Government Record: Motion (Resumed).

Wednesday, 5 July 2006

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 623 No. 86

First Page Previous Page Page of 322 Next Page Last Page

The following motion was moved by Deputy Rabbitte on 4 July 2006:

deploring the many failures of the current Government including:

—the failure to deal with rising crime rates, the lower detection rates and the continuing unacceptable level of crime, ranging from gun murders to vandalism and anti-social behaviour;

—the failure to adequately protect the children of the nation by its incompetent, disjointed and ill-judged response to the issues raised by the Supreme Court judgment in the CC case;

[795]—the failure to ensure value for taxpayers’ money and the shocking waste of public money on such ill-judged and mismanaged projects as electronic voting and PPARS, a health sector computer project which ran dramatically over budget without delivering an effective payroll system;

—the failure to deal with the crisis in accident and emergency units and to clear all hospital waiting lists within two years, as promised in May 2002;

—the failure to deliver affordable child care for hard-working families;

—the failure to provide adequate school buildings in developing areas; the increase in the number of children in classes of 30 or more; and the reneging on the commitment to reduce class sizes for children under nine to below international best practice of 20:1;

—the failure to honour the commitment that 80% of all taxpayers would pay at the standard rate; the delay in closing off loopholes that allow a number of super-rich individuals to avoid paying their fair share of taxation; and the reliance instead on more than 50 stealth taxes;

—the failure to deal with rising prices which has now resulted in an annual inflation rate of almost 4%;

—the failure to deliver the required level of broadband roll-out to meet private and commercial needs;

—the failure to deal with escalating house prices which have increased at nine times the rate of inflation since 1997 or to deliver the required level of social and affordable housing;

—the failure of the Government to deliver an adequate strategy for road safety, particularly in regard to the implementation of the penalty points system;

—the failure to ensure that the benefits of economic growth were shared out fairly, as a result of which, according to Central Statistics Office figures published this week, 21% of the population are at risk of poverty; and

—the failure to halt the decline in the numbers engaged in farming and the continuing low level of income for many farm families;

censures the Government for its many failures;

believes that this arrogant, tired and fractured Administration has lost initiative and [796]coherence and has descended into aimless drift; and

concludes that the interests of the country and people would therefore best be served by the dissolution of the 29th Dáil and the holding of an early general election.

Debate resumed on amendment No. 1:

“commends the Government for the strategic vision which it has displayed and the competence with which it has discharged its duties, such that:

—more than 600,000 jobs have been created since the Government took office in 1997 while the rate of unemployment has been reduced from 10.3% to 4.3% over the same period;

—a new strategy for science, technology and innovation to 2013 is being implemented, involving the initial investment of €2.7 billion up to 2008, which will drive economic growth, continue to create high quality and high paying jobs and facilitate social advancement;

—a truly integrated national transport network is being developed in Ireland through a record €7.8 billion investment in transport infrastructure over the past 9 years and a further €34.4 billion investment under Transport 21, which is the largest infrastructure programme ever undertaken in this State and will mean that €9.4 million is invested in transport every day for the next 10 years;

—the introduction of a national disability strategy has supported and reinforced the equal participation in society of people with disabilities through a €900 million multi-annual investment programme for disability support services and the implementation of a range of new legislative measures;

—the Office of the Minister for Children was established giving a clear focus on the needs of children at the heart of Government with the responsible Minister at the Cabinet table and an integrated approach to the implementation of the National Children’s Strategy across all the relevant Departments;

—countless deaths and serious illnesses caused by second hand tobacco smoke are being avoided and the quality of people’s lives have been vastly [797]improved because the Government took the courageous step of introducing a smoking ban in workplaces across the country;

—the economy is being managed in a way that delivers increased prosperity for all citizens, allows increased resources to be used to improve public infrastructure, and allows for enhanced social services aimed at addressing the needs of the less fortunate in our society;

—Ireland’s fiscal performance is among the best in the developed world, with Government indebtedness the second lowest in the euro area;

—this country now has a far more equitable tax system where the top one per cent of earners pay more than 20% of all income tax and the top 4% of all earners are expected to contribute about 40% of the total income tax yield for 2006, and where those on or below the average industrial wage will pay only 6% of all income tax, and where OECD data shows that once again Ireland has the lowest tax wedge (i.e. income tax plus employee and employer PRSI) as a proportion of gross wages in the EU;

—the necessary resources have been provided to meet the priority needs in frontline and essential services such as new health units and disability services in the health area, special needs teachers and assistants in the education area and greatly increased numbers of gardaí to ensure public safety and to fight crime;

—the net impact of the Government’s successful measures to boost employment and improve social welfare rates has been to remove 250,000 people from consistent poverty;

—the public is getting maximum value for money, through a robust framework that has been put in place for appraising and delivering capital projects from the multi-annual programme of capital investment which, at twice the European average, is transforming our infrastructure, with most projects now coming in ahead of time and within budget;

—there has been an unprecedented reduction in waiting times for hospital procedures achieved through the National Treatment Purchase Fund and increased investment in hospitals and specialist staff, so that in most instances, the NTPF will offer treatment to any patient waiting more than three months;

[798]—the establishment of the Health Service Executive and its role in bringing unified management for the first time to major projects in information technology, hospital buildings and new services, is achieving consistent national service standards and best value for money;

—significant improvements have been achieved over recent months in some of our 35 A & E departments through the substantial actions and unprecedented focus by management to address the problems that existed there;

—there has been a five-fold increase in investment in school buildings, a new proactive approach to school planning in developing areas has been introduced and by next September there will be 4,000 more teachers in our primary schools;

—an unprecedented programme of resourcing and reform of the criminal justice system has been undertaken, including bringing the strength of the Garda Síochána up to 14,000, so that serious crime rates are now lower per head of population than 10 years ago;

—the Prison Service had sufficient resources to end the scandal of the ‘revolving door’;

—the most comprehensive range of legislative measures to combat crime and anti-social behaviour in all its forms was introduced;

—there was an immediate response by the State in successfully appealing to the Supreme Court the decision of the High Court to release ‘Mr. A’ and that emergency legislation was speedily enacted to deal with the issues arising from the Supreme Court judgment in the ‘CC case’;

—a new comprehensive approach to road safety was introduced involving the establishment of the Road Safety Authority and the Garda Traffic Corps, the expansion of the penalty points system including the introduction of a fully computerised nationwide system from April and the soon to be enacted Road Traffic Bill 2006 will introduce mandatory alcohol testing, privately-operated speed cameras and a ban on hand-held mobile phones when driving;

—the €499 million Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme 2000-2006 was implemented, securing the creation of 41,000 new quality child careplaces by [799]programme end, of which 29,000 were in place by the end of 2005;

—the €575 million on-going investment in the New National Childcare Investment Programme 2006-2010, will create an additional 50,000 child careplaces;

—there have been substantial increases in child benefit, which has quadrupled since 1997, and is now supplemented by the early childcare supplement, a universal payment of 1,000 euro per annum in respect of each child under the age of six;

—there have been very substantial improvements in maternity benefit, parental leave and adoptive leave since the Government took office;

—radical reform in the area of consumer protection was introduced by establishing the new Consumer Agency and abolishing the Groceries Order, which kept prices artificially high;

—the regional broadband strategy has resulted in a rapidly growing, competitive broadband market that has seen a tripling of broadband take-up, falling prices and greater choice in services and providers for the consumer;

—the largest ever spending on social welfare at €13.5 billion (equivalent to double the spend in 2000) was introduced in the last budget benefiting 1.5 million people;

—the commitment in the programme for Government to increase child benefit to €150 for the first two children and €185 for each subsequent child was achieved in this year’s budget;

—the carer’s allowance was increased to €200 per week for those over 66 (an increase of almost €43 in two years) and €180 per week for those under 66 (an increase of more than €40 in two years) and that the respite care grant increased to €1,200 (up from €835 in two years);

—pensioners have a decent income by increasing rates this year by €16 to €193.30 (contributory) and €14 to €182 (non-contributory);

—the policies and investment were put in place to deliver record increases in housing supply, including the building of one third of all houses in Ireland in the period since 1997 — more than half a million new homes — and the needs of almost 100,000 households were provided for through various social and affordable programmes in the same period; and

[800]concludes that the best interests of the country and the people are served by allowing the Government to complete its programme before the dissolution of the 29th Dáil and the holding of a general election, which is due next year.”

Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children (Ms Harney): Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  I wish to share time with the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Deputy O’Donoghue; the Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture and Food, Deputy Brendan Smith; Deputies Peter Power, O’Malley and Hoctor.

Acting Chairman: Information on Joe Sherlock  Zoom on Joe Sherlock  Is that agreed? Agreed.

Ms Harney: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  I am pleased to contribute to what is effectively a motion of no confidence in the Government. There is much interest in the World Cup. I was pleased last night to watch some of the match between Germany and Italy. This debate reminds me somewhat of bumble bee soccer. Everybody is swarming around the ball, they are all over the pitch, there is no coherence, no co-ordination, no strategy and certainly no goals being scored as there is not in bumble bee soccer.

  7 o’clock

To govern is to choose, as Napoleon once said. Next year the people will be involved in the serious business of choosing a Government. They will recognise that in choosing one, they have the capacity to drive the country forward or backwards. Elections are not about personalities, who looks good on the front cover of Hello magazine or who can provide the best political entertainment in either this Chamber or on television and radio. It is about the serious business of governing society for a five-year period. If there is anything we have learned during the past 30 years, it is that Government economic management determines the success or failure of the economy. If we do not keep our eye focused on the ingredients that delivered unprecedented economic success, economic dry rot will set in, but unfortunately by the time it is noticed, it will have disastrous consequences.

I often feel there is a view in the Opposition that the economic performance of the country is on automatic pilot, that one can go into the Department of the Taoiseach, press a button, keep one’s finger on it and regardless of who pilots or co-pilots the aeroplane, it will go in the same direction. Statements such as, “we are on your side”, or “we are going to change a few procedures” sound fine, but the people are entitled to know what specific policies the would-be Government opposite will pursue in office. I suggest that if the parties opposite, Fine Gael, the Labour Party and the Green Party, are in Government together, they will not be able to get their act together in the cockpit. They will be wrestling over the controls on issues such as Aer Lingus, defence policy——

[801]Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  I would not say that. We know all about wrestling over controls on the Government side also.

Ms Harney: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  ——age of consent, Great Southern Hotels, school examinations, health reform. There is such incoherence among the three parties opposite that the plane would never take off and if it did, it would crash into the first mountain.

I wish to highlight some of the transformation that has taken place in Ireland during the past nine years. Unemployment is down from 10.9% to 4.3%; instead of 1.4 million people at work, 2 million people are at work; instead of a single person on average industrial earnings of €19,300 in 1997, that person is on €32,000 today; instead of paying tax after €70, they do not pay any tax.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  House prices went up tenfold. The Tánaiste should include that also.

Ms Harney: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  I will deal with that issue. Those people do not pay any tax on €304 per week.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  They do not have a chance.

Ms Harney: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  When one factors in what one calls stealth taxes and inflation, the average single person on the average industrial wage takes home €180 more than nine years ago.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  I hope the Tánaiste is not serious about that.

Ms Harney: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  I want to concentrate on three other issues where the Government’s track record must be acknowledged. First, is the reduction in income tax which means we have the lowest income tax on work in all the European Union, second is the job record, and third is consistent poverty. Some 250,000 people have been removed from consistent poverty during the past nine years, down from 310,000 to 60,000.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  So sweet.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Hospital trolleys.

Ms Harney: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Let us take insurance reform. When we started to reform insurance, we did not get involved with simple woolly ideas. We got involved in serious structural change. We had a plan. We faced down the vested interests and even though parties opposite wanted me to allow everybody to get their legal costs, which would have meant no change, we resisted that. What has happened? Motor insurance has been reduced by €1 billion during the past three years and insurance on employment, employers’ liability and public liability insurance is down by more than €600 million, a saving to consumers of €1.6 billion. When the Opposition talks about waste, let it talk about the facts. We have turned the corner on health reform.

[802]Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Really.

Ms Harney: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  In June the number awaiting admission on trolleys was down by 39%.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  In the middle of summer.

Ms Harney: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  I shall list all the hospitals, as of Monday last, where there was nobody waiting more than three to six hours for admission to a hospital bed, which is the international standard. It is a long list of hospitals: St. Luke’s in County Kerry, St. John’s in Tullamore, South Infirmary in Cork, south Tipperary, Portlaoise, Navan, Roscommon, Cashel, Nenagh, Louth County Hospital, Portiuncula, Mullingar, University College Hospital Galway, Cavan, Monaghan, Ennis, St. James’s Hospital in Dublin, St. Vincent’s, Letterkenny and Waterford. That is 23 out of 35 hospitals where people were not waiting more than three to——

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  What about Naas General Hospital?

