MINISTER KELLY MUST HALT NATIONAL BETRAYAL ON WATER CHARGES!

Press Statement By Seamus Healy TD 087-2802199

Minister Alan Kelly is about to give away the exemption Irelands holds from directly charging for domestic water under EU Law. Unless he desists and renews Ireland’s exemption by Jan 1st 2015, it will lapse. This will make it more difficult for future governments to abolish direct charges for domestic water.

I call on Minister Kelly to immediately renew the exemption so that the power to charge or not to charge for domestic water will remain with the Irish people and the Dáil into the future.

I have asked him to do so in a Parliamentary Question which I have tabled. The text of the PQ is carried below.

Former MEP, Kathy Sinnott explained in a recent opinion piece in the Irish Times(Nov 20,2014) : “In 2000, the Irish government brokered this exemption and the inclusion of article 9.4 which formally and legally absolves Ireland and only Ireland from the requirement to charge for domestic water.

As an MEP I brought this to the public attention in 2008 when the last government was introducing water charges for schools. On April 17th of that year minister John Gormley stated in the Dáil that “The only exemption available to Ireland, and availed of, is contained in article 9.4 and relates to dwelling houses using water for ordinary household purposes”.”

This government has no mandate to give away our exemption from domestic water charges. The Labour Party promised in the last election that it would prevent Fine Gael from introducing domestic water charges. Now a Labour Minister is not only introducing the charges but is giving away the power of our parliament to abolish them in future. Irish democracy is being undermined by Minister Kelly and his government.

I call on all Oireachtas members from Co Tipperary including Senator Landy(Lab) and Minister Tom Hayes to stop this national betrayal now!

Seamus Healy TD 087-2802199

Question for Written Answer by Seamus Healy TD 087-2802199

To ask the Minister for Environment and Local Government, Alan Kelly TD,

If he will confirm that there is, at present in 2014, no requirement for charges to be imposed on domestic dwellings for the use of water from public mains for domestic purposes under the EU Water Framework Directive and that article 9.4 formally and legally absolves Ireland from the requirement to charge for domestic water

and

If he will ensure on behalf of the Irish Government that this exemption is renewed before Jan 1,2015 so that Irish governments will retain the power to charge or not to charge for the use of water for domestic purposes into the future

and if he will make a statement on the matter?

Seamus Healy TD 087-2802199

Statement by Cllr Pat English, Workers and Unemployed Action 087-7684746

WUA Alone in Opposing Budget 2015 for Co Tipperary at Estimates Meeting  

Almost 33million Euro per year taken from Economy of Co Tipperary by FG/Lab Government since 2011 through reduction in annual General Purpose Grant to Local Authorities From General Taxation  

I proposed the rejection of the Budget for 2015 at the estimates meeting of Co Tipperary Co council. No councillor could be found to second the motion and all other councillors agreed the budget.  

The budget for 2015 contains the extraction of an additional €12.245  million out of the economy of Co Tipperary in the coming year. This is because Minister Kelly has replaced more than half of government funding for the year by the proceeds of Local Property Tax collected from the citizens of Co Tipperary.

 

I opposed these estimates because to do otherwise would be to agree to this large additional extraction of money from the people of Co Tipperary   

 

As can be seen from the figures below, Minister Kelly’s government has reduced government funding to Tipperary local authorities by almost €33 million or 75%  since  it came to power in 2011. This extraction by Alan Kelly’s government out of the economy of County Tipperary is a huge factor in depressing the local economy, keeping unemployment high and reducing demand to small businesses.

North and South Tipp are in the highest regions of unemployment in Ireland according to official figures.

 

The budget also provided money for JUNKETS (travel and maintenance for councillors at conferences at home and abroad). I proposed that this money be set aside for childrens’ playgrounds. This amendment was defeated by a large majority. The provision for junkets was contained in the final overall budget for which all councillors voted, except myself.

On top of the property tax,  water charges are to be imposed from 01 January 2015.  This will extract even more money from the local economy causing further depression and crucifying already hard pressed people. According to the Nevin Economic Research Institute, the poorest 10% are paying a higher proportion of income tax than the top 10%!

