Taoiseach Enda Kenny yesterday warned of a flight of capital and jobs if Fine Gael and Labour are not returned to government.

Speaking in Co Louth, he outlined his party’s plan to tackle long-term unemployment. Among the proposals is a €27 increase in dole benefit for the newly unemployed. However, it would be scaled back the longer a person is out of work.

Under the plans, jobseekers’ benefit would rise to €215 per week for the first three months a person is out of work.

Payments would drop to €200 per week for the following three months and, after that, a recipient would only be entitled to the standard rate of €188.

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Mr Kenny pointed out that voters will have options when it comes to the ballot box on February 26, but some of the options would have consequences.

He said: “There are alternatives, but there are consequences to the alternatives and I do not want to see the flight from this country of either capital or jobs from lack of investment coming in here.

“What you are seeing with difficulties in other countries: Greece is back in recession, Spain hasn’t been able to form a government and there’s difficulties in Portugal because of rising interest rates.”

Although Mr Kenny said the country is in a much stronger position now, he said: “We still have quite a distance to travel and we still have many challenges out there.”

Visiting PayPal in Dundalk, Mr Kenny went on to attack opposition party Fianna Fáil who he said “cannot be trusted” on jobs.

“Not only did their disastrous economic policies cost us 300,000 jobs but they abandoned people on the dole queues and forced tens of thousands of our young people to emigrate.

“Fianna Fáil still has no plan to help the long-term unemployed get off the dole and into work. Instead they want to hike welfare payments without any corresponding policy to make work pay, which will only make it more unaffordable for people to enter work.”

He said that, as the economy continues to recover, the country cannot make the same mistakes as Fianna Fáil did during the boom.

Fine Gael has also vowed to put long-term unemployed people at the top of the jobs queue by making it more attractive for employers to hire these people.

They would also roll out a guarantee scheme for all 18- and 19-year-olds, where an offer of a work placement, continued education, apprenticeships, or training would be made available within four months of leaving education.

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