We can start to change Ireland in this election.
After five hard years of austerity, the political establishment have started to lavish us with promises. Suddenly they tell us that ‘the fiscal space’ will pay for it all. This is supposed to be the money that will be left over from projected growth over the next five years.
But what if the growth stops? What if a global recession envelopes Ireland? The ‘fiscal space’ will disappear as fast as melted snow and we will be left with the bitter taste of broken promises.
That is why People Before Profit and its partners in the Anti-Austerity Alliance are the only party to advocate a radical re-distribution of wealth. Not uncosted ‘fantasy economics’ but a strategy to tax the wealthy and invest in public services.
This country is awash with money but we have a government that serves the wealthy. We need a genuine left government that works for the majority. Here is what it could do:
- Get rid of the property taxes and the water charges. Impose a Robin Hood tax on financial speculation.
- Abolish the USC for those earning under €70,000. Bring in a third rate of tax for individuals who earn over €100,000 and a wealth tax on assets except for the family home.
- Build 50,000 social housing units and create a National Health Service that treats according to medical need and not the size of patients’ wallets. Make the big corporations pay a minimum rate of 12.5% in tax. (They only pay half of that now).
- Invest in education and childcare. Inform the EU that Ireland will be writing down the bankers’ debt and placing a moratorium on interest payments.
- Impose real rent controls. Rents should not be allowed to rise faster than the Consumer Price Index.
- End discrimination against young people. Why should you be paid less to work as a nurse just because you started after 2011 rather than before? Why was your social welfare cut to €100 because of your age?
- Give unions an automatic right to bargain with employers. Get rid of FEMPI legislation that allows government to change the wages and conditions of their staff. Repeal the Industrial Relations Act so that workers regain a right to take effective action.
- Repeal the 8th Amendment. Give women a right to choose.
- Create jobs. Restore the 30,000 plus jobs that were lost from the public sector. Take Ireland’s natural resources into public ownership and develop downstream industries. Invest in a green economy through schemes for house insulation and developing publicly owned alternatives to fossil fuel.
- Extend democracy. Give the people a right to initiate referenda and to re-call representatives who have demonstrably breached election promises. Cut the salaries of TDs to the national average.
- Stop appointing judges who are linked to mainstream parties. Give us a legal system that is accessible to the poor as well as wealthy individuals who write blank cheques to get to the High Court.
- Make Apple pay back the €8- 17 billion it owes this country in back taxes. Stop spending OUR money on legal fees to prevent us getting it.
None of this will be easy to achieve. The wealthy will do everything to defend their privileges. We will need a strategy of people power to carry through the changes.
But now is the time for Irish politics to be divided on left-right lines. But we need a real left – not one that shifts and changes and is willing to hook up with the main right wing parties.
People Before Profit talks the language of the 21st century. We see people power as the main way to bring change and our TDs in the Dail will act as voices for that power – mobilising and encouraging people to fight for their rights.
A No 1 vote for People Before Profit would be the best way to turn the ideals of the 1916 hero, James Connolly, into a reality.