With the countdown until polling day on, Fine Gael has published 10 commitments for the first 100 days of a new government.
An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar; Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure, and Director of Organisation, Paschal Donohoe; and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, made the announcement in Carlow saying that the following are immediate priorities:
· Brexit Deal: We will engage in extensive diplomacy with other European leaders to agree the negotiating guidelines for an EU-UK Trade Deal with our EU colleagues. We will ensure that Ireland’s position is as strong as possible.
· First Time Buyers: We will increase the threshold to €30,000 or 10% of the cost of buying or building a new home under our Help to Buy scheme.
· Rural Serviced Sites Fund: We will set up a rural serviced sites fund to help people build a home in smaller towns and villages around Ireland.
· New Elective Hospitals: We will decide the locations for elective hospitals in Cork, Galway and Dublin to reduce waiting lists.
· Pensions: We will publish legislation to amend the Social Welfare and Pension Act to allow people to continue to retire at 66 and eliminate any requirement to sign on at 65.
· Extend Free GP Care: We will publish legislation to extend free GP care to more children.
· Climate Action: We will publish a Climate Action bill which will include the banning of the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030; putting net zero emissions by 2050; making the adoption of carbon budgets a legal requirement.
· SMEs: We will make perjury a statutory offence making it easier to prosecute false or misleading evidence in insurance cases. We will commence the implementation of a new SME strategy to strengthen and future proof our indigenous businesses.
· Tackling Crime and Supporting Communities: Building on the success of the Task Force in the North East Inner City, in offering community supports and improving opportunities, we will establish a new Taskforce in Drogheda. We will also identify other Taskforce locations to benefit from this initiative.
· Enact the Gender Pay Gap Information Bill: This legislation will require companies to publish information on the gap in pay between men and women.
An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, said:
“The Irish people have a crucial decision to make on election day – one which will determine whether our country goes forward, or back. This is a change election and Fine Gael has been driving that change over the last number of years.
“But change isn’t always for the better – change brought about Brexit in the UK and Trump in the US. Fianna Fáil want you to think they have changed but they haven’t. If let back into Government they will make all the same mistakes again. The kind of change Sinn Fein would bring will put jobs, incomes and businesses at risk.
“The only way to stop a Fianna Fáil/Sinn Fein led government is to vote Fine Gael.
“A vote for Fine Gael is also the only way for middle income taxpayers to get fairer taxes. Hard pressed workers on incomes of around only €40,000 deserve to keep more of their hard earned money in their pockets. We are the only party that will do that.
“A vote for Fine Gael is the only way to get a better deal for families and older people. No matter who forms a government, any promises are dependent on Ireland getting a good deal on Brexit. Fine Gael has the best team on Brexit, the team that can be trusted with people’s jobs and their futures.
“This election is about the future. This Saturday, I am asking voters to vote for Fine Gael, the only Party which has the team to deliver a future to look forward to.”
Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe said:
“As we approach the end of the campaign and polling day this Saturday, I ask people to consider where we are, where we have come from and the direction of travel we want for our country and our future.
“Our economy is now strong – among the strongest in Europe – our public finances are in order, we are investing in the public services and the homes, schools, hospitals and public transport that we need on for a good standard of living and an even better quality of life.
“We know that more needs to be done. We have the plans for that. We know that those plans need to be implemented. We have the people for that. We know that there are challenges and opportunities ahead for our great country. We have the determination to meet, and avail of, those head on.
“Fianna Fáil in office would catapult us back to the worst mistakes of the Celtic Tiger. Sinn Fein would drive business and jobs from our shores. We have worked so hard to get to where we are now. But we know that there is more to be done. I am asking people to allow us to continue that work and to build on the progress we have been making in recent years by voting Fine Gael on February 8th.”
Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys said:
“Fine Gael will hit the ground running. Positive change is happening. An improving economy and a good Brexit outcome will enable us to continue providing more houses, more hospital beds, more nurses and Gardaí, deliver climate action, and drive tax reform.
“I want people to start feeling the growing strength of our economy in their pockets, in their payslips and in their towns and parishes. Fine Gael is the only Party with the team to deliver for all parts of Ireland and all people in Ireland.”