 

DOUBLE TAXATION

WE are already paying for water and other local services, through general taxation, direct and indirect. Now we are being forced to pay a second time through these charges for services which have been reduced by government cuts.

 

This money is being diverted to pay part of the €8 billion per year interest which recent governments have incurred through bailing out billionaire investors in bust banks.

 

Local property Tax and Water Charges are devices to make the ordinary person pay for bailing out banks.

 

Minister Noonan has informed the Dail that the top 10,000 income earners have €595,000 Euro per year EACH.  Financial assets of households (shares, bank deposits, insurance policies) are now back above peak boom levels at €334 billion Euro gross (CSO Institutional sector accounts). The wealthiest 300 Irish citizens have a total of €62 Billion Euro in Assets(Nick Webb, Sunday Independent)

Minister Kelly and his government should take the money from them and use it to abolish home and water taxes.

Councillor Pat English, Workers and Unemployed Action      

Notes:

Total General Purpose Grant (GPG) To ALL Co Tipperary   

                         Local Authorities (Euro)

YEAR             2008                    2011                  2013                2014                     2015

GPG Total   54,684,395         43,644,608         38,271,37 2     22,755,110          11,075,302                                                                                                                                        

Note      GPG =20% of 2008 Figure , GPG= 25%  of 2011 figure when current government came to power

            The figure of 11,075,302 contains a net 1.25 million Euro received from the property tax national equalisation fund

            Total  Local Property Tax Collected from households in Co Tipperary was  12.245 Million Euro

MONEY EXTRACTED FROM CO Tipperary since 2008 through reduction of GPG,   54.684-11.075= 43.609 Million Euro

MONEY EXTRACTED FROM CO Tipperary since 2011 through reduction of GPG,   43.645-11.075= 32.570 Million Euro

The figure for General Purpose Grant given in the Budget 2015 by Tipperary Co Council is  23,320,100 Euro. But this figure contains the 12.245 million collected in property tax in Co Tipperary and an additional 1.25 million from the national property tax equalisation fund, money collected in property tax from more populous counties.   

 

Feeling under the weather?

Feeling under the weather?
Check out our new website for sensible practical help and advice on common conditions like colds, flu, earaches, sore throats, rashes and tummy bugs.

Today is European Antibiotic Awareness Day and provides a timely opportunity to remind you that antibiotics are a precious resource and are very useful drugs which save lives. However, using antibiotics needlessly allows bugs that cause infections to build up resistance against antibiotics and renders them useless over time.

The HSE has developed a new website, http://www.undertheweather.ie in partnership with GPs and pharmacists which offers straightforward advice on how to get through common illnesses without antibiotics. We all need sound advice to give us the confidence and skill we need to take care of ourselves and our families; http://www.undertheweather.ie aims to give you that advice.

The website gives sensible practical information, developed by health professionals, on a range of common conditions like colds, flu, earaches, sore throats, rashes and tummy bugs. It tells you how long they should last, what to expect, and what you can do to cope with, and recover from, these illnesses. The site includes a series of videos featuring GPs and Pharmacists who offer their expertise on dealing with these common illnesses, practical remedies, and advice on when to seek help from either a pharmacist or a doctor.

Research has shown that a lot of people still believe that antibiotics can help to treat common illnesses, like colds, flu, earaches, tummy bugs and rashes. In fact antibiotics are useless against most of these infections, which are caused by viruses, and antibiotics don’t work on viruses. Learning how to manage common illnesses with confidence and common sense is a great life skill and improves our understanding of when we need antibiotics and when we don’t. It’s something that we learn from our parents, friends, doctors, from our own experience and, more and more, from the internet. Under the Weather has been developed in response to this, to support the public in accessing trusted and reliable health information, developed by the HSE with expert knowledge and advice from GPs and pharmacists.

The website is mobile, tablet and desktop friendly and will be a useful companion to anyone who’s feeling under the weather.

Visit http://www.undertheweather.ie for more. Get advice and get better.

An event is also taking place today in the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland to coincide with European Antibiotic Awareness Day. The event is aimed at leaders from medical, vetinary and pharmaceutical professions and they are being urged to take a more critical look before prescribing antibiotics to help deal with the growing problem of antibiotic resistance.

www.undertheweather.ie

Hypocrisy And Cynicism Undermining Democracy – Minister Alan Kelly introduces Water Charges.

