Fianna Fáil ardfheis live

Fianna Fáil ardfheis live

IT Fri, Mar 2
 

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  • 08:27
    It's Harry McGee, Political Correspondent. We will be bringing you updates of Fianna Fail ardfheis as it happens all day, including live feeds and blogs of Leaders Speech tonight.
    Following the debate on republicanism last night, the big moment of redefinition will take place later this afternoon when the party membership goes into private conclave to decide on whether or not to adopt one-member-one-vote.
  • 10:26
    It's a marvellous morning at the RDS. Sun is shining and we the media room looks like something out of a EM Forster novel, with its sash windows, high ceilings and great light - specifically 'A Room with a View'.
    It's still quiet in the main hall. There are some delegates milling around. The campaign teams for aspirants to the 20 elected places on the party's Ard Chomhairle are out in strength, with Sinn Fein quantities of literature, and will be canvassing for most of the day.
    The format is a little different this year. There are seminars running in parallel to the main proceedings and there is a huge exhibition centre too - kind of reminds you of a quasi Ideals Homes exhibition.
    One of the more interesting debates this morning is the economic one which begins at 10.45am and includes contribution from DCU's Tony Foley and Colm McCarthy, an economist of tacit and reticent views (not).
    Our online team today is Harry McGee and Mary Minihan from the political team, Jennifer Wholey, who will be doing video reporting and also contributing to the live team and Steven Conlon, who will be filming and editing. HMG
  • 11:34
    Eamon O Cuiv has just arrived and is doing a bit of canvassing for Mary Hoade, a Galway Councillor standing in the election for Ard Chomhairle. It's sitll relatively quiet. Economics seminar is a little like a TV panel debate (without the rancour of course).
    When O Cuiv departed from the party line, there was talk of a split, or of dissonance, or of a rump. That was never likely. In fairness, the Galway West TD took any residual heat out of the controversy by stepping down from the election for vice-president. Thus any potential flashpoint was removed.
    Talking to delegates, there is huge interest in the organisational reform proposals, which will take place in a closed session later this afternoon.
    The 'unstructured' and uncontrolled nature of the debates has not produced any moments yet. But it is very early and the vast majority of delegates have yet to arrive. HMG
  • 12:19
    Micheal Martin has arrived and has done a stand-up interview with the media. He said that the feedback has been very storng and emphasised (unsurprisingly) the number of young people, specifically young women, who are attending.
    "People are still arriving from all over the country. There are record numbers attending this everning.
    "It shows there are a very substantial number of people in the party who care about their country... and care about doing things right."
    Asked would he apologise for the mistakes and excesses of Fianna Fail during its 14 years in power, he said that we would have to wait until his leader's speech tonight to listen to his response. He also said he would be looking to the future.
    He also said that the controversy surrounding Eamon O Cuiv's stance on the Fiscal Treaty was now over and would have no impact on the Ard Fheis.
    He also said he would be disappointed if the main reform proposals being proposed for this afternoon were rejected by delegates. He said they were vital for the party, especially in urban settings where it has lost much support.
    He also confirmed that Fianna Fail would be campaigning actively on the ground urging a Yes vote in the referendum. He also said he agreed with the Government's position that the Treaty and the debate about the promissory note were separate, and should not be made dependent on each other during the referendum campaign.
    News report on this morning's events on website soon. Also the standup audio availabe via audioboo. HMG



  • 12:26
    A bit of a Freudian slip by Micheal Martin. Asked by Today FM's Justin McCarthy would he apologise on behalf of Fianna Fail for past excesses and policies, he demurred and told him he would have to listen to the speech tonight.
    "You will have to tune in tonight and you will get the Full Monty as they say."
    Cue smirks all round from the media.
    "You can leave your hat on!" as one remarked immediately afterwards.
  • 13:15
    There is a gallery of photos from ardfheis proceedings here: http://iti.ms/zjfKjm
  • 13:22
    Bertie Ahern arrived about half an hour ago and is presently talking to delegates in the main hall.
