2020: bliain cinniúnach dúinn go léir
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2020: bliain cinniúnach dúinn go léir

Fáilte go 2020, a léitheoirí.  Is dóigh liom gur bliain cinniúnach a bheidh ann do mhuintir na noileán seo againne.

Tús nua is ea í an bhliain seo in ana chuid slite.  I dTuaisceart na hÉireann, tá margadh nua déanta ag Sinn Féin agus an DUP.  Le beagnach trí bliana anuas anuas, ní raibh aon rialtas i bhfeidhm sa tír san agus toisc nach nglacann baill Shinn Féin páirt i bparlaimint Westminster, ciallaíonn sé seo nach raibh ionadaíocht polaitiúil á dhéanamh ar go leor daoine le linn na h-ama san.

Comhartha soiléar ab ea é seo go raibh ag teip ar an gcóras polaitiúil sa Tuaisceart.  Mar sin, is cúis dóchais é go bhfuil an dá thaobh tar éis teacht ar chomhréiteach chun gur féidir leo obair le chéile arís.

Tá súil agam (agus táim cinnte gur súil le formhór do mhuintir an Tuaiscirt) go leanfear le spiorad an chomhréitigh sa chaidreamh idir an dá pháirtí mór sa tír.  Tá fadhbanna tromchúiseacha ann maidir leis an gcóras sláinte agus seirbhísí eile gur rinneadh failí orthu le trí bliana anuas.  Caithfear díriú ar na fadhbanna sin anois agus an tír a chur ar bhóthar a leasa arís.

Anseo sa deisceart i bPoblacht na hÉireann, beidh tús nua againne sara fada nuair a bheidh olltoghchán sa tír ar an t-ochtú lá de Feabhra.  Níl a fhios agamsa fós cé a bheidh ag seasamh i mo dháilcheantar féin anseo i gCiarraí.  Faoi láthair, tá ionadaíocht á dhéanamh ar an gceantar ag dhá Theachta Dála neamhspleách, Teachta Dála amháin ó Shinn Féin, ceann ó Fhianna Fáil agus ceann eile ó Fhine Gael.

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Tá súil agam go dtiocfaidh iarrthóirí nua ar an bhfód.  Ba bhreá liom freisin dá mbeadh caint faoin gcóras a athrú chun go bhféadfaí dul i ngleic go fad-téarmach le fadhbanna móra an lae.

In Éirinn an lae inniu, tá an córas sláinte ag teipeadh.  Má thárlaíonn aon rud duit agus má chaitheann tú aghaidh a thabhairt ar an óspidéal, tá gach seans nach mbeidh leaba ann duit.  Beidh ar na dochtúirí agus na banaltraí cóir leighis a chur ort agus tú luite ar thralaí sa phasáiste.  Sin a thárlaíonn do sé nó seacht gcéad duine sa tír gach aon lá.

Tá fadhb mór againn le tithíocht chomh maith.  Níl go leor tithíochta ar fáil ar phraghas réasúnta i gcathracha na tíre, nó fiú amháin anseo sa Daingean.  Cuireann sé seo brú uafásach ar dhaoine nach bhfuil aon rogha acu ach cónaí ins na h-áiteanna seo.  Tá an fhadhb ag cur an ruaig ar ana chuid daoine ós na h-áiteanna seo freisin, gan trácht ar an tionchar atá aige ar fhadhb na ndaoine gan dídean.

Bhí 10,448 duine gan dídean sa tír i mí na Samhana 2019, 3,752 leanbh ina measc.  Sin árdú cúig chéad duine ón bhliain roimhe, rud a chruthaíonn nach bhfuil an fhadhb seo á réiteach ar chor ar bith.

Tá iomaí fadhbanna eile againn in Éirinn - gach rud a bhaineann le athrú aeráide mar shampla – agus ba bhreá liom guthanna nua a chlos á phlé agus ag cur moltaí úra chun cinn.  Tá súil agam gur sin atá i ndán dúinn ins na seachtainí le teacht.  Tús nua maith a bheidh ann más rud é gur amhlaidh a bheidh.

