Labour Party Conference 2017 – 1


of adopting standing orders
number one, report number 1. So can I ask Fionnula
Richardson chair of standing orders to please
present the report.>> Fionnula Richardson chair of
standing orders committee, good evening
delegates, standing orders report number 1 has been
circulate to all delegates, and is available at
the registration desks. Standing orders
committee reports and recommends. I move. Proposer?
>> Can I get a seconder for the standing orders?
I have a seconder. All those in favour? All
those against? So it’s carried. Okay we’re going to move now to
the opening welcomes and we have our own
native here, Cllr George Lawlor to give the
welcoming address at this 69th Labour Party
conference. Thank you. [APPLAUSE]>> Thank you chair. Chair,
delegates, comrades and friends it is indeed a
tremendous honour for me as Cllr of Wexford borrow
district to welcome you to the heart of the sunny
South East, the job of welcoming the delegates to
conference is usually done by the local TD,
but on this occasion the parish priest has deferred
to the curate! But I’m sure you’ll see plenty of
himself over the coming days.
Wexford is a very proud bastion of Labour, time
and again even when nationally we were at our
lowest point, the people of this historic medieval
town and county has endorsed the work and roles
played by various Labour representative it is
through the decades. From the time of Richard Corish
who served as mayor of this town for a
remarkable 25 consecutive years, through to his son
Brendan who lead this party in the 60s and 70s right
up to the pole topping performance of our Party
Leader Brendan Howlin last February.
Labour has always been close to the political
hearts of the yellow bellies, and they have
consistently endorsed our party, and our
representatives over the decades.
In the streets scapes of Wexford you willy iconic
symbols which may lead to you understand this long
standing and loyal allegiance, just around the
corner from where we are now stands the pike man
statue in the heart of our Main Street, a symbol
of the struggle of 1798, fanned by flames of
revolution in America and France the events of
1798 in Ireland are eched forever on Irish history
and driven by the motto of liberty, equality and
frat earn the boys boys from Wexford battled against
the imperiallism that plagued the people.
A short walk away is the lockout memorial
commemorating the gal apt workers of the ironworks
who for four long hard months held out in order to
have their union This is a test.
Testing … This is a test to see if the
text will scroll across the screen properly?
A.>> Good evening delegates —
sorry that was a bit strong!
Good evening all and welcome here this evening to
Wexford, delighted to see you all and looking
forward to a really interesting and lively
discussion over the next weekend, for this
weekend. We’re going to kick off with the
normal business of adopting standing orders
number one, report number 1. So can I ask Fionnula
Richardson chair of standing orders to please
present the report.>> Fionnula Richardson chair of
standing orders committee, good evening
delegates, standing orders report number 1 has been
circulate to all delegates, and is available at
the registration desks. Standing orders
committee reports and recommends. I move. Proposer?
>> Can I get a seconder for the standing orders?
I have a seconder. All those in favour? All
those against? So it’s carried. Okay we’re going to move now to
the opening welcomes and we have our own
native here, Cllr George Lawlor to give the
welcoming address at this 69th Labour Party
conference. Thank you. [APPLAUSE]
>> Thank you chair. Chair, delegates, comrades
and friends it is indeed a tremendous honour for
me as Cllr of Wexford borrow district to welcome
you to the heart of the sunny South East, the job
of welcoming the delegates to conference is
usually done by the local TD, but on this occasion
the parish priest has deferred to the curate! But
I’m sure you’ll see plenty of himself over the
coming days. Wexford is a very proud bastion
of Labour, time and again even when nationally
we were at our lowest point, the people of this
historic medieval town and county has endorsed the
work and roles played by various Labour
representative it is through the decades.
From the time of Richard Corish who served as
mayor of this town for a remarkable 25 consecutive
years, through to his son Brendan who lead this
party in the 60s and 70s right up to the pole
topping performance of our Party Leader Brendan
Howlin last February. Labour has always been close to
the political hearts of the yellow bellies,
and they have consistently endorsed our party,
and our representatives over the
decades. In the streets scapes of Wexford
you willy iconic symbols which may lead to you
understand this long standing and loyal allegiance,
just around the corner from where we are now
stands the pike man statue in the heart of our Main
Street, a symbol of the struggle of 1798, fanned
by flames of revolution in America and France
the events of 1798 in Ireland are eched
forever on Irish history and driven by the motto of
liberty, equality and frat earn the boys from Wexford
battled against the imperiallism that plagued
the people. A short walk away is the lockout
memorial commemorating the gal apt
workers of the ironworks who for four long hard months
held out in order to have their union recognition set
in stone. I should also say that not far
from this building we also have the Nicky Rackard
statue, however in deference to Gina and Mags
Murphy and given the trimming we recently gave
Kilkenny in their own backyard I’ll leave that from
the script! Perhaps it’s something in the
make up of Wexford people that aye lined them to
the cause of Labour right up to the present day, the
job of rebuilding continues apace for our great
party, and the great people who stayed with us as we
sought to rebuild our nation. To the new people
who have come aboard the Labour platform in
recent times, we offer them a hearty welcome and
assure them that they have signed up to a party
whose mission statement has always been to
make a positive difference to the people of
Ireland. The theme of this conference
speaks for itself, our future. If the children of
this island are to have a decent, equitable and
fair future, it is imperative that Labour is at the
heart of politics and at the heart of policy
formation and implementation in this country.
In the worst of times we have seen Labour strive
to improve the lot of working families and protect
services. Labour has never been afraid to get
their hands dirty when it comes to restoring
sovereignty to our great nation, even when that
came with great personal and political cost.
We’ve taken hits for it and the fence sitters have
been rewarded. But the hit tree book also show
that when leadership and responsible leadership
was required, Labour was in the thick of it. To
quote Jack O’Connor, whilst others made noise,
Labour made a difference. [APPLAUSE]
This weekend of course is not just about debate,
or the serious business of politics and policy and
with that in mind I encourage you all to step
through our wonderfully history narrow streets, in
our great town and maybe even engage in some
commercial indulgence! The cultural capital of the
sunny South East welcomes you all to this very
important conference, I wish everyone well in
their deliberations and also those seeking
election. And wish everyone involved in the 69th
national conference of the Labour Party a very
happy, and productive stay here in wonderful
Wexford. [APPLAUSE]>> Thank you very much George.
And it now falls to me for the chairperson
address. As you know this will be my final address as
chairperson so I’m particularly honoured and
somewhat emotional this evening, but looking
forward as I say to the weekend.
Delegates, comrades, friends, welcome to the 69th
Labour Party conference in Wexford. Thank you all
for making the journey, which already shows your
huge commitment. It is important for us all to
gather this weekend to strengthen our bond and to
rejuvenate our spirit, having gone through a
profound and testing general election.
We all know it was difficult being in government
between 2011 and 2016, but we can be proud of
Labour’s many achievements during this term. We
guided this country back from the abyss of Fianna
Fáil’s failure and mismanagement to become the
strongest growing economy in Europe in 2016.
Labour is a party of work and we prioritise jobs
to give it new lease of life to many thousands.
And we didn’t do it by cutting the minimum wage as
Fianna Fáil and the Greens had done. We secured
better trade union rights, not only reversed the
cut but raise the minimum wage twice. Labour
pursued and delivered on marriage equality and the
X case. These wouldn’t have happened
without Labour in government.
[APPLAUSE] We all know the disappointing
outcome of the general and locals before and
Europes before, since then we have had to ask
ourselves many searching questions, as
chairperson I have always championed the importance of
listening to the voices of our members, that is
why I chaired a dedicated team to review the
election, involving a series of meetings with members,
constituency chairs and others, this resulted
in a recommendation to review our
party constitution and late they are evening,
conference will ultimately decide on what way we
now want our party to work.
Labour’s fate at the 2016 election was not unique,
social democratic partys are being squeezed in
many parts of Europe, recently the Netherlands,
there’s a rise in anti immigrant sentiment, see
Brexit and le Pen in France. Politics swung to
the unknown in America as Donald Trump won offers
by appealing to a mix of disaffected white collar
workers and forces of conservative.
Labour knew being in government required
compromise which was sometimes uncomfortable. We
chose real influence over isolated, pure itty in
politics to bring our policies to bear, to limit
the impact of budgetary cuts and provide stability
in the national interest. This may have left us exposed
politically but we did right by the people of this
country. We showed we are a party of
substance by stepping up to the plate when our country
was at its lowest ebb, we set the stage for an
expansion in public spending, we got little credit,
but we made progress.
People should not be deceived by what are packaged
as radical plans but what amount to empty
solutions, whether economically unviable, power
driven or socially regressive. Too often the far
right, the far left and hard man nationalism is
based on fear, distain, resentment and an
uncompromising approach. Only tolerance,
equality, collaboration and rationality can create
a progressive society. That is what Labour stands
for. That is why we’ll prevail. And we must
prevail as a party. [APPLAUSE] Labour must champion a renewed
social contract underpinned by investment in
public services, providing a fair deal for
workers reducing poverty and improving income equality.
We must convince the electorate that progressive
and constructive politics can build a better
society, not the angry divisive and macho rhetoric is
that gaining traction around the world.
In the end shouting and banging the table is no
guarantee of a better future. Yet that is what so
many on the opposition benches in the Dáil are
doing it now, even some within cabinet.
The outcome is an erosion of trust and confidence
and no meaningful progress. Now we have a
ramshackle government propped up bye-bye Fianna
Fáil with little coherence and at risk of falling
apart on personality and policy issues, this is
not a steady set up to defend Irish interests,
particularly with Brexit ahead. For those who heralded new
politics, let’s look at the facts. This government
passed only 20 pieces of legislation, the joint lowest
number in any Dáil in its first year in history.
It is a do nothing regime, which has been
bogged down in manufacturing shodding political
fixes and runs scared of hard decisions.
[APPLAUSE] This government has no
standards, typified by really bad decisions — do you
think Labour would have allowed our national
maternity hospital to be handed over to a religious order
that failed to pay its share of compensation?
[APPLAUSE] Labour has been proactive in
government, in opposition, holding the
government to account. We have rolled up our sleeves,
making legislative proposals on areas such as
ending zero hour contracts, regulating Crisis
Pregnancy Agency, removing baptism barrier in
schools, greater transparency to reduce gender
pay gap and action to tackle revenge poarn. Labour stands with the Bus
Eireann workers and has proposed a sectoral pay
agreement to regulate the industry. Labour gave huge
support to the Cleary’s workers in their
campaign for justice which recently resulted in a
hard fought settlement facilitated by no
other than our able Dublin Lord Mayor Brendan Carr
[APPLAUSE] This is what must continue to
mark Labour out in opposition, workable and
relevant policies to implement our principles. Not
just opposition for its own sake. We must continue
to view fairytale solutions with scepticism, work
to develop our own based on pluralism, equality,
solidarity, evident and responsibility.
Tomorrow we’ll debate the future of work and the
greening of Ireland as part of this process. It
is imperative for us as a party to get back into
our communities, to build links with grass-roots
organisations and groups. This is a job for us
all, every one of us. Either canvassing, arranging
events in your constituency, it may be joining
your local resident association or a
voluntary organisation through your work, we must all
re disability our double our
efforts to build relationships in the
neighbourhood so people know Labour is active and
listening. We can hold our head up high as a
party. Our counsellors are doing
fantastic work at local level, TD’s and Senators are
pursuing work, loyal and committed members are
achieving the party’s re ble, we must strengthen and
deepen this work and reach out to more people who
share our way of thinking. We must be ready for
a general election. So far we know, we
have selected fantastic candidates, Senator
Gerald Nash, Rebecca Moynihan, … and we’ll proceed
with this in the coming months.
We also have 40 local area representatives in
place. It has been a privilege length to serve
you as chairperson. It was a huge honour to have
witnessed at first hand the commitment, integrity
and courtesy of three courageous and honorable
leaders Eamon Gilmore, Joan Burton and Brendan
Howlin. I am thankful for the support of
Labour’s inspiring TDs, Senators, MEPs
and councillors, past and present in my role over
the four years. Time prohibits me from
mentioning former and existing staff who also deserve
praise but I want to also acknowledge the work of
the current chief of staff Neil ward and the
general secretary Brian mac Dowell they are leading an
industry yaws team that go above and beyond normal
work hours and work expectations.
Most importantly it takes enthusiastic and loyal
members to keep the party vibrant, as chair
elected by conference delegates I have always been
conscious of my responsibilities towards the
membership. The role of chair is important
internally because it carries the duty to ensure
proper debate within the party structures.
Labour’s members must be assured of a functioning
party which has channels for engagement and
ultimately a cohesive mechanism for
decision-making, the role of chair is about
maintaining the integrity of the party by
upholding constitution and allowing everyone to
play by the same rules. I always sought to conduct
meetings in a fair and impartial manner so members
could speak for themselves rather than being
directed in one way or another. I wish my friend
and successor Jack O’Connor the very best and will
have no doubt he will do an excellent job.
[APPLAUSE] Many members have contacted me
with thanks and good wishes as I Stepaside, I
have been humbled by the warmth and goodwill shown to
me. I wish to thank all members who made my
job doable, through their co-operation and
consideration. We have stayed united through
thick and thin, this continued cohesion will see us
through whatever lies ahead. I will remain
involved actively in the party in any capacity in
which I can be of assistance and always promoting
our party’s honourable mission.
Thank you very much and I wish you a successful a
enjoyable conference. [APPLAUSE] Thank you very much for the
standing ovation which was not expected! But I’ll move
quickly, otherwise my emotions will get ahead of
me! There are some seats over at the back of the
room. We now have to move on to formal business of
electing tellers, we need six tellers, Dermot
you’re the chief teller? So if I can have a show
of hands for those? Donncha, can I have four others ? John
Feely, Paddy Breen, that’s three. Tony Johnson .
Delores Lunny. I think that’s everybody.
Okay, now I’ll ask the general secretary to give
his report to conference. Brian McDowell.
[APPLAUSE]>> Thank you Lorraine. I’m
delighted to be in Wexford addressing for the first
time Labour national conference as general
secretary of the party our last national
conference was in Killarney in March 2015, what a
lot has happened since then.
I want to start off by paying tribute to my
predecessors David Leach and before him Ita
McAuliffe who both worked tirelessly for the party
in the past and I know will continue top do so as
we rebuild into the future, I’m lucky to call both
of them friends. Every political party needs
leader and we in the Labour Party were fortunate to
have in tough times a lead they are Joan Burton,
whose belief in equality for all and in the face
of severe pressure was not afraid to stand
up for the common good. In particular I would
like to thank Joan for all she has done and
continues to do to break down barriers for women in
politics. [APPLAUSE]
It is our job, the job of the Labour Party to lead
the way in encouraging women in politics, and it
is great to see women like Rebecca Moynihan and
Deirdre kingston contesting the next general
election as Labour candidates, and there will be
more. Noif doubt, the important role that Jonas
leader played in this. Let me talk a little about the
last 12 months. We built schools, raised minimum
wage, legislated for X, lead the way to marriage
equality and free GP care for 6 and unders and much
more. I had the privilege to attend
parliamentary meeting to get to know our TDs and Senators as
colleagues and friends. They work night and
day on behalf of the party and the people of this
country. General election 2016 ended for
me in the great county of Westmeath, Willie
Penrose ended by retaining the Labour seat that
he and the Labour Party have held for decades and
you know what, they will continue to hold it
for a long time to come.
[APPLAUSE] But in the end the people spoke
and seats came tumbling down and good friends,
good legislatures and good people lost their seats
and their jobs. I’d like to personally thank
them all for all the work they did on behalf of our
party and on behalf of the Irish people.
[APPLAUSE] It would be remiss of me not to
thank Joe Costello for the work he did as director
of elections for Seanad elections, five great
candidates elected to go with the magnificent 7,
definitely a good platform to build on.
[APPLAUSE] One of the many consequences of
the general election was the drop in state
funding by nearly 70% overnight. The entire party
operation had to come under scrutiny, the end
effect is we are a smaller office, with
significantly less staff, people who worked for the party
for a long time have left. Jackie, Angie, Cathy
and Dermot, many other good friends and
colleagues, many of them here tonight, no longer work for
the party. The party is worse off without
their expertise and knowledge but I know they are
all committed to the Labour cause and committed to
rebuilding the Labour Party.
