Kenny ‘putting political calculation ahead of country’s interests’

Fianna Fáil criticises Taoiseach for speculation surrounding general election date

The Taoiseach with Tánaiste Joan Burton in Dublin: Fianna Fáil’s Michael McGrath has said Enda Kenny is putting political interests ahead of the country’s. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

The Taoiseach with Tánaiste Joan Burton in Dublin: Fianna Fáil’s Michael McGrath has said Enda Kenny is putting political interests ahead of the country’s. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

 

Fianna Fáil has accused Taoiseach Enda Kenny of putting political calculation ahead of the overall interest of the country in his ambivalence over the timing of the election.

The party’s finance spokesman Michael McGrath said Mr Kenny had allowed a very unsatisfactory situation develop over the past few weeks, which led to feverish speculation about a November election.

“Having said 2016 he is now doing a 180-degree turn,” he said.

He also said that it was important for the work of the banking inquiry to be completed so that policy makers in future could draw lessons from the mistakes of the past.

Now, he said, it looked like its work would not be completed.

“Running to the country now tells me the Taoiseach is putting political calculation ahead of the overall interest of the country.”

Mr McGrath was speaking at his party’s pre-Budget submission in which it proposed an adjustment of just under €1.5 billion for 2016.

The party wants to split the adjustment 60 per cent to 40 per cent in favour of spending over tax adjustments.

The main change on the tax side is an upward adjustment of Universal Social Charge (USC) bans, while maintaining the current rates. It is worth €293 per annum to each individual who earns over €20,000 yearly.

The party says it will cost €58 million net to abolish Irish Water and replace it with a State-run agency, similar to the National Roads Agency. It has said it will not introduce water charges during the next Dáil term, if elected.

On the spending side the party allocates over a third of the €900m additional spending to health. Among its proposals is the reintroduction of the national treatment purchase fund.

Fianna Fáil also proposes an increase in the old age pension by €5 per week and a €5 increase in child benefit.

In addition, it has said it will reverse the Government’s decision to take parents with the youngest children between 8-14 years of age off lone parent allowance.

It also said it will use the dividend from Nama, worth €200m (this is extra budgetary money) to provide housing solutions.

In that area it also proposes an increase of 10 per cent in rent ceilings.