Speech by Leader Micheál Martin on the Moving of the Writ for the Dublin West by-election
That the Ceann Comhairle direct the Clerk of the Dáil to issue his Writ for the election of a Member to fill the vacancy which has occurred in the membership of the present Dáil consequent on the death of Deputy Brian Lenihan, a Member for the constituency of Dublin West.
It is with a true sense of sadness that I moved this writ occassioned by the passing of a remarkable politician and a good friend to so many of us in this House.
It’s hard to believe it is less than four months since Brian left us.
I know I speak for every one of his colleagues here on the Fianna Fáil benches when I say that we miss, so much, his enthusiasm, his humour, his wise counsel, his political brilliance and most of all his friendship.
Ceann Comhairle, may I take this opportunity to thank the Taoiseach and the leaders of all the others parties and, indeed, all the other members of this House who spoke so genuinely and generously about Brian when we had tributes to him here in June.
In Brian’s case all of that praise was well-deserved and hard-earned.
The loss of Brian Lenihan to Irish public life is immense.
As I have said previously, Brian Lenihan was undoubtedly the outstanding public representative of this generation.
We, in Fianna Fáil, are fiercely proud of him and what he achieved for Dublin West and for Ireland.
The courage and commitment he showed in staying in his post, as Minister for Finance, while battling a terminal illness, and the exemplary manner in which he carried out his duties, defined grace under pressure.
Brian Lenihan faced events at a scale and a pace of magnitute that no other Irish Minister has ever had to contend.
He did an outstanding job in extraordinarily difficult circumstances.
He was prepared to take unpopular choices – knowing there would be a political price to pay for them – because he believed such decisions had to be taken for the long-term good of the country.
He was criticised by many especially at the time of the last Budget, but that budget is on track and winning international notice, something which the Taoiseach himself recognised last week.
It is now becoming increasingly clear that the measures Brian Lenihan set in train were the right ones to stabilise our economy.
The very fact that those who walked through the division lobbies in this House in opposition to Brian’s policies are now enthusiastically implementing them in government shows that Brian Lenihan did make the right choices and that he had the courage of his convictions
Irrespective of the political battles we engage in at election time or in debate in this House, it is proper that this point should be acknowledged and respected by everyone.
We in Fianna Fáil are proud of Brian’s work and we will continue to defend his reputation and protect his legacy.
Nowhere is the inspiring Lenihan legacy stronger than in Dublin West.
For 34 years, Brian and his distinguished father before him, gave remarkable service to their constituents right across Dublin 15.
It is hardly surprising that for many people in Dublin West, the Lenihan name is a by-word for efficiency and for getting things done locally.
Brian Lenihan was first elected to the Dáil in a by-election in April 1996 and the people of Dublin West returned him to the Dáil in four subsequent General Elections.
And even when the tide was out for Fianna Fáil right across the capital last February, Brian’s constituents in Dublin West stood by him.
In the end, the people of Dublin West did not let Brian down in his final election battle and there was a sense of poetic justice in that because Brian had delivered day and night for people locally.
He was a politician who was respected and admired across the political spectrum in Dublin West for his great work-rate on behalf of the constituency.
Only last Thursday, on the streets of Castleknock time and again I was reminded about the enormous regard in which Brian was held by the people he represented.
I always knew about Brian’s huge commitment to the people of Dublin West and it was wonderful to meet so many people who remember him with such fondness.
People spoke to me about the tremendous work he had done in securing investment for Connolly Hospital; about the tireless support he gave to St Francis’s Hospice Dublin 15, his commitment to local sports clubs right across Dublin West like St Brigid’s, Castleknock Celtic and St Peregrines; his work in delivering a new railway station on the Navan Road and his efforts in developing Blanchardstown IT.
Of course, there are so many issues and so many people that Brian Lenihan delivered for during his fifteen years as a public representative.
And there can be no doubt Brian Lenihan leaves behind him a stunning record of achievement and accomplishment on behalf of the community in Dublin West.
That great tradition of service to his neighbours, his community and local people that characterised Brian’s career is something that the Dublin West Fianna Fáil organisation are determined to preserve and to build upon in this by-election.
We are proud to have David McGuinness as our candidate in this election.
