With regard to people’s confidence in the future, unfortunately we must record the fact that whatever about the mood in this House and the mood in Leinster House, there is a really palpable mood of despondency and fear throughout the country and that has not changed since we were here last. If anything, it has got worse. We have a responsibility to address this. The principal responsibility lies with the Government but I accept that the Opposition and the people involved in public life have a great responsibility also. The difficulty for the Government – particularly during the summer when there were many examples – is that most people have now taken the view that the Government, far from being able to produce a solution or be part of the solution, is itself part of the problem.
I refer to the question of engagement with people. It is reported in the newspapers today that the Taoiseach stated the Irish Government is trying its best – I do not have the exact words to hand but he is quoted in this morning’s newspaper – to persuade people on the international front that we are doing the right thing. I can understand the Taoiseach attempting to do this but when is he going to start persuading and addressing the issue of the confidence and the belief in this country on the part of the people of this country? Again and again in the spring, Members opposite referred in the House to The Wall Street Journal and various other newspapers in America which they thought were praising Government policy. I do not see them bringing in copies of The Wall Street Journal or some other publications that have been commenting recently on the deterioration in the economic situation here.
On this question of confidence, I agree that the Irish Government should be engaging with the people. There is a serious failure on the part of the Government and in particular, on the Taoiseach’s part. I do not want to hear again another reference to turning the corners. What does the phrase, “turning the corner” mean? The Irish people are able to put up with bad news and they are able to put up with the truth. They are able to put up with honesty and they do not get that from the Government. They get this happy, clappy sort of soft-soaping where everything is fine and we are turning the corner. How many times have we turned the corner? We are going around a roundabout at the moment and that is the sort of corner we are turning. The first time this phrase was used was a year ago and the Minister for Finance is still saying it. The Government should level with the people. Let us have facts and honesty and the first place we should have it is in this House, today and tonight, about Anglo Irish Bank. I refer to the ludicrous scenario whereby tonight, the House will be asked to extend the guarantee but we will only be told the story about Anglo tomorrow.
What sort of nonsense is that and what way is that to treat the Parliament and the people of Ireland? The Government should level with the people. Let us have the facts. We can take it and the people of Ireland can take it. It would be much better for the Minister for Finance and the Government and Taoiseach to level with people and give the facts to the people of Ireland, however negative are those facts, so that people can then be part of this great confidence-building exercise which we all want them to engage with.