Burton sets out her plan of action

by Gazette Reporter

With the resignation of Eamon Gilmore, the position as leader of the Labour Party is now a two-horse race, with Minister of State for Primary Care Alex White (Lab) and Dublin West based Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton (Lab) contending.
Speaking to the Blanch Gazette, Minister Burton said: “I feel extremely confident. I am getting a lot of support for the platform that I’ve put forward, which is that it is critical for the Labour Party as well as the country that we get people back to work.
“We’ve had some success in this so far, but for many it’s been a slow recovery that they are yet to feel in their pockets, in their households, their families and the community.
“We have two more budgets to do in this Government and my focus is on protecting people on low to middle incomes, as well as getting people back to work and also I’d like to see us getting further concessions for the deal in relation to the debt that the country was saddled with as a result of the disastrous bank guarantee which the Labour Party didn’t vote for but which we have been given as a legacy by Fianna Fail.”
She has also advocated the introduction of a low pay commission to look at the issue of wages, and what constitutes a “living wage” which people would be able to support a family on.
Minister Burton has said that reforming the health service is key.
When asked how she hoped to go about this she said: “The process has started now, where a review group has been appointed and I would anticipate that we will get a weekly report at cabinet meetings to deal with the issue of the medical cards, which is a pressing issue for a lot of people.”
She went on to say that she wants to see more progress on community-based health care, citing the primary care centre in Blanchardstown as being representative of the future of health services in Ireland.
In relation to the allocation of medical cards she said that an expert panel has been set up to review the current system: “To identify where they would recommend, given the severity or duration of an illness or condition that it would be appropriate for a medical card. We just have to wait and see what the group recommends.”
Part of her platform is a desire to “move away from the politics of austerity”.
When asked how she proposed to go about this she said: “There are a number of things that are positive at the moment and I think we have to use to our advantage. The president of the European Central Bank [Mario Draghi] announced that he is going to provide funding for SME’s (Small and medium enterprises) throughout Europe, I think it is very important that Ireland take that up as effectively as possible, because SME’s are at the centre of the local creation of jobs, and that’s vital for getting people back to work.”
She stressed that the money saved by getting people back to work, can be used to invest in services and target people who may need more support.
Promoting housing construction is something she intends to focus on if elected leader, as it will provide families with homes and get many people in the construction sector back to work as well.

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