Keynote speech by Pearse Doherty TD at Sinn Féin Ard Fheis 2018
Three weeks ago the people of the Twenty Six Counties announced to the world that they were up for radical change as they voted to repeal the Eighth Amendment.
This change had seemed unimaginable only a short time ago.
People working together made it happen.
Women made it happen.
Young people made it happen.
Léríodh gur féidir athrú a bhaint amach. Sa tír seo ina bhfuil daoine tinn tuirseach de ghealltanais bhriste agus polaitíocht ar an tseanstíl, ábhar dóchais dúinn a thuigeann an géarghá atá ann maidir le hathrú in Éirinn
Young citizens who were at the centre of this change, knew all too well of the social shackles which bore down on their families and neighbours for generations.
In one decisive vote, they cast them off.
They now yearn for a new beginning in a nation which will embrace their place in society, and cherish their potential.
But how can they, in a state that has raised young people for export for generations?
Where are they to start a family in the midst of a housing crisis, where thousands are condemned to homelessness?
Rents are at runaway levels and childcare costs are the highest in Europe.
What is their place in an economy which too often offers them only low-paid, insecure work?
Sinn Féin will cherish our hard-won social rights and freedoms.
But this is not enough. The people of Ireland deserve more.
It’s time to build a new economy for a changing Ireland.
Sinn Féin offer economic transformation. We offer a vision of a society underpinned by stable and shared prosperity.
In today’s Ard Fheis, we will endorse this vision, laid out in motions 17 & 20.
We offer a programme to create a modern economy across our island, for the first time guaranteeing world-class services as your birthright, from cradle to grave.
We see signs that our economy is recovering. But we hear those who tell us that they don’t feel any better off.
Fine Gael tell us they offer stability. But they have cast a cloud of fear and insecurity in homes all across the state.
They will never understand the anxiety of being one pay check away from financial distress, they will never understand the ‘what ifs?’.
How will we cope if the car breaks down or if they cut my hours this week or if a loved one falls ill?
We hear you when you tell us that you work all the hours you can, you pay your taxes and all of your bills, and at the end of the week you still struggle to make ends meet.
I hear you, and I say to you if I am Minister for Finance I will have your back. Sinn Féin will have your back.
We don’t just want change – we need transformation.
Transformation to end the human tragedy of 10,000 homeless citizens, over 700,000 on hospital waiting lists, and hundreds each day on hospital trollies.
Fine Gael and Fianna Fail are attempting to normalise these crises. We will not allow that to happen.
We will invest to finally end this chapter of permanent crisis and instability, and we will bring this transformation to government.
We will introduce a living wage, to free families from the unrelenting burden of worry and insecurity.
In government, we will bring Fine Gael’s homelessness crisis to an end.
We will begin implementing our plan for universal healthcare, free for every citizen as a birthright.
We will abolish all student fees, create thousands of apprenticeships, and unleash the potential of our young people.
They will once again see their future on our island.
We will end Fine Gael’s tax breaks for those who seek to profiteer from your hardship and from our nation’s housing crisis.
We hear you when you say you’re sick and tired of the culture of never-ending scandal and corruption - where those accountable for mistakes walk into another glittering career, and where we all pay their price.
From the persecution of whistleblowers, to rampant white-collar crime. From the back-slapping, to the gold-plated pensions, cosy contracts and revolving door boys-clubs.
Sinn Féin sees it all.
So let it ring in the ears of those pacing the gilded halls of power across this state – in government, Sinn Féin will Stamp. It. Out.
This is our vision, and people hear it. The citizens of this island will not wait for their rights any longer.
Together we deserve, and we will build, an economy and a society based on rights, security and wellbeing for every citizen on our island.
This is also a vision for an agreed and united Ireland. A transformation that must be owned by all backgrounds and cultures. ó Beal Feirste go Baile Átha Cliath ó Baile Bhuirne go dtí An Bhun Bhig
Sochaí dár saoránaigh nua a thagann anseo le saol úr a bhaint amach. Dár mná, óige, agus iad siúd ar doiligh dóibh greim choinneáil faoin bhfiacail.
The Irish people are ready for change –
Ready to tear down the structures of elitism and gross inequality.
Ready to bring stability and a life of dignity to every home on our island.
Ready for Sinn Féin’s vision for a new, transformed, and modern economy for a changing island.
So whenever Leo and Micheál decide the love-in is over, and an election is called, they will know - Sinn Féin is ready. The people of Ireland are ready.
We represent, and we are, people from all over this country – our activists and representatives live with, work with, and give voice to, citizens from all walks of life.
We hear the growing cries for change, because we live it every single day.
We’ve seen this passion shatter the foundations of elitism on which southern state was built – when LGBTQ citizens demanded their human rights, when Irish women sent shockwaves around the world only 3 weeks ago.
We are ready and we are eager to bring this same passion to government.
A new Ireland is coming. It needs new leadership and big ideas, to have your back and to deliver real economic and social transformation. Sinn Féin is that leadership – for all of us.
Go raibh mile maith agaibh.