Fianna Fáil Finance spokesperson Michael McGrath has described an attempt by Fine Gael to portray themselves as supportive of public services as a last minute effort to deflect attention from a five year record of neglecting the health service, housing and education while favouring the wealthiest in society. He was responding to reports that Fine Gael had performed a u-turn and would now propose allocating a “sizeable majority” of all resources available to the next government to improve services and infrastructure over cutting taxes.
Deputy McGrath commented, “For months Fine Gael have been falling over themselves to promise tax cuts ranging from abolition of the Universal social charge to massive hikes in inheritance tax thresholds and changes to how the self-employed are treated. There has been scant mention of public services up to now. In fact in December the Taoiseach went so far as to say “we want to have taxes as low as we can afford to have them.
“Now the public are expected to believe that Fine Gael will divide any available resources 70:30 between additional expenditure and reduced taxes. The truth is that if Fine Gael were to implement all the tax cuts they have promised they would use up substantially more than 30% over the fiscal space over the next five years.
“The public know that Fine Gael’s heart is not in this. They have clearly been stung by the reaction to their continual neglect of public services and are now scrambling to try and get back in to the mainstream of the political debate.
“It seems even the people closest to them do not believe their credentials when it comes to protecting public services. Only yesterday the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin said Fine Gael had a hidden agenda to implement “Tory style” cuts to welfare and public services. It would seem that those who know Fine Gael best trust them the least. Fine Gael’s commitment to public services will be subject to the full glare of scrutiny during the election campaign,” concluded Deputy McGrath.