Tuesday, 16 December 1980
Dáil Eireann Debate
Let me say, for the information of the House, that, subject to the motion being approved, I propose to assign the Department of Finance to Deputy Gene Fitzgerald, who will continue in office as Minister  for the Public Service, and to terminate the assignment to Deputy Fitzgerald of the Department of Labour and to assign that Department to Deputy Nolan. Deputy Nolan's appointment will create a vacancy among the Ministers of State and I propose to ask the Government to appoint Deputy Michael Smith to fill this vacancy.
Dr. FitzGerald: The appointment we are asked to approve derives from the decision of the Government to nominate Deputy Michael O'Kennedy as the Irish Commissioner of the European Community. We have already had an opportunity, on his last time in this House, to congratulate him, with reservations. He may be glad to be out of it and into the quieter climate of Brussels.
The decision to appoint Deputy O'Kennedy as Minister for Finance, despite the fact that he would not be available for that office for more than a year, was one which is difficult to defend. It was clear at the time that appointment was made that the country was facing a very grave crisis brought about by the way in which the economy had been managed by Fianna Fáil in the preceding two and a half years. It was vital that the country should have a Minister for Finance who would have a clear run ahead of him until whenever the next election might take place and would have the opportunity to tackle those problems effectively. To have appointed Deputy O'Kennedy despite his impending appointment as Commissioner, which we have all been aware of for the whole of that year, was something which is indefensible and it has resulted in a failure to tackle the economic and financial problems of the country.
There are no doubt other contributory factors. The Taoiseach's own problems in making up his mind and taking decisions on crucial issues has been perhaps the central factor. But had there been a Minister for Finance who knew he was there until the election and whose future depended upon that general election, rather than one who knew that he had an easy let out at the end of the year, then even the unwillingness of the Taoiseach to take decisions might not have inhibited  the Government from tackling some of the problems which they have failed to tackle.
Therefore, in retrospect that appointment appears as an unfortunate one. We can see part of the results of it in the expenditure over-run of £273 million in the Supplementary Estimates, almost all of it current expenditure, though it is not easy to distinguish one from the other because of the way in which these accounts are produced. This is an excess in expenditure which amounts to almost twice the amount of additional tax revenue raised in the budget. In other words, in retrospect taxes would need to have been increased by twice the actual amount to maintain the projected current deficit of £353 million, or 4 per cent of GNP.
The Minister's lack of concern about the public finance is reflected in his knowledge that his tenure was limited. We can see this in the cavalier way in which he said in the budget speech that, in the event of the £100 million provision for pay and pensions having to be increased, he was determined not to have a recurrence of the previous year's experience whereby such excess expenditure added to borrowing. In the Question Time that immediately preceded this debate he tried to get out of that by suggesting that the lower balance of payments deficit justifies his doing so. The economic logic of that would defeat even a first year economics student. Certainly if he put down such a reply to a question on that subject he would not get a pass from any economics lecturer from any university in Ireland. The Minister did not do himself any good by attempting that explanation, particularly in view of the reasons for the fall in the external deficit which reflects a 7 per cent drop in exports and the selling of our breeding stock for the year to come. The Taoiseach's action in making such a short-term appointment has contributed to the present chaos in our public finances.
The new Minister, whom we must congratulate on being appointed but also comiserate with in view of what he is taking over — and he is a courageous man to take it on — is faced with an even  more short-term task than his predecessor. The situation in which over a period of a year to two years we will have had three Ministers for Finance at a time of the greatest economic crisis we have faced in 50 years is obviously unsatisfactory and damaging to the interests of the country. In fairness, the Minister who took over office when the Taoiseach himself was appointed to his post should have been given a longer run at the job, an opportunity to tackle the whole task of putting our finances straight over the whole period up to the election. The new Minister now being appointed should equally have been given a longer run at his very short-term job of presenting perhaps — that remains to be seen — a budget to this House in some weeks' time. To ask him to take over this process in mid-stream, if indeed the process is being carried on at all at this stage, does seem very unfair.
Knowing the complexity of the task and having seen a Minister for Finance struggling with less acute problems under less unfavourable conditions than the present, I must say that to expect someone to take this over in mid-stream, to assimilate all the preparatory work that should have gone on up to this point and to actually produce a budget with the full command of all the data required for that purpose is asking a lot of anyone. If it is intended to produce a budget in the early part of next year then the Minister should have been given a greater opportunity to prepare and the outgoing Minister should have offered his resignation at an earlier date to enable that to have been done.
It can be argued that it does not matter who is the Minister when no decisions of consequence are being taken, but it is this very failure to take decisions which is at the core of our problems. We have drifted through 1980 without any of the necessary economic decisions being taken under Deputy O'Kennedy as Minister and I cannot say we have any confidence that the change in Minister will halt this drift. There is every sign that it will continue until there is an election and we have a new Government. It is the prospect of continuing drift and the damage being done to the country's economy,  finances, credit and creditability abroad which makes it clear that a general election is desirable at as early a date as possible. We naturally hope and believe that we would succed in such an election, but whoever succeds it is vital that this country has a Government with a mandate to govern for a long enough period to tackle the problems which have now been allowed to accumulate in the last year and which were created during the past two and a half years.
I fear the new Minister may be as shadowy as his predecessor and we cannot but fear that under the Taoiseach's direction he will produce as irresponsible a budget as this year's, one in which the estimates of expenditure bore so little relationship to the obvious outturn, a budget which was dishonest in its failure to provide adequately for expenditure needs. Perhaps it will be otherwise; it remains to be seen. Nothing in the history of this Government under other leaders suggests that facing into a general election they will be willing to take the kind of action necessary to put our finances in order.
I will ask in due course that an issue which arose during Question Time and caused some confusion be clarified because, contrary to what we understood from the Taoiseach to be the case on a number of occasions and in his original allocation of functions, we were told that economic planning was the function of the Department of Finance and not of the Taoiseach's Department, despite the Taoiseach having told us something rather differently when he made the original changes and despite the transfer of the economic planning staff to the Taoiseach's Department.
