Cuirim céad míle fáilte roimh na cuairteoirí. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to watch Leaders' Questions on television and I listened intently, as I always do, to what the Taoiseach had to say in response to Deputy Mary Lou McDonald's propositions for the resolution of some of the dreadful difficulties around housing provision. The Taoiseach's answer was not even in response to her questions or to the important issues she raised.
As with his Ard-Fheis speech and other recent remarks, the Taoiseach was talking only to the Fine Gael base and that other section of the electorate that he hopes to win over in the next election. He may say that is an entirely appropriate thing for him to do and if being here is all about getting into or staying in power, that is fair enough. However, it should be a question of how he uses that power and whose interests he serves. If it is a case of governing fairly, building a decent society and guaranteeing people's rights, that is a different story entirely. That should be more important than the Taoiseach's efforts to reposition Fine Gael for the next election.
I acknowledge that the Taoiseach has just said the Government inherited problems created by Fianna Fáil and others but when Fine Gael took over from Fianna Fáil it followed its policies to the letter and managed collectively to destroy the largest Fine Gael mandate in the history of the State, as well as the Labour Party. That is because people elected Fine Gael to do something different from Fianna Fáil and because most people are decent they punished it. Now Deputy Varadkar is Taoiseach, irony of ironies, by virtue of Fianna Fáil support.
All the problems remain and it seems to me that the Taoiseach's narrative is to minimise the scale of these problems to serve his electoral ambitions. It does not seem to matter how this affects those whose lives are miserable because of the Government's bad policies. A very obvious example is how it has dealt with homelessness. The solution is simple: it is for the State to build more homes and to make housing affordable. The levels of family, child and adult homelessness are the highest ever recorded in this State. The Taoiseach's public relations narrative has been picked up by others, including officials whose responsibility it is to solve these problems. The same is true of crèches and health services, the North, rural Ireland and Brexit. I appeal to the Taoiseach not to dismiss my comments in his usual glib way. I ask him to reflect on what I am saying and to consider that his approach will divide our society and fracture it even further. That in time will be desperately bad for everyone, except the Taoiseach's peer group, even if he succeeds in getting back into government in the next election. Surely the Taoiseach is obliged to do more than that. Surely his focus should be on those whose very lives depend on good government.