BaileNuachtAithisc an Taoisigh

Speech by An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD: Nomination of Members of the Government, Dáil Éireann, 06 May 2016


Check against delivery

B’áil liom cead a chur in iúl, mar eolas don Dáil, gur chuir mé m’ainmniú mar Thaoiseach in iúl don Uachtarán agus gur cheap sé mé dá réir.

I beg leave to announce, for the information of the Dáil, that I have informed the President that the Dáil has nominated me to be the Taoiseach and that he has appointed me accordingly.

Go gcomhaontóidh Dáil Éireann leis an Taoiseach d'ainmniú na dTeachtaí seo a leanas chun a gceaptha ag an Uachtarán mar chomhaltaí den Rialtas:-

I move:

That Dáil Éireann approve the nomination by the Taoiseach of the following Deputies for appointment by the President to be members of the Government:
Enda Kenny TD, Taoiseach
Frances Fitzgerald
Michael Noonan
Richard Bruton
Simon Coveney
Leo Varadkar
Charles Flanagan
Paschal Donohoe
Heather Humphreys
Simon Harris
Michael Creed
Denis Naughten
Shane Ross
Mary Mitchell O’Connor
Katherine Zappone

I intend to appoint Frances Fitzgerald as Tanaiste.

They will be assigned Departments of State as follows:
Department of Social Protection to: Leo Varadkar
Department of Finance to: Michael Noonan
Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to: Paschal Donohoe
Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation to: Mary Mitchell O’Connor
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to: Michael Creed
Department of Justice and Equality to: Frances Fitzgerald
Department of Children and Youth Affairs to: Katherine Zappone
Department of Health to: Simon Harris
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to: Charles Flanagan
Department of Education and Skills to: Richard Bruton
Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government to: Simon Coveney
Department of Communications, Climate Change and Natural Resources to: Denis Naughten
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport to: Shane Ross
Department of Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts & the Gaeltacht to:

Heather Humphreys
Department of Defence to: Myself, and I intend to nominate Deputy Paul Kehoe as Minister of State, attending Government as Minister of State at the Departments of the Taoiseach and Defence with Special Responsibility for Defence.

I propose to nominate Máire Whelan, S.C., for appointment by the President to be the Attorney General.

I also propose to nominate Deputy Regina Doherty as Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach and Government Chief Whip and Deputy Finian McGrath as Minister of State attending Government, and Minister of State, at the Departments of Social Protection, Justice & Equality and Health with special responsibility for Disability Issues.

I wish to inform the House that it is also my intention to restructure the Government to align it with the priority objectives of the new Government.

The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government will become a new Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government.

There will be an Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness and a dedicated Cabinet Committee on Housing, which I will chair.

Responsibility for the environment, including climate change, will transfer to a new Department of Climate Change, Communications & Natural Resources.

There will be a new Department of Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts & the Gaeltacht. This will retain all of the functions of the former Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. It will also be assigned responsibility for the rollout of rural broadband and for the development of the post office network. In addition, this new Department will be assigned responsibility for the Leader programme, an expanded Town and Village Renewal Scheme and the Tidy Towns scheme, the Western Development Commission, the implementation of the report of the Commission on the Economic Development of Rural Areas, the dormant accounts fund and social enterprise.

There will be an Action Plan for Rural Development and a dedicated Cabinet Committee on Regional and Rural Affairs, which I will also chair. This will provide for effective monitoring of delivery and clear co-ordination across all policy areas that affect rural Ireland.

