Friday 28 October 2016

New Social Democrats group pledge to abolish water charges and repeal the Eighth Amendment

Published 15/07/2015 | 09:47

THE newly formed Social Democrats have pledged to immediately abolish water charges and repeal the Eighth Amendment if elected to Government.

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The party, which was announced in Dublin today, says it is seeking to field candidates in every constituency.

But the party has yet to approach any prospective candidate or begin fundraising for the election.

Prominent Dail deputies Roisin Shortall, Catherine Murphy and Stephen Donnelly announced their party's launch today following weeks of speculation.

The party spoke of being modelled on the Nordic model which it says focusses on delivering a strong economy as well as in areas such as healthcare ad education.

Both Ms Shortall and Ms Murphy were challenged over whether they are setting up a de facto Labour Party, which also models itself as a social Democratic Party.

"If the Labour Party had kept all its promises we may not be doing this today," Ms Shortall said.

Ms Shortall, a TD for Dublin North West, said the leadership of the party will be shared until after the General Election.

TDs Roisin Shortall, Catherine Murphy, and Stephen Donnelly
TDs Roisin Shortall, Catherine Murphy, and Stephen Donnelly

She said she hopes with an expanded parliamentary party, the Social Democrats can then decide on the leadership issue.

The launch today at the Wood Quay Venue in Dublin was attended by around 150 people, many of whom were party supporters.

The deputies said they have been working on the party launch for several months and spent much of their discussions in Ms Shortall's kitchen drinking lots of coffee.

Among those in attendance today were prominent mortgage campaigner David Hall and former Fingal Mayor Cian O'Callaghan.

But the party TDs insisted that it has yet to approach any TDs. Mr Donnelly confirmed there were talks with Independent senator Katherine Zappone who he says has made the right decision to contest the election as a non party candidate.

In terms of specific pledges, the party today said its focus will be 2:1 in terms of spending over taxation.

"Instead of auction politics, we will be looking at option politics," Ms Murphy said.

The party said it wants to make ministers and senior civil servants accountable for their decisions.

"When mistakes are made, there should be consequences, said Ms Shortall.

There was also a significant focus on childcare. The party intends to extend paid paternity leave and set up child clinics.

"We want to break cycle where one out of eight children live in poverty," Ms Shortall added.

The TDs refused to commit to the idea of entering coalition talks with Fine Gael after the election.

A significant red-line is being adopted by the party relates to Irish Water.

Ms Shortall and Ms Murphy said they have not yet paid their bills, but Mr Donnelly said he probably would pay.

The Wicklow/East Carlow TD wants to abolish water charges and ensure the public ownership through a constitutional referendum.

Speaking after today's launch, Ms Shortall said she believes Irish Water as a company "simply did not work" and that it was "a fine example of incompetence within the Government."

Speaking to News At One, she said she expects it to go bust before the end of the year.

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