Nomination of Taoiseach (Resumed).

A Cheann Comhairle, as most, if not all, Deputies are aware, my party have entered into serious negotiations with the Progressive Democrats with a view to the formation of a Government. I would anticipate that this development would be welcomed on all sides of the House and I am sure there will be good wishes for the success of our efforts. However, in that regard I would like to propose that the Dáil would adjourn, by agreement, until Wednesday at 3 p.m. in order to enable these negotiations to be brought, hopefully, to a successful conclusion.

On Monday last I agreed to the adjournment of the House until today so that real negotiations based on a clearer and realistic acceptance of the verdict given by the people three weeks ago could be entered into. It is reasonable that the House give the parties concerned the time they feel is required in order to bring those negotiations to a conclusion. We must be conscious, however, of the fact that by the time this House resumes again after the adjournment proposed today almost four weeks will have elapsed since polling day. The eyes of the people are upon us; people cannot understand why it has taken almost three weeks for the message which they have so clearly given us to be grasped. I do not intend to labour that point here today and I do not believe that in the circumstances it would be appropriate to do so. Any suggestion that this whole House should be involved in any way in those negotiations would be either a patent absurdity or pure posturing. This is no occasion for long speeches——

Deputies

Hear, hear.

——but one thing is perfectly clear, the issue before us must be resolved before this House meets again.

In accordance with the request made by Deputy Haughey, the Leader of the largest party in this House, I have no difficulty in agreeing to the adjournment until Wednesday of next week. Many problems continue to face us, whatever Government is formed, and those problems were discussed at length during the election campaign. Since the election those problems have not gone away and there will be difficulties facing any Government that is formed next week. The health services have to be attended to very urgently. Likewise, on a daily basis, we are getting reports of fish kills in our rivers. As recently as this morning we saw examples of parents in Dublin who go hungry in order to feed their children, and our political system seems to have come to a standstill for the present.

Deputy Haughey has said he is undertaking serious negotiations with the Progressive Democrats. I welcome that fact. I would certainly have reservations on what comes out of those negotiations and what they will offer in relation to the grave social and economic problems that face this country. In relation to the Deputy's request for an adjournment of the House until Wednesday of next week, I welcome that request and I will be complying with it.

Like the other Deputies who have spoken, I have no objection to the adjournment sought. I am quite sure the prodigal sons and daughters have a lot to talk about having returned, hopefully perhaps, to the fold. There are a number of points that need to be made. Despite the fact that talks are underway, there is no guarantee that those talks will be successful as I am sure Deputy Haughey, Deputy O'Malley and the other representatives would acknowledge.

The two public opinion polls published today confirm what we have been saying since the general election — that the electorate do not want another general election and were expecting those like-minded parties, which between them hold almost 140 seats in the Dáil, to come to an arrangement which would avoid sending the people to the polls once again. The polls also clearly indicate that if the country is plunged into another general election, then the electorate will penalise the conservative parties responsible for causing it.

The Workers' Party went before the people and sought a mandate to provide strong democratic socialist opposition and the people voted for us in greater numbers than ever on that basis. Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Progressive Democrats all went before the people seeking a mandate to govern. The electorate did not give any of them, individually, an overall majority but clearly put the onus on them to provide an administration. In this way the people clearly signalled, for the fifth time in a row, let it be said, that they want an end to civil war politics, and they also strengthened the socialist presence in the Dáil to emphasise their point.

It is significant that in all the discussions which have taken place since the general election between the three conservative parties, no fundamental policy differences have emerged which would prevent these three parties from cooperating to form a Government. The only differences have been about how the powers of office and the Mercs and perks should be shared out. Fianna Fáil want to keep all for themselves, Fine Gael and the Progressive Democrats want their share. It now appears, although we cannot be certain, that we will have a coalition — it might be called an inter-party government made up of Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats. To the extent that the talks over the past 24 hours between Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats are finally a recognition of political realities, they are welcome. If they form a Government who pursues similar policies to those of the previous administration we will be opposing them as vigorously as we opposed the last Government. We have never believed in opposition for opposition's sake.

(Interruptions.)

We will continue to judge, as we have done during the last Administration and previous Administrations, each issue on its individual merits and will support progressive proposals where they emerge. The likely new arrangement confirms, of course, that Fianna Fáil are essentially, despite protestations from Deputy Haughey, a right-wing party and they will, no doubt, move further to the right in tandem with the Progressive Democrats. The legacy of two-and-a-half years of Fianna Fáil minority Government has been a society more divided on class lines in recent years——

Let the interruptions cease.

