Social Democrats zero in on housing, health and transport
Party targeting the ‘bread and butter issues which are really hampering people’s lives’
Social Democrats launch their election campaign. Co-leaders Róisín Shortall and Catherine Murphy with candidate Gary Gannon. Photograph Nick Bradshaw for The Irish Times
At the launch of their general election campaign the Social Democrats emphasised their commitment to delivering on core issues: housing, health and public transport.
Party co-leaders Róisín Shortall and Catherine Murphy were joined by candidate and Dublin city Cllr Gary Gannon to launch the campaign near the former Magdalene laundry on Seán McDermott Street in Dublin on Thursday.
The Social Democrats are running 20 candidates in the election and hope to win between five and eight seats.
The co-leaders said they would not rule out working with any party after the vote so long as they are able to influence the direction of government.
“We are interested in participating in government, as all politicians are. We will speak to all parties and all politicians,” said Ms Shortall. “We have very strong policies that we want to see implemented. However we have made it very clear – this is not about participating in government for the sake of it.”
The party’s representatives said their campaign will focus on four pivotal issues and seek to solve them through practical solutions.
“We’ve got to stop paying lip service and we’ve got to actually deliver on things like Sláintecare, social and affordable housing ... and we need public transport that stops the traffic chaos,” said Ms Murphy.
“We’re looking for more flexible [hours], a right to flexible time, so that people have time to care for their children ... older people in their family, have time to care for people in their family with disabilities; and [also that] they’ve time to care for themselves.”
Ms Murphy said the Social Democrats believe establishing an anti-corruption agency is important. The co-leader also noted the necessity of a pay-as-you-save scheme in relation to insulation of homes.
What about the homeless?
On the contentious issue of housing Ms Shortall said homelessness is the “sharp end” of the crisis and that using public land is the best way to resolve it.
“It’s the job of government to ensure there is an adequate supply of affordable housing for all people, including renters and people who are prepared to purchase their own home. That has been the biggest failing of this government,” she said. “We have ... public land [and] should be building affordable housing and social housing on that land.”
Cllr Gannon said the party is targeting “bread and butter issues which are really hampering people’s lives”.
He added: “I’ve been canvassing around for the last six years, and particularly for the last year. And during this campaign a lot of the policies that are coming up on doors, in frustration, are about family. They’re about people being unable to access childcare, care for people when they’re older and disability care.
“The solutions are simple. The Social Democrats have them, it’s in social democracy; it’s in building for the future.”