Sinn Féin ready to deliver change
Monaghan well represented at party Ard Fheis
Monaghan Sinn Féin members were among those in attendance for their party’s Ard Fheis which was held in Dublin last weekend.
The one-day event at the RDS was the first Sinn Féin Ard Fheis to operate completely outside of Covid restrictions since 2019. Over 2,000 delegates and visitors from across Ireland’s 32 counties, including a sizeable contingent from County Monaghan.
The key theme of the Ard Fheis was undoubtedly a message of change.
Several delegates from both north and south, reported that people are telling them that it is a time for change.
In his remarks Cavan Monaghan Deputy, Matt Carthy said that: “Sinn Féin is here to deliver that change, planning for the future with the ambition to build a better, stronger and fairer country.
“That means building homes, tackling the rising cost of living, delivering better health services. It means planning for energy security and independence. It means preparing for Irish Unity to allow Ireland to reach its potential as a country and as an economy.
“We may face challenges but this is a time of hope and opportunity. Sinn Féin’s ambition is to make Ireland a good place to live, a good place to do business and create jobs, a good place to work and build successful careers, a good place to raise a family and a good place to grow old. There is no reason that we cannot deliver affordable homes, strong communities and high quality public services.
“This Ard Fheis is about setting out Sinn Féin’s vision, our ambition and our proposals to deliver the change which the Irish people North and South are demanding and which they deserve”.
Throughout the day delegates debated several motions which refined party policy on Irish Unity, of Climate Action & Biodiversity, on Housing, Health and the Economy.
In a separate address during the Climate Action section, Deputy Carthy proposed a motion on Forestry which criticsed government failure to deliver a Forestry policy that was good for communities, good for the economy and good for the environment.
“The geniuses that have been in charge of forestry in this state have managed a policy that delivered on none of these three counts” he said.
Deputy Carthy continued:
“The Programme for Government contains a commitment to plant 8,000 hectares of new forestry each year. This year it will be about a quarter of that.
“It is a story all to familiar for this government. Just like in Housing and Health and all areas related to Climate Action – this government are good at setting targets, but have an abysmal record at meeting them.
“Our motion sets out how we can re-imagine Irish forestry in a manner that allows us to benefit communities, supporting local timber industries by providing wood that will allow for more sustainable construction, while assisting Ireland to meet our Climate obligations.
“Because, rather than pursue measures that make a positive climate difference the parties that make up this government are instead fixed on an approach that is all-too-often punitive, unfair and counter-productive.
“Because it is about choices. Increasing the cost of putting fuel in the car for those people who have no choice but to use their car because they cannot afford an electric vehicle and have no public transport option, does nothing for the environment – it just makes people’s lives harder.
“Likewise, increasing the cost of heating oil or solid fuel for people who cannot afford to retrofit their home, does nothing for the environment – it just makes people’s lives harder.
“Sometimes people have choices. For instance, Eamon Ryan has a choice as to whether he flies First Class. In fact he has a choice as to whether he flies at all and personally I would be quite satisfied if Minister Ryan never represented Ireland at an international event again.
“But, people do have a choice as to whether they eat. So the challenge in food production is to ensure that we produce as good food as possible, in as sustainable manner possible.
“That is the challenge we face in Irish Agriculture. I believe our farmers are up to that challenge. Certainly Sinn Féin are up to that challenge”.
In her leaders address, broadcast live on RTÉ television, Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald, continued the theme of change which was dominant throughout the day.
“We meet in Dublin in a spirit of ambition, enthusiasm, hope for the future
“Together we seize the day. To chart new directions. To capture opportunities that lie ahead.
“A new dawn is breaking in Ireland. We stand on the threshold of a new era.
“Friends, it’s time for change.
“So much has happened since last we met. Things have been tough for so many of you joining us tonight, struggling with an unbearable cost of living. I want to acknowledge your resilience.
“Under enormous pressure, you’re holding the line.
“This crisis won’t last forever. You deserve political leadership to support you through these difficult times and to match your hopes for the future.
“That’s the job of good government.
“We are ambitious for change. Those ambitions aren’t confined to Ireland.
“We send solidarity to people who endure imperialism, war, occupation, and the denial of human rights.
“We send our unwavering support to Palestine.
“Ukraine fights for its very survival against Putin’s criminal invasion. We stand with Ukraine. We will support you until that day when your beloved homeland is free from Russia’s war. Russia must end its war. The journey to peace must start now.