I wish Deputy Nolan well in his new appointment. He is a popular Member of this House and someone whom all of us are glad to see being rewarded by promotion to the Cabinet. He has been given a difficult task, one which has been carried out with less than total success by his predecessor. I do not wish to be unduly critical of an individual because Governments act with collective responsibility and no individual is entirely free to carry on his Department in the way he wishes  because of the constraint of Cabinet responsibility. Deputy Nolan's predecessor was not very successful in maintaining industrial peace during his first two and a half years in office and during the past year he has done so at immense cost to the nation in the settlement of claims on terms and in a manner which have stimulated a new bout of inflation at a time when there was some prospect that inflation might be brought not to but towards single figures. In those circumstances Deputy Nolan has a difficult task. He has inherited a runaway inflation situation as far as pay claims in the public sector are concerned and he will not find it easy to cope. He will have our good wishes and co-operation in tackling the problems he has inherited and it is important in the interests of the nation that we should extend this co-operation.
He will be aware that we have twice offered the co-operation of this party in legislation in the industrial relations field on an agreed basis without any response from the other side of the House. We ourselves have published proposals for legislative reform in this area which evoked very little public dissent from any side and considerable commendation from some of those in this area. Deputy Nolan will be aware that we offered then and more recently our support for such legislation along the lines set out in our policy statement and that there has been no response to that offer. He will be aware that the Taoiseach, upon his election to that office, promised such legislation but withdrew the promise by omitting it from his first radio and television address to the nation. The Deputy is taking over a ministry in very difficult conditions with an indecisive Taoiseach whose indecision is particularly marked in this area and in a situation where the policies pursued by the first Fianna Fáil administration under Deputy Lynch of trying to control public service pay within reasonable limits has been abandoned. Deputy Nolan is the person who will have to carry the can. He would be less than human if, on being offered membership of the Cabinet, he did not take it despite the fact that it has these intimidating features and he may well feel that he may  not hold this position for very long before a general election, so there will be little time for him to get into difficulties due to problems he is inheriting. Perhaps that is the case. In any event, we wish him well in his new position and we can only hope that the new Minister for Finance who has also taken on a difficult task will, for a change, bring in an honest budget which will honestly assess revenue and expenditure prospects and take the first steps to putting this country back on the course towards economic growth, from which it has been driven by the incompetence and mismanagement of the Fianna Fáil Government elected in 1977 and the indecision of the Fianna Fáil Government which came to power a year ago.
Mr. B. Desmond: On behalf of the Parliamentary Labour Party I extend to Deputy Fitzgerald and his family our congratulations on his appointment as Minister for Finance and Minister for the Public Service. I also convey to Deputy Tom Nolan and his family our congratulations on his appointment as a new member of the Government and to the Labour portfolio. I extend to Deputy Michael O'Kennedy the best wishes of our party on his appointment as Commissioner Designate. I have served with the Minister in this House since 1969 and also served with him on a number of outside bodies. We wish him well in his endeavours in the national interest abroad and on behalf of our interests at home.
I must express disquiet in relation to a number of aspects. First, there is the decision of the Taoiseach once again to put the Department of the Public Service into the political merry-go-round. It was part of the Department of Finance and then became a separate Department. It was hived off to the Department of Labour and now goes back again to the Department of Finance. One might ask when this gyration is to stop. It has been the long-held view of my party and of the general public service trade union sector and various individuals and bodies concerned with the influence of the public sector that the Department of Labour was the entirely appropriate alignment for the public services sector, bearing in  mind its intensity of involvement in national income policy negotiations on a directly related basis and that there are 300,000 employees in the public sector whose industrial relations problems are more effectively handled by the Department of Labour. We have argued this time and time again. At long last, in the last allocation of portfolios, the Department of Labour and the Department of Public Services were put together. Now, apparently, the Taoiseach, in his own allembracing presidential style — to that extent one wonders if the appointments are of any relevance — has once again decided to adopt an entirely different policy.
Looking at the appointments, I have some sympathy for the men directly involved because in the past 12 months, as Deputy Garret FitzGerald rightly pointed out, we have had three different Ministers for Finance, each one, with respect to the men concerned, more confused than the last as to what precisely was the brief of the Minister for Finance in relation to Government policy. Having started out in November/December 1979 with a determination to confine public expenditure to a 10 per cent increase, by the middle of July 1980 the whole plan had been totally jettisoned. In the past fortnight we have put through both Houses of the Oireachtas Supplementary Estimates totalling £464 million. If that is policy, frankly I am baffled. In that sense one must sympathise with the men concerned because the Taoiseach has decided that the show will be exclusively his, that the responsibility is his, and that appointments will be his. We see the outcome of that today.
Therefore, I do not endorse the decision to bring the Department of the Public Service back under the Department of Finance. It will have short and long term repercussions. I do not envy Minister Gene Fitzgerald in the onerous, direct responsibility which has been imposed on him.
I do not wish to conclude on a cynical note. Very often appointments are more related to constituencies than to individuals. When one considers the constituencies concerned, despite my congratulations  to the Ministers I can be excused for having a mild degree of jaundiced cynicism in that regard. We extend our congratulations to the Ministers concerned. We reserve our position as the outlines of policy they are designed to follow and we reserve our decision in that regard for the adjournment debate.
Mr. P. Barry: I join with Deputy G. FitzGerald and Deputy Desmond in congratulating the men involved in the new appointments announced today. I also congratulate Deputy Michael O'Kennedy on his appointment as Commissioner in Europe. I hope he will have a very happy four years over there.
For the last 12 months there has been an air of unreality about the Department of Finance. Anyone who remembers the Taoiseach's response to Deputy Jack Lynch, when Deputy Jack Lynch asked if he would appoint Deputy Martin O'Donoghue, must have felt that Deputy O'Kennedy was a long time Commissioner.
Deputy Smith, Deputy Nolan and Deputy Fitzgerald are all decent, honourable men. I believe none of them is under any illusion as to why he was appointed. Deputy Smith will know his promotion is not unrelated — although he is more entitled on merit alone to be appointed, given the calibre of some of the people who were appointed — to the fact that there is a vacancy in his constituency.
Deputy Nolan will not be under any illusions either. Perhaps we have a better view from this side of the House of calibre and ability and Deputy Nolan is someone we would have picked out for promotion long before now. I am very glad to see him being promoted. However, I am afraid he will discount the promotion when he looks at one of his colleagues in his own constituency and recognises the bearing that has on his promotion.
I am somewhat inhibited by Deputy Fitzgerald's geographical location and my personal affection for him. Deputy Fitzgerald has a tremendous amount of ability. For the last four years he was left an unholy mess to clear up in industrial  relations, a mess largely created by his Cabinet colleagues and the manifesto under which they were elected in June 1977. I believe his transfer from one Department to another is because one side of industry particularly feels he has lost the grip of industrial relations and that he has been moved because of that. I find it difficult to say that, because he has tremendous ability. The complexity of drawing, drafting and presenting a budget and keeping that budget on the rails during 12 months require qualities which I hope are present in his makeup. The damage that has been done over the last four years, particularly in the last 12 months, to the economy by the actions of the present Government requires a Minister for Finance at the helm who has nerves of steel and a determination and will to do what is correct.
