Election of Brian Cowen as FF leader
Responding to the election this morning of Brian Cowen as the leader of the Fianna Fáil party, Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has urged a new direction in Government policy. He encouraged the new Fianna Fáil leader to inject renewed energy into the all-Ireland political process and to work with all parties to promote and prepare for Irish unity.
Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
"I congratulate Brian Cowen on his appointment this morning as the new leader of Fianna Fáil. His appointment should offer the Irish people a fresh opportunity for a new direction in Government policy.
"Brian Cowen becomes leader of Fianna Fáil and Taoiseach in waiting as we mark the 10th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. On the basis of a successful peace process and the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement we now have shared government in the Six Counties and an all-Ireland political process. I would encourage the new Fianna Fáil leader to inject renewed energy into the all-Ireland political process and to work with all parties to promote and prepare for Irish unity.
"We need a change in direction in the Government's social and economic policy. Such change must include the delivery of a truly equitable health service, the prioritisation of education and other public services and abandoning the privatisation agenda.
"Just this week we have heard Taoiseach Ahern admit to the Dáil that the shutting down of local hospital services in the absence of the much talked about but yet to be delivered, centres of excellence does not make sense. Yet this is exactly what is happening.
"HSE Chief Brendan Drumm has told the people of Cavan, Monaghan, Louth and Meath that regardless of whether or not the proposed regional hospital at Navan goes ahead, services will continue to be taken away from existing hospitals in the region.
"After years at the helm of this country's health service Minister Harney has failed at every turn. Bertie Ahern has sat back and watched the saga unfold. Brian Cowen has a real opportunity to transform the delivery of health services but only if this is driven by a change in Government policy." ENDS