We can’t make a mockery of being “…all in it together”, not if we want the continued support of the most important people – the workers. If we want to get through this pandemic, then we have to ensure that workers are looked after. Cuts to the wage subsidy scheme, leaving people on €203 a week is shameful. As is the ‘claw-back’ of various tax breaks that were helping people along. The Govt must insist that employers top-up workers wages – it’s not for luxury – it’s to help get through this rotten time.

That children with special needs can go back to school soon is to be welcomed. But it must be safe. That’s only fair to the children themselves, their families and the teachers and school staff, and their families. And in particular, safe for the special needs assistants (SNAs) who do heroic work, the nature of which often leaves them most exposed to catching the virus. Schools must appropriately equipped and managed to ensure optimum safety.

300 days of struggle. And the ‘best’ offer the Debenhams workers have received, is money to go back to school, to retrain. Many of these mostly women workers are in their 40’s 50’s and older. So what are they retraining for? The €3 million (between approx. 1200 of them!) would be better used if distributed among the workers who have been so shamefully let down. I spoke on this in Dáil.

I spoke today in support of a Bill proposed by Tommy Pringle TD, that would enshrine a host of rights connected to the UN Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights into our constitution. In typical fashion the Government has tried to kick it down the road for 18 months. The proposal would strengthen peoples legal rights to form trade unions and have access to decent and adequate public services such as the key one – HOUSING. This is what I said:

DEVELOPERS ARE DESTROYING OUR CITY. They were given the green light when building regulations were eased by FG, and previously by LP Ministers. The scale of it is staggering. Nineteen stories high – on the South Circular Road – US property group Hines’ plans for the scheme of 732 apartments – the equivalent of a small town. Almost 80 per cent of the apartments will be studios, one-bed apartments, or co-living rooms. None of the apartments will be available for sale, with 492 build-to-rent apartments planned, in addition to 240 co-living units. All for profit, not for solving the housing crisis. No wonder D8 is up in arms. I spoke in Dáil today about this.

Kennedy Wilson is a multi-billion dollar US property company who bought up property and land in Ireland after the financial crash. They did it through the government’s disastrous NAMA scheme, which allowed vulture funds and property speculators to buy land and properties like this one here at Clancy Barracks, which currently has over 190 apartments lying empty. Last night’s RTE Investigates program showed the harrowing experiences of people who are living on our streets – hundreds of people forced to sleep rough every night. We are calling on the government to CPO (compulsory purchase order) these properties immediately, as the Spanish state did in Barcelona. That way, we can house everybody who lives here, whether they’re from Carlow, or Tuam, whether they’re migrants or asylum seekers. There is enough space in this country for everyone to have a home. We need to kick out the vultures. No more profiting from the housing crisis.

SHOW LESS

There’s been an attempt by Norma Foley and the Department to pit parents of vulnerable children against teachers and SNA’s when the blame lies squarely at the feet of the govt. We all recognise the need for vulnerable children to access the services and the schooling that they need. But largely due to the failure of this government and previous FF/FG governments to adequately resource schools has led to this fiasco. Teachers and SNA’s have been fighting for better resources and services for years. Let’s hope this stance by teachers not to return to school until it is safe will finally make the government get their act together and provide schools with the funding and resources that they need – for the sake of the children and the teachers/SNA’s.