I want to start by expressing my gratitude to the people of Dublin Central and the members of this House for giving me this opportunity and this honour.
In so doing, I also want to express my gratitude to all my colleagues and friends in the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, where I was privileged to be Minister for the last couple of years. Those who work there are hardworking, professional and dedicated to public service.
Minister Ross will have an excellent team behind him and with him. I wish him every success.
I also want to say a specific word of thanks to Minister Michael Ring, who worked hand in glove with me and who showed an unending dedication to the Government and this country.
Ceann Comhairle, I commence by committing that I will work tirelessly to ensure that Ireland’s economy continues on the path to recovery- a path cleared and paved by my colleague Minister Noonan and my former colleague, Deputy Howlin.
This growth is vital.
A falling bond yield matters.
A falling national debt matters.
A falling deficit matters.
A falling rate of unemployment matters.
These are the tools we need to get children and families out of hotels.
These are the tools we need to pay for better public services.
The last Government with the support of the Irish people saved our economy.
This Government will now channel this work, to the benefit of communities and families all over our country.
THE FORMATION OF THIS PARTNERSHIP GOVERNMENT
It is ten weeks since the country voted.
Since then, I have been deeply involved in the negotiations with Deputies from all parties and none on the formation of a Government.
All the Deputies I dealt with cared about their country and their constituencies.
All of them proved to me that they were in politics for the right reasons.
They also cared that a Government be formed so that their country has the leadership it needs to guide them through the next few years, and all the uncertainties that lie ahead. I want to pay tribute to them this evening.
I cannot, alas, say the same thing about those who refused to take part in that process.
Many members sat in splendid, and often not so splendid, isolation telling those of us who were trying to form or facilitate a Government to hurry up and do a deal, while at the same time rubbishing the deal before it was even made.
I have heard these members call for vision. All I have heard from them today is vitriol.
I have heard them call for new politics. All I have heard from them today is the worst of the old.
I have heard their alleged commitment to constructive opposition. All I see is a determination to oppose all, regardless of merit.
For those who did step up to the plate, it was clear that there was, actually, a large degree of consensus.
They, we know what the challenges are:
• The challenge to find a decent home for all our citizens, regardless of their circumstances.
• The challenge to fix our health services and give everyone the care they need, regardless of their income.
• The challenge of families who still don’t have a job.
These are just some of the challenges that we must now face.
I am confident that this Government, working in tandem with the Dail, can meet those challenges.
As Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, I will play my part.
As Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, I will always remember the word “Public” in my job title. It is not my money, the Government’s money or the Dail’s money.
It is the public’s money. And it must be invested wisely, with a reforming zeal and with a laser focus on growth, jobs and improvement of everyone’s lives.
It is in this spirit- a spirit of hopeful realism, perhaps- that I take on my new responsibilities.
And Ceann Comhairle, I will have an open door to every member of this 32nd Dail and will consider their ideas with an open mind.
I ask that they approach their responsibilities in the same spirit of openness.