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Dublin: 10 °C Wednesday 17 October, 2018
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Sinn Féin pledges to 'abolish all student fees'

Pearse Doherty TD made the pledge at the party’s Ard Fheis in Belfast.

Pearse Doherty TD speaking at the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis in Belfast this evening.
Pearse Doherty TD speaking at the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis in Belfast this evening.
Image: Facebook

SINN FÉIN’S PEARSE Doherty TD has repeated his party’s pledge to abolish student fees as part of a fiery speech in which he put it up to the government to hold an election.

The Donegal deputy referred to himself as a potential finance minister in a keynote address at the party’s Ard Fheis at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast.

The party’s two-day Ard Fheis is the first annual conference since the election of Mary Lou McDonald as leader. Members will tomorrow vote on a motion that would direct TDs to vote in favour of abortion legislation along the lines of that proposed by the government.

McDonald will also make her address tomorrow evening at 8.30pm but this evening Doherty and Michelle O’Neill MLA were the primary speakers.

During his address, Doherty accused Fine Gael of casting “a cloud of fear and insecurity in homes all across the state”.

He said that the government was “attempting to normalise” the problems of homelessness and hospital waiting lists and said that Sinn Féin was offering “transformation”.

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,” Doherty added.

Sinn Féin’s pre-election manifesto in 2016 also promised to abolish student feels over the course of a government term by “incrementally reducing the student contribution”. That document said that lost revenue would be replaced “through the central exchequer.

Doherty also issued an election rallying call during in which he proclaimed that the party was prepared for whenever an election was called.

“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.”

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.

Among the motions passed by the Ard Fheis this evening were propositions calling for speaking rights for Northern Ireland MPs in the Dáil, civil marriage equality in the six counties and the abolition of zero hour contracts.

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Rónán Duffy

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