Housing crisis is civil rights issue of this generation, Labour leader Ivana Bacik tells party conference

Bacik says Labour would transform Land Development Agency into State construction company to build homes

The housing crisis is the civil rights issue of this generation, Labour leader Ivana Bacik has told her party’s annual conference as she pledged that a government with Labour in it would transform the Land Development Agency into a State construction company to build homes.

She said her party would protect renters by reinstating a ban on no fault evictions, provide dedicated housing for older people and people with disabilities and introduce a new fair deal scheme to support older people to remain living at home. “And we commit to recognise the true value of care work through decent pay and conditions for carers.”

Stressing that building homes would be the party’s number one priority in government she reiterated Labour’s pledge of one million homes over a decade with 50,000 new builds and 50,000 retrofits a year.

In her leader’s address to some 600 delegates at the Helix in DCU, Ms Bacik insisted that “we will never solve the supply and affordability crisis with subsidies to developers. It’s time for stronger State action”.


She said to applause that “people want radical change, not cosmetic change”.

On health she pledged to “complete the roll-out of free GP care that we started, lift the HSE recruitment embargo, and reverse the privatisation of healthcare”.

Labour would legislate for assisted dying, would implement its policy of community model of policing with more gardaí on the streets.

Her party would provide a “truly free” education system with separation of Church and State and school places for all children. In planning for a united Ireland, a Labour government would have a “dedicated Department to undertake the necessary detailed work of reconciliation, integration, and unity planning”.

It would introduce a new bill of disability rights and would “ensure social protection payments are automatically increased in line with inflation”.

Labour would “end Direct Provision and deliver a fair and effective policy on migration” in contrast to the Government whose treatment of refugees left them “out in the cold, while vacant buildings lie empty”.

In a speech laced with references to the need for more State involvement, she claimed “the Government has made a pyramid scheme of our basic needs. They are giving people a trickle of their taxes back to pay for non-existent services they should have provided in the first place.”

The problem, she said is “we have government parties which do not believe in the power of the State; Ministers who are out of touch, have lost control, or have left their jobs. “Focused on internal leadership contests, they want to do anything but govern.”

In a conference overshadowed by the Fine Gael leadership change the party’s seven TDs aimed to enthuse their members to campaign for the local and European elections, in a bid to increase their councillor numbers from 56 and win at least one European Parliament seat.

Ms Bacik said too many young people were still living with their parents, “stuck in a rental trap, paying off someone else’s mortgage” or delaying having children. This was the reality of modern Ireland with “no security, no certainty – a new precariat.”

The Dublin Bay South TD highlighted Ireland’s sense of solidarity and “strong voice in condemning Israel’s genocide in Gaza,” as she renewed her call for the State “to break diplomatic and trade links with Israel”.

She also renewed her party’s opposition to the reappointment of Ursula von der Leyen as EU Commission president, claiming she “tacitly endorses the apartheid policies of Netanyahu’s government”.

And in a swipe at Sinn Féin she said the party’s group in the EU parliament is voting “against nature restoration laws and tacitly endorse Putin’s brutal regime in Russia”.

She pledged her party’s focus to cut electricity bills and save families up to €700 a year, through the State ramping up renewable energy and retrofitting grants so people could afford to upgrade their homes.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s resignation “is the ultimate vote of no confidence in his own Government”. She wished Simon Harris well but challenged the “new temporary taoiseach” and said that “if he has confidence in this Government he should call a general election now. Let the people decide on that radical change we need.”

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times