Labour sets out three key demands on centenary of 1st Dail

20 January 2019

Speaking on the occasion of the centenary of the Democratic Programme of the First Dáil, written by Labour’s then leader Tom Johnson, the leader of the Labour Party, Brendan Howlin TD set out Labour’s non-negotiable priorities that must be met before Labour would support any government, including from Opposition.

Deputy Howlin said:

“In each of the eight times that Labour has served in Government, we have always secured economic and social gains on behalf of working people, from Council housing and better health and education services, through to higher minimum wages and worker protections.

“Today’s Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil parties are economically conservative and liberal in equal measure, but not socialist or social democratic. Both espouse ‘market’ solutions, rather than a stronger role for the State in the economy, robust social protection and the fostering of Irish industries. Without democratic socialist representatives arguing for their interests, there will be fewer new laws and less public spending to achieve economic, social and environmental progress for working people.

“A new approach is necessary for Labour to avoid the pitfalls of the past. We must simplify and clarify to the public what Labour and other progressives can achieve by influencing government policies. To do that, we are setting out priority issues that must urgently be resolved by the State. These are non-negotiable demands. We will not support any Government, in coalition or from Opposition, unless each and every one of our priority policies is agreed and implemented as part of the programme for government.

“Labour will not support any Government that does not accept our policies for a State-led solution to the affordability crisis in housing. That means strong protection for tenants and regulation of the private rental sector. And it means a State-led investment fund of €16 billion, over five years, to build 80,000 homes on public land, some of which must remain in public ownership as a rental stock. These homes will include traditional Council housing, but also a new form of public housing available to rent at an affordable rate to people from a wide range of occupations and backgrounds.

“Labour recognises the existential challenge of climate change. But we won’t allow working people to be worse off because of necessary changes to our economy. Labour will insist on a just transition that protects people from unfair costs, creates quality replacement jobs and eliminates energy poverty, in line with the approach to climate action proposed by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

“Labour will not support any government unless it will guarantee a fair start to every child. Every child must have access to quality healthcare, housing, childcare and nutrition. Primary education must be truly free-of-charge. Citizenship and parentage must not be any barrier to the full realisation of children’s rights and protection by the State. A comprehensive strategy to eliminate poverty and deprivation in childhood must be funded and implemented.

“We are a party committed to democracy, to parliament and to progressive government policies. Labour has always been the party of decency, justice and equality. We will not support any government that will not sign up to our core demands on housing, climate justice and guaranteed fairness for every child.”

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