise? What are the implications for business and for the multinationals now that Deputy Colley will be the new Minister for Energy? Does it mean they will have to make a tougher bargain, or does it mean that they can ride rough shod over him?

Fianna Fáil like to pretend that ideologies stop at the boundary of our sovereignty, that the taint of right wing monetarism and marxism have been banished with the snakes by St. Patrick and will never affect our political life and, therefore, such ideological considerations are left wing academic indulgences which bear no relation to the realities of politics. They have been clever in putting across that view. If somebody wants to see an ideological [1561] document reduced to figures, printed by the Government and circulated to Deputies, I would suggest that a fairly up to date one is the quarterly bulletin on housing statistics. Anybody who wants to know the political complexion of the Minister for the Environment need go no further than page 1 of this bulletin to see the unbelievable decline in local authority house completions since this man has had responsibility for local authority housing.

In 1972 the figure was 5,902; in 1973, 6,072; in 1974, 6,746; in 1975, 8,794; in 1976, 7,263; in 1977, 6,333; in 1978, 6,073; and in the year of the Fianna Fáil economic miracle the figure is not even 5,000. That is not because of wilful neglect on the part of Deputy Barrett. He does not dislike the people on the housing list. It is a clear indication that when Fianna Fáil are in office they allocate resources on the basis of who can get their hands on them first. People who have not got the economic muscle or capacity to house themselves have to fend for themselves. Fianna Fáil have been fairly consistent because they applied the same ruthless vicious logic of capitalism in their allocation of resources to themselves as to the rest of the economy. The scramble and the fight for power within Fianna Fáil represent the jungle of capitalism within our society generally and in their economic policies.

Deputy Fitzgerald remains as Minister for Labour. We are given to understand he voted the right way and in doing so secured his position. This confirms yet again the principle: it is not what you can do, or how well you can do it, but whom you know. The Civil Service Commission appoint the secretaries who run the Departments of which these men and women are titular heads. The appointments we are considering would never have been made on the basis of the internal rules of the Civil Service Commission. I am not suggesting they should be. No reason has been given as to why there was any change in the Government other than the replacement of the former Taoiseach by [1562] the new Taoiseach, the addition to the Cabinet of a new Minister and, perhaps, some internal reshuffling. No argument has been advanced as to why four members of the Cabinet should have been dropped. Two of them performed as well as could have been expected. No argument was advanced as to why they have been fired, but it was said that they were out of favour with the new Taoiseach.

If Fianna Fáil apply this kind of logic, this kind of morality, to themselves, in the absence of any formal ideology—they are not left, right or middle according to themselves; they say they represent all sections of the Irish people—can we take it that this is the way they will apply rules of economic behaviour to the rest of the country? Are we to take it, for example, that social welfare applicants on appeal will stand a better chance if they know somebody rather than if their appeals stand up; or will somebody looking for a local authority house stand a better chance if he knows somebody rather than on the basis of his needs; or that somebody will get a job if he writes to his local Fianna Fáil TD, who in turn will contact the IDA to ensure that this person might be considered for one of the new jobs now about to come into being in Limerick, which Deputy O'Malley gladly announced? Is this economic logic that appears to allocate resources within Fianna Fáil now to be applied throughout the country with a new vigour? Having destroyed the economic edifice of Deputy O'Donoghue—one which this side of the House knew could not work—and in the absence of any declared new economic policy other than a mystical belief in private enterprise, is this to be the real ideology of Fianna Fáil? If it is, this is a new kind of exclusive club, a new kind of caste system in our community. I know the Chair is in a difficult position——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  I am, and if the Deputy will not speak on the motion before the House he should desist.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  I am speaking to the motion, but I am doing so in the absence of [1563] any argument to justify the sacking of four Cabinet members.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  The motion deals with the Cabinet that has been proposed and the Deputy should stay with it. This is not an Adjournment Debate during which the Deputy can talk about everything under the sun. This is a very confined debate.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  I would regard it as being confined to the one resignation and four sackings and the consequent necessity to replace them with five new members.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  The Deputy has been speaking of that during the last 20 minutes. He will now speak on the motion before the House. It would be much more edifying.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  I was speaking of Deputy Barrett and I should like to put on the record of the House an article stating that he was not to remain as Minister for the Environment. I am wrong, obviously, but Deputy O'Donoghue has no monopoly of that quality. I am thinking of the hundreds of people who are on the housing lists of Dublin Corporation for whom the figures in the local authority statistics are very savage reality. I am thinking of the members of Dublin Corporation Housing Committee who on Monday night declared a housing emergency in Dublin because of the collapse of this Government's local authority housing programme.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  These are all matters that could be raised on the Estimates or in another debate. We cannot debate each Department on this. We are dealing only with the suitability of the nominees before the House.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  If somebody who has been Minister for the Environment for two and a half years presided over the decline in local authority housing construction at a time of unprecedented population growth, am I not in order, because his re-appointment is before us as Minister for the Environment, to question his suitability?

[1564]An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  Certainly, but we cannot debate the activities of any Department. They are matters for Estimates and other debates.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  I thought the Ministers were somehow or other responsible for the activities of their Departments.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  A Member has not the right to go into a long debate on the activities of the Departments. He may refer to them in passing. A Deputy may make only a general speech on the motion.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Perhaps that is so, perhaps Ministers have only a passing relationship with their Departments, particularly since 1977 in the Departments of the Environment and Labour. I am sure the civil servants would prefer it that way. Perhaps this is an academic debate, that it does not really matter who is appointed as Minister because the Departments will send them off in State cars to funerals anyway and the civil servants will get on with the running of Departments. Maybe this charade is merely about the splitting of the titles of the Minister for Education, Minister for the Environment, the Minister for Labour, and the division of spoils——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  The Deputy should come to the motion before the House. The Chair has been very patient with the Deputy. Will he deal with the motion before the House?

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  I will conclude because I do not wish to be tussling with you, as you know.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  That is all very well, but the Chair has been very patient.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  What we have had during the last four or five months, during the period of our Presidency of the EEC, with the Taoiseach being President of the Council of Ministers, has been an intimation to Fianna Fáil, particularly since the Cork by-elections and the fiasco [1565] of the European elections of what they can expect. We have not had a united or respected Cabinet. As a result we are today debating the replacement of one Cabinet by another while we still have two-and-a-half weeks to go of our EEC Presidency. The competence of the new Government to take on that task appears at best extremely limited. Deputy Lynch said he would not have a Cabinet reshuffle until January because he regarded the EEC Presidency as being so important that even though he wanted a reshuffle it would not come until January to give his Ministers time to perform the tasks in the EEC that are so important to this country. What happened? He resigned last week with a month to go after the EEC summit, which technically was well managed by this country by civil servants and Ministers, to whom I give full credit.

Deputy Lynch did a good job chairing that summit meeting. He displayed the political capacity which this country knows he has, but then he threw in the towel and contradicted what he said in May he would not do and forced a reshuffle, something he said would be not to the advantage of this country until January. Three weeks of the present year are left. We have had no indication whatsoever from the Government what initiatives might be taken, for example, today by the new Minister for Foreign Affairs in reporting on the progress of our Presidency. Deputy Lenihan in his new capacity as Minister for Foreign Affairs is out in Strasbourg at the European Parliament Commenting on the progress we made. He got all the briefing material at about 10 o'clock last night. This is in the month of December.

The internal power struggle in Fianna Fáil, which has provoked the reshuffle within the Cabinet and this motion is now before the House, effectively has forced this country to cede the last month of our Presidency to Italy, the incoming state, which has run in every sense the meetings of this month. There will be another day and another place to argue this at some length and I am not [1566] proposing to go into it now. However, I make this point. We get the Presidency only once in every four or five years. For a small country like this, which has been so inhibited by its post-imperialistic master and by the London-Washington axis in all kinds of areas for so many years, considerable diplomatic and economic opportunity was provided by the Presidency of the EEC. It is a scandal and a crying shame that the internal concern for power and privilege within the Fianna Fáil Party should have forced the Taoiseach of the day, with all his experience, to throw away the last month and to provoke this House into debating this motion in December when it should be debated in the first week in February on the resumption of the Dáil.

There is no immediate victim of the disaster that has hit this country. In the world of EEC diplomacy and activity it is frequently hard to assess success. Nobody with any knowledge of EEC affairs, of the crisis facing the EEC with regard to the budget, of the dependency of this Country on competent and effective Ministers knowing their subjects and arguing their case on behalf of a poor country in a rich man's club, nobody with any knowledge of the complexities and technicalities of that would disagree with the assertion that in so carving up the resources of power within themselves Fianna Fáil have abandoned a unique opportunity for the rest of the people of this country provided by our Presidency of the EEC. That is a scandal and for that alone this Government should be condemned.

We will pay the price in terms of the regional fund and in reduced price levels for agricultural produce. We will not have the benefit of the former Minister for Agriculture, Deputy Gibbons, who performed so well in the previous two years. We have now a new Minister for Agriculture, who will have to take at least six to eight months to read himself into the job. But the crisis in the CAP will come before spring and we are now airborne and trying to train the pilots in mid-flight. Why? For what? Deputy Lynch had to retire, but did four Ministers have to go? Were they incompetent? [1567] There is no evidence to suggest that they were. They backed the wrong horse at the wrong time and so they are fired, sacked, in a manner which would be illegal if these people were employed in any decent business in the country. Under the law which Deputy M. O'Leary brought in concerning unfair dismissal every one of them would have a legitimate claim. No evidence is given as to why they are gone. There is a democratic mandate for the Fianna Fáil manifesto. There is no mandate for this nonsense. There was a mandate for Deputy Lynch as Taoiseach, and hundreds of thousands of people went willingly to the polls to “back Jack” and to put into the Dáil people who would “back Jack”. They did not realise at that stage that within two years they would be stabbing the same man in the back to such an extent that he would be forced at the expense of this country to resign in December——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  We are not debating Deputy Lynch.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  We are debating the consequences of what he was forced to do.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  The Deputy will have to keep to the motion before the House.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  We are debating the consequences of what he was forced to do. I am concluding now because, Sir, as you point out rightly there will be an Adjournment Debate at some stage, there will be the budget, matters about economic policy, and we might even get a White Paper.

Deputy O'Donoghue might be retained as some kind of consultant by the Government. A commitment was given by the previous Taoiseach that a White Paper would be published and we have still in law, if not in fact, some degree of collective responsibility within the Cabinet. Presumably, in giving that undertaking, some of his Ministers realised and understood what was happening. Of course, they are not Ministers [1568] any more, so perhaps they were the wrong ones to understand what was happening. There will be an opportunity to debate that.

Tonight we will vote on a new Cabinet and new Ministers, all of whom I wish well personally. I bear no personal grudge against any person in this House. My arguments are entirely political. People will walk home tonight in this city. It is not unreasonable to think that they will walk home in wet, miserable weather in the dark and that some of them will not go to decent homes. Whatever they go home to, it will not be a decent home. They have no voice here. They are not heard. The stamp of their feet does not echo in this Chamber and the miserableness of the lack of housing which they endure is not perceived in this place. Are you asking me to say that the Minister for the Environment or the Minister for Labour is competent to retain his post?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  All the Chair is asking is that the Deputy will speak to the motion. I am finding it very difficult to get him to do so.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  I am finding it very difficult to speak to the motion because there is no argument.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  But there is only the motion before the House. The Deputy admits that he will get plenty of opportunity to raise these other matters.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Although it will not give them much consolation, a lot of people would prefer to see Deputy Molloy manning the benches and Deputy Barrett or Deputy Fitzgerald in the back benches. There would at least be some objective logic to that. It is regrettable that that is not the case, and the well-heeled engine of democracy will wheel its way through these lobbys tonight as it did yesterday. We will have a new Fianna Fáil Cabinet and a mysterious Christmas surprise of an economic policy, no doubt some kind of economic cracker which will pop out at the next budget, but certainly one for [1569] which there is no mandate at all. There is a belief in the miracle-working capacity of the new Taoiseach that somehow or other he can do what no other right wing or mixed economist, chancellor, prime minister or President of the EEC has been able to do, that somehow because he has been so successful in his own capacity, it follows that he and his new Ministers will be equally successful for all. There is, too, the naive belief among some people and among some media commentators that because capitalism is successful for some it must be successful for all. These people do not realise that the success of capitalism depends on the failure and the defeat of most people at the expense of the few and that fact is manifested so clearly and so viciously in the power struggle on which we are being asked to vote tonight.

Mr. D'Arcy: Information on Michael D'Arcy  Zoom on Michael D'Arcy  I shall not detain the House very long because we have been asked by our Chief Whip to restrict our contributions to about 20 minutes. So far as possible I shall endeavour not to stray from the motion but, as Deputy Quinn states rightly, it is very difficult for us to debate here when there is no one to debate against us.

The events that have led up to this debate have been somewhat unfortunate. As a result of what is happening here this week I am convinced that the great losers will be the people outside this House. I am rather sorry for the fallen Leader, Deputy Lynch, for whom we all share a great respect. We knew where we stood with him and that is an important aspect in so far as is concerned any man who leads a party or a people. There was a mandate here for the 84 Fianna Fáil seats but there is not any mandate for the proposed Cabinet under the leadership of the new Taoiseach. We have reached the mid-term stage of this Dáil and we are confronted with the selection of a new Cabinet. When we analyse that proposed Cabinet we find that it contains only two new faces. The remainder are either members of the old Cabinet or have been promoted from the [1570] ranks of Ministers of State in the old administration. Therefore, one cannot visualise any major change in economic policy or strategy as a result of this new Cabinet. Unfortunately, it must be said that the old Cabinet must bear the responsibility for the present economic difficulties in the country. A heading in the Fianna Fáil manifesto read, “Action Plan for National Reconstruction”. That has transpired to be a plan for national destruction. The manifesto raised the hopes and the expectations of the Irish people to an impossibly high level. The first duty of the new Cabinet must be to endeavour to undo the damage caused in that way by the attempts made to put into operation some of the promises of that manifesto.

This new Cabinet, also, must tackle the serious financial situation in which we find ourselves, a situation in which money is not available even for people anxious to invest in productive enterprise. The Government must motivate people and, what is most important, they must remove the uncertainty that exists. In addition, they must improve the industrial relations scene.

Another matter that must be tackled is the area of the poorer sections of our community. Fianna Fáil have bragged a lot from time to time about the way in which they have looked after such people but since they were returned to office in 1977 the poorer sections have been the greatest losers.

It is not my intention to dwell on every appointment but there are some areas that are of particular interest to my constituency. I note the appointment of Deputy Woods to the Departments of Health and Social Welfare. Hopefully, some of the points we make in respect of those portfoils will be acted on by Deputy Woods. He is a fine young fellow but because he has not been at the helm in a Department up to now, he has not had the opportunity of proving himself in that respect. It is not necessary to remind the House that the new Taoiseach held the Health and Social Welfare portfolios during the past two-and-a-half years. There is plenty of evidence in my constituency anyway of [1571] the tough measures he took against the poorer sections of the community. For instance, there were the stringent assessments in respect of eligibility for medical cards when, without warning, the health boards reduced the assessment in this regard to a very fine art to the extent that because an applicant was exercising his right to live in a house his assessment for a medical card would include the house as part of his income. That was a public scandal and I call on Deputy Woods to take not of this situation. I have experience of this practice in the South Eastern Health Board area and I have no reason to doubt but that it is carried on in other health board areas too.

However, I am convinced that the reason for these measures was that the Minister might have more flexibility in the movement of funds from one area to another and that he might have more funds available to him but the sufferers were the poorer sections of the community. Is it not disgraceful, too, that a person who should qualify for an old age pension is assessed for that purpose on the basis of whether he lives in a house and irrespective of how poor his family may be? Another question that I would urge the new Minister to consider is the situation regarding married women.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  The Deputy is endeavouring to discuss matters that are appropriate to the Estimate.

Mr. D'Arcy: Information on Michael D'Arcy  Zoom on Michael D'Arcy  I am merely raising a few small points for the benefit of Deputy Woods.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  We are dealing only with the fitness of these men to form the new Cabinet. Deputies may not go into details of administration or of the activities of the Department though a passing reference to them is in order.

