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Deputy Seamus Healy T.D.
In his Budget Statement, the Minister, Deputy Donohoe, told us the budget will create a fairer society. This is dishonest claptrap. The budget maintains and widens the rich-poor gap in our society. Under the tax and the universal social charge changes alone, the wealthiest 5% of people in our society, those on average incomes of €186,000 a year, will get a €15 per week increase and, of course, they will get it from 1 January. They are not subject to any wealth tax and neither are they subject to any assets tax, even though net financial assets have increased and are now higher than peak boom levels. They have increased threefold from €69 billion in 2008 to €192 billion in 2015.

The budget also provides for outrageous increases to politicians, to which I am opposed. It provides for an increase of €15,000 for the Taoiseach of the day, an increase of €11,000 per annum for a Minister and €5,500 for a Deputy in the House. Compare this to how our old age pensioners were treated in the budget. Pensioners on a little over €12,000 per annum will receive an increase of €5 a week, but not until March. This is less than what they received last year. Despite the promises of the so-called Independence Alliance, there is no return of the telephone allowance, no increase in fuel allowance, no increase in the household benefits package and no increase in the living alone allowance.

This budget is socially divisive and deeply unfair.

It means that a total of 750,000 people continue to live in poverty in this country; one in five children will live in households with incomes below the poverty line; one in four of those living in poverty is a child; almost 20% of those whose income is below the poverty line are working and they are the working poor; since 2007 the deprivation rate has almost doubled; and, therefore, that 1.3 million or 29% of the population live in a state of deprivation.

This budget, once again, protects and supports the rich and powerful in our society while low, middle income and poor families are doomed to live from hand to mouth.

This budget is a pretence. In it, the Government is pretending to determine public expenditure and taxation in the State. The reality is that revenue from all sources will be approximately €50 billion. The House is determining the disposal of only less than €2 billion or 4% of the total. The EU powers, through the fiscal treaty, have determined the disposal of the other 96%. The charade being enacted here tonight flies in the face of the 1916 Proclamation, which declared “the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible”. The Government, similar to the outgoing Government, has sold our sovereignty to the EU.

The Minister for Finance recently told the Committee of Public Accounts that the EU powers insisted on the rapid sell-off of NAMA properties, even though retaining them would have led to higher prices being achieved for the taxpayer. Together with the sell-off of assets by banks, it is probable that there is now greater foreign ownership of Irish assets than when British landlords owned all the land. Effectively there is no sovereignty residing in the State.

The various proposals in the budget in respect of health, housing and education are grossly inadequate. Housing is a fundamental right of human beings, but, shamefully, the Taoiseach has written to the EU seeking permission to borrow the money required to build social housing. Ireland does not have even the sovereignty to house its own people. The Government has also refused to formally declare a housing emergency, something that is necessary to deal with the housing crisis. It is essential under the Constitution but the Government through banks it owns, other banks, and landlords, including vulture funds, is continuing to evict people. As a result, unfortunate families have been devastated by suicides.

Unnecessary deaths will continue in our hospitals despite heroic efforts by staff. According to the Irish Medical Organisation, IMO, hospitals are now operating in “the death zone” where occupancy levels are in many cases more than 92.5%, which is leading to significant increases in mortality rates. Despite the intense efforts of front-line staff, in particular, once occupancy rates reach this level, deaths occur that would not otherwise happen. Ireland needs an additional 3,500 inpatient hospital beds immediately to bring us in line with the western European average. By abiding by the fiscal treaty, the Government is causing unnecessary deaths and unnecessary pain.

With regard to education, class sizes in the primary sector are the highest in the Eurozone. The programme for Government makes a specific commitment to smaller classes, but the budget proposals are inadequate. The pre-cut capitation rate should be restored immediately. In primary and second level schools, the full pre-cut quota of assistant principal and special duties posts must be restored in the interest of pupils. Our third level system is grossly underfunded and being continuously damaged. Today’s measures are grossly inadequate to solve these problems.

At a time the Government cannot deliver safe hospitalisation or housing, or halt evictions and related suicides, it is farcical that an additional €255 million must be contributed to the EU budget this year.

In his presentation to the Committee on Budgetary Oversight, the Minister for Finance confirmed that the financial emergency is over. This was also recently re-certified by the Minister for the Public Expenditure and Reform. The confiscation of public service pensions under the FEMPI legislation is, therefore, unconstitutional. The right to private property of pensioners in their pensions must be fully restored immediately. This is not provided for in the budget. In addition, the pension reductions imposed on occupational pensioners in State bodies and in the private sector must be restored.

The budget is a joint effort by Fine Gael, the so-called Independent Alliance and Fianna Fáil. Fianna Fáil has taken responsibility for this shameful and socially divisive budget. The problems relating to health, education, housing, roads and various other public services will not be resolved until Irish sovereignty as set out in the Democratic Programme of the First Dáil of 1919 is re-established. This requires the political defeat of the austerity parties, Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Labour Party, and those prepared to support or to coalesce with them in the framework of the fiscal treaty. It is important to recall what the Democratic Programme of the First Dáil said. It stated, “We declare in the words of the Irish Republican Proclamation the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be indefeasible, and in the language of our first President, Pádraig Mac Phiarais, we declare that the Nation’s sovereignty extends not only to all men and women of the Nation, but to all its material possessions, the Nation’s soil and all its resources, all the wealth and all the wealth-producing processes within the Nation, and with him we reaffirm [remember this] that all right to private property must be subordinated to the public right and welfare.”

