Coalition promises jobs for all by 2018

Burton says it’s important workers also receive a fair wage

The Coalition partners yesterday promised Ireland will reach full employment by 2018 — two years ahead of target.

Both Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Joan Burton announced a range of further initiatives and claimed an extra 40,000 jobs would be created this year.

In addition to focusing on job creation at its weekly Cabinet meeting, ministers also discussed further ways of supporting more house building, and plans to ease childcare costs.

Mr Kenny pledged the rate of unemployment would fall below 10% this year, from its dramatic high of over 15% during the recession.

He added: “I don’t see it as a statistic. These are men and women who want to have the opportunity to go to work. That means being on the employment ladder, being able to buy a car, the girlfriend, the boyfriend [something] or the boots or whatever and live a life as it were.”

Measures agreed include:

Delivering full employment [2.1 million jobs] in 2018, two years earlier than anticipated.

Creating 40,000 additional jobs in 2015, ensuring the target of 100,000 new jobs by 2016 is beaten.

Bringing unemployment below 10% this year, ahead of forecasts.

An updated economic strategy, to be published in the spring.

A strategy for early years and school-age care to help support parents at work.

Special efforts to attract investment in rural Ireland.

Ms Burton said it was also important workers secure a fair wage and that a new commission to look at low pay would be up and running in the coming weeks. It will report by the summer on whether the minimum wage should be increased.

Meanwhile, planned legislation for the first half of this year includes penalties for households that do not pay water charges, measures to appeal taxes applied, as well as planning and development laws to support housing construction.

Legislation will provide for the ‘back-to-work dividend’, where parents keep part of their child payments when returning to employment.

The Government will also pass legislation for the two referendums in May, including the vote on same sex marriage. Ministers also agreed to decide on a national climate change policy as well as provide free GP care for the over 70s by July.

Meanwhile, Government TDs breathed a sigh of relief after the first opinion poll of the New Year showed a slight return in support for the Coalition parties.

Both Fine Gael and Labour saw their joint support rise by 5% to 32%. But the Red C figures are short of the numbers needed to form a new Government.

The findings were Fine Gael 24% (+3); Labour 8% (+2); Fianna Fáil 18% (-1); and Sinn Féin 21% (-3).

Support for Independents/Others was at 29% (-1), which includes 1% for the Green Party and 1% for the new party under former minister Lucinda Creighton.

The poll also showed strong support for the ‘Yes’ side in the same-sex marriage referendum. It found 76% support the Constitutional amendment, 19% are opposed with 5% undecided.

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