Fine Gael has launched its election manifesto in Dublin, promising a new 30% tax rate for moderate wage earners.

Fine Gael leader Michael Noonan said that he was offering voters a vision of a forward-looking Ireland, and promised to plan the future with care.

The party insisted that it would get public spending back under control, and only borrow to pay for infrastructural development.

The Fine Gael Deputy leader has said that the party's proposed tax cuts have been fully costed by the Department of Finance.

Jim Mitchell said Fine Gael would fully fund the National Development Plan and eliminate discrimination against single income couples introduced through individualisation.

Fianna Fáil's Charlie McCreevey said the scope for tax cuts was limited. He said it was not possible for Fine Gael to do what they promise within a sensible budgetary framework, without setting the country back.

The Progressive Democrats' leader, Mary Harney, dismissed the Fine Gael proposals for a 30% tax rate as a gimmick which would complicate the tax system.