The Minister for Finance has said he is not going to rule out any tax initiative, or any tax increase, or any tax reduction, in the light of the state of the country's finances.

Michael Noonan told the Dáil that he was saying this at a level of principle, and that he had nothing in mind.

Asked by Fianna Fáil's Michael McGrath if this included income tax, Mr Noonan declined to specifically rule out changes to income tax, but referred the deputy to the Programme for Government, saying this gave the 'principles' on which the Government would base its tax approach.

The programme commits the Government to maintaining the current rates of income tax together with bands and credits, and not to increase the top marginal rates of taxes on income.

Later, Deputy McGrath claimed these remarks indicated the Government could be preparing to abandon another plank of its election campaign, accusing it of 'performing U-turns on an almost daily basis'.