Thursday 29 September 2016

Revealed: Micheál Martin promises to recruit 600 new gardai, increase allowances for rural GPs and freeze third level students fees

Published 06/04/2016 | 15:41

Micheál Martin. Photo: Mark Condren
Micheál Martin. Photo: Mark Condren

FIANNA Fáil leader Micheál Martin has promised to recruit 600 new gardai, increase allowances for rural GPs and freeze third level students fees by the end of next year as part of his attempt to win the support of Independent TDs.

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Mr Martin’s negotiation team provided Independents with a new document outlining detailed timelines for achieving policy measures if Fianna Fáil leads the next government.

Among the proposals is Fianna Fáil’s plan to introduce a “slimmed down” agency to replace Irish Water within 18 months as revealed in the Irish Independent.

The ‘Fianna Fail Response Document on Government Formation’, which has been seen by Independent.ie, also sets out timelines for other key policy areas being discussed with Independents.

This includes timeframes for achieving objectives in housing, health, justice, education and rural affairs.

On tax, Fianna Fáil pledges to abolish the 1pc Universal Social Charge (USC) rate by the end of next year and “simplify the tax and close loopholes” within six months.

The party will abolish USC for all income up to €80,000 over five year, as it promised before the general election.

Mr Martin plans to give the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) an additional €100m to “alleviate” waiting times by next January. No details are given on what target he is setting for waiting times.

He will also abolish the prescription charge over five years and introduce a tax on fizzy drinks. The rural GP allowance will be increased to €25,000. Mental health funding will be increased by €37.4m and a new Mental Health Authority will be established.

In a clear sop to Waterford based Independent Alliance TD John Halligan, Fianna Fail is committing to expanding services in Waterford University Hospital to allow 24 cardiac care services.

Under rural affairs, a food ombudsman will be established, a cross-departmental rural affairs minister will be appointed and there will be reform of the commercial rates system.

The document states that broadband will be available in every home within five years.

For older people the State pension will be increased by €30 and the living alone allowance will be raised to €15.

In the section on justice, Fianna Fail promises to recruit 600 gardai and double the size of the Garda Reserve by the end of the year.

The party will set up a National Major Crimes Investigation Team and a Serious Organised Crime Unit.

Mandatory sentences will be introduced for attacks on older people.

Under education, Fianna Fail will stamp out the practice of schools seeking voluntary contributions from parents, ensure LGBT teachers are treated equally and introduce PE teachers in primary schools.

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