Statement from Colm Keaveney December 13, 2012Posted by Oireachtas Retort in Uncategorized.
Since the first leaks emerged on Budget 2013 I have had deep misgivings on aspects of the Budget in relation to the changes to PRSI, to child benefit, to respite grants and to the overall regressive nature of the budget in terms of income.
Since Monday of last week I have been working to overturn the more odious aspects of this budget. I voted for the measures on the night of the budget in order to allow time myself and other deputies to campaign for the reversal or amelioration of these measures. Even last night I voted for the Second Stage of the Social Welfare Bill in order to allow for an opportunity for an eleventh hour change to be made. I and the other deputies have been unsuccessful in that regard.
Therefore, I have this afternoon voted against the Bill. I could not for reasons of conscience, or on the basis of the mandate that I received from my constituents in Galway East, vote for the measures in this Bill. I simply cannot vote in favour of measures that will have such a negative effect on working families, particularly given the regressive nature of the hits proposed.
I wish my colleagues in the Parliamentary Labour Party well. They are the finest group of people that I have had the honour to work with. It is unfortunate that we found ourselves sharing Government with a Party whose values see an equivalence in seeking to cut welfare to the most vulnerable in our society with a measure to increase the tax paid by those on high incomes. The progressive section of Fine Gael, prevalent to an extent in the FitzGerald era, is now almost entirely absent and that party now seeks to become an Irish Tory Party.
I remain loyal to the Labour Party and to its values and the values of its membership. I am proud of all that the party has achieved throughout their 100 year existence and I will remain a member of the party and continue to work on its behalf.
I welcome the passage of the Social Welfare Bill, and I wish to thank all of the Labour TDs and Senators for their support.
Labour went into Government in March 2011, because our country was in trouble, and we wanted to fix it.
Ireland and the Irish people were then, and still are, facing the worst crisis in the history of our state, with enormous human costs. As a country we have lost control of our destiny, and we need to restore it.
The people gave us a mandate to do what it takes to fix this mess. And they wanted us to do it in a way that balanced that absolute need to secure the path ahead of us, with fairness.
I believed then, and I believe now, that Labour’s mission in Government is to fix the problem and to restore the sovereignty of our republic. To fulfil, once more, that which is set out in Article 1 of our Constitution: the right of our nation to choose its own path.
We are here for the men and women who are out of work. People who have lost their livelihoods. People who have been forced to leave their families behind, and emigrate. We are here for every single person who is fearful about their future in an Ireland that is still clawing its way out of a crisis, which has threatened to cast it back decades.
We are here to secure their future, and the future of our country. And unless we do it, the opportunities for work, the opportunities that we, as a party, promote through public services, will not be there.
Ours is not a narrow interest. We are not a single issue party. We will be judged according to what we do with the responsibility that the people have given us. And that is not a responsibility that is confined to single budget measures. It is a responsibility to serve the interests of our people, not just for this week, but for this generation.
We went into Government with our eyes open, knowing there would be difficult decisions and difficult days. Today was one of those days. The social welfare bill contained several difficult provisions. But there were many other provisions that it didn’t contain – options that were not taken, by a Labour Minister who was determined to make the best and fairest decisions in difficult circumstances.
Our country is caught in the grip of the worst economic, financial and jobs crisis ever seen. Reducing the budget deficit is necessary, because the alternative is unthinkable.
The alternative, is not being able to pay welfare at all, not being able to keep schools and hospitals open, not paying wages or pensions. The alternative is more job losses, and a country sliding further into crisis. The alternative is to go backwards, unwinding the far won progress that we have made.
This budget is difficult, but in the times in which we live, it is a fair budget, and one which in many ways reflects Labour’s core values.
In the century of our history, this is one of the most difficult tasks that Labour has ever taken on. But the essence of the Labour movement is to make the difficult choices. The Labour Party has always stood up to be counted in difficult moments, and done the right thing by the Irish people. Today was one of those days. I am grateful to, and proud of, the Labour Deputies, who had the courage to vote with the Government today.
The responsibility to fix the country exists whether we are in Government or not. We are either shaping the solution, or we are watching it from across the lobby. And whichever we choose, it is from there we’ll be watching the recovery too.