Arguably, Ireland’s most important General Election of recent times is a mere day away. We have seen the final debates, been enveloped in canvassing and leaflets and passed by the posters and flyers distributed around the country. As polls indicate a possible change in direction for the Irish government; it is important to recap on each party’s promises before casting our votes. Each party has a full manifesto available online, but here is a brief summary of various stances and responses on key human rights issues. 

 

 

Fine Gael – ‘A Future to Look Forward to’

Centre-right, Liberal conservative party led by Leo Varadkar 

Climate: Minimal climate action, refusal to tax large corporations. Proposed a carbon tax. Didn’t attend Climate Hustings organised by students and NGOs in the Mansion House this week.

Housing: The party dismissed the suggestion of a rent cap. Notable that half of TDs are landlords. Refused a Housing as a Human Right Bill. Promise to build 60,000 social houses in the next five years.

Reproductive and LGBTQ Health:  Create safe access zones for those accessing abortion services and the beginning of a plan to offer free contraception. Implement a best practice model of care, in line with WPATH standards, for Trans People, and deliver a framework for the development of National Gender Clinics and Multi-disciplinary Teams. Develop a communications plan to raise awareness of mental health resources.

Direct Provision: Implement a new set of standards across the new centres, with changes to be in place by the end of 2020.

Gender: Create Citizen’s Assembly to tackle  relevant issues regarding parental leave, pay-gaps and representation.

 

 

Fianna Fail – ‘An Ireland for All’

Slightly more liberal than Fine Gael, centre-right party led by Micheál Martin.

Climate: Want to phase out the use of some single-use plastics by 2025, phase out fossil fuels and have an anti-litter fund to tackle dumping and dog fouling. Establish a National Infrastructure Commission for 30-year decarbonisation planning. Didn’t attend Climate Hustings organised by students and NGOs in the Mansion House this week.

Housing: Strong focus on home ownership in manifesto. Notable that half of the TDs are landlords. Promise to build 50,000 new affordable homes by 2025 for average income workers.

Reproductive and LGBTQ Health: Nothing in manifesto regarding abortion or contraception. Review the Employment Equality and Equal Status Acts to ensure that Trans people have explicit protection within the equality grounds.

Direct Provision: Responsible for creation of direct provision. Want to reform it rather than eradicate it, ensuring that the “National Standards for Accommodation” are reviewed at least every five years. Reduce waiting period of asylum seekers’ right to work from 9 to 6 months, speed up processing times and enable those seeking aslyum to access driving licenses. 

Gender: Implement mandatory Gender Pay gap transparency legislation and initiate gender quotas at local elections.

Note: Fianna Fail is the only party not providing a policy on growing night culture and our night-time economy.

 

Sinn Fein – ‘Giving Workers and Families a Break’

Centre-left party led by Mary Lou McDonald, with a core objective being Irish Unity. 

Climate: Totally opposed to fracking. No carbon tax increase, state divestment from fossil fuel projects and no new licenses granted for offshore fossil fuel drilling. Transition to electric vehicles and invest in renewable energy. Place obligations on manufacturers of packaging and implement a deposit return scheme on bottles.

Housing: Living wage, rent freeze for three years, more social housing, ambition for 100,000 homes in five years. Large focus on ending homelessness.

Reproductive and LGBTQ Health: Free contraception scheme. Free sanitary products for students, those in direct provision and medical cardholders. Safe access zones for abortions. No mention of Trans rights. Greater support for people with mental health difficulties to enter employment and training schemes. 2 free GP visits a year, 1,500 extra GPs.

Direct Provision: Want to end the direct provision system. Provide a tailored range of health services based on the health needs of those seeking asylum. Believe in migration management with rules and regulations that serve the interest of Irish people, all while fulfilling international obligations to protect people fleeing persecution and war.

Gender: Increase funding for domestic violence refuge provision by €12 million.

 

 

Green Party – ‘The Future Belongs to all of Us’

Centre-left party, led by Eamonn Ryan.

Climate: Vast climate action plan. Ban single-use plastic, set up bottle deposit and return scheme. Immediately ban smokey coal and tighten restrictions on the harmful use of pesticides and insecticides. Peatland restoration and rewetting programme. Call for 7% annual fall in emissions. Afforestation programme granting 120,000 farmers payment for the planting of one hectare of woodland on their farm; helping farmers transition to regenerative and sustainable agriculture.

