May 22, 2017, 1:42 p.m.
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leo varadkar taoiseach legislation should be “essential” workers

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LEGISLATION SHOULD BE introduced to ban “essential” public sector workers from going on strike, according to Leo Varadkar.Speaking at his policy launch in the Smock Alley Theatre in Dublin, the Social Protection Minister (who is already being dubbed the next Taoiseach) told reporters that Labour Court recommendations should be binding on employers and unions.His manifesto states the public should “no longer be inconvenienced by strike action in essential services”.When pressed on what is the definition of essential services, Varadkar said the definition would be determined by the Oireachtas.When asked for specific examples, he said emergency service workers and also air traffic controllers.He said he did not envisage the legislation extending to health workers “across the board”, but said it could “include emergency services where it is a matter of life and death”.When asked if it would include the gardaí, he said he does not have a difficulty with the gardaí accessing the Labour Court, but stated that as it stands at the moment, gardaí are banned from striking.Varadkar on the possibility of phasing out the first time buyers scheme— TheJournal Politics (@TJ_Politics) May 22, 2017
Source: TheJournal Politics/TwitterVaradkar on the possibility of phasing out the first time buyers scheme Scheme Another item in his manifesto is sure to raise the eyebrows of his opponent, Simon Coveney.The First Time Buyers Scheme (which is Coveney’s baby) will be scrapped if a review finds that it is pushing up property prices, said Varadkar.He said the scheme could be “phased out”, with any money saved used on the construction of housing for older people which he said will incentivise retired people to move out of large family homes.The eleven-page policy document of big ideas is Varadkar’s pitch to become the next Taoiseach.Varadkar promises that those who paid their water charges will be refunded this year, and committed to a referendum on abortion being held next year.Abortion referendum He said Fine Gael should be should be a ”warm house for those who hold traditional views as well as those who hold liberal ones”.He denied that the Citizen’s Assembly was a time-wasting exercise, and said the Oireachtas will now try to form a question that will be put to the people next year.He told the media today that his personal opinion on abortion should not inform government policy, and admitted his views have been evolving on the issue.“I am somebody who has had an evolving view on this issue, I have changed my mind a few times. I find it difficult, I struggle with it. I certainly would be in favour of removing the Eighth Amendment. I think it should be deleted and I am in favour, in a personal view of abortion in certain circumstances (fatal foetal abnormalities, rape). I personally would not favour abortion on request,” said the minister.Leo Varadkar launching his policy doc at Smock Alley— TheJournal Politics (@TJ_Politics) May 22, 2017
Source: TheJournal Politics/TwitterLeo Varadkar launching his policy doc at Smock Alley and pensionsHe wants to reduce the marginal tax rates of income tax, stating that no one should have to pay more than 50c out of every euro they earn.There should be tax equality for all workers, re-pitching his idea that self-employed people should be able to opt in to pay more PRSI so as to avail of all benefits.In addition, the Universal Social Charge (USC) would be merged with PRSI to make a new system of social insurance.He also wants pensions to be linked to inflation, but said something needs to be done to tackle the figure that 35% of workers in the private sector have no pension.He wants to enrol workers under 60 to a personal pension savings scheme, whereby contributions will be made by employees and employers. The State will provide a bonus similar to that boom-time savings scheme known as the SSIA.@campaignforleo has quite a few policy ideas (1/2)— TheJournal Politics (@TJ_Politics) May 22, 2017
Source: TheJournal Politics/Twitter@campaignforleo has quite a few policy ideas (1/2) else? In terms of Brexit, he said: “We will argue for Northern Ireland to remain in the Single Market, Common Agricultural Policy, Interreg, Erasmus and other programmes”.However, he said he is opposed to a border poll at this time.Varadkar wants to bring forward a new capital spending plan that will fast-track the likes of Dublin Metro and the M20.He also wants to double government investment in the arts, culture and sport – something he says will cost €44 million per year, over seven years.Varadkar disputed that such investments could be seen to be buying off his supporters, and said not one of the TDs that pledged their support for him have been promised jobs around the Cabinet table.However, he did state that he had “listened to their ambitions” of leadership.Speaking about Housing Minister Simon Coveney, Varadkar said he is an “honourable man” who is “very diligent”.“I admire the fact he is staying in the race,” he added.“This race is still on, it’s far from over,” said Varadkar.