At a press conference in Dublin today, wrapping up the local and European election campaigns, People Before Profit called on the electorate to view the upcoming votes as a referendum on the housing crisis, the environmental and climate emergency and the government’s failure on infrastructure projects.
The group called for people to send the government a decisive message on May 24th that the scandal of the housing and homelessness crisis, Ireland’s on going failure to seriously address emissions and ecological breakdown; and the disastrous mistakes in relation to the National Children’s’ Hospital and Rural Broadband will not be tolerated any longer.
The People Before Profit TD was joined in making this call to the electorate by Gillian Brien, the People Before Profit candidate for Dublin in the European elections; Danielle O’Rourke, People Before Profit local election candidate for Shankill- Killiney and Rachael Prendergast Spollen from Stillorgan.
Richard Boyd Barrett TD, who chaired the press conference said: “Whether it is on key infrastructure projects like the National Children’s’ Hospital or Rural Broadband, which everyone agrees are desperately needed in rural Ireland, or the housing and homelessness emergency which is getting worse and worse; or the climate and ecological breakdown, where Ireland remains a laggard in terms of Co2 emissions and ecological erosion, this government is failing disastrously. This is having a massively detrimental impact on the society which we live in. People should view these elections as an opportunity to vent their anger on the government and to demand real change.
“The housing crisis is out of control and getting worse because of the disastrous government policy and Fine Gael arrogance not to recognise that their plan is fundamentally flawed.
“Despite consistent pressure from People Before Profit TDs and councillors at a local level they continue the selloff of public land which could be used to build social and affordable housing, cheaper than private developers will do it.
“The government solution to the crisis in housing is to rely on private landlords and international property speculators through HAP, which is extremely insecure, and now CoLiving spaces, like in my area of Dún Laoghaire, which are literally modern day tenements.”
Gillian Brien said: “The failure of the government to address the major issues in Irish society, like housing climate and inequality are reflected all across Europe. These mistakes are being made because governments, whether it be in Dublin, Brussels, Paris or Madrid and the EU generally are totally hostage to corporations and vested interests who only care about profit maximisation.
Rachael Prendergast Spollen said: “Fine Gael has been lauding themselves for years about how they are ‘fiscally prudent’ and how they are the only ones who are responsible- the only ones who can be trusted with the purse strings of the state. This has been exposed as bogus by the scandalous overspend on key infrastructure projects like the NCH and the provision of rural broadband.
“To me it seems very clear that Fine Gael is attempting to buy the elections- local, European and the upcoming general. They are trying to bribe the people with these infrastructure projects but what is really happening is they are ripping people off and this will be felt on the ground in communities- they government will cut already massively underfunded services, such as transport, carers, disability services to pay for these overruns.
“Another failure of the government are in the provision of affordable childcare or in many cases any childcare at all for working families.”
Danielle O’Rourke said that the government’s failure over the climate emergency and ecological breakdown is staggering and needed to be punished by the electorate.
She said: “The climate emergency and ecological breakdown is destroying the natural world and presents very real dangers to the world as we know it.
“The governments through their spin and PR machine have been attempting to green wash their performance on environmental issues. They say that they are listening to the movement of school climate strikers, extinction rebellion and other groups who have been demanding radical action and yet at the same time they are blocking the People Before Profit Climate Emergency Bill to keep fossil fuels in the ground, whilst continuing to hand out licences for fossil fuel exploration.
“The climate emergency is something that Fine Gael simply do not get. They have zero intention to tackle the major polluters in society- the corporations and big agriculture. Instead they try to out the blame on people who have no alternative to fossil fuels- ordinary people. They continue to resist and belittle calls from People Before Profit for free public transport and investment in buses, trains and light rail to help get people out of cars.
“This government is also failing disastrously in supporting our young people- in providing them with amenities and alternatives. This is the reason that we have many social problems in areas of high deprivation.”