The government "has abandoned an entire generation to the private rental casino game" which people can only lose, according to Labour Party leader Ivana Bacik.
The current "conservative coalition" Government is "lurching from crisis to crisis" and "cobbling together half-hearted fixes" encapsulated by "its biggest failure", the housing crisis, she told the party's first full annual conference since 2019.
In her first conference as leader, the Dublin Bay South TD attempted to strike a balance between attacking the Government and offering a hopeful vision for the future.
Ms Bacik, who has tabled a no-confidence vote in the Fianna Fáil-Fine Gael-Green Party coalition in the Dáil, began her address with the housing crisis.
Describing it as "a catastrophic failure to deliver on housing", she said: "Only ideology – not the economy – has held back the massive public investment in housing that is so badly needed.
"Again and again, this Government has turned to the private market to solve its own mess. And again and again, developers, speculators, and land hoarders – have shown that they can’t and won’t deliver the homes our communities need."
This failure is causing record homelessness – over 11,700 people, she said.
"Each one with an individual story of hardship. Like the young mother who contacted me in despair – facing the cliff edge of eviction next week, with no prospect of finding another home anywhere in her community. And she is just one of thousands."
The eviction ban must be extended, according to Ms Bacik.
"That’s why we have tabled a motion of no confidence in this Government. A government that is out of ideas, and out of time.
"A temporary extension of the ban would provide breathing space to increase housing supply. Not just to ramp up the tenant in-situ scheme, But also, to tackle vacancy and to undertake a massive rapid build housing programme on public land. And to introduce a new 'Use it or Lose it' rule – to stop speculators from sitting on inactive residential planning permissions in rent pressure zones," she said.
The number of affordable homes could be ramped up by Government "in a few months if it really wanted to", she claimed.
"The Government has abandoned an entire generation to the private rental casino game. A game they can only lose. Because, under this conservative coalition, the odds are stacked against them," she said.
By contrast, Labour would create a housing model of public homes on public land where the State takes a central role, she added.
The State can and must deliver 50,000 new builds and 50,000 refurbished homes a year for the next decade, she told members.
On climate change, the Government "talks a good game" without delivering, according to Ms Bacik.
"There has been some progress. But they lack the necessary ambition and political unity to deliver for the environment. Struggling with internal dissent, they are driven by compromise, not conviction. And we have seen far too many delayed and missed targets on climate.
"Ireland has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 51% over the next seven years – by 2030. But no one believes the government can meet its climate targets. They talk a good game, but they cannot deliver."
The Government has not been honest about the scale of the challenge ahead, she said.
"On agriculture, we have to change the way we farm - working with farming families and food producers to achieve sustainable rural communities. And we must be honest about radical change in transport too.
"Communities should not be built around cars. We must transform our cities and towns by prioritising walkers and cyclists over motorists. A bike-to-school scheme for children; a national greenway network of cycle lanes. And the transformation of public transport.
"Our Labour plan for a climate ticket can do this - by providing unlimited bus and train journeys anywhere in Ireland for just €9 per month. It worked in Germany. It can work here."
She claimed that Labour has ambition for "radical change" in healthcare.
"That change must include the decriminalisation of drug use - because addiction is a health issue, not a criminal justice issue," she said.
Citing her long record in feminist and socialist causes, Ms Bacik claimed she would fight for equality throughout Irish life.
"For the rights of those who have suffered due to state neglect; institutional abuse survivors, those in mother and baby homes and Magdalen laundries, those affected by the Thalidomide scandal. For LGBT rights, for Traveller rights; for the rights of disabled persons and of children with autism desperately seeking decent services.
"For women denied abortion rights for far too long. For me, that passion for equality is stronger now than ever before. By having the courage to take on conservative Ireland, Labour has changed people’s lives for the better. And women’s lives for the better.
"Now the Government have conceded our call to hold a referendum on gender equality this year. To finally jettison de Valera’s delusions about women," she said.