Tuesday, 14 February 2012
Gerry Adams (Louth, Sinn Fein)
The length of time a President serves may be important but it is not the most important thing facing citizens at present. One of the positive things people are doing at this time of economic crisis is questioning what type of country we live in, the type of state we have and what our society is about. Increasing numbers of people are looking at re-imagining Ireland, building a real republic and building a society that enshrines citizens' rights. Surely the constitutional convention should examine that. The Government should consider an entirely new constitution. In the Taoiseach's response to my earlier question he did not elaborate on the role the diaspora could play in this. The global citizens of most other states, including the USA, can vote in presidential elections. The French can do so as well. Latvians did it in the North during our presidential elections. I call on the Taoiseach to elaborate on some of these points.
The fact that citizens have few rights is pressing down on people at present. When one weighs it up, there is a two-tier republic: there is a two-tier society with elites and people at the bottom of the ladder. We do not have certain social guarantees. A republic should look after and cherish all the children of the nation equally, especially those who suffer from disadvantage, mental or physical disability, those who live in remote areas or who do not have the same resources as others. I would prefer to think we have the ability not only to examine and invite in citizens to have these discussions but to start to build a new Ireland, a new republic and, to use the Taoiseach's phrase, to build a country that everyone can be proud of by 2016.