Social Democrats outline plans for Irish National Health Service

The party has laid out its plans for a health service that "would be accessible to all" in its policy manifesto

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The Social Democrats have broken ranks with the major political parties - by proposing to keep the Universal Social Charge.

The party says the charge brings in around €4 billion a year, which goes towards valuable public services.

While the major parties hope to scrap the charge for all or most workers, the Social Democrats instead want to retain it fund services such as an Irish National Health Service.

The party, which is set to contest its first general election, says that a publicly funded health service "would be accessible to all, improve health outcomes and reduce the cost to deliver high quality healthcare".

The party also wants to provide free school books and transport for every primary school pupil in Ireland.

The proposals are included in the party's general election policy manifesto, which was launched today.

The manifesto also calls for removing the 8th Amendment from the Constitution, and the introduction of a 'modern legislative regime' to replace it.

The Social Democrats party was founded last year by TDs Roisín Shortall, Stephen Donnelly and Catherine Murphy.

The party says, "the entire focus of our framework of policies is to reduce the cost of living for everyone by investing in key public services.

"We have created a set of practical policies that are accessible and brief yet their implementation would ensure a fairer society for us all," they add.

You can read the Social Democrat's full election manifesto here, which was released ahead of a public launch on Dublin's Grafton Street earlier today. 

Róisín Shortall spoke to Newstalk Lunchtime today about the launch of the campaign and outlined the party's manifesto:

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