Gilmore outlines Labour's New Vision
The new Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore has outlined a new vision for the country in which poverty will be ended, climate change halted and the development of a universal health service.
At his speech to the Labour conference in Wexford last night Mr Gilmore said that questions about what
the modern Labour Party stands for, ignores the pioneering role the party has played in the creation of modern Ireland.
"It was Labour who gave women the right to the same pay for doing the same jobs as men; Labour which brought in the laws which protect our rights at work; Labour which introduced the legislation on equality, on standards in public life and freedom of information; Labour that freed separated people from the dogmas of the past and allowed them remarry if they so wish."
Outlining the party's 'New Vision', Mr Gilmore said in twenty years from now Ireland could be a place with a population one million larger than at present; with sectarian conflict a distant memory and a state where communities from many different nationalities were integrated.
He asked delegates if as part of this new vision, China could be seen not as a threat, but as our biggest export market for food, agricultural products and specialist services.
On the same weekend as the UN Climate Change Conference was running in Valencia, Spain Mr Gilmore asked delegates to imagine a Ireland no-longer dependent on oil, but rather leading the world with alternative energy from wind and wave.
Underpinning all these ambitions is the principle of fairness, Mr Gilmore said. "I believe that every person is equal. It is as simple as that. That's what makes me a democrat. That's what why I am a socialist.
"This basic idea that people are equal, and should be free to pursue their potential, in a society where we look out for each other, is what distinguishes the politics of the Labour Party."
The new Labour leader also took issue with some of the failings of the current Government saying Ireland cannot afford to have 165,000 of under 35s leaving school without a Leaving Certificate.
In a thinly veiled swipe at the Taoiseach's pay rise Mr Gilmore said "there may be some in politics who feel sorry for themselves and who on €6,000 a week are falling on hard times" he said one in every nine children was living in poverty and that universal access to public services was the only way to break this cycle.
Comparing the leadership of Mr Ahern with that of previous Fianna Fáil taoisigh, saying Eamon de Valera would not have taken fistfuls of cash in a suitcase, Sean Lemass would not have tolerated the inefficiency and waste in the health service, and Jack Lynch would never have turned his back on Shannon.