Mr. D'Arcy: Information on Michael D'Arcy  Zoom on Michael D'Arcy  Since 1977 the situation regarding girls who have got married and moved from their own areas but who were unable to secure employment within their adopted areas has been that [1572] they were refused unemployment benefit irrespective of how many years' stamps they had. The blame for that situation must rest with the present Taoiseach.

Another very important area is that of industrial relations. In any dispute we tend to blame one side or the other but everybody is responsible in this area of industrial relations. Deputy Gene Fitzgerald, against whom I have no personal complaint, has allowed our industrial relations situation to drift during his two and a half years in office. I am disappointed that he is to remain in this ministry and I am convinced that if Deputy Lynch had been reshuffling his Cabinet, Deputy Fitzgerald would have been moved from the Department of Labour. I am not here to castigate any proposed member of the Cabinet. I believe in a little co-operation but I am very disappointed with the performance of Deputy Fitzgerald so far in the Department of Labour. We have had strike after strike. I have some little experience of dealing with industrial disputes and I know that there is no point in blaming any one side in a strike situation. There are two sides to every story. Unfortunately, I consider Deputy Fitzgerald to be completely unsuitable for the position for which he is proposed. It is difficult to understand why the Taoiseach did not get this man off the book by placing him in some other position in the Cabinet.

Having been a member of a county council for a long number of years, I am very interested in the Department of the Environment. Again, this is another Department in which one would have expected to find a different face but Deputy Barrett is to be left with this portfolio. There is a moral obligation to make available the necessary funds to ensure that there is adequate housing for those who cannot provide houses for themselves. Deputy Quinn set out the record of the Government. We also have the evidence in our councils and we know about Deputy Barrett's performance with regard to providing money for housing. Each year there has been a [1573] reduced allocation and it is my belief, having regard to the fact that housing costs have escalated so much in the past 12 months, that the allocation for 1980 will mean further reduction in the number of houses built. Deputy Barrett has not fought his case at Cabinet level on behalf of the people who cannot afford to build houses for themselves. He has let them down very badly. I heard the speech of Deputy Harte yesterday and I was more than surprised at the remarks of Deputy Wilson. They were uncalled for.

Mr. Wilson: Information on John P. Wilson  Zoom on John P. Wilson  I agree. I apologised to the Deputy privately.

Mr. D'Arcy: Information on Michael D'Arcy  Zoom on Michael D'Arcy  I am glad to hear that. It is what I would expect. I would hate to live in the conditions some of our people have to endure. The first obligation of a Minister for the Environment is to ensure that sufficient money is made available for housing. Nobody can take credit from the National Coalition Government with regard to housing; they provided the money and the houses were built. Now we have to watch hopelessly the long queues in the towns and cities when housing schemes are being built. I call on Deputy Barrett to ensure that the county councils have sufficient funds to erect houses for those in need.

Deputy O'Malley has retained his post as Minister for Industry and Commerce. Most of his successes have come from the great work of the IDA and in this connection I mention the two factories recently opened in Limerick. Deputy O'Malley is a man of considerable intelligence but mention must be made of his aggressiveness, which he demonstrated to the Leas-Cheann Comhairle, myself and the other Deputies in Wexford when there was the unfortunate closure of the leather factory in Gorey. Deputy O'Malley did a bad job for us that day. When he is dealing with industrialists, whether large or small, I would ask him to tone down his aggressiveness. If he does this he will get far more co-operation.

[1574] I should like to congratulate the first woman Minister in this State, Deputy Geoghegan-Quinn. The Department of the Gaeltacht will not affect the economic policies of the country one way or another but she has made history. She is a fine lady and I wish her every success. All of us have an interest in finance. Unfortunately Deputy O'Kennedy who is nominated for the post of Minister for Finance is now a controversial figure for his performance in the events leading to the election of Taoiseach. That should be said.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  It should not be debated now. It was very much part of yesterday's debate but it does not arise on this debate.

Mr. D'Arcy: Information on Michael D'Arcy  Zoom on Michael D'Arcy  Deputy O'Kennedy is relevant to the debate before the House today.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  Yes, as a Minister.

Mr. D'Arcy: Information on Michael D'Arcy  Zoom on Michael D'Arcy  I am saying that now he is a controversial figure. Certainly I will not give him credit for his performance in recent events. That is my view; I am entitled to it and I am entitled to express it. This man has a difficult task, as has any Minister for Finance. His suitability for the task still has to be measured. The Department of Foreign Affairs is far removed from the Department of Finance. A Minister for Finance has the difficult job of trying to satisfy 14 Departments and he must also ensure that he gets the necessary funds to finance them.

Deputy Wilson is present in the House and I should like to address a few comments to him. He does not know me and I do not know him very well but I have a certain respect for him. He was one of the men whom I expected would have a change of Department. I expected him to be promoted because I believe the new Cabinet was badly in need of people with brains. I am not an educationalist and do not pretend that I am. In my view Deputy Wilson was one of the few people in government who did a reasonable [1575] job but obviously he was not on the right side because he has been left in the Department of Education. That being so, I would ask him to pay a little more attention to the technological education of our children.

I should like to say a few words to the outgoing Minister for Agriculture, Deputy Gibbons. I offer him sincere thanks for his work on behalf of farmers. We did not get on very well. He is a rather cross man and his greatest failing was his refusal to listen to the Opposition. Nevertheless we appreciated the work and effort he put into his job.

While observing the Deputies nominated by the Taoiseach yesterday, I noted that there will not be one practising farmer in the Cabinet. There is a big question mark in my mind as to how the Government will perform in the area of agriculture. Let me remind them of the importance of agriculture. We export agricultural products worth approximately £1,100 million and 50 per cent of the population depend directly or indirectly on the proceeds from agriculture. Let me inform the Cabinet that in 1979 the incomes of farmers decreased by 9 per cent and it is reasonable to assume that with the increased cost of production of 14 per cent for 1980 there will be a further reduction in those incomes. There is a huge question mark in my mind with regard to the commitment to agriculture and there is a doubt regarding the expertise or knowledge of the Cabinet in this area. Deputy MacSharry has not shown himself to be keen on agriculture. I have yet to hear him speak on this subject either inside or outside the House. If he had any interest in agriculture he could have displayed it on many occasions by speaking in support of some of the Bills introduced by Deputy Gibbons during the past two years. There is no doubt that a healthy agricultural industry would almost guarantee a healthy economy. Deputy Bruton and I will not give Deputy MacSharry a honeymoon. We shall ask him for a declaration of his intentions in relation to many areas. I question the ability of Deputy [1576] MacSharry to get the support of the other members of the Government to complete Bills introduced by Deputy Gibbons, such as the Land Reform Bill, the Disease Eradication Bill and so on. How will he get the backing that he needs when there is not one farmer among the members of the Government. At one time the Taoiseach, Deputy Haughey, acted as Minister for Agriculture but he was not a good Minister for Agriculture because he did not know anything about it. How does the Taoiseach expect Deputy MacSharry to administer the Department of Agriculture?

It was interesting to read in this morning's papers that Deputy MacSharry said that he will restore the confidence of the agricultural community. I should like to know how he is going to do that. In 1977 the agricultural industry was thriving but it is now in decline. It is unbelievable that so much damage could be done in such a short time. I come from a constituency of between 8,000 and 9,000 farmers, as does the Leas-Cheann Comhairle. The farmers of Wexford are good at their job. They have never lived on the dole. They have farmed the land.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  We are getting into local matters now, Deputy. No matter how interested the Chair might be in them we cannot discuss them on this motion.

Mr. D'Arcy: Information on Michael D'Arcy  Zoom on Michael D'Arcy  I question Deputy MacSharry's ability in relation to the EEC. I accompanied him on a trip to Europe during which we had to attend four conferences. I made a statement, as did everybody else, but Deputy MacSharry made only one statement. I criticise him to warn him of our approach to this matter. The fate of the farmers will be in his hands and I am one of them. Mrs. Thatcher is trying to erode the common agricultural policy and it will be Deputy MacSharry's duty to fight on our behalf. I know Deputy Gibbons had the capacity to fight on our behalf but I doubt Deputy MacSharry's ability to fight for the retention of the common agricultural policy.

[1577] Unity is most important in any Government. The events leading to the selection of the Cabinet will cause disunity. The men of ability have not been moved. People have been appointed for their support and loyality. An attempt must be made to motivate and unite the people. Instead of carrying out publicity exercises to suit himself, the Taoiseach has to assume responsibility for the members of his Cabinet. When Deputy Lenihan was Minister for Fisheries he refused to meet the fishermen. A Minister who is afraid to meet the people he represents must be described as a failure.

Deputies Lenihan, MacSharry and Power are the three men who will be expected to fight our case in Europe. They cannot be compared favourably with the three previous Ministers. I doubt their ability to fight our case in Europe in relation to agriculture and fisheries, which are important to our people.

I have no doubt that the Cabinet will experience teething troubles. Wherever a group of people assemble, and for whatever purpose, they always experience teething troubles. The job is to get them to blend. We must wait and see how the new Cabinet blend. They should not fool themselves because they have it all to do. They cannot wave a magic wand and put the economy of the nation back on a proper footing or repair the damage caused in the last two years. We now face a budget deficit of about £500 million. There is some anxiety as to how the new Cabinet will function. The PRO exercise of the Taoiseach is over because he is now responsible for the 14 Ministers. I appeal to the Taoiseach to start to govern the country for the benefit of the people.

Mr. Clinton: Information on Mark A. Clinton  Zoom on Mark A. Clinton  This is the sort of debate I dislike because, essentially, it is a discussion of personalities and I find such a discussion distasteful. However, I would be failing in my responsibilities as a Deputy and a member of the European Parliament if I did not intervene with some comments. This cannot be a good [1578] Cabinet because of the amount of bargaining, manoeuvring behind the scenes and promising that led up to the appointment of the Cabinet. There was too big of a division between the personalities that compose the Cabinet. To be a good Government the Cabinet must work as a team. It is a pity that instead of the resignation of a Taoiseach we did not have a general election. That would have given the new Taoiseach the independence he needs when selecting his team. The Taoiseach can have very little independence because there were so many forces working behind the scenes for him to select a Cabinet of his real choice. That is unfortunate.

I am concerned, firstly, about the person chosen to fill the post of Minister for Agriculture and, secondly, about the composition of the Cabinet in relation to agriculture. A glance at the list of Cabinet members reveals that none of them is a practising farmer. I know what it is like at Cabinet meetings to look for understanding, sympathy and consideration for any money for the agricultural sector. It is necessary to have Cabinet members who understand the scene in rural Ireland and know and appreciate the importance of the agricultural industry. People still forget that 50 per cent of our people depend on that industry, directly or indirectly. In my view there is no more essential post in government than that of the Minister for Agriculture. I am not saying that because I was honoured with that position in the National Coalition but because I believe it to be true, as do many other people.

Throughout the country people believe the Minister for Agriculture to be the person responsible for prosperity, or the lack of it, in rural Ireland. The Cabinet is devoid of practising farmers or people who are close enough to the agricultural industry to be sympathetic and understanding about the needs of those involved in that industry. That is important when the industry at present is experiencing a great deal of depression. The Minister to be appointed has admitted that there is a complete lack of confidence in the future in farming. He said [1579] it will be one of his tasks to restore that confidence. That is an admission but how did that situation come about? In my view it came about because the former Cabinet did not have sufficient members with a proper understanding of the agricultural industry. I have always held the view that the man that held this portfolio recently was not a person who fought his case hard enough at Cabinet level or was able to persuade his colleagues that there was something important to be done in this area.

I am concerned that a new and inexperienced Minister is being sent to Europe to conduct difficult negotiations at a time when we must face crucial issues. The Common Agricultural Policy is under attack from all sides. It is hardly fair to Deputy MacSharry that he should be put in this position for the country's sake. I hope he makes a very good Minister for Agriculture but it was not fair to put him in that hot seat. Members on the Government side may ask what happened to me pointing out that I had not been a Minister before I was given responsibility for Agriculture. That is a fact but I was always close to the agricultural scene. I did not take charge of that Department as far removed from the scene as the Member who has been given that responsibility.

However, I realise the difficulty the Taoiseach faced. Having looked through the list I came to the conclusion that the Taoiseach could not have appointed anybody else to take charge of the Department of Agriculture with confidence. It is not a job that one learns overnight; one must be close to it for a long time before one can become competent. It was not easy for the Taoiseach to find a suitable and experienced person for that post. Deputy MacSharry has taken on an extremely difficult task and I wish him well.

Two Ministers who failed utterly in their own Departments have been given the same portfolios. They may have a place in Government but I would have thought the Taoiseach, being aware of their performance, would have changed them. I am thinking firstly of the [1580] Minister for Labour. In that area we had continuous disruption, discontent and innumerable strikes and the person in charge of the Department of Labour when that sort of thing was occurring must accept responsibility. When in Opposition Deputy Gene Fitzgerald had a solution for every problem and no Member was louder about those solutions than he but when in Government he was not able to find a solution to any of those problems.

This may not be all his fault; it may be due to Government policy; it may even have been the raising of expectations to the heights the manifesto raised them. It may be a combination of a whole lot of things. It may well be a situation in which no Minister for Labour could do a first-class job. Certainly if an effort was being made to generate more confidence in the future of the country—and we are confronted by very grave economic and financial problems at present—if there was an anxiety or concern to restore confidence at least there would be a change of Ministers in those Departments that appear obviously to have gone wrong. Probably the industrial relations area is the most important one in the country, where there is most need to rectify a situation that has gone completely off the rails. I would contend that there has been complete and utter failure in that Department, and that position remains unchanged.

There has been no change affected either in the Department of Justice. There has never been a period in this country in which this whole situation has deteriorated so much, when there has been so little law and order evident, with so much wholesale looting and banditry throughout the country with obviously very little being done to rectify it. Is this a man to leave in that job? He may have a place to fill in a government, he may have other abilities, but certainly I would not choose him as being a suitable Minister for Justice because he has occupied that office now for two and a half years during which time the situation appears to me to be constantly deteriorating. Indeed it is not that that [1581] appears only to me. Everywhere I go I hear these criticisms. It is the view of the vast majority of the people I meet that these are two areas where drastic changes must and should have taken place.

Then there is the Department of the Environment which has been covered by various other speakers. We have a disastrous housing situation at present. The number of houses being built is falling. That may not be entirely the fault of the Minister for the Environment; he may not be getting the necessary moneys to do the job because money has been squandered in other areas. Of course, the Government must carry collective responsibility in this regard. But if a Minister cannot get the wherewithal to do his job, when he knows there is a very serious situation obtaining, I do not know how he can continue to function in government. Over a period of time if he is unable to get the wherewithal to do his job, then there is one option only open to him—if the position is constantly deteriorating—and that is to get out. That is the sort of thing that brings it to a head. Those are three changes I would strongly advocate.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  Deputies should not read the newspapers when a Deputy is speaking.

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  The Deputy must not think much of his colleague's views.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  Deputies should not read the newspapers while another Deputy is speaking.

Mr. Clinton: Information on Mark A. Clinton  Zoom on Mark A. Clinton  Deputy Woods has been appointed to the Department of Health and Social Welfare. From what I know of Deputy Woods I think he will do a good job there, and indeed a good job needs to be done. From what I know of him this Department should suit his type of ability.

At lunchtime I was listening to some comments being made by Deputy Paddy Power who is a close neighbour of mine. [1582] If he continues in the vein in which he has started—in which he admits that his knowledge of fisheries is very meagre indeed but that he is concerned about the small inland fisheries people—he is on the right lines. The small boatmen who can go out only to the three-mile limit have had a very hungry period over the last few years. Somebody needs to be sympathetic to them and I was glad to hear Deputy Power express the view that he would concern himself with them. I was glad also to hear him say there would have to be some radical new thinking in the area of forestry, where so much of our timber is now ready for processing but where that whole industry has been allowed to run down. It is an area that could provide a lot of employment. We have been looking forward for a long time to the day when this timber would be ready for processing and, just when it is, every relevant processing industry in the country appears to close down. I am glad that Deputy Power is concerned about this. It indicates that he is already looking seriously at the problems confronting him. I hope he does a good job and I wish him every success.