[APPLAUSE] Dermot tells me sitting in the
front row, for over 25 years as staff member he had
to keep his opinions to himself, all those
on Twitter you have now been warned! This is a very
difficult time for everyone. But I’d like to
personally take this opportunity to thank Margaret
burn who is is someone that many of you might
not know, but the financial administer straighter
of the party and someone who not just does a
great job, but always says the right thing at the
right time. We’ve spent a lot of the last 12
months rightly examining our party, our
policies, our message and importantly examining the
culture of the party. This is important work that had
to be done and that will need to continue long
after tonight and well into the future.
This evening we’ll debate a new party
constitution. This is your constitution. Your
rules, your party. I look forward to the debate
and discussion, because that’s really what
conference is about. Over 90 motions, three policy
papers will be debated this weekend. I’d like
to thank the policy committee and Alex White
for their work on producing the paper on greening
of Ireland and the future of work and Dominic
Hannigan and others from the international affairs
committee for the contribution on the Brexit
paper. No other party can lead a debate
on the future of work, that’s what Labour does,
we lead where others follow 6789 we offer
solutions where others offer sound bites, we look after
the common good where
others look after themselves. Our right step campaign was
launched early in the year, childcare is a major issue
for many people across this country, the Labour
Party is a well thought out policy for general
election 2016, we’ve hosted meetings in
constituency from Louth to Cork, Limerick to Dublin,
head office will support any constituency with
posters and leaflets, let’s get out there
and talk on issues
that really affect people and let’s do it now.
I’d like to thank Jan O’Sullivan for leading this
campaign and Mags mur knee head office for the
support. We’re developing our membership
database to make it fit for purpose, there will
be hiccups alongs way but bear with us. You will
receive a survey asking a number of questions to
help us update our records and create that more
inclusive movement that we all want.
You may have met scot at registration, he is the
new person in head office dealing with the
database, so please go easy on him! I do remind
him that we have a Labour president and he has
Trump! The next general election could
happen any week, we’ll be ready when it comes,
new candidates along with established ones, new
policies along with pretty good old ones and a
Labour vision of decency, equality and justice.
One thing we do know is the next scheduled
election is 2019 local elections, we have the
hardest working counsellors in the country. I’m
very proud of their work that they do in
communities across this country. I don’t think we
mention that enough as a party. So let me say it
for all to hear. Labour councillors on a daily
basis make me proud to be a member of this great
party. [APPLAUSE] They are the backbone of our
party and central to the rebuild. It also gives me
great heart to see so many people put themselves
forward as local area representatives, over 40
now and still counting.
Communities who had no Labour voice now have one.
To really rebuild we must do in communities, stroo
et to street, door to dear. Head office sincere
supporting area representatives and I’d like to
thank national organisers Billy sparks and
Kirsi Hanafin for the tireless work that they do
on behalf of the party.
[APPLAUSE] Our other party sections are
unbelievably active, Labour Youth, women, equality
and Labour trade unions all holding fringe event
this is weekend so please try your bests to attend.
The Labour youth chair Grace Williams, now Kevin
O’Donoghue, Labour women Sinead Ahern, labour
disability chairperson Mick Keegan and labour trade
union chairperson Yvonne O’Hally began, thank you
very much. [APPLAUSE]
And to Caroline winston who works in the head
office with the sections, once again thank you
very much. To rebuild we must change. We
must break down barriers that exist for women
and young people in particular, we must change the
party culture, be more open, tolerance and
inclusive. We are a movement of people who believe
in equality, we believe in decency and we
believe in justice. The one thing I’m certain from
listening to the membership of our party over the
last 12 notes is the fight to rebuild is real,
hunger to succeed is real and the need for a strong
vibrant Labour Party and communities across
this country is real. [APPLAUSE]
I am proud to be general secretary of this party,
proud to work alongside great staff and proud to
address you all here tonight. Enjoy conference.
[APPLAUSE]>> Thank you very much Brian.
Now it’s seldom I am sitting beside a very quiet
Party Leader, but no doubt he is going to change
that with a rousing speech, I introduced the Party
Leader — I just! Sorry, I got overly
enthusiastic, we’ll first have our financial report, which can
also be a very important and interesting
section in our discussion. Sorry about that
Gina and thank you. [APPLAUSE]
>> I don’t know about the rousing now somehow or
other, I don’t think finance normally has that
affect on people. Chair, delegates, delighted to
be here, since our last conference we have had the
very successful marriage equality referendum and
general election of 2016, the result of which
brought about am change in our fortunes.
Following the reduction in the number of Dáil and
Senate seats there was a consequence reduction in
state funding which we relied on for the
day-to-day running of the Labour Party and payment
of staff. While we do not have the same income we
are working within budgets we set in line with our
current income in a prudent manner.
We are continuing to search for a suitable
building to purchase that will accommodate staff
and be accessible for our members. We have
ringfenced the sum of 200,000 euro as a deposit
from the sale of Ely place and this has been
approved by the executive board. In these challenging times I am
conscious of the need to come up with new ideas
in order to broaden our income base for our election
fund. As you are aware we can not spend state
funding on elections, and therefore must fund raise in
order to build our election fund.
In February we held a very successful and well
attended rose ball in the Gresham Hotel which we
plan to hold again next year. I am delighted with
the appointment of Mags Murphy as head of
campaigns communication and fundraising, along
with the new finance and fundraising committee
we’ll look at semple other fundraising ideas.
We must now look ahead to the local elections in
2019 but before then, we are likely to have a
general election. In order to ensure success and
rebuild the Labour Party we need to get our message
across to the voters in the next general
election which is like three happen before the local
elections of 20 is the. And may indeed happen at
any time, we need ongoing fundraising activities
to we are able to finance information leaflets,
advertising, posters, etcetera.
All of your membership fees, branch affiliation
fees and constituency election fund which we
receive from you our members, go into our election
fund. And are only spent on elections and
referenda. While political partys are
sometimes criticised for spending on posters and
advertising let us not forget this spend goes into the
Irish economy. It is not just at national level
that fundraising is important. But also at local
level. It is important that branches and
constituencies build funds in order to help their
candidates for the local elections in 2019 and the
next general election.
Branches and constituency should explore ways of
fundraising which allow member who is can give
their time to organising fundraising activities
such as race nights, auctions and table quizzes to
do so. Many members have experience and
skill sets in these activities and should be
encourage to use them on behalf of their branches
and constituencies.
The additional value in fundraising activities can
result in keeping contact with supporters who may
not be interested in being actively involved in
all branch, and also bring together members from
different branches in the constituency. It is
also a way of reaching out to past, present and
potential new members. I would like to thank the
members of the finance committee for their help since
our last conference. Every member has
made an important contribution and been of great
assistance to me. I would also like to express my
appreciation to the party staff both past and
present, for their hard work and in particular to
Marring Brett burns our financial administrator.
I would especially like to thank our general
secretary Brian McDowell for the enormous support
he has given me as national treasurer.
Lastly, may I thank you, our members, for placing
your trust in me, for the last six years, as your
national treasurer. I hope you will re-elect me!
And allow knee work on your behalf for another
term. Thank you delegates. [APPLAUSE]>> Thank you Gina. And after
the false start! I now ask the party lead tore
address you all and no doubt it will be a rousing
speech! [APPLAUSE]>> Thank you very much Lorraine
and can I begin by expressing my profound
gratitude to you Lorraine, for the work you did
in the most difficult of times, and in
particular representing the views of the membership
always and holding the party together when it was under
extraordinary strain, thank you for your
efforts. [APPLAUSE] Can I also begin on a sad note,
because as we arrived here this evening we
learned of the death of Mary Farrell, those of us who
worked in Leinster House will remember
Mary, who worked so closely with Sean Ryan, a hugely
bright, intelligent woman, who
unfortunately has died far too young.
But we’re looking forward to this weekend and I
want to welcome you all to Wexford. Here in 1911
workers faced the first lockout for demanding
decent terms and conditions. 200 metres from
where we’re gathered is the grave of John Redmond,
leader of the Irish parliamentary party.
For more than two centuries men and women in this
town have dreamed and planned and sacrificed for a
better future. Just as they have right across
this great nation. That’s the job of politics.
That’s what brings us in Labour together, to
dream, to plan, and ultimately to build a better
future. More than 800 members will
gather here this weekend, we’re coming together
for the first time since an incredibly bruising
general election last year. Since my election as
leader I have been travelling the length and
breadth of the country, from Donegal to Dublin, Cork to
Galway, Louth to Limerick and Longford and
elsewhere. If I haven’t been in your constituency yet
I’m on my way! Much of the time has been spent
talking about Labour rebuild. There was a
need for us to look inwards for a while. We needed
to reflect on what we did and what we didn’t do,
what we got wrong over the last number of years.
We needed to think deeply about what happened, to
cause the loss of so many Council seats in 2014
and Dáil seats in 2016. More importantly, we need
to come up with plans to make our party strong
again into the future. The election review group
reported last summer. They frankly reported on matters
pertaining to this party in recent times, and
they made very strong recommendations for the
future, which the executive board is now
implementing. Their key recommendations were
that a review of the party constitution was
required, and tonight it is a new constitution that
will deservedly get centre stage in our discussion.
We’re doing this differently, because it needs to
be done differently. It is not a constitution
being forced upon the members with an up or down
vote, quite simply that’s not how things are going
to be done in this party any more.
For the first time we presented a draft
constitution to every member, every branch, every
constituency had the chance to amend it and each
of the amendments will be deliberated upon and
decided upon here tonight. It is your views that
count. I want to say a couple of things
about the new constitution. The first is to
extend my thanks on behalf of all Labour members to
Jan O’Sullivan and the team who worked on this
often thankless work, because not everybody who wants
to sign up to do a constitutional review, but Jan
has carried out her task in an extraordinary way.
Consulting with each and every division and unit
of the party, reaching out to the views of all
members across the country, to shape a
constitution that is fit for the future. The
proposal to extend one member one vote to party
conference is a very radical one.
It will cement our position as the most democratic
democratic political party on the island.
It is evidence of us taking one of our principles,
democracy and modelling our own constitution
in its wake. It many ways it was the logical
end point after process that started some years
ago. So tonight we’ll decide on whether we’ll
expand the one person one vote system to party
conference, the most powerful policy making body
in the party. I think that’s a powerful way of
telling each and every one of our members that
you matter. Your voice is as equal to any other
member and you are the decideers of our future.
For everyone in the hall tonight, I want to ask
you one thing now, and that is, to reach out and
recruit to build this party. It’s obviously a truism to say
if every current member persuaded one, encouraged
one, got one new member, we would double our
membership. So talk to your friends and family.
Talk to those who used to be part of our family
and bring them home. Tell them about the work we are
doing. Ask them to be involved. And finally,
sign them up! I want to grow this party. I
want it to change. I want it to adapt, to a
changing world. To re focus on policy and campaigns,
to meet the needs of every community, to be a
party that dreams, but also a party that does.
Whenever the next election comes we’ll be ready.
With the strength of the current PLP, with
candidates like dear drap kingston, Andrew
Montague, Rebecca Moynihan and Jed Nash already
selected and many more to come, we have the people who can win.
We’ll have the policy that is are right, we’ll
stand as an independent party beholden to none and
secondary to none. Just Labour. Proudly Labour.
[APPLAUSE] There are those who want us to
fail. Those who see division within the PLP
where none exists. Those who want to block out what
we have to say, so be it. That won’t stop us.
Because we’re focused on our future, our
country’s future, on decency, on justice, on
equality. They are our bread and butter. They are the
principles that define us. And which define
what we’ll do. Justice matters a lot to us. We
speak about it in broad terms, we talk about
social justice. And we talk about economic justice too.
In Ireland justice as an idea is often narrowed,
but even at the narrow end Labour’s ideas matter.
20 years ago I started to listen to the views of a
whistle blower, in the end it would prove to me
that the mac Brearty family of Donegal had been
targeted by members of An Garda Síochána, and
along the way I raised their case and the case of
others — after much pushing and Hullabaloo, the
Morris tribunal was established. Those of us in Labour know Frank
McBrearty junior, but long before he was a
politician he was an advocate for justice. And he
and others like him deserve better progress than has
been delivered in the aftermath of the Morris
tribunal. Over the past 20 years the
architecture of policing in Ireland has changed.
We’ve seen the ombudsman commission, we have a
Garda inspectorate, and thanks to
Labour’s insistence in the last government we finally
have a policing authority. Because of Labour we
have restored freedom of information act and
we have for the first time concrete, firm
legislation to protect whistleblowers.
It recognises that the evidence that whistleblower
brings to light is of value and seeks to protect
them, and yet, and yet, and yet despite all of
these legislative changes, the cultural changes we
need to bring about justice in policing is still
lacking. This can be a political fire
storm as issues arise from time to time, but it’s more
important than that. Justice must be blind,
and it should not be blind in how it functions, for
weeks now I’ve called for the powers of the
policing authority to be expanded. So that it’s not
limited to monitoring Garda reform, but
instead the Garda authority becomes the driver of
reform. For reasons I can’t understand
Francis Fitzgerald has been very slow to drive this
agenda. Last week she confirmed that she
hasn’t published an update on the Garda inspectorate
recommendations since 2013, apparently the
Gardaí are too busy to let us know which reforms they
are actually implementing, and which they are
simply casting aside!
They have no plan or published plan for an update.
That simply isn’t good enough. There is no point
in having international experts on policing making
profound recommendations for modernising policing
in Ireland if those recommendations end up being
thrown into a drawer. There’s never been a Labour
Minister for Justice and I think it shows, because we
are doer. We are the reformers and in justice
there is a lot to do! This area along with many others
needs Labour’s attention. And that is the
ultimate reason we’re gathered here this weekend.
We’ll decide on a new constitution tonight, yes.
We’ll select party officers and a new executive
board, but above all, it is here that we’ll shape
Labour Party policy as an open, democratic party.
We come together to chart a way forward for
decency, for justice, for equality and for our
future. Thank you very much indeed.
[APPLAUSE]>> Thank you very much Brendan,
I think that sets the tone for our discussions
this weekend, and now we have our first major
discussion point this evening, which will be the
constitution, so in order to move to that debate we
have to adopt a second — we have to consider
the adoption of standing orders report number 2,
so I would ask please for Fionnula Richardson
to present the report.
The document has just been — is now being
circulated to delegates, but Fionnula will go
through it.>> Good evening delegates,
Standing Order report number 2, in relation to the
motions to amend the party constitution in the
session on party affairs we recommend as follows — now
this is being circulated but it’s quite a long
— do you still want me to read it? Okay it
deals with amendment 1 A to schedule 1 which will
preserve the party existing principles and objects,
if this amendment is passed then 1 B, C and D will
fall. 1 B proposes an alternative
formulation of the party’s principles and objects to that proposed in
the substantive motion. If B passes then C and D
will fall. If amendment. 1 C is proposed
and passes then the first part of D which seeks the
same objective becomes repetitive and
unnecessary. The second part of 1 D relating to the
vision of Ireland as a secular state remains relevant
and can be put from the chair on the standalone
basis. If 1 F and I are both passed
then Labour disability as a newly recognised
party section is added to the list of party
sections encompassed by 1 I or 1
L. The second part of amendment 1 F
and 1 H both seek to amend article 7 section 2 D
of the proposed text. The two proposed
amendments are for unconnected and purposes and can
be debated and voted on separately. If both
amendments are passed conference will be deemed
to have approved an amalgamated text in which
Labour disability is inserted immediately after
Labour equality into the text of amendment 1 H.
If a amendment 1 L is passed then amendment — 1 I
is passed then 1 J to similar effect will fall.
Amendments 1 M and 1 N are seeking to amend the
same text but for different and unconnected
purposes. They may be debated and voted on separately.
If both amendments pass then conference will be
deemed to have passed an amalgamated version
encompassing both amendments. Finally if motion number 1
passes then motion 9 from Nenagh falls.