    There was some surprise at his appearance, as many predicted he may not turn up because of possible criticism of him by the Mahon Tribunal, and because he is blamed by many for the policies that led to Ireland seeking an international bailout.
    Mr Ahern has been pleasant but has politely refused requests for interviews by the media.
  • 13:28
  • 13:28
    Here's an audioboo of Michael Martin arriving at the RDS: http://audioboo.fm/boos/695050-micheal-martin-interview-with-media-as-he-arrives-at-ard-fheis and a photo of former leader Bertie Ahern arriving:
  • 13:32
    Motions supporting same-sex marriage and rights of same-sex couples to adopt passed by delegates. However, a motion on 30 per cent mandatory quota for female candidates was defeated after lively debate. Mixed messages?
  • 14:14
    News story on proceedings so far will be posted on site soon. Main news points are Martin's drive for reform and appearance of Bertie Ahern in the hall, which has cause more than a ripple of surprise...
    Charlie Bird of RTE is broadcasting live from next door... Oliver Callan and Green Tea team were in mischievous mood today and did loads of mimics of Charlie in their programme.... which is transmitted immediately before his.
    Callan has got Bird off pat and, for once, the scripting today was strong and didn't descent into smut.
    One Charlie Bird (the mimicked) segued perfectly into the other (the real)!
  • 14:36
    We've uploaded a video to YouTube of Bertie's arrival:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkvWVJ4XOXk
  • 15:49
    Mary Minihan: Getting out of politics seems to take years off people! Observing a few former Fianna Fail TDs milling around the RDS looking very relaxed. They inlcude Sean Connick and Michael Kennedy.
  • 15:51
    A video interview I did with Micheal Martin a few minutes ago will be posted soon.
    My colleague Mary Minihan tells me that Brian Cowen may put in an appearance soon.
    Bertie Ahern has now left. It's not known if he will be back for the leader's speech later tonight.
    If Cowen does appear the response I'd say will be very positive. Fianna Failers see him as one of their great martyrs, despite his low political stock elsewhere.
    Interestingly, nobody shunned Ahern. The opposite was the case. There was a steady stream of people going up to him to say hello.
    That illustrates the ambivalence in Fianna Fail to his years. There are some who think he did untold damage to the party but others who believe he was the victim of a media-led witchhunt. There has always been a tradition in the part of great deference to the leader, especially among core supporters.
    Was Ahern's very visible appearance at the RDS this afternoon a response to the implicit criticism made of him by the current leader Micheal Martin last night?
    It seems so.
    He and Eamon O Cuiv's rebellion during the week is a reminder of the conflict between the traditionalists and the modernisers, the harking-back brigage and the futurists within the party.
    Martin is definitely in the latter camp but there is at least an element in the party who are reluctant to move forward. That was evidenced during the debate on the presidency.
    That is a minority. But we will see when the crucial debate on one-member-one-vote (which I can hear in the background) is decided.
    It goes without saying that Martin's speech tonight (his first by the way) will also be crucial.
  • 15:54
    We can hear cheering and shouting from the one-member-one-vote debate. Sounds very animated indeed. It's the only private debate (but naturally sounds the most interesting!)
  • 15:59
    Debate on one member/one vote is due to finish by 5pm...
  • 16:01
    Guess what? Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin left his copy of his keynote speech for tonight on The Irish Times' desk in the press room after he did an interview with my colleague Harry McGee...he quickly realised and rushed back for it. We could have had a scoop there!
  • 16:19
    This is Mary Minihan live blogging by the way. My colleague Harry McGee needs a break for food, and perhaps some 'old-fashioned' journalism, ie mooching around the ard fheis chatting to the party faithful!
  • 16:27
    Eamon O Cuiv is milling about the stands in the RDS. He's just entered a raffle. Good luck deputy!
  • 16:31
    One photographer goes out for a smoke and all the hacks follow thinking someone important is arriving...we're like sheep!
  • 16:35
    Awkward: Paul Grierosu from Lucan hands out his CV to delegates as they arrive at the Fianna Fail ardfheis at the RDS in Dublin. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire
    Awkward: Paul Grierosu from Lucan hands out his CV to delegates as they arrive at the Fianna Fail ardfheis at the RDS in Dublin. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire
  • 16:36
    John Do you think mandatory gender quotas sit well with Republican principles of equality?
