Parties planning to cut up to 25,000 public sector jobs


Fine Gael and Labour are set to form a government for national recovery under the terms of a programme being submitted to a special conference of the Labour Party this afternoon at University College Dublin.

The 64-page document begins with a “statement of common purpose” which declares that “a democratic revolution” took place on election day and that “we now face one of the darkest hours in the history of our independent state”.

The two parties have reached a compromise on the year 2015 instead of Fine Gael’s 2014 and Labour’s 2016 for reaching the 3 per cent deficit target.

Fine Gael sought 30,000 job cuts from the public sector on a voluntary basis by 2014, compared to 18,000 sought by Labour. This figure has been agreed by the two parties at between 18,000 and 21,000 within the same period, with a further 4,000 to go by 2015.

On third-level education, the parties have agreed to a “full review” of funding before the end of this year, based on the Hunt and OECD reports.

“Our goal is to introduce a funding system that will provide third-level institutions with reliable funding but does not impact access for students,” the document adds.

A new State-owned water utility company is to be established to take over from the local authorities, with the objective of installing water meters in every household and “move to a charging system that is based on use above the free allowance”.

A Constitutional Convention will review Bunreacht na hEireann and the government will “prioritise” referendums on five topics: abolition of the Seanad; reversing the effects of the Abbeylara judgment on the powers of Oireachtas committee investigations; protecting the right of citizens to “communicate in confidence” with their public representatives; cutting the salaries of judges in “restricted” circumstances; and children’s rights.

The Convention will also consider such topics as, same-sex marriage, reducing the presidential term from seven to five years, reducing the voting age, and removing the provision on blasphemy.

The number of TDs will be reduced in line with the 2011 Census, ministers’ salaries will be cut, political expenses will have to be vouched for and severance payments for ministers will be cut.

A strategic investment bank, proposed by Labour, is to be established. State training agency Fás will be replaced by a National Employment and Entitlements Service.

Resources will be provided within the first 100 days of the new administration for a jobs fund. An Export Trade Council will be established to promote trade and exports.

A National Development Plan will be drawn up for the period 2012-19. A commercially-financed investment programme called the “New Era” plan, which was the title used in the Fine Gael manifesto, will also be put  in place.

The document states: “We will target up to €2 billion in sales of non-strategic state assets drawing from the recommendations of the McCarthy Review Group on State Assets, when available.”

The programme also pledges “to stick to the aggregate adjustment as set out in the National Recovery Plan for the combined period 2011-12”.

Current rates of income tax together with bands and credits will be maintained. Top marginal rates on income will not be increased.

“We will reduce, cap or abolish property tax reliefs and other tax shelters which benefit very high income earners,” the programme states.

The new government will “consider” a site valuation tax on property which must take account of “mortgage distress” and the provision of a reliable stream of revenue to local government.

“We will review the Universal Social Charge,” the document says. An independent Fiscal Advisory Council will be set up to “undertake fiscal macroeconomic projections and monitoring”.

In the area of health, universal health insurance will be brought in by 2016, with access according to need and payment according to ability to pay. “Universal Primary Care will remove fees for GP care,” the document adds.

On the Irish language, there is to be “a thorough reform” of the curriculum and the way Irish is taught. There is no reference to the controversial Fine Gael proposal to drop Irish as a compulsory subject of study for Leaving Cert.