The declaration of a new Government by the Taoiseach affords us the opportunity of assessing what is the prospect for this queer, unchanged team. They have changed only the numbers of their jerseys but they have not in any way, to those who have known them, changed at all. While as a Corkman, I must rejoice in the fact that if there had to be a Fianna Fáil Leader of the new era, the lot fell to Deputy Jack Lynch, I must assess the commanding officer by his lieutenants or the captain by his team. What a sorry, miserable lot.
I have had occasion to come into this House and, unfortunately, talk with sincerity of the atrophy, the lack of idea, the dearth of initiative that have characterised Fianna Fáil Governments. Here we are in a situation of escalating national difficulty having foisted on us the same dull, unimaginative, inept bunch, possibly the best description of them, because like grapes they are clinging to the vine, the vine of Party privilege and patronage.
I do not intend to discuss, as has been done by other Members of the House, the sordid display of skulduggery, knavery, double-dealing and deceit which has been the lot of the unfortunate Party in the past three weeks while the succession stakes were on. Suffice it to say that it is now apparent to the Irish people in general that this tottering anachronism of a modern democracy is cracking up and we shall, in due course, be very good pallbearers at their ultimate obsequies.
I have never hesitated in my long period in public life to regale the Irish people with my earnest belief, uncontroverted by subsequent effort, that the greatest curse in this country since Cromwell has been successive Fianna Fáil Governments. Today I feel reinforced in that rather tragic belief when I look, as I am going to look, individually and collectively at this alleged team, this new Government.
I thought my own Party Leader was more than charitable when he described the Tánaiste and Minister for External Affairs at UNO. You know him, but nobody knows what he is going to try next, ranging over various obscure corners of the world. He must now be regarded as the extern, left-outside member of the team because we see him so rarely. His highly experienced stupidity cannot really be blamed for some Government decisions because I understand in recent times he is very seldom a party to their deliberations, but apparently that is a very good criterion in political difficulties on which to give the vice-captaincy to the Ministry of External Affairs. One might have expected in the circumstances of the political situation that there might have been a candidate more apt for this kind of semipermanent exclusion from Ireland. However, it is very hard for an Opposition with a genuine approach to the welfare of this country to appreciate for what motive this now venerable and aged relic of an unfortunate era is carried as a retrograde symbol of a stultified Government.
However, when it comes to the next member of the team described as Minister for P and T and T and P now occupying the Government Front Bench, one feels that here was real enterprise, to give an opportunity to a non-functional Minister who could sleep successfully in one Department of performing the ubiquitous task of sleeping in two. It is very difficult for a man to be in two places at one time awake. It is going to be an interesting experiment to see how the dual-purpose Minister will do it asleep.
I can never understand how all these enormous semi-State bodies under the Minister's control have been allowed to wander not only into the difficult vicissitudes of economic existence but into that tremendous realm of staff discontent that has become evident in recent years in the semi-State companies. I have always felt that a Minister who was half awake, a Minister who had any consciousness of his duty to the people of Ireland, would have been able, as my colleague Deputy Burke said on the Estimate for Labour debate, to introduce the quality of humanity and the benefit of human experience and knowledge into these boards to ensure a better personal relationship between employment and management, as Deputy Burke put it, and that some of the benignity he used to try in their disputes might have rubbed off on to these bodies.
We are asked now, not only to approve the re-instatement of Deputy Childers as Minister for Transport and Power but to the addition and the pressing on to his tail of Posts and Telegraphs, a Ministry which he held before with very little distinction. We are asked, in a bizarre way, to accept the re-nomination of this live wire as an earnest that the Government will have any capacity to deal with the problems that I will pose for them before I finish.
As we watch the merry boys move up one by one, we analyse their capacity for their office, judge them, as we can now, on our experience of them in other Departments or in the same Department over a period of years. We find that Finance has now gone to the "playboy of the Raheny world" and that, from the hunting field and the various bloodsports so enjoyed by him, he is going into the golden office. We find that, very fortunately, some circumstance arose that enabled his haughty vanity to be exploded and, fortunately, we have witnessed the return home of a band of decent, legal-minded, industrious farmers after having had to soldier it out for 21 days in order to get the normal courtesies and manners that should be afforded to decent people.