Maidir libhse trasna Mhuir Éireann, is cinnte go bhfuil tús nua mór i ndán díbhse.  Beidh sibh ag fágaint an tAontas Eorpach ag deireadh na míosa seo, rud a chuirfidh deireadh le tréimhse fada stairiúil agus a chuirfidh tús le tréimhse nua eile.

Pé rud a thárlóidh, braithfidh muintir na hÉireann uatha sibh.  Chuamar isteach ins an Aontas Eorpach le chéile i 1973 agus d’fhás dlúth chaidreamh eadrainn ó shin i leith.  Tá súil againn go léir go dtreiseofar an caidreamh san as seo amach.

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Is léir go gcuirfear tús le réanna nua i stair na dtíortha ar an hoileáin seo i mbliana.  Réanna dearfacha a bheidh ann dúinn go léir, le cúnamh Dé.

(And now the English translation...)

2020: a decisive year for us all

Welcome to 2020, dear readers.  I think it’s going to be a decisive year for everyone on these islands of ours.

This year marks all sorts of new beginnings.

In Northern Ireland, Sinn Féin and the DUP have made a new Stormont deal.  For almost three years now, there has been no sitting government in the country and because Sinn Féin members refuse to take up their seats in Westminster, this has meant that a significant proportion of the people of Northern Ireland have had no political representation.

There couldn’t have been a clearer signal that the political system in Northern Ireland was failing.  Therefore, the fact that both sides have come together to compromise has to be seen as a sign of hope.

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Hope is what that country needs now.  Hope that the two parties can keep that spirit of compromise alive as they go about the business of governing.

They face serious problems in the health service and in other public services that have been neglected for the past three years.  They have to focus their minds on solving these problems and making their country the functional democracy its people deserve.

Further south in the Republic, we’ll be marking a new beginning of our own in a few weeks when the people vote in a general election on February 8th.  I don’t yet know who is standing in my constituency here in Kerry.  At the moment, we are represented by two independent TDs (our version of members of parliament), one TD from Sinn Féin, one from Fianna Fáil and another from Fine Gael.

I’d love to see some exciting new candidates put themselves forward.  I’d also like to hear people talking about changing the political system in order to be able to tackle its long-term problems more effectively.

In Ireland today, our health system is failing.  If something were to happen to you and if you had to make your way to hospital, there’s every chance that you wouldn’t find a bed waiting for you there.  The doctors and nurses might well have to treat you as you lay on a trolley in a corridor.  That’s what happens to between six and seven hundred people every day here in our hospitals.

We have a huge problem with housing too.  There isn’t enough affordable housing available in our cities, or even here in Dingle.  This places enormous financial pressure on those people who have no choice but to leave in these places.  It’s also forcing people to abandon these cities, not to mention exacerbating the problem with homelessness.

There were 10,448 homeless people here in Ireland in November 2019, a figure that includes 3,752 children.  That’s an increase of 500 people on the year before, which proves that the homelessness problem is far from being solved.

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We face lots of other problems here in this country – for example, we’re not really dealing with the challenges posed by climate change – and I would love to hear new voices debating them and suggesting novel solutions.

I hope that’s what we have in store in the weeks to come.  It would be a great new start for us if so.

As for you over there on the other side of the Irish Sea, you definitely have a new beginning ahead.

The United Kingdom will leave the EU at the end of this month, bringing one historical period to a definitive end and marking the beginning of a brand new era for your country.

Whatever happens, the people of Ireland will miss you.

We entered the EU together in 1972 and our shared membership played a part in developing the close relationship that we have today.  I hope that relationship will strengthen even further in the years to come.

It’s clear that there will be lots of historical new beginnings for the people of these islands this year.  Let’s hope that they are positive ones for us all.

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