People Before Profit by-election candidate Brigid Purcell has stated that she was the victim of sexual assault in a previous job.
The Dublin Bay South candidate said she was working in hospitality when she was assaulted by someone in a more senior position.
“I’ve been a waitress, bartender, I’ve been a cleaner, a cashier,” she said.
“I’ve seen zero-hour contracts, wage theft, bosses stealing your tips.
“I’ve seen verbal, physical and sexual assault happening to employees. It’s something that directly impacts me.”
When asked by the Irish Independent if she has seen sexual assault happen to employees, Ms Purcell said: “It’s happened to me.
“When you’re working in those kind of industries, it’s a given that it’s going to happen to you. There’s something fundamentally wrong.”
She suggested that one way to tackle this would be to offer firmer protections to workers.
“I know exactly what it’s like to feel like you are stuck in that position – you feel like you can’t leave your job, but that’s the only job you’ve got and you’re just going to have to put up with the conditions,” Ms Purcell said. “I know how that feels.”
Ms Purcell, who has only been in the party for a year, said that housing and workers’ rights will be central to her campaign.
The people of Dublin Bay South will go to polling stations in 20 days’ time. The seat up for grabs was vacated by former Government minister Eoghan Murphy in April.
Ms Purcell began campaigning with the Debenhams workers last year in solidarity after she was laid off from her job at the beginning of the pandemic.
“Eoghan Murphy’s resignation was a surprise, but I feel like I’m supported enough by the party that I’m not intimidated [by the election],” she said.
“I’m not worried about it. I think there’s a lot of anger, particularly with people in my generation.
“I think it’s a matter of mobilising young people, particularly renters.”
Ms Purcell also said that there is a need for more TDs in the Dáil who are renters and not landlords.
“Almost half of our constituents are renters. That means that the majority of those people are not being represented properly,” she said.
“The interests of a landlord are very different to the interests of the renter.”