1 June 2015 Edition
Platform for Renewal wants your input
Right2Water campaign outlines core principles for a progressive Irish government
‘On Saturday 13 June, the Right2Water unions will host a second conference to determine a policy platform ahead of the next general election. Let us know what your priorities are for the future of our country’
DRAFT ‘Policy Principles for a Progressive Irish Government’ were launched on May Day by the trade unions, political parties and NGOs involved in the Right2Water (R2W) campaign to begin a discussion about “what type of society we want to live in”.
The initial discussion paper (which can be read at right2water.ie under “Submissions” as well as union websites) says:
“For too long now the people of Ireland have served the needs of the economy instead of the economy serving the needs of the people.
“We want to develop this discussion further and so we are seeking your input.
“On Saturday 13 June, the Right2Water unions will host a second conference to determine a policy platform ahead of the next general election.
“Alternatively, send your submission to: Right2Water, O’Lehane House, 9 Cavendish Row, Dublin 1.”
The document was welcomed by many across the Left, including Sinn Féin who described it as an “exciting initiative”.
It includes core principles in a number of areas which would be addressed by an incoming Left government as a matter of urgency. The first topic is a call for the enshrining of the right to water as a human right in the Constitution and an end to the installation of water meters. The document also calls for the scrapping of Irish Water plc and its replacedment by a single national water and sanitation board.
A proposed Decent Work Act would be enacted to eliminate precarious employment, the right to collective bargaining introduced, and a gradual move towards the bringing in a Living Wage.
The Platform for Renewal also says that Ireland’s social protection system is in need of reform to bring it into line with European norms by introducing pay-related benefits and stronger family supports in areas such as childcare.
On the issue of housing, the document says the right of people to decent housing and the obligation of the state to provide that housing should be enshrined in the Constitution
It says ending homelessness should be the very first priority followed by the clearing of social housing waiting lists. The issue of extortionate rental prices must also be tackled by the introduction of rent-controls in the short term.
On the issue of health, the document argues for a universal healthcare system free at the point of entry which provides the highest possible standard of care to all citizens.
The issue of education is another area which R2W believes needs a massive shake-up. Classroom overcrowding needs to be tackled by moves to reduce the ratio of students to teachers from one of the highest in the EU to one of the lowest. Special Needs Assistants should be restored and increased on the basis that this should be seen as an investment in the futures of our most vulnerable schoolchildren.
R2W wants a progressive Irish government to deal with democratic reform with various proposals ranging from the ability of citizens to recall TDs, relaxing of the whip system, strengthening of committees and local and regional Government and breathalysing TDs and senators before all votes in the Oireachtas!
• The five trade unions affiliated to Right2Water are Unite, Mandate, CPSU, CWU and OPATSI.