What a political party stands for and what core values it upholds is fundamental. Recent electoral events in Europe have shed light on political ideology and the aims and intentions of political parties.
The far-right Sweden Democrats, a party founded by neo-Nazis, were the big winners in Sweden’s general election, while in Italy a party with roots in the Mussolini-inspired neo-fascist movement took power.
The wave of extremes in Europe is dangerous and one to which we are not immune here in Ireland.
Populism has triumphed in many countries over the past decade amidst a simplistic “we’ve had enough of experts” perspective.
Many of these events are still unfolding with disastrous consequences, as we see again this week in the post-Brexit UK.
It is important to the future of our country that democratic political parties formulate their vision in a way that resonates with voters and that their goals reflect modern political realities and the 21st century republic in which we live.
It also allows voters to make informed decisions.
It was my honor to be commissioned by the Taoiseach last fall to modernize the core goals of Fianna Fáil for a new generation.
This project has been developed over the past 12 months, which has involved intensive consultation and engagement with all levels of the party.
This is only the third time in our party’s history that our goals have been revised.
They are not a political manifesto, but a statement of intent, and therefore do not change with every election or new trend, but are designed as general goals that endure across election cycles.
When the party was founded in 1926, our aims were first documented and largely aligned with the democratic program of the first Dáil.
Seán Lemass updated this perspective in the 1960s, paving the way for economic progress, free trade, and foreign investment, an approach that has underpinned our economic strategy and success ever since.
The targets were revised in the 1990s in anticipation of the Good Friday Agreement.
The world has changed in 30 years and it is incumbent on any successful organization to constantly challenge itself and drive change from within.
Based on the Fleming report on the 2020 elections, many party members expressed the desire for an updated mission statement.
Many of our goals like Unity and Dúchas needed little editing, while others like Defending our Democracy or the challenges of climate action were not even on the political radar last time around.
I believe that Fianna Fáil adheres to a left-wing, social-democratic tradition of political discourse, and we believe that position applies to both our history and our future.
We are a pro-business constitutional republican party with roots in every parish in Ireland. We believe in equal opportunities and values. We believe in the power and obligation of the state to support its people.
We introduced free education, the welfare state, massive housing projects, large state industries, public services and the Irish Constitution.
Many of our founders, including de Valera, Lemass and Markievicz, were at the forefront of the struggle to create an independent Ireland.
As always, Fianna Fáil stands on core values; the need to continue to drive progress while protecting the most vulnerable in our society; a desire to unite our island in a way that welcomes all communities, including those who have only recently come to these shores.
The need to rethink our lands and seas to reap a harvest of energy independence and food security, and our duty to address the massive challenges of climate change in renewable and sustainable ways.
Our Atlantic Seaboard has the potential to be a true renewable energy “Gold Coast” while simultaneously powering our nation and revitalizing these rural and coastal communities.
We believe in housing as a basic right and the dignity of your own front door. We have been committed to this for decades. Today, “Housing for All” spends an unprecedented 4.5 billion euros on new homes every year.
With social housing, affordable housing and rent, we are once again driving one of the most extensive public housing programs in history.
Private living is equally important and unlike some parties, we recognize and strongly support the pursuit of home ownership. Safety and security for tenants are also key elements of this framework.
We believe work must always be rewarded and entrepreneurship encouraged; it provides the foundations upon which all further progress is possible.
Education remains a core value that we proudly champion and enable equal opportunity.
This week Minister Norma Foley announced free textbooks for all primary school children and there is a new childcare package along with the new apprenticeship and skills schemes.
We prioritize strong public services that are user-centric, not institution-centric.
Universal health coverage is a fundamental pillar of our approach. We have consistently advocated for this in government, from our insistence on a higher ratio of services to tax cuts during Confidence and Supply, to accelerating access to GPs and the contraceptive care available today.
Fianna Fáil led Ireland into the EU and we remain passionate believers in the European project and in further enlargement and integration. This solidarity has been returned tenfold throughout the Brexit negotiations.
We believe in democracy and the fundamental freedoms of a modern republic, many of which are enshrined in our constitution but can never be taken for granted.
We face the multiple and varied threats that nation states, corporations, and individuals face today.
Our democracy is fragile and must be robustly defended, from civil liberties to national security.
It is key to the social contract that government must work for all of our people. Fianna Fáil’s new goals reaffirm our inclusive Republican values. .
This weekend, the ard fheis votes on our proposals. I believe our new goals remain true to our party’s ethos while representing a modern Republican blueprint for 21st-century governance.
Despite what some critics have suggested, there is no identity crisis with Fianna Fáil.
The goals we have formulated combine centuries of tradition with the challenges of a modern republic.
We are very aware of our mission and look forward to working towards it in the coming period.
James Lawless is Fianna Fáil TD for North Kildare, Honorary Secretary of the party and Chair of the Fianna Fáil Aims and Objectives Commission
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/fianna-fail-is-not-having-an-identity-crisis-despite-what-some-might-say-42031387.html Fianna Fáil has no identity crisis, despite what some may say