  • 16:41
    fiannafailparty via Twitter RT @jimmy862156: #af12 'all motions carried!' Standing ovation
  • 16:42
    There's former MEP Eoin Ryan...
  • 16:44
    fiannafailparty via Twitter RT @EimearMcA: @fiannafailparty I have never before seen the podium members give an audience a standing ovation before. #af12
  • 16:50
    minihanmary via Twitter The man who started it all #af12 http://t.co/L4n5wAAH
  • 16:51
    harrymcgee via Twitter RT @the_irish_times: Fianna Fail says delegates at its ardfheis in Dublin have unanimously endorsed One Member One Vote measure #af12
  • 16:51
    Must say the RDS looks much more full of life than it did last night...
  • 16:53
    minihanmary via Twitter Delegates bustling around at Fianna Fail ard fheis #af12 http://t.co/ea3WBr4l
  • 16:54
    Delegates are streaming out of private meeting, where they endorsed One Member One Vote strategy...the leadership will be pleased.
  • 17:03
    Remember writing about the One Member One Vote strategy back in May 2010 http://bit.ly/dhMBPT Proposal contained in comprehensive and frank report by former Fianna Fail ministers Gerard Collins and Chris Flood (sometimes called 'The Flood Report'!). One of the key things they recommended was that TDs not intending to contest the 2011 general election should inform the party immediately...that would have prevented a lot of bad feeling subsequently, I think.
  • 17:15
    minihanmary via Twitter This is Fianna Fail's new stand for doing interviews in front of...for post-match analysis and the like http://t.co/jHoSWjJ4
  • 17:23
    Have Fianna Fail changed their shade of green? Just looking at their backdrop again there...it's much lighter, isn't it?
  • 17:25
    The banners hanging from the RDS ceiling proclaim what Fianna Fail considers to be its achievements in various decades. 1980s: programme for national recovery; creating a highly educated workforce; hip hop; IFSC developed; low corporation tax rate. (Actually I've cheekily added an extra one there - can you spot it?)
  • 17:28
    1970s...Radio Na Gaeltachta founded...membership of the EEC...focus on export-driven economy...commission on the status of women...
  • 17:29
    2000s: infrastructural achievements...EU presidency...smoking ban...major health advances...peace consolidated...
  • 17:30
    1990s: ceasefires...economic prosperity...Good Friday Agreement...peace
  • 17:30
    fiannafailparty via Twitter Final discussions on 'The Future of Healthcare' and 'Job Creation and Small Businesses' underway at #af12 at RDS #ffrenewal
  • 17:31
    1960s: free 2nd level education...institutes of technology...free transport for elderly...2nd programme for econonic expansion...end of censorship act...succession act...
  • 17:42
    Must go get a bite to eat (although am grateful for the fruit Fianna Fail has supplied for the media) Harry McGee will be back live blogging in a moment...
  • 17:49
    harrymcgee via Twitter My interview with Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin from the Fianna Fail Ard Fheis this afternoon is now available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9gXtOD5yqQ0
  • 17:50
    fiannafailparty via Twitter RT @oliverpgolden: Good health debate going on #AF12
  • 17:51
    fiannafailparty via Twitter Delegates unanimously endorse radical rule changes at #AF12 – Martin http://bit.ly/xV0fLE
  • 17:51
    minihanmary via Twitter Mary Harney's former adviser on health Oliver O'Connor addressing the Fianna Fail troops #af12 @the_irish_times http://t.co/dYl4LKMq
  • 17:54
    Latest Sunday Business Post Red C poll shows that Sinn Fein has leapfrogged Fianna Fail and is now the second most supported party. It shows: FG 30 (-); SF 18 (+1); FF 17 (-1); Lab 16 (+2); Ind 19 (+2). Most feel that it's a more realistic reflection of the way things are than the poll last weekend. SF is still showing strongly but its lead over both FF and Lab is within the margin of error. I would say the sample may have been taken either before or in the earlyish stages of 'inkgate'.
