Guillotine-happy Robespierre invoked in debate on taoiseach
TDs distracted by absence of Independent Alliance as group and party leaders speak
Clare Daly TD: “I can’t take much more”. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins
TDs were distracted as the speeches on the nomination of Enda Kenny for taoiseach were made by the leaders of the nine political parties and groupings, as well as the Taoiseach’s party colleagues.
TDs were repeatedly checking their phones and whispering as the absence of the Independent Alliance TDs raised concerns about a possible vote.
Independents 4 Change TD Clare Daly said that when the absence of the Independent Alliance was the most interesting thing going on, it was a reflection of the whole process.
She said she would prefer an election at this stage because “I can’t take much more”.
Ms Daly pointed out that today was the birthday of Maximilien Robespierre who became closely associated with the use of the guillotine during the French Reign of Terror before ending up on it himself.
Ms Daly read out a letter from the sister of a woman who had killed herself as she highlighted problems in the health system and 16 months after her death, the coroner’s court said it would be another 18 months before her inquest because of the high rates of suicide.
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams noted the absence of some of the Independent TDs, the “Endapendents” as he called them.
And he said that however the new government lasted “if it is eventually elected Sinn Féin will be the real Opposition”.
Minister of State Simon Harris had earlier said the government manifesto had to be based on three overarching elements: they had to create a country that was a great place to rear children; a great place to work and do business; and a great country in which to grow old.
In a sharply pointed speech Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said he believed that Fine Gael should be replaced in government, but the majority of TDs in the House did not agree with them.
He said that Labour was voting against Mr Kenny but went before the electorate on the basis of being in partnership with Fine Gael.
But Mr Adams said that if Mr Martin followed the logic of his speech he should vote against Enda Kenny as taoiseach.
“It will be a government that has imposed a democratic lockdown on the Dáil, not a government enjoying the support of the majority of the people.”
He said those of us who had a genuine vision for a real republic, “know full well this is not going to happen under this Fine Gael Fianna Fáil government”.
The government agreement was a “masterclass in bluster and waffle”. He said that never was so much negotiated for so long “for so little”.
Acting Tánaiste Joan Burton said that the Labour party would be voting against the nomination of Enda Kenny as Taoiseach.
“We do principally because this new government arrangement is a charade.”
She described it as “a coalition of convenience that puts naked political self-interest ahead of the people’s interests.
“Two deeply conservative parties have ended their pretence civil war and done a deal.”
Ruth Coppinger of the Anti-Austerity Alliance said “I’ve never seen an incoming Taoiseach look so unhappy. I think there’s a good reason for that.”
She said Mr Rock in his nomination of Mr Kenny, had commended the Irish people for their patience and forbearance.
There would be a collective groan, she said adding that it was not personal, but that 70 per cent of people did not want Mr Kenny as taoiseach.
Fianna Fail are stressing that this isn’t a grand coalition, but it certainly is the first cousin of a grand coalition.
“If you think you can ride two horses of supporting this government and leading the opposition, think again.”
Fianna Fáil would be implicated in the politics of this administration, she said.
And she warned the electorate against Independents who were now in discussions for government.
“This is the no change government,” said Richard Boyd Barrett of People Before Profit.
She said there was hope because neither of the two main traditional parties who had dominated the State would control this government.