That sentence is particularly relevant to the housing crisis and the need immediately to formally declare a housing emergency.

Seamus Healy T.D.
Tel 087 2802199

12/10/2016

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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.   


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.


Seamus Healy TD Financial Resolutions 2015 – Budget Statement 2015 (14 Oct 2014):

“The Irish Constitution commits Irish Governments to safeguard with special care the economic interests of the weaker sections of Irish society. That constitutional provision has been breached every year for the past three years by this Government and is again being breached today. Regressive austerity budgets have given to the rich and powerful in our society and taken from low- and middle-income families across this country. The deprivation rate in Irish society is now 26.9%, up from 11% in 2007. Fr. Peter McVerry said:
I’m absolutely dismayed at idea that the tax cuts are going to be at the top rate of tax. That horrifies me. I really can’t express how outraged I would be at that.

Gerry Kearns, professor of human geography at NUI Maynooth, said:
Ireland needs a poverty strategy. It needs a wealth tax. It needs a social housing programme. It needs a regional policy. It does not need tax cuts for fat cats. The Constitution directs as much and the Minister should pay it more heed.

The 100,000 people on the streets of Dublin last Saturday and the results of the two by-elections in Dublin South-West and Roscommon-South Leitrim have certainly put the frighteners on the Government and have been responsible for whatever minor changes and benefits were delivered in this budget. The water charges will be defeated. People power will defeat these charges. Low- and middle-income families are absolutely opposed to them and are affronted by Irish Water itself. It was set up at a cost of €180 million, with €50 million going to consultants, and the management of Irish Water is now paying itself bonuses. This has to stop, and these charges must be, and indeed will be, reversed.

There is a huge hole in this budget in respect of health expenditure. Again, for the fourth year in a row, this Government has a black hole in the health budget. The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs will remember his own special adviser, Martin Connor, who said recently that brutal fiscal consolidation in the health services must end. He said that the ongoing financial crisis that is continuing to damage the health system was central to the medical card debacle, long waiting lists, hospital bed closures and disability cutbacks. This year, despite what he has said and despite what we all know, there is another €460 million hole in the health budget. Page 80 of the booklet provided to us refers to a range of savings measures – in other words, cutbacks – to the value of €130 million and income generation measures of €330 million, which represent a black hole of €460 million in the health budget. That means continuing chaos for the health services, hospital services and primary care services. This simply must stop.

As other speakers have said, the attempt at dealing with the housing crisis is a complete sham.
There are 90,000 families on waiting lists, with a maximum of 10,000 homes over four years. In education, there were no reductions in class sizes, reductions in the capitation rate and increases in third level fees. This is a budget for the rich and the powerful, and it will have to be overturned by the people of this country, particularly when it comes to water charges.”

Link to debateIMG_1891.JPG


Deputy Seamus Healy and Cllr. Richie Molloy at the recent Pre-Budget Submission by the Carers Association in Buswells Hotel, Dublin

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Seamus Healy TD—Leaders Questions Thursday April 10

Link: http://wp.me/p1Uvd5-B0

Minister Brendan Howlin , Labour, holds the second most senior economic ministry.

At leaders questions, Seamus Healy TD took the Labour Party to task for bringing in regressive Budgets which hit the poor harder than the rich (See ESRI Report on recent budgets http://www.esri.ie/UserFiles/publications/QEC2013Win_SA_Callan.pdf)

The 2014 budget was more unfair to the poor than the FF/Green budgets. He sought the restoration of the respite grant for carers, cuts in home heating allowances and child benefit. He called for increased taxes on the 10,000 who earn on average 595,000 per year each (Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan in reply to a parliamentary question on Oct 3, 2012). Deputy Healy pointed out that the total gross financial assets of households (324 Billion) are now back above the peak 2006 level (Table 3 Institutional Sector Accounts Central Statistics Office 2013)

The bulk of these assets are held by the top 10% of the population (all those with mortgages and/or credit card debt have negative financial assets- houses, farms and business premises are not financial assets). Deputy Healy sought that a wealth tax be placed on very large financial assets of the super-rich.

The arrogant response of Minister Howlin (standing in for Eamonn Gilmore) was to describe the question as “drivel” and to accuse Deputy Healy of proposing “fantasy taxes” He suggested that an increase in income tax on those on 595,000 would not yield significant revenue (Conservative friends of the rich have been making this argument for centuries) . He claimed that the local property tax which leaves the financial assets of the wealthy untouched and applies to the unemployed was an adequate response.

Any reasonably numerate person can calculate that an extra tax on the total of 5.95 Billion earned each year by the top 10,000 income recipients and on the 324 billion in financial assets would bring significant extra revenue to the state. Howlin and the Labour Party do not want to listen. They attack the poor and those on middle incomes instead. That is why the Labour Party is heading for wipe-out and oblivion.

Seamus Healy TD

Irish Examiner Friday April 11 Juno McEnroe

Independent TD Seamus Healy yesterday called on the Government to introduce an asset or wealth tax in the next budget.

Speaking during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil, Mr Healy pointed to ESRI findings that the last budget had the greatest impact on low-income groups.

Labour had reneged on election pledges in 2011 and cut payments for the vulnerable, including child benefit, he said.

“It made promises with full knowledge of the situation in 2011. The assets of the super rich are back above peak levels in 2006, according to the Central Statistics Office,” Mr Healy said.

He called on the Coalition to introduce a wealth tax on those who earn over €595,000 a year.

Brendan Howlin, the public expenditure minister, rejected his criticism and said the TD engaged in “fantasy” taxes.



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