The Labour Party will not raise personal taxes if it is part of the next Government, it was claimed today.
The party, which aims to form an alternative administration with Fine Gael, was accused last week of favouring ’high-tax and high-spend’ policies by Minister for Justice Michael McDowell.
But leader Pat Rabbitte today assured voters at his parliamentary party meeting in Clonmel that there would be no hike in personal tax rates.
Defending Labour’s record in Government, he told his TDs and Senators that the Rainbow Coalition had introduced a 12.5% rate of corporation tax in the mid-1990s which had contributed to the growth of economic investment.
I remain convinced that this low rate of tax is a central part of Ireland’s economic development strategy.
He added: “And we will not increase personal income tax rates.”
However the Dublin TD said that the tax system needed to be re-balanced so that high earners make a fairer contribution to the Exchequer.
“A Government with Labour in it would re-balance the tax system, so that those on higher incomes do not avoid making a fair contribution to the common purse,” he said.
The leader remarked that the party’s decision to back an electoral pact with Fine Gael has introduced a new dynamic to Irish politics.
But he said he was worried about the loss of jobs in the manufacturing sector and insisted that Ireland adopt a different approach to attracting investment.
“There is a worrying level of job losses in traditional manufacturing.
“We cannot simply assume that the same model will work for ever. Ireland needs to reinvent its approach, and move up the value chain, developing more skilled jobs with higher pay. ”
“We need a skilled and educated workforce. We need a first rate R&D establishment. We need transport infrastructure.
“We need secure, efficient, low cost and environmentally sound energy.”
The location for today’s think-in is the birthplace of the party and also the base of newest candidate, Cllr Phil Prendergast who is aiming to win back the old Labour seat in the constituency.
The itinerary includes a debate on economic outlook and enterprise strategy featuring Forfas chairman Eoin O’Driscoll and ESRI economist John Fitzgerald.
The TDs and Senators will also receive a presentation on BreastCheck, the national breast screening service for women.
Unsuccessful Meath by-election candidate Cllr Dominic Hannigan will also distil his experiences from that contest to brief party members on core issues in ’commuter belt’ constituencies in the forthcoming General Election.
The Meath Co Council member, who almost trebled the party’s vote in the Royal County, will be running in the newly-created East Meath constituency.