Sinn Féin selects Councillor Martin Kenny to contest Roscommon/South Leitrim by-election
At a party convention in the Abbey Hotel in Roscommon Town this evening Sinn Féin members selected Councillor Martin Kenny to contest the Roscommon/South Leitrim by-election.
Speaking at the convention Councillor Kenny said a government that is not led by Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil is now becoming possible.
He said Sinn Féin goes into the election in its strongest ever position and that he wants to be a TD that will stand up for rural Ireland.
Councillor Martin said;
“Crucial decisions will be made in the Dáil between now and the next general election. Roscommon and South Leitrim does not need another government TD and we certainly don’t need another Fianna Fáil TD in the Dáil.
“Roscommon and South Leitrim needs a Sinn Féin TD who will stand up for the people. A TD who will work for the abolition of the property tax and oppose water charges. A TD who will vote against any budget which puts the burden of taxes and charges on the backs of ordinary people or that cuts essential public services. A TD who will vote against measures which take money out of the local economy.
“Someone who will stand up for rural Ireland against the establishment. Someone who will push for the implementation of legislation to ban fracking and who will ensure that communities are listened to on issues such as pylons and wind farms. Someone who will fight for a common sense approach to the issue of turf cutting. I want to be that TD.’’
Full text of Councillor Martin’s speech follows:
Firstly I want to thank the members of Sinn Féin in Roscommon and South Leitrim for the nomination to contest this by election. I also want to thank all those from outside of the constituency who have travelled to be here tonight. Your ongoing support will be essential in this campaign.
Growing up in the 1970’s and living here through the 80’s and 90’s I saw a continuous stream of emigration from these counties. I saw the impact of cuts brought in by Fianna Fáil in particular to health services in the 1980’s. I saw businesses close. I saw shops and pubs close, small businesses shut down and school friends emigrate. I saw the population of Leitrim and Roscommon decline through all those years and hit historic lows in the late 80’s and early 90’s. I saw Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael governments that were happy to allow the west to be left behind.
Like everyone else I saw poor representation and corruption from those in power. I saw the boom wasted and this region get little benefit from it, as all the productive small enterprises were swept aside by the building bubble.
The people of Roscommon and South Leitrim which have long been failed by the establishment parties are crying out for responsible leadership. The economic collapse brought on by Fianna Fáil’s gross mismanagement of the economy has been devastating for this constituency. People have had to contend with second class public services, hospital downgrading, emigration, unemployment and ongoing attacks on quality of life and standards of living.
There has been little or no attempt the create jobs. There is talk of a recovery but I don’t see it anywhere in Leitrim or Roscommon. With no investment and few prospects for the future, like in the 80s and 90s, young people are again leaving en masse.
That is the future I see for my own children if we do not push forward our agenda for change at every opportunity.
But there is an important difference between 80’s, 90’s and even the boom years, and now.
Politics is changing. There is hope for the future. People are starting to fight back – to demand a better future for their families and their communities. More and more people are turning to the alternative offered by Sinn Féin. They see a party that is radical and genuinely committed to equality.
Sinn Féin seeks out common sense solutions to the issues of the day and is not in anyone’s pocket like Fine Gael and Fianna Fail. We are not for sale and won’t be bought by Larry Goodman or any other tycoon. Sinn Féin is in tune with the people’s needs and the people are aware of that. A government that is not led by Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael is now becoming possible.
With the election of Matt Carthy and three other Sinn Fein MEPs there is not a corner of Ireland that does not have a Sinn Féin representative. On Leitrim County council I have been joined by 3 new Sinn Féin councillors.
Sinn Féin goes into this by election in the strongest position we have ever been in.
This election is a choice between the politics of the past – of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael and the politics of the future - the alternative based on fairness, equality and Irish unity put forward by Sinn Féin.
Soon we will be celebrating the centenary of 1916. I often think of the passion and vision of the men and women of that period compared to the selfish political class of today.
Unfortunately a uniquely corrupt Irish system of government was built to accommodate a culture of favour seekers and favour givers, which works well for the insiders and the well connected, but it fails the people. It also fails the legacy of the brave patriots who had the vision and courage to rise against the British Empire and defied all the odds to break the chains of slavery and win. Part of that epic struggle was the election of Count Plunkett in a By-Election here in Roscommon in 1917, and we can do it again.
Crucial decisions will be made in the Dáil between now and the next general election. Roscommon and South Leitrim does not need another government TD and we certainly don’t need another Fianna Fáil TD in the Dáil. Roscommon and South Leitrim needs a Sinn Féin TD who will stand up for the people. A TD who will work for the abolition of the property tax and oppose water charges. A TD who will vote against any budget which puts the burden of taxes and charges on the backs of ordinary people or that cuts essential public services. A TD who will vote against measures which take money out of the local economy.
Someone who will stand up for rural Ireland against the establishment. Someone who will push for the implementation of legislation to ban fracking and who will ensure that communities are listened to on issues such as pylons and wind farms. Someone who will fight for a common sense approach to the issue of turf cutting. I want to be that TD.
Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have had their chance. Yet today Fianna Fáil present themselves as the saviours of rural Ireland – as the saviours of very communities they themselves destroyed when they destroyed the Irish economy through recklessness and incompetence.
The simple fact is that since the foundation of the state both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael failed to govern in the best interests of the Irish people. They abandoned the nationalist community in the north. They stood over poverty, disadvantaged, and the growth of inequality while protecting the interests of a privileged elite of bankers, developers and others. They have failed the people of Roscommon and they have failed the people of Leitrim. We can and must do better. It is time to make the change.
With the right investment, the right policies and real commitment we can halt the decline of rural Ireland. We can create jobs. We can ensure that the wealthy pay their fair share. We can replace the jobs lost in MBNA and build on the jobs that exist in areas like agri-food and tourism. We can support entrepreneurs who are striving to create new businesses. We can ensure that farmers are getting a fair deal for their produce and the absolute power of the beef barons is broken.
We can keep graduates in Leitrim and Roscommon and ensure that their skills and abilities are used in this region to build the local economy.
I look forward to working with all of you in the coming weeks. I will do everything I can to ensure that Sinn Féin win this seat.