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Fianna Fáil wants to create jobs that pay for bills, mortgages... and a night out

Fianna Fáil has launched its manifesto in Dublin today.

Updated 2.12pm 

_MG_8993 Source: Lensmen Photographic Agency

MICHEÁL MARTIN HAS warned that the country cannot risk another five years of the same government as he launched the Fianna Fáil manifesto today.

The party leader claimed that the “core objective” of Fine Gael and Labour is to say that there is no alternative. He said the country “cannot risk letting them keep going”.

However, Martin repeatedly refused to rule out the possibility of his party supporting a Fine Gael minority government, only going as far as to say he is “not contemplating” Enda Kenny as Taoiseach in the next Dáil.

There has been this attempt made to say this is a shoo-in for Enda Kenny and Fine Gael… and I’ve resisted this.

However, he later said that Fianna Fáil will be putting his name forward as nominee for Taoiseach in the next Dáil.

In his opening remarks, Martin said the Irish people have a choice of either a Fianna Fáil-led government or a Fine Gael-led government in this election.

Launching the manifesto, Martin said Fianna Fáil’s message to the electorate is “a strong economy, a decent society – an Ireland which serves all people”.

Fianna Fáil says it will use €8.3 billion of the so-called fiscal space, which it describes as ‘fiscal headroom’ in its manifesto.

Outlining his party’s core commitments, Martin said Fianna Fáil in government would eliminate Universal Social Charge for low and middle income workers earning up to €80,000.

The party is also pledging to create 250,000 jobs and deliver 150,000 new homes by 2021, including 45,000 social housing units.

It will abolish Irish Water and water charges with Martin saying the party’s priority is to “fix the system” and then examine the introduction of charges in 2021.

The manifesto, entitled ‘An Ireland for all’, promises to increase child benefit by €10 a month, establish a €2,000 childcare support credit, lengthen maternity leave benefit to 30 weeks, allow for shared parental leave and reduce the pupil/teacher ratio to 23:1.

Other measures include increasing the state pension by €30 a week, scrapping prescription charges, and increasing garda numbers to 15,000.

On political reform, Fianna Fáil says it will consider directly elected mayors, holding a referendum on mixed list/PR-STV system for Dáil elections, and examine appointing non-politicians to cabinet.

Martin said that former Fianna Fáil ministers who are elected to the Dáil will be entitled to be considered for possible cabinet or frontbench positions.

On abortion, the manifesto does not make any commitments in relation to the Eighth Amendment, with Fianna Fáil saying it will allow a free vote on the issue.

Martin hit out at what he said are “election slogans” which call for changes to abortion laws, saying they are not an “appropriate mechanism” to deal with a divisive issue.

He described himself as pro-life but said he is open to having the issue of fatal foetal abnormalities examined.

“I am pro-life by instinct and by position,” the Cork South-Central TD said.

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Hugh O'Connell

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