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  It was not among them.

Ms Harney: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  It is not. Comparing like with like, we have turned the corner. What is important about health reform? Members opposite criticise the establishment of the Health Service Executive.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Rightly so.

Ms Harney: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Everybody must acknowledge that one entity, which is what the Health Service Executive has become, is better than 58 bodies.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  What about MRSA?

Ms Harney: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  I have given but three examples recently of what that reform is delivering. In cancer care, everybody in the country, regardless of where they are treated, will get quality assured care. At total of 60% of breast surgery in this country in 2002 was performed by surgeons who did fewer than ten cases per year. That is highly dangerous and will change. It would not have changed under the old health board regime. In paediatrics, there will be a single hospital for very sick children. The old health board regime would not have had the capacity to do that. In the north east where there are 300,000 people and five hospitals, 50% of the elective work in the region comes to Dublin, so the patients are voting with their feet, and 25% of all hospital cases in the region come to Dublin. We are going to get a single new state-of-the-art hospital with the five hospitals being satellites of that new hospital.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  When?

Ms Harney: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  For as long as I have been a Member, I have heard people say that is the solution but nobody put it into practice.

[803]Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  What about the people who are dying?

Ms Harney: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  My time is limited. As Ed Murrow, the US journalist said, do not confuse slogans with solutions. The Opposition is strong on slogans, but very poor on solutions. For the remainder of our mandate, we will focus on solutions. Many of the challenges society faces are challenges that come from success. The Government, with its coherent vision for the future and its coherent economic policy, elements fundamental to the success of any Government, will focus on providing the solutions the people are entitled to expect of their Government.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Will the Government implement the Hanly report?

Acting Chairman (Mr. Glennon): Information on Jim Glennon  Zoom on Jim Glennon  I call Deputy O’Donoghue and ask Deputies to allow him speak without interruption.

Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism (Mr. O’Donoghue): Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Since Mullingar all those false dawns ago we have listened to the meaningless meanderings of an Opposition that is tiring the public with its rhetoric.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  The Minister has been prone to a few meanderings himself. Does he remember zero tolerance?

Acting Chairman: Information on Jim Glennon  Zoom on Jim Glennon  Please allow the Minister to continue.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  I am sorry, but he provoked me. What does he expect?

Acting Chairman: Information on Jim Glennon  Zoom on Jim Glennon  Deputy Durkan is too easily provoked.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  I am sorry. I am very sensitive. If he does not mention it again, I will say no more.

Mr. O’Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  That was only the first sentence.

The remnants of the rainbow coalition government, the constituent parts of which include old Labour, the retired revolutionaries of the Democratic Left and the battered survivors of Fine Gael’s last debacle, are joined today by the Green Party and “whatever you’re having yourself” in an attempt at the greatest public deception since the foundation of the State.

They say they will replace the Government’s policies with their own but they will not say what they are. They say they have a different vision for the country, but they will not say what it is. They say they can do things better, but they will not say how they will do it. They say that they know what they are doing, but they are the only ones saying that.

[804]Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  The Minister’s spin doctor has told him to repeat the same thing over and over.

Mr. O’Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Two years ago, the Mullingar man of Irish politics, Deputy Enda Kenny, promised the people a comprehensive policy strategy within 18 months. He has been ably assisted by the microphone man of Irish politics — the man with an opinion on everything and a policy on nothing — Deputy Rabbitte, or to give him his correct title, Pat the talker; the man who brings us today’s talk today.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  The Minister has been known for more than one opinion also.

Mr. O’Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  After nine years of wrestling with the responsibilities of enforced retirement, one would have expected a coherent policy or some semblance of a strategy. Sadly, these are not forthcoming. If the Opposition cannot tell us what it will do in Government and how it will do it, one cannot know what it will do.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  The Minister should save his speech for Listowel Writers’ Week.

Mr. O’Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  At least Fine Gael is consistent. It is 25 years since it won a general election and 25 years since it put a credible economic policy before the people. Kerry might have failed to win five all-Ireland senior football titles in a row, but Fine Gael is going for six general election defeats in a row.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  I assure the Minister I would not take that line.

Mr. O’Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  In 1987, 1989, 1992, 1997 and 2002 Fine Gael sought the endorsement of the people and the people said “no”. Each time Fine Gael substituted policy with a chant of “go on, go on, go on” and each time the response was “no”, “no”, “no”. After the last election, the 33 “no’s” turned into 33 lost seats.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Let the Minister tell us about his forte, crime.

Mr. O’Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Tonight’s motion gives us the opportunity to see if anything has changed.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  It gives the 16 backbenchers the opportunity to vote with the Minister.

Mr. O’Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The motion gives us the opportunity to see whether the Opposition’s rhetoric lives up to its performance. The answer is “no”, 33 times “no”

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Where did we hear that before?

Mr. O’Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  In contrast, by every criterion which may be used to judge the success of a government, this Government has been a suc[805]cess. Working in partnership with the most educated generation in the history of the State, we have created wealth and prosperity over the past nine years. The people enjoy a way of life that is unprecedented in terms of disposable income and the choices available. It is wonderful that after nine years we have ended mass unemployment, witnessed massive increases in pensions and children’s allowances, experienced radical reductions in income tax and pursued a just and lasting peace on this island.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  The Government is collecting more taxes from them all the time.

Mr. O’Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  We do not claim to have got everything right, but we know that all the energies of this talented and experienced Government are focused on constant and relentless improvement.

This motion is not about the Government, but about the Opposition. It is about an Opposition which relies as much on quick-pick criticisms as it does on quick pick solutions.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  The Minister is familiar with them himself.

Mr. O’Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Its criticisms do not survive the test of detailed analysis nor do its solutions stand the test of even cursory examination.

Mr. Timmins: Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  Can we have this on DVD?

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Here in truth endeth the lesson.

Mr. O’Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Nobody knows what the Opposition wants to achieve or what standards it wants to set. Nobody knows the route it wants to take because it does not know itself.

We know the goals we want to achieve, the standards we want to set and the route we want to take.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Why has the Government not done it up to now?

Mr. O’Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  If the Opposition believes it is possible to provide top-class quality services to the people without getting the fundamentals of the economy right, it is as blinded by its prejudices as it is ignorant of the knowledge of what is required.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Let the Minister tell us about struggling with conscience. It is an uneven contest. The Minister has upset me again.

Mr. O’Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  We are determined that this new Ireland, which we have created with a vibrant, imaginative, innovative, educated and entrepreneurial generation, will be an Ireland of fairness, equality, opportunity and advancement.

[806]Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture and Food (Mr. B. Smith): Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  I am pleased to have the opportunity to address the motion and to set out how a modern agrifood sector has developed under the Government. It has been said that the two parties opposite are united more by what they are against than what they are for. This is certainly the case with regard to farming.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  On a point of order, will the Minister of State circulate his speech?

Acting Chairman: Information on Jim Glennon  Zoom on Jim Glennon  His speech will be circulated.

Mr. B. Smith: Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  The Opposition motion was moved by the Labour leader who in a previous incarnation as a Democratic Left representative called farmer taxation a joke. His then leader
sneered that farmers were rolling in it. When it was suggested that Ireland might seek the agriculture portfolio in the Barroso-led Commission, the former Labour Party leader, Deputy Quinn, said that Ireland should look forwards not backward. Such is the high regard for farmers exhibited by the Labour Party. Fine Gael and Deputy Durkan and his colleagues have aligned themselves with the Labour Party. The same Fine Gael constantly predicts doom for the Irish farmer.

How Fine Gael can claim to be the friend of Irish farmers beggars belief. That claim is completely cynical, as is the Fine Gael-Labour Party motion. Rather than being a backward pursuit, the reality is that agriculture and the agrifood sector is one of the largest indigenous sectors in the economy, with annual sales exceeding €18 billion. The Government constantly and successfully promotes the development of the agrifood sector. We should continue to be aware of its importance to our economy as it accounts for approximately 8.6% of GDP, 8.5% of employment and 8.5% of exports.

I was disappointed to hear Deputy Howlin sneer when the Minister, Deputy O’Donoghue, spoke about significant progress made in creating jobs for the people. I am disappointed by the attitude of the Labour Party towards the creation of employment.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Does the Deputy want us to apologise?

Mr. B. Smith: Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  It would rather see the people go on the boats and planes to England and America.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  That happened for a long time under the Fianna Fáil regime.

Mr. B. Smith: Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  We are proud that emigration has ended.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  The Government should be ashamed of itself. It did not create the boom, but it threw it away.

[807]Mr. B. Smith: Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  The Opposition will not get the opportunity to destroy the economy.

The high level of these exports at €7.5 billion and the use of mainly indigenous resources mean the sector accounts for a significant level of the net foreign earnings from the trade of manufactured goods. The commitment of the Government to the long-term development of agriculture, food, forestry, and a vibrant rural economy is evident from the high level of public expenditure on the sector each year. The expected spend by the Department this year will be more than €3.2 billion. Last year was a very good year for farm incomes which rose by 24%, according to the Central Statistics Office, to reach a record €2.8 billion.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  That was before the WTO talks and the farm review.

Mr. B. Smith: Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  Deputy Durkan should know that WTO talks are still in progress. The Deputy should not show his complete lack of knowledge of the sector.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  The very fact the Minister of State does not know about it is a clear indication of where he is going.

Mr. B. Smith: Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  The WTO talks will continue next July.

This rise in aggregate farm income was due to a record level of payments to farmers by this Government in 2005. Total direct payments amounted to more than €2.2 billion, which included more than €1 billion under the single payment scheme, €550 million in rural development measures and more than €600 million in premia payments in respect of previous years. The rise in farm incomes is welcome even allowing for the once-off factors that occurred last year. This rise justifies the decision to adopt a full decoupling approach and the extra money in farmers’ pockets will assist farming in adapting to more competitive market pressures.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Is that the reason farmers are leaving in droves?

Mr. B. Smith: Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  They are not leaving. That is a black lie.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  The Government is starving them out of the country.

Mr. B. Smith: Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  With the assistance of the Chair, I will give the Deputy one statistic——

Acting Chairman: Information on Jim Glennon  Zoom on Jim Glennon  The Minister of State to continue without interruption.

Mr. B. Smith: Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  The figure is 0.1%. I remind Deputy Stagg who has consistently spoken against the interests of Irish farming——

[808]Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  I am a farmer’s son and have never spoken against the interests of farmers in my life.

Mr. B. Smith: Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  I never heard the Deputy speak in favour of anything.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  I often did and the Minister of State heard me but he did not like it.

Mr. B. Smith: Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  For the first time, exports of food and drink from this country amounted to €7.5 billion.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  The Minister of State should calm down and not get excited.

Mr. B. Smith: Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  I get excited when I listen to untruths. We have listened to Deputy Stagg for too long in this House misrepresenting rural Ireland, misrepresenting the farmers and misrepresenting the agri-food sector. I am very glad to support the Government amendment to a motion that has no substance. It is a motion put forward by two parties who lack direction and who lack any distinct policy. They only outline what they are against.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Those are famous last words.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  The Minister of State should keep the spin going. He should calm down and not get excited.

Mr. B. Smith: Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  I get excited when I listen to untruths. I believe in the truth.

Mr. P. Power: Information on Peter Power  Zoom on Peter Power  In the brief time available to me I am delighted to address this motion which is divorced from the reality of modern Ireland and based on the politics of cynicism. It does not refer to the fact that this country is the envy of every other economy in Europe and sadly, it is a motion that does not refer to the Government’s record and achievement in bringing about lasting peace in Northern Ireland.

Deputy Rabbitte addressed the nation as only he can. He welcomed the motion because it would focus people’s minds. I remind him that he should be very careful about what he wishes for because he might get it. The first thing the people in Limerick will focus on will be——

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Senator Peter Callanan told the Deputy that old story and he told it to everyone else also.

Mr. P. Power: Information on Peter Power  Zoom on Peter Power  ——the future of Shannon Airport. They will look at what the Opposition has to offer.

(Interruptions).

Mr. P. Power: Information on Peter Power  Zoom on Peter Power  Fine Gael has an enlightened view on the future of Shannon Airport. It supported the Government policy of giving auton[809]omy to it. On the other hand, the Labour Party takes a diametrically opposed view.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  The Government will flog it off tomorrow.

Mr. P. Power: Information on Peter Power  Zoom on Peter Power  If the putative Government was in power tomorrow morning, will it be autonomy for Shannon Airport or will it be brought back under the umbrella of Aer Lingus under a failed policy?

