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

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 806 No. 2

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Seán Crowe: Information on Seán Crowe Zoom on Seán Crowe] The lack of realistic exemptions shows the arbitrary and cruel nature of this tax. The Minister for Finance referred to income thresholds of €15,000 and €25,000, but this is just kicking the can down the road, as Deputy Brian Stanley said.

The Government claims it has no choice but to place the blame at the door of Fianna Fáil and the troika. The troika wants this money, but it has told my party that ultimately this is the Government’s choice. There are alternatives. A 1% tax on net wealth could bring in €800 million. The Minister for Finance estimated the yield would be €500 million, but the Government has turned its back on these alternatives. It is only interested in implementing austerity at all costs.

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh It was interesting tonight to be lectured by Blueshirts about not being socialists. It was very funny.

Deputy Paudie Coffey: Information on Paudie Coffey Zoom on Paudie Coffey Is that now the level of the Deputy’s debate?

Deputy Phil Hogan: Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan He should go back to the ink bottle. Go back to the ink cartridges.

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh It is bizarre to have the right wing in this Parliament lecturing us about bringing forward alternatives such as wealth taxes.

Deputy Phil Hogan: Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan The Deputy is a funny guy.

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh What is even funnier is that those in the Labour Party who believe they are socialists also lectured us for not coming up with alternatives when we brought forward a more fair and progressive tax, a wealth tax. It is also very funny that those who call themselves the United Ireland Party, that is, Fine Gael, just in case Members opposite have forgotten.

Deputy Phil Hogan: Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan As opposed to the united Ireland for the slow learners opposite.

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh One of the component parts of the Fine Gael Party when it was set up was Southern Unionists. It was interesting to hear the honourable Member for Kildare North, Deputy Anthony Lawlor, speak about the North. It is great to see that Fine Gael and the Labour Party are beginning to take an interest in the Six Counties that have been occupied.

Deputy Paudie Coffey: Information on Paudie Coffey Zoom on Paudie Coffey As if Sinn Féin has a monopoly.

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh They, with Fianna Fáil, have ignored the Six Counties since the foundation of the State. If they had the courage of their convictions, they would contest every single seat on the island. However, they will not because they are chicken. They are not willing to bring forward proposals at local authority or Assembly level.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Will the Deputy, please, deal with the property tax Bill?

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Yes, but we are asking if they will come to the North to introduce some taxes that their Unionist colleagues might want to support.

Sinn Féin has brought forward a reasonable proposal with the Bill, but it has been rejected, without even an examination taking place. The silliness of this Parliament is that one is restricted in publishing Bills that could involve a charge on the Exchequer. That is why we cannot have our wealth tax proposals in the Bills Office. They are available on the Sinn Féin website, if anyone is interested in seeing the alternative.

I am not just going to have a go at Fine Gael and the Labour Party. Last night I admired the brass neck of Fianna Fáil in giving out about property tax when it wanted to introduce it in the first place.

Deputy Phil Hogan: Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan That is the first true statement the Deputy has made all night.

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Then it had the gall to accuse Sinn Féin of having its figures wrong. Look at the legacies that party has produced from the abuse of figures in the past. In fact, our figures were not wrong. The figures quoted by Deputy Michael McGrath were correct, as they had come from the Minister for Finance. If he has a problem with them, he should talk to the Minister, not us.

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan I can assure the House that no one wants to pay taxes.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams Hello.

Deputy Peadar Tóibín: Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín I want to pay my taxes.

Deputy Phil Hogan: Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan I am sure that is a big surprise to Deputy Gerry Adams. One can table any motion one likes about abolishing taxes, but it is human nature that no one wants to pay taxes, least of all a new tax.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams No.

Deputy Peadar Tóibín: Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín No, I want to pay my taxes.

Deputy Sandra McLellan: Information on Sandra McLellan Zoom on Sandra McLellan We want a fair tax.

Deputy Brian Stanley: Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley The Minister is wrong.

Deputy Phil Hogan: Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan The options are very limited when one is in a troika agreement and our economic sovereignty was ceded by our predecessors. It is not easy to ask the people for a further contribution to bail us out, but that is what we have to do to retrieve the economic situation we inherited. I would have expected Sinn Féin to, at least, show some consistency on taxation. It is asking us to abolish a tax on this part of the island which it is imposing on the people of Northern Ireland. That is hypocrisy. It wants more taxes on work in this jurisdiction, but it does not want to broaden the tax base.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty Of course, we do.

