Speech by Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald TD for Dublin Mid West
on her Nomination as Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise and Innovation
Delivered 14th June 2017
“It is great privilege once again to serve in government - a Government of purpose that will work towards a prosperous nation for all and in every community. It has been an honour to serve as Minister in two Departments. Throughout my time as Minister for Justice and Equality, there have been major changes in significant areas of public life. I am very proud of those changes for which I have campaigned my whole life. I believe the commission on the future of policing will represent a seminal moment when it comes to the future of An Garda Síochána.
“As the first Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, I had the privilege of introducing a number of ground-breaking reforms, including the comprehensive reform of the child protection and welfare system. I am very proud of the successful referendums on children's rights and marriage equality.
“I am honoured to continue in my role as Tánaiste. Life is a series of new challenges and I am very pleased to accept this new portfolio, which at its core is about creating opportunity. Getting a job, being able to pursue a career and provide for oneself and one's family is the best opportunity a person can get. It is the best way out of poverty and the best way of giving the kind of support that future generations need.
“Unemployment is falling. There are challenges on the horizon. I noticed that not one Opposition speaker has mentioned that unemployment has reduced from 15.4% to 6.2%. That represents a major change in the lives of so many of our citizens and it is what they want to see. The task now is to create and innovate, to spread opportunity in enterprise far and wide, as the Taoiseach said, to the four corners of the country and everywhere in between. We now have the green technology, the artificial intelligence and the economic foundations on which we can build the future of Irish industry with endeavour, creativity and investment.
“We are an island at the centre of our global world. We will redouble our efforts to attract talent and investment. I greatly look forward to playing a central role in this Government which will be totally guided by the absolute priority of providing equality of opportunity to each and every person in this Republic. We have to banish the disadvantage and exclusion that still cripple too many lives. As I have often said, until we do that, our democracy is unfinished. We have to use our economic growth to ensure that nobody is left out. We will ensure that we protect and use that growth to transform Ireland into a modern, progressive society.
“This will be a Government of delivery that ensures that everyone can have opportunities for themselves and their families in the time ahead. The Taoiseach spoke so eloquently of a republic of opportunity. The task ahead must be to restore opportunity to those who have lost it and to provide opportunity to those it has passed by.
“We believe in a State that stands for social justice and equality of opportunity. We believe in turning our face towards the world, holding out our hand in welcome, remaining at the heart of Europe as we have made clear repeatedly, and seeking to capture new hearts elsewhere. That is what we will be judged on. The Government is totally committed to that goal.
“Let me return to words I have used in the past. Democracy is not about entitlement; it is about contribution. Each and every one of us in this House has a contribution to make to the exciting future that can lie ahead for all of our citizens.”