A Chairde uilig, i dtosach báire ba mhaith liom mo mhíle buíochas a thabhairtdaoibh as an gcuireadhchuncainte a fuairmé mar onóirmhóruaibh, a bheith i láthairag an gcomóradhseoinniu- i gcuimhnearPhádraig Ó Dónaill, laochGhaothDobhair. Tábreisaguscéadtríochabliainimitheanois ó cailleadhPádraig i bpríosúnanGheataNua. An fáth go gcuimhnímid le bródfós é, náiarrachtaí a phobaildardóibh é, a phobalféin, agusaidhmaontaithenandaoinesacheantarseogandearmad a dhéanamharnagnáthdhaoine go léir a cailleadhtoiscgurchreidsiad go láidir i saoirsenahÉireann.
Ag féachaintsiararbheathaPhádraigUíDhónaill ,anrud is súntasaínáconas mar a sheasséamach mar eiseamláirdáréféin, dáaoisféin.. Le linnaochtmbliana is daichead, bhogsé go rialtaónathírdhúchais go tíorthaeilearthóiroibreaguscaighdeánmaireachtálasásúil.
Chuaighséarimirceardtús go dtínaStáitAontaithe mar leanbhlenatheaghlach. Chonaic se an CogadhCatharthaagusd`oibrighsé i slitebeathaéagsúla, inameasc i bhfeighiltightábhairnear an teorainn le Ceanada. I rénuair a bhí an córascumarsáidetrasna an Atlantaigh le hÉirinn mall agusuaireantabaolach, choimeádsé de shíor i dteagmháillenaghaoltaagus a chomhdhaoinesabhaile.
Táfianaisemheascthamaidir le filleadhPhádraig don ÉiríAmach a bhíagnaFíníní ach nílamhrasarbithfaoinágurtacóirpaiseantafaoiscarúint leis an mBreatain ba ea é. Tar éiscúplaaistriúeilebhogséathuairarÉirinnsabhliainmíleochtgcéadseachtónaoi. D`fhillséarDhúnnanGall, agobair mar oibríginearáltaagusbríceadóiranseoagus i nDoire.
Ceithreblianainadhiaidh sin bheartaighséardhularimirce go dtíanAfraicTheas. Is aran gCaisleánKilfaunsartháinigséféinagus a chomhphaisinéiríar an tuiscintgurSeamas Ó Ciardhaanfíorainm a bhíarfhear a bhíagtaistealfaoinainmSéamas de Paor- Fear ba ea Ó Ciardha a raibh drochcháil air as sceitheadharchomhghleacaithechun é féin a shábháil.
Níortháinig a chomhdhaoine a mhair le linn a réféinnástaraithearchomhthuiscintfaoicénfáth go ndearnaPádraig Ó DónailllámhacharShéamas Ó Ciardha. Níbheidhnafíricíiomlána go deoagainn mar nárbhfhéidirtaobhUíDhonaill a insint. Rudamháincinnteatáareolasagainnná an toil láidir a bhíagStátnaBreataine é a chiontúagus an toil chomhláidircéannaagmuintirnahÉireann é a shábháil. Fianaise go raibh scéalUíDhónaill i mbéalanphobailidirnáisiúnta a raibh suimacu i gcásnahÉireannnágurthacaighUachtaránMheiriceá Chester Arthur leis.
TáscéalUíDhónaill mar cheann de namíltemílte i stair chogadhshaoirsenahÉireann. Cuireannsé i gcuimhnedúinn uilig go raibh an cathseo i gcónaíagbratharstráicímóraaguscodannamóra den phobal.
The commemoration of the past is basic element of any healthy society. To understand where you come from, to celebrate what unites you and to remember the sacrifices of others on your behalf – this is what commemoration should be about and it is why we are here today.
Over recent decades we have shown that a state can commemorate turbulent events in an open and inclusive way. Throughout the country local and national commemorations are more popular than they have ever been. They are defined by being dignified, community events.