It is an extraordinary thing that decent men of all political persuasions —and there were people of all political persuasions in the NFA—were forced into the position that they had to undergo all these tribulations and effort, all caused by well-known difficulties in the agricultural industry, the frustration being finally epitomised in the fact that they could not get the ordinary courtesies that should have been afforded to them. That does not alter the fact that they have spotlighted most effectively the extraordinary muddle and bungle the agricultural industry is in, thanks to the fact that for years we suffered what I describe as a windowbox Minister for Agriculture whose only agricultural production in his constituency was limited to that type of flower production in the highly populous areas. He has now been extricated from the difficulties in Agriculture and put into Finance where we know that, because of the present national policy, there are more difficulties still. What kind of confidence can we have or what hope can we give to the Irish people in that kind of situation?
We had two Budgets last year. We had the stultification of effort in local government in housing and in health. We had the use of subterfuge and deceit and delay to block expenditure, because the pot was empty and the bottom of the barrel was gone. I tremble to think what gyrations and what new financial wizardry may be forthcoming from the Golden Boy in Finance.
I am warning the Dáil and the country that when we are dealing with the proposition of the appointment of this Government, we are dealing with the continuation of the amorphous hand of ineptitude, inefficiency and lack of initiative, because this team shows no change. The only change we have had under their last effort of 18 months is greater economic confusion, the slowing down of national effort and the acknowledgment now, belatedly, that their Second Programme for Economic Expansion was claptrap and nonsense and that their old slogan, "Let Lemass Lead On" now clearly becomes a slogan of "Stop and Reverse".
That the country is riding through difficulties that should not exist and that need not exist is perfectly obvious. Years ago, not only the Fine Gael Party but also the Labour Party, indicated quite clearly to the Government the difficulties they were building up for themselves in the chaotic introduction of the turnover tax and what its ultimate consequences would be. We are now reaping the full blast of this retrograde type of taxation. We are reaping it in the fact that, while Government policy is directed to copperfasten and limit increases in the earning capacity of the working sections of the community, no effort has been made to control the cost of living which is rapidly outdistancing any benefit which was obtained by the working classes.
The escalation of problems like rents in Dublin, the various new directions to local authorities, are merely the devices in an effort to avoid telling the people the plain blunt truth, that Fianna Fáil have made an appalling mess of our financial situation and that the only hope of the rebirth of confidence and re-stabilisation of the economy and of inspiring the confidence and support that will give us the money to continue on arises from the fact that, as a result of two by-elections which they have not the money to buy, and subsequent by-elections, if necessary, we will be able to get the Government out into the country to answer to the people for their stewardship, which the people are very anxious to deal with.
We can only talk of that today in the context of what hope this new Government may give us and what the personnel of the new Government, even in their changed Ministries, are likely to achieve. We have gone down four of the team already and we have not yet met a fellow who could have a decent kick at the ball. We are now in the slough. We are now at the stage where we want somebody, not only forward thinking, not only with initiative, but with the vital courage necessary to bring the Irish people on the road to progress and to remove them from the sudden and desperate fear of the future and even dread of the present.
I know that over the years Fianna Fáil have been great people to fill the emigrant ship. They have been great people to find 100,000 jobs in Manchester, Birmingham and London— jobs which Deputy Seán Lemass promised to find at home. We remember the election gimmicks "Let Lemass Lead On" and "Wives, Get Your Husbands Out to Work." The hoardings of Ireland were emblazoned with them. As far as the 100,000 new jobs are concerned, it should have been added on underneath that they were jobs in Manchester, Birmingham, Coventry and London and not jobs at home.
At the same time, we saw more and more people leaving the land of Ireland, without being given redundancy training to prevent their going on the emigrant ship. It is indeed a sorry record. It is made all the more sorry by the vapid foolishness of a young Deputy who suggested today that this is a prosperous nation and that all is virtually well, because he talked about some stabilisation and improvement in our balance of payments. Go down to the small farmer of 14 or 15 acres in my constituency and ask him if all is well there. Ask the lower paid workers in the urban areas—in Deputy Andrews' constituency, for instance— if all is well with them. Ask them if they can keep abreast of the increased cost of living. You will get a very definite answer.
All this is directly influenced by Government policy and will be influenced now by this unchanged team—this team which considers itself so good that it is dropping a member. I suppose the succession race has not resolved itself to the extent that there could be any reasonable unanimity as to whom the new boy might be. I have already dealt with all we can expect from a dud Tánaiste, a somnolent T and P and P and T and the transferred half-back into Finance. No annual report from any agricultural organisation will be necessary to tell us that the occupancy of Agriculture by Deputy Haughey has been a political failure. Under his stewardship we had rosy promises, multiple meetings, unlimited functions —and no progress. The cattle industry has been stultified, the small farmer half crucified and our basic dairy industry is still in a period of uncertainty and lack of leadership. The whole foundation of our economy, agriculture, is in the doldrums or worse. This is due to lack of initiative and forward thinking. It is because we have failed to condition our people to the forward impetus we must have in agriculture if we are to adjust ourselves to modern marketing conditions and the competition we will face either in association with or as full members of EEC.