The irony and hypocrisy of today’s announcement introducing water charges by Labour Party Minister Alan Kelly T.D. will not be lost on the general public.

During the last General Election Minister Kelly and the Labour Party asked the people of North Tipperary to vote for him to prevent Fine Gael imposing Water Charges. He stood on a Labour Party Manifesto which opposed Water Charges. His Party published a “Tesco Ad” warning people not to vote for Fine Gael because that Party wanted to introduce Water Charges.

He is now doing a complete U Turn, breaking the promises and commitments he and his party made. He is now introducing water charges himself. This is the sort of hypocrisy which is undermining our democracy.

Labour Leader Joan Burton T.D., contrary to commitments and promises has presided over the destruction of social welfare services. Child poverty is now at 28.6% with 130,000 additional children living in poverty, affected no doubt by the savage child benefit cuts introduced by Minister Burton.

The list of other cuts include Respite Care Grant, abolition of Telephone Allowance, reduction in Free Fuel and Electricity Payments, reduction in Maternity Benefit and One Parent Family Payment, abolition of the Bereavement Grant and the list goes on.

This Government, despite election promises, are now implementing the austerity policies of the previous Fianna Fáil/Green Government.

This Government cannot be trusted and has no mandate for austerity or for the introduction of water charges.

The lie is being peddled that the public won’t pay for water. But the public have paid, are paying and continue to pay for water through general taxation.

The water charges now being proposed are double taxation and are an attempt to make hard-pressed families pay a second time.

IT WON’T WORK

Today’s announcements amount to political trickery to get the water charges across the line and establish the principle of charging for water at any cost.

Once Water Charges are established, water will become a commodity and charges will rise to full cost recovery under EU law.

Today’s announcements amount to the “thin end of the wedge”, “casting out a sprat to catch a salmon”, “ a supermarket loss leader”, “come into my parlour said the spider to the fly”.

The public know that this is a trap and will not be fooled.

The Public knows that Water Charges introduced at a low level will, like refuse/bin charges balloon to significant sums.

What did happen with Bin Charges??

I was a member of Clonmel Corporation when Bin Charges were introduced at the minimal rate of £5 per year. I opposed those charges as the thin end of the wedge that would in time hit hard pressed families.

I was of course ridiculed by Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour Councillors. One Councillor threw a box of matches across the table at me saying the charges are only the cost of a box of matches a week.

But what happened? Bin Charges are now €300 per year, more than 30 times the introductory “offer”; the waiver for low income families has been abolished and the service has been privatised.

That is the future if we allow the introduction of water charges. The public know that and they will not be sold a pup, like they were by the Labour Party in the 2011 General Election.

Families have had enough after 6 years of austerity and this hated water charge is the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Water is a human right, a public good that must not be commodified, commercialised or privatised. It is the responsibility of the State to protect the public’s right to safe, secure accessible and affordable water. Water is a human right and a public good and must not be turned into a profit making opportunity for National or Multinational Corporations.

Promises of legislation to prevent privatisation are simply that …”promises” from a government that cannot be trusted.

Proposed legal changes to cap charges for a number of years, to make it more difficult to privatise Irish Water or to require a plebiscite are completely bogus. Any Act can be repealed or amended by a simple majority of deputies. A Legal provision to require a two thirds majority or even a 100% agreement to privatise Irish Water can be repealed by a simple majority. Such a proposal is pure deception.

If the government was sincere on this issue, it would agree to a constitutional amendment.

The Public know that only People Power can abolish water charges and secure the status of water as a human right and a public good.

The most important task now is for the “Risen People” to turn out in huge numbers for the National Protest in Dublin on 10th December next and in Tipperary to support the Nenagh March next Saturday 22nd November at 2pm and the Clonmel March on Saturday 29th November at 2pm.

Seamus Healy T.D. 19/11/2014
Tel 087 2802199

Deputy Healy speaking on the Finance Bill 2014 (resumed) second stage 05.11.2014

Séamus Healy (Tipperary South, Independent)
This Finance Bill, the budget and general Government policy is based on spin, hype and, indeed, the Government’s lie that this country is broke.

