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Mary Lou McDonald today
Simon Harris

‘Failed his way to the top’: McDonald says country needs an election, not another new Taoiseach

The Sinn Féin leader said it was on Harris’s watch that hospital overcrowding spun out of control and the cost of the Children’s Hospital ballooned.

SINN FÉIN PRESIDENT Mary-Lou McDonald once again called for an election in the Dáil today ahead of Simon Harris’s appointment as Taoiseach.

She said Ireland needs a new Government that will put “workers, families and community” first as she heavily criticised the incoming Taoiseach’s record to date. 

McDonald said another Fine Gael Taoiseach is the “last thing” people need and added that the narrative created by this Government is a “fairytale so outrageous that Hans Christian Anderson himself would be proud of it”.

She said a “better future” is possible, but not under Fine Gael. 

The Sinn Féin leader said this better future would include everyone having a secure, affordable home; adequate healthcare; and an affordable cost-of-living where people can retire at 65 and young people are not forced to emigrate. 

“That’s what change looks like,” McDonald said. 

“For people to believe the spin from government benches, they would have to suspend all connection to reality, and any memory of people’s lived experiences,” McDonald told the Dáil.

She said that on the things that really matter to workers and families, the Government has “comprehensively” failed. 

“No amount of bragging or bluster can disguise that fact,” she said, making reference to the cost-of-living crisis, the housing crisis and what she described as a “crumbling” health service.

“Let’s be clear what this is about today. This is not about what’s good for Ireland. It’s not about what’s good for the people. It’s about what is good for you. It’s your century-old cosy-club, circling the wagons once again, to cling to power at all costs.

“The people of Ireland deserve so much better,” McDonald said. 

On Simon Harris becoming Taoiseach, McDonald said he represents “more of the same”. 

“He sat at the Cabinet table for eight years presiding over the very policies that have seen a collapse in home ownership, skyrocketing rents, and our health service brought to its knees,” she said.

McDonald noted that it was on Simon Harris’s watch as Minister for Health that “hospital overcrowding spun out of control, the trolley crisis escalated, and treatment waiting lists hit one million patients for the first time”.

She added that is was during his tenure that the cost of the National Children’s Hospital spiralled out of control and zoned in on his promise made to parents of children with scoliosis. 

“Perhaps those who best remember Deputy Harris’ term as Health Minister are the families of children with scoliosis who were promised that they would not wait longer than four months for life changing surgery. A promise broken again and again,” she said.

McDonald said that “in the real world” Harris would be handed a P45 but said in this Government “it seems you can fail your way right to the very top”.

McDonald added that in her view, Fine Gael does not have the backs of ordinary people as Simon Harris has promised. 

Instead she said, the party has the backs of vulture funds, corporate landlords and financial speculators. 

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