Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen and thank you for joining us.
On November 22 last we said that an election should be held early this year because of the events surrounding the IMF bailout. On that occasion we identified four key priorities, which needed to be addressed before this election could take place. These were: concluding financial arrangements with the EU/IMF; producing a four-year economic plan; passing Budget 2011; and passing the Finance Bill to give effect to that Budget.
Today, three of these four objectives have been completed. We believe it is possible to complete the Finance Bill quickly before going to a general election.
We believe that this election is absolutely necessary. The Irish people have begun to lose confidence in politics and in the political process. They have watched aghast the conduct in Dáil Éireann of political parties.
The Irish people expect and deserve better.
For a very long time we in the Green Party have stood back in the hope that Fianna Fáil could resolve persistent doubts about their party leadership. A definitive resolution of this has not yet been possible. And our patience has reached an end.
Because of these continuing doubts, the lack of communication and the breakdown in trust, we have decided that we can no longer continue in government.
We will remain true to our promise to support the Finance Bill from the Opposition benches, with the promised cooperation of the opposition parties. Yesterday, Eamon Ryan initiated contact with the main opposition party in this regard. And they have undertaken to facilitate the passage of the Finance Bill.
I understand that similar undertakings have now been given by other opposition parties.
We hope that they will keep their word.
We also hope that the Fianna Fáil party will make every effort to fast-track this legislation.
It has been a very rare privilege to serve in government. It would of course have been preferable if our time in government had not coincided with the worst economic downturn in our nation’s history. It has meant having to take the most difficult decisions that any party could have faced.
We did so it was because it was the right thing to do.
I am proud of our many achievements in the areas of planning, renewable energy, energy-standards of buildings, water conservation and other environmental areas. I’m proud that we gave rights to gay couples through civil partnership, and that we persisted in our belief that education and the arts should be protected. These two areas are absolutely vital for our economic recovery.
I regret obviously that we did not have more time to complete our other legislation, which is very well advanced.
I would like to thank our party members for their steadfast and loyal support in the face of unprecedented challenges. I’d like to thank our hard-working staff and our families who have had to endure the pressures that go with being in government.
Our record is one of responsibility, reform, steadfastness and creativity.
And these are the very characteristics that will enable this country to get back on a path of sustainable recovery, underpinned by a very different set of values.
GO RAIBH MILE MAITH AGAIBH