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Here's everything we know about Renua Ireland (and its policies)

Lucinda Creighton’s new political party has finally been launched. Here’s what we know…

Lucinda Creighton at the launch today
Lucinda Creighton at the launch today
Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

Updated at 11.21pm

LUCINDA CREIGHTON’S LONG-AWAITED political party, Renua Ireland, was launched in Dublin today and there’s lots to talk about off the back of it.

“Open” was the buzzword used repeatedly by Creighton, the leader, and financial advisor Eddie Hobbs, who is the party president.

The pair opened proceedings and unveiled the name of the party before taking part in a Q&A alongside some of its new members. But most journalists just wanted to speak to Creighton.

It was hard to get away from the feeling that this was The Lucinda Show. But what do we really know about Ireland’s newest political party and its policies?

Here’s what we learned at the Science Gallery…

1. It’s not quite a party yet 

Renua Ireland formally lodged registration papers and its constitution with the clerk of the Dáil this morning and is likely to be officially confirmed as a political party in the coming weeks. It can then set up a central bank account and start fundraising.

Creighton stated bluntly that they have no money at the moment but it was a pretty glitzy launch they put on today.

Lucinda Creighton and declared candidate Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

2. It already has a presence in Leinster House… 

Renua has three TDs including Creighton, fellow ex-Fine Gaelers Terence Flanagan and Billy Timmins, who is deputy leader, as well as senators Paul Bradford and Mary-Ann O’Brien, an independent who was appointed to the Seanad by the Taoiseach in 2011.

O’Brien’s husband and Jack and Jill founder Jonathan Irwin is a member of the party (you may remember we floated that idea a few weeks ago) and will run in the general election.

Mortgage adviser Karl Deeter is the party’s ethics officer, in charge of a code of conduct for all party members, although he is not a member.

3. Eddie Hobbs doesn’t know what he’s doing… yet 

Hobbs is party president and is still coy about running in the election, but it’s worth noting that Irwin and Hobbs are both based in the Kildare South constituency. Hobbs said family commitments would prevent him from running if the election was called tomorrow. But he added:

In due course if it is possible for me to run, I will run.

Lucinda Creighton and declared candidate Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

4. Renua is running a candidate in every constituency

The party has 3,500 people who’ve signed up to its website and has 180 declared candidates who want to run in the election. But only around 50 to 60 of them will be selected by the party for the general election next year.

The selection process will involve a 5-member panel (membership of which hasn’t been disclosed, but it could include people outside the party) who will essentially vet candidates before they’re voted on by the national party via an online poll.

5. The party wants open government… 

“We want to ensure we govern in the sunshine. Cabinet confidentiality is unnecessary,” said Creighton today.

One of the most radical proposals is that the minutes of cabinet meetings will be made public 48 hours after they take place unless issues relate to national security. Renua argues there will be no need for FOI or parliamentary questions anymore “because information will, by default, be available”.

6. … and new politics…

We hear a lot about new politics from people starting new parties. We got some indication of what that means today. Renua wants to change the electoral system. Here’s how:

It also wants to introduce a number of changes within 30 days of entering power including a secret ballot to elect the Ceann Comhairle and provide powers to the Oireachtas to delay legislation.

It also wants term limits for ministers and the Taoiseach although this would not disqualify someone who has been a minister in the past from being a minister again, Creighton explained. The idea would be to end situations where TDs can spend 10 consecutive years in cabinet.

Renua wants to develop an oath of allegiance to the state and a new code of ethics for all TDs and Senators.  It also wants to amend the constitution to require politician to represent the whole country.

Councillors will have their roles more tightly defined and it will become a full-time, paid position. The overall aim is to separate local and national politics.

Source: oconnellhugh/Vine

7. But what about abortion? 

The formation of this party had its genesis in Creighton’s expulsion from Fine Gael for voting against abortion legislation in 2013 and she was joined by fellow rebels Flanagan and Timmins today as well as her husband Paul Bradford. The party will allow a free vote on such issues of conscience.

