Belfast Telegraph

100-day Government makes tax pledge

The Government has pledged not to hike income tax or cut dole payments in the budget as it marks its first 100 days in office.

Amid claims of U-turns on pre-election promises, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore defended their tenure and vowed to abide by the commitments made in the Programme for Government.

Mr Kenny said: "There will not be any income tax increases in the budget. I say that because it is fundamental to the Programme for Government and because it is necessary, in difficult times, it's important that people have some planning to be able to put into their lives.

"For that reason, that element of the Programme for Government is one that we will adhere to very strictly and very clearly."

Mr Kenny's guarantee follows claims from finance minister Michael Noonan that he could not rule out tax increases or reductions in future budgets. Mr Gilmore also pledged social welfare rates would be maintained as the two leaders held a joint press briefing to defend their achievements after three months in power.

Facing accusations of U-turns on pre-election pledges and broken promises, the Taoiseach said the Government had acted swiftly and decisively to tackle the crises in banking, jobs and public finances.

But he admitted not everything promised before the February election had taken place, but said they had gone farther in some policy decisions than envisaged.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said the country's first 100 days was underwhelming and was more about optics than substance. He said: Fundamentally on the key big issues the Government has not been in a position to deliver upon some of the wilder assertions and claims that they made in advance of the election and during the election campaign itself."

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said the first 100 days were peppered with U-turns, and he criticised the coalition for continuing with the European Union (EU)/International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout.

He said: "Fine Gael and Labour have adopted almost the entire economic policy of the failed and rejected Fianna Fail-Green government. They have failed to protect the most vulnerable, cut essential services and been at the beck and call of the EU/IMF."

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