The 90th anniversary of the Easter Rising and the bicentennial of the 1798 Rising are only two of the many events which showed how far we have come in preventing commemoration being seen as a source of division. I’m extremely proud of the central role which Fianna Fáil played in bringing this about, and in particular the visit of the British head of state three years ago.
The history books will all record the wonderful symbolism of a British monarch being welcomed to Dublin and bowing her head in respect to the men and women who died in the fight for Irish freedom. They will also record how a President of an independent Irish state, born into a Catholic republican family, welcomed her and then went with her to acknowledge those Irish men and women who died in the service of another flag.
In Gweedore, in Donegal and throughout the rest of the state it has been shown how the different traditions which share our island can respect each other’s histories and share them.
This is what makes the recent failure of the Haas talks in Northern Ireland such an indictment of the parties involved and also of the two governments.
Over the last two years there has been a dramatic escalation of tensions around the issues of the past and symbols. This problem was allowed get much worse because of the actions of those whose partisan actions were inflaming others.Even senior leaders who claim to know better have too often gone over the line from respectful commemoration into destructive triumphalism.
In the nearly sixteen years since the dramatic breakthrough of the Good Friday Agreement there has been immense progress, but the work is not nearly over. The Agreement was the opening of a new chapter, one where the work of reconciliation would be a challenge to everyone.
The reality is that this work is being neglected and this is causing serious damage. Just as communities feel more and more alienated from an Assembly and Executive dominated by two parties pushing their sectional interests even where this leads to deadlock, many are becoming more radicalised in their sectarian fears and actions.
The objectives of the Haas talks were nothing more than what is urgently needed in Northern Ireland to tackle growing discord – but the simple fact is that they could not succeed because of how the governments have completely disengaged.
Every single major step forward in the peace process was achieved because the Dublin and London governments were actively engaged as full participants in the process. Left to their own devices the parties could never have reached the point of sharing power and tackling contentious subjects.
In the many negotiations I participated in, as well as the on-going and less public work of reaching out to communities in the North, I always found a respect for the commitment which Fianna Fáil in government showed to the cause of peace, reconciliation and development. We didn’t just give the occasional speech full of warm words – we got involved as a full and active participant.
Our openness about our republicanism and our belief in the unity of this island in a single state was actually a help in dealing with unionist and loyalist groups because they knew where we stood. Equally they knew that we could be trusted not to step away.
We showed this, for example, in the National Development Plan, where long-term funding was ring-fenced for developing the social and economic potential of the entire border region.
Unfortunately in the last three years there has been a significant change in government policy towards Northern Ireland. The Taoiseach and Tánaiste have been content to take the roles of observers rather than participants. Happy with going through the formalities at set-piece meetings, they have allowed us to become completely detached from the substance of identifying the hardest problems and overcoming them.
Just look at the Narrow-Water Bridge project. This is supported by all communities on both sides of the border. It is also supported by the European Union. It is proven as a project to not just bridge historic divides but to empower development. Yet it is not proceeding because of the failure to commit a sum insignificant in comparison to the huge progress it would enable.
You also saw it earlier this year when Sinn Fein and the DUP went off to Downing Street to unveil what they said was a long-term economic plan for the North – and included not one mention of any cross-border cooperation. When I challenged the Taoiseach about this he said he had no problem with it or the fact that Dublin had been excluded from all discussions.
Together with the Cameron administration, our government has left a vacuum in the North. It has stood by as sectarian tensions rose and, when things looked as if they might get out of hand, supported a new set of negotiations but refused to participate in them.
The basic momentum of the Agreement itself is also being neglected. The clear and specific intent of the Agreement is to expand formal cross-border cooperation. There are many, many areas where such cooperation would be a threat to no one and to the benefit of all – in particular border areas. Yet our government is refusing to push for at least a process of expanding cross-border areas.
It is time for the government to end its hands-off policy in relation to Northern Ireland. Every issue, every dispute is of legitimate concern for our government.
Over a very long period, and painstaking negotiations and contacts, the right of our government to participate in these matters was acknowledged. We played a unique role of promoting a genuinely national agenda which was independent of party interests.
