Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Jobs Dara Calleary has described a plan by Fine Gael to bring people earning as little as €13,000 a year in to the PRSI net as an unconscionable attack on low income households.

Deputy Calleary commented, “In recent weeks Fine Gael have been trying to give the impression that they have undergone a transformation and have a new found concern for low income families. The briefings they have given over the last two days will certainly shatter that illusion.

“Yesterday we heard that the Taoiseach declare that he wants to “have taxes as low as we can afford to have them,” and promised US style tax rates for very high earners. Today we learn that people earning as little as €250 a week will be brought in to the PRSI net under Fine Gael plans.

“This is apparently to pay for the extension of dental and optical benefits. However Fine Gael’s track record has been to slash PRSI benefits over the last four years including changes to the eligibility for the State Pension, a reduction in the period of entitlement to Jobseeker’s Benefit, abolition of the Bereavement Grant payment and an increase the number of waiting days for entitlement to Illness Benefit.

“Fianna Fáil has already proposed the extension of the Treatment Benefits Package in our Priorities for Social Protection document published by our Spokesperson Willie O’Dea. The cost of this should be spread across all taxpayers. It would be grossly unfair to make people earning an average of €250 a week carry the cost of this.

“Fine Gael appears to be lurching ever further to the right in their policy proposals. This does not chime with the instincts of Irish voters who value social solidarity and public services. Fianna Fáil is the only party in this election that will offer a genuine middle ground alternative based on affordable and fair reductions in tax together with much needed investment in education, the health service and housing.”