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Thread: Tax to go down, pension to go up - Bertie's Speech in full

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    Default Tax to go down, pension to go up - Bertie's Speech in full

    Below is a topline summary of Bertie Ahern's speech. To read the speech in full click here.

    PRSI for the self employed at 2%, down from 3%

    The standard rate at 18%, down from 20%

    The marginal rate at 40%, down from 41%

    Tax bands and credits will be index linked to wage increases

    We will increase state pensions to at least €300 a week in the next five years.

    We will introduce a Community Payback scheme requiring offenders to perform real services for the communities they have harmed.

    We will create a national network of primary care teams and ensure that every community has access to 24-hour GP cover.

    We will increase the number of dedicated public-only hospital beds by 1,500.

    We will double the numbers of consultants to over 4,000

    We will hire more nurses to care for more patients.

    We will provide 4,000 more primary school teachers

    If returned to Government, we will put that constitutional amendment (on children) to the people.

    We will meet our target of 50,000 new childcare places by 2010 and we pledge that by 2012 every child in Ireland will have access to an affordable pre-school education.

    In the West of Ireland, we will reopen the Western Rail Corridor from Ennis to Claremorris and will launch the Galway to Athenry commuter rail service.

    In Cork, we will open the Cork-Midleton rail service.

    And in Meath, we will open the Navan rail line, first to Dunboyne and then to Navan.

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    71Ú ARD-FHEIS

    LEADING IRELAND FORWARD









    Presidential Address by

    Bertie Ahern TD

    An Taoiseach

    Check against Delivery





    EMBARGO — 8.30 pm, Saturday 24 March 2007

    Good evening members of Fianna Fáil, and to all of you across Ireland who are watching this Ard Fheis tonight on television.



    We gather at a landmark moment in Irish history.



    We live in a time of unprecedented prosperity. We live in a land where peace is a reality, and no longer a dream.



    We live in a country that has come from behind to become a world leader in category after category in just one generation.



    This is a moment of pride and a moment of purpose. Yes, time to take stock of the distance we have come – but even more to look forward towards the opportunities that lie ahead.



    So tonight, I want to talk with you, not about the past and how much we have achieved together; I want to talk about the future, about the Next Steps Forward for a stronger, fairer, greener and even more prosperous Ireland.


    Peace

    In Northern Ireland, we have worked long, hard and patiently.



    We have played our part.



    And we have made a real difference.



    Fianna Fáil, this proud republican party, negotiated the Good Friday Agreement.



    We worked successfully for the ending of the armed campaign and the elimination of weapons.



    We have promoted policing reform and seen the progressive demilitarisation of Northern Ireland.



    All these measures have shaped a precious peace based on equality that few thought possible even a few years ago.



    Northern Ireland is now a much better place.



    The Good Friday Agreement addresses the valid aspirations of all the people of this island.



    The Agreement is the essential foundation for the Northern Ireland of today and the future.



    Now, the Next Steps Forward for peace.



    • Last November, I said that we would open the last of the border crossings. That work is now underway.



    And



    • I said that I would focus on improving access to Derry and Donegal.

    This week, we reached agreement with the British Government on a financial package that includes a major road serving the North/West.



    This will remove the single greatest impediment to the future development of the North/West and the border counties.



    It will help undo the damage of decades of division and underinvestment.



    We will invest the peace dividend in the infrastructure that binds us together geographically and economically, that builds up communities and that breaks down barriers.



    At the recent election, the people gave a clear message. They want the parties to work together in government.



    Their views must be respected.



    All of the key outstanding issues have been painstakingly addressed.



    We must now see the return of shared government and the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement.



    The final steps are there to be taken.


    Economy

    The foundation for peace and progress is our unparalleled economic growth.



    On this platform of success and stability, it is time now for the Next Steps Forward on the economy.



    Those Next Steps, delegates, are grounded in three key principles.



    First, the new Irish prosperity begins with responsible government. We are committed to the policy of keeping the budget in broad balance, and continuing to reduce the national debt. Already, the debt has been reduced from 70% of our country’s GNP to just 25%.



    In a world with higher interest rates, higher energy costs and increasing competition from emerging economies, success cannot be taken for granted and prosperity must be protected.



    That is why we will make commitments that are affordable today, tomorrow and in the long run. The economics of stop-start, boom-bust hold no attractions for us.



    Our second principle is lower taxes. We have kept our promise on tax over the last decade through both large and sustainable tax cuts and increased tax credits. Since 1997, we have reduced income tax rates by thirteen percentage points, reformed credits and expanded bands. Our record on taxation is clear and strong.