Despite the denials of the outgoing Minister O'Kennedy about the growth rate and our position in the economic stakes of Europe, every independent commentator who has spoken about the Irish economy in recent months has expressed concern at the direction at which the balance of payments, the external borrowings, the level of unemployment, the rate of inflation ——
Mr. P. Barry: I accept that. I will not continue. Deputy Fitzgerald is taking on a portfolio when internal and external independent commentators point to the fact that our economy could be in very serious trouble during 1981 unless a Minister or a Government with determination, courage and the knowledge of what to do takes a grip on it.
Deputy Colley, who was the first Minister for Finance, was a victim of his spendthrift colleagues and of the manifesto which elected the Government in 1977. Nobody is more guilty in that regard than the present Taoiseach when, as Minister for Health, he over-spent continually his budget in his three years as Minister for Health.
Deputy Haughey said one of the aims  of the new Government was to restore credibility to the financial affairs of the country. That was quickly abandoned. A budget was drawn up and presented to the House which, in my opinion, did more damage than any budget in the past 20 years as is evident by the rate of inflation this year——
Mr. P. Barry: I am trying to say that the portfolio being assumed by Deputy Fitzgerald is a demanding and difficult one. The first thing he has to do is to ensure that he runs his own Department and that the Taoiseach does not, as he did with Deputy O'Kennedy, dictate what is to be done, and by whom, in that Department.
Again I would like to congratulate the three men who have been promoted, if that is the right word for what happened to Deputy Fitzgerald. He is still a member of the Cabinet but it is assumed Finance is a more senior position than Labour. I hope they will have a happy but extremely short sojourn in their new appointments.
Mr. Quinn: I would like to join briefly with other Deputies in first extending personal congratulations to those Members who have been rewarded with promotion. The work they have put into representation in this House is recognised by this side of the House. I want to mention specifically Deputy Michael Smith, whom I have known since 1977 and whose name was inadvertently omitted by Deputy Desmond.
We are discussing a motion by the Taoiseach. The political crux of this motion is that we are seeing yet again, not at the Taoiseach's personal expense but at the expense of the Irish people, the personal pay-off for the Taoiseach's occupation of the seat he now holds. It would be nice to think that the Taoiseach could nominate jobs for the 115,000 people who are currently unemployed with the same facility that this House will give  the nod to the successful promotion of Deputy Nolan. Alas, that is not the case. The Taoiseach in moving this motion to appoint someone to a job which will have an index-linked pension — and I am in order speaking on this motion——
Mr. Quinn: This House is being asked to give consent for a person, at the behest of the Taoiseach, to take on a job that is far from easy. This side of the House has never claimed government is easy. I want to lay two charges to the mover of this motion. The first is that he gave full support to the Fianna Fáil manifesto and the second and more serious charge is that he went along with the pretence of believing it for two-and-a-half years. The mess the current participant will have to deal with in the Department of Finance will not be made any easier.
They are the nuts and bolts of what we are being asked to do. Nobody knows how long the present incumbent will have in the Department of Finance but the one thing we can be sure of is that it will not be of any benefit to the 115,000 people who do not get promotion today and who will not have the good wishes that go from this side of the House to the three members who are being promoted.
This House and the public at large expected more than what happened over the last year — the turn around, backtracking and so on, and this motion, which will undoubtedly get the support of the House, is further evidence of that backtracking.
Mr. Kelly: I would like to add my good wishes to those which have already been expressed to the three Deputies whose positions are about to be changed  this afternoon. I do not know Deputy Smith very well but I wish him success and happiness in his job. I know Deputy Nolan a little better and have always found him a pleasant and agreeable colleague, although on the opposite side, and I wish him well too.
I also wish well Deputy Fitzgerald about whom I have somewhat stronger feelings. I remember his conduct when he was in opposition and I can say now that this is a big day for him. In turn, I hope he will be big enough to endure patiently the few things I may say about him which will not be very severe. He will not deny, perhaps he even takes pride in the fact that he was the noisiest and most obstructive member on the Opposition benches. He roared and bellowed so loudly when the National Coalition were in power that he could be heard — and I believe frequently was heard — out on the street.
I never noticed in his attacks on the Coalition Government any special subtlety or any special grip on what government was all about, least of all on what the financial direction of government was all about. He seemed to be happy to have a crude figure, like the unemployment figure, add 60,000 and then beat us over the head with it. That was his style of debate. I hope he will not be hurt when I say that nothing has happened since then which has led me to form a better opinion of the grasp he has of the country's affairs.
He clearly has a grip on the affections of his constituents, to judge from his enormous vote on which I congratulated him after the last election, but his performance in this House does not lead me to be much impressed with this appointment, which is not just to any old Ministry but which is the nearest thing we have to a super Ministry. It is the Ministry on which all others depend. It is the Ministry from which all others have to get permission before they get a box of paper clips.
Deputy Fitzgerald is a convivial and nice man personally. When I got to know him better my feelings about his Dáil performance subsided. I accept he has very good personal qualities and for that  reason I wish him the best, but I cannot pretend to be impressed by his appointment. I do not want to hurt his feelings, although I am sure he is tough enough to withstand a few words from me, but he is not the best man on the Fianna Fáil benches for this job. He may be the best man for some purposes which have not been disclosed to the House or which the House has not had an opportunity of debating; it may be that the elements that went into the decision to appoint him are valid for some people and for some reasons, but I think there are at least three Fianna Fáil Deputies who would have been better suited because they have a better grasp of the economy, of large amounts of money, what they mean, how hard it is to collect them and how carefully they must be spent. I hope he will not be offended by that because I would not take it as an insult if somebody said the same — as they might have only too much ground to do — about me in making a disadvantageous comparison with some of my colleagues.