A Cheann Comhairle,
I stand here today acutely conscious of the honour that has been given me by this House.
And I assure the people of Ireland, the government and every member of this house that as the current custodian of the Office of Taoiseach, I will use this term to make life better for all our people.
This government is ambitious and optimistic. In its makeup alone, it is unlike any other established in Ireland since the foundation of the State, comprising Fine Gael, members of the Independent Alliance and a number of independent TDs.
Its formation proves that politics is not about power and its attainment.
It is rather that politics is always about what is possible about the possibility of what can be achieved. And achieved not for parties or individuals or sectors, but for the whole country.
That sense of possibility is the touchstone of the partnership government for A Fairer Ireland.
The formal process of meeting and agreement began on 24 March. There followed many hours, days, of formal discussions and informal conversations.
But what was crucial was not only to get it done. We had to get it right.
To understand the makeup of the new Dail and to reflect the new spirit of Partnership asked of us.
I am the longest serving member of the Dail and I have been through some extraordinary times but this time is the most different, challenging and exciting time so far. I hope we all will embrace it and realise the historic moment we are part of. I will.
No-one in the negotiations ‘suffered from certainty’.
After 70 days of talks and negotiations we agreed not alone our programme for government, but that there is no place or function for political pessimism in our administration and no limit to political possibility.
There was a palpable sense in all the talks, including with those who decided they would not join the government that politics as we knew it had changed.
Yes, for all of us in the talks, we agreed that, economically, Ireland was going in the right direction. And for our country’s future, we must ensure this continues.
We hope to continue to be the fastest-growing economy in Europe this year.
But we were equally agreed that politics itself would not just have to change direction.
It would also have to change its dimensions.
The particular qualities of resilience, kindness, insight, empathy, dignity, resolve.
I have noted before the old observation that people live not only their own lives, but the life of their time.
And while on the international stage, the official record of the life of Ireland is one of exceptional growth and recovery.
It is in the lived experience, the personal experience that the ‘national life’ is revealed.
Which is why with the new government, I am anxious that the national record of the life of the time, be it the surge in tax receipts, or the headlines on growth, must be more in tune and aligned with the personal record, the lived experience of the people.
We must ask how alive are we willing to be to the experience of all our citizens, and to the opinions of those with whom we differ or even strongly disagree.
Fianna Fail knew as we did that, with the election, the traditional rules no longer applied.
It was fitting that on the centenary of the Rising, both parties managed to start to sweep away some of the old ways and find a way to work together.
I believe the 32nd Dail will make a new collaborative approach not only with the partners of government, but indeed, with the Opposition.
I believe all of us in the House are ad idem, that our function is to use government, and see it used, to effect the kind of change, opportunity and compassion we need and desire in our society.
Yes, the 32nd Dail is an unprecedented challenge. But it is equally an unprecedented opportunity.
In fact it is a unique opportunity to begin today, as a society, a nation, with a Government based on an articulated consensus, around the issues that really matter to the lived experience of our people.
A Cheann Comhairle,
Our country and our people have come through an unprecedented economic crash. Every family in Ireland has been touched in some way during the crisis.

For the past five years I and the previous Government have worked to end the crisis, exit our international bailout and to help the creation of new jobs. Now the foundations of a growing economy are in place.

While the sense of economic crisis has passed we still have much work ahead of us to ensure that work and opportunity is present for all families across Ireland.

Today Ireland also faces other challenges in the areas of housing and homelessness, in healthcare provision and in providing relief for working families.

After the General Election and 70 days of passionate debate it is now time for new and immediate action.

One of my immediate priorities is to ensure that the Government is fully engaged on the UK Referendum on EU membership, which is less than seven weeks away.

