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People Before Profit host public meeting to plan campaign for more local authority housing on public and NAMA development sites in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, as housing and homelessness continues to spiral out of control.

housing-mtg-oct-2016Coveney Housing plan will not deliver urgently needed council housing, will cost the state a fortune, and will effectively privatise public land unless radically changed , says PBP TD.

Dun Laghaire-Rathdown is being “socially cleansed” as a result of the failure to provide council housing and the effective privatisation of the entire housing sector in the area.

Richard Boyd Barrett TD for the People Before Profit Alliance, along with local councillors, Melisa Halpin, Hugh Lewis and Dave O Keefe, will host a public meeting tonight, Monday Oct 24th at 8pm in the Royal Marine Hotel, Dun Laoghaire, to plan a campaign calling for a far higher proportion of local authority housing on public land and NAMA sites currently or soon to be developed in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown

The public meeting has been called against the background of the waiting list for council housing in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown now reaching 16 years or more and a dramatic rise in rents in the area. Rents in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown now among the highest in the entire country and are completely unaffordable for those on low and even middle incomes.

The meeting will specifically call for the current development on the former Dun Laoghaire Golf Club site, the soon to be developed Cherrywood Strategic development Zone (SDZ), and the former Shanganagh Prison site to have a far higher proportion of local authority housing than is currently envisaged under the Coveney, Rebuilding Ireland plan.

According to People Before Profit, unless current plans are radically changed, these large development sites, which have the potential to solve the social and affordable housing crisis in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, will deliver a “pathetically small number of council houses and ensure the crisis continues and worsens across the entire county.”

Deputy Boyd Barrett said a process of “social cleansing is already well underway in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, with less well-off younger families and individuals, being driven out of the area by the totally unaffordable cost of accommodation and the disastrous lack of local authority housing stock.”

Deputy Boyd Barrett said, This process of social cleansing in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown will accelerate over the coming number of years because of the catastrophic failure to provide council housing and the utterly unaffordable level of private rents in the area.” 

Deputy Boyd Barrett concluded:  “The Convey plan simply will not work to solve the country’s dire housing and homelessness emergency because it depends utterly on the private market to deliver the majority of the hoped for social housing through HAP’s, RAS, Leasing and Public private partnership schemes. 

If this is true in the country at large, it’s doubly and trebly true in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown because rents and house prices are multiples of what they are in most other parts of the country.  

All Coveney’s plans are based on sourcing social and affordable housing from private developers at a discount on the market price, but the market price of rents and purchasing in this area are so far out in the stratosphere, that even at a discount, it will still be totally unaffordable.  

Against this background, the plan, under Rebuilding Ireland, to allow private developers to dominate the development of these three large sites at Dun Laoghaire Golf Club, Cherrywood and Shanganagh is total insanity. 

The level of human misery and suffering being experienced by families and children from low income households in this area is simply unbearable. People think because some wealthy people live in this area that somehow everybody is better off. In reality, for those on social welfare or low wages, it is actually much worse to be without housing here because the cost of accommodation is so much higher. You don’t get higher social welfare or a higher minimum wage because you’re from Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown. The consequence is that families and communities, that have lived here for generations and who’s children go to school here, are being ripped apart and driven out of the area. 

We are determined to fight the social cleansing of our area and demand that more of these development sites are used for actual local authority housing, rather than being handed over to private developers.” 

keeganCllr. Andrew Keegan, People Before Profit, has launched a campaign to stop the sale of the Dame Street Plaza to private interests.

Cllr Keegan will be putting forward an emergency motion on the sale of this land at the next Dublin Council Meeting council meeting and has asked DCC management for an update on their position of the sale.

In a statement, Cllr Keegan said: “I am opposed to this sale for a number of reasons:  It privatises a public space that is used for gatherings of civil society and removes an iconic building from the public portfolio.

“Control of a public space will end up in private hands, more than likely a foreign fund company and this could lead to the public square being fenced off or built on.

