Social Democrats aiming to treble Dáil seats in the next election

The party's co-leaders also called on the government to take concrete steps to avoid a fourth lockdown.
Social Democrats aiming to treble Dáil seats in the next election

Róisín Shortall TD, co-leader of the Social Democrats, pictured addressing the party's 4th National Conference today, which was held online this year due to Covid-19 restrictions. Picture: Paul Sharp

The Social Democrats is targetting 18 Dáil seats at the next general election, three times its current number, its national conference has heard.

In their joint address to delegates, co-leaders Catherine Murphy and Róisín Shortall said they want to offer the people of Ireland an "authentic alternative" to the failed status quo.

The party has been holding its conference virtually this weekend, due to Covid-19 restrictions.

"Last year we trebled our number of TDs, and that is our ambition – to again treble our numbers in the next election," said Ms Shortall.

"We want to build our party’s strength so that we can provide an authentic alternative, a Social Democratic alternative, to the stale and regressive politics which hold back our country," she added.

She said the Government needs to take concrete steps to avoid a fourth lockdown and to give the country a fighting chance of getting back to some level of normality.

The party called on Government to:

  • Set a target case number of say 10; a low target to which we can work together to drive down the daily figures. 
  • Properly resource Public Health Doctors so that we can have effective testing and retrospective tracing to establish where transmission is taking place.
  • Stop the importation of the virus, and its new variants, with full mandatory hotel quarantine.
  • Direct employers to facilitate as many people as possible to work from home.
  • Provide better financial support to low-paid vulnerable and immigrant workers when they need to isolate.
  • Require supermarkets and other retail outlets to reinstate precautionary arrangements to limit numbers and strictly adhere to Public Health advice.
  • Establish a high-level North-South Task Force, under the framework of the Good Friday Agreement All-island strategy.

Ms Murphy, in her comments, severely criticised the Government's market-based approach to the crisis in housing.

She said the Social Democrats would start by changing the remit of the Land Development Agency. It must be about project management of public lands and not a clearing house for a sale and subsidy approach. 

"We would use the public land that is available to build affordable homes,"she said.

"Such an approach would achieve economies of scale, rather than deliver a developer bounty.

"All the evidence points to direct build as the most cost-efficient method of delivery of good quality affordable housing.Bringing down the cost of housing is fundamental for us. To do this, we would seek to take speculation out of housing," she added.

Catherine Murphy TD, co-leader of the Social Democrats, pictured addressing the party's 4th National Conference. Picture: Paul Sharp

Catherine Murphy TD, co-leader of the Social Democrats, pictured addressing the party's 4th National Conference. Picture: Paul Sharp

Catherine Murphy TD, co-leader of the Social Democrats, pictured addressing the party's 4th National Conference. Picture: Paul Sharp

Ms Murphy said a referendum needs to be held at the earliest possible date in 2021. A successful referendum would allow for the of the Kenny report.

As far back as the 1970s this report identified land hoarding and the speculation in zoned land as central to the cost of housing, yet it has remained unimplemented, she told delgates.

A successful referendum would allow the State to cap the cost of building land and bring down the cost of housing, she said.

Earlier, Cork South West TD Holly Cairns slammed the Government for its shameful treatment of survivors of Mother and Baby Homes.

Following a conversation with guest speaker Dr Maeve O’Rourke, lecturer in Human Rights at the Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway, she said: "We have been dealing with decades of abuse at the hands of the State and religious orders. 

"It must be recalled that the Commission of Investigation was not set up because the State wanted to find justice – it was forced to do so after the tragic discovery of hundreds of babies and children in a mass grave in a disused septic tank in Tuam.

“The Commission was extended multiple time to allow it to do its work, yet the Government is denying survivors’ requests for a further extension so that questions about the accuracy of their testimonies and access to their data can be dealt with. 

"This week, the Government allowed the Social Democrats’ motion on this issue to pass in the Dáil while at the same time refusing to give legislative effect to it," she said.

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