Dáil debates

Saturday, 27 June 2020

Taoiseach a Ainmniú (Atógáil) - Nomination of Taoiseach (Resumed)

 

11:55 am

Photo of Mick BarryMick Barry (Cork North Central, Solidarity)

Will there be a youth revolt in the lifetime of this Dáil? The country voted for change in February. The Green Party benefited from that vote but today it betrayed it by putting Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael back in the saddle. The vote for change may not have been sufficiently decisive this time, but no such argument can be made about the votes cast by young people. Young people did not vote for a Government led by conservative parties and they most certainly did not vote for a party which won the votes of fewer than one in seven voters under the age of 25 years. As news of our vote breaks from this Convention Centre, will young people look at their phones, shake their heads and think, "This is not my Taoiseach"? More than any reason, young people voted for change because of the way the housing crisis impacts their lives. They now have a powerful new reason to raise their voices, namely, mass youth unemployment. More than half of those aged between 15 and 24 are unemployed. The Government will fail to tackle this issue at its peril. Through the years, mass emigration of young people served as a vital safety valve for Irish capitalism. Emigration did not just happen but was actively encouraged by conservative Governments. To where will the youth emigrate now? If anything, rather than leave, young people will be coming back home. The implications for politics are enormous.

On the way here, I saw a banner held by Debenhams workers, some of whom are from Cork, which read, "Micheál - what have you done for us lately?" I have no faith in a capitalist Government delivering for working people, not least in a world recession, but this Government will be under pressure from working people from day one. Aer Lingus workers will want to know what the Government intends to do about a company which has its wage bill subsidised by the State but which simultaneously declares war on its workers. Some 300,000 public sector workers will want to know whether the Government will honour in October the commitments made on pay. Last but not least, more than 1 million workers will want to see a plan for jobs and will insist that the Government deliver for them and their families. The socialist left will be a voice in this Dáil for all those workers and more and will strive to build a strong left opposition both inside and outside the gates of Dáil Éireann.

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