An emergency motion on national ma tecialt
hospital ownership issue will be taken on Saturday
during the health and children session. Text will be
drbilitied in the morning. Thank you. I move.
>> Thank you for that Fionnula. Can I have a
seconder for the report? Seconded. Okay.
Agreed. Okay so we’re going to start
with motion 1 which is being proposed by the Central
Council and Jan O’Sullivan as chair of the
review group, the election review — the
constitution review group will introduce this section,
thank you>> Good evening delegates,
colleagues friends it’s an honour for knee propose
the very first motion tonight and that is the
motion on behalf of Central Council to amend the
constitution and in doing so I would just refer to
what Brendan just said, that we are doing things
differently. We were asked to review the
constitution as part of the review after the election
and indeed as part of Labour rebuild. We set
about doing that by first of all consulting
members. We had an online survey, we had a series
of meetings, both out around the country and
indeed with various representatives of cons
constituencies etcetera, and we had a debate at Central
Council which was a very engaged debate.
Right all the way along that process we listened
to members, we made changes and then the draft
constitution was sent out to you, with the draft
agenda for the conference, which gave
constituencies and members time to read what was
being proposed and indeed to propose amendments.
We have a series of amendments tonight, you have
just heard the sequence, quite a complicated
sequence to be debated and voted upon.
But the important thing is that it is your
constitution as Brian said at the start, it is
about all of us together debating and coming up
with the best possible model. We were a relatively small group
and we’ve drafted what is before you tonight, I
hope you’ve had an opportunity to read it.
I just want to summarise, what are the main points
that we’re putting forward to you this evening.
And first of all we set about amending the
introduction, the principles and objects, during
the survey there was a 70% response that said we
should review it. It was written back in the
1990s, our aim is not in anyway to dilute the
principles, the vision, what we all stand for.
But it is to make it more concise, it is to make
it more readable, to update it and above all we
want it had to be inclusive. So whether you define yourself
as a social democrat, a democratic
socialist, a feminist, whatever, we want this
constitution to be inclusive of everyone.
So that was the first element of it, and there are
amendments down to that and they will be debated
later. And we look forward to that debate.
Certainly we have read the Labour youth amendment
which we think is very strong and it will be up to
you to decide and also some suggested additions
such as referencing the EU which we also believe
is a positive addition. So that will be debated
later. The second point I want to make
is the one that Brendan Howlin stressed, that is
more power to the members. That is the radical
proposal that there will be one person one vote at
conferences for the future. Now there is a
safeguard there, you will have to be a member of the party
for 12 months, so it’s not — there are certain
lessons that we’ve learned from other parties, you
don’t come in overnight and get a vote at
conference! But I’ve always felt it was
unfair where you might have a branch where there might
be tenor 12 active people who contribute to policy
yet some of those have to come along to conference
and are just observers, I think that’s unfair
and we should give members the opportunity.
[APPLAUSE] We already have it with the
leadership and indeed with selection conventions as
well. So this is a natural progression and I think
a good step to take.
We also want to give more power to members in
terms of the membership of the executive.
Currently as you know there’s the panel of three
men and three women selected plus treasure ear and
chairperson are all elected at conference, so by
proposing there will be four men and four women
that would mean that the majority of executive
will be elected by membership at conference and
again we think that’s an important way of giving
more power to the members. There are proposed amendments
with regard to maybe making the executive larger, my
view is that we don’t want it to be too large,
it has to be effective, but those will be
debated later. The third point is in relation
to the sent federal Council, Central
Council and what’s important to all of us, which
is policy making, campaigning, links with trade
union movement and the fourth is the international
unit. So we’re proposing there will be four units
reporting to Central Council, the campaigning
unit, the policy unit, the international unit and
the trade union liaison unit T they would report
to Central Council, they will be active working
units s within the party, so that
we’ll have that strong focus that we want to
have on policy making, and on campaigning. And
indeed linked to that our trade union links of
which we are extremely proud and both with
Lorraine as chair and with Jack O’Connor as
incoming chair, those links are very positively
strengthened, but by having a trade union liaison
unit as well, that will be active under the control
of the Central Council or leadership of the
Central Council, we’ll be further strengthening
our trade union links.
As the party of James Connolly and Jim Larkin we
are very, very proud of our trade union links and
we want to ensure that we have a constructive
position within the party for that unit.
[APPLAUSE] Another quite radical element is
in relation to the election of the Party
Leader. We’re proposing that any two members of the
Oireachtas, not just of the Dáil, can nominate the
Party Leader. So it’s the Oireachtas, so it
includes Senators as well as TDs. And also that five
constituency Councils who make up 10% of the
membership can also nominate the Party Leader.
But we do believe the Party Leader must be a
member of Dáil Eireann. So we’re proposing those, that
broadening if you like, again of the right to
nominate a person to be Party Leader.
Finally, I want to refer to the fact that we want
to make the constituency Council a core unit, so
we are proposing that and also many people here at
conference have said we don’t want a whole lot of
motions, but we want to have time to debate
motions properly. So we don’t want to limit the
right to have motions coming coming from different parts
of the country, but our proposal is that it will
be the cons at this time Wednesdayy that would
propose motions rather than every branch having
the right to propose motions. Again I know there
are amendments in relation to this.
But the purpose of this really was to ensure
that we have a policy focused conference, which I
think everybody wants, and time to debate important
motions rather than have a whole plethora of motion
that is we don’t have time to properly debate.
So that’s the purposes of that particular proposal
proposal. So on behalf of the group I’d like to thank the
other members of the group because everybody did
work hard. I’d like to thank everybody who
contributed along the way to what we are bringing
to conference tonight and those who have proposed
aye meptments, we look forward to the debate on
those amendments, but again if I could go back to
saying this is your constitution, it’s for the
members, it is the framework upon which we must build and
rebuild our party. There will be many, many things
we’ll do to rebuild our party, but it is
important that the constitution is a good workable
tool that encompasses our values, our
principles, but also facilitates the kind of
campaigning, the kind of policy making, the kind of work
that we must do to build this great party again.
Thank you very much.
[APPLAUSE]>> Thank you Jan and thank you
once again Jan for your personal work on this and
the hours and dedication that you
have put in. I want to explain now to
conference how we’ll run the debate. So we have a series
of motions and what I propose is that we take
each one of them in turn and that I will ask for the
proposer and speakers to speak on each of the
motions and after — each of the amendments and
after each amendment we’ll vote directly on that
amendment. It will have implications which are set
out in the Standing Orders report number 2,
but we can go through them as we proceed.
And at the end, when we have got through all the
amendments we would then vote on the substantive
motion as amended, or if it’s not amended, but the
overall motion which is to amend the constitution,
which is set out in the new constitution, and
people will then be given an opportunity at the
end to raise any issues or discuss any topic on
that, that hasn’t been covered under the
amendments. So if we can proceed in that way
I think it’s the easiest to do the job. So I now
want to say as well that the proposers of
motions will have three-minutes to speak and the
speakers will have two minutes. And if I can ask
speakers on any, on each motion to move to the front
of the hall, just so that we can keep the flow
going, because it will probably be a lengthy
debate. I now want to start with motion
1 A and this motion, if it is — just to
explain, if it is adopted, would mean that the
current principles and objects of our constitution
as they exist would not change. So can I ask
please for the proposer Cork south central to
come forward. Thank you.
>> Thank you party chairperson, Luke field, local
area representative for southwest ward of Cork
City from Wilton branch, comrades this amendment
seeks to retain the principles and objects of the
party as outlined in the current party
constitution my reasoning for this is simple, the
current principles and objects are not a
problem. They outline all that is
important about us. Our status
as a democratic socialist party, our
commitment to the values of equality, justice,
liberation and international co-operation. They
articulate the future of decency, justice and
equality that we strive to build.
These principles served us well when we reaffirmed
them in 2009, when we used them to build the
biggest left wing movement in the history of this
State. They would have continued to serve us well
had they been allowed to have greater influence
over the last government. The current principles and
objects of the party have never betrayed us. They
are not the source of any current problems. And
beyond this, I do have some issues with the
current wording as proposed. We should not adopt
the so called social market economy as an
objective of the party. It is an instrument of
capitalism, and it is therefore ultimately
incompatible with our values as democratic socialists.
[APPLAUSE] In the main comrades, I feel we
are better off not pursuing this new wording. More
over, should we focus on this, I feel we’ll be
open to accusations of on fuss case and distraction,
of distraction from the real important changes
this party must make, many of which are outlined
in the draft proposed constitution.
So let us continue it the work of rebuilding the
public’s trust in our party without distraction.
Comrades, please sort amendment 1 A
>> Thank you Luke. Are there any speakers —
just to let you know that the cards for, if you
want to speak, the speaking documents are over
here I believe. If there’s anybody at this point
who wants to speak, I know we’re just getting
started, if there’s anybody who wants to speak on
it? Because we’re going to now, once this section
is done we’re going to vote on this amendment.
I know that Jan O’Sullivan will reply to the
proposal, but is there anybody else who wants to speak? No okay Jan if you
wouldn’t mind then please replying.
>> Thanks chair, I will just reply very briefly
and just to say that I think we do need to
update, I
think we do
need to update the
policies and principles, as I said there was a 70%
response suggesting that we did need to.
And in quoting from what we are proposing, we say
we strive for social and economic justice where
everyone has a fair opportunity to develop their
personal and social selves and participate in the
economic, social and cultural life of the nation
in conditions of freedom, solidarity, justice and
equality. I’m not going to quote the lot, but at
the end we say our vision is of an Ireland
contributing to the sustainability development of
the Earth, solidarity and mutual respect of
people’s, eradication of poverty, protection of
children’s rights, strict observation of
international legal commitments and collaborative
and participative approach between international
relations and peace between States.
I think to just reduce the document to simply the
reference to the social market economy does not do
justice to what we were actually proposing, which
is much more inclusive and which does refer to
democratic socialism and the value that is we all
share. Could I also point out that as
the Standing Order committee report has said if
amendment 1 B is passed then 1 C and 1 D will
fall, so — sorry if 1 A is passed then 1 B, 1 C and
1 D will fall. So I think it would be a pity
if we didn’t for example have the opportunity to debate
those amendments as well.
But I would say overall that we do need to speak
to people in relation to what we stand for. We do
need to be inclusive and I think what we are
proposing in the document, which you have all read
is genuinely inclusive of the different strands in
this party. I do believe that it is a basis upon
which we can go out and recruit and rebuild.
I would urge you to not simply go back to the
document that we have had since the 1990s. Thank
you.>> Okay thank you Jan unless
there are other speakers which I haven’t
received, I’m now going to take a vote on
amendment 1 A so can you have your
cards ready please? All those in favour
of amendment 1 A? Raise your hands. All those
against? It falls. So the vote against has been
carried. Which means then that we now
debate amendment 1 B which has been proposed by
Labour youth, I presume I have a proposer from Labour youth?>> Comrades, we at Labour youth
entirely appreciate all the work that’s
gone into this proposed preamble however we
feel it’s lacking in a certain ambition and it
neglects to deal with what truly are the core values
of the Labour Party, we believe what we have
offered is an alternative is a much sounder
and more ambitious alternative.
So I suppose to beginning with, the one that’s
proposed omits reference to socialism and class
divisions, like it or not they are the vision of
the Labour Party is not reflected in the reality
that we deal we today and there are class
divisions that impact the ability of so many Irish
people’s chances, life chances in terms of their
access to education, their access to healthcare,
access to wealth, I could go on. The amendment of class divisions
is what is core to our Labour Party values, and
to neglect this is frankly a shame.
Our amendment also under lines the broaden
gaugement and empowerment of the Irish, euro and
international progressivism. At the
moment we’re dealing with Brexit, the general election in
the UK, we could be faced shortly
with two presidential candidates in
France both of whom want to see an exit from the EU.
This means an international solidarity is more
important than ever before, I am sure a lot of
you remember Ireland pre-the EU, I don’t! But
I enjoy all the perks of the youth guarantee,
the Erasmus programme, free travel between
countries and I wouldn’t like to be faced with
the reality of a Europe that is defined by
borders and divisions. [APPLAUSE] Another glaring issue in the
proposed is the view of the government as the sole
vehicle for social change and the sole rectifyer of
injustices in this country. This is a sort of
paints a pessimistic view of the future
for the Labour Party the parliamentary party,
sections and members all worked tirelessly in
the rebuild however this progress is not
going to come overnight and it’s highly
unlikely that we’re going to find ourselves
unfortunately as a majority government, or even as
a minority in the foreseeable future. So this
seems to diminish our potential to enact any social
change in the country, which I’m sure is
something we all want to see happen in the near
future, so we see this as a kind of a short coming of
the preamble. On that, additionally it
diminishes the work that ordinary members are doing, all
of us are here, we go door to door, we leat let, we
talk to our friends and family and further
the progressive views of the Labour Party, so
it’s not just a few members of the party promoting
our views at governmental level that are
enacting our vagues in Ireland. And on that, a party
that is founded on the picket line it seems an
awful shame that we
would diminish the power of the people.
So in the interests of being concise as well, to
include those who suffer the most in the country
is possibly the most important thing that we can
do in this party. So I’d urge you all to vote for
our amendment thank you very much.
>> Okay thank you. I have a speaker Finbar who
wants to address this point? Sorry I
should have said from Dublin Bay north.
>> Comrades I want to speak in favour of the
Labour youth amendment, I think it’s a fair, far
clearer statement of principles and a statement of
what we stand for than the other proposed
amendment. Two things in particular strike me,
the youth amendment describes us as a socialist
party, the proposal says we’re a party who counts
amongst it’s members socialists, and by the way
distinguishes between democratic socialists and
social democrats whatever that is, # — the Labour
youth says we are a socialist party and that’s the
way we should continue. [APPLAUSE] There was a reference earlier to
some defeats of the soaks democratic movements
in Europe, for example in Netherlands and other
places, the reason for that is the same as
we were defeated here last year, the failure to
fight for socialism that causes the difficulty and
socialism isn’t an abstract concept, socialism is
the en caps laition of fight for working class
people, for trade Unionists, communities, women
and oppressed people generally.
So we must describe ourselves as a socialist party
rather than a party which counts amongst it’s
members some socialists. Just a second point,
this is more of a question, we should remain
members of the socialist international, and we
shouldn’t pose as an alternative this new thing
the progressive alliance, whatever that is. And
I’d like somebody replying to the debate to
explain why are we leaving the socialist
international? And joining some new amorphous
group called progressive alliance. Thank you
comrades, support the amendment.>> Thank you Jan, you’ll
respond? Nobody else has indicated on that point. So
Jan if you can?
>> Can I thank Labour youth sincerely for their
work and their
amendment and on behalf of the Central Council and the
group who drafted our proposal we believe that
Labour youth has actually improved on it so we’re
going to accept the Labour youth amendment
[APPLAUSE] But could I just point out that
the Labour youth amendment also does use the
sentence we are a movement of democratic
socialists, social democrats, environment list,
progressive, feminists, trade unions, unite
in our commitment to social and economic justice
to closing the gap between what is and what ought
to be. I don’t think there is a
difference amongst us in that regard. People that know
me know I started my political life as a proud
democratic socialist I will always be a proud
democratic socialist. I recognise other people are a
feminist before they are a democratic socialist
or a social democrat and I respect everybody
who is in this party, because we all share the
same aims and the same visions, but thank you
Labour youth we’re happy to accept your amendment.
>> Okay so I’ll take a vote on that then, all
those in favour of the Labour youth amendment 1 B.
All those against? Thank you. That one passes.
