RENUA Ireland – Statement from Lucinda Creighton May 14, 2016Posted by irishelectionliterature in Uncategorized.
So Lucinda has resigned as Party leader…… wonder what happens them now?
The following speech was delivered by Lucinda Creighton to a National Members’ Meeting of RENUA Ireland this morning in Portlaoise:
“Almost 18 months ago today, Eddie Hobbs, Cllr. John Leahy and I announced to the country our intention to start a new political party, the first attempt of its kind since the formation of the Progressive Democrats.
The speech I am making today is not one which I had hoped to make, but is one I knew was always possible when we stepped out into the unknown.
The journey to the creation of RENUA Ireland started in July 2013, when I, along with my then Fine Gael colleagues voted with our conscience on legislation which we were told freedom of thought was not allowed. Along with now Minister Denis Naughten, we formed a Parliamentary Grouping to work together to explore new ideas on political, economic and social reform.
From that moment on, the question on much of the media’s lips was whether we were going to form a new political party.
That speculation reached fever pitch when in January of 2014, we held what the Sunday Independent dubbed our “Monster Meeting” in the RDS.
We faced that challenge head on and it was on that day where more than a 1,000 people turned up on a rainy Saturday morning that I think all of us who were involved, realised the level of public disquiet about how the country was being run, and the significant public appetite for a new offering.
Every working day after that rally, save for the couple of days that were required to bring Gwendolyn into this world, I worked tirelessly to try and persuade other like-minded individuals to join our political project.
There was plenty of interest, lots of promises, but in large measure a great degree of fear over what being involved with a new political party could mean for them and their futures. The same questions were posed repeatedly.
• Was remaining an Independent the better option for re-election?
• Can I work with someone who holds diametric views on issue of conscience?
• What might the public reaction be to my association with an ex-government Minister?
• How will forming a new party distract from my constituency workload?
• Is it even possible to form a new party faced with barriers that the incumbents put before them?
These were the questions that many who chose not to join asked themselves.
These are many of the questions of people who took the risk and joined us asked themselves as well.
In my own case, at that same time in January 2014, despite much of the media writing off our so-called “Monster Meeting” as a once off event, a Red C poll in the Sunday Business post had me topping the poll in Dublin Bay South at 26%.
Billy Timmins, Terence Flanagan, Paul Bradford all took huge political risks not because Fine Gael would not welcome them back, not because they believed being part of a new party meant the likelihood of being returned to the Dáil would be greater. They took these political risks because they believed in what RENUA Ireland was trying to do.
From the greatest sceptic, to the most informed reader of politics, everyone was unanimous in their view that Cllr John Leahy was a dead cert for election at the next Dáil. I was even reliably informed that Brian Cowen had even tipped him to take office.
John took a huge political risk, because he too believed in something different, he wanted to be part of a new offering to the general public that supported indigenous business, would rejuvenate rural Ireland and introduce radical political reform.
Never before seen on the national stage, sitting beside myself and Eddie Hobbs, John put his political career on the line because he wanted to be part of something he truly believed in, not what he thought would be the quickest and easiest way to Dáil Eireann.
These are the qualities of leadership that our country is crying out for.
The by-election in Carlow-Kilkenny in May of 2015 was our first real test, a test that Cllr. Paddy McKee courageously stood up to face.
The effort he and everyone involved in RENUA at that point put in, really showed our potential and that’s why 10% of Carlow-Kilkenny voters were willing to give Paddy a chance. They saw his enthusiasm, commitment and conviction and they shared with all of us, the belief that RENUA Ireland could make a difference to their lives and their families’ lives.
Writing in the Sunday Independent last week, our former Deputy Leader in trying to assess RENUA Ireland’s election, said that Irish people in the main are “steady as she goes”, more meat and two veg. than risotto.
In Billy’s customary rhythmic wisdom, there is much to learn from.
We have to acknowledge key mistakes that we made.
Flat Tax while innovative and not without merit, never captured the public imagination. It was wrongly depicted as a policy for the rich, and a punishment for the poor.
Nothing could have been further from the truth, but I as leader have to take responsibility for our failure in persuading the Irish people of its merits. Everyone in RENUA Ireland shared the goal of making work pay but we should, and could have presented our tax policy in a way that was not seen to divide society but instead reward it. That is what we intended but we failed to do it, and RENUA Ireland must learn from this mistake in the future.
