LABOUR'S Jan O'Sullivan has accused Fine Gael's Michael Noonan of being "dishonest" with voters over her party's position on tax.
"I have always seen Michael Noonan as a fair fighter in election campaigns but this time he is scaremongering and being dishonest," she said.
As the potential coalition partners continue to clash bitterly, Labour has taken grave exception to the Fine Gael finance spokesman's characterisation of Labour as "a seriously high tax party".
"Labour is now officially a high tax party. The Labour manifesto will damage economic growth, slow down the economy and hammer job creation. The Labour Party is clearly going back to its old ways with a top rate of tax of 55 per cent. This will damage entrepreneurship, job creation and foreign investment in Ireland," Deputy Noonan stated.
"Labour's plans for a Tobin tax on international (financial) transactions will tax the 30,000 jobs in the IFSC out of existence. This would be a serious blow to economic recovery at the worst possible time."
Deputy O'Sullivan responded that the Labour position on tax couldn't be clearer and the 55 per cent rate referred to by Deputy Noonan only applied to those earning over €100,000.
"I will say it again. Nobody on an income of less than €100,000 will pay any extra in income tax under Labour. I am disappointed that Michael Noonan would resort to this and it is unworthy of him to be using such tactics in a campaign.
"People would prefer if the parties were honest and didn't make false claims. They would rather see Fine Gael explain how they will fund the various promises they have been making," she said.
Asked in the Fine Gael claims had struck a chord with voters, Deputy O'Sullivan said "it is a deliberate attempt by Fine Gael to influence swing voters and we have just been telling people what our policies actually are".
"I have always tried to fight campaigns fairly. Fine Gael's claim we will increase tax is not true for anybody earning less than €100,000. We make no apology for increased taxes above that amount as we believe they can afford to pay," Deputy O'Sullivan said.
She has also accused Fine Gael of hypocrisy for its criticism of Labour's support for a tax on international financial transactions. Fine Gael MEPs, including Munster's Sean Kelly, had all voted in favour of introducing this across Europe, she said.
"That is either Fine Gael policy or it isn't. Fine Gael should be straight with people. There appears to be a big gap in their own proposals and how they will be funded."