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Joan Burton makes Labour commitments on abortion law reform and full employment

Published 30/01/2016

Joan Burton hailed Labour's record in coalition with Fine Gael
Joan Burton hailed Labour's record in coalition with Fine Gael

Labour would secure a referendum on abortion, radically slash childcare costs and boost weekly State pensions if returned to government, party leader Joan Burton has vowed.

In her keynote address to the party's national conference, Ms Burton also claimed her party would deliver full employment within two years and work to resolve the housing crisis if handed another term in office.

Addressing her rank and file ahead of the imminent general election, she repeatedly attacked Fianna Fail's legacy on the economic crash and defended Labour's power-sharing administration with Fine Gael since 2011.

"Fianna Fail inherited a boom and blew it," she said.

"Labour, with our coalition partners Fine Gael, inherited a ruin and rebuilt it."

Ms Burton appealed to voters to giver her party their number one on the ballot papers to "complete the journey".

If elected again, she said they would ensure a referendum on abortion and campaign for repeal of the eight amendment of the Constitution, which outlaws the procedure unless there is a clear threat to the mother's life.

Ms Burton also pledged to cut childcare costs to just two euro an hour under a "radical but affordable plan" aimed at parents with young children.

Turning to older citizens, she said the very least they deserved was a yearly increase in their pension payments of at least five euro a week.

The party would ensure everyone who wanted a job would have one by 2018, she added.

This plan includes provision for 50,000 new apprenticeships.

For those already working, Labour would make sure the universal social charge was axed for anyone earning up to 72,000 euro, she promised.

Ms Burton said the junior coalition partner would bring in a save to buy scheme to help first time buyers onto the property ladder, which would give houseseekers a "cash top-up" when saving for a deposit.

Her deputy, the outgoing Environment Minister Alan Kelly, will "chop waiting lists" for social housing "by building high-quality social houses for those who need them", she told the party gathering in Mullingar, Co Westmeath.

In education, Ms Burton vowed to deliver the smallest class sizes in the history of the State if returned to power.

Her party would also plan to extend free GP care to everyone "so that families will never again have to worry about the cost of going to the doctor," she said.

"The journey of the last eight years has been a truly testing one for our people," she added.

"We were knocked down, but we picked ourselves back up. We regrouped, rebuilt and redefined.

"We will rightly commemorate 1916 this year with our economic freedom restored.

"If we stay on the right course, we can sustain the recovery and strengthen the economy.

"If we stay on the right course, we can use the strong economy to build a decent society.

"If you want Ireland to stay on that course, it means giving Labour the mandate to finish what we started."

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