By Elaine Loughlin
Water charge refunds should be delayed until next year to make sure the health service is funded through the winter, the Labour leader Brendan Howlin said today.
Brendan Howlin is also against cutting taxes in the upcoming Budget as he believes money must be pumped into services.
Speaking to media at the Labour think-in in Athy, Co Kildare this afternoon, Mr Howlin said: "Our priority is to improve public services, there are real deficits because we have gone through such a time of hardship.
"Public infrastructure and that should be the priority, I don't think there is space for tax reductions in that context."
It comes after Finance Minister Pashcal Donohoe indicated that low and middle income earners are set to receive a boost in Budget 2018.
It is expected that Government will do this through increasing the point at which people become liable for the higher rate of tax.
Mr Howlin said: "Personal income tax reductions are so expensive but the impact on the person is tiny. So the notion that you are giving individuals the equivalent amount of a cup of coffee a week rather than investing in housing or health or in infrastructure, I think would be a very big mistake."
Mr Howlin also told reporters that a supplementary budget will be needed to fund hospitals and the health service this year and raised the possibility of delaying the refunding of water charges to do so.
"Those repayments have to be made, but I don't think anybody would object to them being repayed next year rather than this year if that money is required to sustain our health services through November and December."