    Now, the Next Step Forward is a major, costed and affordable tax reduction for middle and low-income families.



    Today, PRSI unfairly burdens middle and lower earners. We will eliminate this inequality in a way that is both fiscally responsible and socially fair.



    • For employees currently paying the full rate we will halve the rate of PRSI from 4% to 2%.



    • We will abolish the PRSI ceiling for those employees.



    And



    • We will reduce the rate of PRSI paid by the self-employed from 3% to 2%.



    To ensure that taxpayers do not pay more simply because of inflation, we will increase tax credits and tax bands in line with wage increases each year. And we will double the credit where one spouse works in the home to care for children, the elderly or the disabled.



    And finally on taxation, our Next Step Forward will see us cut tax rates for all.



    Fianna Fáil will reduce the standard rate of income tax from 20% to 18%, and the marginal rate from 41 % to 40%. These tax cuts will reward work, strengthen our economy and promote social inclusion.



    So, with Fianna Fáil, our Next Steps Forward on taxes are:



    • PRSI for full rate employees at 2%, down from 4%

    • PRSI for the self employed at 2%, down from 3%

    • The standard rate at 18%, down from 20%

    • The marginal rate at 40%, down from 41%

    And

    • Tax bands and credits will be index linked to wage increases



    These progressive proposals will allow workers and families, particularly those on low and middle incomes, to keep more of their earnings. They will improve the fairness of our tax system and will further enhance the rewards of work. They represent a continuation of the successful tax policies, which we have promised and delivered on in government.



    With Fianna Fáil, taxes will be reduced and spending will be controlled. We believe in low taxation and unlike others, we have the record to prove it.



    And our third principle for economic success is to invest in research and development – so that Ireland can compete globally as a knowledge economy.



    Here, our Next Step will be bold. In five years, Ireland will double investment in research and development. We will double the number of PhD graduates in science, engineering and technology.



    Ireland will strive to lead the world in the decisive asset of human capital.



    Underpinning all these specific policies is the National Development Plan.



    Our young age profile and our strong public finances give us a unique opportunity to anticipate emerging needs and to deliver ahead of demand.



    Implementing the National Development Plan will be our top priority. It will be our Next Step Forward.


    Pensions

    For Fianna Fáil, a strong economy is not an end in itself. The purpose of prosperity is to sustain our people through all the stages of their lives.



    Five years ago, we pledged to raise the pensions of older people to €200 a week. Not only was that commitment met; it was surpassed.



    Now, is the time to take the Next Steps Forward for Ireland’s pensioners. If the Irish people return us to government, we will increase state pensions to at least €300 a week in the next five years.



    As Taoiseach, my commitment to pensions is not a recent concern, nor is it a short-term commitment.



    They talk; we deliver. Just ask pensioners all across Ireland.


    Crime

    Ireland’s success is defined not just by its wealth, but also by the quality of our lives. That begins with our resolve to make Ireland a place where we feel safer in our homes, on our streets and in our communities.



    We are proud that, during our time in government, on almost every single measure, crime has been reduced. But we are not satisfied.



    There is no acceptable level of crime.



    Crime is a real threat. This is a fight we will never shrink from – and one that we are determined to win.



    The Next Steps Forward in tackling crime will begin with prison reform.



    We will extend measures to make prisons drug free. We will do this by implementing mandatory drug tests upon arrival and regularly thereafter. Prison should not be time-off. It should be for work and for training so that when a sentence is complete, a productive life can begin.



    And nowhere will our Next Steps Forward be more visible and direct than in our efforts to combat violence on the streets.



    Anti-Social Behaviour Orders will be backed up by the establishment of a fully resourced and dedicated Garda unit to tackle the problem.



    We will introduce a Community Payback scheme requiring offenders to perform real services for the communities they have harmed.



    We will dramatically increase fines and penalties for alcohol related disorder and for supplying alcohol to minors.



    We will expand the use of CCTV to all major country towns. We will legislate mandatory jail terms for violent unprovoked street assaults.



    And to ensure that these tougher penalties are effective, we will take the most important Next Step Forward to reduce crime by increasing the number of Gardai by two thousand to sixteen thousand.



    These 2,000 additional Gardai will be put on the beat to strengthen communities and to deliver safer streets.



    Our fight against crime will be “firm but fair”, and I believe our Next Steps Forward will make Ireland a safer place to live, a safer place to walk the streets, and a safer place to raise a family.


    Health

    Delegates, the health of our people is one of the most important responsibilities we have in government. I could talk at length about the improvements that have been made in health.



    • One hundred thousand professionals caring for one million patients.



