Fianna Fáil Finance spokesperson Michael McGrath has described comments made by the Taoiseach about Fianna Fáil’s tax policy as a smokescreen to deflect attention from the unravelling of his claims about the introduction of capital controls and the use of the army to secure ATM machines.

Deputy McGrath commented “The Taoiseach’s story of plans to deploy the army to protect ATM machines has, predictably, collapsed. Having used the fake anecdote to try and impress an international audience, he should now account for why he would make up such a damaging story.  Instead, he is flailing around looking for anything he can latch on to in order to distract from this.

“Like the army protecting ATMs, his claim that Fine Gael is a champion of low tax is also at variance with the facts. The coalition has increased taxes on 45 separate occasions including 13 individual increases in tax on income. It was only under sustained pressure from Fianna Fáil that the planned hike in the Local Property Tax was scrapped.

“Now that there is scope to reduce tax levels, his government is focusing on higher income earners. By contrast, when the Minister for Finance was raising taxes he decided to introduce flat rate increases. The abolition of the PRSI allowance took €264 from the pocket of a worker regardless of income. Water and property tax are also not related to ability to pay.

“Fine Gael are also undertaking selective comparisons and leaving out key information. In relation to their claim that a family with an income of €55,000 a year with a two children would be €474 worse off under Fianna Fáil, they are omitting the impact of our proposed Childcare Support Credit for working parents, which aims to cover 20% to 40% of a family’s costs of childcare that is undertaken with a registered childcare provider. Up to 66,500 families would benefit in the first year at a cost of €90m. The average benefit would be €1,384 per annum. They are also leaving out the impact of our pledge to abolish the disastrous water charges introduced by the Coalition.

“Fianna Fáil was the first party to identify the importance of equal treatment for the self-employed as a priority issue. We also proposed reforms to Capital Gains Tax and the Employment and Investment Incentive scheme which would give Ireland a competitive tax regime.

“Fine Gael has consistently let down ordinary working families by failing to tackle mortgage arrears and high variable rates. It was only when Fianna Fáil forced them to act that the bank veto was partially removed. Families have been saddled with bills for a bloated and inefficient Irish Water quango. This is true record of the Fine Gael party. The last thing the public want is more of the same.

“Rather than inventing anecdotes to bolster his image for international audiences, Mr Kenny should properly familiarise himself with the reality of his time in Government and the decisions he and his Government have made,” concluded Deputy McGrath.