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Dublin: 11 °C Friday 10 July, 2020
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A Minister for Dublin and scrapping water charges - How the country might change under Fianna Fáil

The party’s members will be voting on policy ideas at the Ard Fheis this weekend.

Party leader Micheál Martin
Party leader Micheál Martin
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

DELEGATES AT FIANNA Fáil’s Ard Fheis this weekend are set to vote on 187 motions, covering every government department.

We’ve taken a look at the programme for the party’s 76th national conference – which will take place at the RDS in Dublin tomorrow and Saturday – and picked out some of the more interesting motions.

The Dublin Bay North cumann has suggested the party support the introduction of free travel for all people under 25 who are unemployed. The same group also proposes that all SIM cards and phones “should only be purchased with valid photo identification” so a database of all registered SIMs can be established.

They also want a couple of new ministerial positions to be introduced – one for Dublin and another for older people.

The Waterford cumann calls for the party to consider supporting the abolition of the TV licence fee “in light of the lack of balance in RTÉ” and the establishment of a completely new funding arrangement.

One motion calls on Fianna Fáil to commit to not go into government as a junior partner or to form a coalition with Fine Gael after the next general election. No other party is singled out in this way.

Speaking about this at launch of the clár, Dara Calleary stated: “We don’t fear anyone.” He was critical of the government’s “exceptionally divisive” policies and Sinn Féin’s handling of the Mairia Cahill abuse claims.

As part of a rule introduced in 2013, the party must convene a special Ard Fheis for members to agree to a programme for government if the opportunity to enter into a coalition arises.

Fianna Fail Ard Fheis Calleary at the party's 2014 Ard Fheis. Source: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

On Friday delegates will also be asked to vote on introducing a new method of electing the party’s leader. Calleary said that, if passed, the new rules would extend the vote to all of the party’s 20,000 members, councillors, MEPs, senators and members of the national executive.

Calleary said this would mark the “first time since the foundation of the party that people other than TDs will have a vote in terms of electing a future party leader”.

Abortion

The only motion dealing with abortion (number 38) states: “That Fianna Fáil will oppose any attempt to Repeal Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution.”

“We don’t support any effort to repeal the 8th amendment,” Calleary noted.

In terms of other health-related issues, the party will discuss a proposal to set up Accident and Emergency Departments that cater specifically for mental health.

Members will also vote on the possibility of introducing a 5% levy on all alcoholic drinks sold after midnight.

Water charges

Naturally water charges pop up several times, with the following motions up for discussion:

  • Calling on the government not to impose any charges for water until leaks are fixed
  • Making a commitment to abolish Irish Water and allow local councils to manage the water supply
  • Agreeing that Irish Water should be dissolved
  • Agreeing that the €172 million start-up costs for Irish Water have been “misspent while not an extra cent was spent on water infrastructure”
  • Calling for the ability to pay to be taken into consideration for water charges and the local property tax

Other motions look at abolishing the much-hated Universal Social Charge, or replacing the USC, PAYE and PRSI with one tax.

Some other proposals up for discussion include:

  • A 5% upward revision of the rent cap in Dublin, Cork and Galway “to take immediate pressure off the rent supplement scheme”
  • Extending maternity leave by another month initially and more thereafter “to allow babies to get the best care”.
  • An increase to the mortgage interest relief from 30% to 40% for people who bought homes prior to 2009.
  • Outlawing zero-hour contracts

TheJournal.ie will be covering the Ard Fheis all weekend – follow @TJ_Politics and @orlaryan for updates. 

Read: Fianna Fáil wants a new tax… on sugar

Read: War of words: Gerry Adams had a massive go at Micheál Martin tonight

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About the author:

Órla Ryan

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