Fine Gael launches General Election manifesto

All political parties will be assessing their campaigns in the wake of the latest opinion poll

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Fine Gael has launched its General Election manifesto, describing it as their 'Long Term Economic Plan'.

The manifesto includes a pledge to create 200,000 new jobs by 2020, and to reduce the unemployment rate to 6%.

The party says it will also allocate €4.2 billion in increased resources for public services, including the hiring of more 10,000 additional front-line staff including doctors, nurses, gardaí, teachers and social workers.

They also recommit to abolishing the Universal Social Charge (USC) 'as a part of a wider reform of the income tax system'.

Other measures include a tax on sweetened drinks.

Launching the manifesto Enda Kenny said it was based on "more and better jobs, making work pay and investing in better services".

The Taoiseach Enda Kenny described the recovery as fragile and incomplete, and claimed Fine Gael offers stability:

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Michael Noonan again defended plans to abolish the Universal Social Charge, following criticism from the employers group IBEC, who want income tax cuts instead.

Noonan, however, says this wouldn't be fair:

You can read the full manifesto here.

The launch comes as all parties assess their campaigns in the wake of the latest opinion poll.

Fine Gael had always intended to launch their manifesto in the middle of the campaign in the hopes it would give them the final push needed to see a return to Government.

However, the party has now been rattled by opinion polls showing that so far their message has not worked and they may in fact be losing voters.

Elsewhere today, Renua will outline its proposals to tackle crime and reveal a new poster campaign.

A short time later at the same Dublin location, Labour's focus will be on highlighting that they bring stability and balance to Government.

Sinn Féin is focusing on education today, and Gerry Adams is canvassing in Laois.

People Before Profit will outline their call for a repeal of the 8th Amendment.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil is taking a day off from policy launches, and Micheál Martin will canvas churches in his Cork South Central constituency.