General Election Special 2011: Labour

‘Jobs, reform, fairness’ is the central theme of the Labour Party Election campaign and it is on this theme that the Labour Party (LP) policy platform is based.

JOBS – or more precisely a jobs stimulus package forms one of the main tenets of LP policy. Growing the economy and getting people back into employment is one of the LP’s primary concerns. There are nearly 450,000 people on the live register. Labour proposes to ring-fence €500 million for a dedicated jobs fund which aims to create jobs and training places for jobs-seekers in various sectors of the economy including; funding for jobs in green technology, tourism, food and creative industries; the creation of 30,000 graduate and apprentice internships and 60,000 trainee places; the creation of 80,000 construction jobs in school building, wind and ocean energy and geothermal projects; and a Strategic Investment Bank to provide funding for critical infrastructure and Small and Medium Businesses.

Innovation – Labour will establish an Innovation Strategy Agency and create a network of Technology Research Centres such as the Tyndall Centre in UCC, which are focused on applied technological research and commercialisation of intellectual property, to be located in appropriate higher-education institutions.

Green Energy - Labour proposes to overcome the shortcomings in Ireland’s current energy policy by coordinating the input from both the public and private sector through a Coordinating Policy Office within the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.  Labour believes that the right energy policies could deliver 80,000 jobs in various sectors. For example, a National Retrofit Programme of the estimated 1.2 million homes in need of improving their energy efficiency has the potential to employ up to 30,000 construction workers.

Digital Ireland – Despite the often touted rhetoric of the Smart Economy, the failure over the past decade to roll out adequate connectivity has left Ireland languishing well behind our international competitors in the broadband stakes. Key Labour proposals for a Digital Ireland include: prioritising investment in Next Generation Broadband by facilitating the appropriate regulatory culture; instructing ComReg to ensure all suppliers provide regular data on speeds throughout their networks; and encouraging Cloud Computing and improving e-Government.

REFORM – Labour’s major reform policy will change our broken political system. Labour will bring better Government and better Politics through a strong Dáil and public sector reform.

Key proposals for reform include: the abolition of the Seanad, strengthen the Dáil and make it more independent, with greater powers to hold the Government to account, a longer working day, a longer working week, and fewer holidays; a Constitutional Convention to draw up a new Constitution for Ireland in the 21st century; restoring democratic accountability to local government, and devolve more decision-making powers to local communities; reducing the number of quangos and duplication of agencies and government departments; making Government departments and agencies accountable for meeting joined-up government objectives.

FAIRNESS – In Healthcare – Labour proposes the establishment of a universal healthcare system to replace the two tier unfair system. Labour will reform the health system to achieve a genuine shift towards primary care by 2014, addressing one of the fundamental weaknesses of the Irish health care system. Labour will end the two-tier system in hospital care, extending access to all on the same basis as the privately insured, and making the hospital system more efficient, with full Universal Hospital Care Insurance operational by 2016.

Fairer Education System – Literacy is the key that unlocks a child’s education. It is the most basic, and the most important, life skill that our schools teach. Labour wants to ensure that no child leaves an Irish school without being able to read and write.

Third Level Fees- Abolished by Labour in the 1990s. Recently increased registration fees have placed an unfair financial burden on students. Labour will seek to provide a fairer and more equitable means of funding third level education without placing the burden on students and their families.

Fairer Tax System – Labour’s tax system is based on fairness. Labour will not increase income tax on persons earning less than 100,000 euro. We will re-examine the Universal Social Charge as the current system places an unfair burden on lower and middle income earners.

UCC Labour Society

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