Last night Enda Kenny the leader of fine gael spoke at the party’s Annunal Conference in Wexford. Yet again, Enda gave a wonderful speech which I read this morning and have reproduced below.It is a hard hitting speech but lays out the direction the country should be going. Have a read and off it if you didn’t see it either and let me know what you think in the comment section.
onight I want to talk to you about why Ireland now needs new leadership to take the country in a new direction. We meet at the best of times and at the worst of times.
Best of times for Fine Gael because we know what we stand for and we know where we’re going. But worst of times because out there, joining us in their sitting rooms and their kitchens, are people who can’t share the buzz and the excitement that are making the rafters of this place vibrate.
People watching us against a background of misery and fear. Yes. Misery. And fear.
Because that’s what happens, when you’ve got a good degree, when you’ve had a good job, when you’ve given your all – and suddenly, through no fault of your own, you’re let go. When you become one of the first highly educated generation in Irish history to be “Let go.”
– Let go before Christmas.
– Let go when the mortgage you’re paying is bigger than the value of the house it covers.
– Let go when the jobs market is awash with good, talented, experienced people all fighting for fewer and fewer posts.
Spun loose and lost, they are, the first young casualties of the downturn. Spun loose and lost. And fearful. That’s the worst of it. That’s the most damning indictment of the current Government. They have done what no Government should ever do. They have created a fear of the future in the people of this country.
Older people, who see promises made to them tossed in the air like ash blowing in a wind. Who see a Government that treats them like statistics and ignores human reality. Not just older people, though. This fear is all-pervasive.
Younger people are seeing their bosses cutting jobs. Pulling back. Circling the wagons. Sending the message: Postpone your ambitions. Put your life on hold. And you know something? You can’t do that. You can’t put lives on hold. Ambition and promise, unexpressed, wither into frustration and bitter disappointment.
While the Government blame international factors, the reality is that we are suffering a far more severe downturn than other countries. This is a direct result of the Government’s failure to plan for the future – a direct result of weak and indecisive leadership and a direct result of a government in office too long and too out of touch.
Fianna Fáil has governed deliberately in the interests of their friends, particularly property speculators, rather than in the best interests of the Irish people. The result was an unsustainable property bubble, the victims of which are the many thousands of young couples who are now paying huge mortgages on over-priced homes, living with the anxiety of failing jobs and negative equity.
If we don’t act now to arrest the slide in good governance and economic management, the situation will just get worse. And worse. And worse.
Unemployment will continue upwards. Our borrowings will continue upwards. The quality of our front line public services will continue downwards. It’s time for someone to stand out front and tell the painful truth.
The country cannot afford the national pay deal. It is as simple as that. This deal must be suspended for 12 months and reviewed after that. It was negotiated in a different context with different expectations.
I am calling on Government and public service unions to implement a complete pay freeze for 12 months.
I am calling on private sector employers and their staff to review the terms of the wage agreement and ensure that no pay increases are at the expense of jobs. Wage restraint in the short term is preferable to job losses in the long term.
If we want to be masters of our own destiny, we have to control our spending and ensure that we regain our competitiveness. Let’s be clear on this: if we manage our finances prudently there should be no need for damaging tax increases that undermine our future growth.
The money saved by this initiative should be invested directly in key infrastructures like school buildings and public transport, and in retraining and upskilling our workforce. The time to start fixing the economic mess created by Fianna Fail and Brian Cowen, is now. We simply must get the country back on track.
Nowhere is this more urgent than in the horror that is our health system. Was there ever a greater betrayal than a Cabinet sitting down and deliberately targeting our elderly people to pay for their own mistakes by removing their medical cards?
Year after year, they refused to address the horrors of our healthcare system. Remember that Yeats ballad, where the old priest Peter Gilligan “is weary, night and day, for half his flock were in their beds or under greensod lay.” “I have no rest, nor joy, nor peace,” he cries out. “For people die and die.” This Government deserves no rest, nor joy, nor peace. For people die needlessly on their watch.
And – when it comes to misdiagnosis – so many of those people are women. Women in the prime of their lives, leaving children and families to grieve in baffled disbelief. Is it too much to ask – as we asked long before the economic downturn – is it too much to ask that Ireland treat its women with respect? Is it? No it’s not.
Is it too much to ask that when we take our parents to a hospital, that they are not endangered by hospital bugs or misdiagnosis? Is it?
Is it too much to ask that vaccinations are not withheld from our twelve year old daughters so that their very lives are threatened? Is it?
Is it too much to ask that a stale, arrogant, contemptuous Government be swept out of office and urgently replaced by a Fine Gael government of passion, professionalism, experience and enthusiasm? Is it?
When this Government is replaced by Fine Gael, we will deliver the universal healthcare plan being finalised by the Policy Commission chaired by Alan Dukes. We will create the change, the old, the young and the sick need so badly; a change to a health system where the patient is at the centre and the money follows that patient. A health system where service is delivered because you need it, not because you can pay for it. Fine Gael will drive that change in approach and ensure that fairness is at the core of Irish society.
We will banish the notion that Education is a cost. It is not. It is a need. It is an investment in our nation’s future and an investment in our children’s future. As Churchill said “the empires of the future will be the empires of the mind”. Fine Gael will invest now to build those empires.
We will stop waste, and return to the basics that made this economy a success; low-costs, high exports, targeted spending, and a constant focus on competitiveness.
A focus on competitiveness that will make Ireland the best. That will make Ireland a global leader, and that inside a decade, will make this country a net exporter of energy. Within ten years, we will sell more energy than we buy in.
Tax relief on bicycles and banning light bulbs won’t build the Green Economy. Our approach must be based on innovation and creativity. It will draw investment from around the world. Give farming a new lease of life.
