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Wednesday 28 September 2016

New deal to cut USC and hike garda numbers

Water bills still to come, despite abolition promise

Paul Melia, Kevin Doyle and Niall O'Connor

Published 04/05/2016 | 02:30

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin gives the parties response to the deal between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail at Leinster House. Pictures:Arthur Carron
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin gives the parties response to the deal between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail at Leinster House. Pictures:Arthur Carron

Plans to cut USC, increase garda numbers and provide extra funds for rural water schemes are laid out in the deal between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

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The historic deal between the Civil War parties also includes more money for housing and to tackle hospital waiting lists.

The deal is intended to keep Fine Gael in power as a minority government until at least the end of 2018.

The parties also say there will be efforts to reduce the cost of childcare, as well as cutting the size of primary school classes.

And next year's budget will be a 2:1 split between spending hikes and tax cuts in what will be seen as a win for Fianna Fáil.

Low and middle income workers will be targeted for a reduction in the Universal Social Charge (USC). The agreement sees Fine Gael forced to rein in its pre-election pledge to abolish the charge for all earners over the next five years.

Garda numbers will be increased to 15,000 in a massive acceleration in recruitment. Garda numbers currently stand at just below 12,800.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin described the agreement as a "fundamental change to what we've experienced".

Mr Martin said his party was entering into the deal "in good faith" and wanted "the concept of minority government to work".

The parties have agreed to suspend water charges next month until at least early next year.

However, Irish Water will continue to send bills demanding payment to more than 750,000 customers over the next three weeks.

Irish Independent

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