The other completely new appointment is that of Deputy Reynolds to the Department of Communications. I must admit I do not know the first thing about Deputy Reynolds but again I wish him luck.

I feel that this is a Government and Cabinet that will find it very difficult to work because of the circumstances in which its various members were appointed, because of the divisions existing behind the scenes, even amongst the members themselves and, unless there is team work in a government, it is bound to failure before it starts.

This is not a debate I particularly like because it is difficult to say much—without being fairly accused of departing from the motion before the House—other than commenting on the personalities involved and I must say I do not find that very easy.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  First of all, I should [1583] like to congratulate Deputy Haughey on his election as Taoiseach and also to congratulate all those other members who have been appointed to date. It is very difficult for Deputies not to be somewhat repetitious in this debate in one way or another.

I expect my sympathy to those Ministers not reappointed—Deputies Gibbons, O'Donoghue, Gallagher and Molloy—does not mean very much. Comparing the four Ministers who have been omitted from the new Cabinet with those selected to replace them it would appear that some of them got a raw deal; as a matter of fact, I think they got a very raw deal. Rumour has it that even some of those who have been appointed would not have been there were it not for the fact that the new Taoiseach was warned that he was going a bit too far. It may be all to the good to have a new team and that there are three people only holding the positions they held previously but, all in all, it is not the most inspiring Cabinet. With regard to the Department of Agriculture and its new appointee, it is only fair to say that I know Deputy MacSharry well as being a very fine type of man. But as a farmer or as a representative of an agricultural area one must question his ability. Whatever one may have thought about his predecessor in that office, certainly he had a very intense knowledge of agriculture. Whether or not agriculture prospered under his ministry one cannot say, but certainly he knew his job well. I am sorry I cannot say the same about the new appointees.

We have not too many problems in agriculture at the moment. I am particularly concerned about the sugar beet industry in my constituency. There is a proposal at the moment that the A quota of sugar be reduced by 10 per cent and that the B quota be reduced by something in the region of 80 per cent. If this happens the sugar beet factory in Tuam will have no future. If there is a very small expansion at the other three factories at Carlow, Thurles, and Mallow, the Tuam factory could be done without. I am sure many other people [1584] will be communicating with Deputy MacSharry about this matter. I would like him to have a look at it. If this 10 per cent reduction takes place in the production of sugar it will be a great loss to our economy. I fear that it will be a greater loss in the area I represent.

It is quite possible that whoever is negotiating on our behalf may accept a 1p increase on a gallon of milk and accept the 10 per cent reduction in the production of sugar. I have been in contact with our European representatives in relation to this matter to ensure that it is looked after well. I appeal to the new Minister, Deputy MacSharry, to look after it.

Deputy O'Malley is in much the same position as he was before and I congratulate him on being retained in the Cabinet. The energy crisis we have had this year was handled disastrously by the outgoing Minister. I hope that if a crisis like this occurs in the future he will try to do a better job. The Department of Industry, Commerce and Energy had no control over the distribution and sale of petrol and diesel. People in the agricultural community were told that agriculture was a priority and if they did not get satisfaction they were to contact the Department of Industry, Commerce and Energy. They were told they would be given a certain amount of fuel to enable them to carry on their work. I contacted a local supplier and was told that no fuel was available. I succeeded in obtaining supplies but not through my regular supplier. We were told that the Department of Industry, Commerce and Energy would look after the people who could not obtain diesel, but they did not do anything about it. There were other people who were not as successful as I was in obtaining supplies. Petrol was very scarce particularly during the months of May and June.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  The Deputy is getting away from the motion before the House.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  I want to bring this matter to the attention of the new Minister. There were some filling stations [1585] which for several months sold nothing else but Rocket fuel although they were getting their usual allocation of ordinary fuel. The responsible Minister did not take any action to ensure that the interests of the public were looked after. Those particular filling stations sold the Rocket fuel all the time at £1.50 a gallon when petrol was retailing at approximately £1 a gallon. This should not have been allowed to happen, but when it did some action should have been taken by the responsible Minister.

Deputy Reynolds is to be the new Minister for Posts and Telegraphs. I wish him well, but he is going into a dreadful mess. There was not a great deal of attention paid to this portfolio in the past. People generally accepted that we had a bad telephone service. The system then became automated, but the telephone service got worse. There have been several Ministers under different Governments responsible for the Department of Posts and Telegraphs. It is impossible to look back and say that they did a good job. During the period since the last general election not alone was there a Minister in charge of this Department but there was also a Minister of State. The Minister who was in charge of that Department is now changed to another Department and we do not know what the position of his Minister of State is. I do not know if the Taoiseach will appoint a Minister of State to help Deputy Reynolds in the Department of Posts and Telegraphs.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  The Ministers of State are not under discussion.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  As far as I am concerned, the two people who were in charge of the Department up to this could be scrapped, one person put in charge and the position would be no worse than it was. Deputy Reynolds cannot do any worse in this Department than his predecessor did. Apart from the desperate service, there is a very long list of applicants for telephones, some of them waiting up to five years. But there [1586] does not seem any hope of the Department being able to provide them with telephones. I hope the new Minister listens to the representations made to him and listens to the Deputies in the House who will not put him astray.

Deputy Barrett has retained his position in charge of the Department of the Environment. He has not been a very great success in that Department. We would like to see more money being made available for a lot of the essential services which come under that Department. I know it is not very easy to get a lot of money at the moment. The easiest way to get it is to rob a bank. I impress upon Deputy Barrett the necessity for making available finance for housing, roads, sewerage and so on which has not been made available previous to this. It is time something was done about it. I assume that the lack of finance for arterial drainage is the concern of the Minister for Finance. On our entry into the EEC, we received a direct grant in the region of £42 million for drainage in the western area, which grant seems to have been administered by Deputies Wyse and Hussey.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  These Ministers are not under discussion at present.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  They are not. I say to the proposed Minister for Finance, Deputy O'Kennedy, that I am not satisfied with how this money has been spent. None of it has been spent in the county which I represent, County Galway. It is necessary to appoint somebody to this portfolio who will concern himself with the drainage of the rivers in County Galway.

Deputy Collins has retained his position as Minister for Justice. This House is full of rumour but there is one going around it that his alarm rang particularly late. As far as security is concerned he may be doing his best but is not achieving too much. Hardly a day goes by without, at least, one bank or post office being robbed—on some days there are two or three places robbed, as has happened in my constituency. We have [1587] reached the stage when it is only the bigger robberies that are reported. There are hundreds of small robberies taking place, but they do not now make news. Armed robbery is a big problem here at present. It is fair to say that regardless of how well he tried Deputy Collins did not make a success of it and I do not understand why he is back in that job. It is something about which something will have to be done; perhaps under the direction of the new Taoiseach Deputy Collins may do something about it.

Mr. Boland: Information on John Boland  Zoom on John Boland  The Minister over there was a good Minister.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  Order, please. Deputy Donnellan is in possession.

Mr. Boland: Information on John Boland  Zoom on John Boland  Deputy O'Malley was a good Minister for Justice.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  I would like to ask the new Government a few questions.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  Through the Chair.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  What relevance has the 1977 manifesto in present-day terms? Is that the policy which is to be pursued? We, in this House, are asked to approve of 15 Ministers and we do not know what they are going to do. I have here a document which was the bible in June of 1977; it has become a very tarnished document now. Does it have any relevance to the people being appointed to the new positions? I shall read an extract or two from this document. On page 5 it gives the Fianna Fáil prescription for recovery. I presume this is the field which used to be administered by Deputy O'Donoghue, who is no longer a member of the Cabinet. It states:

Fianna Fáil will campaign to raise employment and output, and to lower costs and prices by:

TAX CUTS TOTALLING £160 MILLIONS...

What relevance has that at present?

[1588]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  It is not relevant to the debate, anyway.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  I congratulate Deputy Máire Geoghegan-Quinn on her appointment as Minister. In the Department which she administered prior to this—and I am not being at all unkind—she did not do one damn thing. I leave it at that, without adding one further word; silence is the best thing I can give her. I do, however, wish her luck in her now portfolio. She could not do one bit worse than she has done in the previous one. She was supposed to control prices and be the watchdog for the housewife. On page 10 of the manifesto, in regard to prices, it states:

Government policy must be directed towards discouraging increased costs and prices in all areas where it has control or influence. This policy has been absent in the last four years.

I presume this refers to the time the Coalition Government were in power. However badly that Government might have done, they do not hold a candle to the crew that has recently been replaced.

I congratulate Deputy Lenihan on his appointment to Foreign Affairs, which will be a really tough job. He handled his previous job well. He made the world of promises and did not deliver on one of them. The only remarkable thing is that he got away with it. Who else but Deputy Lenihan would get away with it, anyway?

On page 21 of the manifesto it states:

The Irish fishing industry has traditionally been a coastal activity and accordingly Fianna Fáil firmly believe that to protect the livelihood of our fishermen a 50 mile off-shore limitation on foreign trawlers and factory ships is of urgent necessity.

As they say, the paper will not hurt you with any ink. Nothing was ever more true in this instance.

The Taoiseach will have an onerous job supervising these people whom he has appointed to the Cabinet. I wish him all the luck in the world but would add that, his performance since he came [1589] back in to the good books of Fianna Fáil and was appointed a Minister has not been very impressive.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  The Taoiseach is not under discussion. We had that debate yesterday.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  I come now to the Department of Social Welfare. That Department as it has been administered over the past two and a half years, has been a disaster. The 1977 manifesto stated that Fianna Fáil intended to maintain the living standards of social welfare recipients by regular adjustments of the level of payments at least in line with the cost of living. That has not been done. During the summer we had a disastrous situation, and we still have it, where people are waiting for six months for old age pensions and where unemployment benefit and assistance and sick benefit is not being paid by the Department. The Department closed up completely while the present Taoiseach was responsible for it. Being the type of individual he is and being able to get the publicity he does, one would think that he had been doing a magnificent job.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  The Taoiseach is not under discussion in this motion.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  I hope that the new Minister for Social Welfare will perform a little better than his predecessor and will take into account the promise of his predecessor in relation to wage increases for nurses. I hope that the new Minister will do more than his esteemed predecessor in that line. I was going to refer to the Department of Posts and Telegraphs, but it is a waste of time talking about it. We have a new Minister. Let us hope we will do something about it.

I wish the Taoiseach and all his new Ministers the best of luck. The circus is almost the same as it was except for one change—the clowns have been moved around a bit.

[1590]Mr. Donegan: Information on Patrick S. Donegan  Zoom on Patrick S. Donegan  It would be foolish and unwise to say that all Ministers and politicians are bad. Fianna Fáil is the largest party and I oppose them vehemently, but within their ranks there must be some good men. When a Taoiseach comes to appoint his Cabinet naturally he will appoint some good men and some not so good. Our legitimate duty today is to consider whether these men are good or bad.

I know it is incorrect to talk about the Taoiseach on this occasion but mention has been made about the lifestyle of the Taoiseach. As far as I am concerned, if a man does a job for the country that is all there is to it. The lifestyle of any member of the Cabinet, the way he or she behaves in private is of no interest to me. The Irish people are too inclined to listen to rumour and to criticise those who are doing their best for them. I do not want to approach this debate in any liberal fashion or to suggest that one would like to see the personal fortunes of behaviour of Ministers being discussed here. I do not intend to do so except, perhaps, in one instance.

When one thinks about the appointments to this Cabinet one must decide that the appointments to the Cabinet had a direct relation to and were made within the shadow of the 1970 arms trial. People were sacked and people who took certain lines that were quite clearly defined were appointed. Certain Deputies who backed the Taoiseach in the events that went on over the last three weeks or more, probably the last three months, got Ministries. There is no doubt that the appointment of these Ministers were directly related to the arms trial of 1970, especially when one considers the fact that Deputy Jim Gibbons has gone and that an agricultural unknown is appointed in his place. The present Taoiseach and Deputy James Gibbons just could not serve in the same Cabinet. That is a sad situation but, thank God, that is not the situation on this side of the House.

There is no person either in the Fine Gael Party or in the Labour Party under whom any of us could not serve. I served [1591] from 1973 to 1977 in a Coalition Government and I was proud to serve with my Labour colleagues. There is a situation within Fianna Fáil whereby certain persons could not serve with other Members and that inhibited the Taoiseach in his choice of Ministers. The Taoiseach was also limited by the fact that his election to the position of Taoiseach occurred on the basis of 44 votes to 38. The number of people from among that 38 who survived are few indeed. Some had to survive either because of their excellence, because of their long service or because it would not be polite for the Taoiseach to appoint other people from within his 44. That inhibited the production of a good Government. The Taoiseach should be able to sit down and decide from among those supporting him which person should be appointed to which post and should not be inhibited by the fact that nearly half of his party were in fact vehemently against him.

This has been a different sort of election because the shadow of the 1970 arms trial was always upon it. Deputy Jim Gibbons was sacked from agriculture and replaced by Deputy Ray MacSharry, who is an agricultural unknown. I describe him like that completely as a political criticism and I have no personal animosity towards him. I do not believe that Deputy MacSharry is even threatened with a knowledge of agriculture, and yet he has been given this major ministry. After the Department of Finance, the Department of Agriculture is the most major Department. How many years will pass and how many mistakes will be made before Deputy MacSharry makes the right decisions? Perhaps, if the Minister takes the advice of his civil servants and plays it safe, not too much harm will be done. When I compare Deputy Ray MacSharry with Deputy Mark Clinton, with his knowledge of agriculture, the imagination boggles. Deputy Jim Gibbons was not a bad Minister for Agriculture, but he also had the shadow of the arms trial upon him. I have served here for 25 years and I remember Deputy Jim Gibbons as a most jovial [1592] friendly person, a person who would talk to one in the passage ways; but from 1970 onwards he withdrew within himself and was a completely different person. That did not stop him doing his job in the Department of Agriculture and he was not a bad Minister, but the post has now been given to somebody who just does not know about it.

The removal of Deputy Martin O'Donoghue from the Ministry for Economic Planning and Development seems to be the present Taoiseach just making sure he gets rid of the manifesto about which Deputy Donnellan was talking. He wanted to get rid of the manifesto quickly and for all time. He said he was never for it. He did not say anything about that in 1977. However, the situation is that he knows now that it cannot succeed. The only way he can face the next election is to get rid of the man considered to be the main architect of that 1977 manifesto. Therefore Deputy O'Donoghue's head had to roll.

A man of the stature of Deputy O'Donoghue, a Professor of Economics, could be a very important person to have in government. When one considers Deputy MacSharry against Deputy O'Donoghue, one wonders why these things were done. They were done out of political expediency. Since the arms trial Deputy MacSharry had a sneaking regard for the IRA. Therefore, he had to be rewarded. He did his job in the west for Deputy Haughey, the present Taoiseach. For political expediency Deputy O'Donoghue had his head chopped off.

When I was Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Wildlife Deputy Denis Gallagher was Opposition spokesman. I found him to be a man of considerable knowledge. I found him capable of making his ploy against me and sometimes getting the better of me. He was a man of considerable ability and a perfect gentleman. I remember one occasion in this House when he lost his temper with me. Perhaps I goaded him into it. The following morning he apologised. To put a man of the calibre of Deputy Gallagher off the team was, in my opinion, a classic error. Deputy Molloy in Defence——

[1593]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  These men are not nominees under the resolution.

Mr. Donegan: Information on Patrick S. Donegan  Zoom on Patrick S. Donegan  I will leave it without the slightest trouble. I will deal with the people who are appointed and will start at the bottom. In Communications, we have Deputy Reynolds. Very few people know much about him except that he was a whiz kid. During the general election he was more like an American whiz kid than an Irish politician. I saw some of his posters on cars and heard of his operations. He has now been given the most arduous task of trying to do something about communications. They are in a very bad way and there is not much hope they will improve in the very near future.

When we were in office, in the run-up to the budget all the Departments produced their total bills for everything that was needed. We used to call it “Uncle Tom Cobley and all”. I remember the then Minister for Posts and Telegraphs, Mr. Conor Cruise-O'Brien, coming in with fabulous bills that could not be met. After 15 years of Fianna Fáil administration our communications systems were in a chaotic condition. I wish Deputy Albert Reynolds well, but I do not think he will do much for our communications systems in the near future.

