What did we learn from the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis?

The party's annual meeting took place today at Citywest

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Image: RollingNews.ie

Fianna Fáil held its Ard Fheis in Dublin today - the party's last major gathering before the election campaign.

The party's annual gathering was being held at the Citywest Hotel.

Micheál Martin insisted Fianna Fáil will offer a real choice to voters, and told them a Fine Gael government is not inevitable.

Deputy Martin says he wants to offer a real alternative, adding that his party will not put Enda Kenny back into office because people "want a change, and they want difference":

So what did we learn today?

Fianna Fáil are prepared to bring a fight to Fine Gael

Party leader Micheál Martin launched a scathing attack on Fine Gael, saying they want a coronation and not an election - and that in this Republic there are no coronations.

In his final rally to the troops Martin said the country needs a new Government that will provide 'An Ireland for All'.

Our political correspondent, Páraic Gallagher reports:

You can read the full details of Martin's speech here.

Fianna Fáil's promises


Kicking off the day, Fianna Fáil began by accusing Fine Gael of emboldening criminals.

The party's pre-election Ard Fheis in Dublin is discussing crime, saying only they will make Ireland safer.

Dun Laoghaire candidate, Councillor Cormac Devlin says Fine Gael policy has failed people:

Fianna Fáil members have also been told Sinn Féin's attitude to the criminal courts is a sign it's not fit for government.

The claim's come from the party's justice spokesman Niall Collins who told those delegates that Sinn Fein's response to the conviction of Thomas 'Slab' Murphy should be questioned:

Housing and ownership

On housing and home ownership, the party's Finance spokesperson Michael McGrath says they would intervene in the market to cap interest rates.

And he says they would change the Central Bank's mortgage rules so that rent paid would account for one-quarter of mortgage deposit limits:  

And Environment spokesperson Deputy Barry Cowen says they will ensure more NAMA homes are delivered for those who need them, and promises new "finance initiatives" to see more housing built:  


Dublin Fingal candidate Lorraine Clifford Lee spoke about childcare issues facing the electorate and that Fianna Fáil will put forward real proposals for people who are struggling with childcare costs.

The party has promised a new childcare tax credit that will save families up to €4000 annually:

Irish Water

In his presidential address, Martin promised Fianna Fáil would scrap Irish Water and water charges if elected to Government.

Challenging Fine Gael's claim that we can't afford to risk Ireland's economic recovery, he said that what the country really can't risk is  the "massive waste" involved in Irish Water.

A curious motion from the party's youth wing

The minutes of an Ógra Fianna Fáil meeting recorded that the group would like to invite an organisation in to teach pleasure-based sex education.

However the minutes of the meeting were recorded inaccurately and Ógra replied to our political correspondent to clear the matter up.

Of course this correction raises more questions than it answers...