——where poverty and misery are growing. The legacy of Deputy Haughey's most recent term of office as Taoiseach is still unemployment at the highest level in the EC and more than 40,000 people leaving the country each year in search of employment and a decent standard of living.

Do you propose being in two places at one time?

I take it you have given up your practice?

The Deputy has two jobs.

Deputy Andrews must desist from interrupting.

In the past few weeks there have been a number of reports indicating an upturn in the economy. There were the better than expected revenue returns and the ESRI report. I would strongly dispute the gloss being put on these by Fianna Fáil and some commentators who have tried to suggest that all our problems are over. Who could be happy with an unemployment rate of 14 per cent, as forecast by the ESRI for 1994? Many of the forecasts made by the ESRI are based on outside factors over which we as a country have no control and which may or may not happen. Whatever progress has been made, and let no one on that side of the House or the Progressive Democrats forget it, has been because of the sacrifices made by workers and their families. No sacrifices were made by the bankers, the stockbrokers or the industrialists who, despite widespread poverty, continue to make huge profits. Justice demands, therefore, that whatever economic flexibility is open to a new administration, should go to benefit those who have suffered most in the past few years.

Many of the problems of poverty which the country has faced arise directly from long-term unemployment and low pay. This has been acknowledged in a succesion of reports and studies produced by the Combat Poverty Agency and other groups. A major programme of active job creation, minimum pay and part-time workers' legislation must, therefore, be a priority for any new administration.

The appalling damage done to our health services must be remedied and urgent steps taken to end the queues for health services and provide a uniformly high standard of health care for all irrespective of ability to pay.

The savage cuts on our education system which have given us the worst pupil-teacher ratio in Europe have deprived pupils of access to remedial teachers and have brought many of our schools to the verge of collapse must be reversed. Of course, there is an urgent need to reform our taxation system.

Prior to the resumption of negotiations between Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats, we heard various calls by Fianna Fáil Government Ministers that The Workers' Party should play a part in the process of forming a Government. These calls were particularly ironic in the light of the repeated warnings by the same people during the three weeks of the election campaign that it would be disastrous for the country if any Government had to rely on The Workers' Party for support.

Deputies

Hear, hear.

Exactly. The comments made by Deputy Albert Reynolds on RTE on Tuesday morning were particularly hypocritical, as Deputy Reynolds played a greater role than anybody else in the crude "Red" baiting of the election campaign with attempts to distort The Workers' Party's economic policies. The Workers' Party have not stood aside from the process, as was acknowledged by the Taoiseach last Monday. We participated fully in the inter-party discussions since the general election. I met Deputy Haughey twice and Deputies Dukes and Spring once. In addition, The Workers' Party supported a candidate in the election for Taoiseach last week. I made it clear I was willing to participate in the Fine Gael proposed forum of party leaders to clarify the options facing the three conservative parties. At every opportunity I have made it clear that The Workers' Party position would not change. In doing so The Workers' Party helped focus attention on the only realistic options open to the Dáil in the aftermath of the general election — co-operation between the three right-wing parties to form a Government.

Had we not stuck to our principled position and refused to be seduced or bullied into softening our position negotiations which are now taking place between two of the parties on the right would almost certainly never have been resumed. The position of The Workers' Party has been vindicated. A profound change is taking place in Irish politics. We played a major part during the election campaign and subsequent events in bringing about that change and we will, as promised, and as our democratic system requires, provide strong democratic socialist opposition to whatever Government is formed. We will continue to work for the people who elected us to this House so that in due course we can offer the people a real socialist alternative.

I would like to start by saying that I deplore the mean-minded attitude just displayed by Deputy De Rossa. It is easy to see that whoever is going to have to deal with the problems of this country it is not going to be Deputy De Rossa and I do not think he is going to give any great help.

I said here on Monday that this House faced a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge was to overcome history and prejudice and to act on the outcome of the general election in the national interest. The opportunity is to make a new departure in Irish politics, to recognise reality, and to put in place a power-sharing Government which, with good-will, determination and courage, can confront and overcome the many social and economic problems with which we are faced, a Government which can respond to and take up the immense challenge of our changing role in Europe.

A new political era is in sight, a time where issues, ideas and policy are the substance of politics, and where politicians are impelled by their concern for the present and their vision of the future rather than their perception of the past. If we can grasp the opportunity that now arises to harness and put in place this new approach to politics we can, in my view, unleash a great potential to transform Irish society.

