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Alan Kelly: What Labour has achieved is astonishing

The party also called plans to abolish Irish Water “farcical”.

THE LABOUR PARTY has defended its record in government at the launch of its general election manifesto.

Speaking at the event at DIT Grangegorman this morning, Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin said the party has delivered on 95% of the promises it made to the Irish people – and “an awful lot more besides” such as marriage equality and trade union rights.

Howlin said: “Labour is under attack for standing by our country in its hour of need,” adding: “Our opponents have made no contribution to recovery.”

Environment Minister Alan Kelly, meanwhile, said: “Ultimately what we have achieved is astonishing, but it has taken five years of hard work to achieve that.”

Kelly said the Labour party entered govt with its “eyes wide open” but had overcome many challenges to create a stable economy and get people back to work.

When the subject of Irish Water came up, Howlin said the proposal by some parties to abolish the utility is “farcical”, saying Howlin Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin or “the Trots” have put forward a case for what happens after it’s scrapped.

He said Ireland is required to charge for water under the European waste water directive.

On the same subject, Kelly said he’d like Gerry Adams to inform hundreds of Irish Water workers why they’re losing their jobs as a result of his party’s plans.

Howlin claimed Adams is only focused on growing Sinn Féin, not being in government, stating: “He wants to be in opposition to throw stones.”

Meanwhile, the minister accused Micheál Martin of “peddling a fairy story” ahead of the election.

Tánaiste Joan Burton was also quick to criticise Martin. She says she’s not worried about the prospect of a Fine Gael/Fianna Fáil coalition post-election, adding that she expects the Taoiseach to clarify his position on this today – having previously failed to do so.

“Micheál Martin walked off the pitch and now he’s presenting himself as the new kid on the block, he’s coming back with new clothes but has the same ideas,” she said.

Burton claimed that the passing of the same-sex marriage referendum and legislation for the X-case would never have happened had Labour not been in government.

She also re-iterated that the party would hold a referendum on repealing the Eighth Amendment, which gives the unborn the same right to life as its mother, if re-elected.

The party’s manifesto, which can be read here, plans to spend €3 of every €4 available to the government on spending, and the remaining €1 on tax cuts.

Here are the party’s plans on tax, public expenditure, jobs and housing:

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Órla Ryan

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