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  The carpetbaggers will be in control of it, the same as Telecom Éireann.

Mr. P. Power: Information on Peter Power  Zoom on Peter Power  The second issue the people of Limerick will focus on will be the future of Aer Lingus, which the House will discuss tomorrow. Fine Gael supports the Government’s reform programme in giving extra capital to Aer Lingus while the Labour Party is diametrically opposed to it.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  We told the Government how to do it without the carpetbaggers.

Mr. P. Power: Information on Peter Power  Zoom on Peter Power  The people will ask themselves whose policy will it be; will it be the Fine Gael or Labour Party policy? It is like the three card trick merchant; one never really knows what is under the cards.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Deputy Fiona O’Malley will tell them how it is done, how two parties work together.

Mr. O’Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Find the lady.

Mr. P. Power: Information on Peter Power  Zoom on Peter Power  The electorate will be invited to participate in an effective guessing game at the next general election. They will not have a clue which card or which of their chosen policies will come up trumps. The only policy upon they agree is that they want to get into Government and share power without sharing one single policy——

Mr. B. Smith: Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  Get them out.

Mr. P. Power: Information on Peter Power  Zoom on Peter Power  ——before the people. This is an economy of full employment, of the lowest tax, the highest growth and the lowest debts in Europe. They want to get into power and throw that away.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  We have the worst services in Europe.

Ms F. O’Malley: Information on Fiona O'Malley  Zoom on Fiona O'Malley  This motion was supposed to teach the Government something of a lesson and in some way to cast aspersions on the record and the performance of the Government. This tactic has clearly backfired.

Lessons have been dished out but they are lessons on how to govern and what it means to [810]govern: to govern is to choose. The Members opposite have suggested themselves as an alternative government, but I question the basis for that suggestion. No policies were proffered yesterday. Deputy Rabbitte mouthed a list of platitudes which like motherhood and apple pie, we are all in favour of but there was not one detail as to how——

Mr. Cuffe: Information on Ciaran Cuffe  Zoom on Ciaran Cuffe  What about the Kenny report when it comes to platitudes?

Ms F. O’Malley: Information on Fiona O'Malley  Zoom on Fiona O'Malley  ——any of it would be presented.

Acting Chairman: Information on Jim Glennon  Zoom on Jim Glennon  Allow the Deputy to speak without interruption.

Ms F. O’Malley: Information on Fiona O'Malley  Zoom on Fiona O'Malley  Why do they bother tabling a motion claiming they are ready for an election when they have not even bothered to put together anything of the fare they will offer the voters? If an election were called tomorrow, not one——

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  What about the affordable housing the Deputy was complaining about?

Ms F. O’Malley: Information on Fiona O'Malley  Zoom on Fiona O'Malley  ——policy was given yesterday. They will have an opportunity today. What are their big ambitions for the country? Where is the vision? How do they propose to keep the success this country has enjoyed to date?

This failure in the Opposition’s ability to produce a policy has more to do with the fact that there is more that divides the proposed Government than unites it. We only need to look at the business of this House. Not just this week but last week——

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  I advise the Deputy not to go there either. There is a three-way division on the other side of the House.

Ms F. O’Malley: Information on Fiona O'Malley  Zoom on Fiona O'Malley  There was a big division on Private Members’ Business last week.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Is the Deputy backing Deputy McDowell or Deputy Harney?

Ms F. O’Malley: Information on Fiona O'Malley  Zoom on Fiona O'Malley  Yesterday on the Planning and Development (Strategic Infrastructure) Bill, there was the same problem. The Opposition could not agree as they did not have any coherence, and this was the case also with the Defence (Amendment) Bill and we have already heard all about transport and difficulties with energy.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  The Deputy is promoting nuclear energy. What about her friends around her?

Ms F. O’Malley: Information on Fiona O'Malley  Zoom on Fiona O'Malley  It might do Deputy Durkan some good to listen.

[811]Acting Chairman: Information on Jim Glennon  Zoom on Jim Glennon  If this continues any longer I will ask Deputy Durkan for his script.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Mine will be very short.

Ms F. O’Malley: Information on Fiona O'Malley  Zoom on Fiona O'Malley  I remind Deputy Durkan that if he stands for nothing, he will fall for anything from every interest group that comes his way but he will still be lost.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  The Deputy has been practising that for a long time.

Ms F. O’Malley: Information on Fiona O'Malley  Zoom on Fiona O'Malley  Good governance is about choices. Knowing why one has made those choices and remaining steadfast to them. Consistency, courage and cohesion are all vital elements in a successful Government. There has been no evidence of any of this in the debate to date.

A general election is a job application. When applying for a job, one puts one’s best foot forward, highlights achievements,——

Mr. J. Breen: Information on James Breen  Zoom on James Breen  The Deputy should stand for leader of the Progressive Democrats.

Ms F. O’Malley: Information on Fiona O'Malley  Zoom on Fiona O'Malley  ——play to one’s strengths and stresses one’s enthusiasm for the challenges the post will offer. No job applicant ever got a job by down playing the other candidates.

(Interruptions).

Ms F. O’Malley: Information on Fiona O'Malley  Zoom on Fiona O'Malley  The same holds true in politics. Decrying the Government’s performance is all very well——

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  All her party did was go up a ladder and say Fianna Fáil could not be trusted.

Ms F. O’Malley: Information on Fiona O'Malley  Zoom on Fiona O'Malley  The people want to know what the Opposition will do if given the opportunity——

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  They know what the Government has done and what it has not done.

Ms F. O’Malley: Information on Fiona O'Malley  Zoom on Fiona O'Malley  ——and what choices an alternative Government would make.

Mr. B. Smith: Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  It is a proud record.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  That is what the people will make a judgment on.

Ms F. O’Malley: Information on Fiona O'Malley  Zoom on Fiona O'Malley  Deputy Durkan is like an old bellows. I ask him to stay quiet. The trump card the Opposition continues to play is that it is time for a change. This is no panacea. If the Opposition thinks that will win them the next election, they are in for a shock. They will have to try harder and credit the people with intelligence.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Many others are in for a shock also.

[812]Ms F. O’Malley: Information on Fiona O'Malley  Zoom on Fiona O'Malley  Coherent and costed policies will have to be presented to the people.

Mr. Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  The Deputy might be up there on her own next time.

Ms F. O’Malley: Information on Fiona O'Malley  Zoom on Fiona O'Malley  The Labour Party and Fine Gael missed that golden opportunity in the Private Members’ motion tonight. The Deputies give the impression that they are looking to take over a scout den rather than a nation.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  With some of the activities on that side of the House, we could be forgiven for this.

Ms F. O’Malley: Information on Fiona O'Malley  Zoom on Fiona O'Malley  It is a nation which has enjoyed enormous prosperity. The people will not yield the prudent and careful management of the country on the basis of the Opposition “not having had a go for ages”. Government is very different to being in Opposition.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  One might not think so.

Ms F. O’Malley: Information on Fiona O'Malley  Zoom on Fiona O'Malley  Governance is about being prepared to make hard choices, experience, conviction, dedication and drive. The Opposition has sadly been lacking all of these throughout the debate. Ireland is not a perfect nation, but it is not the grim, desolate and dangerous place set out by the Opposition. To say it is is to let the people down.

I will conclude on this point.

Mr. Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  I am glad the Deputy is concluding.

Ms F. O’Malley: Information on Fiona O'Malley  Zoom on Fiona O'Malley  In the next election the Government will stand on its record. I have no doubt it will be successful on that record.

Deputies:  Hear, hear.

Acting Chairman: Information on Jim Glennon  Zoom on Jim Glennon  Deputy Hoctor has two minutes.

Ms Hoctor: Information on Máire Hoctor  Zoom on Máire Hoctor  I will only be getting revved up in two minutes. I am grateful for the opportunity to speak. When I heard the Labour Party’s Private Members’ time was to be devoted to a censure motion I was not surprised. It is another reflection of what goes on in Tipperary North, with attempts to highlight Nenagh hospital and downgrade it in their view.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Deputy Michael Smith is looking after Nenagh hospital.

Ms Hoctor: Information on Máire Hoctor  Zoom on Máire Hoctor  The Labour Party was not looking after it anyway. We only have to look at the record of the Labour Party and its investment in Nenagh hospital, which was nil. For it, it did not exist.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  The Deputy wished to close it. Deputy Smith pulled a quick one on her.

[813]Ms Hoctor: Information on Máire Hoctor  Zoom on Máire Hoctor  It should have been fixed at the time of Barry Desmond.

Mr. Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  The Deputy wished to close it.

(Interruptions).

Ms Hoctor: Information on Máire Hoctor  Zoom on Máire Hoctor  May I continue?

Mr. Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  The Deputy wished to close it and Deputy Michael Smith wanted to keep it open.

Acting Chairman: Information on Jim Glennon  Zoom on Jim Glennon  The Opposition is eating into its own speaking time.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  I thought Deputy Hoctor was supporting the Hanly report, until the rug was pulled from under her feet.

Acting Chairman: Information on Jim Glennon  Zoom on Jim Glennon  The Deputy is eating into his own speaking time.

Ms Hoctor: Information on Máire Hoctor  Zoom on Máire Hoctor  I will again state that the Hanly report will be good for Nenagh hospital. We have already seen what has happened to Nenagh hospital.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  The Deputy better not tell that to her constituents in Nenagh if she wants to come back here.

Ms Hoctor: Information on Máire Hoctor  Zoom on Máire Hoctor  Deputy Stagg should see the pilot projects that are there. He knows nothing about it.

Mr. B. Smith: Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  Exactly.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Deputy Smith is cuter than the Deputy.

Mr. Parlon: Information on Tom Parlon  Zoom on Tom Parlon  Deputy Stagg knows nothing about it.

Ms Hoctor: Information on Máire Hoctor  Zoom on Máire Hoctor  Deputy Stagg can go back to Brendan Howlin and Barry Desmond and see what they did for the hospital.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Deputy Smith pulled the rug from under Deputy Hoctor at that meeting.

Ms Hoctor: Information on Máire Hoctor  Zoom on Máire Hoctor  I invite the Deputy to go back and look at their record for Nenagh hospital. It does not exist because they did nothing for it.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  I do not need to go back. I know it without going back.

Ms Hoctor: Information on Máire Hoctor  Zoom on Máire Hoctor  The Deputy should stay in Dublin, where he belongs.

We are grateful for the opportunity, however brief, to make the case against this ridiculous motion. It is a motion of annihilation and self-destruction for a party which has no record of delivery as far as north Tipperary is concerned. I stand by the statement.

[814]Mr. Wall: Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  The Deputy’s party is there long enough without any change.

Ms Hoctor: Information on Máire Hoctor  Zoom on Máire Hoctor  We have performed exceptionally well on a number of issues without a Minister in Tipperary North. There has been delivery on the Silvermines rehabilitation, and a delivery of €2.7 million on an extension to Nenagh hospital to include accident and emergency, X-ray and laboratory facilities.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  The Deputy’s time is up.

Acting Chairman: Information on Jim Glennon  Zoom on Jim Glennon  There should be order in the House.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  The Acting Chairman is abusing his position.

Ms Hoctor: Information on Máire Hoctor  Zoom on Máire Hoctor  Some €500,000 in funding has been announced for——

Acting Chairman: Information on Jim Glennon  Zoom on Jim Glennon  I have already informed Deputy Stagg that the exchanges across the floor were eating into the speaking time for the motion’s proposers.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  That is not allowed under Standing Orders.

Acting Chairman: Information on Jim Glennon  Zoom on Jim Glennon  I am allowing it——

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  The Acting Chairman is abusing his position.

Mr. B. Smith: Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  That is an outrageous accusation. It should be withdrawn.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  As a member of Fianna Fáil, the Acting Chairman is abusing his position.

Acting Chairman: Information on Jim Glennon  Zoom on Jim Glennon  I am allowing Deputy Hoctor to finish. If the Deputy would allow some order in the House——

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  I will not withdraw the allegation. As a member of Fianna Fáil, the Deputy is abusing his position in the Chair.

Mr. B. Smith: Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  It is an outrageous accusation.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  It is a forum and the Deputy has used her time.

Acting Chairman: Information on Jim Glennon  Zoom on Jim Glennon  I call Deputy Hoctor.

Ms Hoctor: Information on Máire Hoctor  Zoom on Máire Hoctor  I should be afforded the courtesy at least to continue.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  It is four minutes past the time. This is outrageous.

Mr. O’Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Deputy Stagg has been wandering all night.

Mr. B. Smith: Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  He has nothing to say.

[815]Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  It is outrageous that the Chair is allowing a Fianna Fáil speaker to take Opposition time.

