Fianna Fail unveils election manifesto

Fianna Fail has unveiled its election manifesto with a promise of an “ambitious, deliverable and sustainable” programme of policies.

Party leader Micheal Martin said it was time for delivery in government and an end to the “spin” he claimed characterised Fine Gael’s almost decade in power.

The 150-page policy document was unveiled in Dublin hours before Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar is due to publish his own party’s manifesto elsewhere in the city.

“Ireland has many strengths, but we also face many challenges,” Mr Martin said.

“The biggest of these is to make sure we have a country that serves all of its people.”

The manifesto sets out how the party would use the 11 billion euro of financial resource predicted to be available to the next government over a five-year term.

Fianna Fail will hold back 1.2 billion of that pot and will deploy a 4:1 investment to tax cuts ratio in spending the remaining 9.8 billion.

Plans include:

– An increase in the weekly childcare subsidy from 20 euro a week to 80 euro,

– Reduction of capital gains tax from 33% to 25%,

– Increase the state pension by five euro a week,

– Abolishing prescription charges,

– Increasing Garda numbers to 16,000,

– Deliver 50,000 new affordable homes and directly build 50,000 new social housing units.

The plans also includes steps to help first time buyers and tackle hospital waiting times.

Two recent opinion polls have put Fianna Fail ahead of Fine Gael ahead of next month’s ballot for the Irish parliament.

Mr Martin has ruled out a “grand coalition” with his rivals after a poll which is expected to see continued fracturing of the vote.

Mr Varadkar has suggested that he might countenance working with Fianna Fail in government if next month’s election produced another inconclusive result.

The last Fine Gael government was sustained in power through a historic confidence and supply deal with Fianna Fail.

The landmark pact between two parties founded from opposing sides of Ireland’s civil war of the 1920s was struck following the 2016 general election.

This election campaign has focused on Fine Gael’s stewardship of the economy as well as social issues.

Homelessness, health and proposals on the qualifying age for the state pension have been hotly debated.