Deputy Power, who is responsible for Fisheries, Forestry and Wildlife, said he knows very little about it. That is the understatement of the year. I cannot understand how such a person could be appointed to that Department when Deputy Gallagher was available. It amazes me when somebody who knows something about the job is available and is passed over while a person who admits on the radio that he knows nothing about the job is appointed. Deputy Power may be a loyal supporter of the Taoiseach. He may have done his trick in Kildare, and possibly Laois and Offaly and got his man home, but that is not enough. He does not know anything about Forestry, Fishery and Wildlife and admits it. Yet he is appointed to that Ministry. That is not right.

[1594] The Irish people had to pay for the promises in the 1977 manifesto, but in the succeeding years they found they were considerably worse off because the money to pay the car tax and take rates off houses was coming out of their pockets.

It would be ludricous for anybody to say there are not good men in the Government. If Fianna Fáil are the largest party, then they have a wide choice. Deputy Woods could be a very good member of the Government. He has the ability and seems to be a nice fellow. Deputy Geoghegan-Quinn also has ability, but I would not put her in the same street as Deputy Gallagher. The fact that there may be some political kudos in having a lady in the Cabinet may have affected the Taoiseach's choice. I spoke about Deputy MacSharry and I will not say any more about him.

Deputy Wilson is a decent fellow. He has a very difficult job in education, but he will do his best. Deputy Fitzgerald has been absolutely hopeless in the Department of Labour. He was a joke. Deputy Fitzgerald comes from Cork and was within the organisation of a certain gentleman in Cork, whose name I will not mention but who was a very strong Fianna Fáil supporter, a very big subscriber, and very much in the inner circle. Therefore Deputy Gene Fitzgerald had to be kept.

As Minister for Labour, Deputy Fitzgerald was the ultimate disaster. I sat for four-and-a-half years in Cabinet and saw Deputy Michael O'Leary, then Minister for Labour, improve day by day, week by week and month by month. At the end of that period it looked as if there was some hope of labour peace and commonsense and that men could sit on opposite sides of the table and bargain with one another and we would not be left without buses. That is all gone. Labour relations are a joke. The national understanding has become the national misunderstanding and nobody can deny that. If it is not the busmen it will be the train men and after that the ESB and so on. It is just not on. This man should not be a Minister.

[1595] Deputy Barrett, as Minister for the Environment, was doing his best. Deputy Donnellan made the point that he was completely inhibited by lack of money. That will get worse. The more one puts one concrete block on top of another the more one realises the cost of building. It is disastrous at present. I hope he will do something about that. The other problem facing the Minister concerns the roads. A famous statement made by Deputy Bruton was that there was plenty of money to take tax off cars and no money to fix the holes in the roads. The roads are a total and absolute disgrace. I know that the problem is one of money. The manifesto which Deputy Donnellan quoted stated that they were taking away £160 million of taxation. I wonder how much of that they will put back in the weeks after Christmas.

Deputy O'Kennedy is a very pleasant man but he is not up to Finance. There is no doubt about that. He has no knowledge or experience of business or of handling money. He is a barrister. He was in Foreign Affairs, a nice shop window Ministry and that is his lot. That is all the experience he has. The Minister for Finance is the Taoiseach's right hand man, his back room boy, he is the fellow in the loop in the tug of war team. He is the man who has to keep every other Department within bounds. He is almost everything to everybody. That is not Deputy O'Kennedy's job. He is a friend of mine and I know he will take my criticism not as personal criticism but as political. That is what it is. I have no doubt that he is not the man for Finance.

I was Minister for Defence for four years and have some experience of what happened in the Department of Justice. Those two Departments, for the first time when we were in office, were made to work hand in hand. The idea of the Army coming out in aid of the civil power under the 1928 Act was propagated by us over those four years. Justice is a difficult Ministry. I do not think Deputy Collins is the right man for it. He had a period during the 1970 situation when he was walking up and [1596] down Leinster Lawn with Deputies Blaney and Haughey wondering which way he would jump, what was the right thing to do and where the way was to stay with the band. The Ministers for Defence and Justice have to be men of complete integrity and single-mindedness in relation to the security situation. That is their first necessity. Their ability comes second. For that reason I do not like Deputy Collins in Justice.

Deputy O'Malley is in Industry, Commerce and Energy. He is a gutsy little man. It is very difficult to know whether or not he did a good job for us in the energy crisis. He was true to the kind of line he takes. He wanted to take on every oil sheik in the world. Whether he would or not we will never know because perhaps the whole thing would have ended up the same way if he had done nothing. That is his form and the way he plays it. His efficiency in Government is extremely good and he had to be kept on the team.

Deputy O'Malley is politically a nasty little man. I had an experience with one of my drivers who has since retired. One day a Minister was ill and a factory or something had to be opened. I was given the job. I had a further appointment in County Louth that evening and I had not time to see the Whip. When I came to the Dáil, having done the job for the man who was ill, I could not find my own Whip. I did what I had often done over the last 25 years, a perfectly natural thing to do, I went up to the Fianna Fáil Whips' office to see whether or not it would be possible for me to go home. I went in, my driver was with me, and there was Deputy O'Malley. I said I could not find my own Whip and asked what was the situation. Deputy Seán Browne said there was no problem and he would pair me and ring my office when my man came back. I turned around and said: “Hello Dessie, how are you”? He turned his head the other way and never opened his mouth. I walked out of the room and my driver said to me that he was driving Ministers for the last 20 years and that was the first time he ever saw that happen to [1597] anyone. I do not know why Deputy O'Malley does this. He would be much better if he did not do it. He should stick out the hand in friendship and what the hell about it, it is all no more than a day's work. I guarantee he is a good, efficient little man.

I have said one cannot have all good and all bad. That is the Cabinet that was selected. There was a wide choice. Whatever mistakes Deputy Haughey made he had to pick good men and Deputy O'Malley is one of these. He should catch himself on and be a little more convivial and happy.

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  There are different standards of conviviality.

Mr. Donegan: Information on Patrick S. Donegan  Zoom on Patrick S. Donegan  I am only telling the Deputy what happened.

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  The consequences of over-conviviality can be quite disgraceful at times.

Mr. Donegan: Information on Patrick S. Donegan  Zoom on Patrick S. Donegan  That is exactly what I thought Deputy O'Malley might say. That is exactly in character and if he would only stop that he would be grand. Deputy Faulkner will be an excellent Minister for Defence. He is without blemish as far as security is concerned. People forget that the Department of Defence have responsibility for intelligence outside the country and for getting information for the Taoiseach principally by listening to radio programmes at home and abroad and taping them so that the Taoiseach can be informed; marking reports in the press to see that the Taoiseach reads the relevant passages and so on. That is all done by young Army officers. It is important considering the situation one had with Colonel James Heffernan as Director for Intellegence and Captain James Kelly during the 1970 arms trial and the £100,000 which has not yet been tracked down even though the Committee of Public Accounts did their best. That went through Defence and Deputy Gibbons was responsible for it at the time. People think that Defence is a [1598] backwater. It is not. The responsibilities and duties are heavy and Deputy Faulkner will do a good job. I am glad he got Defence and is back in the Cabinet.

I am sorry that Deputy Lenihan is no longer in Fisheries. When I left Government I did not interrupt my successors in Defence or Fisheries because I might have been interrupting the front bench members of my own side who had taken on that responsibility and I might take different lines from them. I might also be inhibiting the Minister because I would have the files and information that he would have and I would not be doing a good job for the country. I did not criticise the Members in the two Ministeries I held for a period of time. However, Deputy Lenihan was beginning to get a grip on Fisheries. The truth in relation to Fisheries is that nothing has changed since my day. We heard Deputy Donnellan speak about the 50-mile limit and so on. There has been a complete deadlock caused mostly by the British. It has been a stonewall battle, all the time yielding nothing and most of the time gaining nothing.

Reading the reports of work done in Brussels and so on, I think Deputy Lenihan had got a grasp of Fisheries. He had previous experience in Foreign Affairs and lost his seat in the next election. I do not know whether he will be very effective in that Department now but to some extent it is a pity that he should be removed from the Department of Fisheries and Forestry and that we should have somebody there now who himself admits that he knows nothing about fisheries. Switches, of course make it easier for a Taoiseach to form a Government.

If I were—God forbid—a member of Fianna Fáil I would have voted for Deputy Colley who I think is a man of great integrity and a man who was faced with an almost impossible situation just as Deputy Ryan was faced with a similar situation in his time. Deputy Colley as Minister for Finance was not in a shop window ministry; he was in a difficult situation and for that reason he had to [1599] take stick and had to be unpopular. At the same time he was a loyal servant of this State and his work must be regarded as worthwhile. In his new Ministry he will have an easier time. It was rather ridiculous to have Transport and Tourism and Posts and Telegraphs all under the same Minister and all loaded on Deputy Faulkner who had all these very difficult matters within his grasp. I hope Deputy Colley will have a profitable and interesting time in Tourism and Transport. I am certain he will have the ability to look after his Department well.

I have given my views about the men I think should be in the Cabinet and are in it. It has been a totally and absolutely honest appraisal and I do not mind whether people agree with it or not. It is what I think. This Government is not as good as it should be. If the Taoiseach had used a little more foresight and had not been so partisan in his judgment of people he could have got a much better Cabinet. I wish them all the very best and for Ireland's sake let us hope they succeed but not well enough to keep us out at the next election.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  To say anything that has not already been said in this debate would require a mind different from the minds of those who have spoken already. Politics is a strange game as one realises having listened to what has gone on in this House in the past 24 hours. Politicians from different parts of the country have different characteristics and traits; you can love them; you can hate them; you can trust them, get on with them, but you must hand them one thing, that each of them is elected by the people. We have had the appointment of the Taoiseach and his nomination of the different Ministers to his Cabinet. Having listened to the trend of the speeches here one could be forgiven, if one were an outsider, for believing that the Cabinet was made up entirely of crooked people. This in fact is not true. There is potential for good in this Cabinet.

It is difficult to criticise a Government [1600] formed as recently as yesterday and when we in Opposition in the past two and a half years called, perhaps, for the removal of some of these Ministers and were highly critical of some members of that Government and we now find that the new Taoiseach has removed from office four senior Ministers. I find it impossible to criticise the potential capacity of new Ministers coming into those Departments.

The former Taoiseach was a person whose integrity was above reproach. I wonder if the priorities of the new Taoiseach and those of his Government will be the same as the priorities of the former Taoiseach. Will he place the affairs of the nation first?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  The debate on the Taoiseach's nomination took place yesterday. We are now debating appointments to the Government.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I understand that. The priority of the Taoiseach and his nominees should be to put the country's affairs first and leave their personal ambitions to take their place behind that priority. The new Government should do some very straight talking. The Taoiseach should remind his nominees that somebody once said: “Some people grow with responsibility; others just swell.” I have noted a glint in the eyes of some people who appear to think they have an inkling of something coming to them which may not in fact come. I remind those who are changed to new Ministries and those appointed to Ministries not to swell but to grow with responsibility because they are faced with enormous difficulties in very responsible positions.

At his press conference recently the Taoiseach spoke of his policy and mentioned that we had a bright, young, educated and intelligent population. The Government carry on their shoulders the responsibility of plotting the course of the country for approximately two million young people whose ambitions and aspirations must be met. It is up to the Taoiseach and his nominees to ensure [1601] that the young people are inspired with love of country and of all things Irish and with a desire to work to achieve their aspirations.

At this very time in the Gaeltacht areas polling is taking place for the formation of Údarás na Gaeltachta and it is ironic that the Minister who piloted the Bill for the Údarás election through the House was removed from office yesterday. While wishing his successor well, I remind the Taoiseach and his nominees that the constituency from which the former Minister for the Gaeltacht came was principally responsible for a change of Government in 1973. The Taoiseach's lack of knowledge in recent days about events taking place in regard to the Údarás na Gaeltachta election could mean for him fears of a kind different from those spoken of in this House yesterday when the people from this region come to make their decision at a future date.

I welcome the appointment of Deputy MacSharry as Minister for Agriculture. We had former Ministers for Lands from the west but Deputy MacSharry comes from the heart of a disadvantaged region and for western Deputies at least it is a particular inspiration. He faces enormous responsibilities. I see the brunt of pressure from the west falling on the new Minister in relation to a new western development, the £350 million infrastructural scheme proposed by the European Community and also in regard to the full implementation of the western drainage scheme. We will no doubt hear from Deputy MacSharry on these two very important social and environmental policies for western Ireland. I wish him well in that regard and in looking after the western farmers here.

In conclusion, Fianna Fáil have now given their verdict on their leader. In future times we will see that the former Taoiseach was one who cemented several factions within that party together. Regardless of the verdict given in the last 24 hours, the people will cast their verdict in future times. Unless the Taoiseach and his nominees remove [1602] from themselves the clouds of suspicion that hang over some of them, they will find that the verdict given in the next election will be quite different from that given in the last election.

Mr. Griffin: Information on Brendan Griffin  Zoom on Brendan Griffin  I am obliged, by an arrangement between the respective Whips to limit my contribution in this debate. No doubt by now the Taoiseach and his Cabinet are aware that their appointments are received with very little enthusiasm on this side of the House. I endorse the remarks of the leader of Fine Gael yesterday in respect of the appointment of the Taoiseach and his Cabinet. They will find that power for power's sake can be a volatile thing, an empty formula, a will of the wisp, something nebulous except when attended with that respect and dignity that goes with the person and the office of Taoiseach. I would remind the Taoiseach and his Cabinet that, as Shakespeare said, we would teach bloody instructions which being taught return to plague the inventor. I have no doubt that the tactics used may be used again if the present Taoiseach and his Cabinet do not come up to the high expectations not alone of their own party but also of the Opposition and particularly the people of Ireland.

I have always maintained that the former Taoiseach was plagued by being the head of the most inept Cabinet that this State has ever seen, a fourth division team where a first division team was necessary. Now I feel this Cabinet has been further relegated to the fifth, or even the sixth division. I can see no great improvement in the fortunes of the Irish nation and particularly in the economy.

I will avail, in the few minutes I have, of the opportunity to address the new Minister for Agriculture who is here. He is taking over a great responsibility, that of the agricultural portfolio. I would remind him that, next to our people, agriculture is our greatest asset; the nine inches of topsoil is our greatest asset. Unfortunately at the moment there is a complete depression, a lack of confidence among the farming community. I [1603] would urge the new Minister to do everything he possibly can to restore that confidence which has been eroded, particularly in the past year, by a succession of levies. Each farmer now is suffering a loss in terms of real income. Again there is this horrible confrontation between urban and rural Ireland, between the farming community and the PAYE workers. It will take all the talent of the new Minister to resolve the problem. Both farmers and PAYE workers must realise that they are complementary to each other; both are needed for the advancement of the country. There is one point I want to refer to the new Minister for Agriculture since he is in the House. That is that, of late, the Land Commission have not granted funds for the acquisition of land. There is one incidence in south Tipperary——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  We cannot deal with local matters. We are dealing only with the Cabinet at this stage. The Deputy will certainly get other opportunities to raise local matters.

Mr. Griffin: Information on Brendan Griffin  Zoom on Brendan Griffin  Let me just remind the new Minister of the recent sale of the huge Armitage estate on the borders of North and South Tipperary comprising 1,300 acres. I would ask him to use his good offices to ensure that the Land Commission acquires this property and divides it between the smallholders in the area.

There are other problems such as housing. I would urge the new Minister for the Environment to introduce a crash programme for the erection of houses. Day after day the Minister and all the Deputies are receiving letters from constituents bringing to their attention the impossible housing conditions they are expected to put up with. This area needs a lot of attention so that the people can have housing suited to the eighties.

Dr. Michael Woods has been appointed to the Department of Health and Social Welfare. I would urge him to ensure that payments to the various social welfare beneficiaries come to them in time because week after week Deputies [1604] are plagued by people, fathers with dependent wives and children, who are suffering hardship because they are not receiving these payments promptly. That is a specific area that I would urge Deputy Woods to devote his undoubted talents to.

