B'áil liom cead a chur in iúl, mar eolas don Dáil, gur chuir mé m'ainmniú mar Thaoiseach in iúl don Uachtarán agus gur cheap sé mé dá réir.
I have informed the President of my nomination as Taoiseach, and he has appointed me accordingly.
A Cheann Comhairle, when I became Taoiseach for the first time five-and-a-half years ago I used this speech to set out the direction for the Government.
Back then Brexit was the biggest challenge facing us as a country. We also faced significant problems in housing and health.
By the time I stood down as Taoiseach in the summer of 2020 the biggest challenge facing us was COVID, a pandemic which brought the world to a standstill, but which we emerged from united and stronger as a country.
I learned a lot from my first term as Taoiseach and especially during that painful time. It showed me what really was possible when we mobilised the real power of our State – the true capacity of government.
Things that had seemed impossible were achieved in a short amount of time as immovable obstacles were removed. The private, public and voluntary sectors working together for the common good. I believe that it offers a blueprint for how we can overcome the great challenges of today. A direction of travel, perhaps even a vision, for this State in the 21st century.
A Cheann Comhairle, we are living in an age of emergencies. Climate, the war in Ukraine, housing, the cost of living, child poverty. There are also threats to the economy and employment and to peace and partnership on our island.
We are facing deep political and social crises, and they affect every community in our country. We need to treat each of them as a national emergency and deploy the full resources of the State, the full machinery of Government, to make an immediate and real difference and this is what we are committed to as a Government.
When the life of our nation was in peril we joined together to protect each other. Today the hopes and dreams of our nation depend on us fixing the problems we face. To do so, we need to go all out. To be radical or redundant.
We must continue to act as a Government decisively with both eyes focused on improving the lives of our citizens and serving the interests of our communities.
With that in mind,
Go gcomhaontóidh Dáil Éireann leis an Taoiseach d'ainmniú na dTeachtaí seo a leanas chun a gceaptha ag an Uachtarán mar chomhaltaí den Rialtas:
That Dáil Éireann approve the nomination by the Taoiseach of the following Deputies for appointment by the President to be members of the Government:
As Tánaiste and to the Departments of Foreign Affairs and Defence, Micheál Martin.
To the Department of Environment, Climate, Communications and Transport, Eamon Ryan.
To the Department of Finance, Michael McGrath.
To the Department of Public Expenditure, NDP Delivery and Reform, Paschal Donohoe.
To the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Simon Coveney.
To the Department of Education, Norma Foley.
To the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin.
To the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien.
To the Department of Social Protection, Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys.
To the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue.
To the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman.
To the Department of Health, Stephen Donnelly
To the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science and to the Department of Justice, Simon Harris.
As Minister without portfolio Helen McEntee who it would be anticipated will return as Minister for Justice when she returns from maternity leave.
I propose to nominate Rossa Fanning SC for appointment by the President to be the Attorney General.
I also propose to nominate Hildergarde Naughton as Minister of State in the Department of the Taoiseach as Government Chief Whip.
I propose to nominate the following to continue as Ministers of State in attendance at Government meetings:
Jack Chambers as Minister for International & Road Transport & Logistics at the Department of Transport, as well as Minister for Postal Policy at the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications.
And Senator Pippa Hackett as Minister for Land Use and BioDiversity at the Department of Agriculture.
The Tánaiste will chair the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Economic Recovery & Investment and may attend meetings of the British-Irish Council.
In changing the name of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to the Department of Public Expenditure, NDP Delivery and Reform, I am doing so for a particular purpose. Too many important public capital projects are taking far too long. Schools, hospitals, garda stations, public transport projects, among others. I want this Department to bring about a step change when it comes to the execution and delivery of the National Development Plan – Project Ireland 2040.
Next week the Government will meet as usual and I will present the names of Ministers of State for approval.
A Cheann Comhairle, there are a number of pressing challenges that will define the rest of our term in office. The first is housing. We must do whatever it takes it solve this social crisis and reverse the trend of rising homelessness and falling homeownership.
We must apply the same spirit of determination, action and immediacy that we saw during the pandemic to this the greatest challenge of today. We will leave no stone unturned. No option taken off the table without due consideration.
Housing for All is a comprehensive plan and working with Minister Darragh O’Brien I will work hard to drive it forward.
We need to clear bottlenecks and turn the tens of thousands of unactivated planning permissions into new homes.
We need to dramatically reduce dereliction and bring down rents in real terms.
The second is taming inflation and bringing the cost of living under control. In the months ahead we will assess the challenges facing our citizens, whether to do with cost of energy, childcare, education, rent or healthcare. We will take account of price developments and adjust policies accordingly.
