C: Aontú

Aontú Ard Fheis hears of a “great incompetency” at heart of government

Aontú’s Ard Fheis has heard that a “great incompetency” exists at the heart of the current government – and that TDs are often “completely detached from the people they are meant to serve”.

However, party leader, Peadar Tóibín, said that “the Irish people can put an end to the rotten culture that has taken over our political system.”

“There is .. great incompetency at the heart of government. Lifelong career politicians with little are no practical experience and no ideological compass are bought and sold by senior public servants every day in Ireland,” he said.

He said the “malaise in the Irish political system is that we live in an accountability-free zone.”

“No one is ever held to account in the upper reaches of the public service or within the political system. And where there is no accountability there is no change.”

Referring to the cost of living, housing, and health crises, he said: “Among the causes of these crises are government politicians who are completely detached from the people that they are meant to serve. TDs will give themselves pay rises this year that is equal to 50% of a pensioner’s total annual income.

“Members of the Legislative Assembly in the north have taken their wages for 5 months without legislating for one day. There is a chasm of experience between the political class and most ordinary people.”

However, he added that: “one of the most significant things that I have learned through two decades of political activism is that the people do not know how strong they are.”

“In fleeting sparks when people’s backs are against the wall, like the water charges, like the cut in pensions, people power comes to the fore,” he told the hundreds who attended the party’s first in-person Ard Fheis.”

Motions passed at the Ard Fheis included a call for Minister Stephen Donnelly to resign because of the “chaos” in the health service, and for a full inquiry into how government policy may have impacted the number of deaths from Covid in the nursing nursing.

The party’s delegates also favoured motions calling for additional support for Irish fishers and for the establishment of a LNG terminal to help address the energy crisis.

Becky Kealy, representing the Cork North-West constituency, called on the government to use Ireland’s natural resources to sustain her people. “The bog produced an Irish natural resource and there is no way we should be importing that resource,” she said to applause.

Mr Tóibín said that families were ‘skipping meals’ because of the cost of living crisis – but that the same families were paying more in fuel taxes.

“Today the Cost-of-Living Crisis is bearing down on families north and south. Parents are lying awake at night wondering if they can manage to a Bill. More than half the population is heading into a winter expecting to suffer fuel poverty. Many families are skipping meals,” he said.

“Yet today we are paying more in fuel taxes that we did before the Cost-of-Living crisis. All of the €1.2billion Electricity Credits that people will get in 3 instalments from Government, people have paid for in higher VAT, Carbon taxes & ESB price increases. All of the money they are giving us in Electricity Credits, they have actually just taken off us.”

“The Government even increased the Carbon Tax this year despite the crisis. Shockingly Aontú was only party in the Dail to have the common sense to vote against this tax.,” he told the Ard Fheis.

“We are the only country in Europe not to have Gas storage facility. We are the most exposed to deviations in price this winter and to cuts in supply. The government also restricted the use of turf in the middle of an energy crisis. Again, Aontú was the only party in the Dáil to oppose this unequivocally.”

“The Minister for Energy spoke recently in proud measured tones about bringing together all of the EU’s energy ministers to speak about offshore wind. Yet there has been only 7 off shore wind turbines erected in 20 years by successive governments,” he said.

He praised delegates for their work in growing the new party.

“You have grown this movement in just a short time. 55,000 people voted Aontú in the last elections. 1,300 members have joined us from across the political spectrum. Our 6 elected reps are challenging the establishment from Wexford to Derry. Our poll ratings north and south are on a par with, and ahead in some cases, of political parties such as PbP, Labour, the Soc Dems and the Greens,” he said.

And he addressed one of the party’s pillars saying: “The abortion law that has been introduced has ended the lives of 23,000 children north and south. That’s 900 classrooms of children who would be here with us today are not, directly due to these laws.”

“I ask you,if you can’t trust a politician in relation to these lives what can you trust them on?”

“We in Aontú seek an Irish society built on compassion, empathy and kindness, there the most vulnerable are the most protected.”

“We will support mothers, economically and socially so that they have the confidence to raise their children to their full potential.”

“We seek to protect children with disabilities, from low income families and baby girls from the discrimination of abortion. We will support them not just up until the day that they are born, but through their whole lives.”

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