inadequate in view of the extreme crisis in housing and health and the need
to fully restore cuts in welfare, disability provision, public service pay
and pensions and other areas. Some might say that today’s budget is a missed
opportunity. It is not. It is a conscious and deliberate policy decision by
Fine Gael, the Independent Alliance and Fianna Fáil to protect the massive
increase in wealth of the Irish super rich from fair taxation and to make
further tax concessions to them. Prudent budgeting does not require limiting
spending to the shamefully inadequate figures in today’s budget. The
European Union’s fiscal treaty does not require it either, and it does not
forbid raising extra revenue provided it is recurrent.
make the super rich pay their fair share in taxation. The Minister said
numerous times that his income tax and USC measures are to ease the burden
on those on low and middle incomes. Nothing could be further from the truth.
This is a budget for the super rich.
on incomes of less than €30,000 per year. Some 1 million of them are PAYE
workers and 180,000 are self-employed. They comprise 40% of the workforce.
There is no income tax gain for the 1 million PAYE workers in this category,
not even a cent. The income tax gain for the 180,000 self-employed is the
princely sum of €40 per year, less than €1 per week. The EU tells us that
inflation next year will be 1.3%, which will wipe out the huge figure of €40
per year. There is an increase of €5 in social welfare payments. Social
welfare recipients must wait until next March to get it and it does not go
anywhere near restoring the pre-cut levels of payment. For the third year in
a row there is no increase in child benefit.
powerful in our society. The CSO says that 53,000 individuals have incomes
ranging from €150,000 to €2 million per annum. They get the full tax and USC
benefits of this budget, totalling €13.1 million. There is a golden circle
of rich and powerful individuals in this society who have not been touched
by the budget. There is no wealth tax on their assets, and they have huge
assets. The top 10% of these wealthiest individuals have assets that are €40
billion above peak boom levels. They will not pay a cent on them. The
overall financial assets are now €77 billion above peak boom levels and
there is not a single cent of taxation on them either. The 300 wealthiest
individuals who have €100 billion will not pay a cent on those assets.
Last week, the Comptroller and Auditor General reported on how these
individuals avoided tax. He described it as tax avoidance by the super rich.
Some 83 of these high net worth individuals, with in excess of €50 million
in assets, declared taxable income of less than the average industrial wage
of less than €36,500. It is shameful. With regard to the banks, Bank of
Ireland, AIB and Permanent TSB had profits last year of €2.5 billion. They
did not pay a euro in tax on them and they will not pay one euro this year
or for the next 20 years. The last Government and this Government have
exempted them from such tax. These are the banks that the taxpayer bailed
out. They are the banks that brought huge and savage austerity on the backs
of families throughout this country. They continue to evict families from
their family homes, but they will not pay a single cent in tax.
mortgage interest relief to them in respect of the purchase, improvement and
repair of properties will be hugely damaging to the housing market. It will
enable landlords to outbid young people in the purchase of houses and it
will drive up prices even further. This provision should be withdrawn
immediately. This budget also provides an additional €121 million for
landlords under the guise of the HAP scheme, on top of the €1.1 billion
provided in 2018 under this scheme for landlords. This is hugely damaging to
housing and families. The Government is again putting its trust in private
developers and private landlords to solve the housing crisis, which they
have never done and never will do. It is time the Government changed its
policy on housing. We need public housing on public land and in huge
wealthy country. Taking GDP per head of population, Ireland is wealthier
than Germany, the UK, the US, France and Italy. Overall, Ireland is ranked
eighth in the world in wealth terms. The top 10,000 earners here have
incomes totalling €6 billion per annum, which is an average of €600,000
each. They have received the full benefit of the income tax and USC
reductions over the past three years and in this budget. The top 5% of all
income earners on incomes of €180,000 per annum received income tax and USC
reductions in the past two budgets totalling €172 million. Today, they again
will benefit in full from the income and USC reductions and fabulously
wealthy people will escape any additional imposition on their massive and
sketched the background to this budget. Its document entitled, Paving a
Pathway out of Poverty, sets out the situation for ordinary people in this
country. Some 780,000 people are living below the poverty line; 70,000
children are growing up in poverty; 10,000 people are homeless, including
almost 4,000 children; there are 100,000 families on local authority housing
waiting lists; there are 102,000 working poor; 48% of people went without
heating owing to cost; 520,000 adults have poor literary skills and, last
year, the society received 130,000 calls for assistance and supported
families to the tune of €27 million. Today’s budget will do nothing for the
people the SVP helped last year and have been helping for years. If the
issues raised by the SVP are to be tackled, rich and powerful people in this
society will have to be made pay their fair share. If national and local
issues are to be tackled successfully and if public services are to be
improved and additional services provided, wealthy people in this country,
which is the eighth wealthiest in the world, must be made pay their fair
urgent need for acute inpatient mental health beds in Tipperary. These beds
need to be put in place to replace the beds lost when former Minister of
State, Kathleen Lynch, unfairly, unjustly and, in my view, outrageously
closed St. Michael’s unit in Clonmel. Moneys from this budget must be
ring-fenced to ensure beds are opened to replace those that were wrongly
closed and to properly resource, staff and fund community mental health
teams and CAMHS teams in Tipperary. Mental health services in the county are
substandard, acute beds are non-existent and these issues need to be tackled
urgently. I have raised them on numerous occasions and will return to them
in the near future.
