Labour is a left-wing party, and we have the ambition to achieve a left led green-red government. We believe that we are stronger together and that our Labour values – equality, solidarity, and fairness – must be at the heart of political change.
Motion of No Confidence
The current conservative coalition is just not working – Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are perpetuating an unequal Ireland. This government has lurched from crisis to crisis. It is failing the people of Ireland.
The Government’s decision to lift the eviction ban is in direct conflict with the advice of homelessness organisations. They did no modelling as to the impact of lifting the ban. Already, 11,700 people are in homelessness; lifting the ban is a deliberate and conscious decision to make matters worse. The past five months have been squandered, with the Government failing to use the moratorium as an opportunity to introduce emergency measures to relieve the housing disaster. Half-measures announced this week and last week are of no comfort to the people losing their homes now.
It is for that reason that we tabled a motion of no confidence on Wednesday. The country deserves a government that responds to its needs rather than diverting from it. We took this decision as a last resort, having exhausted all other options available to us in Opposition. The Labour Party offered constructive proposals to continue the extension of the ban. For example, we proposed in draft legislation the use of an evidence basis rather than a time basis for extending the ban. The government did not accept our proposal; but although they won the vote, they have still not provided any clarity on the contingency measures in place to support those families and renters now facing eviction and homelessness from 1st April.
The housing crisis is a catastrophe. The Government continues to over rely on the private market to solve the problem. Private developers can’t and won’t deliver the homes our communities need. The Government must extend the eviction ban. A temporary extension of the ban would allow time to ramp up the tenant in-situ scheme, tackle vacancy, undertake a massive rapid build housing programme on public land and to introduce a new ‘Use it or Lose it’ rule – to stop speculators from sitting on inactive residential planning permissions in rent pressure zones.
My ambition is for a structural revolution in the provision of housing in Ireland. Labour would create a housing model – public homes on public land – where the State takes a leading role, and the common good comes first. Where a right to housing is enshrined in our Constitution. Our ambition is for one million homes in ten years. The State can – and we must – deliver 50,000 new builds and 50,000 refurbished homes a year for the next decade. This proposal is based on the government’s own projections of housing need over coming years – and it is essential that we scale up ambition to meet the needs of our communities in this way. This is not an unrealistic or impossible proposal, we can do this – in the previous economic boom, there were up to 60,000 new homes being built each year in Ireland.
Ireland has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 51% over the next seven years but we are unlikely to reach those targets. While some progress has been made, the Government lacks the ambition or political unity to deliver for the environment. We have seen far too many delayed and missed targets on climate.
The latest climate action plan identified six key target areas but had no emissions target for changing land use which is critical in a biodiversity crisis. We need significant increase in forestry cover, rapid movement on rewetting bogland and creating carbon sinks.
Ireland can become a leader on climate action. There are tough decisions to be made on climate but also fantastic opportunities We Labour can provide the leadership and honesty necessary for these decisions. We would transform public transport use through our climate ticket which would provide unlimited bus and train journeys anywhere in Ireland for just 9 Euro per month. We would introduce a bike to school scheme for children, a national greenway network of cycle lane and introduce a tax on SUVs like that in France. We must promote pedestrians and cyclists over motorists. We must also change the way we farm and work with farming families and food producers to achieve sustainable rural communities.
Our Party is the party of jobs and of work, rooted in the trade union movement. Our Labour movement has delivered real benefits for working people. I salute the bravery of workers in the tech sector and the gig economy who are beginning to unionise, often against significant resistance from employers.
No worker should have to face the might of a multinational corporation alone. No worker should have to face unfair hours of work, low wages, or abuse while at work. That is why my ambition, working with the trade union movement, is to chart the next phase of workers’ rights in Ireland. Labour has led the campaign for the right to sick leave and to flexible work, to end the scourge of low pay, the right to paid leave for women experiencing early miscarriage. Labour would end the situation where apprentices are not covered by the minimum wage and ensure that community and voluntary sector workers get the pay and conditions they deserve. We would ensure workers and unions have the right to organise, because we know that the best way to improve pay and conditions is through union representation.
Our country is utterly reliant on the unpaid care work carried out by thousands nationally. Labour would introduce a legal right to reduce working hours for a period of up to two years for those taking on a caring role at home. Labour has the ambition to deliver a guaranteed pre-school place for every child. we would deliver a public childcare scheme. We would deliver on the vision of a universal healthcare system. We would commit massive investment to primary care and the training of new nurses and doctors. We would rollout free GP care to all under 18. We would decriminalise the drug user – because addiction is a health issue, not a criminal justice issue.
Collaborating with our sister Party, the SDLP, we want to deliver on our shared ambition to achieve a social democratic vision – across thirty-two counties. We support a unity referendum because we believe in building a consent-based movement for change – through the citizens assembly model – in keeping with the core principles of the Good Friday Agreement.
It is now 13 months since Putin launched his brutal assault on Ukraine and the Irish people have opened their hearts and homes to Ukrainian families. We need to go further. I want to see Ukraine fast-tracked to join the EU. I’m calling for Government to pass the Labour Bill to root Russian oligarchs out of the IFSC and the immediate expulsion of the Russian ambassador. As a Party with a proud international tradition, we stand in solidarity with those who come to our shores seeking refuge. We stand firmly against those on the far right who exploit fear and spread lies.
While international attention has rightly focused on Ukraine, we cannot ignore gross human rights abuses across the world – in Iran, Syria and Afghanistan. In Palestine we see the desperate situation made worse by the apartheid policies pursued by Netanyahu’s far-right government. The expansion of illegal settlements in Palestinian territory has made peace more distant. Ireland must now pass law banning the import of goods from illegal settlements.
We have the ambition, the energy and the commitment to deliver real change.
Labour has the ambition to deliver:
- One million homes in ten years – to tackle the housing crisis.
- A 9 Euro climate ticket – to reduce travel costs and carbon emissions.
- A pay rise for workers – essential in a cost-of-living crisis.
- Free GP care and a guaranteed preschool place for every child.
Our Labour Ambition for Change would deliver on Housing; on Climate; on Work; and on Care. It would deliver on our values of equality, solidarity and fairness. Because together, Le Chéile, we can build an Equal Republic, an Ireland that works for all.