Ms Hoctor: Information on Máire Hoctor  Zoom on Máire Hoctor  Over €500,000 of the €2.74 million will be spent this year in the refurbishment of the hospital.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  It is Opposition time.

Ms Hoctor: Information on Máire Hoctor  Zoom on Máire Hoctor  The money has been set aside by the Government to see that project through. There is no question of underspends, staff cuts or ward closures. It is especially encouraging that the radiology department will be included in the development plan. Whatever doubt remained about the X-ray unit has now been dispelled. The money is in place and the Government has looked after the issue.

We are proud of our record in Tipperary North. We intend to be back after the next election. I await the policies of the Labour Party to see how it may try to match our efforts.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I wish to share time with Deputies McHugh, Connolly, Catherine Murphy, James Breen, Gregory, Gogarty and Cuffe.

Acting Chairman: Information on Jim Glennon  Zoom on Jim Glennon  Is that agreed? Agreed. The Deputies have 15 minutes.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Sinn Féin has no difficulty in supporting the points in the Fine Gael and Labour Party motion as tabled, but it clearly does not go far enough. Amendment No. 2 in the names of the Sinn Féin Deputies reads:

“—the failure to end the inequitable and inefficient two-tier system within our health services and the drive to privatise our health services through massive subsidies for the private health business while the public system is in crisis;”.

Amendment No. 3 reads:

“—the privatization of the national airline, Aer Lingus;

—the failure of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform to promote community safety and human rights and his misuse of his position to target individuals and groups in pursuit of his personal political agenda;

—the ongoing erosion of Irish neutrality and independent foreign policy through the continued provision of Shannon Airport facilities to US combat forces;

[816]—the giveaway of our natural resources of gas and oil to multinationals such as Shell against the national interest and regardless of the concerns of local communities like those of Rossport, County Mayo;

—the failure to fulfil the Taoiseach’s commitment to provide for representation in the Dáil for citizens in the Six Counties and the overall sluggish approach to the peace process by the Irish Government;

—the failure to protect working-class communities from the scourge of illegal drugs;

—the failure to ensure the enforcement of employment law and in particular the failure to prevent the exploitation of migrant workers who continue to make a huge contribution to the Irish economy and to Irish society;

—the failure to address income inequality and low pay resulting in this State having one of the highest levels of income inequality amongst OECD countries where the richest 20% of the working age population now earns 12 times as much as the poorest 20%;”

The Fianna Fáil and Progressive Democrats Government has brought inequality in society and incompetence in government to new depths. This is despite the fact that vast amounts of revenue are at its disposal. Never had an Irish Government, and seldom had any government in the world, such resources with which to build a society and an economy on the basis of equality and excellence.

These resources have been grossly mismanaged by the Government. It has pursued fatally flawed policies, nowhere more so than in the health services. Health policy is dominated by the privatisation agenda of the Progressive Democrats. While our public system struggles with shortages of beds and staff, the Government is pouring public money into the private health business. It is bolstering the two-tier system that makes our health services both inequitable an inefficient.

There is no mention of the two-tier system in this motion. That is because the Fine Gael and Labour parties cannot agree on it. The true political alignment in this Dáil was exposed just after midnight last night when Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael joined together to vote through a defence Bill that undermines Irish neutrality and independent foreign policy. They were opposed by Sinn Féin, the Green Party and several Independent Deputies. The Labour Party, sadly, abstained.

This is the latest example of how on real policy issues, there is little or no difference between the two large right-wing parties, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. In typical opportunistic fashion, the Labour Party simply went into hiding, fearful to vote for [817]the Bill lest it alienate many of their members and supporters, who value neutrality.

Ms O’Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  Did the Deputy listen to Deputy Costello’s comments last night?

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  The party was equally fearful of exposing too stark a difference between itself and its proposed Fine Gael partner in government.

There are also such gaps between Fine Gael and the Labour Party in other key matters, such as the privatisation of Aer Lingus, which Fine Gael supports and Labour, quite correctly, opposes. That is not to say that Deputy Rabbitte and his company would not swallow Fine Gael policies whole in order to get into Government. The Labour Party would do so in future, as it has done in the past. That is a mistake for the Labour Party. In the meantime, it must rally its support base to make the gains it believes possible in the general election.

Both Fine Gael and the Labour Party take the Green Party for granted in all of this, as do greater sections of the media, hoping that party will “do a Labour” and make up the numbers in a coalition. I have no doubt the Green Party will think very hard before going down that road. Few in the media, as is clear tonight, care to set out these uncomfortable facts. They are too busy teeing up the personality contest between Enda on one hand and Bertie on the other, and their respective side-kicks Pat and Mary.

The real issues are there and many are issues of difference between Fine Gael and the Labour Party. When the general election comes, it should not be fought on the narrow ground on which Fine Gael and the Labour Party agree. That is the reason we have tabled these amendments, challenging the Government’s record on issues including the two-tier health system, the privatisation of Aer Lingus, the sinister role of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, the erosion of Irish neutrality, the sell-off of our natural resources, the scourge of drugs in working-class communities, the rights of workers and the sluggish Government approach to the peace process.

I do not expect the Taoiseach to dissolve the Dáil during the summer recess, but whenever he does, Sinn Féin will be ready and waiting to challenge this Government and provide the real alternative in Irish politics, now and in the future.

Acting Chairman: Information on Jim Glennon  Zoom on Jim Glennon  Before Deputy McHugh begins, I indicated prior to the previous speaker that there were 15 minutes in the slot. The time allocated is actually 20 minutes.

Mr. McHugh: Information on Paddy McHugh  Zoom on Paddy McHugh  I am glad of the opportunity to speak on this Labour Party motion. There is no doubt that everything but the kitchen sink has been included in the motion. It is a recitation of some of the worst excesses of this Government. [818]These include the wasteful expenditure of taxpayer’s money on projects and schemes which have proved to be useless, and ongoing expenditure on some of those failed projects.

The money wasted in such projects and other areas is unforgivable, not alone for the excessive amounts involved, but equally because of the good use the wasted money could have been put to in the provision of badly needed infrastructure throughout rural Ireland.

I come from the constituency of Galway East, which is crying out for investment in sewerage, water, roads, rail and broadband. These are all vital elements to enable a region to make some progress and an attempt to catch up with other areas not as neglected by successive Governments as Galway East. The lack of basic services such as water and sewage has led to the price of service building land becoming exorbitant. The lack of investment in services is totally counterproductive.

The younger citizens in our society are also suffering because of a lack of investment in primary and secondary school buildings. Many young pupils are housed in totally inferior buildings which would not have a hope of meeting health and safety regulations.

The motion also highlights the rising crime rates. No matter how the Minister, Deputy McDowell, dresses up the situation in legal speak, throughout this country people are afraid and have no confidence that the forces of law and order are equipped to protect them.

We spent a large portion of our time today discussing the Road Traffic Bill 2006. It is a wasted exercise if the resources to implement it are not provided. They are not being provided and until they are, people will continue to die.

Mr. Connolly: Information on Paudge Connolly  Zoom on Paudge Connolly  We have given three hours debate to an unlikely event. I do not detect any real desire for a summer election. If we held a straw poll on the Government side of the House, or on the Opposition side of the House, it would show that nobody wants a summer election. This call for a summer election is akin to whistling past the graveyard.

It is accepted that the most likely date for an election is in 12 months time, in May or June of next year. We all know what is happening here. If the main Opposition parties and we are serious about a general election, why offer the Government side a pairing arrangement? Why ask Deputies not to support their own motion and give the Government a way out? Are we afraid of our wish being granted? That is not logical. If we are serious about this here, let us pull the pin on the pairing arrangement. Let us stop this because otherwise it is a charade. That is what I believe. This is too serious an issue.

Tomorrow morning there will also be calls for an extension of Dáil sittings. We will call for the recess to be put back for another couple of weeks to sit and debate urgent issues. If we are serious [819]about that, let us sit down and form an all-party committee here. Let us agree at the start of a term that we will extend Dáil time to debate these issues, not stand up here to call for an extension of Dáil time. Let us do something about it.

We should extend the Dáil term and meet international norms. The dual mandate has been done away with. I have called for this previously and if we are serious, we should call for it again. Regrettably, I will not support this motion.

Ms C. Murphy: Information on Catherine Murphy  Zoom on Catherine Murphy  I would have masochistic tendencies if I sought a general election since I was only elected to the Dáil in March last year. However, I must admit to being less interested in who fills particular portfolios and more interested in the functioning and direction of government. The progress of this Government will be measured by the electorate in terms of solid delivery on the grounds of key public services. There are high profile failures on that score.

It is well understood that this country is awash with money, but has financial opportunity yielded the kind of results that should have been produced? It seems, for example, that there is a paralysis in decision making when the decision on a couple of hundred buses to ease the traffic crisis in Dublin and the surrounding counties is continually delayed. There is a failure to recognise and plan for the rapid nature of population growth. That is why in places like Kildare there are too many examples of where class sizes are above 30 or where entire housing estates are without water for days on end because critical infrastructure lags behind housing development, not because of delays in the planning process but because of the failure to fund projects.

Recently a report issued by TASC identified 450 public bodies in existence at the end of 2005. The report touches on the key Government style, which I would describe as a hands-off model. It is ad hoc, it is irrational, it is expensive and it is not improving services.

The Government amendment commends the Government for the strategic vision it has displayed and the competence with which it has discharged its duties. Try telling that to the parent who contacted me today in utter distress because vital educational supports have been removed from her child who has special educational needs or to the 370 children aged six or over who have home tuition provided because this cash-rich State cannot provide them with a school place. It is time we decided that we are living in a society and stop this idea that we are living in some sort of an economy and trying to present that as some sort of a boon in its own right.

Mr. J. Breen: Information on James Breen  Zoom on James Breen  Never have I seen a situation where so many in the country are in open revolt against a sitting Government, where Ministers are in constant battles against those working under [820]them, and despite the availability of vast financial resources, where the constant squandering of public money has resulted in wide scale dissatisfaction among the grass-roots supporters of even the Government parties. Whether at national, provincial or county level, the result is the same. This Government has lost the support of the people and of the Acting Chairman, Deputy Glennon, and his 15 backbenchers.

The same theme is to be found consistently across every Department, that is, unfortunately, ineptitude and failure. County Clare can give a snapshot of the national picture in almost every department. Ennis General Hospital has gone from threats of being reduced to an accident and emergency unit with no night cover to a promise of €20 million investment at some unannounced date. No one is sure of the current status of the hospital, not even the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children, Deputy Harney.

This week has seen the release of statistics showing the latest increase in drug use and associated crime, yet in County Clare, despite promises of the Minister, Deputy McDowell, of increased Garda numbers, the Garda drug unit is staffed by two permanent and one temporary member to cover the entire county.

One of the biggest shames visited on County Clare in recent times has been the installation and attempted installation of telecommunications masts at Ard na Crusha, Ballynacally, Kilkee, Tober and Ennis. Next Saturday will see a large protest against the proposed mast at the ESB site on the Rocky Road in Ennis. An Bord Pleanála gave permission for the mast, saying that not to do so would be in contravention on Government national policy on telecommunications.

The plight of Gama workers in Ennis, and nationally, might never have been rectified but for my Independent colleague, Deputy Joe Higgins taking up their fight initially. Worse still has been the abuse of labour rights of Polish workers by the ESB at Moneypoint in County Clare.

The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Roche, holds a special place in the hearts of the people of County Clare. He has consistently deferred the issue of boundary extension application by Limerick County Council when he should have issued a strong and resounding “No”. He has persistently stalled and prevented the development of sewerage schemes at Carrickaholt, Labasheeda, Kilkee, Mullach, Quilty and Feakle and he has single-handedly increased the profit of national water companies because the water quality to Ennis has been below the safe human consumption level for years.

Mr. Gregory: Information on Tony Gregory  Zoom on Tony Gregory  People would welcome an election at this time to give them the opportunity to remove this wasteful Fianna Fail-Progressive Democrats Government which has failed dismally to provide for the needs of people on a range of [821]critical issues. On the housing issue, for instance, in my constituency a two-bedroom terraced house in what were corporation built estates like Cabra costs close to an incredible €500,000. It is way beyond the ability of a majority of local young people to obtain a home and remain living in their own community. The Government must accept its share of responsibility for this. For the Taoiseach after nine years of inaction to speak of his support for the Kenny report is a bit like his cynical statement to the anti-war marchers that he is against the war in Iraq, having handed over Shannon Airport to the United States war machine.

The two-tier health service and the appalling scandal of the accident and emergency units is one of the hallmarks of this Government for which they will pay a heavy price at the next election. The failure to tackle the drugs-crime crisis again demonstrates the inability of the Fianna Fáil-Progressive Democrats Government to effectively tackle the critical issues of concern to people.

