Eric Byrne Jobs. Reform. Fairness.  That’s the title of the Labour Party’s manifesto, and it also sums up what people are talking about on the doorsteps.  

Many – too many – of the people I’ve been talking to have lost their job and fear that they won’t find work again unless there is a radical change in economic policy.  Many parents and grandparents fear that their young people will be forced to emigrate – and, for some, this is already a reality.

Since this crisis began in 2008, Labour’s focus has been on jobs.  We know that unemployment has a devastating impact not only on the individual, but also on his or her community and on the wider economy.  Every job lost, or wage cut, means less money going to local businesses – and that, in turn, means more jobs lost and wages cut.  That’s why Labour in Government will strive to provide skills and work experience opportunities for those who find themselves unemployed.  Labour believes that every single job matters, and we will work to develop new opportunities through trade and innovation, finding new markets, and new goods and services to sell in them. 

In terms of reform, it’s no surprise that the single biggest issue on the doorsteps relates to politicians’ pay, allowances and pensions. People are particularly outraged at the Lotto-style payouts received by many retiring TDs and Ministers, and they compare these bonanzas to their own falling incomes. Labour has always been the party of political reform – it was Labour in Government which introduced Standards in Public Office legislation back in the 1990s.  Now, Labour is prepared to tackle gravy trains in high places by capping all Ministerial and public sector salaries, imposing corresponding reductions in the salaries of Ministers of State, reducing the number of paid chairs of Oireachtas Committees and abolishing the Oireachtas allowance paid to Ministers who have constituency offices staffed by civil servants. Labour in Government will also ensure that pension and severance arrangements for Ministers are set independently, for example by the Comptroller and Auditor General.

Fairness and equality is what Labour is all about.  I entered politics out of a deep sense of anger at injustice – especially economic injustice.  So I understand the anger of those I meet who see their own incomes being decimated while many of those at the top of Ireland’s economic pyramid escape unscathed.  Many of those I meet travelling around the constituency are particularly outraged at the last Government’s decision to cut Child Benefit – an essential support for families and children.  Labour knows that families are stretched to the limit and, if in Government, we have pledged that we will not stand for any further attacks on Child Benefit.   Labour has also pledged to reform the Universal Social Charge, which is having a dramatic impact on the incomes of many families.

These are just some of the issues on voters’ minds.

A vote for Labour on Friday will be a vote for jobs, reform and fairness.  And, if elected, I will put all my experience and commitment to work in the Dail to ensure that we deliver – and that, this time around, everyone shares equally in the fruits of economic recovery.

Speaking in Crumlin this morning, Cllr Eric Byrne – who is contesting the forthcoming General Election on behalf of the Labour Party in Dublin South-Central – has said that the incoming Government must impose tighter regulations on the moneylending and so-called ‘buy-back’ sectors.

“The moneylending and ‘buy-back’ sectors have been booming since the onset of the recession, and the Social Welfare and Minimum Wage reductions imposed by the outgoing Government have acted as a further stimulus package for this sector.

“As of the end of last year, an estimated €113 million was out on loan to poor households by moneylenders charging interest rates of up to 188%. At the same time, so-called ‘buy-back’ operations – where customers sell goods to a shop, and are given a specific period within which to buy it back at a higher price – are proliferating in areas such as the South Inner City and Crumlin. These buy-back operations are not legally classified as pawnshops, because the goods technically belong to the shop rather than the customer.

“As well as addressing the issue at source – by protecting the incomes of the poorest groups in society, increasing the resources available to MABS and forcing financial institutions to provide basic bank accounts – the
incoming Government must impose tighter regulations on the moneylending and ‘buy-back sectors. As a start, there needs to be a lower cap on the maximum rates of interest charged by moneylenders, and ‘buy-back’ operations must be licensed and regulated”, Cllr. Byrne concluded.

Eric  and ProinsiasEric launched his campaign officially at the Village Inn in Crumlin on Tuesday February 8th. 

A large crowd of supporters gathered to wish Eric the best of luck in what he described as probably one of the most crucial elections in the history of the country.

Eric also signed the pledge card asking politicians to commit to reverse the cut to the minimum wage and to protect Employment Regulation Orders.

Joining in the good wishes was Eric's old friend and colleague Proinsias De Rosa MEP, who had earlier joined the canvass team on the rainy but welcoming streets of Crumlin.

You can see some pictures of the launch below.

Here is the text of the press statement released to mark the launch

  Protecting Wages & Welfare Key to Economic Recovery

  "Falling incomes have brought down shutters on shops and businesses"

Reductions in the Minimum Wage and social welfare rates not only impact on the living standards of those directly affected: they also constitute an
assault on local businesses, according to Labour Cllr Eric Byrne. Cllr Byrne was speaking at the launch this evening of his General Election campaign,
where he signed a pledge committing himself to work to reverse the Minimum Wage cut which took effect a week ago today.

"The wage-slashing lobby, and their political henchmen, have argued that wage floors - whether the Minimum Wage or JLC agreements - undermine competitiveness and employment. In fact, wages make up just one portion of labour costs - and labour costs account for just a portion of business costs. Rents, broadband, waste disposal and professional fees are the areas where Ireland has lost competitiveness"

"Businesses know that it is not their employees' wages that are strangling their trade - but the lack of consumer demand as job losses continue and wages and social welfare rates are cut.

"We will only restore economic growth and jobs by increasing demand. And that means protecting and boosting the disposable incomes of low and middle income earners, who tend to spend rather than save most of their money.
Unlike Ireland, most other European countries have this basic rule of economics to heart and actually raised their minimum wage rates during the recession.

"Falling incomes have brought down the shutters on shops and businesses throughout Ireland. The Labour Party's pledge to reverse the Minimum Wage cut is just one part of an economic strategy designed to raise the shutters on business and get us working again", Cllr. Byrne concluded.

Speaking at Cllr Byrne's campaign launch, Dublin MEP Proinsias De Rossa

"In Ireland over 600,000 people are at risk of poverty while in Europe more than 85 million people are living in poverty. The risk for children, families and older people is higher than other categories.

"While Europe is committed on paper to lifting 20 million people out of overty over the next ten years, current austerity policies driven by Fianna
Fail and their allies in Europe are undermining this objective.  Labour and our sister parties in the European Parliament are committed to
pushing for a European legal minimum income which would be an effective ool to ensure that European policies could not oblige us to implement
budgetary policies which attacks those on low incomes", Mr. De Rossa included

View the embedded image gallery online at:

Mount Jerome There is a proposal tabled at the next Dublin City Council meeting by Labour Councillor Mary Frehill to add Mount Jerome House, the Mortuary Chapel, the Gate Lodge and its gates, piers and railings all at Mount Jerome Cemetery, Harold’s Cross, Dublin 6 to Dublin City Council’s Record of Protected Structures.

Read more ...

D 12 Domestic Violence Services  launched a “wear a White Ribbon” campaign to encourage people to” join with men and women to stop violence against women” I was very happy to have been invited and to thank the men and women who are working together to stop this horrendous violence against women.

You can see me proudly wearing my pin in these pictures that you can see HERE.