Martin slams Leo's 'false promises' over getting rid of USC

Micheal Martin

Aine McMahon

It will not be possible to abolish the Universal Social Charge (USC) in the next five years, Micheal Martin has said.

Speaking in a pre-Christmas briefing, the Fianna Fail leader hit out at Fine Gael for its vow to scrap USC in the 2016 general election.

"I think very false promises were made in the last election by Leo Varadkar and by Fine Gael that they would abolish USC," Mr Martin said.

"That was never going to happen, because the money was never there to do that.


"I said to people on the doorstep, it will not be abolished in the next five years either.

"Because if you want to do more housing and if you want to deal with health and climate change, these areas take expenditure.

"We have to be honest with people."

The USC was introduced in Budget 2011 to replace the income levy and was designed to be a temporary measure during the financial crisis.

"What stunned me with the British election was both parties promising billions and billions and billions, £50bn a month," he said.

"I mean, I think we're hopefully going away from that in Ireland."

Mr Martin said Fianna Fail would not be making pledges to voters in this year's general election that it cannot keep.

"When Fine Gael came into office, they knew that was a false promise, sure they abandoned it straight away," he said.

"So I'm not going to make promises that we'd have to abandon, you know, after the election.

"There has to be a credible basis, what we say and what we commit to in the election."

Mr Martin said last week that the confidence and supply deal between Fianna Fail and Fine Gael will become "untenable" if a legislative programme for the new year is not set out.

However, Mr Varadkar said he plans to meet with Mr Martin early this year to agree on the programme.

Mr Martin wrote to the Taoiseach and asked that they agree an election date, indicating the "sensible and logical option" would be to agree a set of legislative priorities up until the Easter break.

A general election is expected to be held in the spring, with Mr Varadkar stating that May would be his preferred month for the vote.