Recovery must be felt by all, says the Tánaiste

Joan Burton calls Opposition ‘dismal and negative’ seeing nothing right with Ireland

Labour will approach the

general election arguing that it has “punched above its weight” in Coalition and attempting to portray the Opposition as “dismal and negative”.

On the final day of the party’s two-day think-in in Glen of the Downs, Co Wicklow, TDs and Senators heard a key slogan in Labour’s election campaign will be “Better For All” with a focus on recovery at local level.

"The Labour Party has always punched way above our weight in Government. Look at the policies pursued by this Government, both socially and economically," deputy leader and Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly told The Irish Times.

“We have got way more in the Government in proportion to our size.”

Speaking to reporters at the conclusion of the event, Tánaiste and Labour leader Joan Burton said the party’s election platform would focus on employment and tax, particularly reform of the USC.

Christmas bonus

In the last budget, previous cuts to child benefit and the social welfare Christmas bonus scheme were partially restored. Ms Burton indicated further “improving” these two social welfare packages was part of her plan for the upcoming budget.

She said the country was “finally in recovery mode” and Labour had to ensure the recovery was felt by everybody around the country.

“One of the downsides of some of the Opposition in the Dáil at the moment is they’re a bit dismal and a bit negative and I suppose dissonant in the sense that obviously they don’t see very much particularly right with Ireland, but that’s their issue.”

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin said the capital spending plan would be finalised by next week. About 30 per cent of spending would be allocated to the area of transport, he said.

Robust plan

“It’ll be a robust plan that’ll go across all the infrastructural needs of the country,” he said.

“I hope to have it finalised in the next week or so. And I think that you’ll see that it’ll meet the analysis that we’ve done of the needs of Ireland to sustain the economic growth that the Tánaiste’s talked about.”

Mr Howlin said property taxes “will increase organically over time”.

He said Labour had agreed with Fine Gael ahead of the Budget to reduce taxation pressure on people, “primarily taxation pressure on people who are at work”.

Earlier, Mr Kelly, who is Labour’s national director of elections, briefed colleagues on election planning and logistics in a session closed to the media.

TDs and Senators heard climate change should be a focus of the autumn parliamentary session.

Mary Minihan

Mary Minihan

Mary Minihan is Acting Features Editor of The Irish Times