Jed Nash: Fine Gael are changing and adjusting their figures every day

By Elaine Loughlin, political reporter

Labour Minister Jed Nash has hit out at his coalition partners Fine Gael for "changing and adjusting their figures every day".

The Jobs Minister took a swipe at Finance Minister Michael Noonan, suggesting his plan to set aside €2.5bn in the coming years for a rainy day fund could change.

Fellow Labour Minister Alex White said Labour would favour cutting USC and investing in services ahead of creating a rainy day fund.

Speaking at the Labour Party Conference in Mullingar this afternoon Mr Nash said: "It seems to me that Fine Gael are changing and adjusting their figures every day.

"The only party I think that has got a comprehensive strategy around a tax reductions for working people that is sustainable is the Labour party.

"We are fiscally responsible, nobody could argue that we have not been prudent with the public finances in the last number of years. Now as opportunities are opening up for our economy our argument is that for every €1 in tax cuts that we will introduce for working people and for SME owners, we are hoping to provide €3 for public investment."

He said this would include investment in healthcare, schools and gardaí.

Earlier this week Mr Noonan promised to set aside funds in the next five years to allow for any external changes which could impact on the Irish economy.

Minister Alex White claimed that Labour would look at putting away "some funds" but refused to go into further detail on the matter.

He said he wanted to see the Fine Gael manifesto before commenting on their proposal for a rainy day fund, but hinted that given our large national debt this would not be possible.

"One of the factors that occurs to me is that even in the coming years when things are easier and the fiscal space will be there we also have a very large national debt.

"Rainy days are important but I think the balance that we need of giving people tax relief through the USC, and keeping the bulk of the fiscal space available for improving public services and investment in the future, that is the position the Labour party will be taking going into the election.

He added: "I think the important thing to do now is to wait until you see definitive proposals and offerings in the [Fine Gael] manifesto.

"I know that Michael Noonan made a comment about this during the week, but I would rather see what the detail of that is, exactly what they are proposing," Mr White said.


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