Full text of the speech delivered this afternoon by Cllr Kathleen Funchion, Sinn Féin’s candidate for the Carlow/Kilkenny by election, to the Ard Fheis in Derry.
“Next year we will mark the 100 anniversary of the 1916 Rising.
I am sure that when those brave men and women set out in 1916 they didn’t imagine that nearly 100 years later Irish children would be going to bed hungry , or be forced to live in B&Bs and hotels due to lack of suitable and affordable housing.
I am sure they didn’t imagine a 100 years later that Irish children would be wondering why their parents worried and stressed every time another bill lands in the door. Nor did they imagine the flight of our bright young people, forced to leave their country in search of work.
Rural towns and villages, across my constituency of Carlow and Kilkenny and throughout the island of Ireland have been devastated by the curse of emigration.
Housing is at crisis point. Post offices, garda stations and most recently our bus services have all been under attack by both the Fine Gael and Labour government and the previous Fianna Fáil government.
This is not the Ireland that the 1916 leaders envisaged, in Carlow Kilkenny or anywhere else in 2016
The type of Ireland they fought and died for is a country where you will not be left lying on a hospital trolley because you cannot afford to pay for private health care.
They dreamed of a country that encourages our young people to stay at home by creating jobs and where housing is a right, and not a luxury- a country that genuinely cherishes all of the children of the nation equally.
The only way to achieve this type of Ireland is with a Sinn Féin government.
We are the only party committed to bringing about real change: to put an end to cronyism, to bringing about real solutions for real people to the crises that exist in housing and in our health system.
We are the party committed to creating sustainable employment which benefits our economy, our people and will breathe life back into our rural towns and villages.
When our opponents attack us it is because they know this.
They fear us because they fear the type of change that we want to bring about.
They fear an Ireland where the economy is developed for the good of all our people and not just the wealthy elite.
The government accuses us of fantasy economics.
This is coming from a government that is cutting services in rural Ireland while at the same time telling us that rural Ireland is on the up.
This coming from a government whose leader finds it hard to get by on three grand a week.
It is this government this is living in a fantasy land and it is ordinary people of this country who are living the nightmare.
Let’s bring an end to the endless austerity promised by Westminster and Dublin that impoverishes our people and our children.
Let’s show that for a brighter future for this country, Sinn Fein needs to be in power.”