The third part of our collective mission must be ensuring the best start in life for every child. As I outlined earlier today, our focus must be on reducing child poverty and improving wellbeing. Our vision is to make Ireland the best country in Europe to be a child.
We have to give everyone the best start in life, empowering them to make the most of that start, through education, through equal opportunities, good jobs, and a better future.
As a Government, our energy and ideas will be used to improve access to therapies and provide more special needs education.
I will put in place a new unit in the Department of the Taoiseach to co-ordinate this approach working closely with Ministers O’Gorman, Foley, Humphreys, Harris and Donnelly, among others.
Our fourth ambition is to become energy independent by harnessing our untapped renewable energy resources. This will be our moonshot for the 21st century, something to strive for, not because it is easy, but because it is hard. Recalling Ardnacrusha and the spirit of the Free State. Our Shannon Scheme 2.0.
I will work closely with Minister Eamon Ryan to do what needs to be done, the timeframe, and the resources needed to make it happen, including developing the capacity of the Department of the Taoiseach on climate action. It is a project that will go beyond the lifespan of this Government into the next and the one after. But it will be worth doing and it will bring enormous benefits to our economy and our environment.
Another ambition is to build safer communities and safer streets and improve our security. We will build on the work underway to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour. We will provide additional resources to the Garda and the Defence Forces, as well as passing new laws to ensure that we apprehend criminals and deal with them appropriately.
We also need to ensure balanced regional development, whether through the National Broadband Plan, the regeneration of our rural communities or a better future for those involved in farming and fishing. We will continue to adopt a town and village first approach.
All of these ambitions are achievable, but they are only achievable because of our economic policies, our pro-enterprise, pro-trade and tax competitive approach, and our decision to be at the heart of the EU.
With the steady leadership of Ministers Michael McGrath, Paschal Donohoe and Simon Coveney I am confident this will remain the case.
A Cheann Comhairle, Ireland must once again become a place where it is possible to dream – to dream of home ownership, to dream of a better life, to dream of a better Ireland. A place where these dreams can be realised.
Next year marks the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, an historic agreement that brought peace to our island and gave hope to people who were living in constant uncertainty and fear.
In recent years, various things – some foreseen, some not - have weakened relationships crucial to the maintenance and strengthening of that peace.
The efforts of the Tánaiste as Minister for Foreign Affairs will be crucial to this work, and it is something that I will also share responsibility for in the weeks and months ahead. We must work together to re-establish the Good Friday Agreement institutions in the north. We must set aside our differences, forgive past mistakes on all sides, and seek a new beginning in a new spirit of friendship and understanding.
The 1st of January marks the 50th anniversary of Ireland becoming a member of the EEC, now the EU. The greatest peace process and most successful economic project in history is today helping to protect democracy, enhance workers’ and women’s rights, and protect our environment. Our commemoration of this event should recognise the benefits EU membership brought to Ireland, and what we do to help others today.
We will also recommit to wider enlargement, deeper integration and new areas of cooperation.
The Government will also respond to the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assemblies on Gender Equality, Biodiversity and Local Government in Dublin.
A Cheann Comhairle, next year also marks the 100th anniversary of Ireland joining the League of Nations and finally taking her place among the nations of the world.
It was the fulfilment of a dream that inspired generations of patriots and marks a fitting end to the decade of centenaries.
The final Secretary General of the League of Nations was an Irish diplomat, Seán Lester. A courageous friend of refugees, Lester should inspire us to show courage and initiative in how we welcome refugees today.
We are living through a time of conflict and crisis, where the brutal aggression of a world power against its smaller neighbour has made history itself pause in uncertainty. We promised the people of Ukraine we would stand with them when it was easy to make such promises. Today we renew that promise and tell the people of Ukraine that we will stand with them even when it’s hard.
Next year also marks the centenary of some of the worst events of the Civil War, following on from some dark times in 1922.
As a people we have done much in recent years to come to terms with the terrible events of that time, we have remembered the shared trauma with empathy and respect for all sides and all traditions.
As a State we need to acknowledge and atone for the wrongs that were done on all sides, so we can finally heal the wounds and scars from that time.
I will work with Minister Catherine Martin and the Expert Advisory Group to find an appropriate way of ending a century of hurt on both sides and allowing us to finally move to reconciliation.
Finally, we will work to strengthen relations with our major partners – the EU, the UK and the United States as we face these challenges head on.
A Cheann Comhairle, throughout our history our greatest resource has been our people. So, let’s give everyone a fair chance. Let’s make sure that when it comes to the best start in life, the chance to own a home, the opportunity to achieve something meaningful, we are making it possible to dream big dreams.