Taoiseach has sought to abuse his constitutional prerogative

From yesterday’s Order of Business in the Seanad…

The other night a lady asked me whether I believed Fianna Fáil’s vote of confidence in the Taoiseach was part of an elaborate manoeuvre for the public. That people would be positioned in a particular way and look like they were resigning when they were not. I told her I did not believe even Fianna Fáil would engage in such an activity and that, in my experience, members of the party did not resign from public office unless they had to or were forced to do so. However, I am beginning to wonder. This is a shambles of unbelievable proportions and it is relevant to Seanad business, given that we will expect Ministers who attend the Chamber to deal with legislation in the coming weeks to show a certain amount of experience and application to the job.

Let us consider what has occurred within the Government. First, Green Party Ministers stated they were leaving. We must take them at their word that they will be gone by the end of March. The Minister for Foreign Affairs then resigned because he did not have confidence in the Taoiseach. Yesterday four more Ministers retired or deserted, depending on which word one wants to use. Another Minister retired this morning. Apart from the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste, this leaves seven members of the Government. Of these, the Minister for Social Protection, Deputy Ó Cuív, has been throwing shapes in the past week or ten days as to his intentions, where he wants to be and what he believes should occur. It is difficult to believe he gave anything like a full-blooded endorsement to the Taoiseach. The Minister for Finance has been accused by members of his own party, not the Opposition, of engaging in the black arts in respect of what he believed about the Taoiseach and whether he should remain in office. By the time we get to the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport we are down to the last two or three Ministers who have given the Taoiseach the impression that they will stick with it. The Government is a complete shambles and falling apart in front of our eyes.

For the purposes of procedure, I will put my comments in the form of questions. Does the Leader agree that what the Taoiseach has done amounts to a gross abuse of his important and solemn prerogative under the Constitution to appoint members of the Government? He stands accused of abusing this prerogative for naked political and electoral gain. He can chuckle away all he wants, as he did in the Lower House yesterday. Clearly, that is what he intended to do and what he is doing. It is a disgrace that he should be allowed to do so by Fianna Fáil or anyone else.