Fianna Fáil ready to move on, says Martin
on 08/10/2012 00:00:00
"We have a long distance to go. We have to work every day to renew and reconnect. It's not going to be easy but we have made a good start."
On issues like education, personal debt, budget overruns in health, the party is "starting to have a real impact" by "demanding accountability from this Government", he said.
Addressing supporters at the party's annual Cáirde Fáil dinner in Dublin's Burlington Hotel, Mr Martin said anyone who thought Fianna Fáil would simply give up after its massive election defeat last year has been proven wrong.
The party is planning a national policy conference, separate to the ard fheis, to discuss how it can frame policies on issues like education, health care and the economy.
"We can grow and win again but only if we show day in and day out that we understand the need for real change," Mr Martin said.
He compared the opposition politics of Sinn Féin to that of Labour two years ago.
"They continue to follow the old Gilmore and Labour playbook of offering anger rather than an alternative," he said. "They believe in attacking their opponents not in attacking problems. That's why eventually we will be more successful."
Describing Environment Minister Phil Hogan as "the gift that keeps on giving" he said the €100 household charge was both incompetent and unfair.
He also criticised the "betrayal" by Education Minister Ruairi Quinn, of his promise not to increase third-level fees.
Fianna Fáil will support the referendum on children's rights and Mr Martin said the reason it has not taken place until now is because other parties didn't agree with the wording put forward by his party.
"This has now changed and an amendment is to be voted on by the people which is nearly identical to our proposal."
The party is to put forward "a combination of proven representatives and fresh faces" for the local and European elections next year.
"A strong Fianna Fáil has a vital role to play in serving the Irish people," he said adding that it would renew itself "as a modern, forward-looking, republican party".