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Dublin: 14 °C Saturday 20 April, 2019
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Legalising cannabis, joining NATO and 9 other motions at the Fine Gael Ard Fheis

Legalising cannabis, supporting same-sex marriage and talking justice, transparency and accountability with Alan Shatter – it’s all happening at the RDS this weekend.

Enda Kenny at Fine Gael's last Ard Fheis in Dublin in 2012
Enda Kenny at Fine Gael's last Ard Fheis in Dublin in 2012
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

THE FINE GAEL Ard Fheis gets under way at the RDS in Dublin later today with the party set to hear from Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Health Minister James Reilly tonight.

Kenny will open the conference at 7pm with Reilly, Fine Gael’s deputy leader, due to speak on the topic of universal health insurance at 8pm.

Tomorrow will see a full day of events with dozens of motions to be debated and voted on by the Ard Fheis delegates.

There will be a live televised session from 11am to 1pm where we’ll hear from ministers Michael Noonan, Richard Bruton and Simon Coveney, but the showpiece event will be an address from the Taoiseach at 8.30pm which will also be broadcast live on RTÉ One.

Kenny is already fierce excited if this video is anything go by:

We’ve combed through the Ard Fheis Clár (agenda) so you don’t have to and picked out a few motions we found interesting…

‘Towards Universal Health Insurance’

1. Motion 3 in this section, which will be debated tonight, calls on the government legislate for the banning of cigarette sales in off licences and pubs.

2. Motion 4 calls for additional resources to be allocated to mental health care services and, among other things, to examine whether mandatory annual counselling sessions can be introduced for all secondary school students.

Internal Organisation Motions

3. By far the most interesting motion here is Motion 3 – that the Ard Fheis mandate the Fine Gael Executive Council to set up a working group of politicians and ordinary members to explore contesting elections in Northern Ireland.

imageMinisters Phil Hogan and Leo Varadkar deep in conversation at a previous Fine Gael Ard Fheis. Pic: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

‘Local Government in the 21st Century’

4. Motion 2 in this sections calls for elected councillors and the people of Dublin to have their say on a directly-elected mayor, something we’ll be hearing more about in the coming weeks .

5. Motion 6 calls on the government to encourage local authorities to examine parking charges with a view to getting more people visiting town centres, and to give priority to residents to park on their streets in their own residential areas.

6. Motion 9 has a ring of Margaret Thatcher’s famous right-to-buy scheme in that it calls on the government to introduce a new ‘social housing tenant purchase scheme’ to empower families to own and invest in their own home.

‘Transparency, Accountability, Justice’

7. Motion 4, put forward by the Trinity branch Young Fine Gael, calls for the legalisation of the use of cannabis for personal consumption, sale and production.

8. Motion 6 calls on the government instigate the process of joining NATO – something potentially at odds with Ireland’s long-stated position of neutrality.

9. In what is sure to prompt some interesting debate, Motion 10 in this sections calls for the Ard Fheis to support the passing of next year’s referendum on same-sex marriage.

10. Motion 13, perhaps with a nod to the recent controversies, calls on the Ard Fheis to ‘set clear limits on the powers’ of the Public Accounts Committee which has, to say the least, been flexing its muscles in recent weeks with its questioning of a garda whistleblower and grilling of Rehab just yesterday.

‘Investing in our Future, Commemorating our Heritage’

11. Motion 9 in this section calls for the Transport Minister Leo Varadkar to review public transport prices to ensure that all full-time students pay student fares and only student fares. You won’t be surprised to hear that this motion comes from the national executive of Young Fine Gael.

WATCH: This video will get Fine Gael members totally psyched for their Ard Fheis

Follow all our coverage from the Fine Gael Ard Fheis here >

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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