“Ireland stands on the side of international law, against those who trample on the rights of others. Be it Putin’s war or Israeli apartheid.
“Though the world has changed. Our values remain strong.
“The outpouring of sympathy for Creeslough stretched far beyond our shores in acts of solidarity and condolence from the Irish abroad.
“In this moment of profound grief, we saw again that to be Irish is not only to be from a small island but to be part of a very large global family who have built their lives in Britain, the United States, Canada, Australia and beyond.
“We are very proud of them. They have kept faith with home. To our young people who once again depart our shores, you have been badly let down, particularly by a failed housing system. I want you to know that we are working hard to change things for you. we will make Ireland the home you deserve.
“So, enjoy your experience, work hard but come home and be part of the new Ireland that we must build. We need you.
The demand for change is growing
“The demand for change is strong and growing with the energy of a generation impatient to claim their future.
“One hundred years ago Ireland was traumatised by partition, divided by bitter Civil War. A century on, we strive for a nation that honours and learns from its past but is not held back by it.
“This spirit for change was so powerfully expressed in May’s Assembly Election.
“Sinn Féin emerged as the largest party. For the first time, a republican, a nationalist, a woman from Tyrone, was elected as First Minister in a state designed to ensure that this could never happen. Well friends, it did. Michelle O’Neill a First Minister for all.
“There is no turning back. There is now no job in the land off limits to anyone. The days of second-class citizenship are over.
“Change means a place called home. A secure, affordable roof over your head.
“It means access to a doctor, to hospital and to care when you need it.
“It means real opportunity, good jobs, decent pay, and the right to retire at sixty-five on a fair pension.
“And friends, change means taking those final steps to full nationhood, ending partition, reunifying Ireland.
Change can’t be stopped
“This change is no longer on some distant horizon. Change is now on our doorstep. It can’t be stopped by the DUP who refuse to accept the result of an election and prevent the formation of an Executive.
“The people of the North deserve, need, demand a government that works for them.
“This stalemate cannot continue. British government dithering must end. They must immediately bring clarity, a timetable for concluding negotiations with the European Union and the restoration of the Executive.
“Change can’t be stopped by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, now so joined at the hip that it doesn’t matter to them which leader is Taoiseach.
“So long as it’s one of them. Leo leaves, Micheál goes in.
“Micheál leaves next month, Leo goes back in.
“In. Out. In. Out. Political hokey pokey.
“That’s the cosy club that has run this state for a century. Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have had their time, had their chance.
“It’s time for a new government. For a government of change.
“Change can’t be stopped by the chaotic Tories in London either.
“They can’t run their own country without bringing it to the brink of financial ruin. They certainly have no right to tell the people of Ireland how to run ours.
“They attack the Good Friday Agreement. An Agreement that has delivered twenty-five years of peace, a peace won and defended by our partners Europe, in the United States of America and beyond.
“They disgracefully seek amnesty for their troops and deny victims of the conflict justice.
“They attack the Protocol. An Agreement that protects livelihoods and our economy
“They care so very little about Ireland. The Tories should leave governing of this island to the people who live here, and we’ll shape a better future together.
Ireland’s decade of opportunity
“That better future calls to us. Asking the big questions of us. I believe that this generation has the answers.
“Ireland has three big opportunities this decade.
“The reunification of our country.
“The achievement of energy independence.
“And the power of our young people.
“Our young people are brimming with talent, ideas, and energy. Yet those in their twenties and thirties will likely be the first generation worse off than their parents. That’s not right.
“We must renew the promise that if you work hard, you can get ahead and build a good life. This generation looks with fresh eyes and fresh hearts to the Ireland that can be. They know Ireland’s success must be driven by inclusion and equality.
“That there’s a seat at the table for everyone. For our Traveller Community, our ethic communities, our citizens with disabilities, for our LGBTQ+ citizens. No words of hate from any pulpit or stage will set us back or divide this generation.
“Our young people refuse the boundaries of yesterday.
“They reach for opportunity. For their shot. For their chance. If we give them that chance our young people will transform Ireland.
“So, the question for the rest of us is straight and simple – are we prepared to do the work with them? The answer must be – yes, yes, and yes again!
“Our young people will change housing. Locked out of affordable homes, locked into extortionate rents, living in a society where children grow up in hotel rooms.
“Government after government has failed on housing. That’s the truth.
