The Social Democrats today called on the government to prioritise the protection of public services and living standards against Brexit.

The call was made ahead of the party’s annual Think-In in Dublin, which is exploring ways to tackle living costs, increase capacity in public transport and ensure better work-life balance.

Party co-leaders Róisín Shortall TD and Catherine Murphy TD said:

“From Brexit to the ongoing climate emergency, the country is facing huge challenges. In the context of the increased uncertainty over Brexit, a priority for Government must be to protect jobs and also to safeguard public services.

“We cannot have a repeat of what happened in the last major shock to the economy – the financial crisis – where there were severe cut-backs which resulted in a significant drop in living standards. That means there should be no question of cutbacks in key areas of health, education and housing.

“In respect of the serious threat to jobs, the Government should target the agri-food industry especially in terms of the potential for import replacements. They should also be planning a major retrofit programme which has the potential to create significant numbers of long-term sustainable replacement jobs.”

Ahead of the new Dáil term, the party is today setting out its priorities for substantially increased investment in public transport to reduce inequalities, tackle climate change and help build sustainable communities. The theme of the event is Planning for a Fairer and Sustainable Future For All.

Deputies Shortall and Murphy added:

“Planning for a fairer and sustainable future has to be centre stage politically. And while the challenges posed by Brexit are huge, we can’t afford to lose focus on the twin challenge of climate change and our response to it.

“The government must go back to the drawing board and rework the National Development Plan to take account of the Climate Emergency declared by the Dáil as well as the impact of huge overspends in other areas including the National Children’s Hospital and the National Broadband Plan.

“Radical choices have to be made on prioritising investment. Failure to do so will consign ourselves and future generations to a poorer quality of life. We need to break the cycle where cars dominate, with long times spent commuting; where building houses are prioritised above building communities; where communities don’t have decent amenities and facilities – including schools, health services, leisure facilities and public infrastructure.

“Without a drastic revision of the National Development Plan, we are consigning ourselves and future generations to vast expenditure in fines and on mitigating measures to just to stand still, while our climate, public services and living standards deteriorate.”

ENDS

6th September 2019

Think In Agenda

Presentation by Prof James Wickham: Car dependency and social inequality: Towards sustainable and egalitarian urban mobility

Presentation by Dr Sarah Miller, Chief Executive of the Rediscovery Centre, on the Circular Economy.