Bailout exit a ‘fine opportunity’ for Labour, says youth wing

Party should ‘increase pressure’ for implementation of social policies

Members of Labour Youth launching their ‘Beyond the Bailout’ campaign today.

Members of Labour Youth launching their ‘Beyond the Bailout’ campaign today.

Fri, Dec 13, 2013, 16:42

Ireland’s exit from the bailout is a “fine opportunity” for Labour to increase pressure in Government for the implementation of its social renewal policies, according to the party’s youth wing.

“We need to remember that Fine Gael didn’t win an overall majority and that Fine Gael needs Labour in Government,” said Labour Youth chairman Ciarán Garrett.

He was speaking outside Leinster House at the launch of the youth wing’s campaign to lobby its own party to “ensure that post-bailout Ireland is about Labour’s policies to foster social renewal and not more Fine Gael austerity”.

It was time for the party in Government to get key commitments such as collective bargaining and a proper, progressive wealth tax implemented, he said.

The bailout “really does present us with that opportunity as the troika leave and the Government has more flexibility on economic matters.”

The Beyond the Bailout Campaign has four key elements: implementation of collective bargaining and of a wealth tax; ending of zero hour contracts; and introduction of a living wage.

Mr Garrett said the party passed motions from Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton at its recent annual conference on the abolition of zero-hour contracts and the introduction of a living wage.

Labour Youth supports implementation of a 0.6 per cent wealth tax on individual income above €1million. Mr Garrett said a report by the Nevin Economic Institute showed that 0.6 per cent, “a very small wealth tax”, would generate €150 million.

The youth wing is “completely opposed” to Minister for Finance Michael Noonan’s suggestion of tax cuts . Public spending is already below the euro zone average, Mr Garrett said.

The 0.6 per cent wealth tax was the “easiest possible” type of such tax to implement and “one that’s quite hard for Fine Gael to turn down because it’s quite a small figure”.

“It’s a sizeable amount of money for a very small percentage and such revenue could have avoided cuts to social welfare in the budget, which were €36 million and it could have also have avoided cuts to the pensioners telephone allowance.”

Mr Garrett, a UCD politics and sociology student, pointed to signals from party leader and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore, that the political strategy post bailout “is about making economic recovery feel a reality for ordinary families across the country and about getting more Labour policies implemented by the Government”.

The youth wing’s lobbying campaign wants to make sure that happens. Labour Youth has 1,200 members.

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