Fine Gael to consider abandoning pledge to scrap Universal Social Charge as coalition talks resume

The move will only be made if Fianna Fáil also back down on their water charges stance

Enda Kenny, coalition, Fine Gael, Fianna Fail, ruled out, GE16

Taoiseach Enda Kenny at APC Ltd office's during the offical opening of its new process research facility in Cherrywood, Dublin | Image: RollingNews.ie

Talks aimed at forming a new Government are set to resume on Tuesday, over a month after polling day in the General Election.

As yet, there has been no breakthrough in talks to find a coalition, with reports suggesting that unless an agreement is reached soon, it could force a second election.  

However, it is reported that Fine Gael is now considering abandoning its pledge to scrap the Universal Social Charge (USC), but only if Fianna Fáil backs off its own plans to scrap water charges, which is believed to have been one of the reasons behind the ongoing impasse in the negotiations.

The USC had been a red line issue in the lead up to the election, and Group Political Editor at Independent News and Media, Kevin Doyle, says Fine Gael now admits that tactic was wrong.

"Promising that widespread tax cut, taking €4 billion out [of the economy], people saw through it. It was the classic old thing of 'buy me with my own money', and people didn't want that". 

However Eamon O'Cuiv of Fianna Fáil refused to be drawn on the suggestion, and again re-iterated that there was a fundamental gap between the two sides:

"Fianna Fáil have a totally different approach to the progress of this nation from Fine Gael. Just as people understand that the Anti-Austerity Alliance (AAA) are very different from Fianna Fáil in their approach, we have a fundamentally different approach [from Fine Gael]".