Kenny vows to unwind recession-era taxes
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has pledged to unwind the tax hikes and lift the USC burden imposed on workers by the previous Government.
As Greece endured another day of crisis and uncertainty, Mr Kenny insisted that Ireland is a country that will not return to the boom and bust-type model of the past.
"Our recent 'so-called' boom was built on sand, where human and financial capital chased construction and property in a devastating bubble," Mr Kenny said.
The Fine Gael leader used an address to students at Trinity College to strongly attack the record of the previous Fianna Fáil Government.
"With the consent of the Irish people, this Government was given a historic mandate to sort out the mess we inherited. While many of the actions taken were painful for our people, they are ensuring Ireland's future is prosperous and secure," Mr Kenny said.
"Today we are the fastest-growing economy in Europe. Our public finances are under control. We are now in a position to start unwinding the increases in income tax and USC imposed by the previous Government," he added.
But Mr Kenny later came under strong attack by Opposition over his claims last week that Ireland survived the economic crisis without increasing taxes on people's incomes. The remarks were made ahead of an EU summit in Brussels today.
"In Ireland's case, we did not increase income tax, we did not increase VAT, we did not increase PRSI, but we put up alternatives to those measures that were proposed in order to keep a pro-growth policy and make our country competitive, grow our economy and provide jobs," Mr Kenny said.
In response, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin published a list of 45 ways in which his party says the Government increased tax on people's incomes. This list includes increases in DIRT, the abolition of the PRSI allowance, the household charge and the property tax.
The Taoiseach has since attempted to clarify the remarks, telling the Dáil that the Coalition has not increased income tax over the last four-and-a-half years.
But his claims in Brussels were again attacked by the Opposition in the Dáil yesterday.
Mr Martin accused the Taoiseach of making a statement that was "completely and undeniably false".
"There is a clear and now unmissable habit of the Taoiseach's where he gets caught out on something and either denies he ever said it or tries to twist his owns words to mean something else entirely. This has unfortunately been on display again during the last week," Mr Martin said.
"When he claimed that Ireland had managed to get through the crisis without increasing taxes on income, VAT or other taxes he was making a statement which was completely and undeniable false. The 45 tax increases imposed by his government were not imagined by people, they happened and they have hurt," he added.
Sinn Féin's Gerry Adams said Mr Kenny's claims are untrue.
"You did raise income and consumption taxes, you've also introduced water charges and a property tax," the Louth TD said. "You've opted for forced emigration and now half-a-million of our citizens are scattered across the globe, I don't even think you understand the consequences and social difficulties for families and communities of a population of half-a-million (emigrants)."