By Daniel McConnell
Renua Ireland leader Lucinda Creighton has denied her party is “anti-poor” and anti-public sector” at the launch of its General Election manifesto today.
Ms Creighton was responding to questions from the Irish Examiner after the party announced it favours the introduction of a flat tax, a reduction in public sector pensions and forcing people to work 20 hours to get the dole.
But Ms Creighton reacted strongly insisting that those at the bottom would be better off under Renua Ireland but said incentivising increased performance in public sector workers is a key party policy.
It emerged that the party will field 18 candidates in the upcoming general election (pictured), and, of those, four signalled at the launch they favour repealling the controversial 1983 Constitutional Amendment on abortion.
On social issues, Ms Creighton said party members if elected would not be bound by a whip, but would be free to vote in line with their conscience.
At under 3% in the polls, Renua Ireland at best be the added numbers to help form a Government, but denied they would be “propping anyone up”.
She claimed no party would have a clear-cut majority after the election and the question voters had to ask was "who would be their watchdog in government?".
She insisted that the party’s core principle was to reward work with a flat tax of 23%.
Ms Creighton said if a flat rate tax was good enough for corporations, it was good enough for people.
Furthermore, there would be tax cuts for those who had difficulty affording childcare and a commitment to invest €1 billion in a network of community crèches.
Motor tax would be abolished and replaced by a fuel levy.
There would also be reform of the local government system and directly elected mayors in every council area.
The party would not be taking a view on the question of liberalising abortion legislation, Ms Creighton said, insisting there were are other social issues facing the electorate.
Ms Creighton said the system the party has proposed means that people are taxed progressively instead of punitively.
She said the abolition of motor tax would remove pressures on gardaí and the courts system.
She also said tougher crime sentencing - the party favours a "three-strikes rule" in criminal justice where a third serious offence would automatically see a life sentence - was not going over the top on the problem.
"What we consider to be heavy-handed is the terrorisation of people in their homes across the country," she said.
Renua would also push for reform of the Leaving Cert that would see final exams only account for 30% of the grade.
Speaking on Morning Ireland today, Deputy Creighton also said the €100 water conservation grant was a "bribe" that her party would like to abolish.