Tuesday 25 October 2016

'Fianna Fáil will hold boot on Taoiseach's throat,' warns Labour leader

Barry Lennon

Published 07/05/2016 | 02:30

Labour Party leader Joan Burton Photo: Tom Burke
Labour Party leader Joan Burton Photo: Tom Burke
Fianna Fail leader Micheál Martin Photo: Tom Burke

Labour party leader Joan Burton warned the Dáil that Fianna Fáil will hold the new government to ransom.

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The Dublin-West TD criticised what she called the party's "tawdry" deal with Fine Gael which helped return Enda Kenny as Taoiseach.

Fianna Fáil politicians abstained in the vote, clearing the way for Mr Kenny to be elected with support from Independent politicians.

However, Ms Burton's party voted against the Fine Gael leader for Taoiseach as she claimed the deal struck was a "charade".

"This coalition of convenience is very, very different," she said.

"We do this (vote against Mr Kenny) principally because this new government arrangement is a charade," she told the Dáil yesterday afternoon.

"Fianna Fáil will effectively have their boot on the throat of the Taoiseach meaning they can push through whatever they like and collapse the arrangement whenever they choose."

The former Tánaiste added that she had been "privileged" to serve in coalition governments with the two biggest parties.

"That's what coalition was about - there was a unity of purpose and trust essential to any successful government.

"This coalition of convenience is very, very different."

She also criticised the deal that sees the suspension of water charges.

"Having learned nothing from their reckless abolition of rates in the late 1970s, Fianna Fáil set water charges as their top priority - simply to ensure their political hide is no longer exposed to Sinn Féin," she said.

"In so doing, and in Fine Gael's disappointing cave-in to Fianna Fáil's reckless demands, the coalition of convenience has all but ensured that Ireland will have to wait for the top-quality water and sewerage infrastructure it needs."

Ms Burton is to face a vote on her leadership now that the Labour party has not returned to government.

Also speaking in the chamber Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin hit out at the Labour for continuing to argue that water charges should remain.

Mr Martin referenced a Sunday Independent article in which outgoing environment minister Alan Kelly said that "power is a drug."

"Alan Kelly is suffering from the withdrawal of the drug of his choice," Mr Martin told the Dáil. He re-iterated his party's right to criticise the government despite the deal Fianna Fáil made to facilitate the new government.

"Those in the house who try and lecture us about facilitating a Fine Gael-led minority government need to remember that they refused point-blank to vote for the only way of preventing this," he added.

"The election represented an overwhelming rejection of the Fine Gael/Labour government, its policies and its hyper-political behaviour. That is why we sought to completely replace that government."

Sinn Féin's Gerry Adams called Mr Martin's deal with the Fine Gael a "masterclass in waffle and bluster".

He also repeatedly criticised the Independent TDs who voted for Enda Kenny, calling them "Endapendents"

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan explained his reasons for not voting for Mr Kenny saying that his party did not share the ambition set out in the partnership government draft programme.

He highlighted the issue of housing as a priority for the Dáil saying that 25,000 houses a year need to be built. He said there needs to be thought about where they will be built and the quality of the houses and cost.

Richard Boyd Barrett said "there's no real sign of the new politics".

Irish Independent

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