Fine Gael plan for Ireland

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The aim of Fine Gael’s jobs policy can be boiled down to three things:
• Getting people back to work;
• Making Ireland a better place to do business;
• And getting more Irish business to look beyond our borders and to sell on a global scale.
Getting people back to work:
• Unlike other parties we will not increase direct taxes on jobs and enterprise to promote job creation and investment.
• Youth unemployment is a feature of this recession. To stop our young talent leaving Ireland we are proposing over 45,000 placements in a range of new training, job placement and educational opportunities:
o National Internship Programme: 23,000 placements in the public and public sector for unemployed graduates;
o 17,000 additional second chance education places for those who left school early driven into an unsustainable construction boom and who are now unemployed;
o And a temporary increase in the number of community unemployment places to provide real on the job experience in our communities.
• We will halve the jobs tax on the lowest paid. Fianna Fail made the indefensible decision to slash the minimum wage. Instead Fine Gael will cut in half employers PRSI on the lowest paid to protect their jobs and to encourage new jobs.

Making Ireland a better place to do business
• We will reduce the cost of Government-imposed red tape on business by €500 million, in part by streamlining business inspections under a Business Inspection and Licensing Authority and a single Food Inspectorate.
• We will tackle high costs from sheltered sectors of the economy – such as transport, medical, waste and legal services.
• Out of date pay structures in certain sectors will be reviewed and all existing employment law will be consolidated into a Single Employment Act.
• We will support new business start-ups by simplifying tax registration, providing continued social welfare cover for three years and exempting some regulatory requirements designed for bigger companies.
• We will examine the feasibility of a single business tax for micro businesses (turnover less than €75k per annum) to replace all existing taxes.
• We will offer tax credits to multinational companies that provide the funding and mentoring needed by emerging Irish-owned companies to enter international markets.


Increasing Irish Exports
• A new ‘Home to Export’ programme will be established to share the expertise of exporting companies with firms currently reliant on declining domestic markets. A ‘Source Ireland’ portal will be developed to market Irish goods and services abroad.
• Service companies that export more than 90% of their output will be allowed become VAT exempt, improving their cash-flows and cutting down on red tape.
• We will publish a new Asia Strategy with the aim of trebling trade between Ireland and Asia during this period 2011-2025.
• We will develop Ireland as a ‘digital island’ and first-mover when it comes to information technology and cloud computing.
• We will put in place specific strategies to support high-potential growth sectors, such as international education, digital gaming, financial services and tourism.


Prior to the Government’s Budget 2011 the Party’s position on spending cuts vs tax increases was 3 to 1: €3 of spending cuts for every €1 of tax rises. Taking account of the government’s measures in Budget 2011, Fine Gael’s position on spending cuts vas tax increases is now 72% to 28%. Fine Gael remains committed to achieving the 3% deficit target by 2014.


Noonan Announces Plan for ‘Jobs Creation Bill’ in 1st 100 Days if FG Elected to Govt

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

At the launch of the YFG Youth Manifesto, ‘Let’s Get Young Ireland Working’, Fine Gael’s Finance Spokesman, Michael Noonan announced details of his Party’s plans to hold a ‘Jobs Creation Bill’ within 100 days if elected to office on the 25th of February.

“If we get elected to Government on February 25th, we want to start implementing the jobs plan element of our 5 Point Plan straight away.

“The primary focus of the ‘Jobs Creation Bill’ will be to stimulate growth, protect jobs and create new sustainable jobs in the economy. We would plan that the ‘Jobs Creation Bill’ (JCB) will have passed all stages by July 1st.

“The main components (see Appendix 1 for more detail and costings) of the JCB will include;

• A cut in the 13.5% rate of VAT to 12%;
• Halving the lower 8.5% rate of PRSI;
• Exempting from VAT service companies that export more than 90% of their output. At present this just applies to manufacturing companies.
• Abolition of the Travel Tax;
• Re-allocation of the remaining National Pension Reserve;
• 5,000 National Graduate Internship Places.

“These make up the first stage of the policies needed to support recovery in the jobs market. The ESRI projects that, with the right policies, the Irish economy has the capacity to add 100,000 additional jobs by 2015. Fine Gael’s 5 Point Plan is the only coherent strategy to deliver on this potential.

“The total cost of these initial measures will be €338 million in 2011. In order to finance these additional job-creation measures while respecting the deficit targets agreed with the EU and IMF, we will bring forward the 0.5% levy on pension funds agreed with the pensions industry as a fairer alternative to the halving of income tax relief on new pension contributions being proposed by Fianna Fáil.