The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy McDowell, attempted to ridicule the Independent Deputies — anything to divert attention from his own failure — with all the arrogance of the Progressive Democrats, the 3% party. That is the level of support for them. If Podge and Rodge formed a party, they would get more support than the Progressive Democrats. My message to the Minister, Deputy McDowell, is that when he is kicked out by the electorate we may well have Independent Deputies in government. There were Independents in government in the past and there will be again, and we will do better than this lot.

Mr. Gogarty: Information on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Zoom on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  This motion to call an early election is opportunistic, cynical and pointless. Without a Dáil vote of no confidence, the only person who can call an election is the Taoiseach. One could cite many reasons that an election should be called and that voters would relish were one called. Fianna Fáil have squandered the fruits of the boom and filled the pockets of their developer paymasters. They have under invested in education, made a mess of health, betrayed tens of thousands of young people trying to get a house and sentenced thousands more to a life of unproductive commuting. However, the reality is an election will not be called as a result of this grandstanding. In fact, I would argue that the two parties favouring the motion would be seriously inconvenienced if the Taoiseach went to the country this summer.

When the election is called voters should be given a range of strong policy-driven options all aimed at bringing Ireland through the many challenges it will face in the coming era of high energy prices and economic uncertainty. In fact, with the exception of the Green Party and possibly a few others, they are faced with more of the same. Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, the Labour Party and the [822]Progressive Democrats all signify the triumph of style over substance, populism over policies, Tweedle Dum or Tweedle Dee. The Mullingar Accord is a flag of convenience and the symbol on the flag is a sheep not only because the Mullingar Accord is characterised by timidity, fear of showing leadership and a preference of the safety of the flock, but also because they are just like Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats in that their only message to the electorate is they can run the country more efficiently than the Government.

Ms O’Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  What about our education proposals?

Mr. Gogarty: Information on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Zoom on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  The electorate, therefore, will be given a choice between an incompetent Fianna Fáil-Progressive Democrats Administration and a bland, uninspiring Fine Gael-Labour Party clone. They are the Dolly alliance, a chip off the old block and a mirror image of the current Government. All these parties readily accept and actively seek corporate donations. Because of this, they are tainted by big business and the whiff of corruption even when their intentions are honourable. They are afraid to make long-term, sensible decisions for the good of the country because they are always focused on short-term electoral considerations of a populist nature. It does not matter which of the larger parties is in government following the next election. Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats are tired and need to be given a break but the supposed Fine Gael-Labour Party alternative is more of the same.

If an election is called and voters want policies that are visionary, sensible and address quality of life issues for current and future generations, the only choice is Green. The more Green Party Deputies returned next year, the more people will have a focused and honest voice. Whether it is Tweedle Dum or Tweedle Dee, the Green Party will make the difference. We have policies to improve our health and education systems; to protect our environment; to guard against bad planning and corruption; to tackle gridlock; to improve Government and democratic input; to deal with the looming energy crisis; and to protect and enhance our quality of life.

Deputy Cuffe will outline reasons the Green Party offers the only alternative following the next election.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  On a point of order, the Chair is obliged to enforce a Standing Order, which sets out specifically the speaking slots for the various parties during private Members’ time but the Chair has breached it again. I did not interrupt because an Opposition Member was in possession but the Chair was in breach of Standing Orders by allowing the Fianna Fáil Member an additional five minutes, thereby reducing the length of the Technical Group slot. I ask the Chair to abide by Standing Orders. The alterna[823]tive is to continue with 20 minute slots, which will result in the Government losing its slot. The Standing Order is clear that the party which moves the motion has 15 minutes to respond at the end of the debate. I have no objection if the debate runs to 8.35 p.m.

Acting Chairman: Information on Jim Glennon  Zoom on Jim Glennon  As I informed the Deputy earlier, interruptions will be factored into the time for the debate.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  The Chair is not entitled to waive Standing Orders.

Acting Chairman: Information on Jim Glennon  Zoom on Jim Glennon  In the same way, I will adjust slots to take account of the time lost. The debate was on schedule until this interruption.

Ms Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  No, it was not.

Acting Chairman: Information on Jim Glennon  Zoom on Jim Glennon  Until this interruption, the debate was on schedule. I ask Deputy Cuffe to resume.

Ms Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  On a point of order, Deputy Burton is scheduled to contribute at 7.50 p.m.

Acting Chairman: Information on Jim Glennon  Zoom on Jim Glennon  The schedule states four and a half minutes from 7.50 p.m.

Ms Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  It is 7.55 p.m.

Acting Chairman: Information on Jim Glennon  Zoom on Jim Glennon  There were two and a half minutes remaining in the slot. The debate did not begin at 7 p.m. and is running approximately two and a half minutes late. That is why I presume the Deputies misunderstood the current position. That is why two and a half minutes were available to Deputy Cuffe.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Will the division be called at
8.30 p.m.?

Acting Chairman: Information on Jim Glennon  Zoom on Jim Glennon  I will not be in the Chair
at that time but my instruction to the person
taking over will be that the debate commenced two and a half minutes late and it has been delayed by another two and a half minutes because of this exchange. How the Chair deals with this at 8.30 p.m. is a matter for the person who takes over. I am dealing with the debate as I find it.

Mr. Cuffe: Information on Ciaran Cuffe  Zoom on Ciaran Cuffe  I was inspired by the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism earlier. In the 1970s I spent time in the Kingdom not 100 miles from Caherciveen. A man drove along the beach every Sunday in a Hillman Avenger with a sad looking greyhound on the end of a piece of string running behind the car. A match commentary could be heard on the radio while the man had The Sunday Press spread out on the passenger seat. The man was cute and he was a character but not necess[824]arily harmless and the Minister shares those characteristics.

The Green Party would happily form part of a Government that would take on board our policies.

Ms Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Deputy Gogarty does not agree.

Mr. Cuffe: Information on Ciaran Cuffe  Zoom on Ciaran Cuffe  With regard to children’s issues, we would ensure quality as well as quantity. In planning, we would build living communities rather than soulless housing estates and end the legacy of bad and corrupt planning. We would implement the Kenny report on housing rather than talk about it and we would build affordable, energy efficient homes. With regard to transport, we would have the political courage to join the dots and build more Luas lines. The rainbow coalition was a good Government and we would be happy to add colour and depth to a future rainbow.

Mr. Wall: Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  Tell Deputy Gogarty that.

Ms Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  I wish to share time with Deputies Shortall, O’Sullivan, Neville and Bruton.

E.M. Forster’s novel Howard’s End contains the famous phrase “Only connect”. The challenge for the alternative Government is to connect our booming economy with our social wellbeing. The central challenge for the next Government will be to create and sustain not only a successful economy but a successful society. The alternative Government will have as one of its central themes “Every Child Matters”. That means we must address the gaping deficit in local facilities, primary school places and lift children out of poverty.

The Government parties made a number of simple promises to children during the last election. They promised class sizes of 20 and under for children aged nine and under. Since then they have dithered and flip flopped on this and many other promises to children. If we are to connect our successful economy and create a successful society, tax justice matters. It may come as a surprise to the Government parties that a single worker on the average industrial wage pays tax on overtime and bonuses at 42%. Despite their promise four and a half years ago that only 20% of workers would pay tax at the 42% rate, approximately 33% of PAYE workers still pay tax at the top rate. That is the position of ordinary workers.

In tandem with this, the scandal of top earners paying little or no tax continues apace, as highlighted by the last week’s publication of the Revenue Commissioners’ study on the effective tax paid by the top 400 earners. The number of high earners paying a zero effective rate increased from five to six. Moreover, the number of top earners paying an effective tax rate of less than 15% increased by 55 to 79, a staggering increase of almost 50%. The figures highlight that tax avoidance by Ireland’s top 400 earners [825]increased significantly, due to the continued expansion of property-based tax breaks, in particular.

  8 o’clock

The Progressive Democrats big idea is to extend such tax breaks to private hospitals as the tax breaks for hotels are phased out. Our health service will be investor and tax driven rather than care centred. People want a society with a caring and quality health care system, not a society where care is only seen in the context of a tax break for a small band of high net worth investors.

Other blatant avoidance mechanisms continue to be nurtured by the Government. As young couples struggle to pay stamp duty on second-hand houses, people would be surprised to know high rollers in the property development business have the option of neatly sidestepping stamp duty by either licencing arrangements or conveying shares in a company rather than the property.

The Labour Party’s campaign for tax justice has at its core the introduction of a minimum effective tax rate of 20% for the wealthy, including those notionally non-resident from our shores for tax purposes but who seem to spend almost all of their time in the country. The minimum effective tax rate would ensure that while necessary tax incentives could be provided, not even the very wealthy could avoid making a contribution at the lower PAYE rate of 20%. This is one of the reasons we need a general election and a new Government to connect the economy with the wellbeing of society.

Ms Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  I will concentrate on the area of road safety and the Government’s grim record in that regard. The number of fatalities on the roads has steadily risen in recent years from 335 in 2003 to 396 last year. Regrettably, those numbers seem to be heading for more than 400 this year. Behind this trend is the devastating impact of death and serious injury on thousands of families. The impact has been most acutely felt in respect of young people. We now know that one in four drivers killed on the roads is aged under 25 years, as are 40% of those who die in motorcycle collisions. To put these figures in context, one must bear in mind the number of drivers under 25 years of age is only approximately 12% of the total.

As I have often stated, the Government is not to blame for these deaths. However, it is undoubtedly responsible for addressing the key causes behind them and serious injuries. In that regard, it has dismally failed to live up to its responsibility. The fact that legislation was only passed today to introduce much needed measures such as privatising the operation of speed cameras, mandatory breath testing and banning the use of mobile phones while driving says a lot about the low priority road safety is afforded by the Government. One can add to this the fact that the Rules of the Road are 14 years out of date, driving instructors are in no way regulated and [826]there is still no compulsory practical instruction for motorcyclists.

The fact of the matter is that many measures included in the road safety strategy have been dragged from the Government as a result of pressure from the public, the media and the Opposition. The more I examine that document, the more I am convinced it was rushed out for media purposes without being properly thought through. The Government has not even been able to set a target for serious injuries because it cannot agree on the definitions. The strategy stated the target would be set in the first annual review. Not only was no target set, but there has not even been an annual review of the strategy. The target of 11 million speed checks for the current year, probably the most important road safety target, was simply ignored by the Government. Even now when the Road Safety Bill has been passed, it will still be several months before all of these long promised measures are in place.

Tenders have not yet been sought for the operation of speed cameras and we know it will be the end of the year at the earliest before they are in place. That is simply inexcusable. We still do not have an explanation from the Government, the Garda Síochána or the Attorney General’s office as to why we had to wait so long for the introduction of random breath testing. Suddenly it seems the phantom constitutional problems have disappeared.

In the area of driver testing there is the scandalous situation where 410,000 provisional drivers are on the roads, while waiting times for tests are up to 12 months. There is a long litany of delays and missed targets, as there is in so many other areas of Government activity. The problem regarding road safety is that when it comes to incompetence and delays, it involves life and death issues. When it comes to the next general election — the sooner it happens the better — a large percentage of the public simply will not forgive the Government for its incompetence in this critical area.

Ms O’Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  It is hard to credit that in rich Ireland where another large surplus was announced yesterday more than 100,000 children, or more than one quarter of primary school children, are in classes of 30 or more. This figure has risen in the past three years. Our classes are among the largest in Europe. Would a Government with any sensible priorities not make it a core issue to tackle when it has money to spare? Would a Government which gave a specific undertaking in its programme for Government to the people to reduce class sizes not take the steps necessary to fulfil this undertaking? The Government does not.

Despite having the money and making the specific promise, it has broken its trust with schoolchildren. The promise to children under nine years of age and their families that the pupil-teacher ratio in their classes would be on average [827]20:1 has no chance of being fulfilled. The Minister admitted this. How can members of the Government hold their heads up with a record like this on such an important issue?

The Minister for Education and Science’s standard reply is that she spent the money on tackling disadvantage and children with special needs. However, that does not stand up. It is only this year, after nine years in government, that it finally introduced new measures to tackle educational disadvantage, just before the next general election. Up to now, there has been absolutely no addition to the schemes introduced by Niamh Breathnach in the 1990s, including the ground-breaking early start and breaking the cycle programmes.

On special needs, a Bill was enacted but it has not even been implemented. The resources and specialist staff such as educational psychologists and speech therapists are in such short supply that parents cannot access them when they need them. Schools try to arrange assessments and provide individual education plans for children with special learning needs without the supports they were promised. My colleague, Deputy Stagg, raised this issue on many occasions.