    Still, it's a good result for Sinn Fein (and also, don't forget, for independents!)
    Referendum looks tight already - you would expect 60 to 40 at this stage. It indicates that Yes side will have one hell of a struggle on its hands over the next few months.
    Is it significant for FF ahead of tonight's maiden speech as leader by Martin? Not really. It's so early in the election cycle that no party can be too worried about soaring or plummeting. Mid 2013 is when such numbers will start to be much more closely scrutinised.
  • 18:07
    fiannafailparty via Twitter Fianna Fáil's youngest TD Robert Troy will open for Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin's key-note address at #AF12 tonight. #ffrenewal
  • 18:22
    minihanmary via Twitter Beverley Flynn has arrived at #af12 saw former junior minister Marie Hoctor come in earlier
  • 18:23
    fiannafailparty via Twitter RTE will be covering the key-note address at #af12 live at 8.30pm. #ffrenewal
  • 18:30
    minihanmary via Twitter And there's Sean Haughey #af12
  • 18:31
    In fact many of the party's former TDs (defeated and retired) in evidence today. How many of them will stand again?
  • 18:39
    Right, Mary Minihan back in action on the live blogging front...
  • 18:42
    On twitter @kencurtin is slagging me for acting like a 'red carpet reporter' at the ard fheis! Sorry Ken, there's something of a lull in proceedings ahead of the Leader's speech.
  • 18:46
    Fianna Fail's temporary press office at the RDS still a hive of activity though...a tense time for them!
  • 18:47
    Willie O'Dea slagging Government over pre-election promises on upward only rent review...
  • 18:48
    John McGuinness advocating reducing costs to small business
  • 18:50
    "The cost of doing business in Ireland in terms of red tape is absolutely enormous," John McGuinness says
  • 18:52
    Cash is like oxygen to small companies, Senator Mary White says
  • 18:53
    "We own the banks...why doesn't the Government make them give part of the billions to small companies?" asks Mary White
  • 18:54
    "Fianna Fail has to be far more assertive in putting the screws on the Government" to make them deliver on their pre-election promises, Mary White tells a QandA session
  • 18:54
    fiannafailparty via Twitter Excitement building in RDS for Micheal Martin's speech live on RTE One at 8.30pm #af12
  • 18:58
    Reporters and photographers waiting inside RDS entrance for former taoiseach and ex-party leader Brian Cowen. I think he'll slip in at the very last moment.
  • 18:59
    Noel Ahern has just come in. He's wearing an anorak. But it's a fancy one.
  • 19:05
    minihanmary via Twitter Aerial shot of former Fianna Fail deputy leader, taken from my lofty perch of course! #af12 http://t.co/wTgYxKnu
  • 19:07
    Think I spy Noel Dempsey...
  • 19:13
    And there's Dick Roche. My, a year is a looong time in politics.
  • 19:16
    Willie O'Dea criticising Government's jobs plan
  • 19:22
    minihanmary via Twitter Applause as Brian Cowen enters auditorium #af12
  • 19:23
    Standing ovation in the auditorium for the arrival of former taoiseach Brian Cowen
  • 19:23
    Chair of QandA session Senator Paschal Mooney says he's been upstaged a few times in his broadcasting career but is happy to be upstaged by the man who has just walked into the hall...former taoiseach and ex-party leader Brian Cowen
  • 19:25
    Brian Cowen acknowledged the applause he received from delegates with a kind of a shy smile
  • 19:27
    Oh big cheer when Sean Gallagher got a mention (by Bobby Kerr, who's on a QandA panel)
  • 19:34
    minihanmary via Twitter Dragon Bobby Kerr got a warm reaction #af12
  • 19:39
    minihanmary via Twitter Seated in the main hall now ahead of the Fianna Fail leader's speech at the #af12
  • 19:42
    Brian Cowen is in the main auditorium. He slipped in quietly away from the eyes of the media and is sitting beside former parliamentarians Aine Brady and Donie Cassidy.
    He is likely to be name-checked and will get a huge round of applause. As we blogged early, the foot soldiers of Fianna Fail liken him to a martyr.