I have always had the courage to say what I believe. I believe there was never a time in our history when we more urgently wanted fruitful and dynamic thinking about agriculture than we do today. I have never been completely in agreement with the suggested remedies of either the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association or the NFA. I think they are inclined to deal with immediate problems in an expedient way rather than co-ordinate our immediate problems with the guidelines for the future. Whether we like it or not, we have to realise that the small farmer, as we knew him, on farms of under 35 or 40 acres, faces a tremendous problem of re-adjustment, because a farm of that size is an anachronism in modern society. That poses not only the problem of the consolidation of farms into a workable size but also this enormous problem of the training necessary for the resettlement of such people elsewhere. I cannot see anybody on this team before us capable of getting down to grapple with that problem. But grapple with it somebody must if we are to have straight thinking on agriculture.
Try as we may, we can never get away from the fact that the basic stabilisation of our economy must always depend on our agricultural production. Rural Ireland will have to be geared in a new way to meet this problem. Not only will afforestation have to be expanded but industry associated with forestry, such as pulp mills, must be provided to give employment to the sons and daughters of the land. There will have to be cogent Government planning, deliberate thinking and regular financing to deal with problems of this sort. Contemporaneously, we will have to stop talking about drainage schemes and get on with the job of actually draining the land. Every acre of land won back into fruitful production will be one more unit in the battle for the stabilisation of our economy and the improvement of our national earnings. I am saying that with all the certitude and deliberation of a person privileged to be born and reared on the land. I am saying it in the knowledge that there is no section of this community more ready in its response to leadership, more ready in its response to the call for national effort, than the agriculturists and people who get their living on the land. They were the backbone of the generation who brought us liberty. They deserve well of us.
When I criticise the Government today, the new team coming in, I criticise them in full knowledge of the fact that we are not doing the basic type of research, planning and work that are vitally necessary to keep abreast of modern trends in agriculture. I shall not go into the details of the Department's administration. That has been ruled out of order in this debate. However, taking the global picture, we want greater production, we want stable markets and we want proper market research. The fantastic thing in this country is that even though our best market has always been Britain it is the one in which we have the worst record of market research and sales effort over all the years. It has often appalled me that such is the case because I have always subscribed to the belief that, with many of our basic differences settled with Great Britain, it was our duty to exploit to the fullest that market to the benefit of our country and, per se, our people.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is being taken over by Deputy Blaney who has left a Ministry where there was evidence of slowdown, of department delay, of departmental evasion, of lack of impetus, all of which had become chronic hallmarks in the past 18 months not, let me say, because of any personal lack of energy on the part of the Minister for Local Government but, again, because it was a case of "There's a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza." It was impossible for the Minister for Local Government to give what he had not got. Therefore, with great political acumen, mark you, and with great political dexterity, he played the game out, using the gimmicks of various departmental devices for delay to save himself the trouble of having bluntly to tell us that he had not got the money. If you go to any local authority or municipal authority that had deliberately been seeking to push on with housing or development schemes you will find out how effective was the dead hand that controlled local government. So pardon me if I am slightly sceptical and indeed at times cynical about the prospect of this dynamo creating a tremendous impetus and development in the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.
There is one hope, of course, where Deputy Blaney is concerned. He is a hard-headed Donegal man with experience of all the problems of what I describe as the semi-cottier class, the man with a very limited amount of arable land, with a certain amount of scrub and with a lot of bog. Maybe he will come to the conclusion that he has to find something new, some method of coalescing into economic reality a number of these holdings if Irish agriculture is to survive. I have an appalling dread of any greater development of penury in agricultural slums. I have always believed that all that is best in our tradition and in our stock comes from the land of Ireland and much of it from the very small farms of Ireland but, in saying that, I am giving no discredit to those from more prosperous districts who played their part in our development. I think the House, generally, will accept that the people I now talk of have earned the best respect of this nation and certainly merit consideration of their deteriorating plight to ensure that this basic, all-important keystone of our survival is, in itself and of itself, given a chance of survival. Now, that will take, as I have said, and I do not want to labour it, dynamic effort. It will take tremendous development in the field of land reclamation and drainage. There is a lot of land that can be drained, a lot of land that can be reclaimed. Even though people may raise howls about the cost, I say to the new Government that, if they have the courage to do this work, here is one voice that will never condemn them for that type of courage. It must be done.
