Fianna Fáil-Fine Gael document outlines 10 key aims
Framework for potential coalition includes ‘new green deal’
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar. Photographs: Nick Bradshaw
The document says the “overriding focus” of the two parties is to improve the “wellbeing” of Irish people and society, and it pledges both to recover and rebuild the economy and society after the coronavirus crisis.
The 10 missions are: Reigniting and Renewing the Economy; Universal Healthcare; Housing for All; A New Social Contract; A New Green Deal; A Better Quality of Life for All; Supporting Young Ireland; Opportunities through Education and Research; A Shared Island, and At the Heart of Europe: Global Citizenship.
“We must look beyond economic indicators. We will create new, credible, quality-of-life measures of individual and societal wellbeing and progress,” the document says.
Between them the two parties have 72 Dáil seats, eight short of a majority, and both have said they want a third, smaller party and some Independents in a coalition government.
The intention is to approach parties such as Labour, the Greens and the Social Democrats in the days ahead to see if the document can form the basis for further discussions on a programme for government. Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have ruled out entering government with Sinn Féin.
The document pledges a “new green deal” and says the response to the Covid-19 emergency “illustrates our capacity to react comprehensively and imaginatively to fundamental challenges”.
It says all actions taken must lead to carbon neutrality by 2050. The two parties have committed to setting new carbon reduction targets; ensuring that the recovery at domestic and European levels is carried out through a “green lens”, and tackling the biodiversity crisis, with a Citizens’ Assembly to be convened to further inform such work.
The carbon tax would be increased in line with the agreed cross-party trajectory of €80 per tonne by 2030. There are also plans to plant 440 million trees by 2040.
It commits to launching a new National Economic Plan as part of efforts to reboot the economy after the “unprecedented” Covid-19 crisis, and to prioritising “capital investment by borrowing, if necessary, to stimulate demand domestically; grow employment; respond to social need; and improve our national health, transport, education and housing infrastructure”.
Businesses and the self-employed will also be supported, and the document also says both parties will aspire to progress “to a living wage over the lifetime of the next government”.
It also says that the deficit built up during the coronavirus crisis will be reduced “as the economy grows”. There will be no “increases in income tax and/or Universal Social Charge (USC) and no cuts to established core social welfare rates”.
The section on the economy also says that businesses can prepare for a post-Covid-19 environment “which will have a long legacy and be different from previous experience, with greater emphasis on remote and flexible working and the consequences of social distancing”.
The two parties have promised “bold action” on housing, which was one of the biggest issues in the general election.
There will be “a new deal” for renters, focused on providing more long-term security, stable and affordable rents, and greater choice. The cost of land will be reduced to improve the affordability of housing, “employing all measures up to and including referenda”.
The two parties have also pledged to empower and fund the Land Development Agency to build homes on public and private land. There would be affordable purchase schemes in order to increase home ownership, as well as increased social housing, although no specific figures or targets are mentioned in the document. The parties also plan to develop the cost-rental model in all cities and for student accommodation.
The document promises that the Sláintecare plan to bring about a single-tier health service in 10 years would be accelerated, that universal access to health would be provided in the first instance to women and children, and to ensure that all new consultant contracts in the public service are public only. Bed capacity would also be increased.
It also pledges a new national social contract between citizens and the State.
The document also contains plans to modernise the childcare sector and reduce childcare costs, tackle domestic violence and acknowledge the importance of carers. Parental leave would also be increased.