Statement of An Tánaiste, Micheál Martin TD at the Launch of Fianna Fáil's Local Elections Campaign

Published on: 16 May 2024

Thank you all for attending this afternoon’s formal launch of our campaign for next month’s local elections.
In this election we are running candidates in every local electoral area. A total of 365 candidates will stand for Fianna Fáil, made up of a significant balance between experienced representatives and new faces.
They come from all parts of Irish society but are united by a shared conviction that we need active, constructive councillors serving our communities.
We can all see the fact that the biggest divide in Irish politics today is between those who want to exploit problems and those who are determined to tackle them.
And the louder and angrier the voice is, the less likely it is, that they are doing the much harder work of delivering action. This is true at every level.
A series of reforms which we implemented in the past mean that our local councils have greater certainty in their powers, and they have an opportunity to focus on delivering strategic, community-level services and plans.
We believe that there is more that local councils can do and that is why we are setting out an ambitious programme for the next five years.
Over the next five years our local authorities can play a vital role on some of the most critical issues facing our country.
The quality of community life is at the core of a successful society and there are many direct needs and opportunities for action.
Our first priority will remain to be housing, an area where local councils are absolutely vital. Our growing population needs more homes, and it needs more homes of every type – from rental, through social housing to affordable home ownership.
At a national level we are implementing action on every front, which is delivering a sustained increase in new homes.
We have implemented a range of changes not only in schemes but in the oversight of the housing sector, with the Minister ensuring that every local authority is actively pushed to increase home building capacity and output.
Action on bringing back homes to vacant and derelict buildings, coordination of homeless services and further increasing the supply of appropriate land for housing are amongst the measures we are committed to.
Even when dealing with the impact of a multi-year public health emergency, we have shown that we have begun a new era in Irish home building.
This is in stark contrast to the largest opposition party which still refuses to publish a comprehensive housing document, and which is opposed to all schemes which support home ownership.
Another core priority for us is securing the quality of community life. This means action across a wide range of areas.
This includes going further with local community policy plans, funding town-centre improvements and supporting sports and other local activities.
In an example of this, our Town Centres First policy is about directly supporting efforts to restore both the physical condition and lifestyle activity in the centre of our provincial towns.
We will continue to actively support extending local childcare facilities.
Unlike many of the parties standing in these elections who continue to show little or no interest in job creation, we believe that government needs to work hand in hand with business to create and sustain good private sector jobs. In particular, support for small and medium sized businesses is a priority.
And in meeting the great environmental challenges of our day we believe that local authorities can play an enhanced role in helping local communities to transition to more sustainable and profitable practices.
A particularly good example of this is a scheme we launched last month to work with farmers to implement practices which can sustain activity but dramatically reduce pollution and carbon emissions.
This scheme is a partnership between local authorities, national government, business, and local communities.
We reject the idea that you can either act on the environment or sustain a strong agrifood industry – we can and must have both.
But to do this we need councillors who are committed to working constructively for every day of their mandate.
There is no doubt that levels of migration and their impact on local communities are concern for many people.
In fact, it may be the single largest issue throughout Europe at the moment due to the impact of Russia’s war against Ukraine and the conflicts. Ireland is not immune from these international developments, but we can, and we will continue to scale up our response.
As we have said, at national level we are taking action to deal with the major increase in asylum applications. And at a local level we are committed to sustained support for communities.
Our commitment is to provide sustained support for schools, for local services and for general community activities.
In this election Fianna Fáil is proposing an ambitious, practical, and positive programme of action for implementation in every local authority.
Having strong and vocal local councillors does matter as they can improve access to local services and improve standards of living. They help families secure a home, work on the local development plan, ensure roads are invested in, and set the agenda for the future prosperity of their areas.
Their decisions play a significant part in sustaining local economic success, promoting local culture, and protecting the environment for the benefit of all.
Over recent weeks I have had the opportunity to canvass with our candidates in different parts of the country. It has been a very positive experience, with the overwhelming majority of people eager to talk constructively about their local communities.
It has reminded me once again of the great strength which our party gains from its network of members and supporters who are active on the ground, working to deliver practical action for their communities.
Between now and Friday 7th June I and my colleagues will continue to campaign, to engage constructively with people and to put forward our positive vision for improving our country for the benefit of all.