Michael Kitt (Galway East, Fianna Fail)
The Deputy cannot use that word. Please withdraw it now.

Séamus Healy (Tipperary South, Independent)
If the Government does not like that word, let us call it something else.

Peter Mathews (Dublin South, Independent)
Untrue.

Michael Kitt (Galway East, Fianna Fail)
It is not allowed under standing orders.

Peter Mathews (Dublin South, Independent)
Use the French word mensonge.

Séamus Healy (Tipperary South, Independent)
It is completely untrue that this country is broke.

Michael Kitt (Galway East, Fianna Fail)
I take it that the Deputy is withdrawing that.

Séamus Healy (Tipperary South, Independent)
The policies that follow from that and which are being implemented by this Government mean continued austerity for ordinary people. They mean continued austerity for low and middle-income families whom this Government are forcing to pay for a recession that they had no hand, act nor part in creating. The water charge is one of those austerity taxes, but ordinary people are now saying that they have had enough. It is the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

The policies in the budget and in the Finance Bill ensure that the gap between rich and poor has increased. The policies mean that the super-rich get off scot free and will not even be asked to pay their fair share of taxation. In recent days, the Minister’s press officer boasted in the newspapers that anyone earning over €100,000 a year will get €747 from this budget. That is nearly €15 per week, while the lowest earners get 90 cent per week. Low and middle-income families will face more austerity, while the very wealthy get support and are not asked to pay for anything.

We have high unemployment levels while there are over 100,000 on the housing waiting lists and there is a huge mortgage crisis. Irish children have fallen further and faster into poverty than in any other OECD country. It is shameful that 28.6% of Irish children currently live in poverty.

We also have high emigration, including 84,000 graduates who have left this country in recent years. They are now contributing to economies in Canada, Australia and elsewhere. Ordinary people know that our health and education services have been devastated.

This country is not broke, however. All objective, independent analysis agrees that this is a very wealthy country indeed. Of course, the wealth is skewed in favour of wealthy people to such an extent that the poorest 10% pay more as a percentage of their income in tax than the wealthiest 10%. That is another absolutely shameful situation.
About 12 months ago in this Chamber, the former Minister of State, Deputy Joe Costello, told us that this was the eighth richest country in the world. That fact has been supported by objective analysis. We know, for instance, that the gross domestic product here per head of population is greater than in Germany, France or the United Kingdom.

That finding has been supported by Germany’s Bertelsmann Foundation in recent times. The German study shows that, despite being one of the richest countries in the EU, Ireland’s rating for distribution of wealth is 18th, in the bottom third of the 28 EU countries, along with Greece, Bulgaria, Romania and Latvia. As a result of the study, the foundation also cited Ireland as an example of how high GDP per capita did not translate automatically into social justice for the population. Ireland has a GDP around as high as Sweden’s, but ranks considerably below average when it comes to social justice and is one of the biggest losers in country comparisons. This country is very wealthy, but the wealth is in the hands of a very small percentage of the population that is not being asked to pay its fair share. Less than 12 months ago, the Minister for Finance told me that the top 10,000 income earners in the country earn €595,000 each per year. From the rich list published in the Sunday Independent by Nick Webb, we know the 300 wealthiest people in the country have increased their assets and income from €50 billion in 2010 to €62 billion, an increase of €12 billion. We know the financial assets of the wealthy are now at the level of the Celtic tiger era, at €324 billion.

It is time the Government made very wealthy people pay their fair share. I am talking about seriously wealthy people, not the ordinary individual with a redundancy payment or a retirement lump sum or who bought a house for retirement. I am talking about people with huge amounts of money, hundreds of millions or billions of euro each. They are not even asked to pay a wealth tax, which is one of the things the Government should do. It should introduce a wealth tax for very wealthy people, but I can see the Minister throwing his hands up in the air, as do the media and the establishment when people suggest it. We should remember there are six countries in the EU with a wealth tax. A wealth tax was introduced in this country by a former colleague of the Minister, Richie Ryan, but it was abolished by Fianna Fáil to suit its backers. A wealth tax is essential. Even a very small wealth tax would provide significant income, billions of euros, to address the issues of water, health and education services.