Tuesday 20 March 2018

We'll keep cutting taxes, says FG's Fitzgerald

'Yesterday, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald finally did something meaningful regarding the gathering storm over potential PIRA involvement in murder'
'Yesterday, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald finally did something meaningful regarding the gathering storm over potential PIRA involvement in murder'
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

Fine Gael will continue to slash taxes for working people if re-elected to Government, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has pledged.

Speaking ahead of today's Fine Gael's parliamentary away day, Ms Fitzgerald insisted future budgets should continue the policy of evenly splitting spending on tax cuts and services.

The minister's comments will put her on a collision course with Labour leader Joan Burton, who last weekend said she will push for more spending on services rather than taxes if her party is returned after the forthcoming general election.

"Our economic model is one that if you reduce taxes and you have more job creation there is more money coming into the economy and you have more money for services," Ms Fitzgerald said.

In an exclusive interview with the Irish Independent, Ms Fitzgerald also revealed Taoiseach Enda Kenny will assure Fine Gael members when the party gathers in Adare today that he will not call a snap election this year.

"They will be told, as the Taoiseach said all along, we will go the full-term because that is the plan," she said.

Fine Gael TDs and senators are meeting in the Dunraven Arms Hotel for their final parliamentary party 'think in' of the current Dáil, where the theme of the two-day conference is 'Securing the Recovery'.

Ms Fitzgerald, who is chair of Fine Gael's national election strategy committee, said candidates will be told to ask voters to "trust" them and allow the party continue the economic recovery.

"We're not going to be over emphasising the achievements of Government.

"What we are going to be saying is that you can trust us to make the right decisions in the future to keep this recovery underway," she said.

The minister said the forthcoming Budget will give a "clear message" to people as to what the future holds under a second term of the Coalition.

However, she made it clear Fine Gael will continue to reduce taxes if returned, as the party is of the firm belief that cuts introduced in this year's budget played a major role in boosting the economy.

She hit out at "naysayers" who warned that tax cuts would mean reduced investment for services which suffered during the years of austerity.

"It's all very well to talk about services, but services are built on a strong economy. You cannot have investment in services - in health, more teachers, more gardaí - unless you have manage the economy," the minister said.

She added: "We want to support people out there who are working. We want to make it more worthwhile to work - that is a big focus in Fine Gael. We want to support people because it is their taxes that are making sure we can provide services for other people."

The Coalition has agreed to split spending on taxes and services in this year's budget 50/50, which will see close to €750m spent in both areas.

Last weekend, the Tánaiste said she will be insisting future budgets feature more concentration on services if Labour is back in power with Fine Gael after the election.

However, Ms Fitzgerald yesterday said she favoured an even split as the recovery has shown "you get returns".

Asked about the Tánaiste's comments, the minister said: "I think the facts speak for themselves - it is about balance."

"I think our partners would accept - certainly Brendan Howlin and Joan Burton and the Labour Party accept - that you have to have a strong economy," she added.

Irish Independent

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

Also in this section