Date Released: 27 June 2016
Congress General Secretary Patricia King today (June 27) called for greater levels of investment to tackle the housing emergency and deliver high quality public services, at the National Economic Dialogue in Dublin Castle.
She said: "Ireland is one of the richest countries in the world, yet somehow we are unable to house our people. We now have a housing emergency, and this should be a matter of great shame.
"The market has failed and the state needs to step in immediately and accelerate construction with a substantial increase in the capital budget for 2017.
"This is not a matter of policy choice - it is an absolute necessity, requiring rapid delivery for all those affected."
Addressing the recent UK vote on exiting the EU, King said: "It is our view that the triumph of the ‘Leave campaign’ is as a direct consequence of the persistent pursuit of austerity policies and the erosion of social progress which alienated workers across the continent.
‘Social Europe’ was sacrificed to save ‘Financial Europe’ and there has been a resultant loss of confidence in the entire European Project.
"EU authorities need to grasp this reality and urgently develop a programme of substantial public investment together with a suite of measures to secure workers’ rights and decent jobs.”
Addressing the underinvestment in public services and infrastructure, she pointed out that:
"Congress believes that this country’s first priority must be investment in our public service infrastructure ,through a progressive taxation system, with sufficient resources targeted to support the delivery of quality public services.
"Notwithstanding last Friday’s outcome, the proposed increase of current and capital spending by just 2% for 2017 is wholly inadequate, in our view.
"The investment target should be at least 4% which is achievable given current economic growth levels. As has been the case in other countries, our Government needs to persuade the EU to stretch the current fiscal rules in order to achieve this.
"Over the last 8 years working people have paid a huge price for a crisis they did not create. While, undoubtedly, our economy has experienced strong growth recently, our society is deeply fractured and unequal.
"Our broken Health Service will only be fixed by moving to a universally accessible single-tier public system, funded to a minimum of 10% of GDP on a sustained and continuous basis.
"Investment in an accessible, inclusive Education System is a prerequisite for an equal society and thriving economy.
King also said policy failures Childcare had to be tackled: "Policy failure in Childcare can be remedied by raising investment to European levels. The very high cost of Childcare in this country is a major barrier to labour market entry and significantly contributes to the loss of high quality skills, experience and knowledge within the workforce.
"Equally the poor working conditions in the sector must be addressed. While there is little or no reference to this issue in the Summer Economic Statement, not to invest is a false economy.
"Low pay and precarious work define the labour market for too many, especially young workers. The Living Wage must be the ‘floor’ for pay across the economy. Low hour and precarious work practices outlawed.
"The Pension Crisis requires the creation of a National Superannuation Fund, with contributions from workers, employers and government.
"In our view the pursuit of these policy choices would at least begin to address the social fractures and inequalities so evident in our society today," she concluded.