“To date Dublin City Council has had no contact with Central Bank of Ireland. Most Dublin City Councillors are unaware of the potential loss of this public Space, just a few hundred meters from City Hall.

“Ironically the art work on the Plaza, the Crann an Oir by Eamonn O’Doherty is public art and it is intended to remain on the plaza which is to be privatised. What will its status be after the sale?

“At the moment, the CBOI is putting its main focus on market value and only vaguely recognises the public interest.”

The official website of the CBOI states : ‘The property belongs to CBOI  and is committed to achieving full market value for the Dame Street premises while recognising the public interest in the process.’’ CBOI official website.

Cllr Keegan, however argued that there is no public interest in selling off these buildings and Plaza and any public assets on the cheap.

· Once these public buildings are sold there is only monetary return for the state.

·  The building is old and should be refurbished and rented by the Bank for the State.

·  The people who bailed out the banking system, and so far has got no return in doing so should be consulted, on this sale regardless whether CBOI sees itself as independent or not.

·   To think those who caused the banking crisis benefited from the purchase of state property on the cheap.

2,159 women have been forced to travel to access abortion services since the government was elected

Precedent set for government parties to hold different positions – in 1983 to introduce 8th Amendment – Labour Tanaiste voted against Fine Gael Taoiseach

repeal-8Campaigners from AAA-PBP, the Abortion Rights Campaign, National Women’s Council,  Coalition to Repeal the 8th, USI, People Before Profit-Pro Choice, ROSA, USI and Doctors for Choice gathered at the Dail today in support of the AAA-PBP Repeal Bill which is due to be debated tomorrow.

The campaigners highlighted that since the government came to power 2,159 have been forced to travel abroad to access abortion services or have ordered abortion pills online. This is based on 9.45 women per day travelling to the UK, 0.032 women a day in Dutch clinics, and 3 women a day using abortion pills.

They called on the Independent Alliance not to allow Fine Gael to block a vote on the AAA-PBP Bill through the use of a technical counter motion.

Ruth Coppinger TD said “In light of Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran’s interview on Sean O’Rourke this morning, it seems as if Fine Gael is still trying to put pressure on the Independent Alliance to vote against the AAA-PBP Bill.

“They should maintain their principles and vote for it like they did 18 months ago. There is precedence for two parties in government to hold different positions on issues. In fact, 33 years ago when the 8th Amendment was introduced to the Dail by a Fine Gael/Labour government, the Labour Party had a free vote on it. This saw the Labour Tanaiste vote against the Fine Gael Taoiseach.

“Neither should they let Simon Harris implement his plan to block the AAA-PBP motion using a technical motion on standing orders.

 “Under Standing Order 148 the government can try to delay the Bill from proceeding through the Dail, or under subsection 2, before the Bill goes to a vote they can say that they’re not accepting it for a variety of reasons such as the existence of the Citizen’s Assembly, and refuse to vote on it. Women have waited 33 years already, they shouldn’t be forced to wait any longer.”

Brid Smith said: “Over 2000 women have been forced abroad or had to access abortion pills since this Government came into office. The Citizens’ Assembly will just mean more delays and more suffering for woman.

“This bill is a chance to right the wrongs that woman have suffered since the amendment was introduced in the 80s. It’s a chance to draw a line under the Ireland that forced woman abroad, that saw woman die and that refused to grant them bodily autonomy.

“Every opinion poll shows a majority in favour of repealing the 8th amendment. We can win a referendum.

“A new generation of woman have made it clear they will not accept the status quo. Ireland needs to change with them.”

Solidarity to the young man concerned and Jobstown community

TD urges people to attend demonstration on Saturday

Brid-Smith-2a-241x300In a statement, People Before Profit TD, Bríd Smith, has described the legal action taken against the 17 year old Jobstown protester as “an outrageous show trial and an attack on democracy and the right to protest.”

Deputy Smith also called for people to attend the ‘Jobstown not Guilty’ protest tomorrow at the Central Bank at 1pm.