[APPLAUSE] That mean that is 1 C and 1 D
now fall. So we
now move on to 1 E. So can I have the proposer
from Labour equality please to give their proposal
proposal?>> It’s me again would you
believe it! So basically this amendment just
proposes that after equality officer we would add
responsible for keeping in contact with Labour
equality, attending equality meeting, conferences
and events, reporting to meetings on actives
of Labour Equality and encouraging and
supporting members to overcome discrimination. Up I’m
Chloe the women’s and Trans officer, with that
I attend meetings with Labour women and this has
been absolutely invaluable to the work that I
have been doing in my role with Labour youth, I
don’t think that I could do anything at all if not
aye terrible job if I did not have such close
and frequent communication with Labour women
because ultimately those two spheres are
interconnected if not the exact same thing. So I have
found that’s a really fantastic opportunity to network
with people who have got A, the wisdom but B the
contacts which are terribly useful. I also sit
on the committee of Labour equality and I do
think that we require a little bit more die lot
between sections if we’re to truly, very efficiently
and effectively promote our progressive agenda.
So yes I encourage you all to vote for
this, please and thanks. Thank you.
>> Thank you. Is there any speakers on this
motion? I haven’t had any requests.
The general secretary will respond
to motion 1 E.>> I’m going to be very brief,
this amendment is basically describes the
functions of a constituency or branch equality
officer. You can see the word on the screen,
equality is at the heart of this party, I actually,
I accept the amendment, I urge delegates to
vote for it.>> Thank you. So I’m going to
take the formal vote, all those
in favour of 1 E? All those
against? Okay, it’s carried. Now we move on to 1 F which has
been proposed by Labour disability. Can I have
the proposer ?
>> Good evening. My name’s Mick
Keegan I’m chair of Labour disability. One in
six people in Ireland have a disability, which
makes them the largest minority group in
Ireland, and of which anybody in this room, God help
us, can become a member.
We want Labour to be the natural party of choice
for people with a disability, by making sure that
we are accessible party. We have made good
progress so far in doing this, for example now
videos that come out from Labour H Q have
subtitles, and as you can see, we have on the far
side here, we have people who are hard of hearing
can read what’s being said. So it’s quite good. Over the
last five years we have produced an accessibility
policy for this party which was taken on board,
I think two conferences ago and we’re the
only party in Ireland to have an actual
accessibility policy. Also, on the last manifesto of
the election we put a great bit of work into it on
disability issues, but we came across with seeking
to solve the problems of things we put into
the manifesto so that — you know, we weren’t
just complaining and looking, we were being positive
and actually putting solutions to the problems.
Also what we’re doing now, Madam chair, we’re
reaching out to the people with disability and one
way we’ve done it this year was with the help of
the Lord Mayor of Dublin, I have to say he’s been
a great help. [APPLAUSE] We had two seminars, one in
January and one just there last Wednesday, where we
got people from the disability community and those
who are involved in the disability sector to come on
board and to actually work out a plan of
making Dublin accessible.
Now Labour disability said yeah we’re doing it in
Dublin, but we have plans, what we want to do is
make every town and village accessible for
everybody. Because it’s important, you can make a
building accessible, but if you don’t make the
access to that building to get into that building
accessible, it just doesn’t work.
[APPLAUSE] I know with the last election we
were hit pretty hard, and there was a few of
them from the disability sector where with the
withdrawal of medical cards, increase on
prescription charges, cut back in essential supplies
and services. We sort of lost touch — I know
we’re going through a bad time and I know the likes of
Sinn Féin and independents and all these are
saying that’s out of the way, we’re still going
through a bad time. We’re just learning to crawl and
get back in again.
But on disability, the vast majority of disability
people are actually people who are on the low end,
they are on social welfare, an when these cuts
happened they were already cut to the bone and
basically what these cuts did, they actually cut
through the bone. Now what we want to do, to
achieve — the attitude towards disability in the wider
community is changing for the better, though
it’s a bit slower than we would like. Most people
recognise that we need to move from the day where
people with disabilities were locked away,
living lives scheduled more to the needs of
staff and to the needs of than to the
needs of service users. People with disability need to
be support to live lives of their own choosing on
equal basis with everyone else. They need to be
able to access central services like transport,
housing, health and to be able to find and
retain jobs and good paying jobs. I mean there is
people there with a disability, because of the
nature of the way the social welfare system is set up
for them, they are afraid to take on jobs because
they may lose that net, it doesn’t work out.
To achieve this Labour disability needs to become
a full party section, standing alone with the
other sections, working closely with public
representatives and head office staff to make and
to recognise and support the needs of people with
disability to live independent lives of their own
choosing and not to be depending on charity.
Now just one more thing, the Convention on the
rights of people with disability, I was sad that
the Labour government didn’t manage to ratify that
and I would ask those now that are in the Dáil, to
seek to try and get that ratified. Thank you.
[APPLAUSE]>> I have one speaker, Kathleen
Lynch already indicating, Kathleen if you come forward?>> If I knew that taking my
time going to the podium gave me a round of
applause and extra time I’d have done it years ago!
To the proposer of the amendment, I think that the
outline of what you’re saying is absolutely true,
I’m here to support the amendment, I really do
believe that disability now is such a wide range,
I don’t believe that we have yet gotten our heads
entirely around exactly what we’re talking about.
Each and every one of us can acquire a disability
and as we are now living longer, staying healthier
for longer, we’ll acquire a disability of some
sort, whether it’s that you need glasses, hearing
aids, hip replacement, whatever, we’ll need it.
And it is different, it is entirely different.
I accept fully why the party thinks that it should
be lunched in under justice and equality, I accept
that. But where for instance in justice and
equality do house
reconfiguration come in? Where does planning come in?
Where does the dish in the footpath come in? It
is different. And we need to start looking at it
differently. Disability is going to be the
growing area in society, and Labour and
disability will in fact be the most powerful group within
this area. Labour in government and I did
it with the help of my colleagues, we brought
through the capacity legislation, the biggest piece
of enabling legislation that this country
has ever seen and the major obstacle that stopped
us from ratifying the UN treaty, the major
obstacle, there was one other piece, and that was
deprivation of liberty, that was being worked on.
Why this government, this present government
hasn’t moved in order to enact that is beyond me.
But that is a campaign that Labour and a separate
disability group can in fact take on.
There are things within disability that will never
be covered by equality, and that will never be
covered by a portfolio of justice.
I support the amendment and I hope you will too.
[APPLAUSE]>> Thank you very much, I have
another speaker, a few other speakers. Sarah Dunne
from Carrick on Suir on this.
>> Hello Sarah Dunne Carrick on Suir branch
Tipperary constituency, I’m standing here today to
say that I am in support of this motion because
you look at me and see a healthy young woman
standing before you, what you don’t know is I’m
living every day with a disability, 12 months ago
I actually was in hospital having a lumbar
puncture done to find out that I had MS,
disabilities are not always something that you
see, they are invisible. They are a growing, as
Kathleen said, the ageing population, our
healthcare system is supposedly getting better,
we’re living longer and more disability happen
every day. Don’t let Labour disability be
invisible as my illness is, because we are a
group of that people that need support and I urge you
to support this motion.
>> Next speaker is Padraig McLoughlin and then
can I ask Gerry Kerr to be ready.
>> Comrades I preferred not to speak against this
motion but as chair of Labour equality I feel I
have to. Mick Keegan has given a
fantastic overview of exactly how much
Labour disability has achieved as a subsection of
Labour equality and we are eager to stand back and let
that continue with Labour disability as a
subsection of Labour equality, as we did with Labour
LGBT in the past, in bringing through so much
equality legislation, we’ll be there when we are
needed, when we’re not needed we’ll stand back and
offer quiet help while letting other people take the
foreground. But, we need to be there as a
unit, helping across all grounds of discrimination,
helping to keep things unified, helping to work
as a party together, taking common strength
from each other and working together to achieve
our aims. Thank you comrades. I ask you to vote
against the motion.
>> Thank you Padraig. Gerry?>> Hi comrades, Padraig you
gave me a commitment you weren’t going to speak
against this! Comrades, it’s a very emotional time to
me, to see Mick Keegan up here, I know the pain
he goes through, running Labour disability. I
can see Sarah there with MS, it’s a very proud day
for me to say Labour people here are going to
vote Labour disability as a full section.
We have worked hard for five years for it. The
only reason against it would be the unjan said,
too large to be effective. Look at it. A woman
goes into a Post Office and says give me please my
children’s allowance for five children. No you’re
only getting it for four? Why? I have five.
Well you might have six or seven. It’s just too
hard to manage. Well my fifort child fifth child is the same
as the other four for example some are more equal
than others. We are as equal as Labour youth,
Labour trade union we represent 60,000 people, we
have earned our dues, we’ve put the work in for
the last five years, the only reason you can argue
against it, I ask please Jan to support
this, the only reason is management
reasons. I ask you finally delegates, if
Rosa Parks came to the top of the bus would you
send her back down again because the others
wouldn’t shift over and make a bit of room? Thank you.
[APPLAUSE]>> Next speaker Declan from
Cabra , Dublin Central
Central.>> Comrades thanks for all the
support so far to those who are speaking, I am
going to make a boring technical argument.
One of the things this would do is give Labour
disability a representation on the international
affairs unit. I have the privilege of being the
international officer of Labour youth and I’ve had
the privilege of attending several international
seminars with our comrades across Europe. In one
of those discussions we were actually running a
workshop on making universal design and
accessibility and I was telling people about
introducing the top particular of public transport
and how difficult it is for people with
disabilities to access the train in Ireland, that
you need to give 24 hours notice, which some people like
to be spontaneous and maybe don’t want
to give 24 hours notice every time they move and
access public transport that every other
citizen in the state has access to and I’m glad
that’s on the agenda. But in the Netherlands they only
have to give one hour notice. So here’s an
example of where another country is clearly doing
it right and we’re clearly not. This is just
one in a huge range of examples where we can
bring the experience of disability to
these different sections.
This is a very technical debate on a ver emotive
issue, but I think having the disability
perspective in all the new units would be
effective and I think it’s a good idea, so I’m
asking you to support the motion thank you.
>> Thank you the next speaker is Cllr Brendan
Carr., and Lord Mayor.>> Delegates I didn’t plan
speaking here this evening to be honest with you,
but I thought this was a done deal. I’ve learned more about
people with disability this is year
than I ever had, the previous part of my life. And I
was embarrassed to know how much in the dark I
was being kept of the challenges which are facing
this group of people on a daily basis. I’m
looking behind me at the poster here, I see decency,
justice and equality. Now that’s either for
all of us or for none of us, simple as that.
People with disabilities are now asking us to come
out and treat them with the same respect, dignity
and justice the rest of us expected to be treated
with. Labour women have done more for
women’s rights in this country than anyone else.
Labour youth have done more for the youth of this
country than anyone else. And Labour trade
union have done more for workers in this country
more than anyone else. Can you imagine what
would happen if we had a Labour disability group doing
the same thing for people with disabilities? I
urge you please to support this amendment.
>> Can I ask the last speaker Kevin Donaghue from
Labour youth and then we’ll proceed to take a vote
on the matter. Thank you.
>> Kevin Donoghue Labour youth, I agree with the
previous speaker, we should be there to
support Labour disabilities when they
need it and when they ask for it. They need it
now and they’re asking for it now and they
absolutely with will have my support. 13% or 600,000
people in Ireland live with a disability, one in
ten adults of working age live with a
disability, they are twice as likely to live in consistent
poverty and below the poverty line. If we are
concerned about management or anything like
that, we need only to look at Sarah Dunne, Declan and
Gerry for our answer on how well this will be
managed. It is our duty not just as
members of the Irish Labour Party but as citizens of
Ireland to empower one another to Hmm bold en one
another and build a brighter future for Ireland this
is exactly what this motion allows for.
This makes the voice of people with disabilities
stronger within the party and gives them the
platform that they need F history is anything to
go by, having the platform that you need within
the Labour Party guarantees as brighter
future for
the people of Ireland. Please
support this motion.
[APPLAUSE]>> Okay, I’ve just had an
intimation from the general secretary that he is
going to respond to this.
>> What will I say? I want to respond because
I actually want to just say a few
words about Labour disability and not just Labour
disability, but the people behind Labour disability.
People like Gerry, Sarah, Declan, Shane who isn’t,
I don’t think he’s here tonight, and others. Who
have made sure that the party have led on people
with disabilities, led on those issues, made sure
they were at the forefront of what we did in our
last manifesto, I don’t know any group that met
more to talk about, top ensure that something was
put in the Labour manifesto on disabilities.
So I did want to take this opportunity to say
thank you for that, as I think it was Gerry
pointed out about our, Declan pointed out about
accessibility policy that the Labour Party do
have, written by Labour disability, not written by
a general secretary, written by Labour disability,
the way it should be. It would be remiss though of me
not to say something about the other
subsections of Labour equality, and I think to be fair
to the chair of Labour equality, he has a point.
There are more than one subsection of Labour
equality, we have Labour LGBT and as we know they
have done enormous work for this party and for this
country and I want to stand up here and say
thank you to them as well.
[APPLAUSE] So can I say, I’m supportive of
the motion, but it does cause some issuest does
raise some issues within the party because we do
have other subsections of Labour equality.
So I’m very happy to support the motion but do I
look forward to meeting with Labour disability,
LGBT to discuss how we go in the future and
maybe we’ll come back to another conference and sort
the issues out, but I do support the motion.
>> Thank you very much, I now ask members to vote
on this amendment. All those in favour? All those against?
That’s passed. Resoundingly.
[APPLAUSE] We now move on to the next
amendment 1 G, can I have the Clonsilla branch Dublin
west to propose this motion.
>> Evening conference I’m Bernard from the
Clonsilla branch and I will be very brief. If
adopted the amendment obviously will inclees from
eight to ten the number of executive members
elected by this conference, I acknowledge that we
have just increased by one the number of people on
the executive, but I don’t think that this
increase — and I take Jan your point about the
effectiveness of the executive, but I don’t think
that this would make it particularly unwieldy,
but it would give a slight
porportionate increase to the representation of branches
and constituenciys in the room. Thanks.
>> I don’t have anybody indicating to speak on
this from the floor, Jan is going to respond.
>> If I just make a point again just to say as
Brian said, we would be very happy to accept the
amendment in relation to Labour disability, but we
do feel that by adding two more that really we
would be making the executive very large, so we
don’t think that — I already made the
point that
by having
four men and
four women
elected here that
we are already having a majority elected from conference, and I
would be of the view that having five men and
five women would actually make it a very large
executive, obviously delegates will make their own
decisions, but certainly that would be the view
of myself and others in the group. Thank you.
>> Okay. So you’ve heard the arguments, I now,
as there is no other speakers I am going to take a
vote. So again your cards ready, all those in
favour of motion 1 G please raise your hands? All
those against? So that falls, so we’re sticking
with four members plus — sorry we have to get to
the ultimate amended motion discussion.
Okay we’ll move on to 1 H, so this is proposed by
Labour councillors can I have the proposer please.
Sorry Mary — it’s a point of order.
>> Sean Whelan from Kells branch I feel that
we’ve just dealt with the disability issue, I have
a serious sight disability and I can’t read, my
agenda is there in a bag that I can’t — I haven’t
anybody here to support me tonight from my branch
they will be here tomorrow morning, so I can’t
read the agenda, so I don’t know what the things
are about. Without being too long-winded
about the different amendments, maybe you can give
us just a little taste of what they are about
before they are proposed and seconded. Because
I don’t know what I’m voting on. Thank you.
>> Okay fair enough.>> Thank you comrades, Mary
Frehill Rathmines branch, advice chair of Labour
councillors association, comrades and fellow
councillors here, I’m proposing this amendment I
don’t know how many times we have heard this evening
equality is at the heart of the Labour Party.
Well I have to tell you that councillors are
the poor relation of the Labour Party.
We do the work, we’re out there but we do not have
the representation that we should have. For
example the parliamentary party have four members
on the executive Council, Labour councillors have
one member. And if you consider that even at the
best of times we have double the number of
members, double the number of councillors to TDs,
at the moment we have five times the number of
councillors, we have 51 councillors and the very
fact that it’s suggested that we would only have
one member in the executive is not right, it’s not
fair and it’s not just. So therefore I am asking you, we
are all democratically elected members
in the State, there are all sorts of commitments
about equality in relation to subsidiarity in the
Lisbon Treaty and it’s high time that we in the
Labour Party gave a fair deal to councillors within
the Labour Party and that we actually have a fair
representation on the executive.