In the area of food subsidies the Government have given the most clear example of their insensitivity to the needs of the people.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  The Deputy should not get into matters that could and might very well be raised on the estimates. We are dealing only with a Cabinet of 14 men at the moment and their qualifications to be a Cabinet. We are not discussing anything else.

Mr. Griffin: Information on Brendan Griffin  Zoom on Brendan Griffin  I understand that Mr. O'Kennedy, as Minister for Finance, will be introducing his budget. I would ask him to note that, despite what the manifesto said and despite promises to remove further food subsidies, in the local elections in north-east Cork and Cork city and in the EEC elections the people have spoken and given their verdict. I would ask him to consider the pain and the torment caused to the lower-income group, the weaker sections of our community, by removing food subsidies as has been done in the past. It is proposed that food subsidies will be further removed. I would urge Deputy O'Kennedy, in his capacity as Minister for Finance, not to carry out that proposal.

I am concerned about a White Paper. Apparently the Taoiseach and his Ministers are standing back and not accepting responsibility for implementing the manifesto notwithstanding that this manifesto was the vehicle that brought everyone of them into power. They rode the crest of the wave when it was popular to do so, when Deputy O'Donoghue was the great white hope of the Irish economy. Unfortunately the manifesto and the Minister are in difficulties. The Minister has been relegated to the back benches; the Department has been wrapped up, the [1605] tents have been folded, the shutters have been pulled down and the present Taoiseach and his Ministers want to wash their hands, Pontius Pilate-like, of the whole manifesto.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  The Deputy will have to come back to the motion before the House, which concerns the 14 Members of the Cabinet.

Mr. Griffin: Information on Brendan Griffin  Zoom on Brendan Griffin  Unfortunately, Deputy O'Donoghue was expendible and he can now retire to his textbooks a little wiser from his brief incursion into power politics.

I am disappointed at the sacking of a couple of Ministers. I thought Deputy Gallagher did a splendid job in the Department of the Gaeltacht, as did Deputy Molloy in the Department of Defence. I have no doubt that Deputy Geoghegan-Quinn, and Deputy Molloy's successor, will do their jobs. Those two men were sacked for political reasons and the prize was given to those who supported the new Taoiseach. People have been promoted and demoted for the wrong reasons. It says little for the Taoiseach that he had mean political motives in sacking and promoting certain Ministers.

As Minister for Education Deputy Wilson did quite a good job with limited resources. He has an area of grave responsibility, especially having regard to the huge increase in the number of our young people. I urge him to give greater attention to the development of the Arts in Irish education. I refer him to a report published recently by the Arts Council, the Benson Report, and the various recommendations in it.

I do not know very much about Deputy Reynolds. He has been honoured by being given the portfolio for the Department of Posts and Telegraphs. I know the feelings of the employees of that Department in the wake of the long drawn out 18 weeks strike. They have lost all confidence in the Department. They have lost enthusiasm for work. The new Minister must use any talent he has [1606] to restore that confidence and to get the workers, and particularly the clerical staff, back to where they were before the strike. This will be a mammoth task. The workers have been sorely disillusioned. Having given many years of faithful service to the Department, they were horrified to find to their financial cost that the former Minister and the Cabinet were totally insensitive to their demands.

I congratulate Deputy Power on his promotion to the front bench. As he comes from an inland county I doubt that he has any great knowledge of fisheries, but I suppose he can learn. Deputy Fitzgerald is a very genial type of person. He was Minister for Labour in the previous Government and, as it is accepted by all that he was a dismal failure, I find it rather surprising that he should be re-appointed. I do not mean anything personal against him. Labour relations between employers and employees are such that this Department should have been given a new political head.

The new Minister for Finance comes from north Tipperary. He was pretty successful as Minister for Foreign Affairs. I wish him well. His task will be all the more difficult because the kitty is bare. The popularity of any Minister for Finance revolves around the largesse he can distribute. When the kitty is bare this reflects on his popularity.

I congratulate Deputy Lenihan who has been appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs. Once again he has done the impossible. I have no doubt that with his flamboyant disposition and pleasing manner he will go abroad and win real friends for Ireland. Deputy Colley is to be Minister for Tourism and Transport. He will have to apply his talents especially to tourism which suffered a major setback during the recent 18 weeks postal strike. People in the tourism industry, particularly in the west, who were cut off from the outside world without letters or telephones or telex say they had a disastrous year. Deputy Colley will have to come to grips with that industry and restore confidence to the travel agents and all those involved. [1607] He will have to compensate them in 1980 for the disastrous effects of the postal strike in 1979. Deputy Woods is to be Minister for Health and Social Welfare. In south Tipperary there is a controversy about the siting of the sector hospital.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  The Deputy may not raise local matters on this motion.

Mr. Griffin: Information on Brendan Griffin  Zoom on Brendan Griffin  I wish him well and I invite him to south Tipperary to see at first hand the problems facing us with regard to the siting of this sector hospital. All in all, to me this reshuffle signifies nothing unless the Ministers get to grips with their various Departments. There must be cohesion and unity in the Cabinet and, after the events of the past few days, I cannot see that happening. The Taoiseach was elected by little more than half of his own colleagues. Therefore, how can he get the respect and the co-operation of the full parliamentary party? If they are to succeed, for the sake of the nation, and for the sake of the youth of Ireland, they must bury their political hatchets. They must come together as a solid unit with the aim of improving the economy.

We are now pitted against the top brains in the EEC and the proposed enlarged EEC. We will get no mercy from our counterparts in Europe. It behoves the Taoiseach and his Cabinet to do their homework. When they are facing our partners across the table in the EEC they should have their cases well prepared to ensure that whatever benefits are accruing from the EEC will accrue to Ireland.

We cannot afford the luxury of a divided Cabinet or a divided team. There is too much at stake. The future of Ireland, of our youth in particular, is at stake and I urge the Cabinet and the entire Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party, particularly as we are entering the 1980 era, to bury their political hatchets and to work together with the sole aim of advancing our country.

I should like to stress the matter of [1608] employment. The most recent figures from the Central Statistics Office show that there were 2,302 more registered unemployed on 30 November than one month earlier. The Government must give their attention to this vital section of the economy. Figures issued by the Central Bank for the end of November—these figures are seasonally adjusted—showed that 89,512 people were unemployed. Throughout the year there was a slight improvement in the employment position, but more can be done, particularly in the agricultural sector.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  The Deputy is now getting away from the motion.

Mr. Griffin: Information on Brendan Griffin  Zoom on Brendan Griffin  I would remind the Minister responsible for the IDA, Deputy O'Malley, that although the IDA are doing an admirable job in the employment field, the unemployment figure is too high and our economy cannot afford it. I would urge Deputy O'Malley and the Minister for Agriculture to appreciate the need for stronger action, particularly in agriculture where we have our own raw materials and where there is potential for many new jobs. We are way behind our European counterparts in the food processing industry, and the possibility of job creation in that area would cost very little in comparison with the cost to the IDA or in other areas where raw materials and expertise have to be imported. We should capitalise on our land and the traditions of our farming community.

In regard to the Department of Justice, though the mantle has again fallen on Deputy Collins I suggest he has failed in the matter of the security of banks and post offices. There has been a vast increase in the number of raids on these institutions and I suggest that this job should have been given to another Minister. It has become clear to us that Deputy Collins has not come to grips with this serious problem. We had the kidnapping of a bank manager's wife this week and we had other innocent people [1609] being persecuted because of a new dimension in bank and post office raids in Ireland. The Department of Finance must give any money necessary to combat this festering sore.

I wish the Cabinet every success. They have to face their EEC colleagues each one of whom is trying to do the best for his own country. I look forward to the publication next week of the promised White Paper. I suppose we can take it that because the Department responsible has been scrapped it will be thrown into the waste paper basket, so I hope that the document to be published next week will contain a more realistic appraisal of the needs of our economy, that it will be an improvement on what we have had heretofore which referred to the gateways being opened to a utopia or an El Dorado——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  We are now debating something that is not before the House, that has not been issued yet.

Mr. Griffin: Information on Brendan Griffin  Zoom on Brendan Griffin  I hope it will not be a reflection of the manifesto, that it will be practical and capable of being implemented. If the people are told the truth and confronted with a challenge they will meet it. Our people are the greatest asset we have and with united effort they can survive any set-back forced on them. I hope each Minister and the Taoiseach will earn the respect they do not now have and that they will get the full support of the people for the sake of the nation.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  As the last speaker for the Labour Party, I wish to put a number of observations before the House on this motion. When the nominated Ministers came into the House following the Taoiseach yesterday I do not think it is an unfair or unkind observation to say that they had a fairly tattered, ragged look about them. It is also fair to say that the new Cabinet have much less experience of Government than their predecessors. Even on [1610] the most cursory examination, it is fair to say they are a much less cohesive Cabinet. At least we know that the present Cabinet members as nominated are very divided internally and it looks as if this struggle will be prolonged into the eighties. We will not see the end of what happened in the past few days for a long time to come.

I want to make one reference to the overall role of the Cabinet before getting down to the precise functions of the individual members. Members of the Cabinet are not just the political heads of individual Government Departments. They are also members of a Cabinet exercising overall collective responsibility one to the other, working as a team. There is a massive contradiction internally in the present Cabinet as to what their real sense of purpose is to be and that contradiction was contained in the first press conference of the Taoiseach. I want to outline the problems facing the members of the new Cabinet and I will not dwell on this beyond making one observation.

The Taoiseach has given the role of the Cabinet and the functions of his office. At that press conference on 8 December he said, “I regard the peaceful reunification of the people of Ireland as my primary political priority”. This is to be the primary political priority of the Cabinet. I suggest strongly that the primary political priority of the Cabinet is the running of the Republic of Ireland and all the new members of the Cabinet must get that much into their heads lest they go off at half-cock in the next two and a half years thinking that Deputy Haughey is going to lead them, the new members of the Cabinet, up the Falls Road with a tricolour wrapped around them followed by the editor of The Irish Times. Therefore, I question strongly the statement made by the Taoiseach, Deputy Haughey, that he regards the peaceful reunification of the people of Ireland as his primary political priority.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  We debated that at great length yesterday. We are not debating the Taoiseach today.

[1611]Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  I will conclude that point by saying that the economic and social development of the Republic of Ireland is the first political priority of the Cabinet and they should get down to that activity immediately.

I deplore, resent and condemn strongly the decision of the Taoiseach to have the Department of Economic Planning and Development subsumed—or whatever word one wants to use—hurriedly back into the Department of Finance and that we now have a Minister, Deputy O'Kennedy, in charge of Finance and Economic Planning. That is a recipe for economic disaster in this country. I recall, even when I was a trade union official and before I ever came into this House, the battles that we fought in the early seventies to get the old economic division of the Department of Finance out from under the mat into a seperate Department and to have a Department of Economic Planning and Development. In that context I suggest that the whole planning function of the Cabinet has been downgraded once again by being transferred to the Department of Finance. Economic planning and development is an entirely seperate function of Government in the ordinary, day-to-day financial administration and budgetary administration of the State. The precipitous decision made by Deputy Haughey, the Taoiseach, on the altar of political vindictiveness and expediency will reap a very slender harvest for the Cabinet in the years ahead.

In that context I pay tribute to the former Minister, my constituency colleague, Deputy O'Donoghue. Ex-Minister O'Donoghue was one of the very few members of that Cabinet who had any economic experience or economic background. I differed strongly from Deputy O'Donoghue on economic strategy policy but never would I say of him that he did not have a personal awareness, understanding and appreciation of economic issues and economic data. We differed across the floor of the House but there was never any personal animosity or personal bitterness in our relationship. It must be put [1612] on record that his contribution was not confined to the past two years. During the seventies he contributed to the economic back-up services of the Taoiseach of the day, Deputy Lynch. I see no reason why there should have been such a brutal dismissal of that Minister apart from the fact that he just happened to vote the wrong way and voted for his colleague in the Department of Finance, Deputy Colley. I will leave it at that.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  The Deputy is now debating Deputies who are not on the list in this motion.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  I welcome the appointment of Deputy Geoghegan-Quinn as Minister for the Gaeltacht but my welcome is tempered very strongly. I wish Deputy Geoghegan-Quinn well. She is the first woman Minister of this State for half a century. It would be entirely churlish not to welcome her and I have no doubt that she has plenty of confidence because that was shown when she handled consumer affairs legislation going through this House. But it is a tragedy and entirely unnecessary that she had to replace one of the few political gentlemen of this House, Deputy D. Gallagher. He was one of the finest Ministers for the Gaeltacht in the history of this House. He is a deeply committed Fianna Fáil man admittedly, but I recall that even on such issues as the Dalkey school project, of which I am a trustee in my constituency, Deputy Gallagher as a member of the Cabinet gave us support, because he is that kind of man. I understand that he was a very strong man in the Cabinet and a very tough man, but because he just did not twist he was done out of a Cabinet position.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  It is not in order to debate this. It is all right to refer to a man in passing, but those people are not on the list in front of me.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  I am referring in passing. I come to the appointment of the Minister for Finance and, in future, [1613] Minister for Finance and Economic Planning. Deputy O'Kennedy was a competent if rather bland Minister for Foreign Affairs but he is lacking in any economic background, in handling the financial affairs of this State. He is a competent lawyer but I would not place any great confidence in him regarding the running of the Department of Finance and, I might add, of a Department of Economic Planning and Development. As the Chair knows well, the only reason for Deputy O'Kennedy being proposed for office is that he changed his mind at the last minute and voted for the person who is the new Taoiseach but that is not a good enough reason for appointing anyone to a Cabinet post.

There is needed urgently a fair and equitable system of taxation. One of the reasons for the climate of unrest that exists is the absence of any such system of income taxation at virtually all levels of society. In passing——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  Sometimes it takes the Deputy a long time to pass.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  In taking up his position Deputy O'Kennedy has an opportunity to reunite urban and rural communities with a common sense of purpose, provided he grasps the nettle of the inequity of the taxation system by way, for instance, of bringing all farmers into an accounts system, and provided also that he is prepared to stand up to Deputy Haughey who as Taoiseach and having regard to his history would be prepared to go on a rampage of indirect taxation.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  We cannot debate taxation on this motion. We are dealing only with the appointment of 14 human beings.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  We are entitled to talk about some of the functions and about the competence of those Ministers.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  The [1614] Deputy is going into the whole taxation scheme. He must not do that.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  I am outlining clearly that it is the function of the Minister for Finance to stop tax evasion and that if he is not able to discharge that function he should not be appointed. Also, it is the job of the Minister for Finance to introduce a fair and equitable system of taxation in rural Ireland. Hopefully, Deputy O'Kennedy will have the courage and the capacity to deal with those matters because there is an urban-rural divide and there is serious industrial unrest, of which one of the contributing factors is the totally inequitable system of taxation. There is trade union unrest. There is unrest in factories, shops and offices. I question very much whether in Deputy O'Kennedy we have a man of the capacity and courage required to deal with these problems. He has not shown to any extent during the past week his fitness to take on this situation. Taxation reform is an essential factor in the creation of a stable industrial climate. There is a need for that and also for real leadership in that area if the people of rural and urban Ireland are to be united with the common sense of purpose of promoting economic and social development.

The taxation issue is the cause of much tension and confusion. It is the cause also of enormous envy. Though the final figures are not available yet we know that by the end of this year the PAYE sector will have contributed £600 million in taxation while the farming community will have contributed something in the region of £15 million or £16 million. Therefore, I would urge Deputy O'Kennedy to be courageous in his attitude to taxation. For instance, he might consider adolishing the child tax allowance and the children's allowances, and, instead, pay a child benefit allowance to everybody.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  We are now getting into a debate on taxation.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  Of all the errors in the restructuring of the Cabinet the [1615] greatest has been the bringing together of the Ministries of the Public Service and of Labour. It can be argued that in doing this the Department of the Public Service for the first time in their history are given an air of reality and will get the smell of the real life of industrial relations when they go to the Labour Court or to the Department of Labour. I do not consider that a strong argument. Let us ask what will be the position of the Minister for Labour. In effect he will be virtually the largest employer in the country. He will be representing the State and, simultaneously, he will be the greatest hope in the area of conciliation, arbitration and negotiation. Therefore, the amalgamation of these two Departments is a crazy idea.