The quicker we can bring back into production acres of land the more thoroughly we can ensure our economic future. There is no surer investment for Irish money than in the land of Ireland and in the people making their living on it. I have spoken over the years not only when Fianna Fáil were in office but when inter-Party Governments were in office of this codology of trying to do one river after the other. That codology will have to cease. We shall have to have the courage to have big schemes in all the provinces, doubling, trebling and quadrupling the effort to get our rivers drained and our land back into heart.
Even though it may not be quite germane to the issue, the drainage of the Shannon was a good example to take because that is an example of where the Government must have courage. It does not require any political philandering or pandering to get down to the job. Nobody knows better than we do in this House who, over the years, have had to travel through the west of Ireland, who have fought many difficult by-elections within the area of the west, what a boon, what a tremendous opening to the whole west that drainage could be. We know that it will be enormously expensive, infinitely more so than it would have been in the days of Fianna Fáil's rosy promises. It will even be more expensive now than it would have been in the days of the recent Roscommon by-election promises. Still, it is a project of national dimensions. It is a project that will benefit not one county, not one group of people, but the whole province. Therefore, thinking and effort about it in future should certainly commence.
We now pass—as pass we must—to the next of the team who will provide us with some dynamics in the new Government, and what do we find? We find the Department of Defence again occupied by a very pleasant ageing soldier of another generation: there indeed we can look for benign smiles, charming reticence but operative ineffectiveness. There are very few Deputies who have earned as much personal respect as Deputy Hilliard but I think, in fairness to his own Party, the Tánaiste and he should have stood aside gracefully to allow new players on this team, even if they were to be reasonably young and inexperienced members of the House; even a bit of brash effort in the Government would be a welcome change from the stultification which is now so pathetically manifest.
We leave the field of Defence and get to the rather charming roguish players of the team. "Golden Boy Charles" gone to Finance, strangely, a Department which one might initially have thought him more suitable for, with his training and background. We have a Donegal man now leading the farmers and we have the opulent, effervescent and slightly unpredictable "Playboy of the Western World"— the "Light Fantastic tripper", Donogh O'Malley, to bring light relief to the rather dull and stultified Department of Education. He has distinguished himself in an extraordinary way since he went to the Department of Education. With the exuberance of a reasonably good old rugby forward, he is getting away from the question of his policy on the Irish language and allowing the tá sé's and the ní h'ea's around the place to postulate a policy he does not preach. I am quite sure it is a reasonably decent position for the President of the Football Association of Ireland to occupy.
But we face, in the Department of Education, possibly the next greatest challenge in the whole country to Agriculture, because there is nothing more certain than the need for rapid educational development at all levels, whether it is in our trade and vocations or in our universities. We must increase rapidly for a much greater intake, and our primary, vocational and secondary schools system will have to be geared to build a capacity for training infinitely better skilled technicians, infinitely more vocational occupations, whether in carpentry, plumbing or any of the various specialised trades, to enable us to give the type of service and effort in production which will in turn give us the capacity to produce a finished article against the keen type of competition we have to face.
In that Department we now have a very pleasant and extremely well-dressed Minister, one who is capable of pouring on the charm. I am told that at a recent nurses' convention, before he left the Department of Health, there were many not-too-young breasts fluttering at the charm and grace of the smiling Donogh. But it is for the task of education and the fight to get the money necessary for its escalation that we want the Minister and, while I hope I will be proved wrong—because I have a great personal regard for Donogh O'Malley—I have a terrible feeling that, when the rosy promises he has made gather too thickly around him, there will be a further transfer to some other portfolio.
I am sure, when one gets down to basics, the new Minister for Local Government is the worst possible choice, because my feeling is that is a Department in which the virtue of tact is a paramount necessity, and a capacity to deal with problems in a decisive and effective way is also very necessary. I feel that Deputy Boland, in one capacity, will certainly fill it completely and, in the second, is very likely to become the Irish Molotov of Local Government, because decision he will not make but "no" is his proper pronouncement, if the evidence we have had of his inhumanity and his regulationitis is to be the key by which to judge him.
Deputy Hillery, of course, is in a new and untried spot but, as I said when speaking on the Estimate for the Department of Labour, at least there is some hope with him in that Department because I think he has a capacity for listening, which is unusual in his Party, and has a patience which most Members of the House recognise and commend. I suppose it would be unfair to him to allow any sarcasm to deal with him for the present, for he is an untried boy in a completely new office, but I do hope he will make a success of it, because one of the things we have to get by the throat and stop is the type of growing confusion and discontent in our industrial relations field. I hope and believe that, apart from his patience and his capacity to listen, Deputy Hillery will have a strength of purpose to be able to achieve voluntary understanding and permanent peace among those industrialists.
