Rabbitte accuses FG of lying over 'high tax Labour' claim


The leaders of Labour and Fianna Fáil have again challenged Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny to explain an alleged €5 billion “black hole” in his party’s economic policies.

Speaking before the leaders' debate on TG4, Labour leader Eamon Gilmore said he believed both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil would be forced to alter their economic policies in the future.

“You cannot take €10 billion over the next three years without doing damage to employment and economic growth”, he said.

Mr Gilmore said “even the European Commission says that it won’t work” and that the cuts suggested in the parties plans would result in a €5 billion shortfall unless there were tax hikes or further cuts to public services.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin also challenged Mr Kenny to talk specifics regarding the alleged “black hole”. He also insisted Fianna Fail could do better in this election than opinion polls suggested.

Mr Kenny said Mr Martin should explain where he was over the last 14 years while his party was in government and the existing burden of debt developed. He said Mr Martin’s “thumb-prints” were all over the State’s economic problems.

Meanwhile, Labour has called on voters to think seriously about the implications of electing a single-party Fine Gael government.

The party’s justice spokesman Pat Rabbitte said most people wanted a balanced Government that would enjoy a stable mandate for the next four or five years, but this could not be supplied by Fine Gael.

Mr Rabbitte claimed that more than 300,000 public servants and their families were very worried at the prospect of Fine Gael’s Leo Varadkar being “let loose” on them on behalf of a single-party Government.

“Most of the people I encounter would not consider such a Fine Gael government as a balanced government capable of mobilising the national effort, or holding the allegiance of the broadest number of people to support that national recovery,” he said.

Mr Rabbitte was speaking as Labour published proposals to abolish upward-only rent reviews, which it said could save up to 15,000 retail jobs.

He also defended his party against accusation of negative campaigning over advertisement it has placed in today’s newspapers. These accuse Fine Gael of having hikes in car tax, VAT, water taxes and saving tax, as well as a cut in child benefit, in store for the electorate.

He accused Fine Gael of asserting a lie about Labour by claiming it was a high-tax party.

Separately, a panel of political scientists have said that Fine Gael’s proposals for political reform are the strongest on offer.  The political website reformcard.com scored the Fine Gael proposals at 73 per cent, compared to 68 for Labour in second place, 58 for Fianna Fáil, 53 for the Green party and just 26 per cent for Sinn Féin.

Fianna Fáil were strongest on Oireachtas reform, including the proposal for a secret ballot on the election of Ceann Comhairle. Sinn Féin scored highest on electoral reform while the Green party scored the most marks for local government reform.

Elsewhere, the North’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness travelled to Dublin today to roll out Sinn Fein’s proposals to save and create almost 100,000 jobs in Dublin with its candidate in Dublin South-West Sean Crowe.

The People Before Profit Alliance outlined its energy and natural resources policy outside the Department of the Environment. The party is calling for oil and gas resources to be returned to public ownership.