Renew and refresh our tourism offering. It will radically change and strengthen our industrial base.
That requires investment in wave, wind, biofuels, pumped storage and gas. An investment that will pay dividends and create jobs. An investment that requires radical change. That radical change that will see government acting to prevent problems. A government with the courage to act. And act Fast. And act fast we would have done to prevent the meltdown of the banking system.
Fine Gael would not be paralysed by this current banking crisis. We would re-capitalise banks. Now.
It’s too late to give a transfusion when the patient is already dead. Too many jobs in small businesses all over this country are threatened by the lack of access to credit. My fear is that bad banks and delinquent developers are having too much say in guiding Government policy in this area. The recipe drawn up by Government appears to rely on international venture capitalists. What interest do they have in the long term viability of our economy? None.
So why are we inviting venture capitalists to do a job that we can handle ourselves? The Government should take preference shares in Irish banks so the taxpayer gets a dividend from the investment, not foreign investors. Once that’s done, they must be told that neither they, nor their regulators, will walk away unscathed from this. Our nation has been damaged by their reckless behaviour. They must be held accountable. Under Fine Gael, they will be held accountable.
We are the only party who will hold people to account for failure. Who will hold people to account for irresponsibility. Who will hold people to account for criminality.
Not so long ago, we were told gangland killings were the last sting of a dying wasp. That dying wasp is very much alive and part of a threatening swarm infesting our cities and communities. The last time our communities and the State were so threatened, was when an innocent woman Veronica Guerin was murdered for telling the truth about the gangs. Back then a Fine Gael government acted. My cabinet colleagues and I set up the Criminal Assets Bureau. We moved fast with new powers for the Gardaí and the Revenue Commissioners. We captured and convicted criminals. We changed the realities. We did the business.
When we went out of office, things were let slide. A stop will be put to that slide when Fine Gael returns to Government. The new breed of ruthless criminals require a new and tougher response. They need to know that there will be real consequences for their actions. No longer can they expect short sentences during which they can continue to organise crimes from their prison cells. Our response will see 25 year mandatory sentences for murder and new powers to control the movements and activities of gang members. We did it before and we will do it again.
We have always been the party of law and order…we still are. Because, on all fronts, Fine Gael knows that circumstances are not excuses. They are opportunities. Opportunities for what is fundamental to the Irish spirit – a wilful determination to break through barriers to greatness.
Look at Northern Ireland; centuries of conflict calmed by a mutual belief in the possible. This week, power sharing resumed in Northern Ireland. What was once thought to be impossible has been made real. Made real by hope. Made real by optimism. Made real by refusing to let the future be constrained by circumstance. Down all the days, this nation refused to be constrained by circumstance. We became – against all the odds – a beacon of light. In great poverty, the world looked to us as leaders in the arts, in music, in literature. Whatever the challenge, the Irish spirit has been one of courage and optimism and a desire to be the best.
That great spirit of courage and optimism must be reawakened by a new kind of leadership, a new kind of politics. A politics of vision and openness and direction and optimism. Because if there is fear out there, there is something more important out there too: the yearning for greatness, the need to express the best of ourselves, the desire for change.
We stand amid catastrophe. But we stand on the verge of massive change. Ten years from now, we will, once again, be a beacon of light and of pride. To get there, Ireland must be restored as a central and influential member of the European Union. I am committed to playing my part in ensuring that the current uncertainties about Ireland’s relationship with Europe is ended.
The Fine Gael team here today are practical professionals and driven idealists who are expert, eager and committed. The Fine Gael team are the brightest and the best.
And simply put…The Fine Gael team are going to be the next Government.
In government, we will draw a line in the sand. On this side of the line is chronic waste; On the other is strict controls and targeted spending where every penny of taxpayers’ money is accounted for. On this side of the line is caving in, compromise and throwing money at every vested interest; On the other is decisive leadership, straight talking and principled politics. On this side of the line in the sand is bloated, lazy and directionless economic management; On the other is lean, focused and smart economic plans and policies.
We promise an end to all that. I want an Ireland where people count. Where families matter. Where the economy serves the nation, not the other way around. An Ireland where we set out to succeed, not just survive.
Easy? No. Who said anything worth achieving was easy? Good government is not about calculator cuts. It’s about direction. Determination. Ireland will be the best. The number one. The world leader. And I know what it will take to get us there.
I know what it’s like to rebuild a political party. I know what people wanted, I know what they said. I’ve been there and I know the hard work, energy and commitment that’s needed. Now I want to do the same for our country.
Soon – maybe sooner than people think – the people of Ireland will give us the opportunity to change this country for the better. The Ireland Fine Gael is determined to build is an Ireland defined by merit, not money. An Ireland of pride, passion and potential. A nation where the best in the Irish character finds full expression in positive action, not in crippling cynicism.
My message to a whole generation of young people who have never lived in recessionary times is very clear.
I want you to know that we are in your corner. I want you to know that we will fight for your future. I want you to know that I understand your right to live your dreams and to achieve your ambitions in this country, if that is your wish.
I invite you to work with me, as together we change politics and build your future. Politics does matter and I give you just one guarantee – our work will not be easy, our choices will not be simple, but together we will succeed in our task.
Let me promise you this. The men and women of Fine Gael will bring new life, new excitement, new drive to Irish politics.
My team are Expert. Eager. Enthusiastic. They represent all that is good in Ireland – and they will respond to all that is best in Ireland. We – each and every one of us – carry from this conference the capacity to guide our country through recession and point it to a brighter future.
We will take radical and brave action to get this country moving again. We will make this State secure, prosperous and confident. We will lead this nation to a place of hope and achievement. We will lift this country off its knees and turn its face to the sun. It will therefore be my honour to make this country proud again.