    • Since I became Taoiseach, we have cut waiting times for operations from years to months.

    And



    • In a single year, the number of people waiting in Accident and Emergency has almost halved.



    But in a health service where real progress has been made, real challenges remain.



    So, our Next Steps Forward on Health will focus heavily on prevention, on keeping people out of hospital and providing better care in local communities nationwide.



    We will introduce an entitlement for a Personal Health Check for all. This Personal Health Check will be pro-active. It will include screening, so we can save lives by detecting disease early.



    Specifically, it will cover a broad range of threats, including breast, cervical and prostate cancer screening.



    • We will create a national network of primary care teams and ensure that every community has access to 24-hour GP cover.



    • We will increase the number of dedicated public-only hospital beds by 1,500.



    • We will double the numbers of consultants to over 4,000



    And



    • We will hire more nurses to care for more patients.



    Fianna Fáil in government will build local injury clinics to take pressure off A & E’s and to ensure faster treatment for patients who do not have life threatening conditions.



    We will increase the availability of step down facilities in the form of home care support, and long-term care beds to help patients being discharged from hospitals.



    We want our elderly to live long, healthy and active lives in their own homes and their local communities. To do this, we will help local and voluntary organisations to establish and run community based elder care facilities that will provide the social and medical services necessary to support them.



    And for our children under 5 who need occupational or speech and language therapy, we will ensure that any child waiting more than 3 months for the service can access it automatically through the National Treatment Purchase Fund.



    Making promises, delegates, is easy. Government demands hard, patient, and practical work. Our opponents will promise to solve every problem in health. But we know that solutions require not only resources, they require real reform and the resolution to stay on course.


    Children

    At our last Ard Fheis, I proposed a referendum on the place of children in our constitution. Fianna Fáil believes that this is an essential Next Step towards a new culture of respect for the rights of the child. Last month, we published our proposed amendment. Tonight, I pledge that if returned to Government, we will put that constitutional amendment to the people.



    And building on constitutional change and continuing investment, the Next Steps Forward will ensure that every child has the best possible start in life. We will meet our target of 50,000 new childcare places by 2010 and we pledge that by 2012 every child in Ireland will have access to an affordable pre-school education.



    To ensure that every child in every community has a safe, modern place for sports and play, we will complete the successful National Playgrounds Policy. And we will create a fund for a countrywide network of youth cafes where teenagers can meet in a safe, legal and healthy environment.



    Our commitment to children is clear. From next month, a family with two children under the age of six will get a direct and untaxed payment of 5,840 euros a year thanks to the increased Child Benefit and the Early Childhood Supplement introduced by this Fianna Fáil led government. This is real support for families and it helps to make the choices they believe are best for their children. We can be encouraged, but certainly not complacent, that one hundred thousand children have been lifted out of poverty since 1997. This challenges us to do more. Our Next Steps Forward for children are the most important investments we can make in the Ireland we can become.


    Education

    Fianna Fáil believes that education is the highway to future progress.



    In ten years, 10,000 extra teachers have been hired. Thousands of existing schools have been modernised and hundreds of new schools have been built. And 45,000 more third level places have been created.



    We have provided for the most sustained increase in funding and participation in the history of Irish education.



    It is this sustained commitment that gives Fianna Fáil credibility on education.



    Our Next Steps Forward on education will include providing at least 4,000 more primary school teachers.



    • This will ensure that our children are taught in smaller classes.



    • At second level, we will prioritise reductions in the size of classes in the core subjects of Irish, English and Maths.



    We will also ensure that new schools will be built to meet the needs of families in developing areas.



    Because we understand the real-life pressures on young people today, we will support them better by hiring extra guidance counselors.



    For children with special needs, we will continue to improve services and ensure the right to an Individual Education Plan.



    And to improve opportunities in higher education, we will introduce a new system of means-tested free fees for approved part-time courses. Together with incentives for colleges to offer more flexible courses, this will enable more people with work or family commitments to access opportunity at third level.



    Huge progress has been made in education over the past ten years. We know that challenges still remain and we believe that we are the party best placed to meet them.


    An Teanga agus Cultúr Beo

    Agus mar Éirinnigh, táimid fíor bhródúil as an muinín nua a bhfuil ag muintir na hÉireann – anseo sa bhaile, san Eoraip agus ar fud an domhain.



    Anois, tá Fianna Fáil ag iarraidh leanúint ar aghaidh, agus gan filleadh

    ar na sean laethanta.

    Táimid ag iarraidh cur leis an muinín nua as ár gcultúr féin agus an meas nua atá ar ár dteanga náisiúnta.



