Belfast Telegraph

Economy key in election campaign

Political parties have set out to win over the electorate with their plans on the future of the economy, banking sector and job creation.

As Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour outlined separate plans for recovery, Sinn Fein proposed that the new universal social charge is scrapped and replaced with a higher tax band for high earners.

Elsewhere, left-wing group People Before Profit revealed it wanted to fight for genuine change with people power.

Dun Laoghaire candidate councillor Richard Boyd Barrett said it was running nine candidates in the forthcoming General Election to give voters an alternative.

"We want to put the interests of people first by burning the bondholders, ending the bank bailouts and reversing cuts to pay, social welfare and public services. Instead we will invest in jobs, housing, health and education," he added.

Fine Gael earlier launched its banking policy in a bid to bring the sector back from the brink and stimulate economic recovery.

Finance spokesman Michael Noonan revealed key proposals include increasing mortgage interest relief for the negative equity generation, costing some 120 million euro, cutting bank costs and making bond-holders share the burden of the debts.

However, Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin hit back at parties who, he said, claimed they will be able to deliver a new European Union (EU)/International Monetary Fund (IMF) deal. "There is no other way, and anyone who claims so is deliberately misleading the people," he warned.

Meanwhile, Labour outlined a series of detailed proposals which it claimed will deliver up to 80,000 jobs. Liz McManus, spokeswoman on communications, energy and natural resources, said Ireland has the potential to become a world leader in green jobs by harnessing its natural resources of wind, wave and tidal.

And the Green Party's Eamon Ryan claimed he already initiated many of the policies during his term as energy minister.

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