Therefore, at the moment as I said we have one and
the proposal is that we have two members from the
Labour association on the executive and I’m asking
each and every one of you here today to support us
in our proposal. As I said we represent more than
the parliamentary party yet they have four times
our representation. Thank you.>> Thank you. Is there any
speakers who wish to make a point on that amendment? Okay Sean?
Anybody else?>> I speak as a former member
of the unfortunately as a former member
of the Labour councillors association, I would
strongly support this amendment, I know we’re
slow to expand the size of the executive, but I
really do feel that one seat is inadequate for the
amount of commitment that councillors give
to the party and their central role and in
particular their ability to represent constituencies in
which there isn’t Oireachtas representation. It
has always been one of the strengths of Labour
councillors that in places like Donegal, in places
like Mayo we’ve had elected members where we don’t
have members of the Oireachtas, and I really feel
that it would be a considerable addition to the
executive to have a second member representing
Labour councillors and I would also vote that there
would be considerably more people looking for one of
those two positions following the next local
elections whenever they take place!
[APPLAUSE]>> Thank you very much. Now
Grace Williams wants to make a point on this
amendment. Grace your branch?
>> Dublin Rathdown. Delegates I wasn’t planning
on speaking on this motion, I agree with previous
speakers about representation on the executive
board in terms of I do think there are far too
many parliamentary party members sitting on the
board, there are four of them, it is a very big
board, I am a former chair of Labour youth, I have
spent time as a member of the executive board and
I do believe I would concur with what Jan
O’Sullivan has said the larger that board gets the
more ineffective it is in terms of decision-making
and of being a member led body, I don’t see the
benefit necessarily of having an extra seat I
would say that we could reduce the number of
parliamentary party members sitting on it but
that’s perhaps a different discussion for a
different time, I don’t see how adding extra
members is going to make it more open or more
democratic, the councillors ldz have a very good
and effective voice on that executive board in my
experience and having an extra member I don’t
think would change the power that they have
necessarily. I would urge you to vote down the
amendment thank you.>> Okay thank you Grace, now
Jan is going to respond on the amendment.
>> Very briefly, just to clarify, the
parliamentary party has one TD, one Senator and
the Party Leader is on as Party Leader, we don’t
have four, we have two representatives one of the
Senators, one from TDs and the Party Leader is on
as Party Leader, just to clarify that.
The work of councillors is absolutely valued, we
have have a very good councillor representative on
the executive, but I would reiterate the point as
Grace has just said, we do have one representative
from the various groups, we have one Senator, one
TD, one Party Leader. So I think there is an
equality issue there, while I do really value the
work of Labour councillors and I absolutely
support what Sean said, we want to have a lot more
Labour councillors into the future, but I think
the point I made at the beginning about having an
effective executive, I think that point does
stand. So I’d just ask you to bear that in mind
thank you.>> I’m afraid we’re going to
proceed now to take the vote, for people to have
their say, so all those
who are in favour of of amendment 1
H please raise your cards? All those against? I
need tellers here definitely. So can you do that
again. Wait a second . Can we get the tellers to
close the doors and if you can space
yourselves out again. Sorry the lady at the
back who is a teller can you stand up there?
Okay I’m going to take the vote again, so can you
raise your arms high all those in favour. And
just keep it there for a few minutes or a minute
or two. Make sure to put up your
delegate card colleagues, not any other card! This is your
exercise for the day! Okay now put your hands down.
And all those who are against the amendment . Okay we have a result,
and it’s 63 in favour and 97 against, so the
motion falls. Okay we’ll move on now to motion
1 I and this is being proposed by the Rathmines
Dublin bay south branch, if I can have the
proposer please. Oh, yes sorry, I beg your pardon
>> Chairman I’ll give the context in my
introduction. Delegates, comrades Tom Rohan, the
context of this motion is a propose to change the
composition of the four units proposed to be
attached to the Central Council. Our intention is to make the
difference in relation to more equal voice,
more representative and presumably out of that
better outcomes. So the motion propose to change the
composition of
the four units attached and those are policy
research unit, campaigns unit, international
affairs and trade union liaison unit.
What we’re proposing is a more representative
composition of members on each of the unit these
composition members would consist of everyone from
Labour women, Labour youth, councillors, Labour
equality, parliamentary party and Labour trade
unions, so I’m not going to go over the details,
it’s a length emotion, but it’s a similar in
composition for all four. But essentially this is
about fair representation, equal voice and better
outcomes in relation to the four units. So I’d
ask you to support the motion.>> Thank you very much. Is
there any speakers on this amendment? No. I know that
Jan will respond, but is there
anybody else who wishes to speak? No other speakers, just giving
Jan a second to prepare herself.
>> I suppose again the purpose of these units
really is to ensure that they do the
work that the
units are
design to do, which is in relation to
policy making, in relation to campaigning, in relation to
obviously the other functions of the other units,
and I suppose you could say that the sections are
already well represented on the executive and
on Central Council, and these units are
working unit that is report back to Central Council.
So I suppose the principle that every section
should be represented on each unit is one that I
would ask delegates to consider in terms of how
you vote on this. What we want is effective
units, we want people who want to work in those
particular units who will be involved in making
decisions and well at least making recommendations
back to Central Council. So I suppose the question really
is whether every section needs to be involved in
every activity in each of these units? And that’s
really what we’re being asked to vote on. I don’t
think we have a strong view from — obviously
this is about members making decisions, but we
would again ask that, we shouldn’t just
automatically have every section represented in each
unit. What we want these units to do is do a job of
work for the party, to report back to Central
Council where both at Central Council and
executive level those units are represented, that’s
the balance that we’re seeking to gain and I
would ask you just to make decisions in that regard.
Thank you.>> Okay, the Party Leader also
said he will just say a word on this particular
amendment.>> I just want to say a word
because I think the whole idea of the new party
units is something we thought a lot about, it is to
bring the power back to conference, so that we
haven’t got the normal representative bodies of the
same people on everything, that we have at
conference the core of every unit, with people — I’m
interested in
international affairs, I
want to be
elected to
the international unit of the party,
to formulate international policy,
I’m interested in policy generally, I want to go
on the policy unit — but the majority, the core,
to be elected by this conference, not that we
have — I don’t want to sound disparaging of all the
units, but all the units on everything, so people
that put themselves forward at the conference are
then in the minority.
I think that will dilute the idea of the units,
and I ask you to give the units as envisaged in
the Central Council proposal a chance to operate.
I think it really is enhancing the democracy of
the party.>> Okay I’ll ask finally for
any speakers now because we’ll, on this motion
again take a vote. So is there anybody else
who wants to speak on that?>> While I sincerely welcome
the new constitution and especially that new
preamble, I’m somewhat disappoint to see the already
powerful parts of the party will seek to appoint
the vast majority to these elected units, I think
after five years of top down decision-making it
is time to put the power of the decisions of the
party into the hands of its members, I think for
groups like Labour youth, Labour women, Labour
equality and now Labour disability it is very
important to have those voices represented, I
think they need to have a vote on these individual
units and I think that it’s somewhat disappointing
that a vote has been given to one of the
sections and Labour trade unions and not extended to other
sections and I think that says a lot about I
suppose how seriously we are taken sometimes
when it comes to these things. I would
absolutely encourage you to vote for this, Labour women,
Labour youth, Labour disabilities represent
significant parts of the country and the party, it is
crucial to have their voices represented on these
individual units, thank you.
>> Okay we have an indication from the general
secretary who wants to come in on this debate.>> Thank you chair, I wasn’t
going to respond on this, but I think it’s worth
responding to what Kevin just said. When I went
to, I’ve gone to 25 constituency meetings over the
last six to nine months and people tell me why,
you ask the question why are you in a
political party? And you join to campaign on
something. You join because you want to be involved
in policy making and you join because you want to
get people elect to make sure that policy is
implemented, so the idea of the units is not for
people to sit in a room and make decisions for
everybody else here. That’s not what it’s about, at
all. It’s about ensuring that everybody here is
involved in policy.
These units are to manage it, they are not there
to make the decisions for everybody here. The
conference will make the decisions on policy.
We’ll make the decisions on campaigns, we’ll maybe
the decisions on the future of this party T these
campaign units are there to manage that process,
nothing else, nothing more. So anybody from
Labour trade Unionists, anybody from Labour youth
or Labour women who want to be involved in that
absolutely, very welcome. Anybody else here that
isn’t a member of any of them sections are very
welcome to be involved and very much encouraged to
be involved. There is a reason on Labour
trade union, that’s why I want to speak, we have a
complete change in relation to the union
affiliation that’s why the section was set up and there a
trade union person on that
section, that’s the reason for this. I
wasn’t going to speak on this, but this is by no
means a top down — all we want to do
with this constitution, with your
constitution is to change the rules to ensure
that it’s bottom up. And I would urge you to just
take that into mind when you take on your vote.
>> Okay thank you very much. We’ll now take the
vote. So if you can raise your hands
those in favour of the amendment? All those
against. So the amendment is defeated.
We’ll move to the next one which is 1 J. Which is
being proposed by Ross Connolly , I don’t know if
there’s a proposer on the way? Sorry I beg your
pardon this brings us back to the complicated
standing orders committee report number 2.
The fact that we now have rejected 1 L — 1 I
means that amendment 1 J falls, so that — sorry
right, we can proceed. Sorry about that. And if
you want to just give an explanation as to the
content of your motion.>> Yes. Eileen O’Mahony Bowe
Greystones Wicklow constituency, the changes
proposed by the new constitution in relation to the
development of four units for the trade union
liaison, policy and research campaigns and
international affairs answerable to Central Council
are to be applauded and we hope they will deliver a
new vigour to the party. Sadly, their composition
does not reflect the value of all sections of the
party as it only allows the chairperson of Labour
women, Labour youth and Labour equality to
attend the unit meetings as a non-voting person.
The international committee has no representation
from Labour equality. Firstly, it is very
important that each section has a voting member on
the unit committees otherwise there is a lack of
inclusivity for the units. Each section
represents an important group of people in the
country, we all know this. Labour youth are our
future. And we must make every effort to include
them in the heart of the party and encourage their
involvement at every level. Labour women represent half the
population in the country and have represented
women on many significant issues and will
continue to do so. Labour equality represents
different sections of society who are disadvantaged
and have and are fighting hard for equal rights.
Each section will have a valuable contribution and
insight to make on each unit committee. There
would be gaps in policy formation, campaigns,
trade unions and international issues, if their
voices were silenced.
Although their chairpersons being on the executive
are voting members of the Central Council they can
not ratify matters that are not presented to be
ratified. You can’t ratify what isn’t there.
They can not ratify issues on Central Council that
have no voice. The ideas and policies coming from
the unit committees must be representative of all
in the party systems. Then and only then will the
new developments under the proposed constitution
be viewed as fully inclusive. Secondly the chairperson would
have to make a very large commitment to attend all
these meetings as well as other commitments. This
may be unmanageable for most people,
maybe not for many but many people I know it would
be, therefore we are recommending the wording
would change that a representative of each section
would be a voting member on each unit committee,
this may be a chairperson or someone elected
by the section to attend that unit committee.
I suggest to you that not to include the
representatives of the sections as voting members
in this promising new development in a meaningful
and feasibility manner would be to the detriment
of the Labour Party in the long
run. Therefore, we request you support the
motion thank you.>> Thank you very much, I have
no other speakers — oh Gerry
you want to.>> Thanks folks, just there
seems, correct me if I’m wrong Lorraine there seems
to be two parts to it. One that you have a
representative instead of a chair. Let’s be practical
about this, you saw our chairperson Mick, an amazing
person, there’s no way he can go to five
different committee meetings like that, we have to
get a representative to support him to
do that would mean it wasn’t feasible, so I am
asking you to please support that a
representative from the section, even if it is deemed ex
officio and doesn’t have a vote, that at
least we can make sure that we’ll have practical
democracy. The second one about the vote,
you can argue about that, I personally feel if you
have somebody from all these sections on they have
no vote, well they are like second class citizens
but if people feel they shouldn’t have a vote and
are ex officio I’m willing to go with it but I
would ask for an amendment that it would allow a
representative rather than a chairperson.
>> Thank you Gerry, any other speakers on this
one? Sinead Ahern from Labour women and Kevin
Donoghue from Labour youth and is there anybody
else?>> I suppose having been
involved in the crafty of the new constitution I again
very much welcome the role of the units as a means
of managing policy and development and I’m
really excited about the idea of having
conferences where we can produce policy documents and
thought out positions for us all to engage in proper
enthusiastic debate about, because I know there’s
nothing we love more than enthusiastic debate.
Labour women are doing a juppeder audit of the party at
the moment, one of the things we found is at all
levels of the party women and youth are
shockingly under represented. This is despite
the fact that we do a huge amount of the physical
work on the ground, we generate a huge amount of the
policy, and we maintain — we are a huge chunk
of the membership. I believe that having us in the
room at these discussions and making sure that
our voices are at the table not just in policy
formation, because we fully agree that this is also
the role of conference, but to make sure
that we’re there to direct the policy as well, that
there is always a young person, always a woman in
any management role at any level of the party
and a voting management role I think, this is
important so I commend this to the floor.
Thank you.
>> Kevin was next please.>> Kevin Donoghue Labour Youth,
the reason the sections exist is because they
are or were vastly, significantly under represented
both in society and with in the party. People
who will sit on this have been elected by the
members of the sections to represent the views
of the sections, so I do in some respect reject
the notion that us participating and voting in
these units makes the units less democratic, just
another point that was made on an earlier motion it was
suggested that people who are interested in
policy issues or international issues can run, we
have policy officers, we have international
officers, we have women’s officers and campaigns
officers so these are people who put them safes
forward based on their skills and capacity and
have been judged by the members of the sections to
have the skills
and capacity
to carry out those work. So
individually they can absolutely contribute
because that is what they have been doing, they
have been writing policy, running campaigns and it
allows us to have a more equal footing when it
comes to engaging with these things, so I would
encourage you all to vote in favour of this.
>> Okay thank you very much. Anybody else?
Ivana wants to speak on this.
>> Sorry just coming in there a little bit late.
I’m a little bit afraid that people are getting
the motion confused with the motion before. This
one isn’t taking away the people who will be
elected at conference to sit on all of these
units, it’s just making sure that the
representative of each of the units, who in most
cases would be under the new constitution be
allowed to be from anyway, will now be allowed to
vote, they would be in the room, but under — it’s
just changing something slightly, it’s not getting
rid of the elected people from the conference
floor as
the previous one which fell was, so just
to make that clear to everyone. Thanks.
>> Okay, there’s a response now from the general
secretary or Jan, they haven’t decided.>> Sorry just making sure that
I knew exactly what this amendment meant. To
me this amendment means that the sections who are
already entitled to attend and encouraged
obviously to attend the different units, the only
difference this makes is they will have a vote. And I
don’t think anybody in the room will say no to
anybody having a vote. Or a representative, if people
can’t make it and somebody else is going to
represent from the unit, I don’t think anybody in the
room is going to say no to that, but that’s up to you
to decide. But can I just say, just on what
the units are about, this is where we decide
policy, at conference. The policy unit for
example will report to Central Council. They
will discuss issues like we’re going to
discuss tomorrow morning on the future of work
and the greening of Ireland, scoping papers, that’s
what they will bring to con conference
conference for conference to decide. Do
I imagine there will be too many votes on this? I
sincerely hope not. I have no problem with the
sections having a vote at these committees but I
hope those votes don’t happen too often thank you.
>> Okay we’ll now take a vote on that amendment.
So can I have all those in favour?
All those against? That’s passed.
We’ll move on to 1K which is proposed by the Clare
constituency Council.
>> Thank you chair, Joan Walsh Clare constituency
Council and this is a fairly straightforward
motion, this motion is asking you to agree that
the Party Leader ship may become from members not
just members of the Oireachtas. This motion was passed at our
AGM in Clare last year following what was a
debacle around Labour Party
leadership following the body blow we got in the
general election. And it was a pretty severe body
blow, it was a body blow for all of us,
individually and as a party, but it’s one I believe
we’re going to recover from. And I just like
to say here that in Clare we’re quite happy with the
leadership of the Labour Party that ensued from
that debacle this is not about Brendan Howlin, but
this is really about democracy, the only problem I
have about Brendan Howlin is that he spoke too
early tonight and we missed him!
