Independent TD for Dublin South West Katherine Zappone has explained why she will be abstaining on today’s vote for Taoiseach.
“I am not voting for any candidate for Taoiseach today. I will be abstaining in the hope that parties and Independents can advance discussions, and see a resolution soon to Government formation.
“I believe talks have been positive and my voice has been heard in both sets of discussions on some key issues, including a pathway to a Referendum on Repealing the 8th Amendment, greater investment in childcare and education, and a focus on breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty. Although I feel the discussions have moved people’s thinking on certain issues, there is still a way to come. There could be greater ambition to end consistent poverty, and we need to find innovative ways to achieve equality among people of different gender and backgrounds. There are also several big issues which have not been dealt with, such as ensuring public ownership of our water services and equality-proofing future budgets, which I have highlighted and feel need to be dealt with urgently.
“I am glad to have had the opportunity to share the views of my constituents to those who will be forming the next Government, and to see these views taken on board in documents for a possible Programme For Government. Whether these talks result in the formation of a Government or not, I am glad to have had the opportunity to highlight the issues of the people of Dublin South West and I believe it has influenced the thinking of the two largest parties. I believe I have approached these talks in both a pragmatic and honest way, and I’m confident they have been listening to us.
“We have seen progress in both sets of talks, but we are not yet at a point which I could sign off on a Programme For Government and support any candidate for Taoiseach. Yesterday, we were presented with a draft discussion document which was the result of a week of marathon talks, and we now need to discuss it in more detail. The draft document which we have been provided with is a more progressive document than when we began discussions, but more work needs to be done.
“I have been calling for Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to open discussions for a number of weeks now, along with my Independent colleagues and many civic society groups including those working to solve the housing crisis. Today we will see the beginning of that process. There are no options for Government without an agreement between these two parties, so I am happy they have listened to our calls.
“The Irish people gave us a complex answer in the recent election, and we’re trying to work our way through this complicated process. I will continue to fulfil my duty as a TD for Dublin South West by representing their views in all discussions, and will retain my position as an Independent by voting a manner which best serves their interests. Being an unaligned Independent in these discussions has presented challenges, but has been the best way to serve my constituents and I believe it has been the correct choice.
“There have been many calls for a new politics since the election, but it will only be new politics if it translates into new results.”