Reform Alliance holds first public meeting

Monday 03 February 2014 10.46
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Lucinda Creighton said the meeting was not about a new political party
Lucinda Creighton said the meeting was not about a new political party
Standing room only at Reform Alliance's first event
Standing room only at Reform Alliance's first event
Peter Matthews said European Parliament elections candidates should seek €53bn debt write down
Peter Matthews said European Parliament elections candidates should seek €53bn debt write down
Broadcaster Olivia O'Leary said it was worrying that there were so few women in the audience
Broadcaster Olivia O'Leary said it was worrying that there were so few women in the audience

Former Fine Gael TD Lucinda Creighton has described the first public meeting of the Reform Alliance as lively, engaging and extremely stimulating.

The alliance is made up of five former Fine Gael TDs and two Senators.

The group said it wants to find ways to improve both the political system and the economy.

Ms Creighton said she found it very encouraging that people had travelled from all parts of the country.

She said it is important to ask what kind of Republic we want, especially as the centenary of the 1916 Rising is approaching.

Ms Creighton told the audience of around 1,000 people that this is not about party politics and it is not about replicating what is already there.

She said it is about getting people in power to embrace some of the reforms discussed today and more meetings will take place across the country. 

Ms Creighton received a standing ovation when she mentioned the stand she and her colleagues took against abortion legislation last year.

Earlier, Dublin Bay North TD Terence Flanagan described the meeting as a "listening exercise" and nothing more.

Peter Mathews said all candidates running in the European Parliament elections should sign a pact promising to lobby for a €53bn debt write down for the country.

Economist David McWilliams told the gathering that there is no reason why the economy cannot provide people with a decent standard of living.

In her address, broadcaster Olivia O'Leary said it was worrying that there were so few women in the audience.

She said the gathering was the result of politicians being expelled from Fine Gael over their opposition to abortion legislation.

While not agreeing with the stand they took, she said she would defend their right to take it.

There were a wide range of views expressed by the crowd. 

Some have called for a new political party while others advocated for a new electoral system.

Debate over health reforms

There was much criticism of the health system in Ireland, with former University of Limerick president Ed Walsh saying it was not a lack of resources that was causing difficulties in the health service.

He said that a restructuring of the system was needed.

Co-founder of the Blackrock Clinic Dr Jim Sheehan proposed that the new national children's hospital be built on a greenfield site in Blanchardstown, rather than at St James’s Hospital as is currently planned.