“With these measures, implemented within 100 days if elected to office, Fine Gael can provide real hope to a younger generation who have seen their plans and aspirations devastated by a collapsing economy. Fine Gael has the plan and the people to start creating a new hope for a new generation of Irish workers. If we receive the support of the public on the 25th of February our policies and plans will start impacting on the problem by the start of July.”

Appendix 1 – Fine Gael Measures for Inclusion in Jobs Creation Bill

A cut in the 13.5% rate of VAT to 12%
Alongside the rise in the standard 21% rate of VAT proposed by this Government, we will cut the 13.5% rate of VAT on labour-intensive services (construction, home extensions, hotels, restaurants, hairdressing, newspapers etc.) by at least 1.5% until 2014, bringing it down to 12%. This will boost the competitiveness of our tourism sector and help divert domestic consumer spending from import-intensive goods into labour-intensive domestic services. Cost: €196 million.

Halving the lower 8.5% rate of PRSI
We will halve employers’ PRSI for all new and existing jobs paying up to €356 per week from employers’ PRSI until 2014. This makes more sense than the PRSI holidays limited to staff hired after six months on the dole, which is of no benefit in protecting existing jobs and indeed can lead to displacement of existing employees: Cost €100 million.

VAT Exemption for Service Exporters
We will extend the 13A VAT regime from exporters of goods to exporters of services from Ireland, such as insurance, financial services, IT and consulting, health services and travel and transport services. This means that service companies that export more than 90% of their output will become VAT exempt, improving their cash-flows and cutting down on red tape. With the right policy environment, service exporters could play a major role in lifting Ireland out of recession. Cost: €10 million.

Abolition of the Travel Tax
To support our business and tourism sectors, we will complete the abolition of the job-destroying travel tax if we can secure a deal with the airlines to restore cancelled routes. Cheaper and more extensive international access in and out of Ireland will be vital for export-led recovery. Cost: €27 million.

5,000 National Graduate Internship Places

This will offer part-time one-year placements in the public service, private sector and voluntary sector for unemployed graduates to gain valuable experience while studying for a masters or diploma. Among the positions available will be classroom and teaching assistants in schools and nursing assistants in hospitals. Cost: €5 million net of social welfare savings.

Re-allocation of the remaining National Pension Reserve
The Finance Act will also amend the National Pension Reserve Act to transfer control of the remaining reserves to a New Economy Recovery Authority (NewERA), as a first step in the process of restructuring and recapitalising streamlined semi-state utilities to bring forward an extra €7 billion in investments in water, energy and telecommunications. Initial investments by the NPRF will, when market conditions are right, be supplemented by the proceeds of the sale of non-strategic state assets, such as ESB International, Power Generation and Customer Supply (but not ESB Networks) and Bord Gais Supply (but not the pipelines).

Additional Spending on Home Insulation and other Energy Saving Measures
We will double resources for certain home insulation and other residential and commercial energy saving schemes in the second half of 2011. We will bring forward demand for these schemes by announcing their closure to new applications in 2014. Cost: €26 million


Fine Gael on Morgage Arrears

Fine Gael will provide assistance for struggling homeowners as the number of people in mortgage arrears continues to spiral upwards.

The number of people unable to meet their mortgage repayments for the past three months has reached 45,000. This is a clear indication that Fine Gael’s proposals for homeowners need to be implemented to help ordinary people cope with unsustainable mortgage repayments.

Fine Gael has outlined its commitment of making the banks work for the people, and to bring some much needed relief for the negative equity generation who have been hit hardest by the property bubble.

Fine Gael will benefit mortgage holders by:
1. Increasing mortgage interest relief to 30% for First Time Buyers in negative equity who bought from 2004 – 2008.
2. Introducing a Deferred Interest Scheme enabling borrowers to pay at least 66% of their mortgage interest for up to five years.
3. Putting a stop to banks penalising mortgage holders who have rescheduled their debt by putting them on a higher cost rate.
4. Introducing a trade down option to produce a reduction in mortgage debt and more affordable monthly payments.
5. Amending legislation to allow people access to their pension funds to service their mortgages.

Irresponsible lending, facilitated by a Fianna Fail led government, has left people in fear of losing their homes. Fine Gael’s Five Point Plan will ensure that the banks and the government will work for people who are faced with mortgage arrears, and share the burden of negative equity.”


Over half on Fingal housing list are non-Irish nationals.

