Brexit and offender tags to be debated at Fine Gael ard fheis

Electronic tagging of offenders, Brexit, the cost of medicines, and employment in regional areas will feature during debates at Fine Gael’s ard fheis this weekend.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny will give the main speech tomorrow night, in which he is expected to focus on how continued economic growth can help drive further investment in services.

With the general election expected to be called early next month, this will be the last major gathering for the main government party as well as grassroots members before campaigning officially begins.

One session on Saturday evening, closed to the media, will be dedicated to election planning and addressed by election campaign director MEP Brian Hayes, and PR guru, Mark Mortell.

Motions on health tomorrow will include calls on Health Minister Leo Varadkar to address the length of time of medical negligence actions as well as the reform of payments. He will also be asked to outline the next steps in rolling out free GP care and to consider the case for introducing a sugar tax.

Long-term economic plans will also be raised by party branches, including the need to stimulate employment in all regions so the levels come within 1% of the national average. Fine Gael’s promise to abolish the Universal Social Charge, if returned to power in the next government, will also be debated.

The negative impact of a Brexit on Ireland, particularly on the peace process, will be discussed on Saturday afternoon with motions addressed by Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan. This session will also be addressed by British ambassador Dominick Chilcott.

A special session on crime and justice will hear calls for electronic tagging to be rolled out nationwide and for more resources for gardaí. There will also be a session dedicated to the 1916 commemorations, with calls for more women to be involved.

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