Government pledges to cut top tax rate for workers
Five TDs promoted to Cabinet, with number of women Ministers rising to four
The Taoiseach Enda Kenny with Tánaiste Joan Burton and members of the new Cabinet before entering the Dáil yesterday. Photograph: Merrionstreet.ie
A pledge to reduce the 52 per cent tax rate on low- and middle -income earners is one of the key commitments in the Government’s statement of priorities.
Other pledges include increases in the household benefits package to compensate older people and vulnerable groups for the water charges.
Measures to address the pensions gap between the public and private sectors and between men and women are also listed as priorities.
The Government pledges came in tandem with a Cabinet reshuffle yesterday which saw five new Ministers and a doubling in the number of women Ministers to four.
One of the biggest surprises of the reshuffle was the promotion of Monaghan TD Heather Humphreys to the post of Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. The other new Fine Gael Cabinet Minister is Paschal Donohoe, who was given Transport and Tourism.
The vacancies were created by the appointment of Phil Hogan as Ireland’s next EU commissioner and the move of Jimmy Deenihan to the junior ranks as Minister of State in the Taoiseach’s Department with responsibility for the diaspora.
On the Labour side three former party leaders – Ruairí Quinn, Pat Rabbitte and Eamon Gilmore – departed.
Labour promotionsThey were replaced by new deputy leader Alan Kelly, who takes over from Phil Hogan at Environment; Jan O’Sullivan, who takes over at Education; and Alex White, who gets Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.
The other big moves were the appointment of Leo Varadkar as Minister for Health and the promotion of Charlie Flanagan to Foreign Affairs.
Last night Fine Gael TDs expressed satisfaction at the emphasis on tax while the Labour side regarded a low pay commission and commitments on housing as important concessions.
The new junior ministers will be announced next week. Kathleen Lynch and Seán Sherlock are regarded as safe on the Labour side, but a number of changes are expected on the Fine Gael side.
Speaking at Government Buildings, Taoiseach Enda Kenny emphasised the Government’s commitment to job creation. He also said that, in addition, the Government would have to ensure that the fruits of recovery were felt by the workers leading Ireland’s recovery.
Mr Kenny said that the universal social charge had brought the top rate of tax to 52 per cent for individuals and families on average incomes.
He outlined a four-point plan, involving the reduction of the 52 per cent rate on low and middle incomes in next year’s budget, the establishment of a low pay commission, the improvement of child income supports for low-paid families and increased access to subsidised childcare.