Key Achievements of Fine Gael in Government March 2019

Strong Communities and Balanced Regional Development

  • Jobs — Over three out of every five jobs have been created outside Dublin since the Government was formed. This is 94,500 jobs.
  • Project Ireland 2040 — Launched a new twenty year spatial strategy backed up with a €116 billion national development plan which will help achieve balanced regional development.
  • Rural Regeneration and Development — The first recipients of the €1billion Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, for towns and villages with a population under 10,000, have been announced.
  • Town and Village Renewal Scheme — has provided €53 million for more than 675 projects across the State.
  • Broadband — In 2012 less than 700,000, or 30%, of all 2.3 million Irish premises had access to high speed broadband.  Now 74% of premises can access high speed broadband – a number growing every day.

A Housing System with Citizens at the Centre

  • Social Housing — In 2018, 8,400 (incl 4,250 new-build) homes were added to the active social housing stock and this year the number will increase to 9,540 (63% new-build).
  • Homelessness — Budget 2019 gave an extra €30m for homelessness services (to a €146m total in 2019). In 2017, 4,700 individuals exited homelessness into homes and this year we will achieve a higher number.
  • Housing Supply — Over 18,000 new dwellings were built in 2018, a 25% increase on 2017. The annual national rate of inflation in residential property prices is the lowest since prices started rising again in 2013.

A Healthier Ireland

  • Project Ireland 2040 / Capital Investment — We are providing €10.9 billion for 40 capital projects improving access to quality healthcare services, including 2,600 additional acute hospital beds.
  • Sláintecare — Sláintecare Action Plan 2019, outlines project management structures & governance approach
  • Bed Capacity — Over the past 12 months, an additional 240 beds have been opened and a further 78 additional beds are planned for early 2019.
  • Primary Care Centres — There are now 126 in operation, with 12 further centres to open in 2019.
  • 8th Amendment  — We repealed the 8th Amendment with 66% of voters favouring repeal.

A Resilient Economy, Quality Jobs and a Stronger Safety Net

  • Employment — 2,281,000 people are now in employment, the highest ever level. Also, the unemployment rate currently stands at 5.6%, the lowest level since early 2008.
  • Balanced Budget — Recorded an Exchequer Surplus in 2018 for the first time since 2006
  • Rainy Day Fund — Being established to increase the State’s resilience to larger economic shocks. Capitalised with an initial €1.5 billion from the ISIF and an annual contribution of €500 million from 2019.
  • Capital Spending — A 25% increase in capital spending to €7.3bn in 2019 to provide more & better schools, hospitals, primary care and public transport for our people.
  • New Deal for the Self Employed — FG has extended Treatment Benefits and Invalidity Pension to the self-employed; introduced the ‘Earned Income Tax Credit’, now at €1,350; and the self-employed will become eligible for Jobseeker’s Benefit in 2019.
  • Minimum Wage — In December 2010 Fianna Fáil cut the Minimum Wage to €7.65. We increased it to €9.80 in January 2019. The fifth such increase under Fine Gael.
  • Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill — prohibits zero hour contracts, except for genuine casual employment and where essential to allow employers to provide cover in emergency or short-term absence.

Enabling Opportunity and Making Life Easier for Families

  • Taxation Changes (Budgets 2015 – 2019) — over the last five years we have increased the level at which people pay the higher rate of income tax and cut the USC.
    • A single person working in the private sector with no children who is earning €35,000, has €1,334 more in their take home pay, than they did five years ago.
    • A married couple with two children, taking in a single income of €55,000, have €2,934 extra in their take home pay, than they did five years ago.
    • A self-employed person with no children earning €35,000 has €2,684 more in their take home pay, than they did five years ago.
  • Childcare
    • All children can avail of two years of free universal pre-school, through the Early Childhood Care and Education programme (ECCE) prior to beginning primary school, benefitting some 114,000 children.
    • New Social Insurance Parental Benefit payment to be paid for 2 weeks for each parent (Nov 2019).
    • We have increased the Home Carer Credit by €300, for the 80,000 families where one spouse works primarily in the home to care for children or other dependants.
  • CSO, Survey on Income & Living Conditions (Dec 18) — incomes are rising both at the individual and household level. Enforced deprivation has fallen by over one third, from 30.5% in 2013 to 18.8% in 2017.
  • School Admissions — The Education (Admissions to Schools) Act 2018 will bring a more parent-friendly, equitable and consistent approach to school admissions policy for 4,000 primary and post-primary schools.
  • School Recruitment — As a result of Budget 2019 over 1,300 additional posts in schools will be funded: 950 extra SNAs & 372 teachers; to a total of 70,000 teachers and over 15,900 SNAs.

Protecting the Elderly and the Vulnerable

  • Pension Rates — A total increase in maximum rate of the State Pension of €18 p.w. over last 4 FG budgets.
  • Free Travel Scheme — €5m increase in Free Travel Scheme.
  • Prescription Charges — 50c reduction in prescription charges for over-70s and phasing out of prescription charges for those in emergency accommodation.
  • Welfare Increases — €5 p.w. increase in all social welfare, including carers, unemployed & disability allowance. 
  • A child poverty package — Qualified Child Allowance up €2.20 (u12s) or €5.20 (o12s), Back to School Allowance up €25, increased thresholds for Working Family Payment & One Parent Family Payment. Fully restored Christmas bonus.

Protecting Our Environment

  • Project Ireland 2040 — An unprecedented investment of €22bn in climate action over the next decade. €1 in every €5 to be spent in the National Development Plan over the next decade will be on climate action.
  • Climate Action Fund — €500m fund under Project Ireland 2040. First round successful projects were announced in November, including €10m for a nationwide, state-of-the-art electric vehicle charging network.
  • Tackling Plastic Pollution — Published the general scheme of a bill to prohibit certain products containing plastic microbeads and we support European moves on introducing tough restrictions on single-use plastics.
  • Greener Transport — From next July, no new diesel-only buses will be bought by Dublin Bus and from 2030 no new diesel or petrol cars will be sold in Ireland.

Security and Justice in a Modern Ireland

  • Future of Policing –Announced an implementation plan for the ‘Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland’ Report, and also published a four year high level plan “Policing Service for the Future”.
  • Garda Strength — Since the reopening of the Garda College in 2014, 2,200 recruits have attested as members of An Garda Síochána. Garda numbers reached over 14,000 at the end 2018.
  • Rural Crime — Operation Thor, targeting burglary gangs, has led to over 270,000 crime prevention patrols and over 9,000 arrests. Also €6m spent on Seniors Alert Scheme for 19,000 personal alarms in 2018.
  • Criminal Justice (Corruption Offences) Act 2018 — This Act represents a complete modernisation of our anti-corruption laws and was also in the Government’s White Collar Crime package announced in 2017.

An Island at the Heart of Europe and at the Centre of the World

  • Brexit — We are continuing extensive and detailed Brexit preparedness and contingency planning across all Government Departments and Agencies. Measures include a new €300m Future Growth Loan Scheme to provide long terms loans to businesses of up to 10 years, and a €300m Brexit Working Capital Loan Scheme launched in March 2018.
  • Global Ireland — We launched Global Ireland: Ireland’s Global footprint to 2025. The most ambitious renewal programme ever which will double the scope and impact of Ireland’s international presence.
  • ODA — €817m for Official Development Assistance (ODA) in 2019, a 16% increase on 2018.