I appreciate that there are common aspects of industrial relations such as pay relativities, national pay agreements and so on where undoubtedly both Departments have had absolute liaison. It is extremely difficult to separate those two areas but I would point out strongly that Deputy Fitzgerald will be shackled in trying to combine the two roles in the one portfolio. Anybody who has ever worked in public life will realise that the functions of the Department of the Public Service are totally different from the functions of the Department of Labour. All such matters as redundancy tribunals, interventions in industrial disputes, the Labour Court and so on are reposed in the Department of Labour while the Department of the Public Service are essentially a servicing Department.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  And pay.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  I agree but pay is the only common element shared by the two.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  That is the one.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  That element is determined by and large by the Minister for Finance in the context of the Department of the Public Service. It is not determined by the Minister for Labour.

[1616] I consider Deputy Gene Fitzgerald to be a much maligned man. Sometimes an alleged exterior may give the impression that one is unintelligent but I consider Deputy Fitzgerald to be a highly intelligent man. He has had an impossible job to do during his time when the climate was all wrong for him. The manifesto gave rise to expectations that could not ever be fulfilled by a Minister for Labour. I would make the point strongly that the precipitous decision of the Taoiseach to combine the two Departments concerned was to say the least a daft decision. It may transpire that I will be proved wrong but as of now I do not see very much prospect in this amalgamation.

Deputy MacSharry is to be our new Minister for Agriculture. While I do not claim to know very much about agriculture, I know Sligo and I know something about the west. I do not know Deputy MacSharry very well but I would say that his knowledge of the agricultural sector is casual and not of any great depth. Certainly it was an appointment made out of political loyalty rather than political assessment of the capacity of the individual. Having said that, I wish Deputy MacSharry well in his difficult portfolio. It must be stressed that there is not a farmer to be seen within an ass's roar of the Cabinet. If that had happened in the period of office of the National Coalition Government we would have been derided throughout the country. Deputy Killilea would have been roaring outside the chapel gates and Deputy Haughey in his best suit would have appeared at the best agricultural shows in a chauffeur-driven car wringing his hands as a former Minister of Agriculture and lamenting the fact that there was not a farmer in the Government. Yet, here we have the Fianna Fáil Cabinet, like shredded wheat, with not a farmer in sight.

The former Minister for Agriculture is a tragic figure in Irish political life. Unfortunately after the tragic events of 1970 as far as he was concerned, he developed a Pavlovian, almost neurotic anti-Blue Shirt mentality—I use his own words. He began to loathe and detest [1617] certain Members of this House, notably the former Taoiseach. Tragically his attitude on Anglo-Irish relations became virulently anti-British. I recall him in the 1960s as a man of brilliant talent with regard to agriculture. He had a fine mind, and he had a great sense of humour—he was even a great cartoonist——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  Again, the Deputy is debating a man who was not included in the 14 Members. The Deputy is not in order.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  I want to pay tribute to Deputy Gibbons.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  It is not in order on this motion to pay tribute to somebody who is not included in the list of Deputies whose names are before the House.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  He must be allowed to express regret——

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  It was the only way I could do it. The tolerance of the Chair will be appreciated.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  The Deputy may make a passing reference to it but it is not in order to discuss the matter at length.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  It is tragic that a man of such brilliant potential was so scarred and perhaps it was as well that he was relieved of office. However, the circumstances do not speak well for Irish political history.

What can one say about Deputy Lenihan whom it is proposed to appoint Minister for Foreign Affairs? The man who canvassed for Colley and voted for Haughey.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  No problem.

Mr. Mitchell: Information on Jim Mitchell  Zoom on Jim Mitchell  It is an international problem now.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  The tragedy is that [1618] Deputy Lenihan will have to face the situation in Northern Ireland. There is a clear line of thought running through the approach of the Cabinet that with a little dig here and there in due course the British will declare their intention to withdraw, that we shall have cosy interim solutions and structures established and Deputy Haughey will lead us to the promised land of a united Ireland. I suggest to Deputy Lenihan that the problems are going to be much more complex and difficult and, having regard to the current attitude of the Government and the record of Deputy Lenihan in dealing with issues of this kind, at the end of two years there will be total stalemate. I do not see the British Government moving one inch towards Deputy Lenihan or the Taoiseach in that regard. All we will have will be two-and-a-half years of false rhetoric and of standard utterances by Deputy Lenihan. He will be as bland as ever and he will joke his way through the crisis, proposing federal solutions, interim solutions, interim structures, British withdrawal and so on. He will give us the usual mixture that will come out all right at the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis but it will not bring about any movement in that situation. There is no real assessment of the existing situation in Northern Ireland on the part of the new regime.

Therefore, I am entirely unconvinced that Deputy Lenihan in the Department of Foreign Affairs will produce any kind of interim structure in the next few years. I am not convinced that the Taoiseach or the Deputy will succeed in bringing about an agreement with the British Government or with the political forces in Northern Ireland. I do not think we will have any real movement in that direction under their leadership. We know there are common areas of substantial interest and that there are commercial relationships at local and national level which could be fostered and sustained. I do not think Deputy Lenihan will do anything about them in the next two years.

The man who should have been appointed Minister for Agriculture was Deputy Hussey but he did not vote the [1619] right way. I did not get an opportunity before of paying tribute to him and he may have lost his junior portfolio by now. I want to pay tribute to him now for his outstanding work as Minister of State.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  Hear, hear.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  I knew Deputy Hussey as a fellow-delegate to the Council of Europe and I had a great regard for him——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  Again, the Deputy is debating another man whose name is not on the list before the House.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  I wish to congratulate Deputy Woods. I have worked with him as Labour Party Whip in this House for the past two-and-a-half years and I have found him to be extremely courteous and diligent. He faces the most grave problems in the Department of Health and Social Welfare. The Deputy has had no experience in those sectors apart from some political community work in his area. We are in a situation where public expenditure on the social welfare services was 10.7 per cent in 1976 but has now declined to 9.8 per cent. There has been a decline in the percentage of expenditure of GNP devoted to health and social welfare services in the past three or four years. Deputy Woods is inheriting massive problems in that direction. It is not enough to say that £1,125,000 has been allocated to the Health Education Bureau. That will not take him out of the woods in 1980-81. He has enormous problems to face: there has not been a common contract signed by the doctors after two-and-a-half years and the salary scales for nurses have not been agreed after months of negotiation. The Deputy also faces the problem that as from the tax year 1980-81 there will be taxation of short-term social welfare benefits. Deputy Woods will have to face public odium as £13 million is clawed back in next year's budget in respect of social welfare.

[1620] One can only be charitable about Deputy Colley. I would have voted for him in the national interest but I suppose if I wanted to save my seat I would have voted otherwise. Deputy Colley should have resigned. He should not have accepted the portfolio he accepted. It will be impossible for him to have the driving force in a portfolio like Energy which requires imagination, innovation, effort, constant communication with other Ministries and constant trips around the country dealing with the sectoral areas of energy. Frankly, the man would have been better off saying, “Call it a day; I have had my opportunity.”

I welcome Deputy O'Malley continuing as Minister for Industry and Commerce because in the years ahead he will be a man of capacity for leadership of his own party and has the potential to be Taoiseach when his personality moderates and when he is able to restrain himself on certain occasions. I hope that he will be more innovative than he has been recently, such as in the appointment of retired civil servants to the National Prices Commission or in the appointment of a retired civil servant as Restrictive Practices Examiner. He should be a bit more open, a bit more innovative and he would have a better opportunity. Deputy O'Malley was courageous in his decision to stay and he deserves our commendation for his efforts to date.

All one can do is wish Deputy Albert Reynolds well. His qualifications epitomise the situation in the old 1929 and 1930 Cabinets of Eamon de Valera, when they used to ask: “Were you in the GPO in 1916?” The new criterion in 1979 is, “Were you in the Four Courts in 1970?” Deputy Albert Reynolds qualifies on that score and he——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Seán Browne  Zoom on Seán Browne  The Deputy should not introduce that type of innuendo.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  Deputy Reynolds lacks experience. He will have to face the new boards in the communications area. I do not know how he will shape up in [1621] regard to the new legislation because there are great problems in industrial relations. However, I wish him well in his appointment, even if he got the position on the basis of political loyalty.

I do not propose to talk about Deputy Power. I wish him well, even if his qualifications are his good line in jokes; he is a good MC at an old folks' party. His knowledge of Forestry and Fisheries is nil. Of course, his appointment is solely on the basis that he was a loyal lieutenant of the Taoiseach in the two-horse race.

I wish Deputy Collins well in the difficult task ahead of him. It is a relief for Deputy Faulkner and for others that he has been given the portfolio of Defence. As far as I am concerned, he is a loyal man and a respected Member of this House. He is a rock at Cabinet level. It is a pity that Deputy Haughey did not extend the same sense of magnanimity to Deputy Gallagher which he extended to Deputy Faulkner. However, the spoils of war dictated otherwise. There were men waiting in the wings to take over, men of lesser competence than the members of the previous Cabinet. We now have a tattered ramshackle Cabinet of less capacity than the previous Cabinet and God knows there was a scarcity of talent in the previous Cabinet. The Taoiseach could have done better. When Deputy Lenihan goes off to Brussels, or wherever he might finish up, the Taoiseach can have another reshuffle.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  I am glad that this debate is coming to a conclusion. I think it was reasonable to have a discussion of five or six hours yesterday on the appointment of the Taoiseach in accordance with the precedent on a previous occasion. There would not have been any advantage in following the precedent of a three-day debate on the appointment of the Government. I think the Government are entitled to be given the chance to get on with the job. They have a difficult job to tackle and many of them have to tackle new jobs.

This debate is of its nature quite different from that of yesterday. The issues [1622] which had to be raised then, painfully, in the national interest and regardless of party concerns, are not relevant here. We are concerned here only with the evidence of the approach to the task of Government by the Taoiseach which we see in his appointments. I have approached this debate with an open mind, both on the structural changes and on the appointments.

I approve of most of the structural changes. I was critical of the creation of the Department of Economic Planning and Development. I was not so much critical of its existence—I saw a case for it and still see a case for it— but I was critical of the establishment of such a Department with the particular range of responsibilities it was given because experience control of the current budget remains in the Department of Finance, giving it a role beyond that of being merely a Department for expenditure, one merely creates a problem of dual co-ordination if, in addition to the Department of Finance with its power of dealing with the annual budget, one has a Department of Economic Planning and Development with responsibility for the co-ordination of medium-term policy. There is not, in fact, any clear line that can be drawn between the short-term economic policy of the budget and medium-term policy. The shading of one with the other is such that they cannot really be adequately dealt with by two Departments. From the outside I am not in a position to comment on how the experiment worked during the past two-and-a-half years. The Taoiseach is in a better position to know having been a member of the Cabinet. I have the impression that it worked better than I expected and that this was due partly to the special competence of the Minister for Economic Planning and Development in his own sphere and partly to the good relationship between him and the Minister for Finance, which may have got over some of the difficulties inherent in a division of responsibility between short-term and medium-term policy. Such a personal relationship can be very important between any two Ministers [1623] where there is a potential for conflict. I know from my own experience of cases where Departments had long histories of conflict that seemed to go on for generations in some cases but where the personal relationships between Ministers ensured that these were overcome. In some cases one had to have six-monthly meetings of two Ministers in order to try to cope with all the problems which their civil servants had managed to create between each other during the previous six months. The question of personal relations between Ministers where Departments impinge on each other is an important one.

A radical reappraisal of the finance role with the transfer of the current budget to Economic Planning and Development, to give it full control of the whole economic exercise, with the Department of Finance then becoming the Department of Expenditure and in which the Public Service could be incorporated, would be better. After all, the Public Service is a very large chunk of the expenditure. If the Taoiseach was of the mind to make that change I would think it better—here I disagree with Deputy Desmond—to combine the two. I make that comment based on my predispositions from experience in Government but not having the advantage of seeing how it works. I reserve the right, if I subsequently have the opportunity to learn more about it from inside, to reconsider that view. It is my first instinct.

I should like to congratulate the Minister for Finance on his appointment and I give him good wishes with it but I do not intend to go into the circumstances that may have led to the appointment. The fact is that the Minister faces a very difficult task and he will have great problems. I know he will be sustained in that the Taoiseach's own special expertise in this area will be available to him. I am sure they will work well together in tackling the very difficult tasks that are involved in the economy. The burden on Finance has been reduced by transferring the Department [1624] of the Public Service to the Department of Labour. As Deputy Desmond said, this is arguable. I find it difficult to weigh the balance here. In Government the division between the two Departments at times did cause problems of co-ordination in regard to questions like national pay rounds. My inclination was to put the two together and the Taoiseach is probably correct. However, I have noted Deputy Desmond's point about the difficulties that could arise because of the fact that the two Departments as well as having similar interests also have, perhaps, conflicting approaches or roles. I would certainly at least reserve judgment on this decision for structural change.

I am inclined to think that it may be the right thing to do, in spite of Deputy Desmond's reservations about it. The fact is that in the last two-and-a-half years the Minister for Labour has come to be seen as having virtually no function. That is in contrast to the National Coalition where the Minister for Labour was active in introducing legislation and also active in intervening judiciously in critical strike situations. At the time I thought he showed very good judgment in knowing when not to intervene, at what point to intervene and how to intervene. His special experience in that area stood him in good stead. Towards the end, when he had special responsibility for the national wage round negotiations, he handled that with great skill and got excellent results. Indeed, he laid the groundwork for the drop in inflation to 6 per cent one year later as a result of the effect on the economy of the modest pay increases which were negotiated in the early part of 1977 with his assistance. As they worked their way through the economy they wound down inflation in a remarkable way.

The contrast between the role which the Department of Labour found for themselves in terms of reforming legislation and involvement in strikes at critical moments, and resolving them, and in dealing with the national pay rounds which under the last Cabinet was the primary responsibility of the Minister for [1625] Economic Planning and Development, showed what the Department of Labour could be. Since 1977 we have not seen that Department play any comparable role. By adding on the Public Service perhaps we may have a higher profile from the Minister in question.

The problems of Public Service reform have eluded all Governments since the foundation of the State, including the first Government who were so busy with other matters. As we know from the history of the Department of Finance, the actual public administration set themselves up and established their own structures without very much input from a Government preoccupied with other matters. No Government since then has tackled the problem of Public Service reform. With respect to the Minister for Agriculture designate there is not much evidence that he did so either and yet fundamental to the progress of this State is this question. It has been said jocosely, and not in any way correctly, that the last significant reform in the Public Service was the creation of the post of staff officer in 1920. That is a gross overstatement because there have been significant reforms and improvements but they have not got to the root of our problems. There is a disproportion between the extraordinary stability and unchangingness of the structure of the Public Service and the dramatic changes in the problems the country has to face. I had hoped that the problems of Public Service reform would be given a high priority. I am not convinced that by tagging them on to the Department of Labour under a Minister who has not shown during the last two-and-a-half years the capacity to act actively, effectively and constructively as his predecessor did, is the best way out. That is something which the Taoiseach in time may wish to reconsider as he will have an opportunity to do.

I am sure the Taoiseach was right to create a separate Department of Energy. The question of energy requires the full-time attention of a Minister. There are few areas that require it so much. The quite excessive burden that is carried by [1626] a person who is trying to deal with the problems of industry, commerce and of energy simultaneously is something which has been evident for some time past. It must be said that there are few people with the energy and ability of Deputy O'Malley to tackle that range of duties but I do not think it is possible for them to be handled by one man. There were some signs of strain as a result. I know that the job of the Minister for Industry and Commerce is a very burdensome one because on him devolves the whole responsibility for attracting here new foreign industrial investment which is vital to our development. That in itself, in terms of the negotiations involved with particular firms and the travel throughout the world on promotional exercises, is a very full-time job. Deputy O'Malley handled it with great capacity as did his predecessor who was a remarkable Minister in that and in other respects. There was the problem for Deputy O'Malley of, at the same time, handling the problems of energy. There were signs here that the burden was too great. He allowed his name to go out over a White Paper on energy which was so grossly inadequate as to be a cause of something approaching mirth in circles outside the country which examined it.

