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Together we can change way country is run and fix broken system

Posted on February 01, 2011 at 04:55 PM

I welcome the fact that at long last the people of Ireland will have their say in a General Election which is long overdue.
The Taoiseach has announced his retirement from politics and I want to wish him and his family the very best for the future. He and I have clashed in robust debate. He has always stood by his position and I have stood by mine and now our parties will put our case to the verdict of the people.

We have just over 3 weeks to decide the future of our country.

From this point on, the future of Ireland lies in the hands of its people.

All of us, together. On polling day all of us are equal as voters, and each of us has an equal responsibility for the way we mark our ballot paper.

All of us, each and every voter together we have the opportunity now to decide the future of our country.
Ireland is a great country and with a great future.

Yes, we have problems, grave problems.

But nobody, and especially ourselves, should ever doubt what we are capable of. Our abilities are far greater then our problems.

We can, and we will get through this recession. We can, and we will, get our country on the road to recovery, creating jobs and forging opportunities for our future. We can and we will change the way this country is run and fix the system that is broken.

Our country's best days are still to come.

But it is not enough to wish for a better future. We have to grasp it and work for it and on polling day we have to come together and decide on change.

That is what this election is all about. Change. For the future. For the kind of Ireland we want to rebuild now, not just for ourselves for our children as well.

Change is nothing new for most Irish people today - because most people have already had to change their own lives, out of necessity. The change from work to no work. Change of living standards. Changes in everyday living.
Now we have to change our country and change its politics and we have to do it together. To change from being the victims of change to being the drivers of change.

For the first time ever in the 90 year history of this State, we can elect a Government which is led by neither Fianna Fáil nor Fine Gael. For the first time people have a choice - to elect a Government led by Labour.

This is not simply a choice of party label. It is a choice about the future direction of our country.

This election is a 3 way contest. Those who want more of the same can vote for the Fianna Fáil party that brought down our country, that tied our State to the sinking and stinking misfortunes of the banks and that sold us out in the deal with the EU and IMF.

People can, if they wish, choose a Government driven by the same old ideas that have already failed us. It is clear that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are comfortable with each other's policies. They both voted for the blanket bank guarantee. They are both happy to embrace austerity - to line up behind the EU/IMF deal, whatever the cost in jobs. It is clear that neither has any wish to break up the Celtic Tory consensus that has brought us to where we are.

Or we can say enough of that, we want real change.

Only Labour can lead that change. A change of Government, and a change in the way Government works. A change in the way Government thinks. A change that brings the real concerns of the people to the heart of Government.
Labour will fight this election on three issues. On jobs, on reform, and on fairness.

Throughout this crisis, Labour has insisted that jobs must be at the heart of what Government is doing. Labour is the party of work, and a Labour-led Government will have jobs at the top of its agenda. We will work to provide skills and work experience opportunities for those without work. We will work to develop new opportunities through trade and innovation. Finding new markets, and new goods and services to sell in them. Promoting the knowledge economy. We will work on the basis that every job counts. Every job counts.

Labour is the party of reform. For generations, in and out of Government, Labour has championed progressive change in Ireland. Now, once again, we are determined to lead a new wave of change, to fix a broken system. A system that has failed the Irish people.

Labour is the party to reform politics because we have the best track record on reform. Labour is the Party to reform our public services because we believe in public services, we respect public servants and we have a 140 point plan to bring about reform.

Labour is the party of fairness. We have led the way in showing how the two-tier health system is bad for all of us, and how it can be fixed. We have lead the way in demanding fair taxation. Alone among the political parties, we will make literacy, not just a policy objective but a national cause.

Labour's vision is the vision of One Ireland. Where we are driven by what unites us, not what divides us. Our country is too small, and our problems are too great, to indulge in divisions, or solo-runs, or sectional interests.

This is not the time for division or for the politics of pitting one group of Irish people against another. This is the moment we must come together, and move forward together - Le Chéile.

Government is not a hospitality tent, roped of for VIPs. Government is not a Big House shielded from the people by high walls. Government is not the business of the insiders, it is the business of us all. It's time to roll up the tent, and put the concerns of the people at the heart of Government. That is what Labour is all about. That is why Connolly and Larkin founded the Labour Party, and now its time has come.

One Ireland. Public sector and private sector. Those with jobs and those looking for work. Employers and employees. Rural and urban. Gay and straight. Now is the time to pull down the walls that stand between the people and their Government. Now is the time for Labour.

This is the first day of Spring. Let us put our winter behind .

Anois teacht an earrach.

Eamon Gilmore TD - speaking before the dissolution of the Dáil.

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