Burton promises fairer tax system at conference

Saturday 30 January 2016 21.57
The Labour Party conference is taking place in Mullingar, co Westmeath
The Labour Party conference is taking place in Mullingar, co Westmeath

Addressing the Labour conference tonight, Joan Burton gave her final speech to delegates before the general election.

In her speech in Mullingar, Co Westmeath, Ms Burton promised a fairer tax system and a scheme for first-time buyers if the party is voted back into government.

"Our fair tax plan means the bulk of available resources can go towards the services essential for a decent society. For every €1 in tax reductions, €3 will be invested in the services that our families and communities need," said Ms Burton.

Ms Burton also promised to hold a referendum to repeal the 8th amendment.

"Sending women abroad was the 20th century answer - and it was the wrong answer. It’s not the answer of a compassionate state. Labour, if returned, will deliver a referendum on this issue in the next government," said Ms Burton.

The Labour leader also used the time to take a swipe at opposition parties - criticising Fianna Fáil in particular over the Universal Social Charge.

"In 2011, Fianna Fail’s savage Universal Social Charge slashed people’s wages," said Ms Burton.

Earlier, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin said the number of seats that the party is going to win in the upcoming general election will confound critics.

He said they were running 36 candidates and their focus was to have 36 seats.

The minister reiterated that the fiscal space over the next five years would be €12bn which he said was based on figures by the Department of Finance.

In relation to taxation and spending, Mr Howlin said Labour was advocating a three to one approach in favour of spending.

The Labour Party's tax package would be worth €3bn, while the spending element would be €9bn.

The party would not be drawn on the number of seats they would need to win to consider going into government with various ministers saying they were hoping to win seats in all the constituencies that they were fielding candidates.

In relation to a possible Thursday polling day - Environment Minister Alan Kelly said he was sure the Government would agree on a date.

Earlier, Ms Burton stressed the need for balance in government. 

In her opening address, Ms Burton acknowledged that the past five years had been "turbulent", but that they had also been transformative. 

She said the only way to protect, consolidate and extend the gains of the past number of years was to return Labour to government.

The Tánaiste said both Labour and Fine Gael had put the country firmly on the road to recovery and said it was essential the current Government is re-elected.

Ms Burton noted that there were differences between the two parties, however she said they battled over ideas, negotiated and found compromise.

"The centre left and centre right meet on common ground," she said.

The Tánaiste told the conference that opposition parties had nothing to offer. She said that Fianna Fáil bankrupted the country and was bankrupt of ideas, while Sinn Féin were more interested in protecting republican friends than building a good republic.