Catherine Martin: the only losers in this charade are the people

Green Party TD uses maiden speech to urge action from main parties

Newly elected TD Catherine Martin, of the Green Party, makes an impassioned call for the formation of a government in her first parliamentary speech.

 

Newly elected Green Party TD Catherine Martin delivered a strong maiden speech in the Dáil on Thursday in which she urged the two main parties, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, to cease their political grandstanding and give the electorate what it wants: stable government. Here is Ms Martin’s speech in full:

Toisc gurb í seo an chéad uair dom labhairt sa Dáil, ba mhaith liom i dtús báire mo bhuíochas a ghabháil le muintir Bhaile Átha Cliath - Ráth an Dúin as an onóir seo a thabhairt dom agus as a gcuid muiníne ioman a léiriú chun ionadaíocht a dheánamh ar a son sa Dara Dáil is Tríocha.

I like so many newly elected TDs, am relishing doing my utmost to fulfil my mandate, to do my best to deliver on the many pressing and real issues which affect people’s daily lives. Yet this shameful 47-days, and counting, delay is obstructing and impeding us from doing the urgent work we were elected to do.

Although in a different time, this delay, this level of obstructionism, would put in the ha’penny place the obstructionist tactics deployed by Irish Parliamentary MP Joseph Biggar in the House of Commons in the late 19th century. Whereas the obstruction then was due to excessive talking, the obstruction now is due to a refusal to talk, a refusal to seek solutions.

The stance adopted by political parties in refusing even to consider forming the most stable government to serve the people has been disingenuously represented by some as being somehow linked to being in the national interest.

How can the current strangulation of representative democracy, a choking of the workings of Dáil Éireann be in the national interest? This reckless approach cares little for the tackling of the unprecedented crisis of homelessness, the escalating rental crisis, hospital waiting lists and climate justice.

In case any party has forgotten, perhaps it is important to remind ourselves of the obvious, no one party won the general election, but unfortunately it seems as if the people have lost. Some political parties refuse to face up to and accept this new political reality, refuse to accept the change for which the people voted for in February.

We should remember the words of George Bernard Shaw, who said: “Progress is impossible without change and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”

It is all too easy to make noise, to instil division, to create dissent, to divide, to score points. The contrived party policy difference, and the point blank refusal of some to consider even talking to others, who also have a democratic mandate, is simply unacceptable.

Enough is enough. The only losers in this charade are the people. It behoves political parties to act in the true best interest of the people of Ireland, not themselves or their parties.

While some members have worked very hard and displayed some political courage, others certainly have not, instead choosing to sit on their hands for the past seven weeks.

TDs are not elected to be silent, or to run for the hills to take cover when the going gets tough. Now is the time when members should step up and speak up for the people who elected you. Put people before party politics.

Government formation should not be hijacked by self-serving party political concerns. The people are sovereign, they have spoken and especially in the context of the current fragility of the Irish economic recovery.

I implore elected members to lead and not be led by a cohort of party political membership whose only concern for stability appears to be the concern for party political stability, party consolidation or party growth.

This abysmal lack of leadership might yet require the President, in what would be an unprecedented step, to consider exercising his absolute discretion to steer a way forward for the 32nd Dáil.

But it’s never too late. It is never too late to take the best course of action for Ireland. The most stable and compatible option is of course Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil. Or is that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael?

This might come as news to you, news to people in their party cocoons, but the vast majority of people do not care which order you put the names in. But they do passionately care about their family’s and their country’s future.

Is féidir linn fís nua a léiriú do mhuintir na tíre má táimid sásta comhoibriú le chéile agus bealach ceannródaíoch a thógáil don todhchaí. Seo í uair na cinniúna. Seo í an uair le haghaidh crógacht agus ceannaireacht.

Now is the time to show real leadership. Stop hiding behind what parties claim is in the national interest when clearly it is not. It is time to do what actually is in the national interest. It is time, way past time, to put our country first and form a stable government.