Sunday, March 7, 2010

Ard Fheis 2010

2010 is the tenth Ard Fhéis I have attended. It is an opportunity to take stock, present new policies, meet people from across the country, share ideas and most of all have your say. And many did. The economy dominated the weekend. Speaker after speaker called for Government action. The Government were reminded of Sinn Féin’s 2008 job creation proposals and their failure to implement them. I hope the Government was listening. The 440,000 people out of work deserve better.

The issue of coalition was a lively topic of debate. A Waterford delegate spoke against coalition with any of the main parties. In some respects it was a false debate. A motion putting the decision making of entering Government in the south in the hands of party members was proposed and passed. This is sensible. In my view Sinn Féin has no intention of going into coalition with either Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael. However to close your options prior to an election is folly. You simply end up getting squeezed out of the debate. Why on earth would you do this? We will fight the election on an independent ticket. If we win enough seats to be potential coalition partners we will seek to have our policies implemented. If other parties step up to the plate and help us in this we will work with them. If not we will gladly lead the charge from the opposition benches asking the hard questions.

Another topic that incited debate was on hare coursing. A number of contradictory motions were tabled ensuring a good discussion. Unfortunately it was cut short, much to the dismay of many delegates. One delegate supporting motion 66 got a bit ratty. Well I jest, he talked about a hierarchy of animals and asked why people were so concerned about rabbits and hares and not rats. He invoked a mixed response when he criticised those who started the morning with a traditional fry up yet moralised over hare coursing and addressed some of the myths. Indeed.

It was a lively, positive and up-beat Ard Fheis. There was an air of optimism and confidence I have not seen for some time. The presidential speech was inspiring. It was a call to action. Now, I must get back to work and play my small part in building the Republic.

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