    Ar fud na tíre tá glúin óg ag foghlaim Gaeilge sna Gaelscoileanna.



    Tá ardú stádas bainte amach againn don Ghaeilge san Eoraip.

    Agus anois tá ard-mheas ar ár gceol agus ár gcultúr saibhir ar fud an domhain.



    I rith na cúig bliana atá amach romhainn, geallaim daoibh go ndéanfaidh mé ár dteanga agus ár gcultúr a chur chun cinn.


    Transport

    Our modern society depends on modern transport. In ten years, decades of under-investment have been reversed and unprecedented resources committed to our transport network.



    Dramatic improvements have been delivered and there is more to come. Our Next Steps Forward on transport will be to complete the national motorway network, and develop new bus and train services throughout the country.



    Let me be quite specific. In Dublin, we will join the LUAS Green and Red lines; we will extend Luas to Docklands; to Citywest; to Cherrywood; and from the City Centre to Liffey Junction.



    We will accelerate construction of the Interconnector between Docklands and Heuston stations. We will open Metro North from Saint Stephen’s Green to Swords via Dublin Airport, and open Metro-West connecting Tallaght and Ballymun through Clondalkin, Lucan and Blanchardstown.



    In the West of Ireland, we will reopen the Western Rail Corridor from Ennis to Claremorris and will launch the Galway to Athenry commuter rail service.



    In Cork, we will open the Cork-Midleton rail service.



    And in Meath, we will open the Navan rail line, first to Dunboyne and then to Navan.



    On roads, we will complete the five inter-urban motorways to Waterford, Cork, Limerick, Galway and to the border; we will complete the Atlantic Road Corridor as well. We will also complete the Border Road Corridor – along with high quality road corridors to the North West and the West. And we also will finish the East coast N11 dual carriageway to Rosslare.



    Work on Transport 21 is well underway. It is a costed and comprehensive plan that will deliver the modern transport network that Ireland deserves. It will cut travel times, improve safety and give our people a real commuting choice.



    Ireland will at long last have the infrastructure it needs and deserves. And that is the Next Step for transport worth taking.


    Rural Ireland

    Last night, we spoke at length about the real Fianna Fáil commitment to protecting Ireland’s natural environment.



    Tonight, I want talk to you about that great part of our nation – our farm families, our rural and coastal communities – that are the heart and soul of Ireland.



    Agriculture is a vital part of a strong Irish economy, and Fianna Fáil are committed to farming as the cornerstone of life in rural Ireland.



    We lead the cause for farmers and rural development in the European Union and we have convinced other nations to join us for a simple reason: Europe should not abandon a safe, secure and traceable food supply. In the years ahead, we will continue the fight for the farming sector, and we will continue to stand firm against any moves to sacrifice agriculture in World Trade Organisation talks.



    Our Next Steps Forward for farming communities will invest in new products, new markets and upgrading our food industry. We will oppose any efforts to restrict the live export of animals. And, for farmers, we will work in Brussels to improve the fairness of inspections and reduce red tape.



    We believe in a future where rural people can choose to stay in their own communities.



    Our ambitions for rural Ireland will never be diminished.



    Our commitment to rural Ireland will never be surpassed.


    Conclusion

    The Next Steps Forward for Ireland. This is where we stand and this is what we will do. We are the ones who have proven that we can lead and transform this country. The details of our Next Steps for Ireland are available for all to see at www.thenextsteps.ie . I ask all of you here tonight and those of you watching at home to join us in the journey towards a stronger, a fairer, a greener and even more prosperous Ireland.



    Tonight, I have talked specifics, not platitudes. I have focused on programmes, not politics. Some may ask why all the substance and policy. Here is my answer: I am more interested in attacking problems than in attacking opponents. We have big choices to make and so I have set out our Next Steps Forward for Ireland.



    Tomorrow, I will represent Ireland at the 50th anniversary of the European Union. The founders of that Union had the vision and courage to take bold steps at a critical moment in history. And the founders of our party were also visionaries. They were called Soldiers of Destiny, and they not only fought for freedom; they worked to create a new nation, a new government, that could move Ireland forward.



    I believe that now we can be soldiers of destiny in more than just name. I believe it is our destiny to lead Ireland to new heights.



    Together, we can do more than just win the next election. We can win and secure the future, for our families and for Ireland. We can realise our dream of one nation, that gives every man and woman the chance to make the most of their lives; that gives every boy and girl the best possible start; that takes care of the elderly; and leaves no one with a disability behind. One Ireland, that treats every citizen with equality. One nation where, within the next decade, poverty will be ended once and for all.