Mr. R. Burke: Information on Ray Burke  Zoom on Ray Burke  It was not a White Paper; it was a discussion document.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  I am sorry, I used the wrong term. As a discussion document it was so inadequate and contained so much information that was incorrect that it did not do us any credit and brought our energy policy no further. Frankly, I doubt if Deputy O'Malley made much input to it because it did not bear the stamp of his personality and ability. He made the mistake also of over-committing himself to atomic energy without adequate consideration and he failed to cope with energy conservation adequately. There was also the unfortunate and counter-productive encounter with the multi-national oil companies. I regard those not as a basis of serious criticism of the Minister so much as evidence that the burden was too great.

[1627] The Taoiseach was right to divide the responsibility for energy and industry and commerce.

The Minister for Industry and Commerce will now have to look after Tourism also which now comes back into the frame of that Department from which it branched out in the sixties when the Department of Transport and Power was formed. There is a certain merit in that because in a number of instances the promotional activities involved in tourism and industry and commerce tended to bring Ministers to the same place and, indeed, sometimes at the same time. Perhaps, one Minister can handle those two tasks well together. There is merit in bringing tourism back into industry and commerce.

In regard to Deputy O'Malley, I have been critical about his performance but I have been careful to say that perhaps simply the job was too extensive for any one man to do. I should like to say that nobody could doubt his ability, his courage or his integrity.

The task facing Deputy Colley in this new Department is a critical one. We are lagging far behind other countries in energy conservation. This is serious because we have obligations in this area, obligations to conserve energy, obligations to meet certain targets for the import of oil. These targets have been negotiated by the Government. We have been given leeway where other countries have to cut back. We have been given provision for increases in oil imports over the years ahead out of the static total of oil imports involved in the target of the energy-consuming nations. That negotiation was well handled and produced good results. But the fact is that a country with an economy having the capacity for expansion of ours, if it is going to expand at the rate necessary to provide anything like sufficient employment for our people, it will be necessary for us to conserve energy so that even this increased allocation will be sufficient for the needs of such a rapidly expanding economy. Moreover, if we are not seen [1628] to conserve energy and to take the kind of steps other countries are taking, we cannot be sure that the relative generosity with which we have been treated in this area will be maintained in the future.

Our failure here is something that must be tackled. It is not going to be a popular job. Energy conservation, because of its nature, is unpopular. It involves people being less warm, less mobile, less free to employ individual transport and more constrained to use public transport. We are moving into an era when the complete freedom of individuals in these areas will have to be constrained, not just here but throughout the entire industrialised world, in the interests of securing a balance between supply and demand for energy, in the interests of ensuring that the industrialised world does not remain so dependent on imports of oil as to be vulnerable to pressures, blackmail, not just from groups of countries but almost from individual countries, as we have seen in recent times.

This, then, is the difficult and unpopular task Deputy Colley will have to deal with. He will have to face up also to the issue of atomic power. Here I hope he will approach the problem with an open mind. His predecessor did not give the impression of having an open mind. When it came to the question of the public inquiry it was spoken about in terms that were dismissive. It was suggested that: well, we have to have this inquiry so that those cranks can have their say, but we all know what the answer is going to be. That certainly was not said but there was the clear implication in the approach to it. This inquiry is a serious matter. It must be, and must be seen to be, independent; and when it has carried out its task, its report must be and be seen to be impartial. When that report is received the Government must act on it and be seen to act on it impartially.

The issue in question is a highly divisive one, a dangerous one, politically dangerous, indeed potentially dangerous to the democratic system if handled [1629] wrongly. It arouses very deep concern and passion among people. I was struck very forcibly in the Cork by-elections by the number of people who raised this issue with me, and they were not all students out of a debating society in UCC or some such place—far from it. I went into major firms in the course of my duties in my campaign. I met executives of firms at their desks whose first question to me was: “Where do you stand on nuclear energy? Are you really intending to go ahead with something so potentially dangerous to this country?” As well as that I met very many young people for whom it was the major issue. That issue has to be faced. It cannot be swept under the carpet.

I reiterate—I have said this before in this House—that what happened on Three Mile Island, indeed things that have happened in France and the cracks that have emerged in their reactors, force us to reconsider our position on this. We have in Three Mile Island an example not merely of what can go wrong but of the pressures to cover up, at grave danger to tens of thousands of people, when something does go wrong. We also have an example of what a Pandora's Box has been opened up by atomic energy when we hear now that that closed-down reactor is sealed off, that nobody can go inside it for years to come, that nobody knows whether the seals can withstand the pressures during those years of waiting and, if the seals cannot withstand those pressures, then there could be a major disaster in that part of the United States. Yet nobody can do anything about it. They built that reactor without working out how they would handle a disaster if it occurred, without being sure that one could not occur, without the slightest idea of what to do when something went wrong. They have built something which is in a state of instability and there is no technology in the world that understands how to tackle it. They have to sit there, watch it and simply hope that the seals will not break. I do not think, after that experience of how far the enthusiasm of engineers can outrun their understanding [1630] of what they are doing, that one can persuade politicians to ignore the dangers involved, to set them on one side. After that example we cannot afford a coverup type of inquiry here. There has to be an open-minded inquiry. I hope that the new Minister for Energy, guided by the Taoiseach, will approach this with a genuinely open mind. It is important for our country. If I were a Fianna Fáil Government in office and concerned to be returned to power I would certainly look very carefully at this issue and be—and be seen to be—impartial in approaching it.

The new Minister also will have to handle any problems that may arise if the find of oil in the Atlantic turns out to be commercially viable, if, as current rumours have it, it turns out to be on a major scale. That, of course, would be a great bonus for this country and would bring great advantages. Nonetheless, there are problems in how that is handled, problems in decisions to be taken as to the terms eventually to be negotiated on which that oil is to be brought ashore, problems which are very delicate when a great national interest will be at stake. If the find were on a large scale there could be crucial decisions to be taken as to the rate at which we would make use of it, or the rate at which we might decide not to make use of it, as indeed Norway has prudently done. These are crucial decisions on which this Minister will have to advise the Government. I am glad that, if Deputy O'Malley is not there, someone of Deputy Colley's experience and stature will be there to handle these issues as long as he approaches them, especially the atomic energy ones, with a genuine open mind.

The Taoiseach was also right to bring communications together. It is true that this now boils down basically to transport and to general supervision of posts and telegraphs after the establishment of the boards appointed to turn these into two semi-State enterprises. I should like to take this opportunity of congratulating the two people who have been appointed to lead these two new enterprises. [1631] The preceding Government are to be congratulated on their choice of personnel. Those concerned deserve the gratitude of the country for taking on an onerous responsibility which can bring them no benefit, which can only bring them problems and which may mean their private lives being greatly interrupted by people ringing them up looking for telephones. It is a job I must say I should hesitate to take on myself from that point of view. Certainly, one would want to be very completely ex-directory if one were to be in charge of telephones here. It showed great public spirit on the part of the two people concerned to take on this job and we should welcome the fact that they have done so. We assure them of support from this side of the House, a support which will continue in Government if we take over the reins of Government next time.

The real problems for the Minister in this Department will not be in these two areas where for some time to come the work will be in getting these boards established, getting the whole process under way of turning these into State-sponsored bodies. The Government Minister concerned may not have much to do until those concerned come back to him with concrete proposals which he will have to pilot through the House. I am sure these proposals will be well prepared for him. His major problem will be transport and traffic. This is a growing problem.

This is a growing problem which we should not underestimate. Public opinion in Ireland today puts a very high priority on this question of traffic, one would almost say surprisingly high. After all, we are still only partly an urbanised country. One can drive fairly freely around much of the country as the roads are still fairly empty. Nevertheless, the problem where it exists, whether it is in a country town or one of our major cities, is on a scale which gives rise to intense frustration. It is a very difficult problem to tackle. Because our towns, more than towns in many other countries, are built [1632] on a very modest scale in regard to the road network, there are greater problems of damage done by new roads to the environment and the communities where they are built, so one should be very hesitant to build new roads and cities. This should not be the first thought. We should not let the engineers loose to do their worst in order to ease the problem of traffic for a couple of years growth when they can by so doing destroy the environment and never solve the problem. No engineering solution will solve this problem. It will alleviate it here and there at cost to the community but it cannot resolve it.

There is frustration caused to people moving about their business and a very large loss to the community through the slowing down of transport, which must be a very major burden on our economy today, a loss of time to people moving about their business and a loss of time in the transfer of goods from place to place. In this area the promotion of public transport as a priority is an esential. I wish Deputy Reynolds good luck in his task and especially on his appointment but I do not envy him in what he has to do. I hope he will approach it with a sense of proportion and that he will have regard to the importance of not destroying communities in order to build roads and that he will have the courage to make the difficult decisions that will have to be made if the necessary priority is to be given to public transport, to give it a chance to serve the community and to enable people and goods to move with the freedom they must in this country.

There has been no change of Minister in some Departments. The Department of Justice is one. There have been criticisms of the Minister for Justice. He has had to take a good deal of flack from this side of the House. It is right that he should because of the threefold increase in the scale of takings in bank robberies from mid-1977 onwards. I give him no credit for dodging this issue and for seeking in this House to present figures in a misleading way and hide the fact that the upturn to the scale of these robberies and the sudden trebling in the turnover of [1633] them more or less coincided with the Government coming into power. There is obviously no direct connection but the fact is that the problem has become worse in this period and it is necessary that it should be faced. It is no use blaming the Government because it has happened. We can blame them if they do not face the fact that it has happened, admit that it has happened and get on with dealing with it. I am not satisfied that anything like enough is being done in this area.

Arrangements must be made so that no one person being kidnapped will give access to a bank or similar institution to a gang of robbers. It should be impossible for any group of robbers to know on any one night who they have to kidnap to get inside a bank. There should be no institution of that kind with only one set of keys. There should be two or three sets of keys and the person who holds them on any one night should be decided just before they leave for home so that nobody will know who has them and so that it will not be possible, by kidnapping one woman and her children, to force the hand of a bank manager to unlock a bank and to let people away with tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds. These proportions are unfortunately necessary in this State because of the scale of violence unleashed in the last ten years, much of it still politically motivated and much of it designed to raise funds to murder people in Northern Ireland, some of it not but rather the work of criminals taking example from those who have undertaken those robberies for political motives.

Whatever the reason, it is now on a scale that is highly dangerous to our community and it must be tackled. The Minister for Justice has a job to do, which he has not yet undertaken adequately. Having said that I must also say that there is a sense of reassurance here and in Northern Ireland at the reappointment of Deputy Collins from the security point of view, even if he has not measured up to the job adequately in the view of many people. His reappointment nevertheless has given a sense of [1634] reassurance, as has the appointment of Deputy Faulkner to Defence. Whatever criticisms there have been of Deputy Faulkner in some of the jobs he has held, he is a person of dignity and reliability. He is being given an important post, one not to be underrated in a State which faces the threats we face today.

Deputy Wilson is to continue in the Department of Education. Continuity is important here. There have been too many Ministers for Education. The turnover of Ministers in this Department has been quite excessive. It is an area in which for a variety of reasons, partly the enormous number of vested interests involved and partly the structure of the Department it takes a long time for a Minister to get anything done. A lot has happened in Irish education in the last 20 years, but almost everything that has happened in that field has been initiated by a Minister other than the Minister currently in that position. The work has moved at a speed faster than the rate at which decisions can be implemented, particularly because of the consultations required with so many groups. There is therefore an advantage in keeping Deputy Wilson in that Department, but it is a muted one because his performance has been disappointing so far. I think too much was expected of him in view of his intellectual distinction and his very genuine interest in education but his slowness in action has been disturbing, even allowing for the things I have mentioned. One failure on his part I have to say I regard as very surprising, knowing him for a long time, is his insensitivity in regard to the religious minority here, which was also shown by Deputy Faulkner nine years ago when in this House it transpired he had not consulted the minority and did not seem to be aware of any churches other than the Church of Ireland and the Catholic Church.

This insensitivity has been curiously repeated by Deputy Wilson in regard to the very sensitive issue of community schools. For a year-and-a-half he refused to meet the secondary education committee of the Protestant Churches but [1635] went ahead and announced the signing of trust deeds despite stated objections of that committee whom he had refused to meet as Minister. That is intolerable.

I have no recollection of such a thing having happened in Northern Ireland. Whatever record they had in Northern Ireland in regard to discrimination, and God knows they were deplorable in areas like housing and employment and in how politics were run, the Department of Education in Northern Ireland, very consistently, showed great consideration to the minority. I know there were pressures on them in the late twenties and thirties with respect to State schools and the introduction of Bible studies and they came under pressure from Protestant groups but throughout they were always open to consultation with representatives of the religious minority and were generous in the provisions they made. There was an open door in regard to the minority for 50 years. Why should there be a closed door in Dublin to the representatives of the minority here? One can imagine the kind of impression that makes in Northern Ireland. Why do we so often, when we talk about wanting to bring the two parts of this country together, virtually spit in the faces of the people in Northern Ireland and give them totally unnecessary reasons for saying they will have nothing to do with us.

If any Member of this House were a Northern Protestant, would he be encouraged to have any involvement with a State in which he sees the representatives of the religious minority refused access to the Minister for Education and decisions being taken to go ahead and sign deeds of trust for what we call community schools, without even meeting the minority religion groups on the subject?

As regards the lack of consultation with regard to trustees, there is a particular example of how this operates, which, if you are a member of the minority community, you must find very hurtful. I understand that the Vocational Education Committee has recently, on the instructions of the Minister for [1636] Education, issued a circular saying that transport grants are to be withdrawn from members of a religious minority living within three miles of two schools—a community school and a comprehensive school. The schools in question are schools which have never been the subject of consultation with the Protestant minority, who have never been asked for their views, nor were their views taken into account. The schools have been set up and structures created, in close consultation with representatives of the majority church but none whatever with the Protestant authorities and yet, by a stroke of the pen, they are declared by our Government to be suitable for Protestants without a word of consultation with them and the Protestants are to lose their grants accordingly. If Ballymena education authority in Northern Ireland were to do that, what would we think down here about the Reverend Ian Paisley and his friends in Ballymena? What chances are we now giving him to talk about us, by behaving like that? I fault Deputy Wilson for that. I hope that, even at this late date, he will take into account any legitimate concerns and objections by the Protestant minority and that new community schools being established—there are community schools being established which are amalgams of existing schools and there is a special problem there—will be established on the basis that they are acceptable to Protestant and Catholics, so that they will be community schools where the children of the community can come together and their parents and their church leaders can be happy that they are there.

Anything less than that defames the names we have spoken in this House in the last day or two, from Irish history, who had some idea of making an Ireland in which people of all religions and traditions could live together in harmony. I hope Deputy Wilson, now reappointed, will consider this position. I repeat what I said at the time of the announcement, that if trustees are signed without consultation with the religious minority, I shall not, and neither shall my party, regard ourselves as bound by them and [1637] those who sign those deeds must face that fact. We are not going to recreate here a denominational State and if Fianna Fáil seek to recreate it, we will seek to undo it. At the same time, it is our duty to provide every aid and assistance to all sectors of the community, to all denominations who wish to maintain denominational education. The majority of our people seek and prefer denominational education; they are entitled to it and their rights should be protected also. They must have a choice of denominational education or education in genuine community schools. It is the Minister's task to do that, and I hope the Taoiseach will ensure that he does.

There is no change in the Minister for the Department of the Environment, but I trust there will be a change in housing policy. There was a time when Dublin Corporation declared a housing emergency. The problem is now having a profound effect on our society. There has been a very drastic drop in completions of local authority housing today, below the average achieved during the period of the National Coalition Government, which is profoundly disturbing. This is happening at a time when young people are finding it increasingly difficult, to the point of impossibility, to afford to buy a house and are being pushed on to the local authority housing list, thereby, in some cases, putting people living in appalling housing conditions further down the list. This is an intolerable situation. This Government must give priority to this and Deputy Barrett, the new Minister for the Environment, must address himself to this problem with more imagination and more resources than he has hitherto had.

