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Election 2020: Strap yourselves in - it's Manifesto Friday

Inside Politics: Both parties are unveiling manifestos amid criticism over ‘insane’ election promises

Both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael will unveil their vision for the country. File photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

With two weeks to go before polling day, today is the day we finally get a look at some of the party manifestos.

Both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael will unveil their vision for the country so we can expect further promises on childcare, the economy, education, health, justice and housing, among other topics.

And there will be plenty to digest if the 2016 election manifestos are anything to go by.

We have some detail on what is contained in the plans. Fiach Kelly and Pat Leahy report Fianna Fáil will pledge to reduce capital gains tax from 33 per cent to 25 per cent and increase the universal childcare subsidy from €20 per week to €80 per week over five years.


Fine Gael will say it will spend €5 billion of €11 billion in unallocated money available over the lifetime of the next government on the health services.

Given this week was dominated by multi-billion euro pledges from different parties that led to senior economists warning about “insane” election promises, both parties will have to defend themselves against suggestions these announcements are more of the same.

The Government will have to defend its record on fiscal prudence for another reason too.

As we report this morning, fresh delays to the national children's hospital and new concerns around the budget of the project have emerged.

The developments are detailed in minutes of private meetings between senior Government and HSE chiefs that have been seen by The Irish Times.

The board managing the project is trying to find “realistic construction timelines” after a new programme was given by the builders BAM last October that is “not in line with what is in the contract,” the documents state.

Furthermore, because of an “exceptional level of claims” being made by contractors, the project’s contingency fund is not sufficient any more. In fact, €15 million is needed just to defend claims on the project.

It has also emerged a document exists detailing what extra funding for the project is needed. This was to be circulated to officials by the end of last September.

The National Paediatric Hospital Development Board has declined to release this document to the Irish Times, saying it is “commercially sensitive”.

The board said the revised timelines are being reviewed but believes time can be made up.

It also insists the project is currently within budget, but there are clearly emerging pressures that could prove significant.

Opposition politicians may also be wondering why much of this detail - including reports of a delay of up to 88 days at a satellite centre due to be opened this year and a 131-day delay on the facade and frame of the main building - did not emerge during lengthy Oireachtas committee discussions about the hospital in November and December last year.

Officials on the Government and HSE oversight group discussed the developments last October, as the documents in question show.

The cost of building the facility at St James’s Hospital in Dublin has increased from €987 million in 2017 to over €1.4 billion, and the total bill when other costs are included will be €1.7 billion - and maybe more.

Election Daily podcast

If you’re short on time but want to catch up on all the main developments on the election trail, have a listen to our latest Election Daily podcast hosted by Hugh Linehan. Most episodes are only around ten to 15 minutes long and will bring you up to speed.

The latest episode can be found here.

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Election Diary

As mentioned, there are two election manifestos being launched today: Fine Gael’s at 2pm and Fianna Fáil’s at noon.

Green Party Dublin Central candidate Neasa Hourigan and Dublin Bay North candidate David Healy will speak to the media about “the cost of doing nothing on climate change” at 2pm.

Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald, along with Kerry candidate Pa Daly, will outline the party’s proposals in respect of CervicalCheck at 11am.

Labour will publish proposals for a new public childcare option with Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin. He will be joined by some parents impacted by the shortage of places - and by councillors Duncan Smith and Joanna Tuffy and candidate Andrew Montague.

The Social Democrats will focus on anti-corruption measures and ideas for political reform and accountability with co-leader Catherine Murphy.

Aontú will launch its environment policy at 2pm at the Botanic Gardens, including a plan to reduce the cost of public transport by two-thirds.

Our #GE2020 coverage

Follow all the twists and turns of the campaign at our dedicated Election 2020 website on

We will also have a daily political blog to give you live coverage - written, audio, video and social media - of the campaign as it happens. If you see anything that might be worth noting (especially if it’s quirky) you can contact Harry McGee via Twitter @harrymcgee or at

There are also profiles of each of the constituencies on the Election 2020 site for those curious about the state of play in their own area.