Dr James Reilly was first elected to Dáil Éireann for Dublin North in 2007. He was previously Minister for Health and Minister for Children and Youth Affairs and Deputy Leader of Fine Gael. He has been a Senator since 2016.
Party positions on the election issues:
These positions were provided by the party
Taxes and Spending
The government should prioritise putting money aside for future challenges (e.g. Brexit) rather than putting it back into the economy now
The government now takes in more money than it spends. Some argue that this should be set aside to prepare for shocks like Brexit or a sharp reduction in corporation tax revenue. Others argue that the priority should be putting money into the economy through higher public spending or tax cuts.
"Annual budgetary packages will enable us to achieve a surplus of €3.8 billion by 2021. Achieving a budgetary surplus is the first line of defence for the inevitable shocks that the economy will face over the short- and medium term. "
When there is scope for tax cuts or public spending increases, what should be done?
During the recession, new taxes were introduced and public spending was cut. Some argue that when possible, the government should cut taxes to put money back into people’s pockets. Others argue that the priority should be to increase public spending in areas such as housing and health.
Some tax cuts and some increases in spending on public services
Significant increase in spending on public services
"Tax & spending is not a simple either/or. The key is good management of the economy to enable both. Maintaining a steady economy where we balance our books, invest in the future & deliver sustainable increases in living standards is the foundation on which our social & economic model must be built. "
Should taxes on lower earners (below €35,000) be increased or decreased?
Currently, people earning under €16,500 do not pay income tax. People earning over that pay the standard rate of 20%. There is also the Universal Social Charge: those earning under €13,000 are exempt, while those earning up to €20,000 pay up to 2%, rising to 4.5% for earnings over that amount.
"Fine Gael has consistently reduced taxes for the lowest paid. We will raise the USC exemption threshold from €13K to €20.K so people on low incomes like full time minimum wage workers, low paid part-time workers and people in receipt of modest occupational pension are not in the USC net. "
Should taxes on middle earners (€35,000-€70,000) be increased or decreased?
The standard rate of income tax is 20%, which applies to all income up €35,300 (for a single person); earnings above that are taxed at 40%. The Universal Social Charge is 4.5% on income between €20,000 and €70,000.
"The average full-time wage is €47,596, but people start paying the top-rate of tax at €35,300. This is deeply unfair. We will change the point at which an individual pays the higher rate of tax to €50,000 over the next 5 years. This will prevent people’s taxes increasing as their wages increase."
Should taxes on high earners (over €70,000) be increased or decreased?
The standard rate of income tax is 20%, which applies to all income up €35,300 (for a single person); earnings above that are taxed at 40%. The Universal Social Charge is 8% on earnings over €70,000.
"It is only fair that those who earn more should pay more in income tax - that our income tax system is progressive. According to the OECD Ireland already has the most progressive income tax system in the EU. "
Should corporation taxes be increased or decreased?
Ireland’s corporate tax rate is 12.5%, which is low by international standards. Many large companies pay a much lower rate in practice. This makes us attractive for multinationals, which are a major contributor to the economy; it has also led to accusations of Ireland being a tax haven.
"Fine Gael is committed to the 12.5% Corporation Tax rate and the retention of national sovereignty over taxation policy. We will continue to engage constructively on international tax reform, while critically analysing proposals that may not be in Ireland’s long term interests. "
Housing and Health
Should the local property tax rates be increased or decreased?
The standard rate of LPT is 0.18% of a property’s market value. This rate can be adjusted up or down by the local authority. The revenue raised is used to fund local services and some of it is redistributed to other local authorities. LPT currently makes up less than 1% of all tax revenue.
"Local authorities should have the maximum level of discretion over how money raised through the LPT should be spent and the rates charged. Fine Gael is committed to a fair LPT. We will legislate for a local property tax that is based on the idea that most homeowners will face no increase. "
A rent freeze should be introduced across the country
Currently, rent increases are limited to 4% in ‘rent pressure zones’. Some argue that there should be a blanket rent freeze, so landlords could not increase rents at all for a period. Others argue that a rent freeze would drive landlords out of the sector and reduce the supply of houses for rent.
