Watch: Varadkar confirms middle income earners will benefit from tax changes next month

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said the government is "open to all options" in recruiting a new garda commissioner as he defended the day-to-day work of members of the force, writes Juno McEnroe.

Speaking at the opening of the Fine Gael two-day think-in in Clonmel, Tipperary, he also outlined elements in the upcoming budget, promising tax cuts for middle income earners.

The conference in themed around the Taoiseach's mantra of a 'Republic of Opportunity' for all and the party will today discuss futiue investment and capital projects needed nationwide.

Mr Varadkar though opened the meeting with a speech defended gardaí and said that we should “be proud” and not forget the work they do every day.

The resignation of Noirin O'Sullivan as the head of the force now allowed the recruitment of a new commissioner and therefor “better management, new leadership, culture” as well as an attitudinal change” in the force, Mr Varadkar told TDs, senators and MEPs at the Hotel Minella.

He said in recruiting a new commissioner, that he and the government were open to “all options”, including hiring a new chief of police from Ireland, overseas, within the force or from outside the gardai.

“The most important thing is the best person gets the jobs,” he added.

Mr Varadkar reiterated the government party's promise to reduce the higher rate of tax for workers in next month's budget.

“Where we have scope in the budget, it will be used to reward work and enterprise, and will benefit those on middle incomes who pay the highest rates of tax on far too modest incomes. We will back business, farmers and enterprise. High taxes on the middle classes are a barrier to opportunity and to work. They are a cap on aspiration and there should be no cap on aspiration in the Republic we wish to build.”

USC and PRSI will also be amalgamated, he said, adding:

“It is a complex and challenging task that will take many budgets but, when completed, it will mean having a new European-style social insurance system in Ireland.”

Party members will later today hear presentations on the economy as well as planning and housing from Fine Gael ministers.

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