Many people have said to me that they don’t know what the Labour Party stands for any more, that it seems from listening to the media, that we’ve no longer got a coherent, solid message. To be honest, I can’t argue with that as I often ask myself the same question.
However, I do know what I stand for as a Labour member and public representative.
I believe that decent work must underpin our society and economy. Works allows us not only to provide for ourselves and our families but affords more active participation and greater inclusion in our communities.
At national level this means improving legislation to protect workers’ rights particularly those on precarious ‘if and when’ contracts, those who don’t know how many hours work or wages they will be rostered for next week and those forced into bogus self-employment.
At local Dublin City Council level it means advocating for the needs of our Dublin Fire Brigade and Ambulance Service and seeking greater direct employment by the council.
Quality Public Services
I am committed to the welfare state and the provision of quality public services and support for all citizens: education, health, transport, childcare, fire and emergency services and public realm services.
This means appropriate funding and resourcing to expand national and local services – for example new primary care centres in Kilmore (opening next year) and in Edenmore (currently going through the planning process). It means advocating for free universal public childcare for all families and diversity of school patronage.
The current homeless and housing crisis has called into serious question the impact of the commodification of housing. I believe that we must go back to basics and build both social and affordable houses and introduce a cost neutral rental scheme for those who want long term rental security.
All new developments must be well planned and supported by good public transport and local learning, recreation and sports amenities. Established communities also need support to ensure local amenities meet their needs, particularly the needs of younger and older residents.
We also need to be more environmentally conscious not only in our approach to energy, recycling, reuse and conservation but also to planning and public transport.
We need taxes to pay for our public services, to pay for our local community and national infrastructure. Without an adequate tax income to cover public service and infrastructure provision people end up paying privately for health services, childcare, additional education supports and other welfare supports. At a local level, footpaths and green spaces are not maintained adequately and fewer community sports and amenities are provided by local authorities.
I believe that our tax system needs a radical overhaul to allow for a more proportionate incremental system whereby people pay according to their means with fewer and flat rate tax reliefs applying. We need to ensure that those paying corporation tax pay the full rate and do not disproportionally escape the tax net through the use of tax reliefs.
Income should not be viewed as the main tax source. The tax base needs to be expanded to include capital and financial transaction taxes.
A fair society
I believe in strong local and national democracy, transparency and public accountability. Individual choice is important for the public good and social equality.
The Labour Party has always fought for progressive equality legislation. We decriminalised homosexuality and led the campaign for marriage equality. We were the only party to actively oppose the introduction of the 8th amendment and have been to the fore of the campaign to repeal this amendment and replace it with medically based legislation.
These values and priorities guide my focus and decision making. It’s not always easy and sometimes compromises have to be made to move along the often long and winding road towards achieving the above. However, I won’t give up. It means too much to me not to use the voice and role I’ve been given to strive for a better fairer way.