The agenda, he didn’t stick to the agenda, by the
time we got here from Ennis anyway he had finished
speaking! But this is a serious motion, and it’s
one that we feel very seriously about. There will
be times in the future when we have a lot of
people who are members of the Oireachtas and who
are entitled to be voted upon for Party Leader,
and there may be times when we don’t have too
many, but whether or not — I think it’s another
coming of aim for us. For us to look at this
seriously, it’s something that would adequate
another level of representation, and we’re talking
about the extension of democracy here, within this
great and proud party of ours. It’s not necessarily so that it
should not be a member of Oireachtas Éireann who
is elected as the Labour Party leader, but it
could happen and this is what I want to you vote for
here to support this motion. Thank you very
much.>> Okay thank you. I’ve know
speakers indicating unless from the floor . Mick Sweeney .
>> Good evening comrades, Mick Sweeney, howt
Sutton branch Dublin Bay north. I understand I
suppose the thinking behind the amendment but I’m
afraid I have to disagree with it strongly,
because it puts the party into a situation where a
Party Leader will not be marking other Party
Leaders in the forums of power that matters.
So while it may be sounds wonderful, I’d like to
run myself! [APPLAUSE] But okay I came to speak against
… seeing as I got such a warm reception maybe
… no, it’s not — it’s a serious matter and I
understand that people put forward motions in
good faith. I just think it’s a step too
far. We do need our leaders to come from the cut and
thrust of where laws are passed and that’s about
it. Thank you very much.
>> Is there anybody else on that one? your branch is?
James Connolly, Waterford>> Chairman, delegates, I come
to bury Caesar! No
the concept of what people are asking for here is
very nice, but I think that role can be done to a
fair extent, we’ve had fine examples of Labour
Party chairpersons fulfilling a role that ties
hand in hand to the Party Leader.
We live in a parliamentary democracy and we have
to have a recognised spokesman across the Dáil to
be able to speak on all our behaves. We have to
trust the people that are in there. Equality,
we’ve had a good debate on it, a lot of the
sentiment is, I just wonder do we trust each other
at all? If someone if speaking on behalf of the
Labour Party they have my support, and I think we
should get a bit of common sense into what we want
to achieve. We’ve the whole work to take on,
we shouldn’t be marking one another.
[APPLAUSE]>> So I’ll take a vote now.
Unless there’s anybody else there? No. Okay.
Sorry Jan is going to
respond.>> I would just like to briefly
respond, with the greatest of respect to
my good friends in my
native county of Clare I just don’t
think that this would be practical, as other
speakers have said, the Party Leader
effectively does leader’s questions, needs
to take on the other Party Leaders in the Dáil,
and you couldn’t do that effectively if you
weren’t an elected public representative within the
chamber of the people. So I don’t think that
it would be practical to have a Party Leader
who wasn’t actually a member of the Dáil.
We have already as you know when I spoke at the
beginning, we were already proposing to broaden
the electorate for Party Leader, so that two
members of the Oireachtas or five constituencies
representing 10% of the members can actually
propose a Party Leader, but we believe the Party
Leader does have to be a member of the Dáil. So
unfortunate Leon behalf of the group I won’t be
able to support the amendment thank you.
>> Okay so I’ll go to the vote then for 1K, all
those in favour of the amendment? All
those against? Okay that one falls.
Moving on to 1 L in relation to gender balance
this is from Labour women if I can have the
proposer, Grace Williams.
>> Grace will yaments Dublin Rathdown and Labour
women executive member. Before I get into the
nitty-gritty of what the amendment actually says
and I will summarise it for anyone in the room who
maybe hasn’t steen, I would like to start off by
commending the work of the Labour Party in
pursuing gender equality, if we look at the work
done recent Leon making sure we have equal rights
for women in this country we have done a lot of
work on abortion rights for example, even looking
at pushing gender quotas
in the last number of years and even internally in the
party making sure
that we have a certain number of women sitting on
our executive board that we have women in
positions of power who can make the
difference and I would like to commend the
Labour Party and the work done by our activists in
achieving that. But going forward on this
amendment to the constitution, the amendment for
anyone who hasn’t read it is saying that we would
propose a 30% gender quota on constituency
Council executive force women and at least 30%
women and at least 30% men at a constituency
Council executive level, that is to ensure that we have
women in positions of power at every single level
within this party. We heard earlier on our general
secretary say that Labour needs to lead the way for
women in politics, we have led the way
for women in politics in the past. We need
to do that going forward into the future. We
have gender quotas that we need to meet going into
further elections, we met our gender quota of 30%
in the last election, but that will increase
to 40% in future elections, the only way that we
can ensure we have enough women candidates running
is to make sure we have candidates that are active
and activist that is are active at a local level.
I do believe the only way we can ensure that
women are actively participating
within their constituencies and ready to take on the battles of
generaledy equality and elections going
forward is to make sure that we have women sitting
on constituency Council
executives. So I would commend this
amendment to the floor and I urge you all to support it
thank you.>> Thank you Grace, any
speakers on that one? Again I haven’t had any indications?>> Sean Ohorgan Carlow Kilkenny
branch, first of all our constituency would have
no problem meeting
the targets set out by this proposal but I
have to say I have reservations I think the gender
quotas are working well and our proposals are
becoming mainstreamed in national political
thought in terms of the excellent work done by
Ivana Bacik in the commission, an many
points made within and without the party.
But I have to say from a practical perspective we
have constituency which have handfuls of members,
it is difficult to get many of those handfuls
active in the party at all, I would be very slow
about this level of micro management of our
constituency organisation, particularly in areas
where we are struggleing to build membership.
So while I accept the principle and I just am
concerned about the practical implications of it.
And I think we should give it some thought and I’d
like to hear maybe the views of those involved in
drawing up the constitution in relation to this,
and could I also just say from somebody who is
attending conference in my 30th year, for these
debates to start tonight with the acceptance of
the Labour youth amendment to the constitution I
think I would like to think we’re not back in Cork
at 1987 when we were shutting the doors every five
minutes, but I’m flad to see there’s a stronger
element of people being listened to and more
democracy on the floor of conference again.
>> Thank you, Emma golding wants to speak.>> Emma Goulding Skerries
branch labour Fingal, I just wanted to respond to a
couple of things there. It is true that the
gender quotas are working well and that’s exactly
why we need to apply them to constituency level.
There is a clause in this that if there is
a genuine reason, if for example there’s a
constituency where there’s three or four active
member who is are all men, if that is deemed to be
genuine then that constituency won’t be penalised
for not meeting the gender quota.
We absolutely have to, the way the gender quotas
work is because if you leave it to happen
naturally it is going to take far too long T
that’s not just applicable to the Dáil, it’s not
just applicable to local elections, it’s applicable
across the board. So I would absolutely urge everybody to
vote for this. It will further the cause of
equality within politics, starting from the very
bottom. Thank you.
[APPLAUSE]>> Thank you Emma. John I
think wanted to speak on it, Sean sorry.
>> Sean Riordan, Kells. I joined the party in
1969 before my first conference was 1969, and I’ve
been a trade Unionist all my life, I’ve been a
community activist all my life, in every activity
that I have involved in, I always supported
equality, and women have always done their share
in the advancement of society, but I found looking
back and I’ve looked at this over the years,
because I’ve been so involved with different
organisations, like I was Chairman of our
residents association in Dublin for 20 years, and
I found always on residents associations there
were plenty of women there, and women got things
done at local level, and if I as Chairman of the
residents association wanted to get things done, I
always made sure there was a woman involved.
I felt that in all walks of life, but over the
years I have also noticed that in politics in the
beginning women were almost reluctant to get
involved. They came into the Labour Party, I saw
them in the Labour Party, they were almost
reluctant to get involved, they helped everybody
else but they never advanced then selves.
I was never one who wanted to advance himself
within the party on a level of being elected for
office, any kind of office, but I always believed
that women should be encouraged. But I think that
the encouragement can’t come unless they
themselves don’t only ask, don’t only strive, they
demand recognition. And they actively demand it.
It’s fine to come here to conference and talk to
the converted, you’re preaching to the converted
here, but get out there and do it at base level.
That’s where you have to do it. And I would be
very supportive of any such action.
>> Thank you Sean. Sinead Ahern is going to
respond on this one from Labour women and the
constitution review group.>> We’ve all been in the room
at the constituency AGM where somebody goes does
anybody want to be secretary? Does anybody want to
take on this role? And there’s a deafening
silence and then a hand goes up and somebody goes
fine, Bob, you’re it. And it’s nearly always a
man whose hands goes up, we know from research, we
know from our experience in the Labour Party,
that women need to be asked five times to put
themselves forward into positions of power.
This is not about excluding men, or shutting down
constituencies with small organisations, this is
about making sure that when a woman joins the
Labour Party and it can be really clicky when you
go into a branch meeting or constituency meeting
for the first time and somebody goes does anyone
want to be secretary sne you don’t know anyone and
you don’t know what the job involves and you stay
quiet and it goes on and on and that’s why there
aren’t women in leadership levels, what we are do
something making sure that in those rooms that
rather than just going who want to be secretary
and Bob puts his hand up, that we don’t just
go fine Bob you’re
it, we look at the women in the room and we go do you want to do
this? Do you think you’d be good at this and
we offer them the encouragement that they need.
This is about making sure that we practice
what we preach that we don’t just talk about
equality in the Oireachtas, we don’t just talk
about equality in the policy documents but make
sure women’s voices are heard at branch and
constituency level across the country, thank you.
[APPLAUSE]>> Okay we’re going to take a
vote on this, again all those in favour of the
motion, all those against? The motion passes.
We’ll move on now to 1 M which is being proposed
by Donabate Dublin Fingal>> Tony McDermot Donabate
branch Dublin Fingal proposing motion 1 M to the
draft party constitution, just so we are all
clear, this amendment would reinstate the
entitlement of branches to submit motions and
amendments to the party
conference agenda, in other words I’m
standing for the status quo. In this situation
the constitution review group are making the
changes or proposing the changes.
Delegates we could well be the last, this could
well be the last party conference that a branch
delegate can stand at this Ross strum and propose
a motion or amendment formulated and approved
solely by his or her branch that would be the
effect of rejecting this amendment.
So we have to ask ourselves why are the very able
and expert constitutional review group doing it
this? And I mean that, they were, they are able
and are expert and have done a great job
generally. This came as a big surprise to me, it
came out of the blue. Why have they submitted
that branches should not longer be able to submit
in their own right? It states the survey found
support — this conclusion is based on a survey
question which includes a loaded statement, the
statement is: The volume of motions often
prevents detailed debate. It’s no surprise then
that the members who responded to the survey
opted two to one in favour of restricting motions to
constituencies and sections. I wonder what the
response would have been if a different
question was put and it was put as follows -sm. Do you
want to remove the right of branches to
independently submit motions to conference?
I think we might have got a totally different
answer to that question. Delegates, there are
already three under utilised provisions within the
constitution, both the old and the draft new
constitution, which are design to facilitate a
high volume or deal with high volume of motions
and they are order 2 rule 6 dealing with
non-contentious motions, order 2 rule 11 dealing
with policy papers, order 7 rule 10 dealing with
workshops all these provisions are there and under
utilised. In our constituency we have 7
branches, over the years we have 7 motions one from
each branch and one from constituency Council a
total of eight motions, under the draft
constitution we would have two motions from the
constituency so we go from eight to two. It’s a
sledge ham tore crack a nut.
Delegates branchs have always been at the heart of
the Labour Party, they are the foundation stones
of the party structure, take away one of the few
functions they fulfil and you well undermine the
very foundation on which this party is
build. So in conclusion I want to appeal to
all delegates, particularly branch delegates to
vote for amendment 1 F. Thank M.
>> I have speakers on this, Ian mac Gahan from
grape stones.>> Conference I would like to
reiterate the previous speaker branches are
the heart of this party. Previously the Labour
Party had many Town Councilers across the country
and Town Councils were the heart of our local
government. Conference, the constitutional
review group set themselves several different
themed objectives when they reviewed the
constitution, they set themselves two themes of
democracy in our party and structure that is work at
every level. I believe removing the rights of
branches to submit motions is actually not
democratic. Conference the previous speaker
spoke about constituencies with five
different branches, actually in Wicklow we used to
have 25 different branches and we now have five.
So the suggestion that there are too many branches
bringing forward too many motions is a red
herring. I thought about this and I was
reminded of Michael D Higgins who said what is the
problem if we actually want to spend a long
time debating motions? Conference, I urge you
to support this motion. I urge you to allow
branches to submit motions to our conference.
>> Brendan Ryan TD from Skerries to also speak on
the motion in favour of the amendment.
>> Thank you chair Brendan Ryan Skerries branch
Dublin Fingal, speaking in support of the
amendment from my colleague in the Donabate
branch, we hadn’t spoken about it at all until we
came here today but we’re on the same page. I
believe it would be a mistake to eliminate the
entitlement of branches to put forward motions in
their own right. Branches may not be important in
city areas but certainly important in scon
constituencies such as ours where we have eight
branches and certainly in rural constituencies as well. But branchs are the
building block approximates or key units of the
party, if we grow the branches we grow the party
and Brendan Howlin stated earlier
we are on a rebuild so let’s do that.
Do not throw out the entitlement of branches in
the name of progress, it’s part of our tradition,
let’ keep it T let’s keep the democracy local and
don’t dilute the entitlement of branches at our
con. Support the motion. On the one hand we are
giving extra rights to members but we’re removing
rights from branches. We’ve had it for decades,
we’ve survived, it’s not a problem, pass the
amendment, if it needs to be changed in some
futuref we do grow the branches if there are
excessive number of motions coming through from
branches we can always change and amend the
constitution in the future. But look, vote for the
amendments, encourage the branches. I’ve looked through
this on the way down on the train, I looked
through the motions from branches, they are all
quality motions, there’s none of them that
oughtn’t to be in here, I don’t think the conference
will grind to a halt as a result of it. Palms Pass the amendment please
thank you.>> Jan O’Sullivan is going to
respond.>> Can I say first of all that
there is no intention whatsoever to in
anyway reduce or dilute branches, branches are an
absolute core organisation within our party.
And there’s no question that we’re trying to do
that in anyway, but the motivation for this is
— and I have been to many conferences as most of
you have here, that there’s been many a time when
there has been a really key important issue to be
debated you have had many members who wanted to
speak, the essence of debate is really about
people, a number of people speaking on an issue,
about opportunities to bounce back
and respond
to each
other and so
on as
you debate an issue, but if you have
a very large number of motions at
conference, I frequently seen it where people
have been very frustrated that they haven’t had
the opportunity to debate what might be a very
key issue for the party.
Some of the best debates in conference have been
ones where we’ve had a large number of speakers on
a particular issue that people feel strongly about
and maybe have differing views on. That’s the
essence of forming policy, which is the core
activity of the conference. So that is the
motivation, whereby we said you have motions
coming from constituencies instead of branches.
That you bring your the things you feel
passionately about in your branch to constituency,
and bring them from constituency to conference
where they can be debated at length and in detail
with real engagement amongst members in
conference, that’s really what we’re trying to
achieve. I think if we’re honest there
have been many conferences where we’ve had so
many motions that all there’s been time for is the
proposer of the motion in many cases getting red
flashing light because time is on a particular
debate is running out on a particular set of
motions, where some people have been extremely
frustrated because things have had to be moved from
one position in the agenda to another because
time ran out. So the motivation in terms of
putting this in is to genuinely make conference a real
opportunity for us to debate the issue that is
we’re passionate about as members of the Labour
Party, it isn’t about trying to restrict
people’s rights, it’s
about trying to make conference effective in terms
of debating policy. So I would ask you to consider
that in voting on this motion. Thank you.
