Labour is offering sensible and targeted tax reform – Howlin

24 February 2016

I’d like to focus my remarks on the next five years.

This election is about the future.

We’ve worked hard over the last five years to bring this country back from the brink.

Back from the cliff Fianna Fail drove it over.

I confess it hasn’t always been easy.

But because it has been difficult I know it cannot be put at risk now.

It would be a tragedy having worked so hard to rebuild economic stability, to replace it with political instability.

The position of Labour and Fine Gael is clear.

We will form a Government together.

We have five years of shared experience of working together.

We’ve had disagreements and settled them.

Both parties have compromised when the country needed us to.

We have formed friendships, in the case of Michael and myself, that will endure.

And we want to finish the job we’ve started.

Fianna Fáil have spent the last three weeks refusing to answer a simple question about who they would do Government with.

A difficult question given that they have ruled everybody else out.

Let’s talk about Fine Gael and Fianna Fail.

The numbers might add up but little else.

They have promised the electorate they will not coalesce.

This promise is informed by their respective party realities.

They are defined, even today, by their opposition to each other.

Fianna Fáil will never willingly play second fiddle to Fine Gael.

The dogs in the street know that.

The only thing, not the first thing, on their agenda would be the split.

Those who know the parties are already talking about temporary little arrangements.

Fianna Fail supporting a minority FG government until it has bruised it sufficiently to seek to take electoral advantage.

It has been a difficult 8 years for the Irish people.

Any they deserve better than silly political gamesmanship.

Labour’s offering in this election is clear.

Sensible and targeted tax reform.

More investment in public services.

Progress on the liberal and reform agenda.

We are the party of change.

Our efforts in Government mean we can now leave behind the austerity years.

It’s already beginning to happen.

For a year and a half we have been able once again to invest again in services.

7,000 new health staff.

€4bn for social housing.

Child Benefit cuts restored.

The first increases in the old age pension for 7 years.

Reductions in the pupil teacher ratio.

And USC relief for low income earners.

It is small progress, but progress nonetheless.

Underpinning this social dividend has been economic stability.

The public finances heading towards balance.

The fastest growing economy in Europe.

Close to 145,000 new jobs.

It is a remarkable turnaround.

This election has been fought on the assumption that this economic recovery will continue.

Those who opposed every measure which got us to where we are today, feel entitled to start from where this Government has got us to, rather than the car crash they would have created themselves.

We cannot take that risk.

There are real economic challenges ahead.

Challenges that will require sound heads not screaming slogans.

Challenges that will require perseverance and patience.

Labour’s record is clear.

We have taken a broken economy and rebuilt it.

We have brought Ireland to a place where we can look forward with hope.

Look forward to the kind of Ireland we can build.

And on that Labour’s vision is clear.

We have worked towards an economic recovery to build a social recovery.

One in which our health services are reformed to focus attention on primary care.

Where we return to social house building.

Where our class sizes allow teachers focus on the individual needs of students.

Where our arts and heritage are supported.

Where pensioners and those dependent on social protection are not left behind.

That is our vision of Ireland.

That is what is at stake on election day.

Only Labour will ensure that our economy continues to grow and that growth is used to improve the lives of all our people.

 

ENDS

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