Deputy Colley should not have been moved from the portfolio he held and he should be put back there. Failing him, Deputy O'Malley should have received this post. Deputy O'Malley is no charmer and I had many a hard word with him and I do not suppose we have heard the last of them. Both Deputy Colley and Deputy O'Malley — despite the fact that they have the black mark of taking the benefit of a dishonest manifesto and of successive Government statements and policies which only made matters worse, and naturally must share in the collective responsibility for these — seem to be men who are more inclined than many men in their party to put the country first. I do not say that that is an entirely unmixed sentiment because unfortunately as we have seen here only too often in lobby votes with the party opposite the party tends to come first and everything else tends to come last even if the devil is breathing down the back of its neck. It did seem to me over the years — though I do not especially admire either of them — that Deputy Colley and Deputy O'Malley have this quality, have a certain willingness to take unpopular decisions,  to put up with hard words and severe criticism and to withstand the wind in their faces. I do not think Deputy Fitzgerald has this to the same degree.
I have noticed that at serious moments on the industrial relations scene he has tended over the last three years to lie low and say nothing. I remember the two months during which the country agonised over Ferenka when Deputy Fitzgerald was to be seen opening bull fights in Sligo, cutting the tape in Dunmore East, things like that. But as a factor in the developing Ferenka situation — I have said it to him before so he will not mind my saying it to him now in the hour of his triumph or promotion — he simply did not exist or, if he did, the activity of himself and his Department was kept well below the parapet; it could not be seen so it could not be criticised except for its low visibility. In general I must say that over the three years in which he has held the office of Minister for Labour, augmented in the last year by responsibility for the public service, the performance has been fairly poor.
Industrial relations have always been a sore point in this economy. When I first started taking an interest in such things, when Deputy Costello and subsequently Deputy Lemass was Taoiseach, it was always being said that we needed to straighten out the industrial relations scene. That has become particularly evident in recent years and become more evident with every passing year as the public service tends to get more and more dragged into —
Mr. Kelly: I do not want to do that, Sir. The main appointment about which we are talking today is that of a Minister who has been responsible for the area about which I am talking for the last three years.
Mr. Kelly: It is only fair to say that we would not be doing our job here today unless we said, in all friendship and goodwill towards Deputy Fitzgerald, that he has shirked and ducked any radical acts on the industrial relations front over the last three years. The front is a disaster area and he must know that better than anybody. I could not believe my ears when I turned on the early morning news on, I think, a Monday morning about a speech he had made on a Sunday which got very little press coverage in which he was appealing to employers to do something about industrial relations. On my oath the Minister for Labour was appealing to employers to do something about it. That is what he is there for. I do not say that employers have not got a role but he is the man who is principally responsible for this and, so far as he is the Minister for the Public Service, he is the employer for industrial relations purposes. I have to say that his record there is not a very impressive one, not impresive at all. In so far as the Minister for Labour plays a part in achieving national wage agreements and national understandings which are useful to the economy it may be that the thing would have been worse only for Deputy Fitzgerald; that may be so because I have not a high opinion of Deputy O'Kennedy either. But I do recall the days when the people in charge on the Government side on this issue were Deputy Ryan and Deputy O'Leary, when they sweated bricks and blood and produced, in those days, national wage agreements in the black times of 1976 and 1977.
Mr. Kelly: In so far as the Deputy  about whose appointment we are talking has been responsible for this scene in the last three years — I do not want to fight with the Chair but I think, with respect, that I am not wandering outside the bounds of relevance—
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Chair is telling the Deputy that he is. We cannot discuss policy or administration on a motion of this kind. We are dealing only with the fitness of a man to be a member of Government.
Mr. Kelly: No, Sir, Deputy Fitzgerald already is a member of the Government and the statement which inaugurated this debate expressly referred to him as being the person to whom the Department of Finance was being assigned. I think I am the first Deputy who has spoken here today who has been pulled up on this point.
Moreover in the area of public service reform — I acknowledge that Deputy Fitzgerald has not been in charge of that for very long, for little less than a year — I should like to remind the House that there was no subject to which the Government, so far as it spoke through Deputy Jack Lynch, attached more importance in July 1977 than this. In the Official Report of 5 July 1977 Deputy Jack Lynch had this to say:
I consider public service reform to be of fundamental importance for the effective discharge and implementation of the programmes of the national renewal and development upon which we are now embarking.
When Deputy Fitzgerald gets over his understandable elation at his new appointment I should like him to take a serious look at himself and the Department over which he presided until now, whose function he is now bringing back with him to finance, and ask himself what has been done about public service reform over the last three and a half years. We have asked questions about it from these benches occasionally when we have been met with a cataract of waffle.
 One was stunned and stupified by the load of stuff about interdepartmental committees, ongoing reviews, escalating reappraisals and so on. But when the smoke is all cleared away the net result is that there are just 7,000 or 8,000 more people in the non-industrial Civil Service, and nothing else that I can see. I cannot see that anything is being done to ensure that the State gets better value for the public sector employment, that its work is better organised, that any effective redistribution of a kind that makes useful sense has taken place.
These are all areas in which between them Deputy Fitzgerald and Deputy O'Kennedy have had the prime responsibility over the last three years. I must say that to find one being replaced by the other at the helm of the economy awakens in me — I do not want to bring levity into this — no very serious sensation of respect, particularly when there exist on the other benches people who, whatever party differences there may be, are more accustomed to and I believe have the will to handle large issues of a financial and economic kind than is Deputy Fitzgerald. It is not being offensive to him to say that; they are much more accustomed to doing so. Nobody doubts their patriotic commitment, flavoured I am afraid, diluted, perhaps polluted, by a large element of mindless party loyalty. Nobody doubts their ability whatever relations one may have had with them personally. It is right to temper one's congratulations and good wishes by saying these things and I hope Deputy Fitzgerald will forgive me for saying them.
The circumstances which led to Deputy Fitzgerald's assignment to this Department are of an unprecedented kind. No Minister for Finance was ever appointed in this country since the State was founded on a caretaker basis. It is only because that happened that we are debating Deputy Fitzgerald's reassignment here today. There never was such a thing before and the very idea that it would cross a Government's mind, or its leader's mind, to make such an appointment only shows the depth of the wreckless arrogance which possesses them. This country, by all the economic indicators — even the ones to which Deputy O'Kennedy was obliged to confess to today, simpering as he handed out the answers — is in a recession far more serious, far more directly attributable to the Government's own acts than it was in the middle of the seventies, and it is at that time that the Government chose to acquiesce, and the party acquiesce, in a stop-gap appointment, a conacre Minister, on the 11 months system. That is a disgrace. I should like to know what would have been said if Deputy Liam Cosgrave had appointed Mr. Dick Burke as Minister for Finance at the end of 1975, in the depths of that recession, knowing full well that he would send him to Brussels at the end of 1976. What would have been said about him had he done that?
