Speech by Ivana Bacik at Dublin Bay South selection convention
17 May 2021
Comrades and Friends
It is an honour to have been selected as your candidate – our candidate – to contest the forthcoming bye-election here in Dublin Bay South.
First I would like to thank Kevin Humphreys and Chloe Manahan for proposing and seconding me and for their kind speeches; to Ruairi Quinn who can’t be here tonight but is hugely supportive; to the three great councillors for this constituency, Mary Freehill, Dermot Lacey and Kevin Donoghue; and to the many other members who also proposed me. I am very grateful to you all.
I am really proud to be a candidate here on my home ground. My family home is here in Terenure where my mother still lives, I went to school and college in the constituency, following graduation I lived in Ringsend and the south inner city - and for many years now have lived with my own family in Portobello;.
And I have been a Labour member in this constituency for many years – I first joined what was then Dublin South East as a student through Trinity Labour - I want to give particular thanks to all the comrades in Trinity Labour who have already been busy on my behalf stuffing envelopes – in the best tradition!
I’ve canvassed for Ruairi Quinn, for Kevin Humphreys and for our local election candidates over many years since then; so I’m really proud now to be selected as the candidate. I am committed to working as hard as I can in this forthcoming campaign to ensure Dublin Bay South returns a progressive, campaigning Labour TD
In fact we are already out of the traps, before any other candidate; we have hit the ground running over the last two and a half weeks since the bye-election was called. I’ve already been canvassing with our council team Mary, Dermot and Kevin.
We have a fantastic campaign team in place, led by my campaign manager Dermot Ryan – also known to many of you as our constituency treasurer, and of course the dynamo that is Chloe Manahan is co-ordinating the campaign. The Constituency Executive, led by our chairperson Dr Mark Murphy, has been re-constituted as our election campaign committee - and we are thrilled to have my great friend and colleague Deputy Duncan Smith as our Director of Elections.
We now have an outstanding team already in place and a united party organisation behind us. Aided by many supporters and friends we have already started work.
Of course we are conscious that this campaign is taking place during an unprecedented global health crisis which has caused untold heartbreak and suffering to so many. Being mindful of Covid restrictions, we have been working entirely within the public health guidelines.
However, politics matters.
We should never shy away from campaigning.
This Government is failing.
It has no common purpose.
It’s leaders’ squabble for party advantage
When what’s needed is common purpose.
And never is this more evident than in relation to housing.
Government policy is a shambles.
Entirely lacking in vision.
It is driven by vested interests – an ideological ‘Galway Tent’
And it is failing.
Its failing people like my friend Chloe and her generation.
Its failing families haunted by rent increases and insecure tenure.
Its failing people without a home erecting tents on the Grand Canal
There is no one who believes its half-hearted schemes will make a difference.
In the last year we have seen what the State can do.
We have moved mountains.
We have legislated, invested, innovated to beat a pandemic.
We need the same urgency and purpose to tackle our housing crisis.
We have a public emergency that demands a Government response.
This by-election presents an opportunity to let Fianna Fail and Fine Gael know that.
To shake them out of their complacency.
and to ensure that our citizens can access secure, affordable housing.
Rather than being cast upon the private ponzi scheme that passes for policy these days.
During the pandemic, our communities have responded to an unprecedented crisis with compassion and solidarity, grateful for the enormous contribution of front-line workers.
We can’t lose this momentum. Like all of us, I care about how we can re-build our community, and Irish society more broadly, as we come through this pandemic.
Alongside our economic recovery, we must also ensure a social recovery with real progress on building sustainable communities. We need to focus public spending on vastly increased provision of affordable housing; on decent healthcare, childcare and social care, on investment in education, on public amenities and on tackling climate change.
In this constituency, care is a huge issue – so many people that I have met over the last few weeks and months have spoken with me about their difficulties in accessing quality affordable childcare; about their concerns for older relatives and lack of care options; and about the appalling lack of places for children with additional needs in local schools.
I have led the development of a national childcare policy for Labour; and have been working with parents of children with additional needs to secure increased provision of school places
I’ve pioneered the idea of a ‘Catch up for Children’ scheme to give extra support to children who have missed out on so much through prolonged school closures over the past year. And I have called for the launch of a ‘New Fair Deal’ scheme to provide older people with the choice of securing financial assistance to remain in their own homes, and among their neighbours, instead of focusing all the state funding supports on institutional or nursing home care. This is about enabling people to remain independent, it’s about giving choice in care options for us all.
As a candidate, these will be my priorities in the forthcoming by-election. And I will be standing on my own record. I am very grateful to the graduates of Trinity who have elected me to serve as their Senator on four successive occasions. During my time as an elected Senator for Dublin University, I have sought to provide a principled and progressive voice in the Seanad - and have brought about real change. I have had more bills passed into law than any other Senator and have successfully introduced legal reform on issues such as freelance workers’ conditions, women’s health rights, a more secular society and LGBT equality.
I have been proud to play a prominent role locally and nationally all in the significant campaigns in recent years, on marriage equality and on women’s abortion rights.
And I want to continue to campaign for the significant changes that we still need to see in Ireland; for a more secular and pluralist society, a true republic in which state and church are separated and in which provision of decent public services through redistributive tax principles builds a fairer city, and a fairer society.
I want us to come through this global health crisis stronger and better as a society; with enhanced social solidarity and sense of community. But also with tangible change; this is the time for us, as socialists and social democrats, to make the case for public services, for a social state, for civic supports in Dublin for example that will enable the villages across the city to flourish.
As Nye Bevan famously said in the House of Commons , after WWII when he introduced the NHS; ‘we ought to take pride in the fact that, despite our financial and economic anxieties, we are still able to do the most civilised thing in the world – put the welfare of the sick in front of every other consideration.’ And so the British Labour Party in the immediate post-war period built a national health service and welfare system to provide support ‘from cradle to grave’. That’s the vision that we in Labour are now putting forward for Irish society as we come through this awful crisis. I would like to play a part in making that vision a reality and that’s why I am honoured to be your candidate.
Go raibh maith agaibh go léir.