Deputy Phil Hogan: Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan That is so-called socialism. Members opposite must be the only ones who call themselves socialists who do not want to impose taxes on property.

Deputy Peadar Tóibín: Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín Earth to Minister Hogan - please come in.

Deputy Phil Hogan: Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan Sinn Féin wishes to abolish taxes in this jurisdiction that it is prepared to stand over in the North of Ireland.

  Regarding the household charge, to Deputy Brian Stanley’s credit, he did not tell his constituents not to register for the charge. However, some of his colleagues did.

Deputy Peadar Tóibín: Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín No, that is not the case.

Deputy Sandra McLellan: Information on Sandra McLellan Zoom on Sandra McLellan That is not correct.

Deputy Brian Stanley: Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley The Minister is wrong.

Deputy Martin Ferris: Information on Martin Ferris Zoom on Martin Ferris He is wrong again.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Will Members opposite please restrain themselves?

Deputy Phil Hogan: Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan I must compliment Deputy Mary Lou McDonald as she said that at least people should pay the property tax as it was the law of the land.

I am surprised the other so-called socialists, Deputies Joe Higgins and Richard Boyd Barrett, are not in the Chamber. In the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council area 90.53% of those liable for the household charge paid it. I am not surprised Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett is not supporting the Sinn Féin Bill. In the Dublin City Council area, where Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh has campaigned heavily against the household charge, up to 80% have paid it.

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Up to 20% of them are living in local authority houses.

Deputy Phil Hogan: Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan Sinn Féin is out of sync with the electorate. In spite of their personal financial difficulties, the people have rejected the Sinn Féin campaign and have instead registered for the household charge. They have signed up as real patriots.

Deputy Sandra McLellan: Information on Sandra McLellan Zoom on Sandra McLellan That is not right.

(Interruptions).

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Will Members opposite please quieten down? There are three more Sinn Féin speakers and they can have their say then.

Deputy Phil Hogan: Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan These are the people who want to make a real contribution in a modest way towards getting us out of the financial difficulties in which we find ourselves. These are the real patriots who want to restore our economic sovereignty which our predecessors, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party, frittered away, particularly Fianna Fáil. Thanks to the responsible approach taken by a great majority of householders, I consider the experience people have had to be a significant success, particularly as the charge was introduced from a standing start and without a database. Deputy Brian Stanley will agree that it is important to have an independent source of income at local level to meet the priorities of all local authorities in the same way one has in Northern Ireland.

Deputy Brian Stanley: Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley Do not speak for me.

Deputy Phil Hogan: Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan I expect the local property tax to have multiple benefits, including providing a more sustainable and resilient system of funding for local government. Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil want to impose more income taxes on ordinary workers.

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh No, we want to impose them on rich workers.

Deputy Peadar Tóibín: Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín We mean people in the Minister's salary range.

Deputy Phil Hogan: Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan They do not want to broaden the base, including income tax. Sinn Féin and other socialists should not be hypocritical. In opposing the local property tax they are leading unfortunate low-paid individuals and unfortunate persons on social welfare payments into penalties and fines through advocating non-compliance with the law and non-payment of a tax. Meanwhile, on their salaries, they will have the local property tax deducted at source. They have the luxury of not having to worry about that which ordinary folk do not have. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald has taken the responsible approach in telling people to comply with the law and not to be hypocritical.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald I am asking the Minister to repeal his lousy tax.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Can we have silence for the leader of Sinn Féin, please?

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams Go raibh maith agat, a Cheann Comhairle.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I do my best for the Deputy.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams If the matter were not so serious, it would be very funny.

The Finance (Local Property Tax Repeal) Bill is about lifting the burden of this unfair family home tax from families and households and replacing it with alternative measures to raise taxes, including a wealth tax. It is about undoing one of many bad policy decisions taken by Fine Gael and the Labour Party in the past two years. Fine Gael and the Labour Party were elected to undo the damage caused by Fianna Fáil, but they have instead chosen to implement Fianna Fáil policies. This has led to greater inequality, poverty and disadvantage. This week the cuts to the respite care grant will hit 77,000 of our most vulnerable citizens. Emigration and unemployment are at record levels, especially among young people. Public services, particularly health, are in crisis, with further cuts to be imposed this year.


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