Elsewhere, Creighton confirmed she would be voting yes in the same-sex marriage referendum ”but others are free to make their own choice when voting”. She repeatedly emphasised the party’s “open position” on matters of conscience.

8. It’s not ruling out sacking public sector workers 

Eddie Hobbs said there would be no restoration of the public sector pay cuts that have been introduced in recent years and said the cost of running the public sector is still too high.

In its glossy policy document, Renua also says that sackings in the public sector have to be a reality if performance does not improve after employees are trained or transferred to new roles.

9. It’s very pro-business and entrepreneurship 

The party is proposing an Irish Credit Network, a peer-to-peer lending programme, which would be run and owned by business.

It also proposes to remove the higher rates of USC for the self-employed and proposes to mandate the self-employed to enrol in a pension scheme. The rate of capital gains tax will be changed for investment in business and employee share schemes will be encouraged.

10. It wants to reform the budget process 

The party wants “modern accountancy techniques” applied to the management of the public finances and to give the Dáil and Seanad powers to influence departmental budget allocation and develop the budget through Oireachtas committees.

Eddie Hobbs at the launch of their new p Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

11. It has big ideas for childcare 

Renua wants to change maternity leave to parental leave so that parents can decide how to use six months paid leave. A tax credit will be introduced to assist families in the cost of childcare. It also wants the state to develop community creche facilities.

12. It wants to reform local property tax and abolish Irish Water

The party wants a Zoned Land charge which would place a levy on all land zoned for development as well as introduce a Site Value charge. All this money would be used to fund local services and develop social infrastructure.

Creighton said the party wants to “dismantle” Irish Water but added that it does believe in the principle of paying for water. There’s no detailed policy on this yet.

13. It wants a truth and reconciliation process 

Renua proposes to establish a truth and reconciliation process to run over a period of four years. It would deal with, among other things, the stigmatisation of single mothers, the survivors of abuse in schools, survivors of the care system, people subjected to coerced and forced adoptions and and families and victims unethically committed to the care system. The idea is that the commission would produce reports on an ongoing basis.

14. It doesn’t have much to say about health… 

But it does want to rebuild the health system “free from the orthodoxy of vested interests” and build services out of the HSE and into the community. The document doesn’t say much else on that issue.

15. … or these areas… 

It pledges fundamental reform of the education system as being a priority by prioritising citizens over trade unions, but doesn’t go into detail.

On welfare, it says rather oddly:

Those who are not self-reliant will be imprisoned rather than released by a life on welfare.

On justice it says that “a regeneration of a policy of zero tolerance in the streets and the courts is necessary”. Renua believes that a justice policy that fails to rehabilitate citizens has failed but adds that prisoners also owe a duty of care to society to rehabilitate themselves. What sort of solid policy comes out of that, we’re not sure.

16. It’s not ruling out Fine Gael, but there’ll be no deal with Sinn Féin 

Finally, Creighton said that when it comes to coalition deals it will be about “policy not personality”.

So she wasn’t ruling out a post-election deal with her former party although noted it would be “very difficult” to prop up the current coalition if they don’t quite make the numbers. She was more definitive about Sinn Féin:

16. Enda’s not too keen on teaming up

The Taoiseach wasn’t saying much, when asked about the prospect of a possible future collaboration with Team Lucinda. Speaking to reporters in the US, he said it was a “free country” when asked about the former Fine Gael minister’s new party.

He added that the Government was always willing to listen to good ideas… from independents.

“I did say in the past that constructive suggestions that have come from independents can be worthy of being considered. Why wouldn’t they be, if they’re about job creation and ways of improving the lot of people?

“It’s the duty of Government to listen, and that’s what we do all the time.”

Additional reporting, Daragh Brophy.

MORE: ‘Is it a bird? is it a plant?’: What on earth is that Renua Ireland logo all about?

Read: Lucinda Creighton’s new party is called Renua Ireland

Read: Could this have been Plan B for Lucinda’s new party name?

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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