All posts by Joan Burton

Joan Burton TD is an Irish politician who has served her country as Leader of the Labour Party, Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) and in a number of ministerial roles - most recently as Minister for Social Protection from 2011 to 2016.

Your No. 1 Vote

Tomorrow is election day, and as usual Dublin West and its four seats is a fiercely competitive arena. As your TD, I have been honoured to serve all of the people of Dublin West.

What would make the diffence tomorrow is your No. 1 vote, and I am asking you to trust me and to honour me with such. If re-elected, I will work as hard as I can to ensure that we have housing development in Dublin West, that we have sufficient numbers of school places, that we have a clean, healthy environment and a well-functioning public transport system including electrifying the Maynooth line. I will also fight for increased Garda numbers and more Community Police for Dublin West.

I will bring all these and other matters to the floor of the next Dáil on your behalf. Please trust me with your No. 1 vote or highest possible preference tomorrow.

Statement on Pelletstown ETNS

Please find below a joint statement with Cllr Marie Sherlock on Pelletstown Educate Together.

Department of Education seeking to pass the buck for own failings

In recent days, we have been made aware that the Department of Education has attributed blame to Dublin City Council for the delay in sourcing temporary alternative accommodation for the school as the school has to vacate its current location this summer.

The delay in constructing the permanent school building has meant the school are currently having to look at two options for Sept. 2020, one which may require planning permission.

Local Labour Party Cllr Marie Sherlock has spoken to Owen Keegan, Chief Executive of Dublin City Council and can confirm that the Department of Education has made no contact with any city council official to seek a pre planning meeting.

This is despite comments made by Department officials that the City Council has been refusing to engage. The City Council stands ready to meet the Department. 

Ultimately, this episode seems to be about the Department trying to deflect from its own delays and failure to deliver a permanent school building for Pelletstown Educate Together.

Teachers’ Strikes

I spent the morning meeting teachers across Dublin West, who are having a day’s strike to protest the failure to restore equality of pay to all teachers.

In a lot of our schools in Dublin West it is now obvious that teachers are leaving and travelling to other countries in order to be able to earn the deposit on a house or to a location where the rent is more affordable.

We desperately need more teachers in Dublin West, and I support full pay restoration. I hope the new Government will have pay restoration as a very high priority on their list of priorities.

Renewed Focus Needed on Cancer Prevention

On World Cancer Day, we think of cancer fighters and survivors and their families I am particularly thinking of the women at the centre of the CervicalCheck scandal, who have gone through cancer journeys that could have been completely preventable.

At the centre of the CervicalCheck scandal is a paternalistic and neglectful approach to women health where information was routinely withheld from women around the results of audits of their smear test results. Labour are calling for the full implementation of the recommendations of the comprehensive Scally report and for funding for this to be immediately ring-fenced.

Screening programmes need proper resourcing. Labour will extend BreastCheck to women aged 65-69 and bowel screening to 55-74 in order to enhance early detection, save lives and ensure cost-effective treatment. We will expand ovarian and uterine screening for early detection of cancer.

We also must make life easier for those who are dealing with a cancer diagnosis at the moment. Time and time again, I hear about how patients and families are being crippled with car parking charges during chemotherapy treatments – Labour will give a parking waiver to all patients attending hospital for continuous treatments like chemo.

Labour has been fully behind the campaign for a GP Visit or Medical card for patients with long-term illnesses such as certain types of cancer.

Other preventative measures the next Government could and should take as a step to avoiding certain types of cancer are:

  • implement a nationwide ban on cancer-causing smoky coal, as part of a wider strategy to improve air quality,
  • extend the availability and lower the cost of the HPV vaccine for women who missed out on the vaccine
  • Introduce a HPV vaccine catch up scheme for teenage boys who missed out the vaccine before it was introduced in schools last September

Pelletstown ETNS

Speaking outside Pelletstown Educate Together National School, you can see that the school is still in its temporary premises four years after Government gave a commitment to have the school built as quickly as possible. The school itself has proven a successful addition to the community, thanks to the staff, the principal and all the parents of the school.

But what appears to have happened is that the current Government has delayed the opening and building of quite a lot of new schools, including Pelletstown, by one more year to 2021.

During this period, I would like to see the school stay on its current site, near the shops in Pelletstown, until the new school is built. I think this is the most realistic solution, and I feel that the developers have a moral if not a legal obligation to the school community and to the wider community of Pelletstown to facilitate no unnecessary disruption to the important work of the school.

From its inception, when the idea of the school was first put forward by Educate Together, I have been a strong supporter of this really good school, and if you support me in the upcoming Election, I will continue to raise it consistently and constantly on the floor of the Dáil.

In November 2019, I raised Pelletstown ETNS in the Dáil, and you can watch my contribution below.

In June 2019, I raised Pelletstown ETNS in the Dáil, and you can watch my contribution below.

St Patrick’s NS in Diswellstown

I recently met parents of St Patrick’s NS in Diswellstown, one of the largest and best known schools in Dublin 15. I was talking to parents about the problems with the pyrite and how the green space at the front should be acquired by the school, so that the school can build additional facilities here, but also for when the pyrite problem is being addressed, any temporary accommodation required could be located there. St Patrick’s NS is one of our best local school and I will continue to support it if elected as a TD, as I will support all of our local schools.

