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Six key policy areas in Fine Gael's election manifesto

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar pictured at Fine Gael’s election manifesto launch in Dublin this afternoon..Picture Gareth Chaney / Collins Photos

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar pictured at Fine Gael’s election manifesto launch in Dublin this afternoon..Picture Gareth Chaney / Collins Photos

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar pictured at Fine Gael’s election manifesto launch in Dublin this afternoon..Picture Gareth Chaney / Collins Photos

Fine Gael also launched their election manifesto today and it's filled with promises on health, housing, tax and climate change.

Here are the six key policies areas:

Housing

Fine Gael's main housing pledge is to expand the Help to Buy scheme so that the maximum tax rebate that can be claimed will be €30,000 or 10pc of the cost of purchasing or building a new house. They are also promising to introduce "indefinite duration" tenancies to give renters long term security.

The Taoiseach's party said the Government will build 60,000 social houses over the next five years if Fine Gael is returned to government. They are also proposing a new scheme which would see local authorities selling small State owned sites in rural towns and villages.

The sites will be sold at cost price and only be available to owner occupiers. New legislation will also ensure any state owned land sold for development will have to include 30pc affordable and cost rental units and 10pc social housing. They are also proposing a review of management company legislation.

Health

The party has promised to increase the health budget by €5bn over the next five years and is sticking to commitments agreed in the cross-party supported Slaintecare document. This includes introducing free GP care for under 18s and free dental care for under 16s.

They will also abolish hospital charges for children, reduce prescription fees, cut the threshold for the drug payment scheme to €75 and introduce baby boxes for all new parents. They will also recruit 5,000 new nurses and 3,840 primary care workers.

Fine Gael is also pledging to fund 2,600 extra hospital beds and 4,500 community over the next five years. They will establish one-stop clinics for women to access cervical screening, sexual health checks, contraceptives and menopause care. Fine Gael also promised deliver free contraception for women aged 17-25.

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Minister for Health Simon Harris during the Fine Gael Irish General Election manifesto launch at City Assembly House in Dublin. photo: Donall Farmer/PA Wire

Minister for Health Simon Harris during the Fine Gael Irish General Election manifesto launch at City Assembly House in Dublin. photo: Donall Farmer/PA Wire

Minister for Health Simon Harris during the Fine Gael Irish General Election manifesto launch at City Assembly House in Dublin. photo: Donall Farmer/PA Wire

Tax

Fine Gael is sticking with it's commitment to increase the entry point for the top rate of tax to €50,000 for a single or €100,000 for a couple which they say will be worth around €3,000 to the average worker. They are also raising the USC income exemption threshold from €13,000 to €20,500.

They will continue to increase the minimum wage in line with the recommendations of the Low Pay Commission and give more welfare benefits to the self-employed whose businesses collapse.

Older people

The headline promise from Fine Gael on the State pension is to increase it by €25 over five years (along with all social welfare payments - except for jobseeker’s allowance).

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On the burning issue of the week, the party is pressing ahead with raising the retirement age to 67 next year (and 68 in 2028). There will be a transition payment for people forced to retire at 65 called a State Pathway Pension. It will be at the same rate as jobseekers allowance - €188 - but without having to prove you are looking for work.

For those forced to retire at 66 there will be a State Transition Pension at the same rate as the current State pension - €248. It will not be means-tested.

Childcare

Fine Gael is promising to extend parental leave by further seven weeks so that by 2025 parents will each have an entitlement to nine weeks of paid parental leave.

The party is also promising to increase the universal subsidy for childcare and the income assessed payments for children under the National Childcare Scheme with an extra €400m investment over the next five years. There are no specifics on how much more parents can expect their childcare to be subsidised, however.

There will be an extra month for the Early Childhood Care and Education programme which will go from 38 to 42 weeks.

Climate change

Fine Gael commits to increasing renewable electricity use to 70pc of all energy by 2030 and invest €8.6bn in major public transport project including Metrolink, and overhauls of the bus networks in Dublin, Cork and Galway through BusConnects

It is also promising a five-year plan to double the number of people cycling to work on a daily basis.

It also pledges ten times more retrofitting activity than there is currently and 50 times the current number of electric cars on the road than there are at present. A 5c levy on disposable coffee cups and an increase in the plastic bag levy to 25c are also promised.


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