"International experience shows rent freezes don’t work. To protect renters we will: Extend RPZs beyond 2021 if necessary; introduce legislation for tenancies of long-term or indefinite duration; continue the Residential Tenancies Board change programme; develop cost rental for cities & large towns. "
Much more resources should be directed to building local authority housing, even if that means cutting back in other areas or raising taxes
Some argue that local authority house building should be increased dramatically, as there are almost 70,000 people on waiting lists. Others favour alternative methods of solving the housing crisis, such as encouraging more private development or providing more supports for people to rent or buy.
"We are delivering the largest social housing programme in decades. Over the past three years, there has been a huge ramping up in the number of new homes added to the stock of social housing. Over the next five years, we will add at least a further 60,000 homes to the social housing stock. "
The best solution to the housing crisis is to incentivise more building by private developers
To solve the housing crisis, some argue we need to incentivise developers to build more houses (e.g. by reducing taxes on construction or introducing harsher penalties for ‘land hording’). Others argue that the solution should instead focus on building more local authority housing.
"A range of options are necessary to meet different types of housing needs. We are delivering the largest social housing programme in decades and we are now seeing real progress. The most recent figures show that more than 20,000 new homes were built over the previous 12 months."
There should be free health care for all, even those on higher incomes
Currently, only some people are entitled to a medical card or free GP care. Many people who can afford it choose to take out private health insurance. Some argue that there should be universal health care for most medical treatments, paid with public funds. Others say this would cost too much.
"Fine Gael believes in universal access to healthcare. We will take the next steps this by extending free GP care to all children under 18, further reducing prescription charges, reducing the Drug Payment Scheme to a maximum of €75 a month and abolishing inpatient hospital charges for children. "
What should the focus be for investment in transport?
Some say we need to reduce our dependence on cars, and invest in sustainable transport instead (e.g. buses, trains, cycling, walking). Others argue that failing to invest in our road network will damage the economy. Currently we spend more on roads than on public transport and cycleways.
Spread resources evenly between roads and public transport/cycle lanes
Cut spending on roads and invest significantly in public transport and cycle lanes
"Project Ireland 2040 sets out a ratio of 2:1 in favour of public transport to road transport. We will maintain that ratio into the future, but still ensure there is a strong programme of investment in new roads to improve regional connectivity (e.g., bypasses of congested towns)."
New petrol and diesel vehicles should be banned in the next ten years
The draft Climate Action Bill aims to ban the sale of new fossil fuel cars from 2030 in an effort to reduce emissions. Critics say that this is unrealistic.
"We will increase our commitment to tackling climate change by enacting the Climate Action (Amendment) Bill in 2020. Accountability will be at the heart of this new law which will, among other measures, ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030. "
Should carbon taxes be increased?
Carbon tax applies to fossil fuels, e.g. oil, petrol, diesel, gas. It recently increased from €20 to €26 per tonne of CO2. The Climate Change Advisory Council recommends a rapid increase (€80 per tonne by 2030). Critics say that carbon tax disproportionately impacts those on low incomes.
Increased significantly (reaching €80 per tonne by 2030)
Increased at a more moderate rate
"Thanks to the work of the Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action, there is cross-party support to increase the price of carbon to €80 per tonne by 2030. We know that this will not be easy for everyone. This is why we are committed to a series of incremental increases of €6 per tonne per year."
There should be a tax on greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture
Agriculture is a key sector in the Irish economy. It is also responsible for 33% of Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions. Some have called for a new tax on greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, but opponents say that would be too damaging to the agri-food industry.
"We will work towards reducing agricultural emissions by increasing carbon sequestration, improving farm efficiency, animal breeding strategies, animal health and welfare policies and better use of technology. At the heart of this must be greater efficiencies and reduced input costs for farmers."
Immigration, moral and social issues
Should immigration into Ireland be made more restrictive or less restrictive?
