Renua vows to become ‘watchdog’ to larger political groups

Struggling opposition party Renua is set to position itself as the ‘watchdog’ to larger political groups during the imminent general election in a bid to mirror the Progressive Democrats role in office.

The party’s leader Lucinda Creighton will outline the position at the launch of its election manifesto this morning as part of an ongoing strategy to make Renua relevant in the national vote shake-up.

The party has 2% in the polls. It will say it can be “the people’s watchdog in government” if it forms part of a mooted coalition with either Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil.

Echoing previous claims from the PDs, which entered government alongside Fianna Fáil in 1997 despite holding just a handful of seats and remained until the economic crash in 2011 when it was wiped off the electoral map, the party will say it is focused on “replacing cronyism and double standards with a principled politics of transparency and reform”.

Renua’s election manifesto, the first complete package outlined by any party, will also state that the party intends to base its campaign on tax cuts, investment in services for struggling families and moves to support entrepreneurs and businesses.

This will include:

  • Moves to “halve the tax rate” for middle and high earners by introducing a flat tax of 23%, a plan previously criticised for favouring the rich over the poor but which Renua says is necessary to sustain the recovery.
  • €500m worth of tax cuts for “working mums and dads”.
  • Prioritising entrepreneurs, farmers and the self-employed by ending what it described as “tax discrimination” against the groups.

Ms Creighton will say her party wants a “bonfire of employment agency quangos” by merging the 60 existing agencies into a single structure that provides “funding and advice” to firms.

Renua is battling with the Social Democrats and Independent Alliance to fill the potential make-weight role in a future coalition that needs a handful of extra seats to form a government.

While the reduced number of seats in the next Dáil means 80 TDs are needed to form a government instead of the current 84, Labour’s expected difficulties mean the current coalition may need further support.

In addition, a potential Fianna Fáil-led coalition containing Labour and a small number of Independents may also need help.

While Fine Gael is seen as the easiest coalition for Renua — which is open to all parties except Sinn Féin — a Fianna Fáil-PDs coalition lasted 14 years, while Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin recently told the Irish Examiner he will take Independents and smaller parties “seriously”.

Meanwhile, Fine Gael junior minister Simon Harris has said his party is not in favour of raising the minimum wage, contradicting coalition colleague Labour’s plan to increase the €9.15c rate by 50c every year over the next five years.

Speaking to a Sunday newspaper, the Wicklow TD said such a move would strangle small and medium businesses and threaten job creation, and that Fine Gael will instead focus on ensuring any parent working 15 hours or more a week would earn at least €11.75c an hour - similar to Renua’s minimum wage views.

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