Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has committed to increase the point at which people pay the top rate of tax to €50,000 for a single person and €100,000 for a two income married couple over the next five budgets.

A single person currently pays the top rate at just over €35,000.

The Taoiseach made the commitment during his leaders' address at the Fine Gael Ard Fheis in Dublin.

He said his Government plans to introduce further family benefits - like two weeks of extra paid parental leave for both parents next year.

On Brexit the Taoiseach said he did not want any borders to divide the country North and South or between Britain and Ireland or between Ireland and Europe.

He said the EU/UK Withdrawal Agreement was a deal that protects people’s jobs, the economy and defends the rights and freedoms of all Irish citizens.

Mr Varadkar also stressed that Fine Gael is the party that can be trusted with the public finances.

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He said the Government was not going back to a ‘when we have it we spend it’ approach.

He was critical of the economic policies being put forward by the Opposition parties.

Mr Varadkar said next year spending on education would reach €11 billion.

He said that would mean 5,000 extra teachers hired over 2 years and more Special Needs Assistants.

On the environment he said new laws would see a ban on micro-beads and smokey coal nationwide and the implementation of an EU-wide ban on single use plastics.

Addressing the housing crisis, the Taoiseach said the biggest social housing programme in decades is now underway.

He said more than 100,000 homes will be provided over the next ten years for people on the housing list – that means 8,000 this year alone.

Mr Varadkar said more new homes would be built this year than in any other year this decade, 5,000 in the last three months alone.

He said he profoundly disagreed with the idea that only social housing schemes should be built and that local authorities should do all the building

He said: "When you are in a housing crisis you build as many new homes as you can, as quickly as you can, by any means that you can, and that's what we're going to do."

Concluding his address, the Taoiseach told delegates that 85 years on from the founding of the Fine Gael party they should be proud of what they have achieved.

But he urged them to be determined to 'do much more'. 

He said Fine Gael was the party that will take Ireland forward to long-term prosperity, away from the boom and bust economics of the past.

The two-day Ard Fheis has now concluded.