Bríd Smith said: “The last two years of this young mans’ life have been made miserable because he decided to take a stand and protest against unjust and unfair water charges. This is a very dangerous precedent that has been set today. What we have seen is political policing and the cracking down on the legitimate right to protest.

“I would like to extend People Before Profit’s solidarity to the young man concerned and to the Jobstown community.

“Furthermore I am calling for people to mobilise at the central bank tomorrow at 1pm to protest against this rotten legal action which should have been totally dropped.”

pbpEnd Ireland’s status as a tax haven and break out of fiscal space straitjacket

Tackle inequality –  use Corporation Tax, Millionaire’s Tax, Debt Repudiation to fund public investment

Transform society – Tackle Housing crisis with 50,000 homes, Develop National Childcare System, Invest in Irish NHS

Richard Boyd Barrett TD said:

“The Apple Tax scandal and the wider scandal of a whole series of corporate tax loop-holes benefiting big corporations and vulture funds have all served to expose Ireland as nothing more than the European off-shore tax haven. This dysfunctional economic model has grossly distorted our growth figures and taken alongside the straight-jacket of debt and EU fiscal rules has ensured that the majority of our citizens take all the pain of recession and get none of the gain when there is growth.

“Over the last five years, the share of gross income going to the top 10% of earners increased from 34% to 39% and roughly half of the increase in total income (€21 billion) also went to this group. In terms of disposable income the richest 10% of households received 24%, whereas the bottom 10% received just 3%. In terms of wealth, the growing gap between the majority and a small elite is even starker. Since the 1980’s the top 10% have increased their share of wealth from 42% to 54%, leaving just five per cent for the bottom 50% of the population. Over the last 20 years the share of the national economic cake going to wages has dropped by about 20 per cent, while corporate profits have soared.

“The basic economic model of the Irish establishment has been to attract foreign direct investment by holding down wages and public spending and allowing an elite of corporations to pay little or no tax.  Within the EU, Ireland relied heavily on London to block any moves against multinational tax evasion. In the aftermath of Brexit, with the noose being tightened around corporate evasion and a very troubled global economy, this is a totally unsustainable economic model.  The situation is further worsened by the crippling effects of odious debt and annual interest payments of 6-7 billion euro, and fiscal rules that prevent us from spending money we actually have. Our budget statement proposes a radical change direction, to break from the tax haven model and the straight-jacket of debt and fiscal space.

“We are proposing a radical €24 billion programme of public investment in infrastructure, strategic enterprise and public services, that will create tens of thousands of jobs in public housing construction, developing a national health service, a national childcare service, renewable energy, renewing our water infrastructure, properly resourcing education, the arts, public transport and other areas . Tinkering around the edges of fiscal space cannot achieve the sort of change and investment that is needed to have an equitable and sustainable economic model. However, a bold change in policy where wealth and profit are taxed fairly can finance the social and economic transformation needed to make this happen.”

Read the alternative budget here:

People Before Profit TD, Bríd Smith, clashed with Minister Mary Mitchel O’Connor at a meeting of the Jobs and Enterprise Joint Committee on Thursday.

Deputy Smith rounded on the proposed 10 cent per hour increase in the minimum wage proposed by the Low Pay Commission calling it “embarrassing” and an “insult”. She also told the Minister that the area’s most given to low pay, such as retail and hospitality had experienced large increases in profitability and turnover in recent years, as highlighted by a minority report of the Low Pay Commission.

The minister was also asked to explain why the IDA was supporting companies such as Uber who have a record of usurping labour laws and worker’s rights across the globe. The Taxi App company are embroiled in court cases in a number of countries over their insistence that workers are not employees of their companies but “service suppliers”. As such the company is not bound by minimum wage rights or other labour laws.

Deputy Smith told Minister O’Connor that it was a disgrace that the state should in any way support a company renowned for trying to bypass workers’ rights legislation. She also questioned why the IDA was also providing support for other so called ”client” firms such a Coke Cola, Amazon and Credit Suisse and requested a detailed breakdown of what support the IDA was providing to these.

The AAA-PBP Strategy Meeting took place at the Hilton Hotel, Kilmainham – Friday 23rdSeptember.

