Our economy is based on the value of our people – it must be driven forward by our creative and ambitious entrepreneurs, made competitive by capable workers, and provide quality jobs for our talented and energetic graduates.

Our Plan for Building An Economy For All

Equip the Workforce

Investment in lifelong education, skills-based training, apprenticeships and access programmes to help workers maintain value in a fast changing world.

Grow Investment

Inward investment is a key driver of growth – high levels of long-term Foreign Direct Investment must be maintained.

Foster Enterprise

From a Brexit fund to start-up support, we want to support new and existing businesses to drive our economic development and provide jobs, income and opportunities for our people.

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Maintain Foreign Direct Investment
• In the near term, we are committed to maintaining the 12.5% corporate tax rate which is an important factor in our competitiveness as an FDI location – however, we would regularise our treatment of all companies to ensure that 12.5% is collected; • For the medium term, we will challenge EU Fiscal Rules to allow for the greater level of investment required to bridge Ireland’s infrastructure deficit – which is acting as a brake on growth in all areas of the country. We would tactically restructure our public debt, to free up fiscal space and take advantage of historically low borrowing costs; • For the long term, we want to ensure that the Irish economy competes for FDI at the higher end of the value chain, where investment will be predicated less on our tax system than on the agility and innovation of our workforce. Competing solely on price instead of value is not sustainable for most businesses, and nor is it right for our economy.
Equipping the Irish Workforce
• Steadily reducing primary school class sizes to the EU average of 20 • Introducing skills-based courses to include innovation, entrepreneurship, communications and critical thinking, together with required professional development for teachers • Investing in access programmes, building on existing successes, to ensure broad socio demographic representation across the third level system • Recognising that an apprenticeship ought to be acknowledged as a valuable third level education and a better competency based approach for some trainee professionals, we propose a new innovative National Apprenticeships programme in line with the European Framework for Quality and Effective Apprenticeships to help meet workforce needs and skill shortages. We want to see a particular focus on new apprenticeships in areas such as coding, IT security and AI • Investment in lifelong education so that employees can up-skill and re-skill to enrich the workforce and drive their own careers
Growing Irish Enterprise
• Provide an additional €100m for Enterprise Ireland for start-up support funding to bring support levels in line with comparable European states, ensuring that our start-ups are supported to grow internationally from an Irish base • While we believe that the current levels of Capital Gains Tax are appropriate overall, we believe it would be a good investment to allow entrepreneurs to offset a portion of Capital Gains Tax against rollover investment in new Irish start-ups; • Recognising the key role that cooperatives have played in developing Irish industry particularly our major success stories like Kerry and Glanbia and ensuring that new and growing companies based on this model have equal access to state supports; • Adjust the tax-treatment of share options for startup employees so that they can be rewarded without penalty for taking the risk of joining a new venture.
Supporting SMEs and the Self-Employed
• To respond to an immediate issue, we would provide a special Brexit fund to Enterprise Ireland to help insulate indigenous industries traditionally heavily dependent on trade with the UK (particularly agriculture, food and beverage, fisheries and energy) towards new European markets, and non UK suppliers • We are committed to improving self-employed tax credits and providing the same social protections as PAYE workers on a voluntary opt-in basis • As a principal, we want interactions with the state to progress at the normal speed of doing business –This will require revision and simplification of a tax system which has grown complex over decades and the implementation of a user friendly web portal for businesses to file tax returns, employment, compliance, etc • As part of tax simplification, we will introduce opt-in mechanisms to spread tax payments throughout the year which will bring greater cash-flow stability • We will boost the collection of Local Authority rates and apply the saving to all businesses.
Rethinking VAT
It’s time for a rethink on VAT. A huge number of anomalies continue to exist in VAT categorisations. For example: • Sanitary pads and panty-liners attract a 0% VAT rate whereas medical incontinence products are subject to VAT at 23%. • Children’s crash helmets attract a 0% VAT rate whereas adult crash helmets are subject to 23% VAT. • Oral contraceptive solutions attract a 0% VAT rate whereas non-oral methods such as condoms and barrier gels are subject to VAT at 13.5%. We are calling on the Government to ensure that the very many discrepancies in our VAT system are raised and reformed at EU level.
Human Rights and Corporate Responsibility

We strongly support human rights and accountability across business – we should have a level playing field for all businesses and ensure that communities who have been exploited can access justice.

To achieve this, we need a global approach to address the adverse human rights impact of corporations. The Social Democrats want Ireland to be a global leader in this regard. The Human Rights Council has developed an intergovernmental working group to develop legally binding rules to regulate the actions of transnational corporations.

This is a historic opportunity to develop a UN Treaty on Business and Human Rights which will benefit communities and human rights defenders throughout the world.

Ireland should support the UN Treaty process and champions global accountability, ensuring access to remedy for victims of human rights violations.

Ireland should also ensure that Irish companies are not complicit in human rights violations, either directly or indirectly through business relationships. This would require human rights due diligence which is not being undertaken systematically across Irish corporations.

As part of the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights Ireland should implement mandatory human rights due dil, including reporting on human rights practices outside of Ireland.

Background: Ensuring human rights at the heart of business

Jobs and economic growth allow communities to escape poverty. However, the absence of a comprehensive global legal framework on business and human rights has allowed businesses to exploit communities. Businesses operate across borders and countries compete for investment from companies often richer and more powerful than they are.

The vast majority of human rights violations perpetrated by corporations go unpunished and impunity regarding human rights abuses by companies is increasing.[1]

The actions of irresponsible businesses and complicit governments are resulting in the displacement of communities, violent evictions, pollution of land, destruction of livelihoods and loss of shelter, with a disproportionate impact on women and indigenous communities.

We believe the violence being faced by human rights defenders who are trying to protect their communities and the environment is unacceptable.

Since 2015, more than 1,400 attacks on activists working on human rights issues related to business have been documented. [2] In 2018, 321 human rights defenders were murdered, 77 per cent of whom were working on land, indigenous peoples and environmental rights. [3]

Further Policy commitments:

  • The Social Democrats want to see Ireland more actively supporting and contributing to the development of a UN binding treaty on business and human rights to regulate the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises.
  • We support the proposal for a Treaty that will include provisions to ensure the prevention of human rights violations, access to justice (address jurisdiction, corporate liability issues and access to information), the primacy of human rights over trade and investment agreements, protection of human rights defenders, inclusion of a gender perspective and strong enforcement mechanisms.
  • We will seek to ensure that the European Commission secures a mandate for the negotiation of the Treaty from the Council.
  • We will progress mandatory human rights due diligence in Ireland – following similar developments in other European countries.
  • We will implement a progressive Irish National Plan on Business and Human rights with a comprehensive gender analysis.

[1] Business and Human Rights Resource Centre [2017] ‘Corporate impunity is common & remedy for victims is rare – Corporate Legal Accountability Annual Briefing’.

[2] See Business and Human Rights Resource Centre database.

[3] Frontline Defenders [2019] ‘Front Line Defenders Global Analysis 2018’.

Alternative Budget 2019

Our plan for the economy aims to deliver a fairer society where living is affordable and public services are delivered efficiently and to the highest standards.

Our proposals are for a Budget that works in the interests of everyone in our society.

You can read our proposals below – and watch Catherine Murphy TD and Róisín Shortall TD explain our proposals in the video.

Growing our Economy

Read our detailed proposals for growing a confident, resilient and innovative economy.

Supporting Irish Businesses

See our detailed costings for an economy which supports innovation, indigenous and foreign business and job creation.

Alternative Budget 2019

Take a look at our Alternative Budget proposals for 2019 – Making Lives Affordable for Families.