“Targets set. Targets missed. Deadlines set. Deadlines missed. Big on promises. Short on delivery. Young people are calling this out, and we will work with them to deliver the biggest affordable and social housing programme that Ireland has even seen!
“Our young people will change healthcare.
“We saw during Covid 19 how student nurses and midwives put everything on the line. Those who have kept our health services together for decades, taught them well. They demonstrated skill and compassion innate to all those who work in health services across Ireland. This generation has no time for inequality in healthcare. They refuse to accept tired excuses that leave more than one and half million people on waiting lists. Or the jaded alibis that leave people on hospital trolleys. They know overcrowded, two-tier health systems do not work. That a border in healthcare does not work.
“We need a fair health service. A National Health Service for all of Ireland!
“We now approach our first normal Christmas for three years, a time of great excitement. Yet, there is tension and uncertainty as the bills stack up
“Government has been far too slow to respond. Long before Russia invaded Ukraine, living costs were out of control. You felt it in your pocket every day. Government had to be forced into action by the opposition and by public pressure.
“Forced to curb soaring fuel, gas, and electricity prices. Forced to introduce a winter eviction ban. Forced to provide relief for renters. Now they drag their heels as mortgage-holders are walloped with massive interest rate hikes.
“Just like they drag their heels on rip-off insurance costs. You shouldn’t have to force your government to protect you. Well, rest assured Pearse Doherty won’t let that drop.
“Government should be up and at it, on your side. We need that government – with ideas, that can plan, that can deliver.
“A strong and vibrant economy is core to our vision for Ireland. We want to support innovation, new ideas, and new businesses to succeed. A strong economy needs certainty, affordable housing, good public services, modern infrastructure, and energy security.
“The current energy crisis makes one thing very clear. Our island must achieve energy security and energy independence. We can achieve this by harnessing our abundant renewable resources, building our capacity in wind, solar and green hydrogen. The state must make Ireland’s energy revolution a priority.
“Energy Independence will be a game changer for Ireland, transforming our economy, creating new jobs, opportunity, prosperity. Central in turning the tide of climate change and achieving a just transition. So, we need action, we need a plan, and we need pace.
“We must sort out the delays in our planning system, invest in our ports so we can pursue offshore energy, and work in collaboration with business, semi-states, and international partners, to realise investment opportunities.
“We live in the end days of partition.
“On the cusp of an historic opportunity – the reunification of our country and our people. Shaping a future for everyone. Moving forward in the belief that there is no ‘them’. There is only ‘us’. Us who call Ireland home.
“We can build a nation home for all our people. Some are apprehensive about Irish Unity. I want you to know that in a new Ireland you will be cherished, included, respected as equal citizens. This is your place. This is your home. Be part of shaping it’s future.
“Others say yes to unity, but not now. They’re wrong. The time to plan for peaceful, democratic constitutional change is now. The days of treading water are over.
“The Irish government must immediately establish a Citizens Assembly on unity. If this government refuses to hear tomorrow coming, if it does not establish a Citizens Assembly, Sinn Féin in government will.
Sinn Féin is ready
“The future is ours for the making. So, we need the right leadership. A new leadership with fresh ideas. Sinn Féin is ready to provide that leadership.
“Ready to lead government, north and south. We have the team, the policies, the energy to build that better future. We will get basics right in the here and now and drive ambitious plans for the future.
“To everyone watching tonight: I am asking you to give us the chance to lead.
“To deliver for you, for your family, for your community. For all of Ireland. Give us that chance – that chance to lead – and we will get the work done.
“The Ireland we shape today is our legacy for future generations. This is our moment to write our chapter in our nation’s story.
“We face challenges, but this is a time of hope and opportunity. So, let’s do big things. Let’s change Ireland. Let’s choose courage, ambition, belief.
“Let’s be the generation that finally unites our country and our people. Let’s build the nation home for all. No one left out. No one left behind.
“Our people are ready for change. Sinn Féin is ready to lead.
“Ireland has seen some great days, but our greatest days lie ahead.
“Days of unity, equality, and prosperity. Days that belong to everyone.
“That’s a future worth believing in, worth working for, worth achieving.
“I say we can do it.
“I say we must do it.
“I say we will do it.
“And, my friends, we will do it together.
“Go raibh míle maith agaibh agus An Phoblacht Abú!”
Highlights of the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis, including video coverage, can be accessed at the party’s website www.sinnfein.ie.