Howlin: Ireland 'could not afford tax cuts right now'

Speaking at the party's pre-Dail think-in gathering in Cork, Mr Howlin outlined how the party will target inequality in the new political term, particularly for workers' incomes.

Howlin: Ireland 'could not afford tax cuts right now'

Labour leader Brendan Howlin has called for wage rises and the upskilling of workers but for any tax cuts in the budget to be abandoned.

Speaking at the party's pre-Dail think-in gathering in Cork, Mr Howlin outlined how the party will target inequality in the new political term, particularly for workers' incomes.

There was “a need for a pay rise in the country”, more training for workers and stronger powers for trade unions to bargain with employers, Mr Howlin said with colleagues at the Nano Nagle Centre.

A living wage was needed for everybody, he said, referring to the €12.30-an-hour paid to only a few workers in specific industries.

The party at its conference is targetting economic inequality. Mr Howlin said this was after Labour's successful role in tackling other inequalities in society, such as marriage equality and abortion rights.

Addressing the latest Brexit developments, Mr Howlin also said Ireland “could not afford tax cuts right now”.

This comes as the Fine Gael-led government plan for next month's budget. Proposed tax cuts flagged by Fine Gael at its last conference are still on the table despite the prospect of a no-deal Brexit looming.

Mr Howlin said he would prefer to see budget funds invested in services.

Similar tax cuts last year had amounted to the equivalent of the price of a cup of coffee for workers last year, he said at the opening of the conference.

Asked about election planning and who Labour would consider working with in government after the next general election, Mr Howlin said any deal or negotiations would be issue-led. These would be the party's red lines, he added.

He said the party would run 30 candidates and 23 of these had been chosen already.

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