    I would be very surprised if Bertie Ahern is present for the leader's speech tonight after making a very conspicuous appearance earlier today.
    Incidentally, there is a debate about jobs going on at the moment.
    One of the guests is Bobby Kerry of Dragons' Den fame. When his fellow dragon Sean Gallagher's name was mentioned there was a gutsy roar of approval.
    Despite Gallagher's protestations, it seems Fianna Fail has no difficulty in claiming him!
  • 19:43
    Less than an hour to go before Leader's speech. An important moment for Micheal Martin and his party.
  • 19:45
    minihanmary via Twitter This will be the first time Micheal Martin has spoken to a Fianna Fail ard fheis as party leader #af12
  • 19:46
    minihanmary via Twitter Warm applause as Eamon O Cuiv enters hall #af12
  • 19:49
    minihanmary via Twitter Micheal Martin's ability to deliver a speech is not in question, of course. But content will be king. What should he say? #af12
  • 19:49
    minihanmary via Twitter Award for overall number of ticket sales for the national draw goes to...Roscommon #af12
  • 20:03
    Mary Minihan back on the live blog...the temperature is soaring in the Shelbourne Hall ahead of Micheal Martin's speech...it's roasting
  • 20:10
    minihanmary via Twitter My good colleague Harry McGee and myself are live blogging the Fianna Fail ard fheis on http://t.co/3yzAv9x3 #af12 @the_irish_times
  • 20:10
    daracalleary via Twitter Day 2 of #af12 will soon kick off. Superb atmosphere so far,can't remember when we had such a big crowd on a Fri eve #ffrenewal
  • 20:19
    minihanmary via Twitter Standing ovation for Brian Cowen #af12
  • 20:20
    fiannafailparty via Twitter Troy: This party is very much alive, this party is very much present, the fight back has begun #af12
  • 20:20
    Robert Troy has been given the job of warm-jump act. The party's youngest TD is certainly not the quietest. He's roaring his way through his speech, going down well with delegates though!
  • 20:21
    Robert Troy getting a decent reception. "The fightback has begun". They liked that.
  • 20:22
    Last year's General Election was "traumatic", says Robert Troy - one of the very few new Fianna Fail TDs to be elected in 2011
  • 20:24
    fiannafailparty via Twitter Troy: This has been a great Ard Fheis, where every member has had an opportunity to have their say #af12
  • 20:24
    fiannafailparty via Twitter Troy: A renewed FF will play a vital role in the future of this country & its people #af12
  • 20:24
    A renewed Fianna Fail will play a vital role in the future of this country, says Robert Troy.
  • 20:24
    Robert Troy tells delegates it was important that at the Ard Fheis party members spoke "frankly, honestly and passionately" about where Fianna Fail is today
  • 20:25
    fiannafailparty via Twitter Troy: This Gov insulted the people by making a range of election promises they had no intention of keeping #af12
  • 20:27
    Massive round of applause for his jibe at Fine Gael's Tom Sheahan for saying that Micheal Martin was not the first Cork man to be shot in the back by a de Valera.
  • 20:28
    Robert Troy accuses Tom Sheahan (without naming him) of Fine Gael of "arrogance and ignorance" for "raking over the coals of the civil war for a cheap soundbite"
  • 20:28
    Sinn Fein's cartridges get a mention of course!
  • 20:28
    Troy is there to keep those in the Gods happy. Has moved onto the cartridges and Sinn Fein. Another huge roar.
