Clare Daly responded to the Government’s
Spin Spring Economic Statement on Tuesday.
Grab a tay.
“I thank the Government for introducing me to a brand new emotion, which is a kind of combination of, on the one hand, being incredibly underwhelmed and, at the same time, offended by the fanfare that is scheduled for this week. That fanfare displays an arrogance that is becoming increasingly a hallmark of this Government. While it has scheduled yet another backslappers’ convention for us to have to endure, real issues that were touched on this morning, such as the scandal of Siteserv, goings-on at IBRC, the contract for installing water meters, the list of private bodies benefiting from those contracts and the whole Irish Water diaspora debacle, are ignored. It is head-spinning stuff.”
“All the big names are there, including KPMG, Arthur Cox, the Davy Group, Ernst & Young, Denis O’Brien and the usual roll-out of consultants, advisers and middle men. We are not being given a chance to discuss any of that. Even the Government’s own backbenchers are embarrassed by what is happening today. In fact, none of them has been present for the jamboree. It seems even they are a bit scarlet to have to sit through it. This whole thing really exposes how utterly out of touch the Government is with the real lives of citizens. I will bring Ministers back to earth by reading a letter I received last weekend from a person in Cavan. He wrote:”
Just to keep you up to touch with things, I’m starting back to work again after three years of really tough times. I have spent €6,000 of my own money trying to retrain and get back to work. I received no assistance from the system. Absolutely soul-destroying stuff. Three weeks ago I became a member of a very special group, the group that comes under the title of ghosters. Now, the ghosters are the group of citizens that have reached the point where the welfare system says “No more, your wife is working, so you don’t qualify for any payment at all.” For the first time in 43 years, I had no income whatsoever. That’s a situation I never, ever want to be in again, nor did I in the first place. The sense of embarrassment, shame and complete loss of self-esteem is indescribable. I never thought, even after being made redundant three years ago, that I’d be out for so long. I really believed that I’d be back at work in a couple of months at most, but that wasn’t to be. The rest, as they say, is history.
Two weeks ago, I was standing on a bridge here in Ballyconnell looking into a very fast-flowing river and deciding if I’d end it. Two things prevented that from happening. Number one, I looked in and I asked who’d feed my dog. Number two, I want to see Enda Kenny and co. get their comeuppance. In fact, I want to play my part in it. My vote counts. I count, somewhere in the overall picture of things. Now isn’t that scary? But the real scary thing is that there are thousands more like me. They need help, real help, not just a lip service from some pompous git in a suit, shirt and tie telling them that we are in recovery. Recovery for whom? The Denis O’Briens of this world? Greed-motivated buggers who care only for the quick buck at everybody’s expense?
“This citizen has made a more articulate contribution than anything I have heard from the Government benches today, and how right he is about the type of Ireland the Government is standing over. The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Brendan Howlin, had the brass neck to come in here today and allude to vague efforts that will allow us to build a society that reflects our values, one that is fair, caring and decent. He talked about how a functioning society is a fair one, where the fruits of economic growth are shared among all the people. He is certainly right there, but let us use this as the yardstick against which the Government’s achievements may be measured. Look at the type of society it is building. The Sunday Times rich list published at the weekend claims Ireland is home to 13 billionaires with an accumulated wealth of €38 billion. The wealthiest 250 people have a total net wealth of €75 billion, a wealth on which the Government does not charge a cent of extra taxation.”
“The myth Ministers are putting out there, that we have all put our shoulders to the wheel and brazened out this austerity bravely together is nothing but an utter fallacy. It is absolutely not true. The Government has seized on the economic crisis to stand over a counter revolution, a transfer of wealth from ordinary people and those in the middle to those at the top. The statistics prove it, with a wealth increase to that top group of almost 16%. These are people like Denis O’Brien, the Weston family, who own Penneys and Brown Thomas, the Dunnes family, renowned for its great labour practices, and so on and so forth. The country’s wealthiest people are immensely more wealthy thanks to the governance of this Administration.”
