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Alan Kelly says Ivana Bacik will 'cycle through two extremes' to take by-election seat

Kelly said that Fine Gael and Sinn Féin are trying to present the race as “a dichotomy”.

Labour Senator Ivana Bacik.
Labour Senator Ivana Bacik.
Image: RollingNews.ie

LABOUR’S BY-ELECTION candidate Ivana Bacik will “cycle straight through the middle of two extremes” to take the vacant seat in Dublin Bay South, her party leader predicted this morning. 

Alan Kelly TD said the race is “of course” a test of his leadership of the party but that the by-election is also “a test for every political party”. 

Bacik is running to fill the seat being vacated by Fine Gael’s Eoghan Murphy TD and said today that her priorities are “housing, care policies, environmental issues and better public amenities”. 

Speaking at the formal launch of her campaign today, the Senator described herself as a “committed cyclist and regular sea swimmer” and said that cycling infrastructure and improved water quality are among the issues that she is committed to tackling. 

On the first priority, she said that the government has “failed on housing”:

The developer-led model that’s been promoted by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil and this government has simply failed to deliver the homes that people need. And what we’re seeing is a lack of supply, unaffordable rents, lack of security of tenure.

Bacik said that her party is calling for “a rent freeze for three years”, labelling the government’s recent changes to controls as “piecemeal”

Sinn Féin is also calling for a three-year rent freeze with its candidate in Dublin Bay South Senator Lynn Boylan also saying that housing is the central issue in the by-election. 

James Geoghegan has also sought to place cycling and housing at the core of this electoral pitch for Fine Gael. 

Speaking this morning, Labour party leader Alan Kelly TD said that “there are political parties trying to paint this as an electoral test between two extremes, a dichotomy between Sinn Féin and Fine Gael.”

Kelly said that “the people of Ireland in general don’t like extremes” and that Bacik is “going to get up on her bike and she’s going to cycle straight through the middle of those two extremes”.

Kelly was elected leader of the Labour party following last year’s general election having previously been critical of the level of support under his predecessor. 

Asked today whether the by-election was first the true test of his leadership, Kelly said it could be described as such. 

“Look, all elections are tests. So yes it’s the first electoral contest so the obvious answer is yes. But we’re very lucky that we have literally the best candidate we could have available to us,” he said. 

Of course it’s a test. It’s a test for every political party but most of all I think it’s a test of what people are thinking, as we hopefully are coming out of Covid. I think that’s the real test but for me absolutely the experience has been fantastic to date, I’ve never seen such energy in a campaign.

Property tax

Last week, Fine Gael leader Leo Vardakar attempted to ease fears that the announcement of changes to the Local Property Tax (LPT) will impact the party’s chances in the by-election.

Giving examples that had been worked out for some properties, he said some homeowners in south Dublin will see reductions in their local property tax bills, not increases. 

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Asked today about potential tax rises for wealthier people in the constituency, Bacik said that “people understand, wherever they’re living in the constituency…that there has to be a fair taxation system”. 

When asked if wealthier people in the constituency should pay more tax, Bacik responded by saying that what was needed was a “fair taxation system”. 

“We have very been very clear, we support the Local Property Tax. Extraordinarily from our point of view, there are parties who say they are on the left who don’t support the Local Property Tax, we support that and we’ve stated that,” she said. 

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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