Fianna Fáil not interested in angry populism, Taoiseach tells ardfheis

Delegates gather in Dublin for first ardfheis since party entered Government

Upwards of 2,500 delegates are expected to attend the Fianna Fáil ardfheis in the RDS in Dublin on Saturday, in the party’s first face-to-face gathering since it entered government in 2020.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin welcomed delegates to the event Friday night, telling them Fianna Fáil was not interested in making “angry populist speeches” like other parties, but instead focused on the “much harder work of developing practical solutions and implementing them”.

Mr Martin denied to reporters that it was his last ardfheis as Taoiseach, and said Fianna Fáil was holding up well in opinion polls, adding that the party would be “in the mix” for future government formation after the next election.

He said there was “too many glib comments about the party” in some coverage of it.


Mr Martin said the Government was “not happy” about record numbers of homeless people but he defended the Coalition’s record and confirmed Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien will keep his job in the upcoming reshuffle.

Mr Martin was speaking ahead of the opening of the ardfheis hours after it emerged that the number of people who are homeless in the State and relying on emergency accommodation has increased to a record 10,805.

Speaking to reporters ahead of the Fianna Fáil event he rejected a suggestion that the numbers were a sign that the party’s housing policy was not working. He insisted house-building was increasing and a much higher number of homes were being completed, with 25,000 expected this year.

In terms of homelessness, he said a housing-first policy was being implemented, and added: “We’re not happy about it and we’re going to continue to do everything we possibly can in terms of dealing with the increased numbers.”

Mr Martin also said: “There’s thousands of people exiting homelessness every year. It’s not the same people in homelessness”.

He defended the Government’s Housing for All plan, saying it is “the only substantive policy document and I would challenge you to find another one from any political party”.

Later, addressing delegates, Mr Martin attacked Opposition parties which he said “have absolutely no interest in the fundamental issue of creating and protecting jobs. They only ever talk about how to spend resources, never about how to generate them.

“They never have a positive word to say about those who create jobs – and while sometimes they issue warm words promising to be no threat to anybody – they constantly attack the free trade we rely on and the tax system which supports hundreds of thousands of jobs and our expanding public services.”

Delegates went on to hear debates on Ukraine, which was addressed by Ukrainian deputy prime minister Olga Stefanishyna via videolink, and by Ukrainian MEP Kira Rudik, on education and on climate action. The two speakers were warmly received by the audience. The education debate was addressed by John Kiely, a headmaster and the Limerick hurling manager.

Delegates will also vote on a new document which revises the aims and objectives of the party following a lengthy consultation process headed by Kildare TD James Lawless.

There will also be debates on healthcare, the budget, housing, agriculture and Northern Ireland, as well as a series of internal party elections. Would-be candidates and activists will also attend a series of training workshops on using social media, including “simple tips to look and sound professional” and “being authentic online”.

Mr Martin’s set-piece address, which will be broadcast on live television, takes place at 6.30pm on Saturday.

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times