Bookending our offer to the people
Posted on March 10, 2016 at 04:56 PM
Today, the 32nd Dail is meeting for the first time.
Speaking in the chamber for the first time since the General Election, I said that while The Labour Party had sought a mandate to continue in government with Fine Gael to rebuild our economy and our society, we accepted that that proposal had not won the support of the Irish people. Nevertheless, we are proud of our work over the last five years. We are proud of how we pulled the country back from the brink, got people working, and delivered a growing economy.
For that reason, we supported the nomination of Enda Kenny as Taoiseach today.
An Taoiseach supported key economic and social goals driven by the Labour Party in government even when they didn’t form part of Fine Gael’s manifesto. From minimum wage increases to marriage equality, from strengthening workers’ rights to enhancing maternal care for women, the Taoiseach brought his party with him, in recognition of the fact that it was a coalition and that these progressive measures were in the country’s best interests.
That is the importance of compromise and partnership in the national interest.
Our support was in keeping with – and bookends – the offer the Labour Party made to the electorate.
However, the electorate has given a greatly increased mandate to those currently on the Opposition benches. I believe there is therefore an onus on those same parties, groupings and TDs to step forward in the national interest, not sit back.
Given the reality that quite a few on the Opposition benches don’t want to be in government, those who have been there before now have a responsibility. Even though Fianna Fail presided over and created the crash, I believe they should step up to the plate and seek to remedy their wrongs.
Now, as Labour leader, I know that if a conservative coalition occurs, there is a real risk economic policy will veer to the right. And further social progress will be limited, if at all.
But Labour will apply the pressure for further economic and social progress by providing principled, responsible opposition.
As we rebuild from the Opposition benches, we will continue to fight for a recovery that works for all.
A recovery that puts equality at the centre of everything this Republic stands for.
Joan Burton TD
Tánaiste and Leader of The Labour Party
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