Bacik rejects ‘Punch and Judy’ politics of Dublin Bay South byelection

Labour Senator officially launches campaign to take seat vacated by Eoghan Murphy

 Labour Senator Ivana Bacik launches her Dublin Bay South byelection campaing on  Wilton Terrace in Dublin. Photograph:  Nick Bradshaw

Labour Senator Ivana Bacik launches her Dublin Bay South byelection campaing on Wilton Terrace in Dublin. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

A “Punch and Judy” politics that paints the Dublin Bay South byelection as a race between Sinn Féin and Fine Gael is “disrespectful” to voters in the constituency, Labour’s candidate has said.

Senator Ivan Bacik, who officially launched her campaign on Wednesday, said the byelection - prompted by the resignation of former minister for housing Eoghan Murphy - is a “very serious election for the people of Dublin Bay South and beyond”.

Both Ms Bacik and her party leader, Alan Kelly, said there would be an effort to paint the election as a contest between two extremes. “It’s simply disrespectful to voters to paint it as an either/or contest between a sort of Punch and Judy alternative,” Ms Bacik said.

She said her campaign would be focused on housing, a new model of care for children and older people, climate and investment in utilities and infrastructure.

Mr Kelly admitted that the contest was an early test of his leadership after he was elected to head up the party in 2019.

“Look, all elections are tests. So, yes,” he said.

Ms Bacik said housing issues in the constituency were characterised by a “lack of supply and unaffordable rents, lack of security of tenure for tenants” and that Labour is pushing for “an alternative vision, a public vision, a vision that’s based on social democratic principles”, including a rent freeze for three years.

A new model for high quality childcare and also one that would allow older people to remain in their homes rather than go to institutions would be priorities, Ms Bacik said. “For too long, Irish governments relied on institutional care and congregated settings, we need to move away from that.”

She said investment in Dublin Bay - speaking as “one of those annoying sea swimmers who swam all through the winter in Dublin Bay” - was another goal, as well as public realm and cycling infrastructure improvements.

Labour will be looking to regain the seat held by Ruairi Quinn in the constituency for 30 years, she said, as well as capitalise on strong progressive votes for marriage equality and the repeal of the Eighth amendment in the constituency in recent years.

Asked if she believed wealthier people in the constituency should pay more tax, she said Labour had “always been very clear” about their tax policies and “that’s something people know when they come to vote for Labour”.

She said a fair taxation system was needed to fund public services, but did not answer directly if this meant wealthier citizens should pay more tax.