Opening the debate on Sinn Féin’s motion of no confidence in the government this evening the party’s Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty said budget 2013 marks the total betrayal of the election promises of this Fine Gael and Labour government.
Speaking during the debate Deputy Doherty outlined the reality of the respite care grant for carers he has spoken to and met personally describing their situation as the human face of this Fine Gael and Labour budget.
Below is the full text of Deputy Doherty’s speech:
SF No Confidence PMB – 11.12.12 - Pearse Doherty
“The motion tabled by Sinn Féin tonight is very simple.
“It says that this house has no confidence in the government because Fine Gael and Labour have failed in their obligations to make political decisions and choices that benefit the citizens of this state.
“When this Government was formed there was enormous hope and expectation that things were going to be different.
“In the months that followed the formation of the coalition that hope has slowly been dashed.
“As Fine Gael and Labour started to break their election promises and programme for government commitments one by one, public confidence in the Government started to ebb away.
“But what the Government did last Wednesday has opened the floodgates of deep disappointment and burning anger.
“Today, across the state, people of all political persuasions and none have lost confidence in this Government.
“Sinn Féin’s motion tonight is simply an echo of the frustration and disillusionment felt by hundreds of thousands of ordinary people across the state.
“It is a reflection of the anger of ordinary people who are asking themselves why Fine Gael and Labour lied to them. Why the parties now in government made pre-election promises on child benefit and property tax only to break those promises within months of taking office.
“Pre-election promises may mean little to politicians like Pat Rabbitte or his colleagues in cabinet. But for voters they are the reason why they chose one candidate over another or one party over another.
“For almost a week now my offices in Leinster House and Donegal have been inundated with calls from angry and upset people; not just constituents of mine, but people from all across the state.
“Some of them want to vent their anger; some want to explain the human impact this budget will have on their lives; all of them feel that this government has let them down.
“Budget 2013 marks the total betrayal of the election promises of this Fine Gael and Labour government.
“I could give countless examples of why TDs from both sides of the house should vote no confidence in this government.
“Tonight I will focus on just three – the cut to the carers respite grant, the cut to child benefit and the family home tax.
“Last Wednesday a woman from Co Sligo rang. She was in tears.
“As a blind pensioner who lives alone in a rural area her telephone and broadband are her lifelines to the outside world. They are not a luxury. They are vital for her to live.
“She said that if the cuts to the telephone allowance went ahead she could not afford her phone and internet service.
“She would be cut off, isolated, her quality of life destroyed.
“This is the human face of this Fine Gael and Labour budget.
“Today I had the great privilege of talking to the carers who gathered in front of the Dáil calling for the reversal of the Carers Respite Grant. They are all remarkable people.
“Each of them told a different story of how this cut would impact on them and the loved ones they care for.
“As the protest came to an end and after many hours of carers standing in the freezing cold I invited a couple of them to come in and warm themselves with a cup of tea before they headed home.
“One of the women was Caroline from Dublin. She told me her own personal story. Caroline in wheelchair bound. She lives with a debilitating and progressive disease. Yet she is a woman with remarkable strength and courage.
“I initially thought that Caroline was the person being cared for. But in fact Caroline was the carer. She lives alone with her 75 year old mother who suffers with Parkinson’s disease and is a diabetic.
“Caroline administers her mother’s dialysis at home. She talked about the challenges she has being wheelchair bound, getting her mother out of bed, wash and shower and dress her.
“While she started telling the story with the kind of humour that comes naturally to a daughter talking about caring for her mother, quickly her eyes welled up and she broke into tears.
“She asked why the government valued her so little. She said that she hated the way this government made her feel about herself.
“Caroline is a 24 hours a day, seven days a week carer. Her mother could not function without her support.
“And every day she has the strength and courage to carry out the countless invisible tasks of a carer so that her mother can live with dignity.
“This is the human face of Budget 2013. This is the real consequence of Fine Gael and Labours proposal to cut the respite care grant.
“And for every cut to a vital support there is a story like Caroline’s.
“This is what Fine Gael and Labour are doing to the people they promised to protect. This is a budget that attacks carers, the sick, older people, children and families.
“It is a budget that will increase financial hardship and poverty for tens of thousands of families.
“The cuts to child benefit, the cuts to the back to school clothing and footwear allowance and the taxing of maternity benefit are all anti-child measures.
“During the general election campaign Eamon Gilmore said there would be no cuts to child benefit under his watch, that it was a red line issue.
“I don’t need to explain to anyone in the Labour Party the impact that this will have on children and families.
“You know only too well. It is why you made this issue a central part of your election campaign.
“How do you expect those families who are going to be affected by this cut, particularly those who voted for you on the basis of this promise, to have any confidence in you?
“And then there is the Family Home Tax. The government claim it is a property tax but that just isn’t true. It is a tax on the family home.
“170,000 families are in serious mortgage distress. Hundreds of thousands more are in negative equity. Tens of thousands paid huge sums in stamp duty at the height of the boom. 1.8 million households have less that €100 per month after paying essential bills.
“Fine Gael and Labour campaigned on a promise to assist those who are struggling to pay their mortgages, to ease their burden.
“And what have you done? You have slapped a tax on their family home on top of all the other stealth taxes and charges contained in the budget.
“The Government could have introduced a wealth tax; making those with the most pay the most.
“They could have cut the lavish pay of politicians, senior civil servants and bankers.
“They could have introduced emergency legislation to claw back the massive pensions to the bankers and cabinet Ministers who wrecked the economy.
“But no - Fine Gael and Labour chose to hit carers, the sick, children and families. They chose to behave just like Fianna Fail.
“And these are just three of the reasons why the public has lost confidence in this government.
“They have lost confidence because you made a choice, to make ordinary people pay for the bad decisions, the failed policies and the stroke politics of Fianna Fail and their crooked banker and developer friends.
“This is what Budget 2013 is about. There is no doubt that Fine Gael and Labour have broken their contract with the people. They have ridden roughshod over their election promises.
“They have torn to shreds their programme for government commitments. They have destroyed the hopes and expectations of the entire population.
“This is the reason why Sinn Féin has tabled a motion of no confidence in the Government tonight.
“Not because you do not have our support, but because you have lost the support of the people.
“I urge the House to support this motion.”