Houses of the Oireachtas

All parliamentary debates are now being published on our new website. The publication of debates on this website will cease in December 2018.

Go to oireachtas.ie

 Header Item Tax Code (Continued)
 Header Item Cross-Border Co-operation
 Header Item Adjournment Debate Matters

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 909 No. 2

First Page Previous Page Page of 69 Next Page Last Page

(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty] We need to spend more money on social housing but we cannot because we agreed to the fiscal compact, which limits the amount of money we have to spend. However, if one takes €4 billion per year out of the tax net it is further reduced. What is the level of economic risk analysis with regard to this policy proposal in the programme for Government?

Deputy Michael Noonan: Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan Deputy Doherty and I will have to agree to differ on this. It is not the first time we have debated it. It was debated last year and was debated right through the general election. Deputy Michael McGrath's and the Fianna Fáil position is not too far away from the Fine Gael position. He pitched middle-income people as earning less that €80,000 and Fine Gael defined it as less than €70,000. The Labour Party position is not very different either. The three traditional parties, if you will forgive me for calling them that, are in and around the same space.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty Conservative.

Deputy Michael Noonan: Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan Sinn Féin is the most conservative party in the House.

Deputy Dessie Ellis: Information on Dessie Ellis Zoom on Dessie Ellis Will you stop.

Deputy Michael Noonan: Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan Sinn Féin is not a left-wing party at all. It is a conservative nationalist party.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Can I ask the Minister to resist the temptation to talk about party make-up and stick to the question?

Deputy Michael Noonan: Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I will not be provoked and will resist the temptation. The best thing I can commit to is ensuring there is a full debate. The Spring Economic Statement will become a summer statement and it should be ready by June. There will be a full debate in the House. I am providing all the text papers to the finance committee so that there will be a full debate on taxation at that point, in advance of the budget.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty It is a bit of craic to discuss the question of which party is more conservative than the other, and the marriage between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael can be part of that banter but this is deeply serious. I sat on the banking inquiry and we saw the graphs. The Fianna Fáil-PD Government of the time cut income tax, the most stable tax available, and it was replaced by other taxes. The USC will bring in €4.6 billion in 2020 and a full debate is nonsense without a full analysis of the costings, etc. The idea of coming in year after year and tinkering with the charge so that it goes after five years is wrong. This is a policy decision that needs proper economic assessment in terms of the risk to this economy.

I believe what Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are proposing is reckless. If we have learned anything from the last catastrophe this State faced it is that one does not reduce taxes to this level. It may be affordable today because we have a boost in corporation tax and other taxes but it is not affordable in the long term. Every penny we take out of the USC is a penny we are not investing in health or social housing. I ask the Minister to commit to a proper economic analysis of the risks of this policy rather than just a debate in this Chamber.

Deputy Michael Noonan: Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The fallacy in the Deputy's argument is in the fact that the Government is not committing to reduce the tax take - it is committing to reduce tax rates. We will collect more taxes and the projections for taxes for the next years show that each year the tax take will increase. Within the envelope of additional taxes it is quite affordable to remove an emergency tax-----

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty That is what happened in the years Charlie McCreevy was Minister. Taxes went up.

Deputy Michael Noonan: Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan We can afford to remove a tax introduced at a time of great emergency. Anybody carrying out an economic analysis will agree that personal tax rates in Ireland are too high and are having an adverse effect on economic growth and activity.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty What is the growth rate this year?

Deputy Michael Noonan: Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The economy is buoyant and we have very strong growth rates.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty The USC is still there.

Deputy Michael Noonan: Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The projected tax take is increasing. For the past two years we have reduced the incidence of USC and that has relieved the burden, especially on low-paid and middle income people.

Cross-Border Co-operation

 12. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan his proposals to implement additional measures to deal with cross-Border criminality such as the smuggling of diesel and tobacco products and other illicit trade; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [10136/16]

Deputy Michael Noonan: Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan Combating cross-Border smuggling is a high priority for Revenue. Mineral oil and tobacco smuggling are crimes that require both national and international responses.

  I am advised by Revenue that it works closely with law enforcement partners both at home and abroad to disrupt and deter smuggling activities. Revenue co-operates extensively with, inter alia, An Garda Síochána in acting against illicit trades. The relevant authorities in the State also work closely with their counterparts in Northern Ireland through cross-Border enforcement groups to target the organised crime groups that are responsible for a large proportion of these forms of criminality. There is close co-operation with other international law enforcement agencies, in particular HM Revenue and Customs in the UK.

  As has been reiterated in the programme for a partnership Government, the work to tackle cross-jurisdictional organised crime will be supported and reinforced by the establishment, in the framework of A Fresh Start, the Stormont agreement and implementation plan, of the joint agency task force, which includes Revenue. In this context the development of strategic and tactical plans has been agreed by all key stakeholders to further support effective action against cross-Border excise fraud. This interagency national and international co-operation is complemented by Revenue's use of intelligence gathering, its profiling of suspects and effective intervention programmes to counter the threat posed by criminal activities such as fuel and tobacco fraud. 

  Over the past number of years Revenue has implemented a number of strategies against both fuel fraud and the illegal tobacco trade, underpinned by an extensive and effective legislative framework to maximise its impact on the illegal operations referred to in the Deputy's question. I am satisfied that the current legislative framework provides an effective basis for action by Revenue against fuel and tobacco offences, and I am assured by Revenue that action against such activities will continue to be a key focus of its work.