While this is clearly a matter for the British people themselves to decide, it is of profound importance to the EU and to Ireland.
Uniquely for a non commonwealth country, Irish citizens living in Britain will have a vote on 23rd June. British citizens living here have a vote. And of course the issue of EU membership directly affects voters in Northern Ireland.
The UK Referendum campaign is entering a critical phase. It is an important time for everyone on these islands and in Europe.
The Government will be briefed on the current state of play as a matter of priority.
I intend to make a number of visits to Britain and Northern Ireland over the course of the next two months.
I will also be asking a number of Ministers to visit Britain during this time to reach out to Irish citizens living there; to engage with friends of Ireland and the wider business community who have an interest in British-Irish economic cooperation.
Because I strongly believe it is critically important that our voice is heard, as Britain’s closest neighbour and indeed friend, on this issue.
We are acutely aware of what has been called a “once in a generation” decision facing the British people. We are respectful of the sovereignty of that decision.
Yet Ireland is the only country that shares a land border with the UK. We have strong historical, economic and personal ties. We move easily across these islands to do business, to visit family, and to celebrate each other’s culture.
Every week, we trade over 1 billion euro between our two countries in goods and services. We are co-guarantors of the peace process in Northern Ireland. We are partners in Europe. We want to ensure that there is no doubt about the Irish Government’s position and that our message is heard clearly.
Prime Minister Cameron very kindly phoned me this afternoon to express his congratulations. I said that I would do whatever I could usefully do to help in the run up to the Referendum.
I will meet Prime Minister Cameron as soon as our schedules permit.
British-Irish relations are stronger than ever. The close working relationship and understanding that Prime Minister Cameron and I have developed will help to build these relations further. We hope the UK stays with us in the European Union. Europe, Ireland and the UK will be all the stronger for it.
While our Programme for Government is extensive, at its core is one simple objective: to make people’s lives better in every part of Ireland.
Ireland’s economic recovery remains central to our work and the Irish people have worked hard for this progress. A fair society must lean on a strong economy.

Only with a strong economy can we deliver on the key goals for this Government:
1. To make people’s lives better;
2. To provide homes for our people; and
3. To make Ireland a great place to grow old and be cared for.

Under our first priority we want to help working families. To do that, we need to secure the economic recovery.

Our Programme for Government contains ambitious plans for more affordable childcare, more and better jobs, lower taxes on workers, help for low paid workers, and safer streets.

An urgent challenge for the new Government will be to remedy our housing and homeless crisis. As a country we are still building too few homes for our people following the construction crash. It is not acceptable that in 2016 we have families living in hotels and B&Bs and this is something we are all united in the House to fix.

That is why we will shortly publish a Spring Economic Statement to set out the broad parameters of budgetary and economic policy for the coming year, building on the strong progress already made.

I firmly believe that Ireland is a great country for families, to raise children and to grow old with dignity.

After a period of tough economic times we need to invest in new services to better look after our people, young and old.

New investment in hospitals and primary care centres will be at the top of the Government’s investment programme to ensure we can all live in a country we can be proud of.

As part of this ambition we will put a specific focus on improving our disability and mental health services.

A Cheann Comhairle,

Our new Partnership Government will immediately get to work on the challenges facing our country. The first 100 days will contain a packed agenda for all the Ministers of the new Government and for every member of the Oireachtas.

We will shortly agree and publish a plan for the first 100 days of this Government based on our Programme for Government.

The new Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government will begin immediate preparations for the development of an Action Plan for Housing taking into account the views and suggestions of Government, the Oireachtas and civil society.

This will be a roadmap for a resolution to the current housing crisis and will require the assistance of all Members of the Oireachtas in its implementation and across Government.

A Ceann Comhairle,
I want to make it clear that there will be new attention put on our psychological and emotional wellbeing as a country.
It is clear that our children and teenagers especially need support to navigate a world that, while it can be marvellous, can also be merciless.
Within the first 100 days, we will establish a National Taskforce on Youth Mental Health to consider how to address such challenges, to teach our young people resilience and how they and their families can access the services they need.
Every community in Ireland has been afflicted by suicide or self-harm.
Connecting for Life, Ireland’s National Strategy for Suicide Prevention has many commitments that do not have a financial cost; they require a political and community commitment.

It is up to all of us every day to make the difference.

I wish for Ireland to become more aware of how we depend not alone on those in our community, but frequently on the kindness of strangers.

We must be that kind stranger ourselves.

As I said earlier, I commit to working in partnership with the Members of the House to deliver real solutions to the problems facing the country. I look forward to that work and I commend these nominations to the house.