Employment issue a priority for Green Party

Friday 11 February 2011 22.21
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Green Party - Policies were previewed on the internet
Green Party - Policies were previewed on the internet
Micheál Martin - Those who are re-elected should not receive payment
Micheál Martin - Those who are re-elected should not receive payment
Labour - Criticism of strategy by other parties
Labour - Criticism of strategy by other parties

Green Party leader John Gormley has said the number one priority for his party was the provision of jobs.

Launching the party's manifesto, Mr Gormley also promised a new constitution for Ireland, which the party says will drive reform.

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Eamon Ryan said the Green Party spent three-and-a-half years in Government fighting. He said the party was fighting for reform.

Mr Ryan said the party had a range of achievements in Government and ran out of road on many reforms, some of which were significant but would not grab headlines.

Regarding severance payments for ministers, Mr Gormley said he would accept the payment, but would contribute 20% of it to the Green Party and the remaining 80% to a registered charity.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has confirmed that he will waive his right to a ministerial severance payment worth almost €90,000.

Mr Martin said he has told his former ministerial colleagues in Fianna Fáil that they must also forego the payment if they are re-elected to the Dáil.

He said the current arrangements for severance payments were in place for previous Governments, including when the current leaders of Fine Gael and Labour ceased to be Ministers.

His deputy leader Mary Hanafin told RTÉ's Morning Ireland yesterday that she planned to keep the payment.

However, Ms Hanafin said she would give up the payment if the situation changed.

Mr Martin said: 'I believe there is a basic principle that severance should only be paid to those who lose their jobs.

'For this reason, and following discussions, I have informed colleagues that those who are elected to the 31st Dáil will be required to waive their ministerial severance payments.'

He denied that he had flip-flopped on the issue, insisting that he simply had thought about the issue.

Labour leader Eamon Gilmore has said that he received a severance payment for his period as a Junior Minister, but he said it was for a relatively short period and the amount reflected this.

Mr Gilmore said we are now living in different times and severance arrangements needed to be ended and politicians’ pensions needed to be set by an independent body.

When asked if the amount would be similar to the €40,000 severance package which Enda Kenny said he received over three years, Mr Gilmore said he did not think so as he was a Minister of State and not a Cabinet Minister.

Mr Martin outlined details of his party's health policy at a news conference in Dublin.

He said clear problems remaining in the health system, such as in emergency departments, could be dealt with by implementing further reforms in the health system, but not by dismantling the existing system.

Mr Martin said the party believes in a strong public health system, with services as close to people as possible.

HSE staff numbers will be reduced over the coming years by non-replacement and a recruitment embargo in the party's plans.

Labour focused on reform

Labour this morning published its election manifesto in which it is promising economic, political and social reform.

The party has put the renegotiation of the EU-IMF deal at the top of its document and sets out how bondholders should share in bank losses.

The document also commits to an 18-month PRSI holiday for employers recruiting new staff from the Live Register.

It also outlines how it intends to hold a referendum on same-sex marriage and confirms the party intention to regulate scientific stem cell research.

Fine Gael launched its plan to keep small businesses working at news conference in Dublin this morning.

Party spokesman for Enterprise Jobs and Employment Richard Bruon said if in Government the party proposes to set up a €100m fund for new start-up companies.

The party also plans to legislate for, and if necessary, test the constitutionality of removing upward only rent reviews. It also says it would freeze local commercial rates.

Sinn Féin has published its proposals on reform of the taxi industry called 'Fare Play For Taxi Drivers'.