Deputy Joseph Brennan has left Posts and Telegraphs and gone to Social Welfare. That could be an improvement, because I feel there is a good deal of humanity left in Deputy Brennan, and where regulations can be surmounted or got around, his inherent good nature will be on the side of the social welfare recipients. Therefore, while no dynamic thinking is needed, only a rapacious capacity to tear some of the cake when national taxation is being divided for the benefit of these recipients, Deputy Brennan will not have to exercise anything more than this humanity which he has. The question mark as to his success will not be as violent or emphatic as it will be in other Departments.
The Department of Justice, as the newspaper headline puts it today, is retained by Brian Lenihan. This brings me back again to the whole question of the bright young boys who moved a bit too fast. The Golden Boy started in Justice. He made a complete and utter hames of the Succession Bill, passed on to the Department of Agriculture which was to become the death knell of his hopes for advancement. The great crown of the Young Pretender slipped violently to one side and fell off before he was escalated to the Department of Finance.
I want to warn the Minister for Justice, and to give him the solemn warning of a practising lawyer, that he has flown enough kites. He should get down to the business of running his Department, and deal with the difficulties that arise in his Department instead of playing around with jurisdiction, with the judiciary and with professional bodies. The task in hand for him is immediate. These little flapper boys he has around the place taking out their little kites and releasing their little balls of string, are no longer fooling the Irish people or diverting them from the realities. There are far more urgent problems in his Department that should be dealt with.
In fairness to the Minister for Industry and Commerce, he has had a difficult battle and I suppose he should be spared a little. His wounds, I hope, will heal. May I hope that some of the skulduggery he has learned so early in his political life will be of benefit to him? I hope he will continue to be an effective and forward thinking Minister. I feel a tremendous amount of sympathy for this young man, ach mar a dubhradh cheana, beidh lá eile ag an bPaorach.
So far we have not been able to test the calibre of the Minister for Industry and Commerce. He and Deputy Hillery deserve a chance of being bracketed together and being given the indulgence of the House until they have proved themselves unworthy of their tasks.
Let us take the team and range over it from start to finish, and come back to the full back—very well tried on the football field but not yet tried in the Department of Health—Deputy Seán Flanagan. I do not offer the same derisive criticism of him as I do of some of the more experienced Ministers, because Deputy Flanagan has two distinct qualities: earnestness and independence. He may be able to make a serious and possibly a less flowery impact on the Department of Health than the former Minister. It is a fundamental fact that Deputy Flanagan will be less obtuse and charming and more direct and to the point.
When we range over the team in globo, we ask ourselves what future can such an amalgamation and conglomeration of honourable old age, downright stupidity and incompetent laziness, hold for the Irish people? What leadership is there? What impetus for the future from this unseemly bunch? Some of them have been tested over the years and found completely wanting. Others have been tested over five or six years and have shown singular ineptitude and incapacity. A few have not been tried and, in racing parlance, they are carrying a bit too much dead weight, too much lead. Perhaps there is an appropriate analogy. I do not think the mighty Arkle himself could carry that bunch with any hope of success.
We in this country have to face the reality of the situation. They are the Government and until we can get them before the jury of the Irish people, they will remain the Government. They will be foisted on us again by virtue of their capacity to win a vote in this Dáil. They will be foisted on us again as they were before by an Independent Coalition. Independents who will not exercise their vote are no different from the famous Independents led by Peadar Cowan who attached themselves to a deflated Fianna Fáil Party and kept them in Government before. When we hear derisive observations from embryo Deputies, from youngsters in the battlefield, recruits to worn-out ideologies, talking about Coalitions here and Coalitions there, we cannot forget the sordid and sorry record of Fianna Fáil Governments.
The change of Taoiseach, we are told, marks the end of an epoch. We cannot forget that that epoch included all kinds of skulduggery by Fianna Fáil for one purpose only, the grabbing and retention of power, and the great tragedy is that the sordid image has grown up in this country of corruption in high places, of vested interests becoming vested not only politically but also in various types of industries throughout the country, becoming very relevant in relation to all types of large contracts.
I do not say that image is true but it is mighty much abroad. Many of the Ministers are mentioned as being participants in intrigues. I hope that is not true but it is the type of image the Government have created, the type of image that will be continued by the no-change team we now have. It is the type of stultification we do not want to see in Irish life. It is the type of development we do not want because we boast that the liberty of our citizens is sacrosanct and that their opportunities should be equal. It is our public duty and office to preserve that. It is not being done, and abroad in this land, wherever big contracts, big works are on offer, one hears of the backlash of political preferment, of Party subscriptions and various addenda——