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Alan Kelly delivering his first address as Labour leader to the party's national conference at the Mansion House in Dublin. Sam Boal
Labour party conference

'It's a con job': Kelly criticises other parties for promising tax cuts and increased spending

The Labour leader said he wants Ireland to be “a fairer, kinder, better place”.

LABOUR LEADER ALAN Kelly has said there is a “hunger for a real alternative” in Irish politics.

In his first address as Labour leader to the party’s national conference at the Mansion House in Dublin he said he can be the “voice of those who are running to stand still”.

Kelly said he wants Ireland to be “a fairer, kinder, better place”, stating that housing is one of the major failing points of the current government.

“We’re still not building enough homes. A whole new class of absentee institutional landlords is being created instead. Where is the radical state action to deliver homes?

“Where is the ban on evictions? Where is the referendum to deliver a right to housing Where is the rent freeze?

“I was able to freeze rents for two years in 2015 [when Kelly was housing minister] but since then the conservative parties in power have allowed record increases,” he said. 

The government have ruled out a rent freeze stating that they have legal advice saying it would be unconstitutional, but Kelly disagreed tonight, stating:

“There is no constitutional issue here – I should know – so government just do it.”

Kelly also spoke about the cost of living and fuel costs that he said are “spiralling out of control”.

“Those in rural areas with no other option but to drive a car are paying the price. Those waiting on the Metro and DART PLUS are paying the price. Those in poorly insulated homes are paying the price.

“That’s why Labour wants a Carbon Credit for ordinary working families. And why we’re calling for the VAT rate to be cut on fuel for the coming months,” he added.

The Labour leader hit out at other Opposition parties, stating that too many parties are “peddling the myth that we can have both tax cuts and public spending”.

“It’s a con job. It’s total lies. They are lying to the Irish people, pure and simple. Populist nonsense that all Labour Party representatives will always call out.

“None of us like paying taxes, but we can’t have decent services without them. And you can’t call yourself a left-wing party if you’re against a property tax,” he said. 

The Labour Party will lead change, he said, stating that he is not interested in running for office just to get elected, or being in government for the sake of it.

“I am passionate about delivering a real alternative for our people. And by god we need that.

“From the first Dáil in this room over a century ago, Labour has always led that change. We don’t just talk about it, we make it happen,” he told the conference.

Too many people are just about getting by or not at all, he said, stating that working families should be able to afford a modest holiday, a pizza at the weekend and be able to change the car every few years.

“Work must always pay. We must ensure that people who work or want to work are not struggling to get by, and see Labour as their political home.

“Some parties in the current government think they have a right to always govern.

“While others in opposition go around arrogantly acting like their ascension to high office next time is just inevitable. Neither are true.

“You, the people of Ireland will decide and there is always a third option as we proved in the recent by-election win,” said Kelly.

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