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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 Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams] The economy, particularly the domestic economy, is flatlined and, on top of all that, the family home tax is being imposed on citizens.

  I listened last night and tonight to Fine Gael and Labour Deputies trying to defend this tax on the family home. They sought to do it, if we could believe this, and I do not believe that they believe this, by comparing-----

Deputy Anthony Lawlor: Information on Anthony Lawlor Zoom on Anthony Lawlor With the district home tax in the North.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams -----it with the domestic rates system in the North. They must know this and if they do not-----

Deputy Anthony Lawlor: Information on Anthony Lawlor Zoom on Anthony Lawlor We have it here.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Deputy Lawlor, I will not ask you a second time to refrain.

Deputy Anthony Lawlor: Information on Anthony Lawlor Zoom on Anthony Lawlor Sorry, Ceann Comhairle.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams -----they should take a run up the road and they will see, for example, that rates in the North cover a range of public services, including education - those who live there do not pay for school books, emergency services or the public health service. There are no prescription charges, no private bin collection charges, no road tolls, and water and sewerage services and even septic tank services are provided.

Deputy Paudie Coffey: Information on Paudie Coffey Zoom on Paudie Coffey The Deputy's party blames Westminster for collecting it but it is happy to spend it.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams The Deputies opposite also know that Sinn Féin blocked water charges in the North for which the rates in the Six Counties pay. Of course there are inefficiencies in the services but the rationale the Minister gave for this family home tax was that the big boys made us do it-----

Deputy Anthony Lawlor: Information on Anthony Lawlor Zoom on Anthony Lawlor The Deputy is saying that.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams The Minister is noting the people with school books, emergency services and prescription charges. He said the troika-----

Deputy Anthony Lawlor: Information on Anthony Lawlor Zoom on Anthony Lawlor The Deputy is saying that.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Did Deputy Lawlor not hear me?

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams -----made us do it.

Deputy Paudie Coffey: Information on Paudie Coffey Zoom on Paudie Coffey The Deputy is saying that Westminster is saying that. He is blaming Westminster for doing that.

Deputy Phil Hogan: Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan Westminster is a bit like the troika.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams Before the Government parties came into office they said that they opposed this property tax. It takes no account of ability to pay or of those in negative equity; and it ignores the fact that one in four mortgage holders is in mortgage distress or the many others stuck in homes whose value has dropped and on which they have paid huge stamp duty.

It is a tax that was proposed by Fianna Fáil and now, as we see, it is being implemented by their brothers and sisters in arms, Fine Gael and Labour.

Deputy Anthony Lawlor: Information on Anthony Lawlor Zoom on Anthony Lawlor In arms?

Deputy Phil Hogan: Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan You would want to watch that one, Gerry.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams The Government has also ensured that Revenue has the means to take this tax irrespective of the individual or family circumstances. Let the big bankers, the big developers and the speculators off free, award its policy advisers exorbitant, high salaries-----

Deputy Paudie Coffey: Information on Paudie Coffey Zoom on Paudie Coffey Priory Hall is not-----

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams -----but deduct the tax from people's social welfare benefits, from their wages, their bank accounts and even from their credit union accounts. This is the most despicable type of going after-----

Deputy Phil Hogan: Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan Stay away from the banks.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams -----those who cannot afford it. What we have seen - it will continue to be the case, and I take no satisfaction in saying this - is that more and more people are being driven further and further into debt.

  There are alternative measures that the Government could have taken, including the introduction of a wealth tax on all property, liquid and assets, above a certain net wealth. Why could they not do that?

Deputy Phil Hogan: Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan Sure the Deputy does not want property tax.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams Why could it not levy a 1% wealth tax on all net wealth over €1 million with certain exclusions?

Deputy Phil Hogan: Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan The Deputy does not want a property tax.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams It would be based on net wealth which takes into account mortgages and loans and it protects struggling families.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Thank you, Deputy.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams Sin é. Fine Gael and Labour had a choice and once again they made the wrong choice and the people will pay.

