Labour Launch Policy Blitz

The Labour party has decried their association with being a party without policy by launching a litany of ideas on how they'd tackle the economic crisis.

Speaking in the Dáil yesterday, the party leader Eamon Gilmore put forward a number of controversial policies including a three-year pay freeze, a new tax rate for people earning over €100,000, and a reduction of tax relief on pension contributions.

Mr Gilmore told the Dáil there should be a halfway split between extra taxes and spending cuts to reduce the deficit to the 3% level by 2014.

Labour's policy offensive comes on the heels of the Taoiseach Brian Cowen's address to the house, where he outlined €15 billion of cuts over the next four years.

However, Mr Gilmore said the reduction in capital spending should be counter-balanced by taking €2 billion from the National Pension Reserve Fund, which could fund a "strategic investment bank".

He said it no longer made sense to continue payments into the fund through borrowing money on the international markets.

Meanwhile, Mr Gilmore's colleague Liz McManus, the party's spokesperson on Communications, also launched a number of Labour suggestions this morning, claiming that Ireland has natural resources that can be harnessed to create jobs and get people off welfare.

Ms McManus called for fewer restrictions on wind farm projects and the further development of geothermal energy.

"The wave and wind sectors, particularly offshore wind, are hampered by a lack of strategic approach and streamlined planning process. A recent study by the European Wind Energy Association showed that the onshore wind farm developers in Ireland experience average delays in planning of 33 months," Ms McManus said.


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