This must be restored and so too should the active and senior-level involvement of the London government. If it is not, then it is almost impossible to see where sustainable progress can be achieved, or how public confidence in the process can be restored.
It has become a defining trait of the Fine Gael/Labour government that their main concern is public relations rather than substance.
Day after day they issue press releases and speeches praising themselves and claiming to be delivering in every area. In fact they are going to ever more extreme lengths to cover up the reality of their actions.
This is how you end up with the growing scandal of their establishment of Irish Water. In the election and up to recent weeks they claimed that it would deliver enormous savings and cost almost nothing. It will cost people more and it is hard to credit that this government agreed to Irish Water bonuses.
At every point we have pushing them to provide specific information about its true costs and impact. Finally the truth is emerging and the reality is that it stinks worse every day.
It is because of the work of Barry Cowen TD over two years that we have the evidence of a government eager to hide the true story of Irish Water.
If you want to know why the people of Donegal and every other county are facing severe cuts to vital local services this year a major reason is that €410 million is being diverted from local funding to pay for the establishment of Irish Water. This is despite the fact that Local authorities will still have the responsibility to deliver and repair water services.
Services are being cut to fund across-the-board bonuses, new branding and the technology to introduce charges which will directly hit poorer families the most.
The licence to own and run Irish Water was given out without a proper process and was contrary to the advice given to the government in 2011.The model which is being implemented is being taken directly from privatised utilities in other countries.
The government is scrambling to cover itself and to protect its Minister, but this will not go away. They spend too long hiding information to convince anyone they are being open and they have spent too much money to keep claiming they’re saving money.
We are going to pushing them the end the diversion of badly-needed local funding and to stop the waste which will only grow unless there are immediate actions taken.
The government is also working hard but failing to cover up the impact of its decisions on the health system.
In the budget we were told that services were being protected. In fact James Reilly told us they were getting better. Since then the evidence has grown of the health system being targeted for an extreme level of cuts far beyond what was necessary or acknowledged.
Struggling families throughout the country have been targeted in order to take away their medical cards – something still being denied by the Taoiseach every day in the Dáil.
In an incident without any precedent ministers gathered at the cabinet table took out their pencils and amended the service plan for the HSE before publication. In particular they took out a statement from the Chief Executive Officer that service levels could not be delivered with the funding provided, even after extra funding was provided.
The cabinet forced the HSE to withhold fundamental information about basic public services because they feared it might get them some negative publicity.
This has received very little attention, but what no one will miss is the impact of the cuts. Their spin may work in the short-term – in the long term it will catch them out.
This is a government which is making many unfair, damaging and increasingly deceitful,and hidden decisions. In the face of its unprecedented majority and its dismissive approach to accountability it is our duty to keep challenging them and exposing the reality of their actions. We are doing this and we are having a major impact.
This is not enough though. As I’ve said at every stage of this Dáil, the old politics of destructive opposition practiced by Fine Gael and Labour in the past and by Sinn Fein today offers no route forward for our country.
As Leader of Fianna Fáil I condemn unequivocally the pension pay off agreed at the CRC.It is immoral and outrageous.
Fianna Fáil will not stand for the cynical smearing political attacks that Fine Gael and Labour have been making while doing their utmost to prevent our party from recovering.
For the moment the attention is on the actions of the government. This is inevitable. But we will be ready for them when we go before the people again.
We all need to work really hard to get as many votes as possible for all Fianna Fáil candidates in the forthcoming European and Local Elections in May. Every candidate has to get out there and explain to people why they want to have the honour of representing their communities. I am asking everyone here to get behind and support our great candidates.
We will build on the work we have done and the new directions we will take. We will talk about an economy strong enough to support the jobs and services we need. We will commit ourselves to renewing the push for a fairer, stronger and united Ireland.
I want to thank sincerely Pat the Cope Gallagher for his dedication and determination. If there is a vote out there the Cope will get it.
I also want to acknowledge and thank the organisers of this great event.
Go raibh mile buíochasgo leir.