Non-Irish nationals make up 12.7% of the population, most of whom came from the EU. Work permits are issued to people from other countries only with a well-paid job offer in certain occupations. Some say immigration puts pressure on services; while others say it is needed to tackle job shortages.
"Fine Gael believes that immigration from within the EU and from outside the EU is good for Ireland. Immigration has helped enrich our society, drive economic growth and staff our public services. We also appreciate that we need to manage migration in a balanced way to protect EU borders."
More resources should be given to improving conditions for asylum seekers
Asylum seekers are housed in Direct Provision centres. Some argue that conditions are poor and have a negative effect on the physical and mental health of residents. Others disagree and argue that improving conditions would cost too much and could attract more asylum seekers to Ireland.
"Significant progress has been made in improving services to applicants for international protection in recent years. Following The McMahon Report, we are moving towards an independent living model in all Direct Provision Centres."
The liberalisation of abortion in Ireland has gone too far
The legislation introduced after the 2018 referendum allows for terminations for any reason up to 12 weeks in a pregnancy. Terminations are only permitted after this date (and before the foetus becomes viable) if there is a serious risk to the health of the pregnant woman.
"Following the repeal of the 8th amendment to the Constitution, we legislated for the provision of doctor led termination service providing care at home and ending those lonely journeys to access healthcare abroad."
Small towns and villages should not be forced to accommodate asylum seekers
There are approximately 6,000 asylum seekers living in Ireland. Many are accommodated in or near small towns and villages, where it is easier to find private premises to use as Direct Provision centres. In some cases locals have opposed this on the grounds that their town might be overwhelmed.
"Direct Provision Centres are not about forcing small towns or villages to do anything. We have opened new Centres in recent months to address rising demands for international protection. We will develop new models of community engagement to ensure it is done in an inclusive & welcoming fashion. "
The Church has too much control over Irish schools and hospitals
The Catholic Church runs a number of private hospitals. Most primary schools & many secondary schools are under the patronage of the Church. Some say the Church provides invaluable services in health and education, while others say that a Catholic ethos is being imposed against people’s wishes.
"We want to provide more choice for parents as to what type of school they send their children to. We are opening new schools where parents have an opportunity to express their preference as to the patron and working to have at least 400 multidenominational and nondenominational schools by 2030."
Political and constitutional issues
The reunification of Ireland would create more problems than it would solve
Some people are opposed to the division of Ireland and believe that reunification should happen as soon as possible. Others disagree on the grounds that Unionists in Northern Ireland do not want it, or because they believe it would be too expensive for the Irish government.
"Bunreacht na hÉireann affirms our national aspiration for territorial unity. Fine Gael, the United Ireland Party, shares that aspiration, based on the principle of consent and a clear majority, north and south, being in favour."
Irish citizens living abroad (including Northern Ireland) should have a vote in Presidential elections
A referendum on this has been proposed. Some argue that political participation should be a core aspect of citizenship, regardless of where you live. Others say that there are too many citizens living abroad, and that they may be out of touch with what is going on in Ireland.
"We support extending the franchise at presidential elections to Irish citizens resident outside the State. This referendum will take place within the first year of Fine Gael being returned to Government. "
A referendum on Irish unity should be held during the lifetime of the next government
The Good Friday Agreement allows for a referendum in Northern Ireland & the Republic on a united Ireland, if there is evidence that unification is desired by a majority. Some say that, in light of Brexit, a border poll should be held soon. Others believe this would be premature and divisive.
"Calls for a border poll at this time are only likely to exacerbate division and uncertainty. Fine Gael will continue to work to build consensus across political parties and civic society – both north and south – on the most appropriate way to maintain and strengthen relationships on the island."
The voting age should be lowered to 16
18 is the most common minimum voting age internationally, but some countries have reduced it to 16. Proponents argue that young people should have a say as it affects their future, while opponents argue that many 16-year-olds lack the maturity to vote responsibly.
