Programme for government revealed as Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Green Party agree historic deal

The leaders of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party have agreed a programme for government.
Programme for government revealed as Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Green Party agree historic deal

Additional reporting by Daniel McConnell, Aoife Moore and Juno McEnroe

The leaders of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party have agreed on an historic programme for government.

The deal, if ratified by party memberships, will give Ireland a new government some four months after the general election.

The deal was signed off on by Leo Varadkar, Michéal Martin and Eamon Ryan after 32 days of negotiations ended at 4am on Sunday morning before the leadership agreed on the last outstanding issues over the last two days.

Under the new arrangement, Mr Martin will become Taoiseach until December 2022, before the role rotates to Mr Varadkar.

Mr Varadkar today confirmed that a key plank of the agreement is a €6 billion July stimulus package which will seek to ward off the

recession caused by Covid-19.

Under the plan, there will be no rise in the pension age on January 1 next year and those aged 65 will not be required to sign on or be actively seeking work. Mr Varadkar this morning confirmed that these decisions will be in place until a commission on the issue makes recommendations.

The deal will be circulated to TDs and senators before being published to members. Each party will take a postal vote from members, who will decide whether the agreement forms the basis of the next government.

"There is some selling to be done to the sceptics, but I think it's as good a deal as any side could have hoped for. There certainly doesn't appear to be any losers," one Fine Gael TD said.

A statement from parties said:

"The leaders of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party have signed off on the draft Programme for Government and it will issue later this afternoon. The respective Parliamentary Parties will be briefed on the programme this evening."

It is understood that TDs will meet this evening to discuss the document.

The agreement includes ambitious targets in social housing, emissions cuts and transport, all seen as necessary if the Green Party membership is to vote in favour of the plan.

The Greens have also secured a deal which will ensure all future capital investment split on a 2:1 basis in favour of public transport over roads, as well as major investments in cycling and walking infrastructure.

TAXATION:

About 80,000 newer homes currently exempt from the LPT will be brought into the net of the tax.

“We will also bring new homes, which are currently exempt from the LPT, into the taxation system. All money collected locally will be retained within the county. This will be done on the basis that those counties with a lower LPT base are adjusted via an annual national equalisation fund paid from the Exchequer, as is currently the case,” the document adds.

The Programme for Government commits to establishing a Commission on Welfare and Taxation to “independently consider how best the tax system can support economic activity”

This Commission must have particular regard to the impact of the COVID-19 Emergency, as well as long-term developments such as aging demographics, the move to a low-carbon economy and the rise of digital disruption and automation.

In relation to the Local Property Tax (LPT), the parties have committed to bringing forward legislation for the Local Property Tax on the basis of fairness and that “most homeowners will face no increase.”

HEALTHCARE:

Implementing Sláintecare is seen

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They also promise to extend medical cards to the terminally ill, extend free GP care to more children and cap parking charges in hospitals.

Significant work will be done for women’s health, mental health and drug treatment policy including full implementation of the recommendations contained in Dr Scally’s Reports of the Scoping Inquiry, and all other reports into Cervical Check and free contraception over a phased period, starting with women aged 17-25.

In terms of drugs and addiction, promises have been made to review the regulations and legislation that apply to cannabis use for medical conditions and palliative care having regard to the experience in Northern Ireland and Great Britain, and convene a Citizens’ Assembly to consider matters relating to drugs use.

The document reads the “Mission” is “Universal Healthcare”.

HOUSING:

The incoming coalition has promised a

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According to the draft deal, cheap housing, better supports for tenants and an overhaul of planning regulations are promised. The deal says:

“We understand that provision of more affordable housing has a profound benefit socially and economically and believe the State has a fundamental role in enabling the delivery of new homes and ensuring that best use is made of existing stock.”

Measures listed include putting affordability at the heart of the housing system and prioritising the increased supply of public, social and affordable homes.

There will also be a state-backed affordable home purchase scheme to promote home-ownership while the social housing stock will be increased by more than 50,000, with an emphasis on new builds. It says that the next minister for Housing will “bring forward a target for the delivery of affordable homes over the lifetime of the Government to be available for qualifying purchasers as a matter of priority”.

Those affordable homes will be delivered through local authorities (Serviced Sites Fund), requirements under Part V and by the Land Development Agency. Properties will be sold through the State-backed Affordable Purchase Scheme.

The help-to-buy scheme will also be expanded while the mortgage to rent scheme will be strengthened.

TRANSPORT:

The incoming coalition commits to overhauling

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In the transport section, mooted as a key win for the Green Party, the document says that the new government will review fare structures to ensure that public transport is as accessible as possible and task the NTA to produce a park and ride implementation plan for each of the five cities to help reduce congestion and journey times

Developing and implement a sustainable rural mobility plan Prioritise public transport projects that enhance regional and rural connectivity is also among the plans.

The new government will also legislate for e-scooters and e-bikes Prioritise plans for the delivery of Metrolink, Luas and other light rail expansion, DART expansion and interconnector and Bus Connects in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick, according to the document.

CLIMATE

The Programme for Government document commits

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The document also includes a Green New Deal as one of its missions, committing to a 7% per annum reduction in carbon emissions.

The deal also plans to deliver 500,000 retrofits to homes by 2030, an unprecedented modal shift in all areas by a re-orientation of investment to walking, cycling and public transport, a new sustainable rural mobility plan and a major drive to realise the potential of Ireland’s offshore renewables.

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