I am delighted to have the opportunity to welcome the Bill on genuine progress indicators which are the only way to measure the well-being of a nation and its people. Until now, we have had ad hoc and partial responses in looking at budget time at the brief impact of national economic and budgetary policy but not in the profound ways proposed in the Bill. The Committee on Budgetary Oversight, of which I am a member, has commenced a study of gender equality budgeting. The basic programme of action in this area which is being pursued by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform offers an opportunity to finally have a serious gender equality impact analysis of each budget from budget 2018 onwards. We are targeting budget 2019, in particular, with reference to areas such as child care and encouraging more young women to take up apprenticeships and so on. I have requested – the committee has agreed to my request – that a disability impact analysis be promoted and monitored in respect of budget 2019. In the coming weeks the committee will be meeting Senator John Dolan who chairs the Oireachtas disability group, of which I am also a member, and other leading advocates in the disability sector.
On a personal level I congratulate the people who have been appointed as Ministers and who will receive their seals of office very shortly. Personally, I wish them well. But, this is a sham Administration. It is a temporary, ghost Administration, one that we know cannot and will not last.
I was delighted to support the nomination of Deputy Ruth Coppinger. It was historic for Dáil Éireann, as was the previous nomination of Deputy Boyd Barrett. I have always believed in the unity of the broad left and I had hoped, through the decades, that my former party would have been the fulcrum of such a broad left Government or even led such a Government. I was elected as a Right2Change candidate and an Independent 4 Change. My preference still is for change and we should have a change of Government. That was the decisive feeling of the people. In particular, all of those who stood on the platform of Right2Change should perhaps have a single nomination for Taoiseach, with people supporting that broadly across the political spectrum. We should try to fulfil the will of the people in this regard.
Sincerest thanks to all of the constituents who voted for me in last week’s General Election, to all of those who have passed on their best wishes and their congratulations. I am delighted to have been re-elected to the 32nd Dáil to continue representing the people of Dublin Bay North.
It is regrettable that the Ceann Comhairle, Seán Barrett, has refused to permit a question requiring the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin, to explain to the Dáil the information available to the Economic Management Council (EMC) regarding write-downs of state assets since 2011.