I congratulate Deputy Woods and Deputy Maire Geoghegan-Quinn whose promotions are clearly on the basis of ability. In the case of Deputy Geoghegan-Quinn, no one watching her in the House in Opposition or in Government would describe her as a token woman in Government. She has the capacity and the bit of toughness needed in politics to do the job, and the ability. I [1638] am very glad that she is in the Cabinet and there in her own right. I hope she will carry—as she has done fairly well so far—the strain of running a home in Galway and a ministerial office here. I share her feelings about replacing Deputy Dennis Gallagher, which were obviously very genuine.

Deputy Woods's ability was recognised by the former Taoiseach with his appointment as Minister of State to the Taoiseach. I am glad that his ability has been further recognised. He has fulfilled a very important function in the last few days, in ensuring a smooth transition from one Government to another in a dignified but relaxed, way. He has a very great capacity and I am very glad he has been given this appointment. He is a man who would be genuinely concerned to do what he can with the vast problem in health and social welfare, the latter of which—if I may be forgiven for saying so—were neglected over the last two-and-a-half years.

Deputy MacSharry has also been promoted. I cannot ignore his appalling comment about bombing Northern Protestants out of Ireland. I am not aware that he has ever withdrawn this; I hope he does, though withdrawing cannot unsay it. A shadow hangs over any man who has spoken in those terms. His words cast a shadow over our whole State, and stand as a barrier to reconciliation. I must add, in fairness to him—because one should be fair and say what is good as well as what is, in this case, intolerable—that I found him, as I found the other Fianna Fáil members of the Committee of Public Accounts set up to inquire into the missing £100,000, completely impartial in carrying out a difficult and distasteful duty and in reporting objectively the diversion of these funds to the IRA. He and the other Fianna Fáil members did their duty to this House, without fear or favour. It is fair to add that comment having had to refer, regretfully, to that remark of his, not, to my knowledge, withdrawn.

Coming to the departmental aspect, it is a matter of concern expressed by others and I shall not dwell on it, that [1639] this Minister is not someone with direct experience of farming. The farming community will be very concerned that there does not appear to be anyone in Government who is a farmer. Farmers are very sensitive to this issue. There are many other sectors of the economy which are the responsibility of Ministers, where the Minister is not expected to have direct knowledge, or often does not and nobody seems to object. However, for good or ill, the farming community in Ireland do expect something rather special by way of treatment in this area. They expect to have a man who knows about farming, because it is special. It requires to be handled politically with sensitivity and special knowledge. There are many people who have a grasp of the economic issues involved in farming, even somebody with as little to do with the land as myself can at times tackle these problems, at least in speeches, and I hope I can talk about them reasonably sensibly. However, when it comes to being Minister for Agriculture there is more to it than a grasp of the great economic factors involved and farmers feel that there is more to it. It is a pity that the Fianna Fáil Party have been unable to produce somebody with practical experience of farming to do this job in a way likely to be to the satisfaction of the farming community.

I congratulate Deputy Lenihan on his return to Foreign Affairs. His last visit there was very brief; I am sorry that I was involved in terminating it. This is a very demanding post. His considerable experience should help him in it, although his disastrous handling of the fishing negotiations must raise a question mark as to whether he has the necessary toughness for the kind of negotiations involved in Foreign Affairs. He is also responsible, under the Taoiseach, for Northern Ireland affairs, for maintaining contact with the little groups in Northern Ireland and for ensuring the flow of information which would enable the Government to make the right decisions on tactics and on policy. One thing needed in undertaking that task is sincerity. No one is quicker [1640] to detect insincerity or lack of underlying concern than Northerners, either Catholic or Protestant, Nationalist or Unionist. Where we have failed most over the years is that we have not by and large conveyed to them a sense of sincerity, seriousness and concern in dealing with this problem. It will be the task of Deputy Lenihan to do that and I hope he can do it successfully for the sake of the country. No one could refrain from expressing goodwill to this genial man. In relation to his portfolio on Northern Ireland and in relation to other States much more is required than geniality and I hope that Deputy Lenihan has the necessary capabilities. This is a post where the role of the Minister's wife is important in a way in which it is not important in other Ministries. Mrs. Lenihan will be a great addition to the post as indeed Mrs. O'Kennedy was before her.

I congratulate Deputy Power on his membership of the Cabinet as Minister for Forestry and Fisheries. It has been said that he has no direct knowledge of these subjects, but we must not prejudge him or any other new member of the Government whose form we do not know. I wish the Deputy luck in his task.

I would like to add a brief word of regret about those who have left the Government. I take nothing back about what I said about Deputy O'Donoghue and the manifesto for which he bears a great responsibility. The manifesto is at the origins of Fianna Fáil's problems and of the country's problems. On this occasion Fianna Fáil's problems are the country's problems. Within his Department, Deputy O'Donoghue was an energetic and skilful administrator. The Deputy set up a monitoring system, as far as I understand it, to draw together and to try to make coherent a Government policy which is of its essence incoherent in a system in which Ministers and Departments are so individualistic in their traditions and are so unwilling to co-operate with each other in many cases. Far too much of the time of Ministers is taken up in trying to get co-operation. Deputy O'Donoghue set up a structure which will help in that task and [1641] which will facilitate Deputy O'Kennedy as Minister for Finance.

It was sad to see Deputy Gallagher going; he is a gentle man and a gentleman. We can also regret the departure of Deputy Molloy. There was widespread surprise at his departure, a surprise which is a tribute to him because it reflected a feeling that he was a Minister of capacity and he was not among those whom people thought might have been dropped because they were unable to do their jobs. There is some speculation as to why he has been dropped.

I regret the departure of Deputy Gibbons. We all know how much Deputy Gibbons put into his Department and how deep is his concern for agriculture. In view of the events of nine years ago I suppose his departure was inevitable. The Deputy is a man who commands considerable respect and perhaps more respect that he sometimes realises.

Doubts must remain as to whether this Cabinet has the necessary skills and experience and the necessary unity to tackle the problems of the country. The basis of Cabinet making in this instance has been to try to tack together two camps into what is a rather unbalanced and skewed group of 15 people. It is a rather ramshackle Cabinet despite the best efforts of the Taoiseach who was forced with many constraints. The divisions within the Cabinet are very deep and I cannot help contrasting the divisions within this unity party Government with the lack of such divisions in the National Coalition Government. The thing that struck me most forcibly about the National Coalition Government was the disparity between the reality within it and the picture outside. Constantly, while a member of the Coalition Government and since, I have met people whose mental picture of the Cabinet was of five people at one end of the table and ten at the other end, constantly battling with each other in trying to get a balance between their interests. That was totally removed from the way it worked, in which party divisions never entered in on [1642] any of the issues that came up. One cannot help being struck by how the public have preconceptions that one cannot get rid of. In contrast, whatever defects the Coalition Cabinet had there certainly was no question of disunity within it, while there is certainly no question of unity within the Government constructed here today.

This Government will have to work much harder than the last one. With all due respect to its members, one could not help noticing and it has been drawn forcibly to one's notice—the disparity between the input of work and the hours spent at their desks on the job by the members of the last Government and the second last Government. I know how much work we had to do and I know that part of the explanation for our defeat lay in our over-concentration on our jobs in Government, in our growing detachment from our constituents, our party and public opinion. We worked very hard. Somehow the lesson learned by the Government who have just got out of office seems to have been. “If you want to stay in Government, don't stay at your desk”. The results have been pretty disastrous for the country. The problems we now face are due primarily to the establishing effects of the manifesto and its implementation on our economy, but are due increasingly to external forces beyond our control. They are due also to the fact that too many Ministers spent too little time at their desks, with honourable exceptions. The demands of constituencies, the photographs in the press opening this, that and the other, sometimes for the second and third time and, indeed, several people turning up to open the same thing, that kind of antic is responsible for part of our problems today.

I know that Deputy Haughey is a hard working man. Some of us have felt and said that he has put a disproportionate amount of work into his public relations and not enough into his Department in recent times, but over the history of his period in Government he has a record of a capacity for hard work. I hope that Deputy Haughey will expect [1643] that his Government will work hard at their jobs. I know that the Taoiseach will also expect them to look after their constituencies and he will hardly discourage them from being photographed opening things, but he will also expect more out of them at their desks; I hope for the country's sake that he does.

The problems that the Taoiseach and the Government face are enormous. I should say that there are no great problems, that everything is reasonably all right and that if they fail to handle the very simple problems ahead of them, they must be very stupid. That would be a good political line, but it would not carry much conviction. We all know the problems we face. Some of them derive from the down turn in our economy due in large measure to the last Government's policies for which the Taoiseach has to bear a full share of responsibility. The record is there. Growth has been greatly reduced. I know there are question marks over the growth rates for this year. Perhaps they may be a bit better than the Central Bank or the ESRI have said, but it will certainly be far lower than it was last year. Some at least of that is the result of not being free to boost the economy when it needed a boost, because the Government boosted it when they came in and did not when it was going along very nicely at almost 6 per cent per annum.

The problem of inflation was made worse by this Government because they failed to hold back the money we knew would be needed in the second half of 1978 and early 1979 to be used to hold down the cost of living to single figures, to ensure that wage rounds would work out in single figures and that inflation would be held down. We knew that was necessary. Our assessment as we left Government was that inflation would fall to 7 or 8 per cent by May 1978. It turned out to be lower, partly because of certain measures introduced by the Government because the removal of rates and road tax had a marginal but perceptible effect on the cost of living. It worked out a little better than we expected but, subject to that, our calculations [1644] of how the rate of inflation would fall were correct.

We also knew that from mid-1978 onwards the favourable factors leading to that would be reversed. We needed to hold back money to be able not to impose taxes and, if necessary, to increase subsidies so as to knock two or three points off the cost of living, to hold it down to 7 to 8 per cent, because it would be rising into double figures otherwise, so that we could create the conditions in which a wage round could be negotiated which would be not more than 9 per cent in wage rates and which would then have held down inflation. That was our strategy. It was obviously the right strategy.

Our budget before the election was based on that strategy without regard to electoral popularity. Our card was trumped by the Fianna Fáil Government and they are now reaping the consequences. The consequences are there in our external payments. Where are the results of the Buy Irish campaign when we have the biggest import boom ever, when our economy is being supressed partly by the enormous flood of imports, not just for investment purposes but much of it for consumption purposes? Our external deficit is £650 million, and some think it might be even higher and as a result, even with Government borrowing of £500 million this year, there will be a 40 per cent cut in our external reserves. It is a very sobering thought that if the Government had not borrowed £500 million abroad this year our reserves would have been down from £1,250 million by four-fifths to £250 million. That is a very risky situation. To have encouraged that consumption boom by the policies in the manifesto was to court disaster not just for the country but also for Fianna Fáil. It is one thing to dig Fianna Fáil's grave but I wish they had not dug the country's grave at the same time.

As well as all that, there is the high level of borrowing with Government finances going astray. These are all problems the new Taoiseach will face and to which he contributed when he [1645] went along with the manifesto. I know he tried by his hitherto customary tactic of remaining silent to dissociate himself from it but he cannot do so. There is such a thing as collective Government responsibility. He cannot simply say it was not his manifesto. He may seek to imply it by a nod or a wink, but he cannot say it because it would not be true. It is his manifesto as much as that as the other 14 members.

Unfortunately we are at a stage in the economic cycle of this country which has been greatly aggravated by these policies and we are at a moment in time when the world situation is becoming much more difficult. The latest assessment of economic growth for the OECD countries is barely over 1 per cent. The assessment is that oil prices have gone up by 40 per cent and are now running, including the very large minority of oil purchased on the spot market in Rotterdam, at double the level for last December. The danger of a world recession is greater than before. The solution found last time—the recycling of petro-dollars through an enormous increase in imports by massive development programmes in Arab countries which helped to stabilise them politically—is no longer open. The capacity of the world banking system to achieve this recycling is very limited. They do not have the capital base and are over-extended and there is now a greater danger of world recession.

[1646] We could face these difficulties if the country were in the shape in which we left it. Deputy Lynch, as Taoiseach, was good enough to say on 18 December 1977 in this House that it was a foundation on which they could build—but it was a foundation which they undermined. It is much more difficult to face it now from the stance our economy is now in. There must be doubts about whether this team, not that much changed, can undo the mess created by almost the same team over two and a half years. No doubt the Taoiseach will throw himself into this problem energetically. Much is expected of him in the area of economic policy. It is sad to say that little is expected from him in the sphere of social policy, especially after the last two-and-a-half years.

For the sake of the country, we hope the Government can get us out of our difficulties, so many of them of our own creation, but difficulties that will be greatly aggravated by external events. I hope they can do it, but it is not easy to be optimistic when we see the team we are presented with: a lot of old faces which have not such a good record and some new faces about whom we may have hopes but in whom we cannot have an enormous amount of confidence. For the country's sake, let us hope they do their best.

Question put.

Ahern, Bertie.
Ahern, Kit.
Allen, Lorcan.
Andrews, David.
Andrews, Niall.
Aylward, Liam.
Barrett, Sylvester.
Brady, Gerard.
Brady, Vincent.
Briscoe, Ben.
Browne, Seán.
Burke, Raphael P.
Callanan, John.
Calleary, Seán.
Cogan, Barry.
Colley, George. [1647]Fox, Christopher J.
French, Seán.
Geoghegan-Quinn, Máire.
Gibbons, Jim.
Haughey, Charles J.
Herbert, Michael.
Hussey, Thomas.
Keegan, Seán.
Kenneally, William.
Killeen, Tim.
Killilea, Mark.
Lawlor, Liam.
Lemass, Eileen.
Leonard, Jimmy.
Leonard, Tom.
Leyden, Terry.
Loughnane, William.
Lynch, Jack.
McCreevy, Charlie.
McEllistrim, Thomas.
MacSharry, Ray.
Collins, Gerard.
Conaghan, Hugh.
Connolly, Gerard.
Cowen, Bernard.
Crinion, Brendan.
Daly, Brendan.
de Valera, Vivion.
Doherty, Seán.
Fahey, Jackie.
Farrell, Joe.
Faulkner, Pádraig.
////gate, Eddie.
Fitzgerald, Gene.
Fitzpatrick, Tom. (Dublin South-Central).
Fitzsimons, James N.
Flynn, Pádraig. [1648]Meaney, Tom.
Molloy, Robert.
Moore, Seán.
Morley, P.J.
Murphy, Ciarán P.
Nolan, Tom.
Noonan, Michael.
O'Connor, Timothy C.
O'Donoghue, Martin.
O'Hanlon, Rory.
O'Kennedy, Michael.
O'Malley, Desmond.
Power, Paddy.
Reynolds, Albert.
Smith, Michael.
Tunney, Jim.
Walsh, Joe.
Walsh, Seán.
Wilson, John P.
Woods, Michael J.
Wyse, Pearse.

Barry, Myra.
Barry, Peter.
Barry, Richard.
Belton, Luke.
Bermingham, Joseph.
Boland, John.
Bruton, John.
Burke, Joan.
Burke, Liam.
Byrne, Hugh.
Clinton, Mark.
Cluskey, Frank.
Collins, Edward.
Conlan, John F.
Corish, Brendan.
Cosgrave, Liam.
Cosgrave, Michael J.
Creed, Donal.
Crotty, Kieran.
D'Arcy, Michael J.
Deasy, Martin A.
Desmond, Barry.
Donegan, Patrick S.
Donnellan, John F.
Enright, Thomas W.
FitzGerald, Garret.
Fitzpatrick, Tom. (Cavan-Monaghan).
Griffin, Brendan.
Harte, Patrick D.
Hegarty, Paddy.
Horgan, John.
Keating, Michael.
Kelly, John.
Kenny, Enda.
L'Estrange, Gerry.
Lipper, Mick.
McMahon, Larry.
Mannion, John M.
Mitchell, Jim.
Murphy, Michael P.
O'Brien, Fergus.
O'Brien, William.
O'Keeffe, Jim.
O'Toole, Paddy.
Pattison, Séamus.
Ryan, John J.
Taylor, Frank.
Timmins, Godfrey.
Treacy, Seán.
Tully, James.
White, James.

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Woods and Briscoe; Níl, Deputies L'Estrange and B. Desmond.

Question declared carried.

The Dáil adjourned at 8.05 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Thursday, 13 December 1979.


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