Deputy Brendan Smith: Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith In this House over the years, I have consistently raised the need to implement the most severe measures possible to deal with illicit trade which, as the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Deputy Heather Humphreys, will know, is a particular problem for the Ulster counties on both sides of the Border. A year ago, I introduced legislation in this House calling for the establishment of a cross-Border multitask agency to deal with this illicit trade. I recognise and welcome the fact that some of the measures proposed in the Fresh Start agreement follow some of what we proposed. In view of the ongoing illicit trade and loss of revenue to our State, however, can the Minister now give further consideration to the establishment of a single cross-Border agency encompassing representatives of the Department of Finance, Customs and Excise, An Garda Síochána and the Environmental Protection Agency with their counterparts in the appropriate statutory authorities north of the Border? Not alone does the illegal trade in fuel, tobacco products and other products cause loss of revenue to the State and huge damage to legitimate businesses, particularly small businesses, there is also a threat to our environment with the dumping of sludge and material arising from the washing of diesel. It will cause damage to the reputation of our farming industry as well, and the authenticity and provenance of our food production can be threatened by this dumping of sludge and other raw materials. I hope the Minister will give further consideration to the establishment of a cross-Border agency to ensure we stamp out the illicit trade which is doing so much damage to so many people and to society.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl I ask the Minister to respond in writing to the Deputy because the time allocated for Questions has elapsed.

Written Answers are published on the Oireachtas website.

Adjournment Debate Matters

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl I wish to advise the House of the following matters in respect of which notice has been given under Standing Order 23(3) and the name of the Member in each case: (1) Deputy David Cullinane - to ask the Minister for Health to outline why University Hospital Waterford spent over €20 million on agency staff from 2011 to 2015; if he recognises that this is a consequence of underfunding of our acute hospital network; and to outline what plans he has to increase staff capacity in our public hospitals; (2) Deputy Louise O'Reilly - the need for the Minister for Health to immediately publish the capacity review of the HSE National Ambulance Service; (3) Deputy Thomas P. Broughan - the urgent need for the Minister for Health to provide full local day services for young school leavers on the autistic spectrum in Dublin Bay North and Fingal; (4) Deputy Thomas Byrne - the need for the Minister for Education to explain the current position with the securing of a site for St. Peter's Church of Ireland primary school in Dunboyne, which has been waiting for a permanent home for many, many years and is one of very few schools to be established under Church of Ireland patronage since the foundation of the State; (5) Deputies Seamus Healy, Mattie McGrath and Jackie Cahill - the urgent need to secure a replacement industry following the closure of Suir Pharma Ireland, Clonmel, County Tipperary, and to ask the Minister to make a statement on the matter; the significance of the closure of Suir Pharma Ireland Limited in Clonmel County Tipperary with the loss of over 120 jobs; and the efforts the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation can make or is making to protect the interests of the workers who have been affected; and the need for the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation to discuss maintaining jobs at Suir Pharma pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in Clonmel, County Tipperary; (6) Deputies Pat Breen and Joe Carey - the Roche Clarecastle announcement that negotiations for the transfer of the Clarecastle facility to a global pharma company have ended without agreement; the implications that this will have for the future of the plant and its workforce and the need for all necessary steps to be taken to attract new investment; if the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation will respond to the company's statement; and the need to protect employment at the Roche Ireland plant in Clarecastle, County Clare; (7) Deputy Eoin Ó Broin - the closure of Brú Aimsir homeless hostel in Dublin and the loss of 100 emergency beds from the Dublin emergency accommodation system at a time when up to 100 people are sleeping rough in the city; (8) Deputy Jim Daly - the need for the Minister for Health to immediately make available funding to service the 1,670 elderly people waitlisted for home help care; (9) Deputy Anne Rabbitte - the urgent need for the HSE to expedite the appointment of a paediatric diabetic specialist at University Hospital Galway; (10) Deputies Clare Daly and Mick Wallace - to discuss the ongoing refugee crisis, in particular unaccompanied minors and what Ireland can do; and to discuss the refugee crisis in Europe and in particular, the situation regarding unaccompanied minors; (11) Deputy Lisa Chambers - the need for the Minister for Health to outline what action will be taken to improve conditions in the emergency department in Mayo University Hospital; (12) Deputy Robert Troy - the need for the Minister for Health to address concerns expressed by the National Ambulance Service capacity review about the possibility of achieving the Health Information and Quality Authority prescribed target of dealing with 80% of life-threatening and potentially life-threatening calls within eight minutes; (13) Deputy Pat Buckley - to discuss the effect of funding cuts to mental health services; (14) Deputy James Lawless - the need for the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport to address concerns about the absence of plans to progress with the DART underground project in the greater Dublin area transport strategy; (15) Deputy Dessie Ellis - to discuss the continued rise in residential rents; (16) Deputy Brian Stanley - the urgent need for a new school to accommodate St. Francis special school on the site that has been provided by the parish at Borris Road, Portlaoise; and (17) Deputy Mick Barry - the introduction of charges for the collection of green bins.

The matters raised by Deputies Eoin Ó Broin, Lisa Chambers, Jim Daly and James Lawless have been selected for discussion.


Last Updated: 06/11/2017 14:34:27 First Page Previous Page Page of 69 Next Page Last Page