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Fianna Fáil says it's ready to govern again and has big plans for USC

Party finance spokesperson Michael McGrath also insisted it would not be going into coalition with Sinn Féin.

File photo of Michael McGrath and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.
File photo of Michael McGrath and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.
Image: RollingNews,ie

FIANNA FÁIL HAS said it has learned lessons from the economic crash that occurred while the party headed the last government.

Finance spokesperson Michael McGrath said: ”The lessons of past mistakes have definitely been learned by this party.”

McGrath said Fianna Fáil has set out policies that “underpin what would be a responsible approach of the party” – such as reforming rather than abolishing the Universal Social Charge, and establishing a ‘rainy day’ fund.

If elected, Fianna Fáil plans to take all income earners up to €80,000 out of the USC net over five years. The party has said those earning above this level “would pay a substantially reduced rate on their income”.

The party wants to abolish the 1% rate of USC that applies to income up to €12,012. The cost of this is €173 million in the first year.

Fianna Fáil is also proposing halving the 3% rate which applies on the next €6,600 of income. This would cost €163 million in the first 12 months.

This combination of measures will skew the early benefit of tax reductions to low and middle income earners and would be worth €220 a year to anyone earning over €18,668. This cut in the USC will be worth proportionately more to low and middle income earners though all income earners in the USC net will benefit.

Fianna Fáil is also proposing that any corporation tax receipts ahead of €6.5 billion be put aside to form “a new rainy day-type fund”.

This would be ring-fenced by the NTMA and only drawn down from under certain circumstances, such as during an economic or unemployment crisis.

The party also plans to cut the Capital Gains Tax rate for entrepreneurs to 10% on the first €15 million of gains, and the main CGT rate to 25% “as resources allow”.

Not a fan of Fine Gael or Sinn Féin

McGrath again reiterated that Fianna Fáil will not enter into a coalition with Sinn Féin, despite some members of both parties seemingly being open to the idea.

Any speculation about a Sinn Féin Fianna Fáil coalition is damaging to Fianna Fáil’s interest and that might be part of the reason they are sending mixed messages on the issue.
It will not happen. It would not be in the interest of the country for it to happen. We would have no truck with Sinn Féin in government.

In terms of Fine Gael and Labour, McGrath said there is a “growing air of arrogance” among the government parties.

They believe [the election] will be a coronation, it will not.

McGrath said Fianna Fáil, which is running 70 candidates throughout the country, is the party with the “most potential to grow” in the general election.

“Voters will come back to the centre … I think we can make gains across the board.”

McGrath wouldn’t say how many seats he thinks the party can win.

“I’m not going to put a cap on our ambition as a party … I’m not going to speculate on the post-election scenario.”

Read: An election is around the corner, but will Enda be Taoiseach again?

Read: Should politics be a mandatory school subject? One party thinks so

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Órla Ryan

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