Now that October is nearly over, and as we approach mid-term break for schools, it has become clearer than ever that the Government’s “treadmill budget” has not gone far enough to lift hard-pressed households out of the cost-of-living crisis. Instead, people across the country are running just to stand still.
Income inequality and public services which are creaking at the seams: external factors such as Covid-19, the war in Ukraine, climate change, and global inflation lay bare the weaknesses in this State. People simply cannot cope. A better way exists. Ireland deserves a Government which can care for the people who live here.
Labour Party TDs, Senators, Councillors, and activists have been speaking up for socialism and social democracy. In short, we have been campaigning for an Ireland that works – for all. Read on for an insight into some of that work.
Private Members Bill – #ValuingCare
On Wednesday, 12th October, the Dáil debated a motion brought forward by Labour TDs, calling for pay rises for workers in the community and voluntary sector. These workers provide invaluable services to the State. However, unlike trade union members in the public or private sector, care workers in the voluntary sector have no way to negotiate a pay increase. Their work is directly comparable to workers directly employed by the State who, if proposed increases in public sector pay are accepted by union members, will be earning nearly 10% more than they do. Furthermore, many community and voluntary sector workers have no right to the fundamental employment rights all workers should expect, like paid annual leave, paid maternity leave and access to pension schemes.
It is not fair and change is long-overdue. Labour TDs welcomed that the Government did not oppose our motion. However, we are in the middle of the worst cost-of-living crisis in recent times. We will continue to campaign alongside trade union comrades to ensure that the provisions of our motion become law. Your fantastic response to Duncan Smith TD’s petition and campaign actions shows that Labour members won’t give up the fight either. Please make sure to like and share Duncan’s recent video on the campaign.
I am so grateful to those of you who have joined our Labour Town Hall meetings in Galway, Dublin, Cork and Westmeath this past month. Labour members and community activists are the lifeblood of our movement and everyone has been so generous in sharing their ideas and experiences on housing, on care, on climate, on work, and on other issues too. On Monday, 7th November, we will be meeting in Limerick at the Strand Hotel, Ennis Road at 8.00pm. I thank those of you who have already contacted our General Secretary Billie Sparks with suggestions for further venues, and I encourage you to keep those suggestions coming!
PES Congress in Berlin
On 14th-15th October, I led a Labour delegation at the Congress of the Party of European Socialists (PES) in Berlin. I joined a panel of Labour Party leaders to discuss a pan-European response to the war in Ukraine, the cost-of-living crisis and the climate and energy crises. A video of that event is available to watch back at this link. We held a series of very productive meetings, aimed at further strengthening our ties with comrades and allies across Europe, and at preparing for the European Elections in 2024 with a view to putting the Labour Party back in the European Parliament. International cooperation and solidarity are vitally important to the success of an internationalist social democratic movement and I was delighted to share ideas with Prime Ministers, including Sanna Marin of Finland, Antonio Costa of Portugal and Pedro Sánchez of Spain.
- I have raised the terrible situation for women and girls in Iran, and the killing of Mahsa Amini by the so-called “morality police” in the Dáil. Ireland must stand with the Iranian people and against tyranny around the world.
- Labour has been campaigning for an eviction ban and a rent freeze, and for the scaling up of a scheme to facilitate local authorities to buy rental properties which are put up for sale so that the tenants can remain in their home.
- Labour has been highlighting the long delays in the publication of Junior Cert results this year.
- In several Dáil debates, I have called on the Climate Minister, Eamon Ryan, to examine nationalising the Corrib gas field to reduce energy bills this winter.
- Labour members and public representatives have joined the picket lines held by SIPTU, Forsa and INMO members who have been campaigning for pay parity for workers in the community and voluntary sector.
- Seán Sherlock TD has been calling for the proposed redress scheme for survivors of Mother and Baby and County Homes to be made more generous – the current scheme does not tally with the reality of the experiences for those who spent time in these institutions.
- Labour TDs and Senators have given their reaction to the announcement that the Central Bank will ease mortgage lending rules.
- I have written the Taoiseach in light of reports that Ukrainian refugees arriving in Ireland are forced to shelter in Dublin Airport because there is nowhere for them to stay due to a lack of preparation by the Government. We in Labour have made several offers to support the Government through this crisis but we have yet to be taken up on this offer.
- Labour Senators have been campaigning for equality for the 75,000 cohabiting couples in Ireland. On Wednesday, Labour Senators introduced a bill to make surviving cohabitants eligible for a widow or widower’s contributory pension. Read more about the campaign here.