I want to make it clear that the negotiations which the Progressive Democrats have entered into are barely started and their outcome cannot and ought not be presumed, but I want to make this commitment on behalf of the Progressive Democrats. Our primary concern in entering talks on the formation of a Government, as well as providing stability, is to ensure that it will bring forward a programme of radical and caring policies that will tackle the real problems facing our people — the hopelessness of the thousands of families living on the dole; the poverty that stems from this; the flood of emigration; the anxiety of thousands of people trying to gain admission to hospital, and the lack of adequate opportunity and enterprise in our economy.

We need new ideas, new directions and a new sense of determination to infuse both the Government, the Oireachtas and particularly the public service in the task of delivering the dynamic and caring economic and social policies so vitally needed. There is no room for political or economic complacency. We have to create in this country a deep commitment to economic development and job creation. I am hopeful that, with goodwill, there can be agreement to transform our society from under-performance, mediocrity and negative attitudes to self-confidence, success and achievement, shared by all our people.

There has been a good deal of plain talking and more than enough adversarial politics in the past few days and weeks. I hope this House will now agree that the process of negotiation is best carried out in circumstances that enable those involved to be positive and constructive with each other. The democratic process will in this instance best be served by dialogue over a table and not by microphone and megaphone.

We have all in this House had to rethink our roles and our obligations in the national interest in the past few weeks. The people whom we serve expect much from us and the Progressive Democrats now ask that we be given the opportunity to use all our efforts to endeavour to serve this country as best we can.

A Cheann Comhairle, I welcome the fact that Deputy Haughey and the Fianna Fáil Party acknowledge, perhaps belatedly, that they have a great deal in common with Deputy O'Malley and the Progressive Democrats in their respective policies. During the course of the last Dáil on an RTE Sunday news programme, the then Taoiseach, Deputy Haughey, criticised both myself and Deputy Kemmy for going into the voting lobbies alongside what he termed the extreme right. However, with the development of a right and left realignment within the present Dáil, Deputy Haughey will not have the opportunity to distort the voting position of left wing Members.

On Monday last Deputy Haughey said he wanted to reject the claim that Fianna Fáil were a party of the right or a party in a right-wing consensus. While it is undoubtedly true that in the past Fianna Fáil introduced many progressive social measures, there is now no doubt that Fianna Fáil have long since turned their back on that past——

Not in my constituency.

Your own past is not that chequered.

——just as they turned their back on their own republican past. I suppose they would deny that as well.

Any political party which claim to be left of centre would, at the very least, recognise that with one-third of our population socially disadvantaged there is an absolute need to provide a basic minimum income, a readily accessible health service, a public housing programme and positive discrimination within the education system. Fianna Fáil have failed miserably on all four levels — refusing to act on the recommendations of the Commission on Social Welfare; allowing the development of a two-tiered health service, one readily available for the rich and one dominated by long waiting lists, with under-funded and under-staffed hospitals for the workers and the poor; in our schools, particularly at primary level, by refusing to respond to the pleas for manageable class sizes and adequate staffing levels, giving children from low income groups no chance of building a decent place for themselves in society and, finally, by scrapping the building of local authority houses even in the disadvantaged inner city areas.

Fianna Fáil, whether the Taoiseach likes it or not, are now a party for the privileged in this country and increasingly the working class electorate are recognising that fact and changing their allegiance to the parties of the left. People are fed up listening to how good the last Government were for the country, fed up hearing that they were the best Government for decades. The people know that the books were balanced but that it was the old, the sick, the handicapped, the unemployed and the young emigrants who suffered and paid the unacceptable price. The question now is, will these harsh Thatcherite policies of the last Government continue under the new alliance of Deputy Haughey and Deputy O'Malley. Will the tough decisions continue to be made — tough, of course, only on the weak and the vulnerable? The people will be looking for the answer to that question.

Already the Irish Congress of Trade Unions have called for a special conference to consider withdrawing from the Programme for National Recovery. The left wing Members of Dáil Éireann will ensure that the people are made fully aware of the nature and consequences of right wing policies and that the only real alternative to the policies of the right is the socialist alternative.