Mr. Kelly: I know what would have been said because I can remember the kind of criticisms which came from the Fianna Fáil Party in those days. If there were so much as a flaw in the printing of the Order Paper, if Deputy Lynch did not get the report of the bagpipes commission with his breakfast, there was a row about it here on the Order of Business. We were watched like hawks by the media and everybody else to see how we were doing the business — was it orderly or was it a shambles? So far as it was less than orderly, it was as a result of the constraints which the small majority imposed on us, as I was never tired explaining. Had Deputy Cosgrave done what I am talking about, and appointed on a stopgap basis somebody to the Department of Finance, whom he knew would be going in 11 or 12 month' time, the roof would have fallen in on us. Of course he was not a showman. He had not spent 20 years assiduously slapping backs and buttering up people whose opinions are important at junkets like that. He did not do any of those things and so, of course, he did not enjoy the same immunity from critics —
Mr. Kelly: It is a rhetorical device to draw a contrast in a graphic way, and I hope it will not have been lost on the House. I will conclude by assuring the three Deputies who are getting new appointments today that what I have said about them, in so far as it consisted of good wishes, was sincere.
Mr. O'Toole: We are debating the nomination of a member of the Government. Normally this gives rise to a bloodletting debate. It has now become the ritual. Looking back on the debates over the past 30 or 40 years, one cannot but be struck by the degree of bitterness and personal abuse hurled across the floor at new appointees.
I do not intend to indulge in any personal abuse, nor would I be allowed to do so. I wish the Minister of State, Deputy Nolan, well in his new appointment. However, we must focus on the appointment of the new Minister for Finance. As has been graphically described by Deputy Kelly, Deputy O'Kennedy was appointed, it would seem knowingly, on the basis that he would be leaving that Department within 12 months. When one considers that the Department of Finance is the cockpit of economic activity in any democracy, one cannot but be disappointed at the attitude that prevails in relation to the kind of person to be appointed, and the duration of that person's appointment.
The new Minister for Finance has had experience in the Cabinet. When he was on this side of the House he had all the answers to all the problems which confronted us from 1973 to 1977. He was most vociferous in his condemnation of the then Government but he was short of concrete, positive proposals to relieve the problems which existed then. He was appointed Minister for Labour in 1977 and, predictably, that vociferous characteristic diminished to a degree where, in times of industrial stress, one was tempted to send out an SOS to find out where he was.
Last week I saw a report in the national  media of a statement made by him, which accompanied the most recent unemployment figures, to the effect that he was quite happy with the level of unemployment because it showed an improvement, and showed the impact of the measures taken to relieve the situation. This type of cynical approach to a very serious matter is unbecoming to the Minister for Labour, and that kind of attitude will ill-become him as Minister for Finance. In the past two days I saw a report of a statement attributed to Deputy Fitzgerald in relation to youth unemployment. While I appreciate that sections of speeches are taken out of context because of the need for brevity in reporting the statement was to the effect that something should be done to relieve the intolerable level of unemployment amongst our youth. He is a member of the Cabinet and it was his responsibility for the past 3½ years to do something about that problem. Nothing has been done. While we hope the new Minister will be a success, we cannot but doubt that in the light of his performance as Minister for Labour.
Recently there has been a section in the Department of Finance to deal with economic planning and development. This followed the abolition of the Department of Economic Planning and Development a year ago. We expect our Minister for Finance to look after our finances, and he is also responsible for forward planning and economic development. This is a major role. On the record of the new appointee, one cannot but look with doubt on the ability and creativity of the new incumbent to produce the kind of ideas with the kind of enthusiasm necessary to put our economy back on its feet.
An idea is widely held that, since the new Taoiseach took over a year ago, it does not much matter who is in the Department of Finance, that he calls the tune and decides personally what the approach is to be and what views are to be expressed on economic policy. Rightly or wrongly that view is widely held. I suppose in bad times that is a bad thing, and in good times it is a good thing. At the moment I do not see how any one  man can hope to pull this country out of the mess we now find ourselves in if he has his finger in every pie. I would agree that the Taoiseach, taking his rightful place in the Government, must have ultimate responsibility with other members of the Government. The buck stops with him. That does not mean that he has 14 puppets on a string who must do what they are told by him. There is such a thing as democracy as well as collective responsibility.
We are debating this appointment and the new appointee simply because the Taoiseach cannot afford to give people of wider experience in Government the kind of latitude they would have if they had the confidence of their leader. My colleague, Deputy Kelly, mentioned the names of Deputies Colley and O'Malley in this context and also Deputy O'Donoghue whose ministry was abolished. These are people who have wideranging experience of economic matters but the Taoiseach was constrained in his choice because he thinks he cannot depend on the loyalty of these people. This is unfortunate. The country is the victim of the suspicion which is implanted in the Taoiseach's mind. Perhaps it is here for good reason. I am not a prophet and cannot give a verdict on how deep the divisions are on the other side of the House but divisions there are and we are the victims of these suspicions, rumours of disloyalty, lack of trust and so on which exist. They should not exist if we are to look to a team to pull us out of the depths of the recession we are now in.
That is the unfortunate aspect of this appointment. I wish Deputy Fitzgerald, for the sake of the country, every success in the Department of Finance but I raise the question of whether he is the right appointee and of the motivation behind his appointment.
Mr. Taylor: Fearing it might be thought that congratulations and criticisms are confined to the front bench of the Opposition I join in extending my congratulations to all those who were appointed today. Three of the people concerned — I do not know about Deputy Nolan — used to holiday in my county  and whether that had any effect or not or whether the Taoiseach recognised their renewed stamina when they came back I could not say. He must have detected some new energy in them.
Mr. Taylor: Clare will be very pleased that Deputy O'Kennedy is going to Brussels. He will maintain the very high standards established there by Commissioner Burke and President Hillery. I hope he will have a successful period because much depends on the success a commissioner has. The channelling of finance to the country will determine in some measure whether or not disadvantaged areas will get proper recognition in years ahead. I ask the Commissioner to remember the areas that have not been so successful in getting funds and as far as the regional fund is concerned, on which we all depend, he should use his influence with the other commissioners to channel money into those areas.
It is the privilege of the front bench to criticise and I am sure all the people concerned got their fair share of criticism. Deputy Fitzgerald has taken his share of it very silently. He has been criticised for his stentorian voice but he cannot be blamed for that. Looking to his GAA background he acquired this pitch and GAA yell from the playing fields where he was very popular. I hope the Minister will keep an eye on the west coast of Munster. I am depending on him to do as the Minister, Deputy Barrett did — keep a watchful eye on the places where money is needed.
