Coronavirus: No fair recovery without tax hikes on wealthy, Labour say

The Labour Party are currently in the process of responding to Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael's policy framework document
Coronavirus: No fair recovery without tax hikes on wealthy, Labour say

Labour Party TDs have reiterated it is unlikely their party will be joining in government coalition.

The party says it is unrealistic to expect a fair economic recovery post-COVID19, if Fianna Fail and Fine Gael have ruled out tax increases on high earners.

The Labour Party are currently in the process of responding to Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael's policy framework document, which was distributed to smaller parties over a week ago, in an effort to tempt them into joining a coalition government.

The parliamentary party of five TDs are said to be in "unanimous agreement", in regards to the document and government formation, and it looks unlikely that the party will be joining Leo Varadkar and Micheál Martin's coalition.

"My own view is that we will respond but I wouldn't hold out any hope in it," said TD Aodhán Ó Ríordáin.

Like the Social Democrats, who sent their response on Friday, costings for the plans, and how Ireland's economy will be salvaged post-pandemic are said to be high on the Labour Party's agenda.

"We're still considering the document, and framing our response to it," said Labour TD Ged Nash.

"We've said before when we entered government back in 2011, Fine Gael gave a commitment not to increase taxes at all.

"As we see it, we need to look seriously at where wealth is held in this country, in land and property assets, shares and so on.

"We don't believe ordinary working people should carry the burden of recovery, most people who are serious about economics say that the commitment by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael constrains the situation going forward.

"It's unrealistic to expect the fair economic recovery that people wish to see if the two largest parties would rule out increases to USC for people on the high end of the income spectrum."

Likewise, Mr Ó Ríordáin, says the promise of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael not to increase taxes, poses serious questions on how the economy will recover.

"It'll be very difficult to convince the Irish public that the type of measures we have to take will be fair after that.

"Best of luck to them, but it's not credible, given the financial projections we're seeing.

"Even if we were minded to go into government, it still needs another bloc of TDs to go into government, are we going to put Michael Lowry or Verona Murphy into government? That

won't be palatable for Labour, and Fianna Fail and Fine Gael isn't palatable either way either.

"It's their document, it deserves to be read, but the parameters already set seem to be the Fine Gael way; We take the crisis seriously but we can't ask the very well off to pay out a bit more."

The Social Democrats response on Friday was punctuated with a number of queries around public services, housing and borrowing, as Roisin Shorthall and Catherine Murphy's party look likely to reject the offer to be the "fourth leg of the table" needed to form a stable government, with over the 80 seats needed for a majority.

A spokesman for the Taoiseach said: "We are still considering the issues raised in the Social Democrats' detailed letter and will respond as soon as possible."

The regional independent group, chaired by former Minister Denis Naughten, have made clear they would be willing to join in the coalition, and have urged Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to set a definitive timeline for government formation.

It's understood that Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar are to meet with Greens leader Eamon Ryan for further talks this week, after the Greens submitted their own policy document last week, making clear that a 7% reduction in emissions targets would be a red line for the party to enter government.

Sources within Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil say they are optimistic that a government can be formed by late May.

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