On Tuesday evening the six Trade Unions involved in Right 2 Water Ireland hosted a meeting presenting their new Right 2 Change initiative; principles for a progressive government in the Clarion Hotel. It was one of a large number of meetings that will be taking place all over the country. The purpose of the meeting was to have a debate about a vision for Ireland and to establish whether there is a way to deliver a fairer, more equal society based on the principles of equality, democracy and social justice.
Chaired by Dave Gibney of Mandate trade union the evening began with a workshop on political economy from Trademark member Dr. Sean Byers. In a very informative presentation, those attending got a glimpse of the true level of inequality that exists in Ireland today and the choices our political classes are taking to exasperate such inequality. With some stark statistics such as 63% of lone parents experiencing depravation and 10% of the Irish population experiencing food poverty. All the while our leaders are choosing not to ensure multinationals pay the 12.5% corporation tax which would bring an extra €4 billion into the exchequer, what happens instead is that they choose to cut such essentials as the lone parent allowance. We learned that Ireland is now the most unequal country in the EU with the top 1% hoarding a wealth of €130 Billion all the while the bottom 20% own a mere 0.2% of Irelands total wealth.
The policy principles document was then presented and debated by those attending. Nigel Gallagher, People Before Profit general election candidate was at the meeting. He said “it was great to see some key People Before Profit policies in the document such as Right2Housing, a tax on wealth and the abolition of Jobridge. I also made the suggestion that Right2Water and Right2Change call mass demonstration when the election is called to ensure water is a concrete election issue, to give people confidence to vote for progressive candidates in the election and to continue the pressure that the mass mobilisations of people power is having on the establishment parties. Which has been key to opening the political space for initiatives such as Right2Change.” Gallagher also commented that it was great to see a united left at the meeting with Declan Bree, independent and Chris Mac Manus, Sinn Fein in attendance at the meeting also.