Mr. Taylor: I am pleased that Deputy Smith's ability has been recognised because of his knowledge of agriculture and his standing. I know him for a number of years. We have travelled together and have had many discussions. He will bring a balanced outlook to his new post. I wish him every success.
 Deputy Nolan has much experience and is a man of great discipline. He acquired that during his service in the Army. His appointment is deserved and he will uphold the highest traditions in his appointment. I hope all the Deputies concerned will have a successful tenure of office and we look forward to obtaining some benefits in every area in their different appointments
Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: (Cavan-Monaghan): I used the term “involves” and the Taoiseach should not interrupt me. The motion involves the appointment of a new Minister for Finance, a new Minister for the Public Service and a Minister of State. At any time the post of Minister for Finance and the post of Minister for the Public Service are onerous and demanding and affect the economy to a great extent. It is of the utmost importance that we should get the best possible talent appointed to these posts. It is admitted that the economy, which is affected substantially by these two important Departments, is in a shambles of indescribable dimension. Unemployment is at an all time record, inflation has doubled —
Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: (Cavan-Monaghan): Borrowing is at an alltime record and national and international experts have told the Government to bring the borrowing to a stop. The balance of trade would be out of hand altogether if it were not for the sale of our national cow herd. Above all, agriculture is in a state of depression and confidence is at its worst ever level. Therefore, it will be agreed readily that a superhuman effort by the best talent available to the Taoiseach will be needed to make an impression on the state of the country.
I have nothing personal against any of the four Members involved, Deputies O'Kennedy, Fitzgerald, Nolan and Smith, all decent men who have been in this House for some time and who have not done anything but their best for their constituents and their country. That is not the issue. The only issue is whether this poor country is getting the best men for the job. Look at the Department of Finance. In three years we have had three Ministers for Finance. Deputy Colley was appointed after the general election. He is the man who introduced the notorious two per cent levy that drove the rural and urban communities apart and into street marches. It created a state of affairs that was bad for the country and that has penetrated to the marrow in the bones —
Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: (Cavan-Monaghan): I am not debating policy. So bad, apparently, did Deputy Colley prove as holder of that office that his colleagues by a small majority decided they had to get rid of him. He was followed by the EEC Commissioner-elect, Deputy O'Kennedy. I do not think I am being offensive to him as the outgoing Minister for Finance when I say under his stewardship in that Department this year some of the most extraordinary U-turns became necessary. The budget was introduced with a resource tax, another dreadful tax that could not be justified. It was hardly in operation when it was decided to drop it. In the same year farmers were screwed by the abolition of relief of agricultural rates.
So unwise and foolish did that prove that before the end of the year the second moiety of rates was returned to those affected. The outgoing Minister for Finance must also take responsibility for the uncertainty of the financial policies operated by him. He is now going to Brussels and I wish him well — that is the worst I wish him.
He is being succeeded in the Department of Finance by the present Minister for Labour and the Public Service, Deputy Fitzgerald. Again, I do not wish to be personal but we must ask ourselves seriously whether he is the best man available to the Taoiseach for that job. I think that in all humility Deputy Fitzgerald would not answer that question in the affirmative. We have had three and a half years of appalling industrial relations. One has only to ask the people affected by strikes in the ESB, in CIE, those put out of business in tourism by the strike in the Department of Posts and Telegraphs, whether they are satisfied with the way  the Department of Labour has been operated last year, the year before and the year before. Now Deputy Fitzgerald is being asked to take over the most onerous and the most important Department in the Cabinet. It is not nice to have to remind the House that only as recently as a little over a year ago when the Taoiseach was appointed, speculation was rife as to who would be promoted, who would be held and who would be sacked. It is not an overstatement to say that there was no Minister in the then Cabinet so much in hot water, so much in danger of losing his job, than the present Minister for Labour and the Public Service. One has only to read the newspapers to see what the commentators had to say at the time.
Now, in the last 12 months, we have heard that industrial relations have improved. I wonder have they? I think that if one discounted the appalling six month's strike in the Department of Posts and Telegraphs last year then this year is a very bad year for industrial relations. Notwithstanding the fact that when he was appointed the Taoiseach said that two things needed to be done, namely, industrial relations needed to be put on a much better footing and finances needed to be stabilised and put in a healthy condition, neither of these two things has been done. Can anybody say that industrial relations this year have improved when we have had unofficial strike after unofficial strike in the public service and can only end such strikes as occur by paying the maximum asked for by way of a cosmetic job for the next general election? Can anybody say that finances are in a healthy state? Everybody in the country knows that finances are in a horrible state and yet we have the Taoiseach putting the outgoing Minister for Labour and the Public Service in to clear up that mess while he is in fact leaving a mess where he is.
Some people say that the Minister for Finance will only be a rubber stamp and that the Taoiseach will be the Minister for Finance anyway. I do not know whether that is right or wrong but if it is right it means the country is not getting the service it should get; it means the  country is not getting the undivided attention of the Taoiseach in his capacity as Taoiseach and the undivided attention of the Department of Finance and of the best possible occupant for that position. I say that in the strongest terms that I can command. We are not getting the best talent available even from within Fianna Fáil because they are suffering from internal ills which demand that the Taoiseach tread warily, that he elevate this one and demote that one. That is not fair to the country. It is not good for the country. That is not the way to get the country out of the appalling mess into which it has been dragged by Fianna Fáil with its majority of 20 since the last election.
I have known Deputy Tom Nolan since both of us went into the Seanad at about the same time in 1961. Like the other people I have nothing to say against him. I have never found him anything but a perfect gentleman. But I wonder has he the experience of Government; has he the experience of the Cabinet room to take on the difficult, sensitive task that he has been given and to make the best possible job of it in the interests of the people here. Time will tell. I do not know. He has certainly had one year's experience as a junior Minister. Now he is being put into this extremely difficult, sensitive job, the success or failure of which means so much to us. One hates to say these things but one has to say them. One sees extraneous considerations and ulterior motives and future general election thinking permeating this appointment. Is this the sort of thing that this country, in its present terrible state, has to suffer from this Government? It is not good enough. Maybe Deputy Nolan is the best. Maybe he will prove to be the best. But I think at best the Taoiseach is taking a chance that lack of experience in this sensitive job will militate against him, will prevent him from giving to the country the best service. Maybe it is only a coincidence that Deputy Nolan is being promoted. But people could be pardoned if they thought that the real thinking of the Taoiseach is that it is in his interests to build up Deputy Nolan because, in building up Deputy Nolan, he will be  crushing Deputy Gibbons. People could be pardoned for thinking that but we must have straight thinking when straight thinking is called for.