I do not always agree with Deputy Alan Dukes but today is a welcome change. When he said that today is not a day for long speeches I agree with him because we have all said more than our share on the present position and there is no point trying to gild the lily. Everything that needed to be said has been said. The people want decisions and action, not more words. We could publish 100 books and broadcast ten television programmes with everything that has been said in the last month, but at the end of the day it comes down to very little. The old cliché that actions speak louder than words is very true.

Deputy Haughey asked that his brief statement be welcomed by all Deputies of goodwill. I welcome his statement because there is nothing wrong with what he said. If there was I would say so. The only regret I have is that he was not in a position to make that statement much earlier. However, better late than never. There is no point making personal attacks or personal remarks in this House today. They would serve no purpose. Raking up old differences between people and parties will get us nowhere. We have all had our differences but that was in the past and we must get on with the business of today and the future. There has been too much scoring of political points and petty squabbling in Irish politics in the past. We must get away from that and put politics on a higher plane.

Last Monday I spoke in this House about Britain, Germany and France, the great traditional enemies of Europe who fought two world wars and were antagonistic towards each other for a very long time but who could come together in a relatively short time, sit down together in the EC, resolved their differences and work out common policies, We can learn from that. We can learn from the past but we cannot live in the past. Part of our difficulty in this House is that too many of us live in the past. We carry the past around with us as a burden on our shoulders. It is no good being a prisoner of the past. It will solve nothing today and certainly will not help us earn a living in Europe.

I welcome the talks announced by Deputy Haughey. It would be churlish of any Deputy, including myself, not to do so. I wish the talks well. I hope they are successful and that the differences can be resolved as soon as possible. I would give one small word of warning to the parties concerned, particularly to Deputy Haughey and Deputy O'Malley. This country has moved much too far to the right in its policies and that is obvious to anybody. That may sound biased coming from me, somebody whose politics are different from either Deputy Haughey or Deputy O'Malley, but it was obvious to me during the last election that the people had enough of these right wing policies.

The health cuts, which Deputy Gregory spoke about, frightened people of all classes, young and old. I found that to be the case on the doorsteps in Limerick and I am sure it is true in other places also. One can move to the right and talk about right wing policies and rectitude until the cows come home, but people come before right wing policies. People come first. Our people have come through different crises, and it is important that we face the future with realistic policies that will treat people equally. I hope we learned that lesson from the last election and that the health cuts are a thing of the past as far as both parties are concerned. I hope that at the end of the day the policies that emerge — they will hardly be radical or socialist — are practical and common sense. I welcome the talks. Let us hope they are fruitful and successful and that we will have a statement to that effect from the Taoiseach next Wednesday.

Deputy Gregory stated that socialism provides the only opposition to the right wing parties, but this is not so. The Green Party will, in the years to come, provide a more realistic opposition to monopoly capitalism as practised by the right wing parties in this House. I welcome the latest developments as outlined by Deputy Haughey and trust that we are well on the way to the election of a Taoiseach and the formation of a Government. I will support the proposal to adjourn the House.

Looking back on the position since the election results became known, this is the first sign that Deputy Haughey has come to terms with the results of the election.

It is a pity it has taken so long to arrive at this conclusion. All this hassle could have been avoided if it were possible to extend our excellent electoral system of proportional representation to the election of a Taoiseach. This would, of course, require an amendment to the Constitution. There are other defects in our Constitution and I feel strongly that all the political parties should get together at a later date to make recommendations as to what might be a more relevant Constitution.

This is my third day in the House and my constituents may well wonder what has been achieved so far in the 26th Dáil. The answer is, of course, very little. For example, on Monday last over an hour of Dáil time was spent voting on how long the Dáil should adjourn for and voting for a formal resolution from The Workers' Party concerning the delay in the election of a Taoiseach.

Meanwhile, in the real world outside the Dáil, a recent report published by the United Nations Environmental Programme said that entire nations could be wiped off the face of the earth by the rising sea levels due to global warming if this trend is not reversed within the next ten years. The seriousness of this matter cannot be overstated. For example, one-sixth of Bangladesh could be flooded, displacing over 20 million people, and 20 per cent of Egypt's arable land in the Nile Delta would be permanently flooded. At least $100 billion would be needed to protect the east coast of the United States of America alone. Turning closer to home, I think those Deputies from Cork city and from Limerick are only too well aware of the disastrous flooding that takes place from time to time in their constituencies.

(Interruptions.)

Would it be wrong to suggest to Deputy Garland, with all due respect, that these issues could be held over to next Wednesday when the Dáil will be resuming?

A Deputy

And voting.

Let us hear the Deputy out.