“All I can say to that is, “Good job, Fine Gael”. The people it has prioritised are generally the people who vote for the party. It has looked after its own. However, the charlatans in the Labour Party, none of whom could even be bothered to sit in this Chamber today – perhaps the embarrassment has got to them – are an entirely different matter. They have facilitated a race to the bottom, where the idea of a secure, permanent and pensionable job is a fallacy for most people. The doctors, nurses and gardaí who though they were part of the middle classes are in jobs with a starting rate of €24,000. If they marry one of their colleagues, they will not be able to buy a house in today’s market and probably will not afford to rent one. Half the population is on an income of less than €27,000. The question we should be asking is not whether we can patch this up a little bit and throw a few extra bob back at the wealthy but, rather, what type of society do we really want to live in. Going by the vague nothingness that was dished up the Ministers, Deputies Noonan and Howlin, today, the answer the Government has given to that question is that it pretty much wants things to continue as they are. That is really the height of its vision, and it is a shocking disappointment to citizens.”
“As other Deputies noted, the fabric of our society is unravelling. There are people behind respectable doors who do not have enough money to put food on the table and are worried sick that their children will come home and ask for a few bob for a school tour. There are people becoming homeless who are in employment. There are people in public sector jobs who are getting supplements from the Government. There is a homeless crisis the like of which we never saw, but the Government’s responses are actually making the situation worse. When Jonathan Corrie tragically died before Christmas, the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, in a knee-jerk reaction, announced that half the houses the local authorities have must be allocated to the homeless. This means that in Fingal, for example, 50% of the houses have to be given to 0.6% of the population on the list. The problem, of course, is that there are no houses there. Staff on the front line are experiencing a massive rise in the number of people who are homeless and they do not have the resources to deal with it.”
“We have a Government that includes the Labour Party which wants to frog-march people into compulsory private health insurance. People have paid PRSI for decades to get access to a health service, but the Government wants to force them into a privatised system. It is absolutely horrendous. I have no doubt that when it comes to October, Ministers will puff out their chests and tell us they are putting more money into the health service. Well, yippie, yappie and yahooey. Where is that money going? The scandals being exposed inside the HSE are nothing short of scandalous. Care packages for vulnerable adults are costing the State between €450,000 and €500,000 a year from an outsourced provider that is not being regulated by anybody. Let us face it, the Government has done very well by the middle men.”
“All the middle men, through the contracting of all those outsourced companies to deliver public services, are being enriched by the Government at the expense of front-line staff. We have an education system and if the Government has a few extra bob to play around with, surely to God if it wanted to build a better society it would start with our young people. Surely it would start investing in young people as the hallmark of a better type of world, yet the INTO has been forced to run a campaign to increase the capitation levels in our primary schools. The rate is €8 per capita vis-à-vis €11 per capita at second level and €16 per capita at third level. That must be reversed. We must deal with the crisis in our classroom sizes if we are serious about educating our young people.”
“I believe that citizens are happy to pay tax, if they get good public services in return, but we should be going after those at the top to get them to pay more. If the corporations even paid the paltry level of corporation tax that we level them with, we would have billions of euro more to seriously invest in proper infrastructural programmes that would deal with our water supply and provide a proper comprehensive transport system that would begin to tackle issues such as climate change, but instead those in government are happy to tinker around the edges, throw a few bob in enough ways in the hope that they will get back in here again so that they can carry on regardless.”
“People say that those in government have done nothing but I do not agree with that. They have done the nation a great service in one way. They have advanced the political education of our citizens beyond anything every seen before. The citizens voted in their hundreds of thousands for something different. They knew they had been betrayed by Fianna Fáil and the Green Party and they thought that the Government parties would be different, but now they know that is not the case. Those in government have taught them that they cannot rely on the people in here and that the only power they have is that of self-organisation, of taking matters into their own hands and trying to control their own destiny. That is the movement those in government have singlehandedly unleashed through its clumsy and appalling handling of the Irish Water debacle. They have not learned the lessons from that and they will pay a very heavy price for that in the next election which will probably be after their next backslapping exercise in October if they last that long.”
Transcript via Oireachtas.ie