"While the outgoing Government has accepted the recommendation from the Convention and is committed to the holding of a referendum to reduce the voting age to 16 years across all elections, no decision has been taken at this point in time on a date for the holding of the referendum."
EU and international affairs
European integration has gone too far
Some people argue that the EU interferes too much in the affairs of member states, and powers should be returned to the national level. Others argue that further integration is necessary to tackle shared challenges and for economic stability.
"It is Fine Gael policy to support the building of a strong European Union focused on further integration where that benefits citizens and greater subsidiarity where appropriate. "
Ireland should cooperate with other EU member states on defence
Ireland has recently joined the PESCO framework, which seeks to increase defence cooperation between EU states. It commits members to work together on military planning & increase defence spending. It does not create an EU army, but some oppose it because they see it as a step in that direction.
"Fine Gael is opposed to the creation of an EU army. We support greater cooperation with other Member States on security and defence matters to ensure that all our citizens are protected from new global threats. We will support Ireland’s continued participation in PESCO."
Ireland should boycott Israeli goods produced in the occupied territories
A proposed law would make it an offence to import or sell goods originating in an occupied territory. Proponents say this will show solidarity with Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. Critics say it discriminates unfairly against Israel, and could undermine important links with the US.
"We are committed to a two-state solution as part of a lasting settlement in the Middle East. We are opposed to this Bill because it requires the Government to do something which is not in our power; external trade. Also, this Bill would isolate Ireland on the question of Palestine at EU level."
Privacy Statement and Terms
We’re committed to protecting and respecting your privacy. We fully respect an individual’s right to privacy and actively seek to preserve the privacy rights of those who share information with us. Any personal information which is volunteered to us will be treated with the highest standards of security and confidentiality.
This policy explains what information we collect about candidates who use our website and how we use it. Any questions should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
WhichCandidate is an independent website that aims to provide information to voters on the policy views of election candidates and political parties in Ireland during specific election campaigns. The policy positions of candidates are provided by the candidates themselves or by their political party.
WhichCandidate is run by academics at the Department of Politics and Public Administration at the University of Limerick as an educational tool, provided free of charge to voters.
Legal Basis for Processing
WhichCandidate relies on the following legal bases for the processing of personal data:
Consent of candidates through their voluntary submission of their personal data so that we may fulfil our purpose outlined above.
The performance of a task carried out in the public interest.
What types of information do we collect on candidates?
WhichCandidate aims to provide a profile page for all officially registered candidates in a given election. The default information provided on these profile pages are
A photograph of the candidate (from the candidate’s official twitter account or campaign website, both of which are publicly available)
Links to candidate’s official and publicly available social media or web sites
For party-affiliated candidates, the positions of the candidate’s party on a range of policy issues. These positions are supplied to us by the parties who respond to our policy survey.
All officially registered candidates can voluntarily register on our site using their personal email account and edit their profile page. Candidates are responsible for keeping their user passwords confidential. By registering on the site, candidates can provide voters with information about their campaign. Candidates can also complete the policy questions, or they can alternatively continue to have their party policy positions displayed on their profile page. Candidates can also choose to provide their contact information on their profile page, such as email address.
If you have a profile page on the site, you can edit your information at any time by logging in, or you can withdraw your consent to processing and request to have your profile removed by contacting Rory Costello at email@example.com.
How is information on candidates used?
This information will be publicly available on the website for the purposes of informing the general public. An anonymised version of the completed questionnaire will be stored in a secure location by the University of Limerick and may be used for research purposes, for example research on political representation.
Candidates’ email addresses, used to log-in to the site, will be stored in a secure location at the University of Limerick and will not be shared with third parties. Candidates’ email addresses will only be used for the purpose described above and will stored only as long as the candidate has a profile page on the website.
Candidates are responsible for keeping their user passwords confidential. The operator reserves the right to delete a candidate’s account or to block content in the event of incorrect information or misuse of any kind. The operate assumes no liability for errors in information entered by candidates on their profile page.
What type of information is collected from visitors to the site?
