The last two days have been about discussing and agreeing a positive, constructive and forward looking agenda for the coming Dáil term.
We have heard from a diverse and challenging range of speakers, with both days being marked by open and robust debate. Yesterday, we looked at rebuilding the economy and the experience of those struggling to cope with the crisis. Today, we examined the critical area of job creation.
Today we heard how our policies on research and indigenous enterprise and entrepreneurship have resulted in phenomenal growth in exports which will be the key driver of our recovery.
Coming out of this session, three core elements of our policy on economic recovery need to be protected:
1. Our belief in the importance of investment in research,
2. Our confidence in indigenous industry
3. The importance of training for those currently out of work to enable them to get jobs
We will be approaching this Dáil term with purpose. Among the issues we will be advancing using our Private Members time in the Dáil will be:
1. A new bill on personal insolvency: the Coping With Debt Bill, establishing a Debt Settlement Office and putting in place a clear, transparent and fair framework to help families who are really struggling
2. We will introduce our Protecting the Family Home Bill into Dáil Éireann. If the Government is serious when it talks about protecting family homes, it will rethink its opposition to this Bill and take it forward without delay
3. The crisis facing the national dairy herd and the ongoing negotiations of the CAP post 2013
4. We will introduce a motion recognising the right to a Palestinian State. This will build on the approach taken by Fianna Fáil in Government when we led the way in Europe condemning the Israeli war on Gaza and is in the proud tradition of Fianna Fáil’s longstanding independent foreign policy platform.
Our second session this morning focussed on the party’s renewal process. This meeting picked up where our away day at the start of the summer left off.
This phase of our journey comprises three distinct elements:
1. Our core renewal plan. This is the collection of priorities and workstreams that the PP has agreed. I have appointed a series of members of the Oireachtas to take responsibility for each workstream and we will be meeting on a regular basis to ensure implementation.
2. An extensive debate with membership across the country on proposals for significant organisational reform aimed at returning the member to the core of the party. This will culminate in a transformative Ard Fheis in February.
3. My tour of the organisation across the country, meeting with and listening to the many thousands of members at all levels of the party and emphasising to them the opportunities that now exist within and for Fianna Fáil.