Bacik calls for radical action in keeping with the vision of Tom Johnson

Ivana Bacik TD
11 September 2022

Speaking at a Tom Johnson commemoration event in Clontarf, Dublin today (Sunday, 11th September), Labour leader Ivana Bacik called for radical action to be taken by Government to address the cost of living crisis, the energy crisis and the housing crisis.

Deputy Bacik said:

“As we mark the 150th anniversary of Tom Johnson’s birth and recall the near-century of service that he and his wife Marie gave to our movement and his role as a founder of the Labour Party and a leader of the trade union movement across this island, we must reclaim and celebrate the vital role that the Johnsons played in our shared national story.

“Johnson’s Labour – the movement that he led – was active and vigorous in its pursuit of a more just social, economic and constitutional order. There is so much of modern Ireland that would be strange and unfamiliar to Johnson; but sadly, today in modern Ireland we still have poverty, economic hardship and struggling families.

“Today, close to the centenary of Johnson’s Democratic Programme, the cost-of-living crisis, the energy security crisis and the housing crisis, taken together, threaten to see our poorest households forced to take impossible decisions between heating or eating; risk driving thousands of working families into poverty and debt; and may yet push another generation of young adults – unable to afford homes – into emigration.

“Today, we should take Johnson’s bold vision for a nation free of economic exploitation as encouragement and inspiration for our work. In today’s Ireland, we are calling for policies that we know will deliver for the thousands of working people and struggling households who need the Labour vision of- Johnson today more than ever- policies that put the State centre stage in delivering supports to those who need them.

“First, we have argued that in the face of this terrible cost of living crisis, Ireland needs a pay rise. As a starting point, we need to see an immediate increase in the minimum wage and to see the State step in to help secure incomes through a wage support scheme, as was done during the Covid pandemic.

“And in the face of a chronic lack of housing, we need the State to kickstart a massive building programme to deliver affordable homes for all. Evictions and homelessness must become a historical talking point, rather than a harrowing reality. The Government must pass Labour’s Renters Rights Bill to give security and certainty to renters.

“In order to tackle the energy security crisis, the State also needs to step up urgently. We have called for the immediate introduction by the Government of a windfall tax on excessive profits from energy companies, an immediate maximum price cap on energy bills – and the extension of eligibility for the fuel allowance for low and middle income households.

“But at this time, we need a number of other creative and radical measures to tackle this unprecedented crisis. Measures that would speak to the fight against economic desperation that Johnson wanted to make the clarion call of the new Irish state.

“We want to cap childcare costs to 200 Euro per month for every family – a stepping-stone towards an affordable, universal, public childcare system. We want unlimited public transport journeys anywhere in Ireland for 9 euros a month for everyone. And we want the immediate extension of free GP care to everyone under 18.

“Radical measures like these are needed to keep people afloat, while we work towards the eradication of poverty and inequality, in anticipation of the creation of a new Ireland, a fair Ireland, an equal Ireland. An Ireland that works for us all. That was Tom Johnson’s vision a century ago, just as it remains our vision today.”

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