  • 20:30
    Troy certainly has the delegates attention...I get the impression they're pleasantly surprised by his pluck. "He's good; I think he's brilliant," I hear some say
  • 20:30
    fiannafailparty via Twitter Troy: FF has a Leader who is a man of integrity, vision and energy #af12
  • 20:31
    harrymcgee via Twitter Robert Troy there to stoke up atmosphere. Doing a loud but good job. Sticking it to FG and SF. #af12 #fiannafail
  • 20:31
    Troy's reference to Micheal Martin's introduction of smoking ban gets applause
  • 20:31
    fiannafailparty via Twitter Troy: Micheál is on the people’s side by inspiring all of us to look at politics in a new way – a constructive, credible alternative #af12
  • 20:33
    fiannafailparty via Twitter Party Leader Micheál Martin takes to the stage for his first Ard Fheis as leader #af12 #ffrenewal
  • 20:33
    minihanmary via Twitter Robert Troy in full flight #af12 http://t.co/OrClNjnR
  • 20:33
    fiannafailparty via Twitter The problems facing people are too serious for tired, old political games #af12 #ffrenewal
  • 20:33
    Micheal Martin begins with a reference to struggling citizens and emigration
  • 20:33
    fiannafailparty via Twitter This government of broken promises must be held to account for its bad decisions but we will tackle them responsibly. #af12 #ffrenewal
  • 20:34
    "This government of broken promises must be held to account for its bad decisions," Micheal Martin tells delegates
  • 20:34
    fiannafailparty via Twitter We believe that politics must be about solving problems not exploiting them. #af12 #ffrenewal
  • 20:34
    Micheal Martin opens his Ard Fheis speech by setting out Fianna Fail's version of the Tallaght Strategy. He says it will support when it deems it best in the national interest.
  • 20:35
    He started off strongly but tempo flagging a little in the last minute.
  • 20:35
    Fianna Fail is a "progressive" and "republican" party, Micheal Martin says. FF representatives have been repeating those two words for the past 48 hours.
  • 20:36
    "I need your help," Micheal Martin tells delegates
  • 20:36
    fiannafailparty via Twitter Over 86 years, our party has led progress for Ireland which has been sustained to this day #af12 #ffrenewal
  • 20:37
    fiannafailparty via Twitter We have every right to defend our achievements. Equally, we have a clear duty to admit our mistakes. #af12 #ffrenewal
  • 20:37
    "We have a clear duty to admit our mistakes". It's not enough to point to worldwide economic crisis. "We were in government and we should have acted differently". Applause. "We made mistakes and we got things wrong and we are sorry for that". Standing ovation.
  • 20:37
    This is the Big Mo in the Speech. This is him giving the most comprehensive apology yet by Fianna Fail for its role in leading the country to the brink of insolvency.
    He is getting a standing ovation for it from delegates.
  • 20:37
    fiannafailparty via Twitter Micheál Martin says party made mistakes and got things wrong #af12 #ffrenewal
  • 20:38
    This is the apology in full:
    It’s not enough to point to the worst world recession in 80 years and the Eurozone crisis. Nor to point to the fact that other parties were demanding policies which would have made things worse – that’s for them to answer for.

    We were in government and we should have acted differently.

    We made mistakes.

    We got things wrong.

    And we are sorry for that.

    No equivocation.

    No half-apology.

    Just the plain, unvarnished truth.
  • 20:38
    fiannafailparty via Twitter People were held to account in Gen Election – were angry and showed it Political system needs to be fixed #af12 #ffrenewal
  • 20:38
    "No equivocation. No half apologies. Just the plain unvarished truth"
  • 20:39
    minihanmary via Twitter Micheal Martin speaking to delegates #af12 http://t.co/dduMlRvy
  • 20:40
    The apology will be what grabs the headline tomorrow. Fianna Fail strategists believed that Martin needed to say this in public and in the fullest possible way. Conscious that he is talking to a wider public, not just the 4,500 delegates here tonight.
    Party can only begin to recover if it bears responsibiliyt.
    It also allows him to move onto other themes such as reform.
  • 20:41
    Now referring to the other major change today, the organisational changes including the move to one-member one-vote
  • 20:41
    Martin says nearly all money to FF is coming from small contributions. This was one of Brian Cowen's key themes when he took over the leadership.
  • 20:41
    Has moved onto Finance. A moving round of applause in memory of the late Brian Lenihan.
