Social Democrats ‘very anxious’ to be in government

Party demands ‘use it or lose it’ policy on hoarded housing land

The Social Democrats’  ‘think-in’ in Dublin was hosted by co-leaders Catherine Murphy and Róisín Shortall. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

The Social Democrats’ ‘think-in’ in Dublin was hosted by co-leaders Catherine Murphy and Róisín Shortall. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

The Social Democrats want to be in government and are not ruling any party in or out as coalition partners, co-leader Róisín Shortall has said.

Speaking at her party’s think-in in Dublin, Ms Shortall said they were “very anxious” to go into government with like-minded parties because they wanted to see social democratic policies implemented.

“We want to be in Government. We want to be working with other parties in order to change the direction of this country. So we’re not in the business of ruling people in or ruling people out,” she said.

“The electorate will decide the make-up of the next Dáil and on the basis of that we will take a decision about what is in the people’s interest and how it is we can best implement social democratic policies.”

Ms Shortall said the housing crisis represented the Government’s “biggest failing”. She said speculators were dictating housing policy and Government needed to challenge widespread land hoarding.

“We need to operate a policy of ‘use it or lose it’ when it comes to housing land. Government often hides behind the thing of the constitutional provision which would, they claim, give precedent to private property rights over the public good,” she said.

“That either has to be challenged in the Courts or we change it in the constitution. We can’t tolerate a situation where speculators are dictating housing policy in this country.”

Co-leader Catherine Murphy said the think-in was focusing on people in their twenties and thirties, members of what she described as a “locked out generation”.

She said some young couples were delaying having families because they were not financially secure and then finding they were experiencing fertility problems.

The world of work was changing beyond recognition, she added.

Ms Murphy called for a “war” on homelessness, given the growing numbers of children without a home.

“It can’t be business as usual. It has to be a war office-type approach to the area of homelessness.”

The party now has six Councillors along with it two TDs, Ms Murphy and Ms Shortall. The three Councillors who have joined the Social Democrats in recent times were welcomed to the think in: Joe Harris (Cork County), Dermot Looney (South Dublin) and Paul Mulville (Fingal).

The other Councillors are Gary Gannon (Dublin City), Jennifer Whitmore (Wicklow) and Cian O’Callaghan (Fingal).

The party has recently acquired a headquarters on Molesworth Street in Dublin.

Guest speaker Dr Lorcan Sirr from Dublin Institute of Technology said his message to the think in was that there would be “choppy waters ahead” in the housing market.

“There’s going to be significant challenges in accessing home ownership particularly for the under-35s, but you can even add 10 years on to that. And of course that has implications down the line because our whole system is set up that your mortgage is paid off when you’re 66 and you can live on the State pension. Right now it looks like there’s going to be a large cohort of people who will be either living in long-term rental accommodation or their debt won’t be paid off by the time they reach 66.”