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Finance (Local Property Tax Repeal) Bill 2013 [Private Members]: Second Stage (Resumed)

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Finance (Local Property Tax Repeal) Bill 2013 [Private Members]: Second Stage (Resumed)

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Finance (Local Property Tax Repeal) Bill 2013 [Private Members]: Second Stage (Resumed)

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Deputy Sandra McLellan

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Snippet Contents:

Sinn Féin is absolutely opposed to taxing the family home and when in government we will repeal this draconian and blatantly unfair tax. The idea of taxing the family home is, by any stretch of the imagination, bad economic policy. In the current climate where almost 500,000 people are out of work and one in four mortgages is in distress, this tax makes no sense. Indeed, this tax is further evidence of the lengths that Fine Gael and Labour, and Fianna Fáil before them, will go to in order to keep their monetary masters in the ECB and the IMF happy.
The real import of this tax is that it imposes even more hardship on ordinary people who are already stretched to the limits of their financial capabilities. The policies of austerity and the neoliberal political project that accompanies it have destroyed the economic and social fabric of this country. This Government responds with even more savage cuts to welfare, cuts to mobility allowances, cuts in home-help hours, cuts to youth services in already disadvantaged areas, cuts to special needs assistants and cuts to vital educational services for Travellers who already experience institutional discrimination. We are now in a situation where the policies of austerity so beloved of this Government mean that we have an entire public service, be it health, public housing, transport or education, that is being dismantled at a time when now more than ever ordinary people depend on the State for the provision of public goods and services. A state that cannot provide for its own people, that cannot and will not invest in its own society is by any standards, a failed state.
This Government has led us down a cul-de-sac and only a dramatic shift in policy will alter this situation. Yet we are told repeatedly that there are no options, that banks have to be bailed out and that austerity is the only show in town in terms of economic recovery. Sinn Féin rejects this flawed analysis as do the vast majority of people in Ireland and right across Europe. There are alternatives - it does not have to be like this.
That, however, would mean putting the people first and making political decisions that this Government that operates in the interest of the wealthy and the business classes has repeatedly refused to take. For example, by just clamping down on black market and false declarations the Government would raise €100 million. A 1% tax on wealth over €1 million would raise €800 million. The Government could, if it wanted to, apply PRSI to rental income and this alone would raise €20 million for the Exchequer. A 5% tax on shop, course and on-line gambling would raise a further €243.5 million. In terms of education, Fine Gael and Labour could raise €22 million over a five-year period by simply bringing an end to the State subsidy of private education. It is not right, just, or fair that the State is propping up an elitist system with public money that is urgently needed for children in State schools. In terms of health the Government could and should apply the full cost of private care in public hospitals. This would produce a saving of €432.5 million. It could deliver further savings by implementing generic substitution of branded medicines. The list goes on and on. It could cap Government salaries at €100,000, cap the pay of hospital consultants and introduce an emergency pay cap of €100,000 in the civil and public services for three years. This alone would produce a saving of €22 million. All of this requires political will and a genuine belief in the value of its own people and society.
More importantly, it requires a commitment to the health and well-being of all the people, not just the wealthy and the influential classes. It means that it has to have a genuine interest in the future prosperity of the young people who today have no other option but to emigrate in their thousands to Australia and Canada. In the final analysis it means putting Ireland's interests before the interests of faceless European bureaucrats and a pampered and well-connected home grown business class. Fine Gael can blather on all it likes about Sinn Féin in government in Stormont, an entity which does not control its own purse strings, but the fact remains that the policies of this Government are wreaking havoc on the lives and futures of people in every corner of the country.