Deputy Smith is another very nice man who is well suited for a junior ministry which is all that is involved here. I suppose the fact that there is a by-election pending in his area, if it is ever held, has affected the Taoiseach somewhat in this appointment. But again, as I said in the beginning, I have nothing against these men as individuals.
I conclude by saying that I think that, due to the extraneous considerations within Fianna Fáil and due to the fact that the Taoiseach finds himself in party difficulties and, in some sense, Cabinet difficulties, this country is not getting the best and anything short of the best at any time, but certainly at this particular time, is not good enough.
Mr. Harte: It is time to avail of the opportunity to wish Deputy Fitzgerald every success as Minister for Finance, to wish Deputy Nolan success in the Department of Labour and to wish Deputy Smith success in his new appointment. There is nothing personal in what I am going to say because, although I have known Deputy Nolan and Deputy Fitzgerald a little better than I know Deputy Smith, I have never found him to be aggressive or unfriendly or inattentive or anything other than one of the group of the old school tie in the House.
But that is not what it is about. Like Deputy Fitzpatrick, I cannot but come to the conclusion that it is not important what talent there is in the Fianna Fáil Party because that is not one of the Taoiseach's considerations. I do not believe that any party could allow a person as talented as Deputy O'Donoghue to remain on the back benches. Whether or not it is unpleasant to say this in the  presence of the Taoiseach. Deputy O'Donoghue has one of the brightest brains in this House. Admittedly he was unlucky and his economic calculations were wrong when he was in charge of the Department of Economic Planning and Development and no one said so more strongly than I on the question of the EMS. That should not forever condemn a man to limbo and the back benches. If the Taoiseach is acting in the best interests of the people, I am surprised that he should allow this man to remain there. I do not intend any disrespect to Deputy Fitzgerald, Deputy Nolan or Deputy Smith in putting this view on record.
It is not without significance that the Taoiseach has promoted Deputy Fitzgerald to the Department of Finance, but what are his qualifications? Without any disrespect to Deputy Fitzgerald, I have not noticed anything dramatic or historic or any major breakthrough — terms which have been much used during the past few days — in the Department of Labour since he took office. The only thing I have noticed is that more people are unemployed and there are fewer job opportunities for young people. I wonder whether the Department of Labour is just as important as the Department of Fisheries in Switzerland. It would seem to have the same purpose as a Department of Fisheries in Switzerland or Luxembourg and a successful Minister would need the same qualifications.
It is not without significance that Deputy Fitzgerald's former boss in private life was one of the key workers and probably one of the financiers during the by-election in Donegal and perhaps it is another case of plastic surgery or “Let Willie shift it”.
Mr. Harte: I hope that Deputy Fitzgerald will be more successful in the Department of Finance than he has been in the Department of Labour. In fairness it must be said that the Department of Labour is not the easiest place to make headway during a recession. While the  difficulties are acknowledged, I should like to see a man of proven ability, drive and initiative taking office as Minister for Finance. It is no longer a case of the Taoiseach being chairman; it is the Taoiseach being president and having president's men. If Deputy Fitzgerald is successful the Taoiseach will take the credit and if he is unsuccessful he will be chopped.
I wish Deputy Nolan well in the Department of Labour but people will be excused for thinking that he has been promoted to put another dagger in the back of Deputy Gibbons. I was no great admirer of Deputy Gibbons as Minister for Agriculture, although he was as successful as most in that office and more successful than many. Nobody in this House could say that he has a very pleasant personality and I have not spoken to him three times in my life, but he gave fairly good service to a Fianna Fáil Cabinet.
Mr. Harte: One of the reasons for Deputy Nolan's promotion is that it is another dagger in the back of Deputy Gibbons. Deputy Nolan has been a Member of the House since 1965 and I have not noticed any great dynamism on his part or seen him excel in any major way. I suppose his turn has come and he may have been  overlooked on previous occasions. For that reason I am prepared to be less critical of his appointment than I might be. There is an argument for the promotion of a person who has served his time in the House and fulfilled his obligations to his party and constituents and who has been a legislator of reasonable dimensions. I accept that a man who has served his time in the House may be more entitled to consideration than someone who has been here only a short time.
Deputy Smith's promotion to the junior post is another attempt to buy votes in Tipperary. No one has played the political cards as slickly as the Taoiseach, but in the words of Abraham Lincoln “You can fool some of the people all of the time and you can fool all of the people some of the time but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time”. I am wondering when Deputy Charles J. Haughey's bubble will burst. All the appointments to the Cabinet when he took office and all the changes made since have one pattern, that is, they all involve people on the gravy train; it is all a big pay-off. That is the name of the game. Consideration as to who would be the best man for a particular portfolio is of secondary importance and perhaps my rating of it is somewhat higher than the Taoiseach's. The pattern of events since Deputy Haughey became Taoiseach has this thread running through it. There is an emphasis on public relations — make the people believe that what you are doing is right and you can fool some of them all of the time; and keep it up for long enough and all will be fooled for some of the time, but the bubble is bound to burst. I wonder what the collapse will be like when that happens. In the past 12 months no one, no matter how generous one would like to be in public comment, could say that conditions are better economically or, indeed, politically in the State. Yet, for some peculiar reason the Taoiseach seems to be on the crest of the wave. How true is that?
It is not really important whom the Taoiseach promotes. The Taoiseach should not consult the people of Tipperary in the new year as he consulted the people of Donegal a while ago. He has  received a lot of credit for winning the by-election. A close analysis of the figures show that is far from the truth——
Mr. Harte: If I had been in the Taoiseach's position I would have played the same cards. If the Taoiseach had lost the by-election the bubble would have burst, but the bubble will burst sooner or later.
