We've just finished the historic first ever national conference of the Labour Party in Kilkenny and whar a weekend it was. For me, the most memorable conference speech was that of our last hugely successful leader Dick Spring at the famour 'Bread and Roses' caonference in Tralee in 1989. That was pure theatre with its opera and poetry and its sheer novelty. Saturday's sppech was all about content however, right from the start. The first sentence was 'I want to talk to you about solutions', and that was what he did. You can watch the speech below or read it here.
For my own part, I got to speak in the live RTÉ television debate on Saturday morning and you can see the speech here from the party's very forward looking presence on UStream. I also made the main RTÉ news for my comments regarding Fine Gael's attacks on the public service, and was also delighted to make it onto Saturday View, my favourite RTÉ radio programme, and had the privilege of being interviewed by John Bowman. The soundbite was small for all of us but we were there regardless. The coverage continued today as my comments were covered in two pieces in the Irish Times, one on FG and one on class sizes. and the Irish Daily Mail. More importantly of course on a local level I got to do a good piece with Tom Dowling on the afternoon news show on KCLR FM, our local radio station.
Two highlights of the weekend were the long service awards to Carlow/Kilkenny party members. Two of my favourite Labour women got recognition they deserved. Sadie Kelly was my predecessor on the party's National Executive and played a major part in bringing this conference to Kilkenny, work which I was delighted to continue, while the ever youthful Peggy Kerwick was unfortunately absent but her award was collected by my neighbour and great community activist, Seán. The others were Graiguenamanagh man John Bolger, Borris man Willie Hayes, and the unbelieveably fresh looking Paddy Dowd of Coon in North Kilkenny a 93 year old lifelong activist. All got their awards from one of my heroes, party President Michael D. Higgins TD.
He had previously presented the Jim Larkin justice award to Conor MacLiam, husband of the late Susie Long who inspired us so much in her life and her passing. Conor reminded us that Susie was a great socialist and a huge admirer of Larkin, and of course challenged us to keep alive the issues which tragically led to her death.