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Friday 1 December 2023 Dublin: 3°C
labour party think-in

Bacik: 'I have received threats from the far-right'

Ivana Bacik says the Labour Party is ready for the next general election.

LABOUR LEADER IVANA BACIK has said she and other party members have received threats and intimidation from the far-right.

Speaking to reporters at the Labour parliamentary party think-in in Maynooth, Bacik said there are “worrying signs of far-right organising” in Ireland, and that her party is proud to “face down voices of hate and bigotry”.

She added: “The key thing is to ensure that far-right groups don’t get a foothold in our communities and the best way to fight them – and I’ve been doing it on the ground in my own area – is to speak with people to answer people’s concerns, to provide information, to bring people together.”

She was responding to a question on whether she believes fears over racism and xenophobia will be a factor in upcoming local and European elections.

“We’re trying to fight any sort of rise of racism and bigotry at any local and national level in any way we can, she said.

“But again, it is an issue at European level, and speaking with colleagues who are leaders of PES [Party of European Socialists] parties across Europe, they’re really worried about the gains the far-right have been making in other countries.

“We’ve seen it everywhere. We see it in Italy, we’ve seen it in Germany, and most recently we’re seeing it in Spain, we’re seeing it in Finland.

“The real worry is that there will be far-right representation, not only in the European Parliament at greater levels, but even among commissioners.

“That could really change the way in which European politics works, and we think it’s vitally important that we counter that through having a strong left social democratic and socialist voice at the European table for Ireland.”



Speaking about housing issues, Bacik said she found it “extraordinary” that some government TDs do not understand how the eviction ban works. 

In her speech at the party think-in, Bacik commented on a recent interview the Green Party’s housing spokesperson Noel Francis Duffy gave to The Journal in which he said reinstating the eviction ban would be akin to “a communist state”.

“It seems not all government TDs even understand their own eviction ban; And that some even think that the protection of renters is tantamount to Stalinism. Extraordinary,” Bacik said today.

In the latest installment of The Journal’s Policy Matters series, it was put to Duffy that reinstating the eviction ban, and keeping people in the accommodation they already have, would help reduce the growing homeless figures. 

He responded: “Well then it turns into a communist state, that’s what you are talking about. So we purchase everybody’s property, is it?”

The Journal presented him with the recent example of the tenants in Swords who are being evicted from their apartments by a company owned by a real estate group with €6bn in assets. 

Some of these tenants have resisted eviction and it was put to Duffy that they would not be in this position if the eviction ban was still in place. 

“Yeah. I think people in this country, as far as I know, have been evicted for generations. I know that’s a bit of a cliche. So are you saying if people don’t pay their rent, and all that kind of stuff, they should stay?,” Duffy said. 

His argument centred around the rights of landlords to evict someone if they were not paying their rent or if the landlord wanted to move a family member into the property. The Journal put it to him that these exemptions were in place under the eviction ban. 

He responded: “Well at the moment, there are provisions in place where you [a tenant] can buy the house. If you want to buy it there are mortgages available.”

Community Action Tenants Union (CATU) Fingal, who are representing the tenants in Swords, has also released a statement, stating that multiple families with children facing eviction in Swords have paid their rent in full and have done nothing wrong. 

Pledge to build one million homes 

Bacik in her party speech stood behind the pledge she made in March that Labour would provide one million homes over the next decade, if in government.

The government “scoffed” at the proposal, she said, but the Labour leader didn’t think her idea was funny at all.

“It’s five years since the Dáil declared a housing emergency. The time is now for the Government to start acting like it recognises this emergency.

“When the Dáil resumes, we in Labour will be pushing for the passage of our Renters Rights Bill – For an end to no-fault evictions and better protections for tenants and families in homelessness. For stronger measures to tackle vacancy and dereliction,” she said.

Bacik said Labour have a clear financial plan to provide 50,000 new builds per year and 50,000 refurbishments.

Boundary review

Following the publication of the new boundary constituencies, something that impacted one of their own TDs, Bacik said the “playing pitch for the next General Election” is now clear.

She told reporters today that her party is still busily looking over the boundary review.

“I’ve certainly lost in some areas in my own constituency so it’s certainly affecting many of us, who are already TDs and those who may wish to run in the general election. Like all parties, we’re still reflecting on boundary report,” she said.

Labour is ready for the next general election, whenever it may be, she added. 

“Next month, we will find out what the uncomfortable coalition has in store for the country in Budget 2024. The bad old days are back, it seems.

“Cynically throwing money around in an attempt to buy votes, without making the systemic and structural investment necessary for real change,” she said.

The Dublin Bay South TD hit out against the Green Party Children’s Minister Roderic O’Gorman and his promises of a 25% reduction in childcare costs as part of the government’s commitment to halving fees. 

“Last month, he confirmed that parents now can’t expect that reduction. This is very disappointing; but there is still time for the Government to make a positive U-turn on childcare,” she said.

“I challenge An Taoiseach to cap childcare fees at €200 per month, as we in Labour have proposed – the first step on the path to a universal public system of early years education and care. In a modern republic, there should be cradle-to-grave care for everyone,” said Bacik.

In terms of whether her party would supports cuts to the USC, Bacik told reporters that she believes in a fair and equitable system taxation. She said Labour believes in taxes on assets rather than tax on work. “We’d like to see government taking up that challenge,” she said.

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