Despite our best efforts, we failed to shine a light on the different faces of RENUA Ireland, the Irish people never got an opportunity to see or hear John Leahy, Paddy McKee, Ronan McMahon or some of the many bright talented candidates who were standing for office for the first time. This is the rough and tumble of trying to start a new political party, but we could, and should have done better so a larger story of RENUA could have been told.
So what did we get right? Quite a bit actually.
o The principle of freedom of conscience in Irish politics is now party policy in Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. The whip in Irish politics has been permanently loosened.
o Ending tax discrimination against the self-employed is a matter of national political consensus and forms a key part of the programme for government.
o The principle of depoliticising the health system is government policy.
o Tougher sentencing laws and a greater focus on rural crime are considered national imperatives.
RENUA shone a spotlight on these issues, these polices.
On many occasions, I was asked what we will do if the other political parties steal our policies, and on every occasion, I said we would welcome it, because RENUA Ireland believed in putting principles before politics. I stand over that and I am proud of it, and every person in this room should be too.
I know that there are people in this room, and that there were people sympathetic to our political views, who believe at times we should have played “the game” more. Less forthright and more strategic.
o Eddie Hobbs giving his views on public sector pay.
o Our challenging the Taoiseach’s failure to rule out Michael Lowry’s support in a future government.
o Creating a party that does not conform to my own views on conscience issues.
Is it any wonder that questions continually surround the qualifications of many of our elected representatives and why many of our best and brightest stay away from political association?
Eddie Hobbs put his hand up when others faltered.
Did he talk and sound like a well-rehearsed politician? No.
Did he speak the truth of his convictions? Absolutely, every time.
I believe many people in Ireland regretted that Eddie did not stand to run for the Dáil, I certainly did, but at least he was brave enough to say he wanted to make a difference and not commentate from the sidelines. He threw himself into this project with utter conviction and commitment.
I personally made a big political issue about the failure of the Taoiseach to rule out Michael Lowry’s support for government both during and before the start of the election.
I did this in the face of an unrelenting and unprecedented smear campaign from Independent News and Media designed to unseat me from Dáil Éireann.
I am now out of the Dáil, Michael Lowry topped the poll and has agreed an “understanding” with the government, with his single vote securing the Taoiseach’s election.
It is almost 5 years now since Justice Moriarty in his tribunal report, found that it is “beyond doubt” that Deputy Michael Lowry imparted substantive information to Denis O’Brien which was “of significant value and assistance to him in securing the licence”.
That same deputy now holds the balance of power and as secret “understanding” with the government.
The powerful must be held to account and I believe RENUA Ireland would have played that role if given that opportunity.
There are members of this Oireachtas who I am certain will not allow vested interests interfere with the public good.
The election of Michael McDowell to the Seanad ensures that political reform and accountability will have a voice.
Denis Naughten chose a different path to us, and the electorate ultimately rewarded him for that choice. I believe he will be an incredibly hard working Minister and a reforming one.
My long-time friend, and once political colleague Leo Varadkar, has the patience, honesty, and sound judgment to not only make substantial changes to our social welfare system, but in the not too distant future, bring about a new kind of leadership to Ireland that has been sorely lacking.
I relished every moment of elected office, as a Councillor, TD and Minister. They were the proudest years of my life.
I did not imagine I would be departing the political stage as early as this, but democracy is a humbling experience.
There our voices in our Oireachtas who can, and will make a difference but it needs more of them and new ways of thinking.
I believe there is enough talent in this room and outside of it, who can become these essential voices that can fulfil the four founding principles enshrined in the constitution of RENUA Ireland.
1. Building a sustainable economic recovery for small business and the self employed
2. Reforming the public sector and delivering quality services to our people.
3. Transforming our political system to make government open and accountable.
4. Building a society that is truly one of equal opportunity.
This has been a remarkable journey that did not end the way any of us would have liked or envisaged, but is one I am extremely grateful for those who made it possible, and the supporters and members across the country who shared in our common ideals.
It’s time for me to move on from leading RENUA Ireland and allow new voices to be heard.
I leave my role as party leader perhaps more humbled, but no less proud of all that we have achieved together and what can be accomplished in the future.
Thank you very much.”