People's hopes rest on Government, says Gilmore


MUCH HOPE rested on the Government’s shoulders, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore told the Dáil during the debate on the nomination of ministers.

The House approved the nominations by 115 votes to 26.

Mr Gilmore said that while it was daunting, hope was never a burden. “It is only with the goodwill, commitment and hope of the people that we will succeed.”

The Government, he said, must succeed for the people who were at risk of losing their homes, those who had lost their jobs, those whose children had left for other shores or feared that their grandchildren would be strangers.

Mr Gilmore said the programme for government was a radical and reforming government. “We can and will work our way out of this crisis. This is a great country, with a great future, but it is up to each of us to make that happen.”

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the new Government was the beginning of the next stage of the Republic’s journey.

“No nation in the world has such a history of courage in the face of adversity or resilience in the face of challenge,” said Mr Kenny. “Our task is more than the rebuilding of an economy or the rescue of a reputation.”

The truth of Ireland of 2011 must be acknowledged and changed, which was the challenge facing the new Government and Dáil. “Within the first 100 days of our Government, we will introduce a jobs budget that will keep families together and our young people at home building the future of their own country.”

Mr Kenny said he wanted to close the gap between politics and the people, between Government and the governed. “I want to renew government in people’s hearts and imaginations as a true reflection of their own standards, their own conscience and their own values,” he said. These would be values of self-awareness, compassion, integrity, respect, dignity, kindness, courage, generosity, affection, authenticity, hope.

“And, especially, truth and trust,” said Mr Kenny.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin reminded the Dáil of Mr Kenny’s previous commitment to limit the number of Ministers of State to 12. He said Mr Gilmore was “correct in stating that the public did not want single party government” and wished him well as Minister for Foreign Affairs.

But he warned the incoming Minister he would have to change his “tone and rhetoric” and that he “will quickly discover that it is not ‘Labour’s way or Frankfurt’s way’ and he will learn that Mr Trichet is more than a mere civil servant”.

Mr Martin, former minister for foreign affairs, defended the previous government’s relationship with European partners and said they were “much stronger than outlined in much of the self-serving rhetoric we heard from candidates during the election campaign and again in recent days”. Mr Gilmore would find “many ready allies who are informed on Irish issues and who are supportive of our goals”.

Ireland would chair the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe next year because of the “high esteem in which we are held in diplomatic circles”.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams congratulated the new Ministers “and the recycled ones as well”.

“The oppression visited upon our people by a foreign government in past times was unacceptable and the economic oppression suffered by citizens under a native Government in these times is just as unacceptable,” he said. In the election “the people voted against corruption, sell-out and economic oppression. They voted for change.” But the reality was that the programme for government “implements Fianna Fáil’s policy” and the Government offered little of its promise for “new ways, new approaches and new thinking”.

Maureen O’Sullivan (Ind, Dublin Central) said the Taoiseach had spoken about “making our nation respected but I think the first challenge is to regain the respect and trust of the Irish people”. She said former taoiseach Brian Cowen had described politics as an honourable profession but in recent years politics had become “dishonourable. This dishonour came from the cronyism, cartelism and the downright lies told to the people. For example, that the banks only had a liquidity problem, that Anglo Irish Bank was fundamentally sound and the lie from the Merrill Lynch report that Irish banks were profitable and well capitalised.”