Saturday 17 March 2018

Candidates will run on pledge to keep tax low

Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

ENDA Kenny has pledged that Fine Gael candidates elected in May's council elections will ensure that local taxes remain low.

The Taoiseach said that the economic recovery being recorded nationally must in tandem be felt locally.

Hundreds of Fine Gael members attended the party's Ard Fheis last night, during which the issue of healthcare topped the agenda.

However, Mr Kenny used his opening address to reflect on the importance of ensuring that communities reap the benefits of Ireland's economic recovery.

"A vote for Fine Gael candidates is a vote for efficient and cost-effective local government; for low local taxes and for ensuring that economic recovery is felt locally," he said.

Mr Kenny told delegates that his ministers will now focus on ensuring that young people are provided with the opportunity to live and find work at home.

The Taoiseach previously courted controversy by linking emigration to the erection of the controversial electricity pylons.

The remark, which was made during Mr Kenny's trip to Saudi Arabia in January, was later dubbed the Gaffe in the Gulf.

However, Mr Kenny made no such gaffe last night as he vowed to ensure young people can remain at home.

"My single objective, and that of the government, is to see that our people, our young people, have the opportunity to live and work in their own country. And the impact of Government will be focused relentlessly in the time ahead on those two issues," he said.

The Taoiseach focused heavily on healthcare, just hours after the Department of Health published a highly critical report on maternity services in Portlaoise Hospital.

However, according to Mr Kenny, his Government inherited a health system that was "resistant".

He added that "waiting" became a national ritual during the Celtic Tiger years.

"They waited on lists. They waited on chairs. They waited on trolleys," he said.

"On one day in January in 2011, their waiting created a national record: 569 sick, vulnerable people lying on trolleys in the various A&Es across our country.

"Everyone knows that once they are in our health system, they are well cared for.

"We have the best nurses, doctors, care staff in the world. Getting into the system has been the problem."

Mr Kenny paid several tributes to the work of embattled Health Minister James Reilly during his Ard Fheis address.

He said his deputy leader is focused on achieving reform.

"Minister Reilly's work is focused on the patient and on making the fundamental structural changes that will bring about a really effective health system for everybody."

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Also in this section