Labour leader wants to 'build and regrow' party in Cork

Labour intends to run more candidates in the next local and general elections
Labour leader wants to 'build and regrow' party in Cork

Labour Party leader Ivana Bacik pictured at Penny Dinners during a visit to Cork on Monday. Pictured L-R: Local Area Rep Peter Horgan, Ivana Bacik TD, Labour Cllr John Maher and Caitríona Twomey, head of Cork Penny Dinners

LABOUR leader Ivana Bacik has expressed her disappointment that a “radical and creative” public transport scheme the party had proposed ahead of Budget 2023 has not been adopted by the Government.

In its alternative budget entitled ‘An Ireland That Works’, the party had proposed a six-month trial of a ‘climate ticket’ scheme, giving people unlimited usage of public transport anywhere in Ireland for €9 a month.

Speaking to The Echo during a visit to Cork yesterday, Ms Bacik said she felt it was a “missed opportunity” that the scheme, trialled in Germany over the summer, did not form part of the budget announcements.

“I think the €9 climate ticket has really captured the public imagination.

“We’ve seen it work so well in Germany, where it was trialled at federal level for three months… We had taken that idea, looked at how you could implement it in Ireland and costed it and the costing, interestingly, is not excessive.

Labour Party leader Ivana Bacik, Labour Cllr John Maher and Labour Local Area Rep Peter Horgan meeting with members of the Cork Cycling Campaign.
Labour Party leader Ivana Bacik, Labour Cllr John Maher and Labour Local Area Rep Peter Horgan meeting with members of the Cork Cycling Campaign.

“It’s €300m for a three-month trial period that would have taken us well into the winter. We, in our own alternative budget programme, called for it to be trialled here for six-months at a cost of €600m and it would have meant that people could travel anywhere – unlimited public transport journeys across Ireland – for just that amount of €9 a month,” she said.

“I do think it was a missed opportunity for Government not to do something radical and creative like this that would have both had a huge impact for good in climate but also for cost for households and reducing our emissions, taking cars off the road but also cutting household transport bills.” 

Ms Bacik said although she welcomed the continuation of reduced public transport fares in Budget 2023, there was “nothing new [announced] to galvanise people to change behaviour” regarding how people travel.

Asked if she believed the climate ticket scheme could realistically be implemented given the increased demand on services such a measure would likely generate, Ms Bacik said:

Labour leader Ivana Bacik. Photograph: Sam Boal / Photocall Ireland
Labour leader Ivana Bacik. Photograph: Sam Boal / Photocall Ireland

“Of course, it would need to be planned. Government, for example, could have given a lead in time, could have ramped up recruitment on buses and trains, could have ensured that there was enough capacity there.” 

The Dublin Bay South TD, who grew up in Cork, said she was “delighted” to be back in the Rebel county yesterday for a series of meetings with organisations including the Sexual Violence Centre, Penny Dinners and Cork Cycling Campaign.

Labour Party leader Ivana Bacik, Labour Cllr John Maher and Labour Local Area Rep Peter Horgan meeting with Mary Crilly and staff from the Sexual Violence Centre in Cork.
Labour Party leader Ivana Bacik, Labour Cllr John Maher and Labour Local Area Rep Peter Horgan meeting with Mary Crilly and staff from the Sexual Violence Centre in Cork.

The party also held a town hall meeting yesterday evening in the Imperial Hotel.

“This is the first in a series of public meetings we’re doing around the country, talking with people, hearing about people’s experiences as we face into what could be a very bleak winter ahead with the cost of living crisis, with the housing disaster, and we really want to hear from people about their concerns, hear from local communities about what they’re doing to address the cost of living, how they’re coping with the terrible energy insecurity and rising energy bills that everyone is seeing and also to offer what Labour says is a vision for change and a vision for how we can improve things in Ireland – how we can make the country work better for everyone,” Ms Bacik said. 

The party is also keen to “rebuild and regrow” its strength in Cork which Ms Bacik said “traditionally has been a real base for Labour” and that it intends to run more candidates in the next local and general elections.

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