15 February 2016

Speaking at the launch of the Labour Party 2016 manifesto ‘Standing Up for Ireland’s Future’:


Good morning and welcome to the launch of the Labour Party manifesto.

This is the Labour Party’s offer to the people of Ireland.
It’s a radical and responsible programme for continued recovery, for social progress and reform.

It’s a plan not just for a strong economy but for a decent society.

It’s comprehensive, it’s costed, and it’s fair.

All the proposals in our manifesto which cost money will only happen if the financial circumstances of the country allow.

As of now, the Department of Finance, the European Commission, the Central Bank and most independent commentators believe that an average of 3.1% growth is the most likely scenario over the next five years.

We have based our plans on that forecast.

If it’s wrong, and something is no longer affordable or responsible, we won’t do it.


Because we have a duty to every person and family who has sat at a kitchen table during the crisis and wondered how they’d last until pay-day, or cover the pay-roll.

Our duty to them is to sustain the recovery.

Make sure we never go back – no return to crisis.

It’s very unlikely that any one party will govern alone after the current election.

If there is to be a coalition Government, the parties concerned will come together on the basis of a Programme for Government negotiated after the election.

The shape of that programme depends entirely on the votes of the people.

If the people return a sizeable block of Labour TDs to the next Dail, then I will guarantee that much of our manifesto will be reflected in the Programme for Government.

But if the people do not give us the cards to play, we will not be in a position to play them.

So if people want to sustain the recovery to date, and protect and build upon the progressive gains made, they need to vote Labour.

There are three core principles which underpin our manifesto.

The overriding principle is to invest in the services which people and communities need.

We will invest €3 out of every €4 of additional resources available to us in services.

We will do this because we believe that good public services are the hallmark of a decent society.

At the heart of any thriving community is the school, the hospital, the playground, the community hall.

Supporting these communities and investing in those services is a core principle for Labour.

No other party in this election has the same level of ambition for investment in the services required for a decent society.

We set out in our manifesto the progress we want to make in the next five years.

But it is important to say that we have already made significant progress in relation to many of these services.

We reopened Templemore in 2014 and have already provided for 1,150 new gardai.

We’ll employ more than 2,260 new teachers next year.

And as you know, the HSE is currently doing its level best to attract nurses back to Ireland from overseas.

So the investment is already going in.

We want to continue the investment and continue with the improvements already under way.

The second core principle which underpins our manifesto is this.

It’s time to reduce the tax burden on working families and reduce the costs which they face.

In the first instance, we intend to continue with our programme for reducing USC for low and middle-income workers.

At the same time, we’ll ensure the wealthiest in society continue to pay their fair share.

Our tax plan is the fairest tax plan – full stop.

We will not reduce taxes for the wealthy and very wealthy.

And we’ll stand up for working people, unlike Sinn Fein.

The proposals put forward by Sinn Fein are a con job on working people.

Sinn Fein in power would continue to levy Fianna Fail’s penal USC on nurses, guards, teachers and any public or private sector worker earning more than €19,600 a year.

Maybe it’s just another example of Sinn Fein’s fuzzy economics.

Or maybe it’s just a con job!

Our third core principle is that Labour stands unambiguously and proudly for a modern and inclusive Ireland.

We want to embrace diversity and reform and we want to make sure that our laws do so too.

Labour has a proud record on this.

Key reforms such as marriage equality and legislation for the X case would never have happened without Labour in Government.

So, when we say we want to give the people a chance to repeal the 8th amendment, we mean it.

There will be a referendum on the 8th if Labour is in Government.

Equally, there won’t be a referendum if we are not there.

When we say that want more multidenominational schools, we mean it.

And when we say that we want to continue to work for equality between men and women, we mean that too.

Our manifesto is based on an optimistic vision of the future.

Because that is our fundamental offer to the people.

In stark contrast to so many of our opponents who trade in misery and anger, we offer hope and optimism.

The international economic outlook remains deeply uncertain.

Labour will provide the stable, balanced government required to steer our country through any choppy waters.

There are many challenges and opportunities ahead.

The manifesto we present here today sets out how we want to meet the challenges and take the opportunities.

And so we ask the Irish people to give us the votes to make it a reality.


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