This is a copy of the speech I gave at the Naas Fianna Fáil convention held at Townhouse Hotel, Naas on 2nd October 2013.
Chair, Cllrs., most importantly party members, today is a very proud day for me and my family. It is an honour to have been selected here tonight as a Fianna Fáil candidate for the 2014 local elections.
Thank you for your support and special thanks my own Sallins cumann, the Kill cumann, and also all the individual members who nominated me from different parts of the Naas area.
We’ve done a lot of work together to rebuild the party. That work continues into this election campaign. We have a lot of road yet to travel.
The Party Leader and our Parliamentary Party have done a great job with limited resources. And I salute them for that. But there is only so much that they can do. The real engagement will be between us and the voters of Naas LEA and It is up to each one of us to carry our message to the people.
From now till next May we must take our message to every doorstep in the constituency regardless of events in Dublin or Brussels or anywhere else.
I am certain we have the capacity to succeed. We stand together tonight as a revitalized party. This is possibly the biggest gathering of party members in this area for some years.
A strong Comhairle Ceantair, strong Cumainn, and dedicated members, we’ve all exercised democracy tonight. Every member had the right of nomination and every member a vote. That’s renewal in action. I am proud to say that our party we practice what we preach.
Sadly the same cannot be said for our government. After the false dawn of the last election and the false promises of Fine Gael / Labour, this government came in promising new politics. But we didn’t get new politics.
We just got politics as usual – in fact its even worse than politics as usual. Parliament has been subjected to a petty power grab. Power has been reduced and concentrated to breaking point.
We are now in a situation where a cabal of 4 Ministers run the country. The Economic Management Council takes all decisions and even cabinet is subordinate. Parliament is but an inconvenience.
Even on matters of conscience we see no debate. Ministers are fired at midnight for daring to stand up for life. On Friday they will ask us to remove yet another check on the power of the all powerful executive. This is nothing less than constitutional vandalism. A Dismantling of democracy.
The Dáil is not working. Our parliament is not working. Our system is broken and all Fine Gael and Labour want to do is rig it for their own use.
We need to make some real choices about how decisions are made in our country. About transparency and consultation and democracy. Because it is not good enough to lie and mislead the voters.
To set out 19 pages of constitutional change on the back of a big lie about cost. Or for the Leader of this country to duck and to dive and refuse to debate. But just because the government have failed to deliver doesn’t mean that demand for action is any less real.
On the doorsteps we hear the same stories in every estate. Paying the mortgage, educating the family, building a future for the next generation. I know those challenges because they are the same challenges my own household faces. I live them every day.
But I cannot blame people for being disenchanted with politics. Because government is failing them. But giving up is not an option – disengaging and stepping away is not a solution. Because public service is about delivering for those people.
Many of our citizens feel essentially abandoned by government. We have seen austerity after austerity. We have seen a property tax levied on all our homes. We have seen estates cut-off from maintenance because they are deemed to be unfinished.
Yet these same homes faced a full invoice for the household and then property taxes. Last week I walked around the streets of an estate where volunteers were literally taking matters into their own hands, up the ladders and fixing their own lights. And this in an estate where the government are demanding a property tax to pay for local services?
We see the communities left vulnerable, Garda stations closing down, post offices under threat. Local communities under attack. If we go up to Kill or Kilteel or down to Ballymore Eustace Again citizen action is compensating for government disinterest as residents organise themselves.
Here in Naas town and in every town we see small businesses under pressure. And we have seen nothing done to provide for small business. Banks have no credit, the people have no money and the government has no interest.
But the commercial heart of this town here in Naas needs to be rebuilt. It is the county town and we need to put the back on the map.
We need to reconnect with all of these people. We need to protect our communities from crime. We need to ensure our estates receive basic services. We need to harness the social capital that binds our communities.
And we need to continue to seek to create the conditions for enterprise, jobs, investment to come into the county because jobs will be the foundation on which this recovery will be built.
We need to prove that we can help these people. We need to lead from the front. And we need to engage. And we need to be straight with the people. And not make the same old promises that are made to be broken.
In this party we have learned our lessons and we are moving on and getting on with the job.
In this party we believe in equality of opportunity. We need to give the people that opportunity. Opportunity to believe. Opportunity to prosper.
The next council term will be crucial for this area. That five years should see us exit the bailout and exit recession. We must ensure we are ready to catch the ball on the bounce.
We have a fantastic organisation. Resilient, committed. Tribute to every member here. Now is the time for us to show that strength.
Essential for democracy have a real parliament. Have a strong opposition. We need to have a renewed Fianna Fáil. The country needs a renewed Fianna Fáil.
Over the next 8 months lets do all we can to bring that about. The journey starts here, let us take our message to the people
Go raibh mile math agaibh.