  • 20:41
    Standing ovation for the late Brian Lenihan
  • 20:42
    fiannafailparty via Twitter MM pays tribute to work of our late colleague Brian Lenihan #af12 #ffrenewal
  • 20:42
    fiannafailparty via Twitter The ESRI and others have confirmed that this Lab/Fine Gael Budget fell hardest on ordinary families. #af12 #ffrenewal
  • 20:42
    Criticism of Government's "raid on personal pensions" and two per cent VAT hike going down quite well among delegates
  • 20:43
    fiannafailparty via Twitter You don’t need to sell off state assets at fire-sale rates in order to be able to afford to invest in the economy. #af12 #ffrenewal
  • 20:44
    Moving onto passage of speech which features very old-school political attacks on Government policies. They are politicians after all and the default mode is to criticise the other side. Giving out about sell-off of State assets and changes of VAT to 23 per cent. Problem for Fianna Fail is: could it have avoided any of that if it had remained in Government. While there was no specific commitment to the sale of State assets, there was uncertaintly an understanding that McCarthy recommendations would have to be implemented.
  • 20:45
    Micheal Martin flanked by tricolour and European flag...the "forum-style" set up has him standing in the middle of the hall, with delegates to his north, south, east and west
  • 20:45
    Banks must act, or be forced to act, Martin tells delegates
  • 20:46
    fiannafailparty via Twitter FF has been responsible for every significant expansion in access to education in the history of this state. #af12 #ffrenewal
  • 20:47
    fiannafailparty via Twitter The choices this gov has made on education are amongst its worst and they must be fought. #af12 #ffrenewal
  • 20:47
    fiannafailparty via Twitter Small rural schools are the heartbeat of their communities. They should be cherished not attacked. #af12 #ffrenewal
  • 20:47
    Education is a core value for Fianna Fail and always will be, Martin tells delegates. Praises high quality teaching force. Says Govt must be fought on its education policy. Small rural schools should be "cherished, not attacked".
  • 20:48
    Tempo back up. His passion for education is evident. He is getting huge support from the audotorium for his attacks on Government for the effect its policies have on small rural schools and is also criticising the DEIS cuts
  • 20:50
    Sliocht i nGaeilge anois ag rá go bhfuil borradh ag teach ar an nGaeilge. Ag argóint nach féidir gearradh siar ná ionsaí a dhéanamh ar stádas Gaeilge ar an gcurriculum. Saying mandatory status of Irish should be protected. Strangely, I happen to agree strongly with him on that point!
  • 20:50
    fiannafailparty via Twitter Irl is a world leader in many areas. This is because of the right choices taken by FF a decade ago to invest in research. #af12 #ffrenewal
  • 20:50
    Get the sense that delegates have been brought up by education section of the speech. They are prouder of their party's record on education than on the economy.
  • 20:51
    Another big theme close to Micheál Martin's heart, R&D.
    Irelands recovery needs the Government to renew its commitment to research.
  • 20:52
    Force banks to release money to small business through legislation, Martin tells delegtes. Gets a good response.
  • 20:53
    fiannafailparty via Twitter We will introduce legislation to allow an ability to pay clause for commercial rates. #af12 #ffrenewal
  • 20:53
    Another attack on policy, this on Joan Burton's proposal to get companies to pay for first weeks of sick pay.
    His alternative is: Taking a lead on this, we will introduce legislation to allow an ability to pay clause for commercial rates.
    That to me is somethign that I think would be very hard to implement. It sounds unwieldy an dimpractical. Who would decice on inability to pay? How could abuse be prevented?
  • 20:54
    Unsurprisingly, stated he is approving the treaty. This deals with the O Cuiv question. Huge approval.
  • 20:55
    Think the forum style set up with see-through podium in the middle of the room suits Martin's delivery. He looks around often, giving delegates a sense they're all included.
  • 20:55
    Stressing of party's constitutional republican credentials going down very well indeed
  • 20:56
    fiannafailparty via Twitter The end of violence is not the end of the peace process #af12 #ffrenewal
  • 20:56
    This section of the peace touches on the party's republican tradition. Even the restating of its republican tradition sparks off cheers and applause. Redefining of its ethos an important project. No abandonment though of its constitutional nationalist aspirations.