How can the Government state we have an education system which serves the needs of all children when the Department of Education and Science’s most recent study of reading shows literacy standards have not improved one iota since 1998 and one in three children in disadvantaged areas experiences serious literacy and numeracy problems? A Government in good economic times must be judged by how it spends taxpayer’s money. When it comes to the most basic aspects of the education system, it has failed to make a difference.

I will now outline some of our positive proposals because those on the Government benches constantly bleat that we state nothing positive. The Labour Party presented positive measures which we will implement in government. We published four policy documents on pre-school and primary education alone, including specific proposals to address educational disadvantage, the cost of going to school and the right to read. We also promised one year’s free pre-school education for all children and reduced class sizes. I would love to hear the Green Party’s policies to which Deputy Gogarty referred. He stated it would have 50 policies but it has not told us any of them yet.

Ireland has passed out most European countries on wealth production. However, we have fallen behind in offering opportunities to our children. This must change and it will change under a Labour Party and Fine Gael Government. Sometimes when I am in Dublin, I watch a programme called “Desperate Housewives”. It is about dysfunctional self-obsessed people who, despite having buckets of money to spend, cannot seem to get anything right. We have our own des[828]perate Ministers and it is about time they got out of the drama and back to reality and that we had a general election.

Ms Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  Hear, hear.

Mr. Neville: Information on Dan Neville  Zoom on Dan Neville  I thank the Labour Party for giving me the opportunity to raise the issue of the Government’s neglect in dealing with the needs of psychiatric services and its failure to introduce suicide prevention policies. I will begin by quoting from the report on suicide of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health and Children which was launched today. Regarding mental health it states:

The Government has failed those of our people who suffer from an psychiatric illness. In 1997, 11% of the total health budget was allocated to psychiatric services. At a time when most of our European partners are increasing their relative contribution to the services, the Government has reduced its contribution from 11% to 7%.

The Government has scandalously failed patients with a mental illness, their families, mental health service professionals and service providers. It is of no concern to it that up to 500 people take their lives each year and that in excess of 60,000 attempt suicide and self-harm. It is of no concern to it that Ireland’s youth suicide rate was the fifth highest of the 25 European Union countries in 2004 after Lithuania, Finland, Estonia and Latvia. It is politically immoral of the Government to neglect this issue.

This year the Government allocated a paltry sum of €1.2 million towards suicide prevention measures. It set up the national suicide prevention office which has not contributed anything other than to try to mask the inaction of the Government. To justify this, it recently hijacked the work of NGOs.

I support the motion to replace the Government with an alternative that will deal with the urgent need to develop psychiatric services, the appalling neglect of child and adolescent psychiatric services and tackle the serious public health issue of suicide and attempted suicide. Our people of all ages who are in such a personal crisis deserve no less.

Mr. Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  Last night and tonight we saw the start of a campaign to spread fatalism about the country’s capacity to do better. Government members want us to leave it to them. They say the Opposition cannot agree on policies or strategies and that we should leave it to them to man[829]age technical change in the way they managed e-voting and the health computer systems. They say we should leave it to them to give people value for money, as they did with MediaLab Europe, Stadium and Sports Campus Ireland and the East and West Link toll bridges which bled people dry. They say we should leave it to them to deliver on their promises but the funny aspect about last night was that when it came to promises, there was a deafening silence from the benches opposite about the promises on which they had delivered.

What has happened to the high profile promises made, including those the then Minister for Health and Children, Deputy Martin, made to the effect that waiting lists would be brought to an end in two years? Waiting lists were only brought to an end because the Minister stopped publishing them. The reality is that they got longer because people could not even get an appointment. They must wait for one. They are not even registered on the list.

What happened to the promise that we would have classes of 20 for children under nine years? That was another solemn promise made in the general election campaign and repeated in the programme for Government. The silence from those on the opposite side of the House was deafening as to what had happened to that promise.

We were told we would see a reduction in taxes and that one in five would pay tax at the 42% rate but over 225,000 taxpayers have been denied that promise. The promises were coming thick and fast from the Government but where was the strategy to deliver on them? There was none. That is why the people are sick of the Government.

The Government produced a health strategy in 2001 but it collapsed before it got off first base. It collapsed in respect of its promise of 3,000 extra hospital beds and that there would be 60 primary care centres. Every pillar of that strategy has disappeared.

Another major strategy was to complete decentralisation in three years. Ten thousand jobs were to be moved to the regions to deliver regional regeneration. What has happened to that strategy? It has collapsed also. There will be a delivery of 10% in the so-called three year strategy. The Minister will say the implementation committee said it could not be done. It said it could not be done because not a shred of thought had been put into producing a decentralisation strategy that could be delivered in three years. It was an abuse of power to bring forward that strategy without first putting together a business case for the moves, having a strategic plan as to how it would be delivered and anticipating the meltdown in key skills that was inevitable. These matters were not thought about. The strategy was put together on the back of a betting slip and, not surprisingly, it has not been delivered.

[830]Not one Minister came into the House last night to step up to the plate and take responsibility for waiting lists not being brought to an end or to explain why we had not achieved the small class sizes promised or the reduced waiting times for patients in accident and emergency departments as was solemnly promised. The Government parties came into the House and tried to talk down the chances of the country doing better under a Fine Gael-Labour Party Government.

The truth is we do not accept the fatalism that has spread among the parties opposite. We do not accept that this is as good as it gets. The country could do a great deal better with a proper programme of well thought out reform, with Ministers taking responsibility for promises they make and having proper strategies when they make promises. That is the Government we want but sadly we have not seen it since 2001. The parties opposite have degenerated on that front.

It is difficult to take lectures from the Progressive Democrats about incoherence on the Opposition benches. That is from a man who meets every question with an open mouth and has burnt off the Government backbenches with his approach. It is difficult to take that strategy from the Government.

Minister for Finance (Mr. Cowen): Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  It is a pity that when such debates are held, we do not have a two way debate but rather considerable interjection and heckling from the Members opposite, as I observed last night and tonight. It is a tactic which continues to be employed. Presumably, the consultants from the United States reckon it is the getting them somewhere.

Mr. S. Ryan: Information on Seán Ryan  Zoom on Seán Ryan  The Minister can do better than that.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  As far as the Government is concerned, we will defend our record of solid achievement. The country is in a different position from the one it was in in 1997 when we took office and since 2002, significant progress has been made. It is not clever or true to say every problem is solved or that every Government solved every problem.

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  I thank the Minister.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  It is also not true to say that where there are problems, no progress whatsoever is being made. That simplistic debate is a turn-off for the electorate which is more sophisticated than that and deserves a higher level of debate.

Reflecting on what the Government is doing in the areas of health, education, social welfare and the capital programme, expenditure in these areas accounts for 80% of the budget. Where is the waste in education if three quarters of expenditure is on pay and pensions and we have an additional 10,000 teachers?

[831]Ms O’Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  We still have larger class sizes.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  With respect, we listened to what the Deputy had to say, yet she interrupts again. At what stage will the Opposition deal with the issue of such waste by being specific? Where is money being wasted in education? It is the Opposition’s contention that we should be spending more money on education. We are doing this. One Member opposite referred to disadvantaged programmes. The Minister for Education and Science, Deputy Hanafin, introduced the disadvantage programme which provides for an additional 640 schools in the primary sector, 180 in the most disadvantaged areas, and 200 post-primary schools. The programme will be rolled out and will provide an additional 300 teachers. We are providing more teachers than we envisaged in the 2002 programme.

We have decided to provide more money to deal with people with disabilities and special needs. There are now 7,000 special needs assistants where there were 300.

Ms Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  The Government did not do that.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  We should be clear about this issue if we are to debate it but we should acknowledge what is being achieved. If they wish, Opposition members can come forward with alternative approaches on the way the money can be spent but we must ensure it adds up. They cannot pick and choose to suit their argument.

Mr. Hayes: Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  The Minister should acknowledge that the Government wasted money on e-voting machines.

Mr. O’Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  Let the Minister speak.

Mr. Hayes: Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  The Minister should acknowledge that point.

Mr. O’Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  Deputy Hayes’s colleagues were allowed to speak.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  To take education as an example, Deputies Rabbitte and Kenny sat at the Cabinet table and agreed to cut teacher numbers and free school funding. That happened. We replaced that agenda with a sustained commitment to education.

On crime, there is much debate each week in the House about Garda numbers but the rainbow Government cut Garda numbers.

Ms Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  That is a lie.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  In 1997 it opposed our plan to hire 1,200 extra gardaí. In 2002 it stated it would be impossible for us to hire a further 2,000 gardaí but now states we have not hired enough. That does not inform the public about the issues to ensure we have safer streets in our communities.

[832]Mr. Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  The Minister should talk about what is happening today.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  We will defend our fiscal policies and continue to manage the economy responsibly.

Deputy Kenny spoke about election bribes. He should look at his party’s programme at the last general election. It was an appalling indictment of an Opposition which had no clear vision of where it was going. The Government will continue to work through the national development plan, the plans we have for research and development which will be central to our economic development agenda, our education and health reforms, an issue we should debate more often in the House regarding the sectional and vested interests which are dictating at the expense of the public good. With resources and reforms there are sustained improvements. Some 3,400 patients are being treated every day in accident and emergency units. This comes to 1.25 million annually.

Where there are problems, let us identify and discuss them. However, let us not conduct a debate, as I have seen it here, continually in an absolutist fashion, on the idea that everything would be rosy tomorrow if the Opposition parties were in government——

Ms Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  It would be better.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  —— and things are going terribly badly because we are in government. It is really an attempt by the Opposition parties to overcome the frustration at being out of power, which I can understand. I look forward to next year and having a sensible, literate, informed debate on the economic and social direction the country should take, which will not be based on fatigued government or energetic opposition. Let it be based on facts and let the people make their choice on the basis of real information rather than the disinformation that has passed for debate in this House for the past two nights.

Mr. Allen: Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  The Government parties have had nine years.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  I wish to share my time with Deputy Rabbitte.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Is that agreed? Agreed.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  I agree with the Minister for Finance, Deputy Cowen, that this is a good opportunity to consider the record of the Government and separate it from its rhetoric. The trail of broken promises and cynical posturing by Ministers have alienated even committed Fianna Fáil voters. The Minister spoke about consultants. In his desperation to convince, the Taoiseach at every opportunity uses the phrase “the Government working with the people”. His spin-doctors have obviously told him that the [833]people understand all too clearly how he and his Government have lost touch with them and their concerns. Somehow he is trying to gather some cover for himself by reinforcing a message that he and his Government are working with the people. However, nobody is fooled by that line.

At the last general election the Taoiseach made promises to bring hospital waiting lists to an end within two years. Last week in the Seanad the Leader of the House, Senator O’Rourke, said of these promises that “they are untruths as well”. Those are her words, not mine.

Mr. Cassidy: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  She would know.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  She is right. The Deputy can dismiss something as easily as that.

Mr. Cassidy: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  It is a factual statement.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  It does not work that way, because the people believe her and do not believe the Government which has hidden hospital waiting lists but they have not gone away. Some 20,000 are still waiting for surgical procedures and others for medical ones. Some are waiting for more than 12 months. None of the targets on waiting times set out in the health strategy has been met. In the west some are waiting for four years to see a specialist. This is the great record that the Minister, Deputy Cowen, wants us to debate. I am happy to debate the record, as opposed to the rhetoric.

The Government’s amendment to the motion is also full of untruths. It is full of self-congratulation and self-delusion. We only need to consider how we compare internationally to get a true picture. The 2006 European health consumer index puts the Irish health service second last out of 25 OECD countries.

Dr. Devins: Information on Jimmy Devins  Zoom on Jimmy Devins  Those figures are four years out of date.

A Deputy:  They are worse now.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  Long waiting lists, bleak medical outcomes, bad scores for infant deaths, MRSA infections in hospitals — I trust Government Deputies will not want to speak about this — and the lack of a health ombudsman typify the index findings. We are only above Lithuania and instead of hanging his head in shame, the Taoiseach came into the House last night and tried to flimflam us again.

This is the same Taoiseach who described as unintelligent people who had the temerity to complain when their loved ones were left on trolleys in casualty departments. He said: “It is a pity people are so unintelligent.” That barefaced effrontery of the Taoiseach and his Government is most evident in the part of their amendment dealing with the Health Service Executive. Whatever the HSE is, it is certainly not bringing unified management to major projects in infor[834]mation technology, nor is it achieving national service standards or best value for money. It is laughable that any Government would claim this bureaucratic muddle of its own making. The HSE is incoherent in its management structures, unaccountable and known for its secrecy, and lethargic to the extreme in improving standards. Regarding value for money, I need only mention PPARS.