The grand coalition of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and independents will walk back into the Dáil next week under fire from a huge section of Irish society. Having gone to bat to defend outrageous tax evasion by Apple and other multi national companies, this government is more discredited than ever.

This is a viciously pro big business government but it is also a weak and ineffective one. Despite their best efforts to implement water charges, they failed – likewise they failed on green bin charges and have been knocked back on other issues. We now see the growing resolve of transport worker’s for pay justice and growing confidence among other worker’s for pay restoration. Despite the charade of a citizens assembly they face the growth of a hugely popular movement by women and young people for social change and Repeal of the 8th. These battles represent just the tip of the iceberg in terms of a growing challenge to this Government.

Workers, women and those looking for change will find fuel in the international growth of radical left alternatives represented by the movement around Jeremy Corbyn in Britain, Stein and Sanders in the US and similar political movements in Europe.

Ireland will not be exempt from this phenomena and among the parties and groups in the Dáil AAA-PBP clearly reflects this more than any other grouping. AAA/PBP will continue to challenge the neo liberal agenda and rule of the 1and we look forward to the further growth of the left during this Dáil session.

At the meeting AAA / PBP TD’s and activists discussed and focussed on the following;

  • Support for the Dublin Bus & other transport workers in dispute along with other workers struggles and the need to address low pay
  • Repeal and 8thand a woman’s right to choose along with the need for separation of church and state.
  • Irelands low tax regime for the rich and corporate sector and growing economic inequality
  • The housing crisis and the need for a major local authority house building programme
  • The building of a radical left alternative to this government and the bankrupt policies of neo-liberalism, privatisation and capitalism

TD slams stealth cuts to medical card

In a statement today Brid Smith, People Before Profit TD, is calling on the Government to immediately re-instate all drugs that have been removed from the GMS Medical Card scheme since 2014

medical_card“The Government’s proposed reduction in the Autumn Budget of the threshold in the Medical Card is pointless while they are systematically removing the availability of key drugs from the Medical Card List.” according to Deputy Smith.

One example of a drug recently removed is Macushield which prevents the growth of brown spots within the eye, a consequence of Type 2 Diabetes which affects a huge cohort of pensioners.

The additional cost to an individual will amount to almost €1,000 per year for the patient with Type 2 Diabetes. This will be an enormous burden on a very vulnerable section of the population.

In 2008 when the Fianna Fail/Green Government attempted to remove the Medical Card from Pensioners, there was a national revolt of the Grey Voters against the move and the Government were forced to retreat following protests of tens of thousands of pensioners.

This Government and their predecessor are removing the value of the GMS Medical Card Scheme by stealth.

Deputy Brid Smith has stated: “This is an outrageous attack on those dependent on the Medical Card. We have to establish how many drugs are and have been removed and how many people will be affected by these moves.

“I have asked the Minister to clarify the number and names of drugs removed and the number of people who will be effected by this. 

“In one case brought to my attention an individual pensioner will have to pay out €82 per month from their OAP allowance. This is unconscionable and must be stopped. I call upon the Minister Simon Harris to reinstate the drugs removed from the scheme.”

Brid-Smith-2a-241x300People Before Profit TD, Bríd Smith, accused the Government and Minister Dennis Naughton of dangerous inaction after recent revelations over the safety of the Sellafield nuclear facility. Deputy Smith said the Minister’s statement that they are seeking a meeting of the “UK-Ireland Contact Group on Radiological Matters” was farcical considering the seriousness of the recent revelations.
Deputy Smith said that recent revelations highlighted by a wistleblower on the BBC’s Panorama program, only confirmed longstanding fears from campaigners about the site. “There is a long history of scares, radioactive leaks, near misses and unsafe practices at this site. The recent revelations confirm the British Government’s own National Audit Office complaint from 2012 about the management of 50 year old storage ponds. We were told then it was being sorted just as we are being reassured now. The Government’s attitude is incomprehensible considering the potential disaster that awaits if a fire or accident were to happen.”
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