    It is time to stay the course, to go the distance and to fulfil Ireland’s destiny. This is a government that has nurtured peace, that has grown prosperity and that is harvesting a bright future for all.



    Delegates, I say to you tonight; work harder that you have ever worked before - work to lead this country forward. Go home from here and tell the people it is Fianna Fáil who will deliver for Ireland. It is Fianna Fáil who can be relied upon in both prosperous and in challenging times. It is Fianna Fáil who can be trusted with the peace and the prosperity out of which the future of this extraordinary island will be secured.



    That is the Ireland we will build, that is the Ireland I believe in, the Ireland Fianna Fáil believes in, if we have the courage to take the Next Steps Forward, and to fulfil the destiny that awaits us.



    This is the time.

    This is the place.

    Now delegates – the Next Steps Forward.



    ENDS

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    the Bert... he seems to be copying everyones tax policies - eg std rate 18% a la labour and credits for stay at home spouses a la FG...

    and other give aways such as halfing the rate of prsi ... sounds like 1977 all over ... sure why not just abolish income tax

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    Politics.ie Member FutureTaoiseach's Avatar
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    The tax-plans aren't as good as ours, and a lot of this stuff e.g. pensions at €300 - seems to be almost an imitation of our policies. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery but the original is always the best. Also given FF's cosiness with the unions I honestly don't see them actually forcing through reforms including the 4,000 hospital consultants. That is unless we are around the table with a weakened FF dependent on our votes for survival....

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    Quote Originally Posted by FutureTaoiseach
    The tax-plans aren't as good as ours, and a lot of this stuff e.g. pensions at €300 - seems to be almost an imitation of our policies. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery but the original is always the best. Also given FF's cosiness with the unions I honestly don't see them actually forcing through reforms including the 4,000 hospital consultants. That is unless we are around the table with a weakened FF dependent on our votes for survival....
    Tell me FT, is this taken directly from a PD press release c. 2002?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bertie Ahern
    Our ambitions for rural Ireland will never be diminished.

    Our commitment to rural Ireland will never be surpassed.
    This is problem, IMHO, with FF's focus. Maybe it reflects a party membership that's disproportionately older and rural. But this need to root themselves in the Western mindset should kill them in Dublin.

    Why would anyone urban and Eastern bother voting for FF, when their rhetoric is so obviously elsewhere? Where's any vision for Dublin fulfilling its potential as a European city? Where's any appeal to regional cities as drivers of growth? Backward, vacuous, directionless. Unfortunately, the opposition are no better.
    However, banks know they have a duty of care to their clients and I'm sure that this should prevent them lending irresponsibly.

    George Lee 2 June 2006

    Ziggy

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    Politics.ie Member White Horse's Avatar
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    Scumbag Ahern has had ten years to do the things he promised.

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    Politics.ie Member Rocky's Avatar
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    He took everything he could think of and stated that FF will do it. He took polices off FG, Lab, PD, Green and FF polices from 2002 that they've never done and other things that are impossible to do.

    As far as I can see the leadership of FF and the staff etc. sat down together and decided to figure out what they think Irish people want and put everything they could think of into his speech, deciding not to worry about how much it would cost, or how it would be done or if it was possible to do or if another party had already to do the same thing.

    Its bad enough doing this on its own, but the fact that he's decided to do it after all of FF’s broken promises from 2002 shows us that he clearly thinks the Irish people are idiots. The bit about sticking railway lines everywhere was particularly bad after FF’s record in that area.
    "Give us the future, we've had enough of YOUR past, Give us back our country, to live in, to grow in and to love..."

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    Did anyone notice that Ahern made no reference whatsoever to the Progressive Democrats in his speech?!

    I can't be sure, but I seem to remember him doing so in previous speeches (respects Harney; great working relationship; loves the PDs to bits etc etc)

    Sign of the times, perhaps?

    What do Future Moron and Keith"pollofpolls"M make of this conspicuous omission?
    "The IRA Army Council have a history of telling the truth. If they say they didn't do it, then I believe them" - Bertie Ahern, speaking after the murder of Det. Garda Jerry McCabe

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    Bertie has made a huge tactical error. Seamus Brennan amongst others had berated the FG and Labour on the issue of election promises. This was a strategy that would have appealed to the thinking element in the electorate. Now lo and behold FF has lost all credibility by attempting to outbid the opposition. This looks like a last desperate attempt to halt the slide of the governments fortunes. The electorate may not look too kindly on this volte face.
    Also many voters will consider the fact that the government had 9 years to implement these policies. For cynical voters it is a case of live horse until you get grass.
    In addition PD promises -which amount to €5billion- have further shattered government credibility.

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