Fianna Fáil Finance spokesperson Michael McGrath has described a promise by Taoiseach Enda Kenny to slash Irish income tax rates to levels as low as those in the United States as gimmickry designed to mislead voters in the run up to the election.

Deputy McGrath commented, “The fact of the matter is that US rates of income tax means US levels of public services in which people out of work are forced to rely on food stamps, where there is persistent pensioner poverty and a health service which is unaffordable and utterly inaccessible to millions. If this is Mr Kenny’s vision of Ireland, then he needs to come clean and admit it. I don’t believe it is a vision shared by the majority of Irish people.

“The Taoiseach appears to have taken a leaf straight out of the Labour party’s election strategy from 2011 when they steadily ramped up their election promises despite knowing that what they were saying was undeliverable in practice. However, people vividly remember the manner in which a series of election promises made by FG and Labour in 2011 were ditched as soon as the election was over.

“There is an important debate to be had during this election about the choices we face as a country and the kind of Ireland we wish to create. According to the Department of Finance, the total fiscal space available over the next two years is €1.6 billion. A further €7 billion may become available in the following three years if economic projections are realised. There will be many significant competing demands facing the next government including the overstretched healthcare service, the housing crisis, the need to invest in education and, as we saw recently, improving flood defences – all of these will be key challenges. The Taoiseach’s claim that “we want to have taxes as low as we can afford to have them,” indicates that public services are very low down his list of priorities.

“Fianna Fáil wants to reform the taxation system in a way that rewards work and encourages enterprise. While claiming not to raise tax rates, Fine Gael and Labour have made 45 separate increases in tax including 13 individual increases in tax on income. The total income tax take in 2015 will be over one third higher than 2007, while other taxes have not yet recovered to peak levels. This demonstrates the extent to which correcting the public finances has fallen on employees.

“Fianna Fáil is committed to reducing the burden of income tax on workers. This will be done progressively as resources allow and will also have regard to the need to invest in public services to ensure that ordinary people can access decent public services in this country as and when they need them.”