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Labour's Joan Burton pledges referendum on repealing eighth amendment

Published 15/02/2016

Joan Burton has vowed a referendum on the eighth amendment
Joan Burton has vowed a referendum on the eighth amendment

Labour has pledged to hold a referendum on repealing the eighth amendment if returned to government.

The law acknowledges the right to life of the unborn, equating it with the mother's right to life.

Labour Leader Joan Burton said: "If Labour is in Government we will ensure that there is a referendum on the eighth amendment."

Amid speculation about a Fine Gael/Fianna Fail coalition, she claimed Micheal Martin's party did not want to be in Government and said her party was tried and tested.

Removing the Universal Social Charge from low and middle income earners and ensuring greater investment in public services were among other promises at Labour's manifesto launch in North Dublin.

Ms Burton said: "The overriding principle is to invest in the services which people and communities need.

"We will invest three euros out of every four euros of additional resources available to us in services."

The party would establish a save to buy scheme for aspiring home owners if returned to power.

A top up of one euro will be provided for every four euro a first time buyer saves.

A purchaser would receive a maximum of 6,000 euro assistance over a five-year saving plan.

The manifesto also provides for significant investment in education and increases pensions and child benefits.

It sets a target for the achievement of free GP care.

Brendan Howlin TD said: "A vote for Labour is a vote for balance.

"Balance between left and right. Balance between liberal and conservative. People for whom compromise is a national duty and not a dirty word."

The party launched its electoral promises at the Dublin Institute of Technology, which it said symbolised the progress made during its tenure in Government. Ms Burton was brought up nearby.

She said: "We have a duty to every person and family who has sat at a kitchen table during the crisis and wondered how they'd last until pay day, or cover the pay roll.

"Our duty to them is to sustain the recovery."

Fianna Fail said mortgage difficulties should be an election issue.

Finance spokesman Michael McGrath vowed to extend a valuable interest relief scheme, worth an average 747 euro last year, for another three years to 2020.

"The process of withdrawing it from existing home-owners will be a severe blow to families who bought their home when prices were at their highest," he said.

"Many of these families are now juggling huge outgoings including their monthly mortgage, childcare costs and medical bills."

Variable mortgage rates in Ireland are in many cases twice as high as the base interest rates set by the European Central Bank.

Fianna Fail said 310,400 home owners who bought property from 2004 to 2008 benefit from interest rate relief.

Fine Gael focused on plans to repair the health service with an extra 2 billion euro pledged over the term of the next government.

Among the initiatives are free GP care for all children, 750 million euro spend on primary care, 50 million euro a year to cut waiting lists, renewed dental benefits and 100 extra GP training places.

A tax on sugar sweetened drinks has also been promised even though plans for a similar levy were vetoed before the last budget.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said: "Fine Gael has a plan to continue rebuilding our health service. The plan requires both further investment and further reform.

"It's only by keeping the recovery going and the economy strong that we'll be able to generate the revenue that we need to invest in public services like health and ensure that patients are always the absolute priority."

Outgoing Health Minister Leo Varadkar said: "Economic recovery isn't only more jobs and more money in our pockets, it's also about better public services and we have a plan to do that in health."

Sinn Fein attacked Fine Gael and Labour, accusing the senior coalition party of "lording over a broken, two-tier health system" and criticising the junior partner for "broken promises".

"Enda Kenny promised to end the trolley crisis nine years ago and during both his time in opposition and in government, the situation has gone from crisis to breaking point," election candidate Chris Andrews said.

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