In September last year, I questioned the Minister for Education about the defects in St Patrick’s NS, Diswellstown, arising from pyrite and his plans to assist the school with their remedial works.

Watch here:

Labour Will Invest in Education

The Labour Party has today published plans to invest in education and reduce costs for parents, with a focus on making primary school education genuinely free-of-charge.

We want to ensure that every child gets a fair start in life when it comes to schooling, and we will allocate an extra €140m to Education in 2021 for new policy proposals above the additional allocations it will receive for demographics and capital investment. Our plan would then add a further €140 million year-on-year to fund new measures over the lifetime of the next Government. Our proposals will radically transform our education system and provide the funding that schools have been starved of.

Many parents are really struggling with school costs, particularly as their children move through the school system and into secondary school. That’s why we want to reduce costs for parents. The most recent Barnardos survey showed that 42% of primary school parents and 47% of secondary parents are actually cutting back on paying bills in order to meet back to school costs.

Labour will make primary education genuinely free-of-charge by having the State provide free schoolbook, a uniform grant and healthy school meals, and we’ll set out a strategy so that cost never stops a person fulfilling their potential through lifelong education.

Despite improvements, class sizes are still too big, and we will reduce primary class sizes to the EU average by 2025. The next Census in 2021 will provide important demographic information for future resource planning in our education system but what we will do is reduce class sizes.

If we want to have the best education system possible for our children, we have to value our teachers and administrators properly. Labour will address pay inequality for recent new entrants, and end the two tier system for school secretaries and caretakers.

We will also reduce DEIS class sizes and increase capitation grants to DEIS schools, as well as expand the provision of Special Needs Assistants in schools.

When it comes to Third Level, Labour wants a publicly funded system and we want to use the National Training Fund alongside direct Exchequer support to achieve that. We will also reduce costs for parents and students with a pathway to progressively and sustainably reduce third level student contribution fees, and improvements to the SUSI grant.

Labour believes that apprenticeships and traineeships should be as valuable as going to college, and we’ll expand the number and types of these schemes that are available.

You can read our full Education proposals here.

Economic and Fiscal Policy Proposals

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil’s manifestos lack any kind of serious determination to prevent another economic crash and they will both increase economic inequality.

Fine Gael is proposing income tax cuts that will only benefit the top 20% and which will take €2.5 billion a year out of public spending on housing and health at a time when nearly 4,000 children are in emergency homeless accommodation and over 200,000 children are waiting for hospital appointments. The ESRI has said that this tax cut alone will make Ireland as unequal as Britain, moving us away from the European average.

Fianna Fáil have resorted to McCreevy style economics offering property-based tax breaks, and tax giveaways that will benefit developers and landlords, not regular workers and families, and they are promising to slash Capital Gains Tax by a quarter, which will benefit the wealthy.  Both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have shown that they do not represent ordinary working people. They are being reckless with the public finances in order to win the election, regardless of the major risks from Brexit, climate change and a slowdown in international trade.

Labour has a vision of how Ireland can be more like other North European countries. Our economic policy will grow the economy through investment in poorer regions and provide a right to in-work training for workers to drive productivity growth and higher wages.

Only Labour is focused on reducing waste, getting greater value for public investment and reducing inequality. Our budget approach allows for at €5 for pensions and social protection every year, expands income tax bands in line with wage inflation and will create a €2 billion capital spending fund to ensure that Fine Gael’s mismanagement of the children’s hospital is not allowed to delay life-saving investment in hospitals around the country.

Labour will stop the waste of public money, build homes and fix health.

The Labour Party proposals on our Economic and Fiscal Policy is available here.

Election Manifesto

Today at the Iveagh Gardens in the centre of Dublin, I helped launch the Labour Party’s manifesto for the election on Saturday, 8th February, where we set out clearly what we propose to do if the people elect us and we become part of the next Government.

Number one priority is to get 80,000 houses built, both affordable and social. Our second priority is to, over the period of the next Government, extend free GP care to all children under 18, as well as to fix the health service and stop the wasting of money. We also want to provide a publicly funded childcare system, which we will start by building a system which starts firstly for children in the year before they go to school. We want all children to be able access publicly funded childcare.

You can read the Labour Party’s 2020 Election Manifesto here.

Morning at Hansfield Train Station

I was at Hansfield railway station in Clonsilla at 8 o’clock in the morning, and as you will see from the video there a number of apartment blocks being built by the railway line. However, what we don’t see are shops, creches, community centres, primary and secondary schools that all this building is going to require in terms of having quality infrastructure for new families to make new communities. My focus as a TD has been to ensure the community gets investment from Government and the local City Council to provide for top-class schools and educational services, public transport, and recreational and community facilities, all of which are essential to growing communities.

Again at Hansfield railway station and the land you can see behind me in the video is the area where Erin Go Bragh GAA would like to get space for their pitches and for their clubhouse. I am supporting this because the idea of the very large community of Littlepace, Hansfield and Ongar to have no pitches available for a club like Erin Go Bragh that is growing and contributing hugely to the area, is wrong. The land behind me would be an ideal location for Erin Go Bragh to finally get the facilities they deserve.