Social Democrats willing to enter into coalition with a Fine Gael-led government

The Social Democrats would be willing to enter a Fine Gael-led government — but only if they back some of their policies.

Launching its manifesto, the party said it is aiming to win at least seven seats in the upcoming election — the number needed to be granted funding and speaking rights — and added they would be willing to enter a government coalition.

Their Building a Better Future 2016 – 2020 document outlines an NHS-style health system, promises to reduce the cost of living, and eliminate child poverty.

Joint leader Stephen Donnelly said this new publicly- funded health system would be universally accessible.

“On health care there is a short-term investment to create a modern health system, a primary-care-based system,” he said.

“But if you create a modern healthcare system you have a much more efficient system, leaving money available for additional demands that our social demographics are going to have.”

The 60-page document outlines how the group would reduce student contribution fees to €2,000, help SMEs create 100,000 jobs, and build a community banking sector.

They would also scrap water charges, introduce free primary education including school books and transport, as well as reduce prescription charges.

However, unlike many of the other political par- ties, they have ruled out cutting taxes as they believe these funds can be used to build better health, education, social, and community services.

Asked whether they would be willing to join a Fine Gael- led coalition, joint leader Róisín Shortall said: “The three pillars on which the Social Democrats [is based] are honest politics, strong economy, and fair society, now if other parties want to talk about incorporating those type of social democratic policies and values into the next government, we are very happy to talk to them about that, we are very interested in that, but we are not interested in making up the numbers.”

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