A permanent rise of say, three feet in the sea levels would create tremendous problems there. Many other coastal areas would be affected, including low lying areas of Dublin. The report clearly places the blame on the over use of fossil fuels and the destruction of the rain forests. The Dáil dithers and the world goes down the tube. I repeat to the Deputies: we have ten years to save this planet.

Let me refer to the fact that there is much more decorum on the part of the various parties today than on the previous days with their accepting the suggestion almost gladly that we should adjourn once again to allow for further discussions. Let me also comment on those who would make the point that the polls indicate that the people do not want an election. My only comment in that regard is that if the polls are as correct on this occasion as they have been incorrect on very recent occasions that would be one of the reasons we should have another election. However, I do not believe that we should have another election. The realities have been there at all times and I sympathise with those who feel that meeting two or three times have achieved only what some people say could have been achieved in an hour on the first day. But I think they need to learn to have a little patience and perhaps to have a little more experience. The Progressive Democrats and Fianna Fáil are now talking seriously to the point that both party Leaders can come into the House today and support the ideal. If they need more time to work out the details, this is as one would expect in the sense that all of their differences — and they have been many — cannot be resolved, certainly not in detail, by the short adjournments we have had already. These were too short. However, that was the wisdom of the House and that is the way it has been.

In the whole situation it was inevitable, given the structure of the House and the numbers game, that ultimately, if there were to be any semblance of Government, it would be the Progressive Democrats and Fianna Fáil who could, by putting their numbers together, provide a Government who might get broad support or who might not, depending on what will have been worked out between them and what will be their overall joint programme and approach to the immediate problems of this country. I would like to say that in their further considerations, if they have not already been dealing with this matter, they should give very special attention to matters that concern not only the people of my constituency, be it Connaught-Ulster or North East Donegal, but to problems that concern all of us no matter where we come from or what we do. We are facing and have been going through a situation that, as Deputy Gregory has said, has been weighing heavily on the less well off. There is no doubt about that. Regardless of whether we like it or of whether we could have avoided it, this is true. That is why I make the appeal to both parties now engaged in discussions, which it is hoped will conclude successfully, that the anomalies of the health cuts be dealt with very quickly and effectively and that matters such as the Roscommon hospital, about which we have very clear evidence of the strong views of the people concerned, are dealt with expeditiously. The Monaghan hospital, where there were problems in the past, should not be forgotten either. The two Letterkenny hospitals, the psychiatric hospital and the county hospital, should be put back into place to serve the region that is Donegal——

Mr. Noonan

(Limerick East): There will not be a thermometer taken out of a hospital from now on.

The temperature is dropping weekly.

——rather than leaving us without adequate hospitalisation, as has been the case for so long. Having spent very good money on two different occasions since the mid-fifties, we are now in the process of closing down this very service it took generations to procure and provide. This is not good enough and I do not think on full examination any new Government will allow it to continue. I recommend very early consideration of this matter to the parties to the discussions.

The construction industry, despite the bright spots that are emerging as a result of some big developments not least of which are here evident in the city of Dublin, is tottering along and we are the losers as a result, not only in the lack of employment that it could provide but in the lack of products we will need in the future. I am talking not just about housing; I am talking about roads, harbours, piers and so on. We are idling our way along with the hands that could be doing these things at a cost no greater than it is costing to keep them idle, yet we seem to think this is good business, good book-keeping, good accountancy, that it looks well from the outside. It may look well from the outside but it looks bloody awful from the inside for those affected by it. The resumption of local authority house building is an absolute must if we are ever to catch up with the growing demand in that area. Despite emigration, we seem to forget that obsolescence takes its toll year in and year out and we are not even replenishing to that extent, never mind catching up with the lack in that regard.

There is of course the sore point in this House, something that has been a matter of contention for some time, for the last two years or more, of the extradition of Irish citizens to British justice whether to the Six Counties or to Britain. This surely must give any Government cause for thought and further deliberation because it is unnatúral, unreasonable, unfair and unjust that we should so send citizens of ours to be tried by courts which all and sundry condemn as being unjust in their treatment of Irish people charged by them and before them over the last 14 years.