WhichCandidate does not collect any identifying information about web visitors on this website. If you answer the policy survey on the website, or if you complete the optional questionnaire at the end of the survey, we will retain this information for research purposes (described below). None of these questions ask for information that could identify the user.
WhichCandidate uses New Relic to collect anonymous performance data to help us analyse technical performance and troubleshoot errors. We have configured New Relic to not collect cookies or personal data. See New Relic cookies used by Browser
How is information on website visitors used?
The anonymous information collected on web visitors is used for the following purposes:
Answers provided to the policy questions are used to provide information to users on their match with election candidates.
Answers provided to the policy questions and to the optional questionnaire are used for academic research on public opinion and political representation.
Answers provided to the policy questions and to the optional questionnaire are shared with election candidates on an non-partisan basis, at no charge, to help improve the policial system.
Information collected by New Relic is used to monitor technical performance of the website.
For technical reasons, we use session cookies on our website, which are stored on your hard disk for the duration of the link. We also use session cookies to retrace usage behaviour in anonymised form. The anonymised usage data is recorded, processed and used only in order to gear our website to users' needs. These session cookies are not used to collect any personal information about you. Session cookies are automatically deleted as soon as you leave our website or the dialog is ended. When using our website, you can decide whether you wish to accept or decline these cookies by modifying the settings in your browser. However, if session cookies are disabled on your browser, you may not be able to use certain features or sections of our website. To find out more about cookies, including how to see what cookies have been set and how to manage and delete them, visit http://www.allaboutcookies.org/.
You have the right to withdraw your consent to processing and request to have your candidate profile erased/deleted by contacting Rory Costello at firstname.lastname@example.org
You have the right to request a rectification to your personal data or to restrict our processing of your personal data.
You have the right to object to our processing of your personal data.
You have a right of access to your personal data which we process on your behalf. You may request access by contacting Rory Costello at email@example.com
You have a right to lodge a complaint about our processing of your personal data to the Data Protection Commission by contacting them on firstname.lastname@example.org
Frequenty Asked Questions
What is WhichCandidate?
WhichCandidate is a ‘voting advice application’ that allows voters to compare their own policy views with those of the candidates standing for election.
It aims to inform voters about the policy positions of candidates and to help voters to make a more informed voting decision.
How does it work?
A set of relevant policy issues are selected by the research team in advance of the election. Election candidates are contacted to complete a questionnaire on these issues. Each participating candidate is given a public profile on the website, incorporating their answers to the questionnaire.
Voters who visit the website are asked the same set of questions, and their answers are compared with the answers of the candidates. A customised results page is then presented to each user, containing a ranking of candidates ordered by how closely their answers match.
How is the ranking calculated?
First, we calculate the proximity of a user to a candidate on each question. To give an example, a question might have three answer options: Agree, Neither agree nor disagree, Disagree. Proximity can in this case be either:
1 (if the user and candidate select the same answer)
0.5 (if one selects the middle option and the other selects Agree or Disagree)
0 (if one selects Agree and the other selects Disagree)
We then take the average proximity between the user and candidate across all the questions that the user has answered. If for example a user has a proximity score of 0.5 to a candidate across all questions, the overall match with this candidate is expressed as 50%.
Some issues are more important to me than others. Can this be taken into account?
You first select the issues that are important to you, and you are then presented with questions related to those issues. You will only be matched with candidates on those issues. In addition, if there are any specific questions that you are not interested in, you can simply select 'no opinion' and they will be excluded from calculation.
Some candidates appear to be missing
We endeavoured to contact all declared candidates. Some candidates have declined to share their policy views with us and are not featured on the website. If you would like to see more candidates from your area on the website, please urge them to contact us and complete the survey.
If you are a candidate and were not contacted by us, please let us know.
Is it independent?
WhichCandidate is not associated with any political party or election candidate. It is run by researchers at the Department of Politics and Public Administration at the University of Limerick. It is supported by funding from the Irish Research Council.
Who do I contact?
Any queries or feedback on WhichCandidate can be sent to Rory Costello at the Department of Politics and Public Administration, University of Limerick