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Sinn Féin selects Darren O’Rourke to contest Meath East by-election

21 February, 2013

The Sinn Féin Party in East Meath this evening selected Darren O’Rourke as its candidate in the upcoming by-election to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Shane McEntee.

The following is Mr O’Rourke’s speech made at the selection convention in the Headford Hotel in Kells this evening.

Sinn Féin Meath East By-election candidate Darren O’Rourke – 21 February 2013

Go raibh míle maith agaibh, a chairde. At the outset, I want to pay tribute to the late Shane McEntee and to send our sincere best wishes to his wife and family. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

Tá mé fíor sásta glacadh leis an ainmniúcháin seo. Is mór an onóir agus an phribhléid é, dom a bheith roghnaithe mar an iarrthóir Shinn Féin don fothoghcháin seo, le teacht anseo ins an Mhí Thoir, agus táim lán dáirire nuair a deirim é sin.

I am honoured to be nominated by the new Thomas Ashe cumann in Ashbourne, and grateful to Mickey Gallagher and Figgy Curran for formally proposing and seconding my candidature. These are republicans I have the greatest respect for, and who’ve been an inspiration to me, and others, over the years.

I want to thank the organisation as a whole, and you the members, for your support, and for putting your faith in me.

I will do everything I can to help us achieve our objectives in this by-election campaign – to maximise our vote, to build support for our alternative, to attract new members, to grow our party and to win this Dáil seat for Sinn Féin in Meath.

This by election gives each and every-one of us and our supporters an opportunity to persuade people of the merits of our politics.  Ireland has never needed it more. Ireland has never needed Sinn Féin more.

Sinn Fein is the only party, and I mean the only party, that has a vision and a plan to create a better Ireland for all of our people. This has always been my opinion but since I started working in Leinster House it has become even more apparent to me.

The fundamental difference between Sinn Féin and all the other parties – Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour, – is that we want to create change. Change is what we are about.  Change for the better and change for everyone.

For Fianna Fáil and Labour it’s all about position and power. Power for powers sake and power for the trappings and status it brings. The media attention. The opportunity to rub shoulders with the captains of industry. It’s the lifestyle and it’s the money. The personal advantage.

In this state today up to a quarter of our young men are functionally illiterate. In maths, we rank 32nd out of 65 OECD countries. Our two tier health system prioritises people based on ability to pay not on medical need and when cuts come they come at the expense of old, the infirm, the weak and the vulnerable. Mass unemployment forces another generation abroad.

There isn’t a town, a village, a parish, or indeed a sports club in this constituency that hasn’t been affected. Meath East, more than most places, is ravaged by mortgage distress and negative equity. Individuals, couples, and families are crucified with personal debt and they’re suffering in silence. Many are embarrassed and ashamed. They shouldn’t be.

Only last week it was reported that 25% of the population of this state could be classified as living in deprivation.  Under this government, 32% of our children are at risk of poverty while another 10%   live in consistent poverty.

And what does this Government do about it? The same as the shower that went before them! They cut funding to vital public services and make ordinary people and the most vulnerable in our society pay for their mistakes.

Sinn Fein believes in an Ireland of Equals – and we don’t use that term lightly. An Ireland of Equals is about providing equality of opportunity and equality of outcome, where all our people will reach their full potential. In our Ireland of Equals we’ll have universal healthcare, a decent education system, better housing, and lower crime rates.

The indicators to measure these things – infant mortality, literacy and numeracy levels, life expectancy, and all the others – will reflect this. We will have a healthier society. We will have a more equal society.

It goes without saying that the re-unification of our country is absolutely fundamental to achieving this new and fairer Ireland. 

There’s a dance that goes on in Leinster House between the politicians, the media, the lobby groups and vested interests. On that front you’ll be glad to know that our ones aren’t great dancers!

Our team in Leinster House works harder than anyone to challenge this Government and to show them, and the world, that there are alternatives. Despite this, Fine Gael and Labour balk at the idea of tackling vested interests. And just like Fianna Fáil before them, the red mist descends at the mere suggestion that they might ask those who have more, to pay more.  

Anyone who has any notion of equality or social justice, anyone who really cares about this country and its people, knows that this is plain wrong, it is wrong, wrong, wrong.

This state and its people have suffered for generations because of an abject lack of leadership. Successive Governments, politicians, the Church, the medical and legal professions, have all failed the Irish people.

Women and children have suffered most. The Magdalene Laundries, the victims of symphysiotomy, the victims of Michael Neary, the victims of clerical sex abuse. The list goes on. It’s a dark past.

Sinn Féin has been a leading voice in these cases. We are about dealing with that past in a thoughtful and sensitive way, and about building a new more compassionate and fairer Ireland – An Ireland of equals.

With Sinn Féin going from strength to strength we have an unprecedented opportunity to reshape the country. Not just socially, economically and politically, but culturally too. We cherish our cultural heritage. Our language, our music, theatre, poetry and our games. They’re an inherent part of who we are as a people. 

Geallaim an Ghaeilge a úsáid chomh minic gur féidir liom. Tá roinnt Gaeilge agam, ach tá sé ar intinn agam an méid sin a fheabhasú. Mar deágóir, d'fhreastal mé ar choláiste an Phiarsaigh i nGaoth Dóbhair. An bhliain seo caite ghlac mé páirt i roinnt ranganna i mBláth Cliath. Beidh mé dicheallach ag lorg seansanna mo chuid Gaeilge a úsáid sna meáin, agus i rith an bhfeachtais, agus cinnteoidh mé go mbeidh an Gaeilge ar gach rud a fhoilsímid.

This by-election campaign provides us with a golden opportunity to put forward the Sinn Féin alternative, to convince people of our position and to gain their support. We need to let them know that we understand the challenges they face. That we will stand up for their interests and fight hard to ensure they and their children have a future with hope.  

The potential Sinn Féin vote in Meat East is huge. The demographic makeup of the constituency means that there is a large percentage of floating and undecided voters. Our task is to convince them and others that they’re better off with Sinn Féin.

Once again I’m honoured and humbled by your vote of confidence in me. I understand the task ahead and I am 100% committed to it.

Leaving this room tonight we are sending a clear message – we’re serious about this campaign, we’re focussed, we’re determined and we’re resolute. Táimid réidh. Go raibh mile mile maith agaibh.

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