Housing: Tax vacant premises. Reform the Housing Assistance Payment to drive investment into the provision of new social housing units rather than relying on sourcing from the private sector.

Reproductive and LGBTQ Health: Free contraception, strenghten and diversify sex education in schools, making all elements of the curriculum mandatory. The Green Party supports the amendment of the Gender Recognition Act 2015 to include recognition by self-declaration for non-binary and non-gendered individuals; to make recognition for trans people aged 16 and 17 equal to that of those over 18; and to introduce a system of gender recognition for children under 16. Promote the installation of gender-neutral public toilet facilities.

Direct Provision: Work towards ending Direct Provision and replacing it with a not-for-profit system based on accommodation provided through existing or newly approved housing bodies. 

Gender: Progress legislation which requires companies to publish aggregated data on pay by reference to the gender of their employees.

 

Solidarity – People Before Profit (Planet Before Profit)

Left-wing, working-class voice.

Climate: Free public transport. Stop the importation of fracked gas and put a carbon tax on the big polluters. Create a just transition for workers and farmers. Funds for retrofitting houses.

Housing: Vast list of policies. Increase minimum wage to living wage of €15/hour . Referendum on “right to housing”. Immediately declare a housing emergency, which will enable the state to borrow funds to begin a major house building programme. Build 100,000 council houses over five years, creating construction jobs. Force NAMA to hand over land and stop the sell-off of public land to private developers. Immediate rent freeze and ban economic evictions. 

Reproductive and LGBTQ Health: Heavily involved in Repeal movement. Free contraception and sanitary products. Separation of sex education in schools from religion. Emphasis on LGBT rights and additional healthcare.

Direct Provision: End DP and give asylum seekers the right to work.

Gender: Education should include a cultural critique of everyday sexism. Full financial support for women’s refuge and rape-crisis centres dealing with domestic violence. Increase paid maternity leave to 12 months.

 

Social Democrats – ‘Hope for better, Vote for Better’

Centre-left, supportive of Nordic model, led by Catherine Murphy and Roisin Shortall.

Climate: Construction and expansion of public transport with lower fares and cycle lanes. Encourage local energy generation schemes and solar panels. Completely ban fracking, gradually reduce subsidies for non-renewable energy. Levy plastics that can’t be recycled here, implement a deposit return scheme.

Housing: 100,000 homes over five years. Rent freeze and legislation to stop land hoarding by private entities. Referendum on the right to a home.

Reproductive and LGBTQ Health: Committed to fully funding Sláintecare. Free contraception and safe abortion, along with adequate support services. Increased funding for services in mental health and addiction services. Supports for LGBTQI+ people living in direct provision.

Direct Provision:  End direct provision and replace it with not for profit accommodation.

Gender: Work to eliminate the gender pay-gap, put stronger penalties on companies who are at fault. Mandatory gender quota of 30% on the executive boards of all large companies registered in Ireland.

 

Labour – ‘Building an Equal Society’

Centre-left, led by Brendan Howlin

Climate: Promote clean public transport, electric vehicles in rural Ireland, and solar panels. Create a merging department on climate action. Exploit our offshore wind potential by establishing a new Offshore Wind Development Agency with a specific mandate to attract investment. Were not present at Climate Hustings at the Mansion House.

Housing: Living wage and job security. 100,000 homes over the next 5 years, rent freeze and legislation to stop land hoarding.

Reproductive and LGBTQ Health: Initiative to combat period poverty, implement exclusion zones for uninterrupted access to safe abortions. Strengthen hate crime legislation. End the 12-month celibacy rule that currently exists for gay or bisexual men donating blood. Extension of the Gender Recognition Act to those aged from 16 to 18; addition of a third gender option for non-binary people on all official forms. Free gender care through an Irish NHS, including services like psychotherapy, counselling, speech and language therapy, hormone therapy, hair removal and gender reassignment surgery.

Direct Provision: End the system.

Gender: End gender pay-gap. Require businesses and public agencies with 50 or more employees to publish their gender pay-gap in their annual reports.

 

 

 

Many young people in Ireland have become disillusioned with the current state of Irish politics. We have the power to shape the future of Ireland, so please use your vote on Saturday the 8th of February 2020 and bring ID to the polling station.

 

 

 

Photo by Mohamed Hassan

 

 

 

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