I do not blame staff within the HSE or its chief executive. However, I do hold to account the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children, Deputy Harney, who from day one mishandled the transfer from the old system of administration to the new. Her pigheadedness in failing to prepare and plan properly has caused endless problems. Most importantly, there are real dangers arising from the lack of accountability within the health service. That is one lesson that should have been learned from the contaminated blood and Mr. Neary scandals. However, thanks to the Government, the system has become less accountable, less democratic and less transparent than it was before the HSE was established.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  I thank all colleagues in the House who contributed to a debate that brought the Taoiseach into Private Members’ time for the first time since he came to defend Ray Burke. The debate brought the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform and the Tánaiste in to sit beside each other, although the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform refused to yield the Tánaiste’s usual seat.

I am bound to say it was an odd debate in many ways. The Taoiseach approached it from a very unusual point of view. He pretended to believe it was the task of the Opposition at the end of term to come to the House and praise the Government. He then proceeded to dismiss the issues raised in the motion and went on to wade through a thicket of self-congratulatory rhymes about money spent. Glancing at the motion I cannot see how he could dismiss a motion about crime rates, lower detection rates, and the waste of money on PPARS, e-voting and other areas. Regarding promises made, it was he, not the former Minister for Health and Children, Deputy Martin, who promised to abolish waiting lists in hospitals in two years. He seems to believe that the increases in 50 stealth taxes in the lifetime of the Government are not worthy of debate in the House. Inflation is running at 4%. House prices have increased by nine times since 1997 but the Taoiseach believes these issues are not for debate in the House.

The Taoiseach went on to make an extraordinary charge against me five times that I was mad for power. This comes from the man who keeps trying to invite me to share power with him at every chance.

(Interruptions).

[835]Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform looks across to the Opposition benches for what he believes is a cold house for him. He is quite wrong about this because there was considerable concern on these benches for the manner in which he hyperventilated last night. I believe he is suffering from Stockholm syndrome, which occurs when the captives become so friendly with the jailers that they make common cause with them. I believe the Minister has been captured by Fianna Fáil.

The Minister went to the trouble of dictating a script, from which I wish to deal with a few points. His main concern is that a Labour Party-Fine Gael alliance would fall apart. He instanced the period from 1982 to 1987 as an example. The period between 1982 and 1987 is as close to five years as does not matter. He did not mention 1989 to 1992.

The Minister said 10% of the people were unemployed in 1997. He did not refer to the fact that in 1992, when his former leader — for whom he had more regard than he has for the present one — left office as Minister for Industry and Commerce, the unemployment rate was 14%. He tried to impute motives to me arising from exchanges I had with the Ceann Comhairle, in which he claimed I had referred to the Ceann Comhairle’s family. I reject that claim. I made a political charge but did not refer to the man’s family one way or the other.

The Minister outlined a mathematical formula which he considers very clever and which he has used on several occasions, including in an interview with Pat Kenny. The equation states: “Fine Gael plus Labour equals slump.” This comes from the man who would have us believe “Fine Gael plus Labour plus Deputy McDowell equals success” and the only problem with the former equation is that the Minister is not included. He went on to claim that any alternative Government would be dependent on Deputies Cowley, Gregory and Finian McGrath and a Seamus Treacy. I do not know any Seamus Treacy and hope no Government has to rely on him but I recall a Government which relied on Harry Blaney and Tom Kildea and Deputies Fox and Healy-Rae.

Mr. J. Brady: Information on Johnny Brady  Zoom on Johnny Brady  It was a good Government.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Now, apparently, support from Independent Deputies for an alternative Government is a sign of terminal breakdown.

The Minister seems to have persuaded himself that only he has the divine right to rule in this country. Despite worsening crime figures, falling detection rates and his failure to reform the Garda, somehow he has an automatic right to be returned. The row within the Progressive Democrats would be a squabble in a shoe box were it not for the fact that one Minister happens to be in charge of health while the other is in charge of the criminal justice system. I am glad to see [836]Deputy Glennon, who is the first to show of last week’s 16 worried backbenchers. Deputy Johnny Brady was never part of that group.

Mr. Glennon: Information on Jim Glennon  Zoom on Jim Glennon  Deputy Rabbitte’s numbers are wrong.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  They are the equivalent of the entire Labour parliamentary party.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  They did not even come to the House last night to support the Taoiseach.

Mr. Glennon: Information on Jim Glennon  Zoom on Jim Glennon  That is wrong.

Mr. J. Brady: Information on Johnny Brady  Zoom on Johnny Brady  That is a lie.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Deputy Johnny Brady was here. However, he was not one of the 16.

Mr. Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  Deputy Johnny Brady was not part of the 16.

Mr. J. Brady: Information on Johnny Brady  Zoom on Johnny Brady  On a point of order, I was here last night.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  I confirm that.

Dr. Twomey: Information on Liam Twomey  Zoom on Liam Twomey  He is not one of the apostles.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  I listened to the scatter of backbenchers who contributed, including Deputies O’Connor, Hoctor, Peter Power and Fiona O’Malley. Fear could be smelled in my office. Deputy Hoctor accused the Labour Party of seeking to downgrade Nenagh Hospital. My understanding is that the Government she supports wants to downgrade Nenagh Hospital, whereas Senator O’Meara is leading the charge for its preservation. The Senator had the support of Deputy Michael Smith who, as Minister for Defence, rebuked Deputy Hoctor for moving to implement the Hanly report at Nenagh.

Dr. Devins: Information on Jimmy Devins  Zoom on Jimmy Devins  Deputy Rabbitte is wrong.

Mr. Penrose: Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose  Does Deputy Devins want to speak up?

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  I do not know which side Deputy Fiona O’Malley supports.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  She is with the Tánaiste.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  She supported the Government tonight.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Poor Deputy McDowell is by himself.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  This is the same Deputy Fiona O’Malley who last week took to the letter page of The Irish Times to tell us about the Government’s woeful performance on spiralling house prices.

Deputies:  Hear, hear.

[837]Mr. Penrose: Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose  She was right.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  As Deputy O’Connor and I are friends, I will not say anything about him.

A Deputy:  That will put the fear in him.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  The Tánaiste told us this is a land of boom and bloom and milk and honey. She outlined all the good she is doing for the health service. We hope she is doing good work but, nine years later, the fact that the hospital service is causing such grief to her Fianna Fáil colleagues that they are disowning her and saying these issues would not arise if a Fianna Fáil Deputy was in charge is evidence of the reality.

The Tánaiste plucked insurance from the sky and asked us to look at how she had reformed that issue. In May 1997, I was a given the report of a working group chaired by the former director general of the Federated Union of Employers, Dan McAuley, which recommended the establishment of what is now the PIAB to reduce the legal costs of insurance claims. That recommendation was finally implemented six years later. The Tánaiste and the Minister of State, Deputy [838]Treacy, sat on the report until they were forced to act because of the outcry about the price of insurance, which was uneconomic for businesses and unaffordable for young drivers.

Tonight is the opportunity for the 16 Deputies whose concerns about the performance of this Government caused them to briefly revolt and whose suggestions for policy innovations were rejected at parliamentary party meetings.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Place your trust in Deputy Rabbitte.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  This is their opportunity to cast their vote ——

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Just because the Labour Party trusts him does not mean we will.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  ——to back up their principles, unless they are motivated by electoral panic.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  There will be no reverse takeovers here.

Dr. Twomey: Information on Liam Twomey  Zoom on Liam Twomey  We can smell the fear now.

Amendment put.

[837]The Dáil divided: Tá, 82; Níl, 61.

Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Ahern, Bertie. Information on Michael Ahern  Zoom on Michael Ahern  Ahern, Michael.
Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  Ahern, Noel. Information on Barry Andrews  Zoom on Barry Andrews  Andrews, Barry.
Information on Seán Ardagh  Zoom on Seán Ardagh  Ardagh, Seán. Information on Niall Blaney  Zoom on Niall Blaney  Blaney, Niall.
Information on Johnny Brady  Zoom on Johnny Brady  Brady, Johnny. Information on Martin Brady  Zoom on Martin Brady  Brady, Martin.
Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Browne, John. Information on Joe Callanan  Zoom on Joe Callanan  Callanan, Joe.
Information on Ivor Callely  Zoom on Ivor Callely  Callely, Ivor. Information on Pat Carey  Zoom on Pat Carey  Carey, Pat.
Information on John Carty  Zoom on John Carty  Carty, John. Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Cassidy, Donie.
Information on Michael Collins  Zoom on Michael Collins  Collins, Michael. Information on Paudge Connolly  Zoom on Paudge Connolly  Connolly, Paudge.
Information on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Zoom on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Cooper-Flynn, Beverley. Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  Coughlan, Mary.
Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Cowen, Brian. Information on John Cregan  Zoom on John Cregan  Cregan, John.
Information on Martin Cullen  Zoom on Martin Cullen  Cullen, Martin. Information on John Curran  Zoom on John Curran  Curran, John.
Information on Noel Davern  Zoom on Noel Davern  Davern, Noel. Information on Síle de Valera  Zoom on Síle de Valera  de Valera, Síle.
Information on Tony Dempsey  Zoom on Tony Dempsey  Dempsey, Tony. Information on John Dennehy  Zoom on John Dennehy  Dennehy, John.
Information on Jimmy Devins  Zoom on Jimmy Devins  Devins, Jimmy. Information on John Ellis  Zoom on John Ellis  Ellis, John.
Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  Fahey, Frank. Information on Michael Finneran  Zoom on Michael Finneran  Finneran, Michael.
Information on Dermot Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Dermot Fitzpatrick  Fitzpatrick, Dermot. Information on Seán Fleming  Zoom on Seán Fleming  Fleming, Seán.
Information on Mildred Fox  Zoom on Mildred Fox  Fox, Mildred. Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
Information on Jim Glennon  Zoom on Jim Glennon  Glennon, Jim. Information on Noel Grealish  Zoom on Noel Grealish  Grealish, Noel.
Information on Mary Hanafin  Zoom on Mary Hanafin  Hanafin, Mary. Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Harney, Mary.
Information on Seán Haughey  Zoom on Seán Haughey  Haughey, Seán. Information on Jackie Healy-Rae  Zoom on Jackie Healy-Rae  Healy-Rae, Jackie.
Information on Máire Hoctor  Zoom on Máire Hoctor  Hoctor, Máire. Information on Joe Jacob  Zoom on Joe Jacob  Jacob, Joe.
Information on Cecilia Keaveney  Zoom on Cecilia Keaveney  Keaveney, Cecilia. Information on Billy Kelleher  Zoom on Billy Kelleher  Kelleher, Billy.
Information on Peter Kelly  Zoom on Peter Kelly  Kelly, Peter. Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Killeen, Tony.
Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Kirk, Seamus. Information on Tom Kitt  Zoom on Tom Kitt  Kitt, Tom.
Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Lenihan, Brian. Information on Conor Lenihan  Zoom on Conor Lenihan  Lenihan, Conor.
Information on Michael McDowell  Zoom on Michael McDowell  McDowell, Michael. Information on Tom McEllistrim  Zoom on Tom McEllistrim  McEllistrim, Thomas.
Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  McGuinness, John. Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  Martin, Micheál.
Information on John Moloney  Zoom on John Moloney  Moloney, John. Information on Donal Moynihan  Zoom on Donal Moynihan  Moynihan, Donal.
Information on Michael Moynihan  Zoom on Michael Moynihan  Moynihan, Michael. Information on Michael Mulcahy  Zoom on Michael Mulcahy  Mulcahy, Michael.
Information on M. J. Nolan  Zoom on M. J. Nolan  Nolan, M.J. Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  Ó Cuív, Éamon.
Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Ó Fearghaíl, Seán. Information on Charlie O'Connor  Zoom on Charlie O'Connor  O’Connor, Charlie.
Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  O’Dea, Willie. Information on Liz O'Donnell  Zoom on Liz O'Donnell  O’Donnell, Liz.
Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  O’Donoghue, John. Information on Dennis O'Donovan  Zoom on Dennis O'Donovan  O’Donovan, Denis.
Information on Noel O'Flynn  Zoom on Noel O'Flynn  O’Flynn, Noel. Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Batt.
Information on Ned O'Keeffe  Zoom on Ned O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Ned. Information on Fiona O'Malley  Zoom on Fiona O'Malley  O’Malley, Fiona.
Information on Tom Parlon  Zoom on Tom Parlon  Parlon, Tom. Information on Peter Power  Zoom on Peter Power  Power, Peter.
Information on Seán Power  Zoom on Seán Power  Power, Seán. Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  Roche, Dick.
Information on Mae Sexton  Zoom on Mae Sexton  Sexton, Mae. Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  Smith, Brendan.
Information on Michael Smith  Zoom on Michael Smith  Smith, Michael. Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  Treacy, Noel.
Information on Mary Wallace  Zoom on Mary Wallace  Wallace, Mary. Information on Joe Walsh  Zoom on Joe Walsh  Walsh, Joe.
Information on Michael J. Woods  Zoom on Michael J. Woods  Woods, Michael. Information on G. V. Wright  Zoom on G. V. Wright  Wright, G.V.



