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Micheál Martin: Enda thinks fist-pumps solve problems ... but Gerry is even worse

In a popular move, the Fianna Fáil leader also wants to abolish Irish Water.

MICHEÁL MARTIN USED his closing address at the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis to take aim at Enda Kenny and Gerry Adams, among others.

Martin said people currently see “a system which ignores every problem until it becomes a national crisis” and a country that is “becoming more divided and more unjust”.

He said the government had made the recovery “as unfair as possible”.

FF 258 Micheál Martin Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

The Fianna Fáil leader said Fine Gael and Labour have formed a government “of spin and broken promises” and is now “obsessed with trying to buy re-election”.

They just don’t get it. They are so out of touch and arrogant that they have absolutely no idea why people are so angry with them. They think a press release can cover up the impact of taxes and charges which ignore your ability to pay.They think a photo op and a fist-pump can get through any problem.

“But just look at the reality of their record. Every major crisis – in hospitals, in household debt, in housing, in town centres, in drugs, in class sizes, in low and zero hour contracts – every one of these came about because this government would not listen,” Martin told 3,000 or so delegates at the RDS.

He went on to direct his criticism at Sinn Féin who he said are an “even worse” option.

Let me be clear, what Sinn Fein is offering is even worse. In the Republic they promise everything to everybody, while in the North they are implementing savage cuts which will decimate public services.

Martin said people have another option:

Fianna Fáil will never settle for the idea that you can have either a strong economy or a fair society but not both. Fianna Fáil absolutely believes we can have an Ireland which serves all.

“An Ireland which will not leave people behind. An Ireland which sees economic and social progress as part of the same agenda.”

Martin said “the growing social divisions and alienation” in the country need to be stopped, stating the party should return to the spirit instilled by late Fianna Fáil leaders Eamon de Valera and Seán Lemass.

Martin said the current government “gives with one hand and it takes back twice as much with the other”, adding:

Families who can least afford the extra bills are getting hammered.The headlines announced on Budget day bear no relationship to what you actually have to pay to the state. Every income tax change is matched and exceeded by a rising number of other taxes and charges.

He also used his speech to call for a Yes vote in the same-sex marriage referendum, stating: ”We must support the right of two people to make the great commitment of marriage to each other, irrespective of their gender.”

Irish Water

Martin said €180 million has been spent on setting up a company “which itself does nothing but install redundant meters and issue bills”.

“The work of fixing pipes is still being done by the same people as always – in our local authorities – and because of Irish Water, there is less money for this than before.”

Irish Water should be abolished. It has failed and it should go before it does any more damage.

“After 13 u-turns by the government, the water charges will give the state little or no additional net income – and they are not required to fund the renewal of the water system.

“Instead of charging people to receive sub-standard services we say fix it first.”

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Fianna Fáil has a LOT of plans

Martin was introduced by Jack Chambers, the councillor who recently won a divisive selection convention in Dublin West. Chambers received a standing ovation and said he was determined to win back the seat once occupied by the late Brian Lenihan.

Echoing comments made throughout the Ard Fheis, Martin said that, if returned to power, Fianna Fáil will introduce increased PRSI benefits and reduce the burden of USC on the self-employed, as well as introduce a child care tax credit worth up to €2,000 per year to working families and an additional month’s maternity leave.

If elected, the party also plans to increase mortgage interest relief from 30 to 40%, abolish zero-hour contracts, introduce social welfare protection should for the self-employed, and recruit more gardaí.

ff 484 copy Post-speech Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

It also wants a Minister for Community Support and Development who will oversee issues such as the availability of schools, health services, sports and recreational facilities, and public transport.

We must help families who work hard and are being ignored by a system which has lost touch with their needs. An Ireland which serves all, not just part of its people.

“Today, tomorrow, and always, that is what Fianna Fáil, the Republican Party will fight for,” Martin said.

Originally published: 20.30

Earlier: ‘People who restrict the freedom of movement of others are fascists’

Pat Carey: ‘It took me 65-and-a-bit years to summon up the courage to talk about being gay’

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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