It would be unfair to say that any one could fill the shoes of a political giant like Brian Lenihan, but in David McGuinness Fianna Fáil have a candidate of immense potential and true commitment to his locality.
David is a young man completely dedicated to the communinty he was born and bred in.
He is currently a teacher in Riversdale Community College and he is passionate about education as vehicle towards social opportunity.
He is extremely active in the local community of Dublin 15 and he serves on the board of management of Castleknock Community College, Coolmine Community School, Luttrellstown Community College, Blakestown School and Pobal Scoil Setanta in Ongar.
His work locally has given David a strong insight and grasp of the issues that matter to the people of Dublin West.
Aged only 25, David was the youngest Fianna Fáil councillor elected in the country at the last local elections.
He also ably supported Brian Lenihan in February in a very difficult election for Fianna Fáil.
I know that Brian was determined that David McGuinness would run alongside him at the last General Election even when some party strategists were arguing that one candidate might be the best option to retain the Fianna Fáíl seat.
At this point in time, Brian knew that his health situation was such that February’s election was probably going to be his last.
It is a measure of the man that he still managed to keep his eye focused on the needs of the future.
He felt that it was important that a young candidate be given the experience of running in a General Election in the hope that this would stand to the party and the constituency at a later date.
David McGuinness was someone that Brian had encouraged in politics from the first day David joined Ógra Fianna Fáil in Dublin West.
Brian Lenihan was a firm believer in the necessity of bringing forward young people as a force for renewal and vitality in our politics.
David McGuinness’s career in politics is testament to that.
We look forward to David fulfilling all the potential that Brian Lenihan first saw in him when Brian encouraged David to seek a career in politics and to give of himself to public service.
David is young man of integrity, ability and phenomonal work-rate.
These are all values David learned from working alongside Brian Lenihan over the years.
And David and all our Fianna Fáil members in Dublin West will be doing our utmost to ensure that that distingusihed tradition of local representation continues in Dáil Éireann.
Over the next four weeks, Fianna Fáil will be campaigning hard to support our candidate, David McGuinness. in the by-election.
David’s campaign will be a positive one highlighting the issues that matter to local people and articulating the concerns he hears on the doorsteps of Dublin West in place such as Corduff, Ladyswell, Huntstown, Hartstown, Clonsilla, Ongar, Clonee, Tyrrelstown, the Ward, Laraghcon, Blanchardstown, Carpenterstown, Porterstown, Castleknock and Swords.
Dublin West is a constituency which is particularly hit by many of the problems of the economic crisis. Both long-established and new communities are struggling with mortgage debt, unemployment and new pressure on local schools.
There has been a 3% increase in unemployment in Dublin West since Fine Gael and Labour came to government and David will be campaigning on the need to bring and defend IDA jobs in the constituency.
Between 1996 and 2006, Dublin West had substantially more housing built than almost any other part of the country.
Up until recent times, Dublin West was one of the fastest growing population suburbs in Europe and the constituency even today has a population far younger than the national average.
These demographics tell their own story in a harsh recession where many young families are now grappling with unemployment, mortgage debt and negative equity.
Commuters too are suffering as Dublin West is far above the national average for the time its residents spend getting to and from work or school.
This status is not helped by the recent illogical move to upgrade Chesterfield Avenue during the busiest traffic months of the year or the inexplicable decision of the Minister for Transport to block the shovel-ready status of Metro West, a project he had vehemently campaigned for when he was on this side of the House.
With two Ministers immersed in Government Departments, Dublin West needs sensible and hard-working representation at local level.
David McGuinness is that candidate.
The problems the people of Dublin West are experiencing will not be resolved by the parties of the hard left who offer nothing but the politics of protest, empty rhetoric and, in the final analysis, no credible solutions.
Dublin West also doesn’t need another voiceless Government backbench TD, whose election will serve no purpose, but to bolster a Government with an already massive majority.
What Dublin West needs is a hard-working, enthusiastic local representative committed to holding the Government to account and to delivering sane and sensible solutions to the problems and the issues that are concern to the people of Dublin West.
David McGuinness is that candidate.
We, in Fianna Fáil, will be doing our very best to make the case for his election on October 27th.
We believe David McGuinness is the best candidate and we will will by doing our level best to ensure that he follows in the footsteps of Brian Lenihan, a politician and friend that we all miss greatly.