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FG MEP: Noonan tax remark is not an election tactic ... His FF rival: Hmmmm

The Finance Minister made one of his clearest statements yet today on possible tax cuts for hard-pressed middle-income workers.

Image: Darragh

THE MARQUEE NAMES from the two Civil War parties in Ireland South were calling it pretty much exactly as you’d expect them to this afternoon, as they knocked off the miles on the campaign trail — just over three weeks out from polling day.

In terms of the election — Michael Noonan’s remarks this morning on income tax were the big political issue of the day.

The Finance Minister said that it remained “a priority of the Government” to raise the figure at which a person pays the higher level of tax from €32,800.

“Over the next two Budgets, we will do that — and I hope we will be able to start the job in the Budget in mid-October,” Noonan said.

It’s one of Noonan’s clearest statements yet on the issue. Last month, he told an Oireachtas Committee he hoped to be able to do “something” for middle-income families as soon as the State could afford it.

“If I don’t have some resources what I can do will be very small, but I’m pledged to doing something,” he told the panel of TDs and Senators just over two weeks ago.

Tactics

On the campaign trail on Clonmel this lunchtime, MEP Seán Kelly rejected suggestions the timing of today’s comments was a mere election tactic.

“He didn’t just announce it today, this has been flagged for a number of months,” the former GAA President said.

Kelly said bringing in a tax cut was “the best and most economic and practical thing we can do” so that “people have more in their pockets to spend”.

However — 100km or so further south, Kelly’s main Fianna Fáil rival was, as you might expect, a little less convinced of Noonan’s motivations.

“I’ll wait to see what they come up with – what they actually deliver, whether they make a decision,” Brian Crowley said, on a campaign stop at Cork’s Silver Springs Hotel.

“There’s an awful lot of stuff spoken about ‘we’re going to do this and we’re going to do that and we’re going to do the other’,” the veteran MEP said.

“Unfortunately some people within the present system seem to believe you can say one thing within the election and do something different once you get elected.”

Crowley added, “I hope they can do something because people out there are suffering. There’s a huge amount of expenses and taxes being taken out of peoples pockets every single week”.

I want to see what the actual legislation will say. What they say now I believe is simply trying to stir the pot and see if they can get some positive reaction from it.

Adams

Last night’s arrest of Gerry Adams and the possible implications for Sinn Féin in the massive ten county constituency was another issue the candidates were facing questions on this afternoon.

“I’m not sure how that will pan out. We’ll have to wait for the opinion polls. It’s difficult to know,” said Kelly.

It’s certainly a jolt initially, but what notice will be taken of it over the next number of weeks, it’s hard to understand really or to make out.

The Sinn Féin candidate’s had quite a significant impact on the race to date. The most recent opinion poll in Ireland South put Liadh Ní Riada, a relative political newcomer, in second place on 15 per cent — just ahead of Kelly on 12 per cent.

“Personally to me it’ll have no impact,” said Crowley — who’s sitting pretty at the top of the field, with over a third of the vote: 36 per cent.

If the PSNI feel they have a responsibility a duty to question someone now regardless of who that person is, so be it.

“I don’t believe they’re politically motivated but who am I? I’m looking at it from the outside.”

Note: TheJournal.ie will be running full candidate interviews with Brian Crowley and Seán Kelly over the next few days.

Noonan: Income tax burden will be eased next year, Gilmore: ‘It’s too soon to speculate’

Taoiseach: Gerry Adams’ arrest is nothing to do with us… or any other political party here

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