Protest can shift Government thinking on budget, People Before Profit think-in told
David Young, PA
Street protests can force a government rethink on the shape of the budget, People Before Profit-Solidarity TD Richard Boyd Barrett has insisted.
He cited the impact of past demonstrations on water charges as an example of the influence of “people power”.
Mr Boyd Barrett was speaking at the People Before Profit-Solidarity think-in event in Dublin on Tuesday.
The left-wing political grouping has called for people to join a planned protest in the city three days before Budget 2024 is published next month.
The demonstration will demand action on the cost of living and housing crisis in Ireland.
Mr Boyd Barrett rejected the suggestion that the October 7th event will come too late to influence government thinking, given many of the key budget decisions will have been set in train weeks before then.
“The record was very clear last year, in the last weekend before the budget things shifted very significantly in terms of the credits that the Government were proposing and other measures were taken literally over that weekend,” he said.
“So the pressure of people power and the knowledge on the part of the Government of the build-up for the protest that is happening will all act as a pressure on them.
“So we’ve seen it in the past with things like water charges – when people get out on the street, it makes a big difference. And I can tell you, whenever we are involved in organising a protest in the Dáil, all the TDs in Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are always asking quietly in the corridors of the Dáil ‘do you think there will be many on the protest?’.
“Because they’re worried about people power and I think people out there affected by the housing and homeless crisis need to understand that is a power they possess to put serious pressure on the Government in advance of the Budget.”
The Dún Laoghaire TD also claimed his grouping was the most fiscally prudent in the Dáil.
“Not only are we saying we should use some of the surplus to invest in infrastructure like housing, that will save money in the future, but we’re also proposing to raise additional revenues to cover that, which very few other parties are doing,” he said.
“We’re the only party who consistently argue for a wealth tax that will raise significant additional revenue, that argue for a financial transaction tax, that argue for increasing employers’ PRSI, that argue for higher taxes on the highest earners.
“So while other parties are actually playing, from a fiscal point of view, a dangerous political game, relying on borrowing or possibly unreliable revenues into the future, we’re actually arguing the sustainable position, which is to tax the wealth and profits that are being concentrated at the top in order to fund expenditure on housing, on our key infrastructure and addressing the cost-of-living crisis.”
The think-in event was addressed by groups of teachers and third-level students who outlined how cost of living and housing pressures are affecting them.
PBP-Solidarity TD Paul Murphy said: “The housing and cost-of-living crisis is having an ever-greater impact on ordinary people across the country.
“While most are suffering, the profits of the energy companies and big retailers are soaring.
“The Government has some serious decisions that they have to make during the upcoming Budget to fix the housing crisis and to give people real support from the cost-of-living crisis.
“We need a reinstatement of the eviction ban and investment in public and affordable housing, to put a cap on mortgages of 3 per cent, to rein in the energy companies with price controls and nationalisation, and to cut USC for people earning under €100,000.”