One matter I consider of the utmost importance and which has been given little, if any, airing here in the House, is our EC Presidency which is due to begin on 1 January next. Anybody who realises the impact of the Single European Act, as I am sure everybody here does, will realise that that Presidency of the six months from 1 January to 30 June 1990 is in fact our lifeline in so far as trying to redress a number of anomalies that are crippling us and will continue to cripple us in the future is concerned. The work in preparation for that event should be going on now and the total energies of all the Members elected and the prospective Government Members should be directed to that at the moment, but because of the impasse that has been arrived at as a result of the election that is not happening. For that reason only I emphasise the urgency of getting a Government and getting it soon. I put it to the prospective new Government, whoever their members may be, that in our preparation we must recognise that the quota system agreed to in 1983 as a temporary measure ill suits this country and will be seen to suit it even less in the future.

Our fisheries policy and our total allowance of catches, which again are at quota in another form, was arrived at as far back as 1972 when we did not have the fleet to catch half what we were allowed to catch. Now we have a fleet that could catch double and we just do not have the authority to do so. As I have said elsewhere, it could create anything from 20,000 to 30,000 jobs if we strenuously went after the preparation of our case, that the fisheries deal should be totally renegotiated and our people on the west coast particularly given the opportunity of gathering the harvest that is there, rather than being tied by a 1972 deal which was never realistic in regard to the potential of our fisheries.

The Deputy will be in the place to change that in Europe.

With due deference to all and sundry, those who may form the Government or the Opposition, we need the united minds of this House behind the measures I am proposing, with the help of those who have been elected to the European Parliament in the various committees working together towards 1 January to enable Ireland in the Presidency to come to some positive conclusions that would redress the current imbalance.

There has been much hype about 1992, although muted somewhat in the recent past. Instead of a golden era, it could be a time of disaster for our small industry. No matter how big it is, we are small in European terms. No matter how much we get from the Structural Funds to improve our routes, airports, harbours etc., we will soon be at the disadvantage of being the only island member of the Community. There is no long-term solution to that problem through the provision of better roads and airports. In order to redress the balance of our peripheral situation, a problem shared by parts of Protugal, Spain and Greece, there must be some kind of freight equalisation scheme or fund which would give the Irish nation and the others I have mentioned a true opportunity of being real competitors rather than being wiped out by the multinationals in the heart of Europe.

I say to those who are participating in these ongoing discussions that I fully support the adjournment to next Wednesday or even to the following Wednesday if needed. The only reason there is not an outcry in this House for an election is the reality that every Member knows if we had an election next week or next month the ultimate situation would be no better, whatever about being worse, in regard to the numbers game. We are obliged to find a way forward and to try to ensure that whatever is put together stays together at least for 12 months because of the importance of the Presidency of the EC.

I sincerely thank the House for the co-operative and constructive manner in which it has received my proposal for an adjournment until next Wednesday. I deeply appreciate the parties affording us and the Progressive Democrats the opportunity to come to an agreement. I deeply appreciate also the conversations and discussions which I have had with the party leaders over the past two or three weeks and the generally courteous and, to the extent that it was possible, constructive atmosphere in which those discussions took place. Since the results of the general election became known I have been constantly active in an endeavour to provide a stable Government for the next four years. It was with that in view that I had these discussions. They were a useful departure in relationships between the parties which I hope will continue to the benefit of our work in this new Dáil.

Lest it be taken that by not replying to the various points raised by the different speakers I am accepting their criticisms, I assure the House I am not. There will be another day on which these matters can be dealt with. I would like, however, to ask one mischievous question of Deputy De Rossa who mentioned the good state of the economy, the excellent Exchequer returns, the buoyant outlook for employment and many other indicators of that kind. He states he is not prepared to afford the credit for those developments to the Government of my colleagues and I. I would ask a simple question. If the Exchequer returns had been disastrous, if the economy was now in a dire state with very bleak prospects, whom would he blame?

(Interruptions.)

We will have plenty of opportunity to debate these matters further and in detail. As the largest party in the Dáil and the party who have been in office for so many critical periods in the history of our country, we in Fianna Fáil feel we have a special responsibility not to leave the country without a Government or subjected to a prolonged and damaging political instability. The Irish people should always have the option of a single party Government. However, if our entry into some form of political alliance is the only possible way forward at this stage, the only way in which a Government can be formed in this Dáil without causing another immediate general election, then clearly in the higher national interest our duty is positively and constructively to explore the possibility of finding some agreed basis for Government. That we intend to do. I believe sincerely that the Progressive Democrats intend to do the same and I am grateful to the House for giving us the respite, the opportunity to pursue these discussions which I hope will lead to a successful conclusion.

The Dáil adjourned at 3.50 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 12 July 1989.