We asked for your questions and put them to the politicians.
It’s been a busy few weeks for politicians. They’ve been trying to convince you to give them their number one vote on Saturday February 8th.
As part of our election coverage, we invited each party to nominate a candidate running in one of the 15 counties to which we broadcast, to answer questions from you, our listeners.
Every political party was asked to participate but we did not get responses from Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin, the Irish Democratic Party, Aontú, Renua, the Irish Freedom Party or a number of Independent candidates. However we had previously spoken to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin about his party’s policies.
Here’s what some of the #GE2020 candidates had to say for themselves (FYI, the questions were randomly assigned):
Nessa Cosgrove, Labour, Sligo/Leitrim
Eimear (21, Galway): “If elected to the Dáil how are you going to do your bit to help tackle the housing crisis in Ireland, or is even an issue of importance to you in the first place?”
“It’s absolutely one of the reasons why I’m running.
“First of all we’d implement a full rent freeze so that rising rents don’t keep going up. We would move it away from having this over investment and over reliance on private landlords that’s been going on for way too long.
“Labour will commit to building 80,000 homes on public land and investing €16 billion without having to raise taxes. We’ll cap rents until more houses and are built and we’ll bring in long-term leases for renters and stop the unfair evictions. We will also end tax breaks for vulture funds.”
Tate Donnelly, Green Party, Cavan/Monaghan
Patrick: “What are they going to do when it comes to public transport and the creation of better, more affordable public transport in rural Ireland?”
“Public transport in rural Ireland is something that I’m very passionate about. The lack of public transport at the moment contributes to rural isolation, to a higher cost of living, to a worse standard of living and to higher emissions.
We can really do so much better and be more ambitious with our public transport. On railway, I’m going to campaign for more services on existing lines and to reopen old lines, for example, in my own constituency of Cavan–Monaghan I’ll be campaigning to reopen the Kingscourt railway station. I think we need to expand the rural link so everybody can get to the pub, to the shop or to work.
I’m going to be campaigning for more affordable, more frequent and more reliable bus services and I’ll also be campaigning for free public transport for students, so absolutely everybody is able to get an education.”
James Reynolds, the National Party, Longford-Westmeath
Orlaith (21): “How will you make third level education more accessible i.e. do you plan on lowering fees or increasing grant accessibility for those who are falling just above the bracket?”
“Access to education should be a right for all Irish people. No one should have their educational aspirations limited by financial constraints.
“The current SUSI grant is inadequate for many students. The squeezed middle classes are struggling to pair for third-level education. We need to increase accessibility to the grant and ensure financial constraints do not impede on anyone’s education.
“Postgraduate students also need to be looked after. Postgrad educated workers are becoming more and more needed in the modern workforce. Their educational needs must not be forgotten. If elected, I would be a strong advocate for third-level students in Longford-Westmeath and ensure education is more accessible.
Niall Ó’Tuathail, Social Democrats, Galway West
Patrick: “I’d ask my local representative what they’d do in terms of alleviating the crisis in healthcare and beds in hospitals?”
“I have experience from the NHS in England and Scotland fixing health systems. The big thing we need to do is invest in community care, particularly for [the] frail [and] elderly, people who are dying, people who have serious mental illness.
“They’re around half of the people in hospital beds and often there are far better and far cheaper ways to look after them outside of hospital. I have experience of doing that in Scotland and other places and I want to get into the Dáil to fix that in Ireland.”
Barbara Smyth, People Before Profit, Longford/Westmeath
Alice: “What are they going to do for the childcare sector? They’re on about giving grants and they’re giving this, that and the other, but they’re giving nothing to the workers so what are they going to give to the workers? Are the workers getting a pay rise?”
“In answer to Alice, it is the policy of People Before Profit to make childcare workers civil servants on proper salaries and to set up a public childcare service providing 33 hours per week free childcare to families.
“We want to make the situation better for workers in childcare and the workers who benefit from their services.”
Alan Dillon, Fine Gael, Mayo
Katie: “What are you going to do for young drivers, especially newly qualified ones, who are finding it increasingly difficult to keep themselves on the road with the rising cost of car insurance?”
Alan said: “Fine Gael does understand the challenges faced by drivers, especially the new qualified drivers and getting insurance. We’ve done a lot but there still [are] challenges that we need to respond to. In 2016 Fine Gael established the cost of insurance working group which reported on the cost of motor insurance in 2017. It also enacted the Judicial Council Act in 2019 and this new council, once in place, would establish the personal injuries guidance committee.
In this year’s manifesto, Fine Gael has committed to cutting the cost of insurance where we will extend the transparency of the claims database to cover public and employer liability insurance. We will create from existing resources an office within government tasked with encouraging the entry of international insurers into the Irish market.
We would make perjury a statutory offense and easier to prosecute. This will ensure that false or misleading evidence in insurance cases are discouraged. We would also introduce a deterrent to prevent individuals with a history of bringing fraudulent claims from bringing new claims without the prior approval of the High Court to deal with serious claimants. We would consider changes to the Occupancy Liability Act and the Civil Liability Act as strengthen waivers and notices to increase protection from consumers, businesses, sporting club, and community organizations.
If these measures do not result in significant reductions Fine Gael will then consider bringing forward a new constitutional amendment to allow the Oireachtas to set down guidance on premiums.”
#GE2020 takes place on Saturday February 8th so make sure you use your vote.