Martin criticises FG over 'unfair budgets'

 

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has said the Government had produced two “unfair” budgets because it “narrowed the menu of choices” by insisting on no income tax increases or welfare rate cuts.

He said Fine Gael’s rejection of Labour’s proposal for a 3 per cent increase in the universal social charge for those earning €100,000 showed the larger party wanted “to protect the well-off in society”.

Reacting to Minister of State for Finance Brian Hayes’s statement that the Government had almost reached the limit of how much taxation it would impose, Mr Martin said: “I don’t agree with the Fine Gael proposition that we’ve reached the end of the road on taxation.”

Interviewed on RTÉ Radio One’s This Week programme yesterday, he criticised “the sort of ideological orthodoxy that now appeals to the new generation of Fine Gael deputies”.

Proposals criticised

A series of Labour figures, including Minister of State for Trade and Development Joe Costello, have made clear they disagree with Mr Hayes, but Minister of State for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton said his comments reflected a widely held view in Fine Gael “and indeed in Government”.

Mr Martin said the Croke Park agreement needed to be changed and increments deferred. He criticised proposals to recruit graduates on lower rates than existing employees in fields such as nursing.

“The idea of kind of developing a form of apartheid within professions is one that I think people are increasingly worried about and angry about,” he said.

Property tax

On property tax, Mr Martin said his party was now against the idea because the capacity of many people to pay was “not there”. He said people who had paid high levels of stamp duty from 2002 onwards felt they had already paid a property tax.

A property tax could not be introduced until the economy was in a much stronger position, Mr Martin said. Unemployment was on the rise, many people were in mortgage arrears and the property market was “absolutely dead”.

Fine Gael Meath West TD Damien English said it was “stomach-churning” to hear Mr Martin dismiss the property tax “as if he played no role in creating the conditions that make its implementation necessary”.

He said Fianna Fáil had been trying to “rehabilitate” its leader’s image. “Michéal Martin continues to flaunt blatant hypocrisy on the issue of property tax. Not only did Michéal Martin and his then Government agree to implement a property tax in their deal with the troika, they also promised to increase the tax in December 2012.”