Some people may argue they don’t know what the Labour Party stands for particularly given our time in government with Fine Gael (2011 – 2016), when we faced inordinate financial challenges, and our subsequent devastating general election in 2016 when so many of my comrades lost their seats.
However, I know what I stand for as a Labour member and public representative. The following summarises my key Labour principles.
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, those forced into bogus self-employment and those seeking to bargain collectively.
It also means ensuring those seeking to work or seeking to transition to alternative careers have appropriate training and life-long learning opportunities and those who come to the end of their working lives have a pension that ensures they can live a comfortable and secure retirement.
Quality Public Services
I am committed to the welfare state and the provision of quality public services and supports for all citizens: education, health, transport, childcare and gardai.
This means appropriate funding and resourcing to expand national and local services with appropriate and effective direct employment as opposed to outsourcing services or using agencies to provide staffing needs.
It also means stronger and better resourced local government services, particularly in the provision of housing, fire and emergency services, sports and recreation as well as efficient public realm services.
Sustainable Green Communities
We need to ensure the principle of sustainable green communities is the basis of our living, planning and development.
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 an affordable 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 particularly need to and understand the impact of climate change be more environmentally conscious not only in our approach to energy, recycling, reuse and conservation but also to planning/building 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 system 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, the lack of appropriate funding is evident when we see footpaths and green spaces not being maintained adequately and when we see fewer community sports and amenities being 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 disproportionately 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.