>> Okay thank you Jan and I just want
to stop for a second because Sean has indicated he
want to speak now, if I could just ask you all
that before the responder from the review would
come in that all of the delegates would speak in
advance of that, just to flag that. So Sean if
you can come ahead.>> I’d like to support the
motion, could I just propose an alternative middle
ground maybe on this, I’ve come from INTO
congress this week I would ask people to please stop
scheduling the two things in the one week or he
he’ll all be dead, the way we do it in INTO is
sensible middle ground, whereby branches propose motion
it is then there is a second intermediate step
before you get to the
conference agenda which is that the preliminary
agenda is send to branches and branchs branchs are given
prioritisation forms and the branches decide the
prioritisation, so what that mean sincere having
branches submitted their motions, the branches in
the constituency organisations then get a say as
to what they feel are the most important issues
for discussion at conference, that
then sets the agenda in a real sense and
allows the most important issues to
come to the fore and with respect, I would suggest that
we would continue
with branches submitting motions but add an
intermediary step. I know it involves works, I know
it involves organisation but I think it
would make the organisation more democratic and
conference more efficient.
>> Thank you Sean the general secretary — we
have another speaker. Is there anybody else who
wants to speak on this?>> Gerry Maguire Donabate
branch former councillor of Fingal County
Council I’m wholeheartedly in support of the
motion, if we take away the rights from
branches we are as the Labour Party may just bury our
heads in the sand. The branches are the heart and
soul of the party. And whatever Jan
says because the volume of business coming in
here maybe too cumbersome or
that there are more important issues to be
debated. The branches views are most important
and need to be debated. No matter how long it
takes. I’ve seen previously if there were too
many motions where they may have been
referred back to Administrative Council
and there would be a response at some stage, if the
conference time does not enable it to debate at
conference. I think this would be the most
retrograde step this party ever took if it denies
rank and file people of this party the right to
submit motions to the governing body which is
conference. I urge you to support the motions.
>> We have another, Cllr Duncan Smith.
>> Thank you Duncan Smith from Swords branch just
to complete the set of Dublin Fingal delegates
speaking on this motion! I wholeheartedly support
this motion. We in Dublin Fingal took this
process very seriously, this whole constitutional review, we
set up a review group within our constituency
look at the constitution, Tony was on it, I
was on it, other people were on it, we met with
the constitutional review group and really were
given good time and had a really good — we felt our
views and voices were heard. But one issue that
I raised with them was the failure of Central
Council to act the way it should as per the
constitution that we’re currently operating at the
moment. We have a potential with Central
Council if it operates as it should, to debate
referred back motions,
excess motions, motions we don’t get to,
we can do that 12 time as year with
representatives from each constituency, it’s very
democratic if it works right. It does not work
right now. I’m on Central Council, to be honest
it’s just a talking shop, all it does is talk
about whatever the political hot topic of that
week is. It does not do what it says on the tin.
And we should not be diminishing a very
fundamental right of branches that is to bring
motions to conference. In selling membership to the
Labour Party to a few people over the last couple of
years I was able to say if you join a local branch
you can develop policy, bring it to the party
and if we’re in government we can implement it,
that’s how powerful we are, it starts at
branch level. I really wholeheartedly support
this motion from my colleague in the Donabate branch
and I ask you all to support it also.
>> Finally if I can ask the general secretary to respond.>> Just a couple of things to
be honest. To put this in a different perspective,
it’s great to see the passion in the room,
passionate speakers arguing their case at conference
and we vote in the end and whatever the vote
is, it will be accepted and implemented. But
just to put a couple of practical things. We
have had conferences where we’ve had 140
odd motions, where we referred back 20 or 30
motions because we ran out of time at the end.
Many phone calls I’ve taken from members from
branches and constituency giving out murder over
that. We are going to debate 20 motions tomorrow
between half nine and quarter to 11 on health and
housing. Every one of them absolutely important.
But we’re going to do 20 in that hour and a bit.
And there is no way we can debate them properly in
my view, in that timeframe. Yes we’ll stay here for the
weekend but we’re not going to stay for the week. We
have tried and going around constituencies
again, you’ve heard and members came back to say we
want conference to go back to debating things, to
actually having a discussion on policy and
actually passing the policy, having a real discussion
on policy, not somebody stabbing, I move this,
or can you move that, you’ve got two minutes as
Jan said, the light flashes and off you go.
We’re going to discuss two policy papers
tomorrow, scoping papers in the two hours which come from
the policy committee and Central Council.
They are the things, in my view that we
should be doing, spending time at conference
debating the issues, the real issues and really
debating them. As I said 20 motions tomorrow in
an hour and a bit. We’re going to run out of
time tomorrow morning and we’ve only 90
motions we had 140 at the last conference. That’s the
reason. This isn’t about restricting
branches, it’s about making the party more
democratic, allowing more people in to debate the issues
at conference and and
allow the decisions to be taken. I want that on
the record, it’s not about any restriction of any
member, — it isn’t about sections it’s about
every individual member getting up at conference
and having their time to speak on a motion that’s
important to them. Thank you.>> Okay thank you very much
after that full debate we’ll now take a vote so
your cards ready
please. All those in favour of amendment 1
M. All those against? So the motion is carried.
We move then to 1 N which has been proposed by
Wicklow east Carlow constituency Council. And
would have the effect of allowing subsections to
submit motions to party conference.
>> Delegates the current party constitution says
Labour subsections Labour disability, Labour LGBT
and Labour intercultural can submit a motion each,
so we’re talking about three motions here, I
wouldn’t ask you to spend all night debating three
motions. Conference delegates, we saw fine
examples here earlier on of where disabled people
showed their voice, came to this conference and
spoke for disability issues. Conference
delegates, five years ago a transgender person
stood before you and asked the Labour Party
conference to pass transgender legislation and
Joan Burton did it. Conference delegates women in
this party have stood up and they have fought
for women’s rights, they have fought to repeal the
8th amendment. Young people in this party have
stood up and they have told Minister Joan Burton
that she was wrong to reduce the dole to €100 a
week. We have seen in this party where people stand
up for themselves, so all I am asking
you to do is to consider that LGBT people in
this party can put forward a motion effecting LGBT
people in this country and migrants in this
party can put forward motions affecting migrants
in this country, similar to the way that disabled
people showed earlier on, women have shown
over decades in this party and young people have
shown over decades in this party.
>> Thank you Ian I don’t have any speakers
indicating yet. walk up Eoin, please will you
get your session stamps — delegate card stamped
in order to be able to vote. You need two,
make sure you get it done this evenly and tomorrow,
it’s happening outside the door. Then the
Connolly café is straight away after this session
we’re finishing here at half ten at this rate.
So about 11 o’clock. Sorry Eoin. If you
want to go back to the amendment.
>> I’m speaking in favour of the this amendment.,
I actually as former chair of Labour equality
brought the amendment, gave the power of
subsections to have a voice at conference, the
reason it’s important is for the subsections of
Labour equality which now is Labour LGBT and
Labour intercultural, there are specific issues
that people within those groups and communities
are aware of that members in the broader sense
wouldn’t necessarily be aware of it, LGBT issues
despite the massive progress we made continue to
be an issue, there is significant problems with
bullying in schools, with people not being
accepted based on their sexuality throughout the
country. So I’m asking people to support this
motion, which you thankfully supported two years
ago in Kerry. Just to keep people in those
subsections to have a voice at conference and be
able to bring a vote. Thank you.
>> Thank you Eoin I don’t have any other speakers
and Jan are you going to respond?
>> I think we’re happy to accept that.
>> Okay, so can I take a vote then all those in
favour of the amendment? All those against? The
amendment passes. Can I just interrupt for one
minute to properly announce the Connolly café which
will take place at 11 o’clock Fiach Kelly and Amie Deasy
executive vice president at — former CEO
of the democratic national Convention and Hannah
Deasy they will all be speakers, it’s at 11 o’clock
behind us. Then another request for anybody
who may have come across a white or grey small
overnight bag, it contains important medication
and has gone missing. If anybody, if you
just check your rooms if you come across it. A white
grey small overnight bag.
Okay so we move to the last on this party
constitution, the last amendment 1 O. Being
proposed by the UCC Jim Kimmy branch.
>> Dylan O’Keefe UCC Labour, comrades, delegates,
UCC Labour’s proposed amendment to the draft
constitution is to delete rule 10 schedule 4, rule
10 of schedule 4 order 7. It seeks to allow for
unelected conference arrangement committee to take
motions and debates from you the members and have them debated in
workshops and committees. Any resolution that
comes from these committees and workshops will
then come before conference without a debate.
Now we talk about democracy and this great party
being led by the members, the draft constitution
does go some way in this regard and I’m glad to
see one member one vote included.
Now I want to say a couple of things about that.
UCC Labour has been banging on about one member
one vote for some years now. And year in year out
it was referred back to a committee that we heard
nothing from ever again. The second thing is what is the
use in extending or opening up our conference to
all of our members if we are to take away what
conference is about and that is formulating and
debating policy. Rule 10 is a hindrances to the
further democratisation of this party.
Now it may be suggested that this is the practice
that is already done elsewhere, certainly our
comrades in UK Labour have done it. But that is
not to take away from the undemocratic nature of
this, the taking away of the voice of members.
Comrades I would ask you to please support this
amendment, thank you.>> Okay thank you. I don’t
have any speaker speakers forthcoming unless you
want to indicate now? I’ll ask Jan then to
respond please.>> I suppose my response is
that this is not a change that we are proposing to
make, this is already in the constitution, so
we’re not proposing to change anything
that isn’t already there. And just to make the
point as
well that the
conference arrangements
committee will
now actually
have a majority of people who are elected
at conference, so I don’t see any reason to change
that arrangement which has been there whereby you
have discussion and then that is brought for
consideration here. So we’ll suggest that we leave
it, to be quite honest we haven’t given it much
consideration because it isn’t something that
we were proposing as something new. But we would
suggest that we leave that as is in the
constitution. Thank you.>> Okay unless there’s any
speakers then I’m going to take the last vote
on the amendment, so for 1 O, all those
in favour of the amendment? All those against?
Okay thank you very much colleagues. That’s
defeated. Now that means that we now have
to vote on motion 1 as amended by all of the
decisions that we have taken. I think we have debated
very thoroughly, if there are speaker who is wish
to make any last comment on the motion as
amended? But otherwise I would propose to just put the
motion as amended for a final vote is that
agreeable? All those in favour of the motion as amended?
All those against? Okay it’s passed as as
amended thank you very much for your co-operation.
We’re not finished yet. We now have to get on to
some of the substantive motions on ordinary
business, on internal affairs from the branches
that were submitted, so I’m moving now to motion 2
from the fair view branch Dublin Bay north do I
have a proposer? Fee own nap Dunne.
>>>> Fiona Dunne Dublin Bay
north, comrades this is about the future, the motivation
behind it is
to assist in the process of rebuilding our
party, developing public
representatives and developing strategies for the future. We
wish to acknowledge the many loyal and committed
individual who work hard for the party, it’s not
about disregarding anyone’s commitment, capacity
for expertise, we need the skills and expertise of
all members to rebuild
What this motion wishes to do is give public
representatives and councillors the space and
platform to grow the profile and recognition with
the electorate, we have any moanls talent bank of
local councillors TDs and Senators and it’s
crucial we utilise our councillors as best we can
to raise the profile of the party.
We have a lot of
work to
do to rebuild and re connect with
local communities, to build the
profile and media presence, most importantly we
need to build support and recognition for
Labour policies and take back our space.
We need to push forward and develop the profile of
our local councillors by providing them with a
clear portfolio for development of the that the
the party, to ensure they are given the
opportunity to build their political experience
and grow into TDs and Senators we mope many will
become for the future. We want to ensure those
elected on behalf of their constituents and the
party are assigned areas on which
they can become party spoke persons. Coming
through such brutal elections of 2014 it would be
a waste of talent and opportunity not to have them
front and centre of political debate on a regular
basis and to develop a stronger public
persona and expertise. I ask you to move
this motion. Thank you.
>> Thank you very much. The next speaker is Alan
scot from the same constituency Dublin Bay north.
>> Thank you chair, I want to formally second the
motion and perhaps to add to that that we are in
the unfortunate position after the last election
of having the public representatives from the
point of view of the Oireachtas severely depleted
but I think that we have within the party a very
strong set of councillors who are well able and
capable to represent the party in many fields. I
think that what we should be doing is we should be
showing the breath and experience of people that
we have who remain public representatives with in
the Labour Party when you count the councillors
and give them an opportunity to perform and to
give the Labour Party the
impression, the people who support the Labour Party
it’s impression that there is a wealth of experience
behind the party which could be better
employed by re-electing them, hopefully re-electing them
to the Oireachtas next time around, I really would
commend this motion and second it. Thank you.
>> Thank you Aideen Carberry wants to speak.
>> Thank you very much Aideen Carberry from
Rathfarnham branch of Dublin South
west I want to speak on this to be honest I
have done my fair bit of cribbing and moping about
us perhaps not pushing forward some of the
young talent that we have in the party, thought it
would be hypocritical if I let the motion
pass without saying something on it, just to
say we all remember the
difficulties that we had in the local
elections of 2014, they were a tough set of
elections in which we lost many comrades who
served this party well on our city and County
Councils. But what I would say is that I
think we need to take Solas in the fact that
despite the difficult elections we had a number of
very capable and talented young councillors first
time candidates that were elected despite the
difficult election that we had, and I think it
would be a shame for us to
perhaps not put those people forward as a
new fresh face for the party if we’re to be
serious about #labour rebuild we need to talk
about pushing forward those people who can offer
us a skill base and knowledge base in
niche areas that perhaps our senior spokespersons
can’t at this moment. So I’d like to commend
this motion to conference and hope people
support it as well.>> Thank you very much the
Party Leader wants to speak on this motion as well.
>> Brendan Howlin Wexford town branch. This is a
very good motion, something that I
certainly intend to do in any event, the
whole idea of having early candidates
selection, new candidates in the field we certainly want
to give them a profile.
Obviously we need to have a core of spokes people
in the Dáil to put down parliamentary questions,
to keep Ministers accountable, but to supplement
and support that it would certainly be my strong
intention across the country to ensure that we
give a role to councillors and even
non-councillors who maybe future candidates for
the party to be spokesman for the party, it is my
intention that they will be invited to
parliamentary meetings when we are on away
days and
to be fully involved. I said at the beginning we need
to look well beyond the dozen people we now
have the Oireachtas, the 50 councillors
we have are a very important additional base to
that and the new candidates we select who are not
councillors in some instances will add to that
as well, so I certainly will support this
motion.>> Thank you. We’ll now move
to the vote on that. We’ll vote each as we
did with the amendments. So all those in
favour. All those against? That’s passed.
Great. Number 3 is from Labour women if we have a
proposer? Sinead Ahern.>> I feel like I’ve been
talking a lot this evening. As social democrats
and democratic socialists we’re no strangers to
incremental change but sometimes incremental
change isn’t good enough, sometimes it’s too slow,
in the 100 years in the near 100 year history of
the Irish State before the last Labour Fine Gael
government women’s representation in the
Houses of the Oireachtas didn’t rise above 16
percent, women’s representation in cabinet
scarcely improved from when markivivz was appointed
Minister for Labour in 1919, only two and a half
years ago Fine Gael in a cabinet reshuffle managed
to appoint not a single woman amongst nine junior
Minister appointments.
Quotas are necessary. There has been, since the
Labour Party, Labour government brought in 30%
gender quota for the last general election there
has been the single biggest increase in women’s
where he presentation in the houses ift
Oireachtas, quotas are effective.
[APPLAUSE] Many people, many opponents of
quotas argued that it will mean that excellent men
will be passed over for mediocre women. We’ve
had an internal gender quota of 30% in this
party for two local election cycles think of all the
amazing women representatives elected to the
Labour Party since then. Which of them would you
call mediocre? I think the answer is none.
Quotas have made sure that excellent women excel.
After the next general election after 2023, it’s a
long time away it seems we’ll lose half our party
funding if we don’t field at least 40% female
candidates for the general election. What this
motion is attempting to do is make sure that we
field at least 40% female candidates at the next
local elections to make sure that the groundwork
is there that the candidates are there, that the
people are there to make sure that we hit our
quota in 2023. I commend this motion
to the floor. Thank you T
>> Thank you. There’s no other speakers unless
again from now I’ll take a vote then on that
motion, so it’s — can all those in
favour please raise your hands? And
against? That motion has passed as well.