[839]Níl
Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  Allen, Bernard. Information on James Breen  Zoom on James Breen  Breen, James.
Information on Pat Breen  Zoom on Pat Breen  Breen, Pat. Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Broughan, Thomas P.
Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  Bruton, Richard. Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Burton, Joan.
Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  Connaughton, Paul. Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Costello, Joe.
Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  Crawford, Seymour. Information on Sean Crowe  Zoom on Sean Crowe  Crowe, Seán.
Information on Ciaran Cuffe  Zoom on Ciaran Cuffe  Cuffe, Ciarán. Information on John Deasy  Zoom on John Deasy  Deasy, John.
Information on Jimmy Deenihan  Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan  Deenihan, Jimmy. Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Durkan, Bernard J.
Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  English, Damien. Information on Olwyn Enright  Zoom on Olwyn Enright  Enright, Olwyn.
Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  Ferris, Martin. Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Gilmore, Eamon.
Information on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Zoom on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Gogarty, Paul. Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  Gormley, John.
Information on Tony Gregory  Zoom on Tony Gregory  Gregory, Tony. Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  Hayes, Tom.
Information on Seamus Healy  Zoom on Seamus Healy  Healy, Seamus. Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  Higgins, Joe.
Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  Higgins, Michael D. Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  Hogan, Phil.
Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Howlin, Brendan. Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  Kehoe, Paul.
Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Kenny, Enda. Information on Michael Lowry  Zoom on Michael Lowry  Lowry, Michael.
Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  Lynch, Kathleen. Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  McCormack, Padraic.
Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  McGrath, Finian. Information on Paul McGrath  Zoom on Paul McGrath  McGrath, Paul.
Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  McManus, Liz. Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  Mitchell, Olivia.
Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  Morgan, Arthur. Information on Catherine Murphy  Zoom on Catherine Murphy  Murphy, Catherine.
Information on Gerard Murphy  Zoom on Gerard Murphy  Murphy, Gerard. Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  Naughten, Denis.
Information on Dan Neville  Zoom on Dan Neville  Neville, Dan. Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  O’Dowd, Fergus. Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Jim.
Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  O’Shea, Brian. Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Jan.
Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Pattison, Seamus. Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose  Penrose, Willie.
Information on John Perry  Zoom on John Perry  Perry, John. Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Quinn, Ruairí.
Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Rabbitte, Pat. Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  Ring, Michael.
Information on Seán Ryan  Zoom on Seán Ryan  Ryan, Seán. Information on Joe Sherlock  Zoom on Joe Sherlock  Sherlock, Joe.
Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  Shortall, Róisín. Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Stagg, Emmet.
Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton  Stanton, David. Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  Timmins, Billy.
Information on Liam Twomey  Zoom on Liam Twomey  Twomey, Liam. Information on Mary Upton  Zoom on Mary Upton  Upton, Mary.
Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  Wall, Jack.  

[839]Tellers: Tá, Deputies Kitt and Kelleher; Níl, Deputies Stagg and Kehoe.

[839]Amendment declared carried.

Amendments Nos. 2 and 3 not moved.

Question put: “That the motion, as amended, be agreed to.”

The Dáil divided by electronic means.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Given the importance of the issue at hand and the absolute failure of the Government [840]to effectively or meaningfully respond to the motion, as a teller, under Standing Order 69 I propose that the vote be taken by other than electronic means.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  As Deputy Stagg is a Whip, under Standing Order 69 he is entitled to call a vote through the lobby.

Question again put: “That the motion, as amended, be agreed to.”

[839]The Dáil divided: Tá, 81; Níl, 61.

Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Ahern, Bertie. Information on Michael Ahern  Zoom on Michael Ahern  Ahern, Michael.
Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  Ahern, Noel. Information on Barry Andrews  Zoom on Barry Andrews  Andrews, Barry.
Information on Seán Ardagh  Zoom on Seán Ardagh  Ardagh, Seán. Information on Niall Blaney  Zoom on Niall Blaney  Blaney, Niall.
Information on Johnny Brady  Zoom on Johnny Brady  Brady, Johnny. Information on Martin Brady  Zoom on Martin Brady  Brady, Martin.
Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Browne, John. Information on Joe Callanan  Zoom on Joe Callanan  Callanan, Joe.
Information on Ivor Callely  Zoom on Ivor Callely  Callely, Ivor. Information on Pat Carey  Zoom on Pat Carey  Carey, Pat.
Information on John Carty  Zoom on John Carty  Carty, John. Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Cassidy, Donie.
Information on Michael Collins  Zoom on Michael Collins  Collins, Michael. Information on Paudge Connolly  Zoom on Paudge Connolly  Connolly, Paudge.
Information on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Zoom on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Cooper-Flynn, Beverley. Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  Coughlan, Mary.
Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Cowen, Brian. Information on John Cregan  Zoom on John Cregan  Cregan, John.
Information on Martin Cullen  Zoom on Martin Cullen  Cullen, Martin. Information on John Curran  Zoom on John Curran  Curran, John.
Information on Noel Davern  Zoom on Noel Davern  Davern, Noel. Information on Síle de Valera  Zoom on Síle de Valera  de Valera, Síle.
Information on Tony Dempsey  Zoom on Tony Dempsey  Dempsey, Tony. Information on John Dennehy  Zoom on John Dennehy  Dennehy, John.
Information on Jimmy Devins  Zoom on Jimmy Devins  Devins, Jimmy. Information on John Ellis  Zoom on John Ellis  Ellis, John.
Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  Fahey, Frank. Information on Michael Finneran  Zoom on Michael Finneran  Finneran, Michael.
Information on Dermot Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Dermot Fitzpatrick  Fitzpatrick, Dermot. Information on Seán Fleming  Zoom on Seán Fleming  Fleming, Seán.
Information on Mildred Fox  Zoom on Mildred Fox  Fox, Mildred. Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
Information on Jim Glennon  Zoom on Jim Glennon  Glennon, Jim. Information on Noel Grealish  Zoom on Noel Grealish  Grealish, Noel.
Information on Mary Hanafin  Zoom on Mary Hanafin  Hanafin, Mary. Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Harney, Mary.
Information on Seán Haughey  Zoom on Seán Haughey  Haughey, Seán. Information on Jackie Healy-Rae  Zoom on Jackie Healy-Rae  Healy-Rae, Jackie.
Information on Máire Hoctor  Zoom on Máire Hoctor  [841]Hoctor, Máire. Information on Joe Jacob  Zoom on Joe Jacob  Jacob, Joe.
Information on Cecilia Keaveney  Zoom on Cecilia Keaveney  Keaveney, Cecilia. Information on Billy Kelleher  Zoom on Billy Kelleher  Kelleher, Billy.
Information on Peter Kelly  Zoom on Peter Kelly  Kelly, Peter. Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Killeen, Tony.
Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Kirk, Seamus. Information on Tom Kitt  Zoom on Tom Kitt  Kitt, Tom.
Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Lenihan, Brian. Information on Conor Lenihan  Zoom on Conor Lenihan  Lenihan, Conor.
Information on Michael McDowell  Zoom on Michael McDowell  McDowell, Michael. Information on Tom McEllistrim  Zoom on Tom McEllistrim  McEllistrim, Thomas.
Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  McGuinness, John. Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  Martin, Micheál.
Information on John Moloney  Zoom on John Moloney  Moloney, John. Information on Donal Moynihan  Zoom on Donal Moynihan  Moynihan, Donal.
Information on Michael Moynihan  Zoom on Michael Moynihan  Moynihan, Michael. Information on Michael Mulcahy  Zoom on Michael Mulcahy  Mulcahy, Michael.
Information on M. J. Nolan  Zoom on M. J. Nolan  Nolan, M. J. Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  Ó Cuív, Éamon.
Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Ó Fearghaíl, Seán. Information on Charlie O'Connor  Zoom on Charlie O'Connor  O’Connor, Charlie.
Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  O’Dea, Willie. Information on Liz O'Donnell  Zoom on Liz O'Donnell  O’Donnell, Liz.
Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  O’Donoghue, John. Information on Dennis O'Donovan  Zoom on Dennis O'Donovan  O’Donovan, Denis.
Information on Noel O'Flynn  Zoom on Noel O'Flynn  O’Flynn, Noel. Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Batt.
Information on Ned O'Keeffe  Zoom on Ned O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Ned. Information on Fiona O'Malley  Zoom on Fiona O'Malley  O’Malley, Fiona.
Information on Tom Parlon  Zoom on Tom Parlon  Parlon, Tom. Information on Peter Power  Zoom on Peter Power  Power, Peter.
Information on Seán Power  Zoom on Seán Power  Power, Seán. Information on Mae Sexton  Zoom on Mae Sexton  Sexton, Mae.
Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  Smith, Brendan. Information on Michael Smith  Zoom on Michael Smith  Smith, Michael.
Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  Treacy, Noel. Information on Mary Wallace  Zoom on Mary Wallace  Wallace, Mary.
Information on Joe Walsh  Zoom on Joe Walsh  Walsh, Joe. Information on Michael J. Woods  Zoom on Michael J. Woods  Woods, Michael.
Information on G. V. Wright  Zoom on G. V. Wright  Wright, G. V.  


[841]Níl
Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  Allen, Bernard. Information on James Breen  Zoom on James Breen  Breen, James.
Information on Pat Breen  Zoom on Pat Breen  Breen, Pat. Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Broughan, Thomas P.
Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  Bruton, Richard. Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Burton, Joan.
Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  Connaughton, Paul. Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Costello, Joe.
Information on Jerry Cowley  Zoom on Jerry Cowley  Cowley, Jerry. Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  Crawford, Seymour.
Information on Sean Crowe  Zoom on Sean Crowe  Crowe, Seán. Information on Ciaran Cuffe  Zoom on Ciaran Cuffe  Cuffe, Ciarán.
Information on John Deasy  Zoom on John Deasy  Deasy, John. Information on Jimmy Deenihan  Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan  Deenihan, Jimmy.
Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Durkan, Bernard J. Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  English, Damien.
Information on Olwyn Enright  Zoom on Olwyn Enright  Enright, Olwyn. Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Gilmore, Eamon.
Information on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Zoom on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Gogarty, Paul. Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  Gormley, John.
Information on Tony Gregory  Zoom on Tony Gregory  Gregory, Tony. Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  Hayes, Tom.
Information on Seamus Healy  Zoom on Seamus Healy  Healy, Seamus. Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  Higgins, Joe.
Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  Higgins, Michael D. Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  Hogan, Phil.
Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Howlin, Brendan. Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  Kehoe, Paul.
Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Kenny, Enda. Information on Michael Lowry  Zoom on Michael Lowry  Lowry, Michael.
Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  Lynch, Kathleen. Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  McCormack, Padraic.
Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  McGrath, Finian. Information on Paul McGrath  Zoom on Paul McGrath  McGrath, Paul.
Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  McManus, Liz. Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  Mitchell, Olivia.
Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  Morgan, Arthur. Information on Catherine Murphy  Zoom on Catherine Murphy  Murphy, Catherine.
Information on Gerard Murphy  Zoom on Gerard Murphy  Murphy, Gerard. Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  Naughten, Denis.
Information on Dan Neville  Zoom on Dan Neville  Neville, Dan. Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  O’Dowd, Fergus. Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Jim.
Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  O’Shea, Brian. Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Jan.
Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Pattison, Seamus. Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose  Penrose, Willie.
Information on John Perry  Zoom on John Perry  Perry, John. Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Quinn, Ruairi.
Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Rabbitte, Pat. Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  Ring, Michael.
Information on Seán Ryan  Zoom on Seán Ryan  Ryan, Seán. Information on Joe Sherlock  Zoom on Joe Sherlock  Sherlock, Joe.
Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  Shortall, Róisín. Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Stagg, Emmet.
Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton  Stanton, David. Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  Timmins, Billy.
Information on Liam Twomey  Zoom on Liam Twomey  Twomey, Liam. Information on Mary Upton  Zoom on Mary Upton  Upton, Mary.
Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  Wall, Jack.  

[841]Tellers: Tá, Deputies Kitt and Kelleher; Níl, Deputies Kehoe and Stagg.

[841]Question declared carried.


Last Updated: 03/11/2010 21:22:32 First Page Previous Page Page of 322 Next Page Last Page