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Irish voters don’t want tax hikes, poll reveals

The vast majority of voters in the Republic want spending cuts rather than tax increases, a new poll has revealed.

Southern voters, reeling from cuts to their pay packages this month, have indicated strong resistance to further tax increases.

Almost two-thirds (65%) would rather see cuts to public spending as Irish household incomes plummet and the threat of fresh mortgage hikes loom, Just 7% are in favour of raising taxes and 18% want a mixture of both.

The latest Irish Independent/ Millward Brown Lansdowne opinion poll findings come as Fine Gael yesterday tried to sneak through a major shift in its policy of prioritising spending cuts over tax increases.

Its old policy, dropped unceremoniously yesterday, committed the party to cut €3 (£2.50) of spending for every extra euro (85p) raised in taxes.

Now Fine Gael is planning just €2 (£1.70) in cuts for every euro in higher taxes.

Yet worryingly for the party, on course to win its first general election in 28 years, the latest poll shows spending cuts are most popular among its supporters.

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Gaping holes in the FG’s economic promises were exposed yesterday as its 2011 election campaign got off to a bad start.

Although party leader Enda Kenny said his party had the “best plan” to rescue the country, his spin-doctors' attempts to prevent the party's economic policy being questioned backfired badly. Its Press conference ended in farce as the senior front bench marched out and refused to answer or explain specific questions.

The party also failed to back up a pledge to end borrowing for day-to-day spending in the next five years with any proof of how it was making the bold prediction.

It confirmed it was scrapping its previous pledge to create 105,000 new jobs through an €18bn (£15bn) ‘New Era’ plan for new broadband, energy and water infrastructure. Its revised jobs plan being launched today will instead contain a pledge to provide 20,000 jobs annually over the next four years using a variety of schemes and the funding allocated to New Era has been cut to €7bn (£6bn).

Fine Gael pledged not to increase income taxes or cut the old age pension at the launch of its five-point plan yesterday.

But its finance spokesman Michael Noonan could not provide any figures to back up his claim they would balance the budget for the day-to-day running of the country by 2016.

He admitted there might be a €3bn (£2.5bn) gap which would have to be filled to balance the current spending budget — and claimed increased economic growth would provide the solution.


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