Leo Varadkar promises further tax cuts

Leo Varadkar

Leo Varadkar has promised workers will get more tax cuts in the years ahead as he faced criticisms for giving people a “cup-of-coffee budget”.

Delivering a speech at the Fine Gael presidential dinner on Saturday night, Mr Varadkar said his biggest disappointment was not giving out more tax cuts.

This is despite ongoing criticisms that very few new measures for housing or health were announced.

The Taoiseach told the Fine Gael gathering: “My only regret, when it comes to the budget, is that we could not do more.

“I would have liked to have done more to reduce taxes for middle-income earners and improve benefits for lower-income ones. This year the numbers were just so tight. In the next budget, we will do more.”

But the Government is facing criticism for failing to inject money next year into health and housing among areas, rather than cutting taxes or giving €5 more to pensioners.

Labour’s Alan Kelly yesterday rounded on Mr Varadkar over his speech: “This budget had no proposals to deliver affordable housing yet we hear predictions of rent increases of 20% in 2018. What use is an extra cup of coffee if you can’t afford to buy or rent a home? That’s what people want to see, not token gestures.

“Ordinary people know what they got in this budget is a cup of coffee a week, and the Taoiseach knows they heard that message loud and clear.”

Meanwhile, Mr Varadkar has confirmed Fine Gael is in talks with RTÉ about rescheduling his national conference speech later this month, which at present will clash with a highly anticipated World Cup soccer play-off between the Republic of Ireland and Denmark.

It is understood Fine Gael want to move back Mr Varadkar’s speech to before 6pm on Saturday, November 11, so the keynote speech does not clash with the crucial game later that evening.

The Taoiseach told reporters on Saturday night: “We are obviously in discussions with RTÉ about different options. The vast majority of the country and the Fine Gael faithful would rather watch the Ireland-Denmark game rather than listen to me. So we are seeing if we can change that to a different time and that’s our intention of doing so.”

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