Kenny vows to lead Ireland Inc's rebirth
Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny has promised a three-pronged approach aimed at putting Ireland "back to work", revolutionising the health service and reforming the nation's political system.
Speaking in front of a packed hall at the Malton Hotel in Killarney at the Fine Gael national conference last night he said the "Celtic Tiger may be dead, but the Celtic Spirit is alive and well and ready to fight".
Mr Kenny said: "The biggest problem in Ireland is that we have 434,000 people out of work. Many thousands more are being forced to emigrate in search of jobs. This tide of emigration has started to flow again. I am determined to stem that tide"
Mr Kenny added Fine Gael was the party that set up the institutions of the State.
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But he said: "I want to create a smaller, more dynamic and more responsive political system: I will reduce the size of the Dail by 20; I will change the way the Dail works so that it can truly hold government ministers to account on behalf of the people; I will seek public approval for the abolition of Seanad Eireann; and I am absolutely determined to bring more women into politics."
Mr Kenny also criticised the Government's handling of the banking crisis. "Unless there is a change of government, the banks will get what they want. There is no limit to what Fianna Fail will do to protect their powerful friends," he said.
Mr Kenny was scathing about the recent scandal at Tallaght Hospital. He said Fine Gael had examined a range of world healthcare models and suggested Ireland should copy the Dutch model, which he said was No 1 in Europe.
He also said TD James Reilly's Faircare plan would put an end to waiting lists. "You will have a really strong primary care system. You will see hospitals run by local trusts. You will see hospitals value patients as resources -- not as obstacles."