Mr. Harte: I was saying that the Taoiseach had consulted the people of Donegal. I would like the Taoiseach to consult the people of this State, because I do not think he has a mandate to govern at present. The mandate which Fianna Fáil got in 1977 was questionable. Promises in the manifesto have not been kept——
Mr. Harte: We had a change of circumstances and we had a new Taoiseach. It would be in the interests of the Taoiseach, of Deputy Fitzgerald, now promoted Minister for Finance, of Deputy Nolan, as Minister for Labour, and Deputy Smith, who has been brought into the junior Cabinet, and in the interests of the Fianna Fáil Party and of this House, but more importantly in the interests of the people of this State, if the Taoiseach declared that we will have a general election at the earliest possible date. No one in this House wants to fight a general election, but it is of paramount importance that whoever is governing should hold the confidence of the people who elect Members. It is very questionable whether or not the Taoiseach has that confidence, in spite of the professional public relations campaign which he has conducted. I have nothing personal against the three men who were promoted. I hope they will be successful in their new posts and if the present Government are re-elected, may that continue, but let democracy not alone be done but be seen to be done.
Mr. Enright: I will give the Taoiseach whatever time he wishes. The motion before the House is the approval of Deputy Nolan for appointment by the President to be a member of the Government. On the 18 November I inquired in the House when the Taoiseach intended to make a formal announcement as to who was to be Ireland's Commissioner in the EEC. On that occasion I was told he intended to make an announcement in due course. I pursued the matter because I felt that Deputy O'Kennedy would be appointed. That was in November and I felt that whatever Cabinet changes were going to be made should have been made at that time so that whoever took over the Department of Finance, or whatever vacancy occurred, would have an opportunity of going into the Department and being there for a number of weeks to familiarise themselves with the economic situation. The announcement should have been made at that time, but was not made until the 1st of December. The vacancy is being filled in the Department of Finance today. Next week is Christmas week, and to all intents and purposes there will be very little work in Government Departments because of civil servants going on leave. A new Minister of Finance is taking over the week before Christmas. I do not think that is sufficient time for him to take over and prepare a budget and to have it before the House in whatever week it is in January. The Taoiseach should have made his decision three or four weeks ago. I do not know what circumstances prevented him from doing so, whether they were political or otherwise. The appointments should have been made earlier.
The new Minister for Finance has been a member of the Government. Deputy Nolan was a Minister of State. There is an urgent change of direction needed in  the Government. I am not going to catalogue all of the——
Mr. Enright: I do not know whether or not the new Minister will be able to change the direction of the Government. There is a rapid change of direction urgently needed in regard to the agricultural situation.
Mr. Enright: In my view an urgent change of direction in the Government is needed but I do not know if the new Minister of State will be able to provide the necessary impetus. We have had a very serious situation over the past 12 months and a competely different approach will have to be made because people throughout the length and breadth of the country are questioning what is happening here.
Mr. Enright: The position is as I outlined it. I wish the new Minister for Finance and the two other Ministers well. As the Chair said, I will have an opportunity to discuss this further next Thursday but in my view my comments were in order and I see no reason for the interruptions from the Chair.
Mr. Mitchell: As Fine Gael spokesman on Labour, it is incumbent on me to say a few words about these new appointments. I wish Deputy Fitzgerald every success in his new appointment. It is a tragedy that the past three-and-a-half years were among the worst in our industrial history. It would be totally unfair to blame Deputy Fitzgerald for that because I believe he was constrained by the then Minister for Finance and the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs. He now brings to the Department of Finance some experience in the industrial relations field.
I want to voice one serious criticism of these appointments. The Taoiseach has returned to the situation where the Minister for Finance is also the Minister for the Public Service. That is a terrible mistake. One of the good things Deputy Haughey did when he became Taoiseach was to separate those two Departments. He should reflect on this new move because it is very important for the eventual achievement of industrial peace that those two Departments should be separated.
Mr. Mitchell: I wish Deputy Nolan every success in his new appointment and hope that as Minister for Labour he can, with us, bring about the lasting industrial peace which I believe is possible and necessary.
The Taoiseach: I am surprised that one aspect of these appointments has not been adverted to, and that is the importance of the appointment of a Commissioner in Europe. Anybody who closely observes the situation as it is developing in the Community would acknowledge that the new Commissioner who will take office in January will have a very important part to play in the way the Community will develop. At present the Community is going through fundamental changes in outlook, in attitudes and in approach to policies. I want to make the point that, from our point of view as a nation, it is of crucial importance that our representative in the Commission be somebody of very great ability and considerable experience. In selecting Deputy O'Kennedy to be our Commissioner I had that very much in mind. In my view, the House has not paid sufficient attention to that aspect of the appointments. It is of great significance and importance to us as a country, to our farmers particularly, to business people and employees, that we have in Europe a Commissioner of first-class calibre. Deputy O'Kennedy has had considerable experience of Government and his term as Minister for Foreign Affairs will stand him in very good stead in this very difficult and onerous appointment he is undertaking.
I have no doubt that in the circles where it matters — among employers, employers' organisations and trade unions — Deputy Fitzgerald has built up for himself a very wide degree of conficence and support during his term as Minister for Labour and Minister for the Public Service. The fact that he will continue in the Department of the Public Service is of considerable importance and an aspect of these appointments to which sufficient attention has not been devoted.
Deputy Desmond suggested there was an unfortunate element of change so far as the Department of the Public Service  are concerned. I dispute that and suggest that the fact that Deputy Fitzgerald continues to be Minister for the Public Service ensures continuity of approach so far as that Department are concerned.
The Taoiseach: I have no doubt that Deputy Fitzgerald in this new appointment as Minister for Finance will give the same dedicated 24 hours a day, seven days a week service he has given up to now in the Departments he occupied, and particularly the service he has given to the Department of Labour. I believe the whole atmosphere in the industrial relations area is a great deal better because of his labours and dedication.
The Taoiseach: That makes my point even stronger. However, I think Deputy Tom Nolan has all the qualities to handle this sensitive, troublesome and difficult portfolio. In fact, Deputies who know a little about his career know that on many occasions he has performed very competently in the field of industrial relations and has succeeded in contributing to the settlement of a number of very serious industrial relations problems. I feel quite confident that he will acquit himself competently, adequately and successfully in this appointment.
I should like to make two very quick points before I conclude. Deputies opposite have been commenting on the manner in which I have marshalled the forces of my party here in regard to the front bench and the second bench. I want to assure them that if I was over on that side of the House there are an awful lot of people on that front bench who would not last five minutes and they can be very glad that I am not leading that party at  present. If they want to talk about not availing of all the talent that is available, for heaven's sake, they should just take a sneaky look over their shoulders at their backbenchers and compare them with some of the ornaments on their front bench. We will leave it at that.
The Taoiseach: I contrast that with the sordid squabbling that went on over there for six long months, with all the secret dinner parties down in the south of France when a member of that party, the present Leader of that party, was trying to stab Dick Burke in the back and put a Labour Party Member——
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