We’ll move to number four Michael Ferris Tipperary
Tipperary.>> Comrades I have been asked
to propose this motion, I’m Sarah Dunne in the
Tipperary constituency, it’s
straightforward, all we are asking is that a brief clear
mission statement of
what the Labour Party stands for can be made and
sent to everybody, so we all sing from the one
hymn smeet I don’t think it’s something that’s big
to ask for. We don’t need to have the massive
document sent out to every person, because let’s
admit it they won’t read them. So if we do clear
concise information that everybody can
say quick, easy, that’s all we want. Thank
you.>> Okay, thank you. Again I
have nobody indicating to speak on it. So
we’ll go ahead with a vote. Can I have all those in
favour? All those against? That motion is
passed. Number five is from Rath Gar
Dublin Bay south.>> Now chair, comrades, Brian
Brennan Labour Rathgar, this motion is about
the the context in which the Labour Party is being
are build. A short time ago I had the
pleasure to visit Avre river in northern Spain, the
site of one of the key battles of the Spanish civil
war, when the Spanish public stood alone
against fashism and
totalitarianism. Once again that same right is on
the March in Europe. Its target is the very
socialist value that is found the basis of our
European social democratic system and its means
are the same. The populist politics, used in the
dark days of the rise of fascism and the horrors
of the second world war.
Their object if I have is clear, it’s the
democratic voice that stands unique in the face of
global capital as the voice of global citizen.
At the heart of our social democracy is the
indirection of political pluralism that recognises
and gives equal respect, for example to all the
traditions on this island . A social pluralism
which is founded on gender rights, worker’s rights
and on the right of workers to organise and an
economic pluralism that
recognises the variety that
does exist in the means of distribution,
production and exchange.
If we are to be successful in building the Labour
Party, in rebuilding the Labour Party and that
success is there it has to be part of that much
broader rebuilding programme, it must be part of
the re jeuf nation and rebuilding of European
social democracy. And in rebuilding that our
approach is that we must confront poplism with the
pluralism that is the heart of Labour. We must
confront it in every area and every country that it
occurs, but we must fight it on a broad European
basis. We can not build Labour in isolation from
our broader efforts to rebuild European social
democracy. Once more the stakes are high,
once more Labour stands on the Abril river, once
more the future of Europe is on a political
Abril. This time we must win. This
time we will win. This time in the context of a
broad fighting European alliance for social
democracy, they will not pass. No pass aren.
>> Thank you, I think Brian McDonagh was
indicating to speak and I have one other
speaker.>> Brian McDonagh councillor in
Fingal, I just want to speak brief Leon this
motion, I think it’s one that we can all agree with
and pass, but I
think it’s important that we give it the attention
that it deserves, because at the
heart of it there is something that we’re all
confronting across Europe, and we’re all
confronting within our communities and if we’re honest
about it, we’re all confronting it within
sometimes our friends and our families.
And that is the rise of the kind of populism and
the fear related particularly to migration, and
changes in work which are being attributed in many
cases falsely, to migration. And what we need to
do is to pay attention as a party about how and
where we go about confronting it and how
electorally we confront it, so that we retain the
support of ordinary working people, of all types
and all shapes and aims and in all of our
communities. Because we’re all hearing bits of it
on the doorstep. And the fact that we have nobody
overtly advertising within this country
yet the kind of populism and racism which I saw
for first hand when I campaigned against Trump
in the States doesn’t mean we should be in
anyway complacent or ignorant of the fact that we are
facing it, I thank you for support of the motion.>> Thank you. Jeremy Holt come
forward please.
>> Jeremy Holt Westport branch. In our
enthusiasm to passe mendment 1 A we overlooked
the reference to the European
project as 1 C fell. The
delegate from Labour youth doesn’t remember life
before EU membership, there’s more to the EU than Erasmus, I don’t mean that
facetiously, but the day before yesterday I was in
Auschwitz with my 16 year old grand daughter.
It was liberated just three days before I was
born, it’s only one lifetime away. And the
European project was created to prevent the
possibility of the horrors of World War II. Now
the EU is in no way perfect but the alternative
populist Nationalistic pathway has been tried, and
look what happened. I commend this amendment.
>> Thank you very much Jeremy. I’m going to take
a vote now on that motion, motion 5,
all those in favour? All those against? That
motion passes. Motion 6 then is from Rosses
Donegal, I don’t know if we have a proposer? No, so
the motion hasn’t been moved so I can take a vote
or anything on that, so that motion will fall.
Number 7 is from Swords Dublin Fingal, Duncan
Smith to propose.>> Duncan Smith Swords branch.
We were asking the question over the last year
in our branches and constituency Councils among
our friends What’s App groups, Facebook pages and
most importantly here in conference, what are we
rebuilding for? I think we all learned that we
don’t have a pre-determined right to exist as
a party, and no-one Ohs us a vote just
because we are the Labour Party and have been
around since 1912. We have to earn every vote through
our work and our politics, we can’t get away with
what the civil war parties do, we’re held to a
higher standards. That’s a good thing, we have our
political anchor, our well from which our ideas
develop and become policies, we would never get
away with being so politically vak use as Fianna
Fáil. But it’s become clear to me over the past
year as we work to rebuild the party we have
become afraid of certain words.
Words like class, the left, words like socialism,
not the Swords branch of the Labour Party. No-one
has taken those words away from us. I’m proud of
our socialist traditions and how it inspired our
party for over a century lead real change. I’m
proud because of the Labour Party working class
boys and girls of
my generation could grow up and
have a real chance at realising their educational
potential. It wasn’t like that for my father and
mother’s generation their horizons not that broad
their path had more obstacles. Despite the economic collapse
Labour worked to ensure expectations … that’s
what makes the Labour Party viet amend that’s
why we are pulling ourselves up by our boot straps,
all the changes we brought in were always in
coalition with one of
the two civil war parties, we have always got a
kicking from
are the electorate, none more so brutal than last February.
To be honest I don’t think this cycle is good for
our health, for me personally I think it’s okay
not to be okay with wanting to not attach
ourselves in government with either of those two
parties for the foreseeable future. The
volatility of politics should be seen by us as an
opportunity not a threat. People are gyping to
look again for real alternatives, they want to see
the left working together,
they want
that alternative.
So let’s take this difficult time and use it to
chart a new course for us, to build a progressive
alliance with like minded political groupings,
NGOs and individuals on the left, be proud of
socialist roots and the ability to inspire brave
and creative policies to tackle structural
inequalities and injustices in the country and
provide real decency and justice for the class of
people that always worked to keep this country
afloat, that’s the people of Ireland, thank you.
>> Thank you Duncan, I don’t have any speakers
unless you feel the need now or will I just move
to a vote? I’ll just move to the vote. All those
in favour? All those against? Okay,
we’ve adopted that motion. We’re moving to number 8 from
the Cork south central constituency Council.
>> Thank you chair Luke field Wilton branch,
comrades this motion is about the identity of the
party, something we have already discussed quite a
bit this evening. I don’t need to tell you,
it’s been spoken about already
tonight that these are dangerous and uncertain times in
politics, and in times such as these a lot of
good can be done simply by being clear, Frank and
unequivocal with the public. And to invoke our
wonderful new constitutional preamble as pass
this had evening, we are a democratic socialist
party, we should embrace this, we should campaign
on that basis and we should stand proudly for what
we believe. And what we believe is that the
democratic pursuit of a socialist Republic is the
best way to build our future of decency, justice
and equality. We must put that case to the
public and we must ask them to make an informed
choice. And this simply clee not be done when we
share a platform with the right. Now I don’t
intend to conduct a post
mortem of the 2016 election and it is
certainly not my intention to go on the fool’s
errand of trying to assign blame, not my interest,
but we must acknowledge that to attend to create
electoral co-operation with Fine Gael was a
mistake. Voters I spoke with during and
since that election have roundly criticised our
decision to press ahead and attempt a transfer
pact with Fine Gael, I must admit it was a low point
for me personally too, because I am not in the
business of helping right wingers to get elected.
They have never gotten a transfer from me and
they never will! Every day our members, whatever
their role in the party work to rebuild public
trust in the Labour Party, and if we are serious
about rehabilitation as a serious electoral force, we
cannot allow ourselves to be taibted by
association with the failures of Fianna Fáil and Fine
Gael. We must shatter the misconceptions that
exist that we only exist as their potential
partners, that must end. Now let me be clear, I am not
oppose to co-operation when there is value
to be had from it, I fully support and
encourage us to pursue all avenues of co-operation with
other members of the democratic and progressive left.
That would be a great act of political
leadership. But for such arrangements to have value, we
must only work with those party that is share our
core values, that is the only way that it will be
seen as in anyway credible by the electoral.
We have never once prospered from electoral
accommodation of the right. We have always, every
single time suffered from it. If we want to build
our future we must not repeat our mistakes of our
past. Comrades, I urge you, take this
step towards protecting the political
identity of our Labour Party and support motion 8 thank
you very much.>> Thank you Luke, speakers on
this fin Gar Geeney done aey
Donameade as well.>> Comrades this motion is
perhaps the best motion on the order paper, it’s
a clear, unequivocal, uncompromising
statement of the founding principles of this
party. And it calls by implication for a Labour
government, because in the majority of the Irish voters
to vote for a Labour government.
For that reason it was that Connolly went to the
Ross strum in 1912 in Clonmel to build for a
Labour government. This isn’t a novel idea. It’s
not a revolutionary idea.
In 1930s Labour had a policy for workers Republic,
in 1969 the outline documents for that year called
for a social revolution on a world scale. And in
1981 we adopted the document called the socialist
alternative. This is the basis on which our party
is built. We’re not a pressure group. We
don’t exist to put pressure on other parties to
bring in this policy or that policy. We want a
Labour government. When was the last time that was
called for? This motion by implication calls for
that. I would ask you to look beyond
the quibbles and wording of the motion and look
at the basic principle behind it. The
principle is we are in a party, the Labour Party, because
we are socialists, because it’s a
socialist party and we want a socialist government, I
ask you to support the motion because of the
principle that’s espoused within it.
>> Thank you Finbar the Party Leader wants to
come in on this one.
>> Thank you chair, for those who were in the
hall when I spoke earlier at the beginning of this
session I think you will understand where I stand
in relation to this motion. I support this motion. The
Labour Party will stand on its own platform, will
have no pre-election pact with anybody.
There will be no shared media event, no shared
anything. We’ll go into the next election on the
basis of strong Labour Party values, written in
Labour Party policy platforms, de decided
democratically by this party.
We’ll ask for a mandate on that basis. I want to
be quite clear, we are open to transfers, we’re
not closing the door and asking anybody not to
transfer to us. We’ll desperately need to
transfers to hold our marginal seats, so let’s not
be too precious about these things. If you look
at the small enough numbers we have in the Dáil,
we all depended on transfers to get over the line.
If you want me to point out in each constituency
where the transfers came from … do the maths.
We need to be very clear, but also very smart.
Because I agree with Finn, we’re not a pressure
group, we’re not some debating society, we don’t
want to raise worker’s false hopes. We want to
change their lives, we want to change the lives of
this country. Soff I support this motion because
I am determined as long as I’m
Party Leader, that the values, the principles, the
traditions of this party will imbue everything we
do and we’ll ask the people for a mandate, for us
and us alone, as I said earlier, Labour proudly
Labour. [APPLAUSE]
>> Thank you Brendan. No other speakers on that
so we’ll go to a vote. All those in favour? All
those against? The motion is carried. .
And motion number 9 has fallen because of the fact
that the amended constitution as passed. So we
are onto the final motion No. 10 from SIPTU, Jack
O’Connor to propose.
I want to also as I see in the room a former
leader Eamon Gilmore, acknowledge that he has
arrived and is very welcome. [APPLAUSE]
>> Comrades, chair, Party Leader, comrades, this
motion I have to say compliments the motions we
have just adopted because we were through the
very good experience last year of
commemorating the insur reckons of 1916 Rand we
1916 and we were all proud to remember the role played by
James Connolly and by the Irish citizens Army and by
so many trade unionists in that struggle for
national independence.
And now already the Centenary of the foundation of
the State is hovering into view in a little over
five years time. And in two years time we’ll
commemorate the Centenary of the democratic
programme, that inspirational document upon which
the war of independence was fought which aspired
to an egalitarian ire land and which was drafted
by our fore fathers in this movement, billow bill, oh
Brian, Thomas Jonathan and Cathal ocean hand.
Actually if we think about it comrades, we are now
in a situation as we are about to exit the
structural deficit in the Republic of Ireland, we
are actually in a situation in which we are in a
position to make more progress towards the
aspiration, the realisation of the aspirations
that were enshrined in the democratic programme,
between now and the centenary of the foundation of
the State in 2022, than we have made in any
similar such period since the foundation of this
State. Because when we emerge from the
structural deficit we’ll have about an average, if
the projections for economic growth are realised
and if we can navigate a course through Brexit
and Trump’s protectionism, we’ll be in a
position to generate about fiscal space of 3.7
billion euro without increasing taxation at all.
And if the rich can be persuaded to contributed a
little more we’ll be in a position to aspire
towards housing all our people well before 2022.
Rebuilding our public health and education
services and developing our local authority and
environmental services to a degree that is beyond
the expectation only a short few years ago.
But it does mean making choices, and they are hard choices. For example if that is
to be realised there is absolutely no room, no
room at all for tax cuts of any kind. None.
And we have to be able to say that the better off
will be required to contribute a little more. And
maybe we might even have to say more than that.
And we’ll have to decide as well that since you
can’t build everything, we have to prioritise the
areas of public expenditure which must be dealt
with first. And along with that comrades, we
should be able to layout a clear perspective on
what it would be like to work in Ireland by 2022
and beyond. We should be able to set out a
clear perspective on the measures that we would
take to combat the race to the bottom in the
workplace which is intensifying by the hour in this
state, to the degree that the concept of a
decent job is increasingly remote for an
increasing proportion of our people.
Because comrades you see it’s all very well to
debate whether we are a socialist party, or a
social democratic party, or a democratic socialist
party, and it is all very well to go on about the
values that informed our movement’s founding, but
we have to be able comrades to translate all of
that into a practical perspective on how Ireland
could look when we celebrate the centenary of the
foundation of this State in which the fore runners
in the Labour movement played such a role.
And we have to be able to connect with every
single man and woman, and we have to be able to
say this is the future that we envisage. This is
how we’ll build it. This is how we’ll fund it.
And this comrades, this is how it will work.
Because that is where socialism connects with the
reality of people’s lives, people’s struggles,
people’s expectations for their children.
And we have to face the reality that we now have
to build alliances with people who share our world
view and outlook. We have to reach out to all the
people who through dissolutionment or otherwise
are no longer with us in this party, we have toe
reach out to the social democrats and we have to
reach out to social democrats and democratic
socialists who class themselves as independents.
And we have to be able to build jointly with
people who share our world view
and outlook,
a perspective and a picture of the
Ireland that is
realisable. And we have to be able thent
along with them, to translate that into a series of
bottom red lines on policy from which we’ll not
depart irrespective of what inducement is offered by
the centre right parties or others.
And that, comrades, is how we translate broad
ideas about socialism into the reality of people’s
lives, because we are not in this party and we are
not supporting this party and we don’t give our
time to it in the same way as people are committed
to a football club. We are in this party because
we want to transform this society, because we know
it can be done and because we have the confidence
that we can develop a practical programme of
action to do it and to work with others to do it.
I move the motion. Thank you.
>> No other speakers on it. It would be hard to
follow that in fairness. So I’ll take a vote on
that motion, all those in favour? And all those
against? The motion is passed. Thank you all
delegates. Connolly café is on at 11, you
have time for one quick drink. It’s just behind
us. Can I ask you in the morning to be here at
9.15 we need to start on time because of the
television time. So please have a few bodies in the room
thank you very much

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