Fianna Fáil ‘a bit to the left’, says Micheál Martin

Party leader critical of ‘right-wing’ Fine Gael plans for US levels of personal taxation

Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin: “We are a bit to the left; historically we always have been in terms of social services, in terms of education, in terms of the health services.” Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin: “We are a bit to the left; historically we always have been in terms of social services, in terms of education, in terms of the health services.” Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has sought to position his party “a bit to the left” ahead of the general election, and criticised Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s plans for United States levels of personal taxation.

Mr Martin on Wednesday said such plans would seriously damage public services, and described Fine Gael as a right-wing party that had moved further to the right while in office.

Fianna Fáil has faced claims in recent weeks that the party’s platform for the general election is unclear. Mr Martin said it stands “fundamentally for a much fairer society”.

“We are a bit to the left; historically we always have been in terms of social services, in terms of education, in terms of the health services,” he said.

“We are a party of the centre, we are not to the right of the centre. We very much believe in strong, publicly funded social services with a fair taxation system that would enable us to pay for that.

“We are pro-enterprise in facilitating indigenous companies to be able to create employment.”

‘Severe cuts’

He claimed Mr Kenny’s desire for US-style taxes would mean “severe cuts to public services”.

“You cannot have US tax rates without really slashing expenditure and investment in health, in homelessness and housing and in education.

“You can’t be everything to all people. Enda Kenny with his US tax rates approach would continue a trend that has seen the decimation of public services and an undermining of them and further privatisations.”

Mr Kenny last month said it is “essential” that Ireland competes with low-tax countries such as Britain, the US, Australia and Canada.

“If we want to compete with other lower-taxed countries we have got to be able to make a similar offer ourselves, and that is why it is absolutely critical that the forward momentum of the Irish economy be kept going,” Mr Kenny said.

In response to Mr Martin’s remarks, Fine Gael TD Jim Daly said Fianna Fáil would be better off spending their time “developing a jobs policy rather than constantly returning to populist politics and attempting to rewrite history”.

“As a result of destroying the economy Fianna Fáil and Michéal Martin hiked takes and introduced the USC,” Mr Daly said. “Now they want to maintain a high tax burden on working families.”