Friday, February 18, 2011

For the first time more than half those on the waiting list for social housing in Fingal County Council are non-Irish nationals. A third are from outside the EU.

Single parents on the list have risen by 28% to 3,480 and now account for 43% of those waiting to be housed.

The total number on the housing list is 8,144 an increase of 22% on the 6,691 on the list a year ago.

There are a total of 4,108 applicants seeking social housing support with Fingal County Council of non-Irish nationality. Of this group, 2,362  are of non-EU nationality.

It is obvious from the figures that a significant number of the non-Irish nationals on the list have declared themselves as single parents.

Those on the social housing list are entitled to obtain rent allowance while they wait to be housed.  In Fingal this can take up to six years or more. Figures supplied to me by the HSE revealed that over half a billion was paid out in rent supplement in 2009. Half of all residential rents in Ireland are now paid for by the state.





Question:  Councillor K. Dennison

“To ask the Manager how many households are on the list for social housing and how many of these are single parents?”


There are currently 8,144 approved applicants who are seeking social housing support with Fingal County Council.  Of this total, 3,480 present as single parents.


Question: Councillor K. Dennison

“To ask the Manager for an update of the number of individuals of non-Irish nationality and of non-EU nationality on the social housing list?”


There are currently 8,144 approved applicants seeking Social Housing support with Fingal County Council. There is a total of 4,108 applicants seeking social housing support with Fingal County Council of non-Irish nationality. Then, of this group, there is currently a total of 2,362 applicants who are of non-EU nationality seeking social housing support.

Rent-aid bill of over €500m 'propping up house prices'

Note: These questions were originally asked by Deputy Joan Burton in 2009.


Labour tax plans

Thursday, February 17, 2011

€1,361 annual additional cost of Labour tax plans for every household.

50/50 share of taxes & spending savings means more pain for Irish families.

Labour’s high tax plans will see every Irish household hit with €1,361 of additional tax hikes, according to Fine Gael’s Finance Spokesman, Michael Noonan. He was speaking today after he announced further detail on Fine Gael’s plans to provide additional reliefs for families in mortgage distress.

Labour is a high tax Party. That in itself is a legitimate political choice to make as a Party but it is one that, in the current economic crisis, is not credible and risks prolonging and deepening the crisis we all face. The numbers speak for themselves. Every Party has to face a €9 billion adjustment of expenditure cuts and tax increases, to reach a deficit of less than 3% of GDP by 2014. Labour’s claims that a lower adjustment is sufficient are not credible. The EU has made it clear that they will not lend Labour the €5 billion it needs to fill the gap in its figures up to 2014. They will have to reduce the deficit by €9 billion, whatever they might say now.

Labour plans to have a 50/50 share of tax increases vs spending savings. On a deficit reduction of €9 billion that means that Labour is planning for at least €2 billion more in taxes than Fine Gael. If Labour somehow succeeded in extending the period of correction to 2016 as it proposes, and borrows another €5 billion in the process to cover 2015 and 2016, there will be additional interest repayments each year amounting to €400 million per year in perpetuity. And according to Labour’s programme, €200 million of this €400 million will be raised through taxation.

Table 1 below sets out the comparison between the two parties. 

Fine Gael/Labour Tax Plans Compared *

*Numbers have been rounded up for ease of comparison.

The numbers above show how Labour’s tax plans will add another €1,361 to the cost burden of every household (3,062 euro for Labour compared to 1,701 euro for Fine Gael). If the full adjustment is deferred to 2016 as Labour proposes, the tax burden on each family will be even higher, as shown in column 5. This is because of the additional interest charges on the extra borrowing incurred.

The challenge facing our country is one of the most difficult it has ever confronted. That is why Parties have to be honest with the public about what we have to do over the next four years. Our Five Point Plan is clearly resonating with the public and is driving more support to Fine Gael.

Labour is struggling to present a positive message about the future for our country and is struggling as a result. That is the backdrop to the attempts to muddy the waters with ill-informed attack ads. But behind the attacks, the facts remain. Labour’s plans will hit every household in the country for €1,361 in additional taxes. That is the core of the choice the public face in deciding who will best handle our economy in the years to come.


