'We won't cut taxes, but will reduce the cost of living' - Social Democrats launch election campaign

The party is not looking to cut the USC

Social Democrats, GE16, manifesto, promises, USC, Stephen Donnelly, Roisin Shorthall, Catherine Murphy

From left: Roisin Shorthall, Catherine Murphy and Stephen Donnelly

The Social Democrats will not be one of the long line of parties queuing up to abolish the dreaded Universal Social Charge (USC).

They say they do not want to erode the tax base by cutting the USC.

Instead, their big promise is to reduce the cost of living and to spend that tax money on measures that will ease the burden on people.

They have committed to a spend of between €500m to €600m on a range of measures to ease the cost of living.

These include providing a full year of parental leave, investing €103m on providing fully free primary education and providing free GP care for all children.

They have also committed to cutting fees for students by one-third, down to €2,000 a year.

Measures to directly affect costs voters face every day include abolishing the water charges, giving subsidies to public transport operators to reduce fares and bringing in measures to reduce car insurance.

The Soc Dems say they will do this by cutting down on insurance fraud and legal costs in personal injury cases, which they hope will lead to reduced premiums.

It is the first election for the party - led by the trio of Stephen Donnelly, Roisin Shorthall and Catherine Murphy.

They now face the real prospect of propping up a government with poll figures suggesting that Fine Gael and Labour will not reach a majority, and Taoiseach Enda Kenny this morning ruling out any deals with Independents.

They have claimed that they are not running their campaign on the basis of getting ministerial positions.

But Dpeuty Shorthall - who was briefly a member of the current government - said that from her experience there is no point in being in government if you do not have power.

Should they be in the position to be king makers after the election, expect them to demand a price for their support.