“To create a thriving and equitable society, where we can fulfil our potential, it is essential that communities prosper. Creating a vibrant and lively community is essential for the future of democracy. For me, this means equality of opportunity, starting with education and jobs, especially in areas of communities and families where people are left behind. We made significant progress on the employment front in terms of helping people back to work. We worked to ensure that a fair wage and decent working conditions were central to the new jobs created. We tackled low pay and zero-hour contracts. At the same time, we reduced tax for low and middle-income workers. We need a massive increase in apprenticeships for young men and women in traditional trades as well as new areas including government and IT. We need an inclusive society were people are encouraged to participate, learn and qualify, and ensure groups such as the Travelers and newcomers to Ireland are not left behind. An equal society is one where every citizen has an equal chance. A productive economy with full employment and fair pay and conditions means people have the opportunities to reach their full potential. That in turns helps families and communities to thrive.
But communities need more than good jobs and secure incomes. They need quality, well-run facilities and public services that are easily accessible and people-friendly. That’s why Labour in Government delivered many new teachers and educational staff, rolled out free GP care for children under six, and invested record amounts of money in housing. We are continuing to advocate for similar policies and increase funding to current policies that help citizens in our Alternative Budget 2019. It’s also why we are reforming politics to ensure fairness, and to prevent the corrupt politics of old that destroyed communities. That’s why we have introduced legislation to regulate lobbyists, to restore the Freedom of Information Act, to effectively ban corporate donations, and much more besides. All of this will work will help strengthen our democracy, strengthen our communities, and ensure equality for all our citizens.”