By Cillian Sherlock, PA
Leader of the Labour Party Ivana Bacik said the biggest failure of the current government is “the housing disaster”.
“My priority is for a structural revolution in the provision of housing in Ireland,” she said.
Speaking to delegates in Cork, she accused Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael of “perpetuating an unequal Ireland”.
“We need change, and we need progress,” she said.
“The current conservative coalition is just not working.
“We have seen a catastrophic failure to deliver on housing. And let me be clear: only ideology – not the economy – has held back the massive public investment in housing that is so badly needed.”
Ms Bacik pointed to record levels of more than 11,700 people accessing emergency accommodation as evidence of the Government “lurching from crisis to crisis”.
“The government has abandoned an entire generation to the private rental casino game – a game they can only lose,” she said.
She called on the Government to extend a moratorium on no-fault evictions due to end next week.
“A temporary extension of the ban would provide breathing space to increase housing supply,” she said.
She also called for the tenant in-situ scheme to be ramped up, for vacancy to be tackled and for a “massive rapid-build housing programme on public land”.
Labour has tabled a motion of no confidence in the Coalition, which she described as “a government that is out of ideas and out of time”.
She said Labour would create a housing model of public homes on public land, while a right to housing would be “enshrined” in the Constitution.
“Where the vulture funds and bankers are told to back off,” she added.
“Our ambition is for one million homes in 10 years, starting now,” she said.
Ms Bacik said the State can deliver 50,000 new builds and 50,000 refurbished homes a year for the next decade.
Separately, she said Ireland can “become a leader on climate action”.
She said the current Government “does not get this” and is struggling with internal dissent.
“They are driven by compromise, not conviction, and we have seen far too many delayed and missed targets on climate,” she said.
On agriculture, Ms Bacik said there is a need to “change the way we farm” by working with farming families and food producers to achieve sustainable rural communities.
On transport, she said cities and towns must prioritise walkers and cyclists over motorists.
She said Labour would introduce a “climate ticket” to provide unlimited bus and train journeys anywhere in Ireland for nine euro per month.
Ms Bacik said it is her ambition to “chart the next phase of workers’ rights in Ireland”.
This includes ending apprenticeships not covered by the minimum wage, ensuring community and voluntary sector workers “get the pay and conditions they deserve” and making sure workers have the right to organise.
“In this cost-of-living crisis we know Ireland needs a pay rise,” she said.
Ms Bacik said Labour would introduce a legal right to reduce working hours for a period of up to two years for those taking on a caring role at home.
She said the party would deliver a public childcare scheme and has the ambition to deliver a guaranteed pre-school place for every child.
She said Labour has ambition for “radical change” in healthcare, including the vision of a universal health care system.
“We would commit massive investment to primary care and the training of new nurses and doctors,” she said.
“We would rollout free GP care to all under 18s because no parent should have to think twice before bringing a sick child to the doctor.”
Ms Bacik said Labour wants to deliver on a shared ambition with the SDLP to “achieve a social democratic vision across 32 counties” through a unity referendum.
Elsewhere, Ms Bacik called for Ukraine to be fast-tracked to EU membership and the expulsion of Russia’s ambassador.
She said Ireland must also pass a law banning the import of goods from “illegal settlements in Palestine”.
Concluding her speech, Ms Bacik said: “We can build an equal republic so join us now to deliver an Ireland that works for all.”