Renua Ireland Leader Lucinda Creighton has said people's health is far too important to be "kicked around as an election football" with one side "auctioning more system changes than the other".

She was launching her party's health policy in Dublin city centre this morning. 

The party proposes setting up a National Health forum in the first 100 days of the next Government where all stakeholders can "broker a solution and deliver a 20-year plan for healthcare". 

Regarding Leo Varadkar's time as Health Minister, she acknowledged that moving into the role at the end of the lifetime of the Government was a challenge for him. However, she said this was not an excuse.

She said the Government had failed collectively on health and had put huge pressure on GP services which is why, she said, many GPs are now running in this election - including for Renua. 

Ms Creighton said she was "sad" to hear the "attacks" yesterday on the Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, some of which concerned issues which went back to 2004. 

She said: "It's irrelevant, we need to look forward and be positive."

Regarding free GP care for under sixes, she said "where people can pay, they should pay" and the most vulnerable should be protected.

She added: "Free GP care is not free - it's funded by the taxpayer".

She said the party would not promise to dangle any so-called freebies before the electorate.

Fine Gael 'trying to buy election' - Tom Dooley

Fianna Fáil launched its Transport plan with promises to increase funding to CIE companies by more than €28m a year, freeze fare increases and to recommence the DART underground project.

It also promises an additional €50m per year for regional and local roads .

In reaction to claims by Fine Gael that Fianna Fáil has not allocated any money for public sector pay increases after 2018, Seán Fleming pointed to comments that Minister for Finance Michael Noonan made against negotiating pay increases in advance.

He described it as an "act of desperation" by Fine Gael. Timmy Dooley added that "Fine Gael are trying to buy the election".

Mr Fleming said Fianna Fáil would end Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (FEMPI) emergency legislation within two years but would not reinstate the full pay cuts then.

He said "normal industrial relations negotiations" will take place.

Mr Dooley also took the opportunity to accuse the government of "not doing enough" with regard to the ongoing Luas strike.

Workers' Party launches its manifesto

Elsewhere, the Workers' Party has launched its General Election manifesto which, it says, "emphasises the party's commitment to the radical transformation of society in Ireland, and to the building of a democratic, secular, socialist Republic in which power rests firmly in the hands of the working class".

Workers' Party President Mick Donnelly stated that "while the Workers' Party remains committed to the long-term transformation of Irish society, its manifesto also offered solutions to problems faced by ordinary people now."

He said: "What is needed is not piecemeal reform but a fundamental transformation of society and the replacement of the corrupt and unjust capitalist system with a new, vibrant vision of a future in which working people can enjoy full control over their destiny and lives."

Govt urged to declare housing crisis a 'national emergency'

The Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit group has called for a "National Housing Emergency" to be declared and for the mobilisation of State resources to alleviate the crisis.

AAA/PBP candidate Ruth Coppinger opened this morning's press conference by reminding the media of a report released yesterday where "Dublin West was uncovered as a huge black spot for homelessness," where 40% of the people in emergency accommodation are from Dublin West.

"Scandalously, this is the home of Ministers Leo Varadkar and Joan Burton."

The AAA say that all NAMA sales to vulture funds should be halted and all suitable houses and apartments under NAMA control should be transferred to local authorities.

The body also proposes co-ordinating local authority house building programmes. Dublin South West candidate Paul Murphy said the housing crisis "is not a natural disaster. It's man-made by the State that places the profits of developers, property developers and landlords before people's rights to have a home."

Michael O'Brien of the AAA has said that a radical combination of measures are needed to address the housing issue.

Mr O'Brien, a candidate in Dublin Bay North, told RTÉ's News At One that 100,000 homes - a mixture of social and affordable housing - need to be built in the next three years at a cost of €20bn.

He said €15bn would be generated through general taxation. He said rent controls and a ban on economic evictions was also required.

In connection with the private building industry, he said he doesn't see private developers as part of the solution, saying "that would be a mistake".