Sunday 20 August 2017

Varadkar tries to show leadership vision in speech on tax and society

Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar. Pic Tom Burke
Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar. Pic Tom Burke

Kevin Doyle Group Political Editor

SOCIAL Protection Minister Leo Varadkar has warned that politicians must set out a "long-term vision" to ensure that we use "our economic freedom to truly liberate people".

In a speech to mark the anniversaries of Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith, the minister said taxation is not the solution to all of our social problems.

And he said while some had jumped on Brexit in an effort to push for a united Ireland, that had been unhelpful.

Mr Varadkar's remarks will be seen as an attempt to shore up his leadership credentials by putting forward both an economic and social vision for the country.

He said people should be able to achieve their ambitions "in a true enterprise economy, where they are rewarded for hard-work, innovation and excellence, and are supported, not hindered, by the state in providing for themselves and their families".

He added: "That is the same belief we have in Fine Gael today. That a functioning tax system should both encourage business and reward individuals as well as providing for those who need protection."

Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar Photo: Tom Burke
Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar Photo: Tom Burke

"Increasing general taxation is not the solution to all of our social and problems and infrastructural deficits and increasing it too much creates a problem in itself.

Mr Varadkar said Michael Collins recognised that "the essence of our struggle was to secure freedom to order our own life".

"And that is the vision that should be at the heart of our thinking in the 21st century. We need to advance and expand the recovering economy so that more people are free to order their own life; they are free to achieve their ambitions and their dreams."

On Brexit, the minister the UK vote "complicates matters considerably for this country".

"It was easy for some to jump on the Brexit result, and use it to make a land-grab for Northern Ireland. And it was counterproductive.

"Often the people who speak loudest about republican values, are the least when it comes to honouring them."

The Dublin West TD said he shares the view of Taoiseach Enda Kenny that there will be a 32-county Republic "at some point in the future".

"Through respect and consent, by accepting the identity of the minority tradition and honouring their values by finding a special place for them to thrive, not through assimilation or the crude majoritarianism in a border poll, he said.

Online Editors

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