A lovely moment from yesterday when Ollie Stevenson introduced Ivana Bacik to her dog Frankie during the Labour leader's visit to the Red Door project yesterday. Photo: Andy Spearman.
The leader of the Labour Party, Ivana Bacik, told an audience of around 100 people in Drogheda last night that the Government’s failure to deliver on so many fronts is a wakeup call to us all on the need to provide a constructive left alternative.
Ms Bacik spent all of yesterday in the Drogheda area visiting community organisations such as the National Ecology Centre, Sonairte, DkIT, the Tredagh Lodge Day Care Centre for people with dementia and the award-winning Red Door Project which assists people with addiction issues.
Drogheda Life caught up with Ms Bacik at Sonairte at midday when one of the organisation’s directors, Paul Reilly brought the Labour delegation on a tour of the centre and explained the work that they do.
At the Red Door Project the Labour Party Leader sat down with workers including Labour Councillor Pio Smith, who told of the severe problems being experienced by their service users on a daily basis and the difficulties, mostly financial, that they have in addressing these problems.
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The main event of the visit was a Labour “Town Hall” style meeting at the dHotel, one of a series of such events around the country designed to hear people’s views on how to build an Ireland that works.
“Our vision for Ireland is rooted in our social democratic values, as the party of the trade union movement, fighting for equality, solidarity and fairness” she told the 100 or so people present.
“And the challenges our country face are immense” she added – “record homelessness, not enough homes being built, chronic overcrowding.
Ms Bacik said that the response to the Covid-19 pandemic indicated the capacity of the State to pivot and deliver public services and radical change urgently but sadly that momentum has been lost.
“The government has failed to seize the opportunity to refashion housing provision, social infrastructure and the health service at a time of strong budget surpluses” she said.
“The opportunity to transform our country and society has been squandered...I believe we need a radical vision to bring about a real change in policy.
Turning her attention to the brutal invasion of Ukraine by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s army she said “... Ireland is welcoming refugees, but we haven’t seen the co-ordinated, centralised approach needed from Government to get adequate levels of accommodation in place.
On the economy she said that inflation has ravaged incomes, with soaring food and energy prices and that it has hit those on low wages, pensions, and social protection the hardest.
“There are ominous signs of an economic slowdown, with job losses in the tech sector, while the stalling of construction projects is slowing down the building and delivery of new homes” she said.
“In 2020, we were told that the programme for Government would invest in climate action and deliver a new energy system; but since then we have had constantly delayed climate action plans and countless strategy announcements; but no sign of the necessary reductions in emissions that need to be delivered now and every year.
“The test of any government is delivery, but across all measures it is failing” she said. “Homelessness is up, Healthcare waiting lists are up and carbon emissions are up.
“Too many children have inadequate homes. Too many children with autism lack appropriate school places, or any school places. “Too many people with disabilities don’t have the supports they need.
“Too many parents are unable to find an affordable home or a suitable childcare or early years place.
“Too many workers remain on low and insecure pay or stuck in traffic jams without decent public transport options.
“Too many older people remain deeply anxious about heating their homes or getting the care they need.
“The failure of delivery on so many fronts is a wakeup call to us on the need to provide a constructive left alternative.
“Campaigning for economic justice and standing up for those struggling to make ends meet are core to the vision and values of our party.
“Today, as we see the failure of the market-knows-all polices of the Government, we know the Labour Party values of equality, solidarity and fairness are needed more than ever.”