Carrick-on-Suir, Thurles, Nenagh and Roscrea, have been abandoned by this
Government and by previous Governments. They need support from Government so
that they can develop economically and socially and create jobs, boost the
retail trade, build public housing and support community facilities. The
Project 2040 plan is not fit for purpose when it comes to rural Ireland and,
in particular, rural market towns. This plan must be revisited urgently to
ensure towns such as those I have mentioned are targeted for development and
address the issue of the assessment of needs for children with disabilities.
Under the Disability Act 2015 assessments of need are required to be
completed within six months of a referral but throughout the country,
including in Tipperary, this provision is not being adhered to. The HSE is
breaking the law in this regard. I have been contacted by numerous families
who have been told in writing by the HSE in Tipperary that their child will
not be seen for two years. It is vital that young children are assessed at
an early age if they are to benefit from the services that should be
provided for them.
formerly Our Lady’s Hospital. That hospital was upgraded at a cost of some
€14 million and fully fitted out as a hospital, but the ward areas have been
closed for years now. That refurbished area was to be opened up as a 65 bed
hospital to provide step-down, palliative care and district hospital
facilities. It is a shame that it is still vacant and it should be opened to
provide a back up to the other hospitals in the area – South Tipperary
General Hospital and University Hospital Limerick.
of local and regional roads. Regional roads and local roads, in particular,
are in an absolutely atrocious state across the country, including in
Tipperary. The figure which Tipperary County Council management has
indicated would be needed to upgrade the roads in the county to a reasonable
standard is €196 million. Obviously, €40 million nationally will not go very
far on that. I wish to raise the question of the upgrading of the N24 to
motorway status again. That is the lifeblood of social and economic activity
all the way from Limerick to Wexford. The upgrade would include the
bypassing of Tipperary town, Clonmel and Carrick-on-Suir. That needs to be
done as soon as possible.
huge. It would appear that some money has been made available for leadership
and working principals. I hope there is enough money in that to ensure that
principals are able to properly carry out their functions on an ongoing
basis and have the time and space to do same. There does not appear to be a
change in class sizes, nor does there appear to be any provisions in place
regarding official panels, which are badly needed.
years. Like earlier speakers, I must also say that the provisions in this
budget on housing are disappointing to put it mildly. The fact of the matter
is that there is a housing emergency out there. It is time this Government
acknowledged that emergency and implemented the Private Members’ motion
which was passed here last week, requesting the declaration of a statutory
emergency by the Oireachtas. Unless and until that is done, the housing
situation will get worse. On a daily basis I have families contacting me who
are homeless, have got notice to quit or are couch-surfing with relatives
and friends. The situation has gotten worse over the last 12 months and the
provisions in this budget will certainly not make any effective difference
to it. We need the emergency to be declared and we need evictions to stop.
There is a need for families to be allowed to retain their tenancies in sale
situations so that they are not forced out of their private rented
accommodation into homelessness. We need a huge emergency building programme
of public housing on public land and we need to do that quickly.
water from the Shannon to Dublin. This is a hugely wasteful proposal which
will be a waste of public money if it goes ahead. The pipes in Dublin are
leaking over 50% of the water that goes into them. It is a situation that is
seen nowhere else in the western world. In most European countries and
cities the maximum leakage is in the region of 10%. The highest figure that
we know of is in London which is at 25%. Apart from the words of the Fight
the Pipe Ireland organisation in Tipperary and Ms Emma Kennedy who has done
an analysis on this, a professor in Dublin City University has recently said
that going ahead with this project is akin to throwing money out of an open
window. As I have said, this is hugely wasteful and completely unnecessary.
The pipes in Dublin need to be replaced because otherwise water will be sent
from the Shannon into the ground in Dublin because the pipes will be leaking
out over 50% of the water.
This Government, the Independent Alliance and Fianna Fáil have lost all
contact with ordinary people and this budget book of Estimates proves that.
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
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%!
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
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)
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.”