Deputy Jonathan O'Brien: Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien I am glad Deputies Coffey and Lawlor are present. I listened to their contributions earlier and in every second sentence of his contribution Deputy Lawlor said the clowns-----

Deputy Anthony Lawlor: Information on Anthony Lawlor Zoom on Anthony Lawlor No. I said the chameleons.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett The Deputy had his say and he should let the Deputy in possession reply. It is a debating Chamber.

Deputy Anthony Lawlor: Information on Anthony Lawlor Zoom on Anthony Lawlor Let him tell the truth.

Deputy Jonathan O'Brien: Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien The comedians? That is fair enough.

Deputy Anthony Lawlor: Information on Anthony Lawlor Zoom on Anthony Lawlor It might be the first time.

Deputy Jonathan O'Brien: Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien I would not blame the Deputy for using the term because sometimes this place is a bit of a circus and perhaps they are clowns in here. There are puppet masters and puppets and we all know who the puppet masters and the puppets are.

I was very interested in Deputy Coffey's contribution. He described this tax as a progressive measure. I do not know what planet he is living on but he is not living on planet earth if he thinks this tax is progressive. The State recognises that people who have lost their jobs do not have the financial means to support themselves and it steps in with financial intervention through social protection and assists those people. The State, with one hand, gives assistance over the counter to the most vulnerable people in society because it recognises they are unable to provide for themselves but it dips the other hand into their pockets to take back that assistance through a property tax. There is nothing progressive about that. That is regressive, disgraceful and despicable.

Deputy Coffey also said that this legislation was populist and Deputy Mitchell O'Connor criticised our tabling this legislation as being a waste of time. This is the place one tables legislation. She said that six months ago legislation was brought in to impose a property tax on the family home and that this Bill was a waste of time. I do not consider any legislation that is brought in and debated in this House as being a waste of time. That is what this institution is supposed to be for.

Deputy Coffey also said that it was easy for us in opposition to produce legislation like this. It was easy for us to be populist, to say what was popular because we would not have to back it up. He, as a backbench Government Deputy and his colleagues in Cabinet have to take the hard decisions, but that is the wrong debate. It is not about easy decisions and hard decisions, it is about right decisions and wrong decisions. The right decision in terms of regaining our economic sovereignty is to ask those who can pay more to do that. The wrong decision is to ask those who have nothing else to give to give more.

Deputy Áine Collins in her contribution said that two and half years ago when this Government came to power this State was on the verge of running out of money and thankfully, according to her, through the initiatives, policies and the legislation that this Government has brought in the State is now in a better financial position. What she failed to say is that every single week and month families across this State are indeed running out money. It is not something that may happen or will happen, it does happen.

A report published today on the education sector showed that 20% of our children go to school hungry. That is the reality. There is nothing progressive about this taxation. There is nothing easy about tabling legislation to repeal it. This measure is regressive and the legislation to repeal it is the right thing to do. Perhaps Deputy Coffey needs to look in a mirror and ask himself who he is representing. Is it the people who elected him-----

Deputy Paudie Coffey: Information on Paudie Coffey Zoom on Paudie Coffey Do not worry about me at all.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett The Deputy is over his time and he is taking time from his colleague.

Deputy Jonathan O'Brien: Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien -----or is it the person who is looking back at him?

Deputy Paudie Coffey: Information on Paudie Coffey Zoom on Paudie Coffey I represent working class people as well and I represent them well in government.

Deputy Jonathan O'Brien: Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien Working class people - that is fair enough.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn Remember the moment the Members opposite sat down on the Government benches at last after all the years out in the wilderness. At last they got their chance. The people had rejected with gusto Fianna Fáil for its bankruptcy of this State. They would have felt that was a moment of hope, a moment of great change. That was the rhetoric and that was the language that was used. Of all the cuts they brought in and all the promises they broke, what I find particularly unforgivable, as they sit on the Government side, is the intentional strategy they have to tell the people that there are no choices, no alternatives, no hope and no way other than this austerity that they have chosen.


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