Monday, April 5, 2010

Bring on the bye-election

I am humbled and privileged to have been selected as the candidate to represent Sinn Féin in the upcoming bye-election. I commit to conducting a positive and constructive campaign. I will robustly challenge the Government on their absolute failures and provide real solutions to the country’s problems. This election must be about the issues facing the people of Waterford and not personalities.

Waterford taking centre stage

We have an opportunity to seriously impact on national politics and set the political agenda. We have an opportunity to properly hold those responsible for the economic collapse and the jobs crisis to account. In doing so we must also provide a credible alternative and offer hope to those who are hurting. Things do not have to be the way they are. 26,000 people in Waterford do not have to be out of work. We do not have to accept that Waterford will remain without a University. We can take a stand and say enough is enough. We should demand a new economy, a new kind of politics and a new Government.

New Economy

The Government has presided over the collapse of the Irish economy. Our banking system has caved in on under its own greed. The Irish people have been saddled with a €80 billion debt as we pump billions into five wayward banks. Put simply, our economy was serving the few and not the many. We need a new economy. We need to protect jobs and create jobs. We need to save jobs today and create the jobs of tomorrow. I set out four areas where the potential to create jobs exist:

* Tourism
* Green Technology
* IT and Digital Sector
* Agri-business

Tourism has the potential to be a key economic driver for the city and county. It can be the hook on which we underpin economic recovery locally. It is also an area where huge progress is being made. Green Technology and the IT and Digital Sectors are emerging industries internationally and Waterford is well placed to take advantage. These are areas where Waterford Institute of Technology is excelling in research and development. It is vital that educational providers, enterprise agencies and Government Departments work together and produce a new generation of entrepreneurs in these growth areas and in doing so create employment. Agri-business provides enormous opportunities for rural communities in Waterford.

New Politics – Renew the Republic

It is not good enough simply to rail against the system or blame the Government. The people of Waterford must stand up and be counted. We must demand real reform of the political system. A system which is dominated by special interests, tainted by corruption and is resistant to change. The entire political system needs to be reformed. The Oireachtas has consistently failed to exert sufficient scrutiny over the government and public bodies, and its composition reflects neither the talents nor the diversity of our people. A political system which is a carbon-copy of the British model, largely unreformed since partition, does not equip Ireland to meet the challenges of the 21st century. We need to renew the Republic to one which serves the people and not vested interests. We need a national Republic.

Rebuilding society

The birth of the Celtic Tiger created a lot of wealth in this state. It also brought about an undermining of society. Many of those who were celebrated as wealth creators were actually wealth destroyers. It is this individual greed which collapsed the banking system and saddled the taxpayer with the debt of dozens of big developers. On Good Friday 1,200 loans from the top ten developers in the country were transferred to NAMA. We need to rebuild the idea of a society and a community. In a society we all have a responsibility to each other. This goes for big bankers as well as the ordinary worker. Robust regulation of the banking and business sector must be put in place. People also have a right to live free from the fear of crime, drugs and anti-social behaviour. Rebuilding a sense of community is vital if we are to recover economically and bring about a fairer Ireland.

I am looking forward to the election campaign. I look forward to engaging in a battle of ideas with other candidates. I look forward to engaging with the people of Waterford. This is Waterford’s chance to set the agenda and send the Government a powerful message. We want real change.”

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