Fine Gael Proposal on Child Benefit

Fine Gael will introduce a new “Child Income Support” payment with universal and targeted components. All families will continue to receive a universal payment and those on social welfare or low income will receive an additional targeted payment.
Fine Gael rejects plans to tax or means test Child Benefit:

* If you means test Child Benefit, all families above a certain threshold will lose Child Benefit altogether
* If you tax Child Benefit, families could lose more than half of the payment

Under the Fine Gael Plan, we will:

* maintain the universal payment so that all families continue to receive support with the cost of child-raising
* protect the 300,000 children at greatest risk of poverty from any reduction in child income support
* set up an Expert Group on Child Poverty and Protection to examine how to reprioritise all child income support payments* to protect the most vulnerable children while maintaining a universal benefit for all families

There will be no reduction in Child Benefit in 2012

*Child Income Support Payments include Child Benefit, the Qualified Child Increase that is paid along with social welfare payments and the child related component of the Family Income Supplement.


HSE spend €2m per week on agency staff

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Newly released figures from the HSE show that it spent €108.33 million on agency staff in 2009 – a total spend of over €2 million a week.

The figures were released by the HSE following a motion tabled by Councillor Kieran Dennison at the Dublin north east regional health forum last week. The statistics show that between 2006 and 2009 the HSE’s spend on agency staff increased by more than 35 per cent – a rise of over €28 million.

In 2007 the HSE spent €107.15 million, however, this figure jumped to €117.07 million in 2008. The data relates to agency costs for all HSE service areas, including hospitals and the community. In its response to Cllr Dennison, the HSE said that data for 2010 was not yet available but that it is currently being compiled with a view to being known by the end of February. “The HSE engages agency staff for a number of reasons. Agency staff is engaged to provide cover for specialist HSE staff,” the HSE outlined.

“Where additional staff are required at short notice to cover during periods of peak demand e.g. emergency departments, agency staff may be engaged.” The HSE said that it has taken on a range of agency staff such as locum consultants, nurses, radiographers, physiotherapists, physiologists and dietitians.

Meanwhile the HSE National Service Plan 2011 shows that an estimated €152 million was spent on locum/agency staff in 2010. This compares to €127 million spent on locum/agency staff in 2009. The HSE plans to save €7 million on locum/agency staff in 2011. Agency costs have had a significant impact on hospital budgets in recent years and have been signalled out by hospital management as an area where cuts are needed in order to reduce costs.

Dr James Reilly, Fine Gael spokesperson on health, has previously claimed that agency staff is costing hospitals up to 36 per cent more than directly employing staff. Late last year, a Parliamentary Question by Fine Gael Deputy John O’Mahony revealed that €92 million was spent by statutory and voluntary hospitals on agency staff in 2009.

Niamh Cahill - Irish Medical News Tuesday, 01 February 2011 11:38



Monday, February 7, 2011

I would like to highlight the fact that tomorrow is the last day for the public to get registered on the supplementary electoral register. 
This is the most important general election in a generation, thus it is vital that as many people as possible are registered to vote.
We must do everything we can to encourage our democratic process and encourage people to register to vote.  Every vote is crucial.
Here are some helpful web links:

It is possible to check if you are registered on The following link contains the supplementary register form which must be completed by tomorrow in order to be registered to vote -


Some notes on Fine Gael's Banking Policy

Key proposals of our banking policy include:

• Increasing mortgage interest relief for the negative equity generation;
• Cutting bank costs to avoid interest rate hikes for the consumer;
• Introducing a partial loan guarantee scheme for small and medium businesses;
• Ensuring that fraudulent bankers are pursued for their crimes and face the law;
• Halting future asset transfers to NAMA from Bank of Ireland, AIB and EBS;
• Making bond-holders share the burden of the debts of insolvent financial institutions. This can be done unilaterally for the most junior bondholders, but should be extended – ideally as part of a European-wide framework – for senior debt for insolvent institutions like Anglo Irish and Irish Nationwide that no longer have any systemic economic importance;

• Supporting the sale of AIB and the EBS;
• Diversifying sources of funding for our financial system to avoid being wholly dependent on European Central Bank funding;
• Shrinking the size of the bank loan books to that they are largely financed by domestic deposits.

A key aim of a Fine Gael Government will be to establish a well regulated, competitive, profitable, and privately-owned banking system.


Fine Gael and the Public Service

Friday, February 4, 2011

The public service is one of Fine Gael’s 5 steps to recovery.  The public sector will have a key role to play in rebuilding Ireland.    Public  servants  do  an absolutely vital job and many public servants feel they are being unfairly targeted as a result of a crisis they did not create.
·     The IMF deal for lending to the Irish State contains commitments to reduce the cost of running the Government. There are only two ways to reduce the cost and that is either by reducing numbers or pay.


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