Local Area Rep for Moate and Athlone, Westmeath
Karl is an experienced campaigner, having been a former Chairperson of NUI Galway Students’ Union and also through involvement with the Union of Students in Ireland. He is a graduate of both NUIG and DIT, having obtained a BA in Political Science & Legal Studies and a MA in Public Affairs & Political Communication.
Karl has had an interest in politics all his life with a particular interest in education. He believes that everyone has the right to access good quality education and training, believing it is a core factor to any progressive society. He is deeply passionate about investing in rural infrastructure, supporting SMEs and political reform.
He became involved with the SocDems in 2015 because of their no-nonsense approach to politics and serves as chairperson of his local branch.
He is also an avid rugby fan, and has been involved with his local club, Midland Warriors RFC, since a young age.
Connect with Karl
Under the 2017 Town & Village Renewal Scheme, €637,000 & €596,000 has been allocated to Longford & Westmeath respectively. How would people like to see this money spent? ... See MoreSee Less
***Government spin cannot mask stark reality of its failure to get to grips with homeless crisis***
Government spin cannot mask the stark reality of its failure to get to grips with the homeless crisis, Social Democrats Local Area Representative, Karl Picard said – as new figures show the number of homeless families and adults continues to rise.
Karl was commenting on Department of Housing figures which show that a total of 8,270 people were living in emergency accommodation in August, including 5,222 adults and 3,048 children. This compares with 8,160 in July.
“No amount of government spin can mask the stark reality of this week's figures, which show that the number of children in emergency accommodation has risen above 3,000 for the first time. These children and their families are being most abysmally failed by this government. They face enormous stress, hardship and stigma on a daily basis, and the best many can expect is the prospect of moving from a hotel room into a so-called family hub.
“This is a housing emergency brought on by government policy, and the sluggish pace of the government’s response amounts to tinkering, which is just not good enough. Where is the urgency to construct social and affordable housing on a massive scale, to tackle land hoarding, and to put in place comprehensive measures to help people struggling with sky rocketing rents?
“The Social Democrats strongly believe that the government needs to move to a war footing to tackle this emergency. This would mean stringent penalties to end land hoarding, proper controls to link rent increases to the actual cost of living, and the setting up a Housing Delivery Agency to ensure the acquisition and development of public land-banks, with good social and tenure mix while achieving economies of scale across sites.” ... See MoreSee Less
***Social Democrats lay out their priorities for new Dail term***
The Social Democrats today set out the party’s priorities for the new Dáil term, with a focus on effective measures to address people’s housing and health needs, ensure sustainable economic growth, and tackle corruption.
Speaking ahead of the resumption of the Dáil after the summer break, the party’s joint leaders said tackling the ongoing crises in health and housing requires solutions based on brave and honest decision-making and a willingness to tackle vested interests.
Deputy Catherine Murphy TD said:
“As we face into a new Dáil session, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are engaged in Punch and Judy-style theatrics, beating each other up about the budget. Meanwhile, back in the real world, the housing crisis is deepening with more and more people falling into homelessness or struggling to keep roofs over their heads.”
“With the predictable annual trolley crisis looming, senior doctors are already warning that our acute hospitals are beginning to fail. What we need for this crucial Dáil term is a real focus on tackling these very fundamental issues – and that requires taking bold decisions and tackling vested interests,” added Deputy Róisín Shortall TD
Turning to the area of anti-corruption, Deputy Shortall said the party would continue to urge the government to adopt its proposals for the establishment of a robust and fully resourced Independent Anti-Corruption Agency to tackle white-collar crime and corruption in the corporate world and political spheres.
“Despite all the talk about how this government will tackle corruption, there was no sign of any urgency on that front in the government’s autumn legislative programme published yesterday. Instead, what we got was a re-heat of a corruption bill originally published five years ago.
“We will never properly get to grips with the endemic nature of corruption unless we start to see actual consequences for corrupt behaviour and the rigorous prevention, detection and prosecution of corruption and white-collar crime,” said Deputy Shortall.
The Social Democrats’ housing priorities for the autumn term include measures to curb land hoarding, free up vacant sites and ensure efficient and prompt delivery of affordable housing.
Deputy Murphy said:
“It’s time the government tackled speculators instead of tolerating them because there is evidence of land hoarding on a very large scale and this is having a hugely negative impact on so many people’s lives. We are advocating a ‘use it or lose it’ policy to stop speculators from holding onto land that could be used to help stem the current housing crisis. We simply can’t continue to tolerate a situation where speculators are dictating housing policy in this country.
“Government often hides behind the constitutional provision which they claim gives precedent to private property rights over the public good. This should either be challenged in the courts or changed in the Constitution by way of a referendum.”
The housing priorities include:
A dedicated Housing Delivery Agency as a powerful coordinating body charged with contracting builders and activating publicly-controlled land banks across different local authorities.
The Social Democrats will bring forward a Bill to introduce transparency about land ownership and land price sales so that we can know who owns what where and how much they are paying for it. Land hoarding is a real threat to the public interest.
The Government should accept the Social Democrats’ Urban Regeneration Bill (2017) which would raise levies on vacant sites the longer a site remains vacant. The Bill also gets rid of anomalies that allow land-owners avoid the levy.
Deputy Shortall concluded that when it comes to government spending, the priorities must be on good quality public services and measures to reduce the cost of living.
“Overall, we need to see government spending with an emphasis on good quality public services for all, rather than further eroding the tax base. We continue to prioritise housing and a series of cost of living measures. It is also crucial that we see concrete steps towards the phasing in of the Sláintecare plan for fundamental reform of our health system,” she added. ... See MoreSee Less
Karl and Emmett #Together4Yes and donated their yes badge. TY @Mr_Max_Louie @emmetryan_ #HomeToVoteYes @Together4yes
Rubber Bandits on Twitter
“That new healthcare report is your good news for today.It backs free care for all,&10% of budget for mental health https://t.co/0LqYUhoGVH&...
"An obligation on the Gardai to provide safety to the people of the State." Maybe pay them a wage that reflects that huge responsibility.