  • 20:56
    The leader of the SDLP Alistair McDonnell is here btw
  • 20:58
    fiannafailparty via Twitter If you believe that politics should be about helping people not exploiting their fears, then join us. #af12 #ffrenewal
  • 20:58
    Back to focus on Government's "unfair and damaging" decisions...but tells delegates Fianna Fail will be positive rather than negative..."Fianna Fail will not retreat from the fray".
  • 20:58
    Now it's the windup. Rhetorical language from here on in. Repeating and intonating key phrases...
    If you believe in the progressive republican tradition that built up his country join us....
    And then a series of propositions topped and tailed by:
    If you believe... then join us.
    Now coming to the end...
    Cue standing ovation

  • 20:59
    Massive roar. Relief on his face. Niall Collins is the first up to congratulate him. It wasn't form the wind he got it. Dara Calleary, Brendan Smith and Robert Troy also get into the shot...
  • 20:59
    Stamping of feet; clapping with hands in the air; whistles and cheers. Delegates respond well to Martin's first speech to ard fheis as Fianna Fail leader
  • 21:01
    Troy positioned himself well getting close to the leader for the final applause. The young TD had a good night.
  • 21:03
    So that's it. The speech itself - like most half hour leaders' speeches - was pro-forma. It touched on all the big themes, touched on the party's great traditions - republicanism, Irish language and Europe - and then criticised Government performance in key policy areas.
    The most striking - and memorable - part of the speech was his very full apology on behalf of his party.
    Strategists will hope that it will allow the party begin to move on... and not be haunted by questions about not saying sorry.
  • 21:09
    Delegates reacting well to Martin on the way out of auditorium. Saying they arrived in the RDS feeling downbeat but will leave with a bit more of a spring in their step. Happy with Martin's "apology to the country", as they see it.
  • 21:10
    Great praise also for Robert Troy. "A future leader!" declared one enthusiastic Kilkenny woman.
  • 21:20
    fiannafailparty via Twitter Opening speech by Robert Troy TD at the Fianna Fáil 73ú Ard Fheis: http://bit.ly/zxHe3N #af12
  • 21:27
    Night all. Thank you for reading.
  • 21:38
    fiannafailparty via Twitter Key-note address by Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin at 73ú Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis: http://bit.ly/wV9OVS #af12
  • 21:40
    That concludes our team's coverage from the Ard Fheis today. Many thanks to the team, Mary Minihan, Steven Conlan and Jennifer Wholey for their sterling work throughout a long day. The next live political event will be the Fine Gael Ard Fheis at the end of March.
  • 21:46
    MartinFitz via Twitter A few pints of the black stuff will be raised at SF HQ tonight after Martin's speech. Toner that is. #af12
  • 22:01
    fiannafailparty via Twitter It's a wrap here in the RDS, great speech to end a great weekend. Fianna Fáil renewal has begun in earnest! #af12 http://t.co/JocnUP8v
  • 23:17
    SetantaSports via Twitter Mayo remain unbeaten in Allianz Football League Division One after a fine win in Armagh. http://www.setanta.com/ie/snip-133062
  • 00:50
    daracalleary via Twitter RT @DavidTenorLynn: @daracalleary Hi Dara, http://www.theweepingflowers.com is the website for show starting in two weeks, three Mayo natives in the ...
  • 11:06
    fiannafailparty via Twitter Party leader Micheal Martin will be on @NewsTalk with Shane Coleman after 11 #af12
  • 12:57
    fiannafailparty via Twitter Party Leader Micheal Martin will be on @RTERadio1 This Week programme after 1pm #af12
  • 13:24
    KenReid_utv via Twitter Good piece in Sindo by @jimjglennon on club rugby. Points out IRFU chiefs will ignore clubs at their peril but structure change is needed
  • 17:30
    fiannafailparty via Twitter Martin congratulates successful candidates for Fianna Fáil party positions http://bit.ly/Apurpm
  • 23:16
    minihanmary via Twitter Ah #twip I've been neglecting you, even though you're my favourite TV programme. Wish RTE would give you an earlier slot!
  • 09:08
    daracalleary via Twitter RT @the_irish_times: Technology firms to create 110 jobs: Up to 110 new jobs are to be created by two technology firms in Galway and ... ...