From Paddy Healy 086-4183732 on behalf of Seamus Healy TD 087-2802199
Seamus was Speaking on The Minister and Secretaries (Amendment) Bill which implements effective control of Irish Public finances by the larger EU powers including placing a ceiling on all public spending which includes repayment of bank related debt with interest to the detriment of public services generally. Interest alone on debt is now costing the state almost 1 billion Euro per month.
Deputy Seamus Healy: I wish to take the opportunity provided by means of my contribution to the debate on the Bill to commend the Ballyhea Says No group on its actions and to place its proposals on the record of Dáil Éireann. The group in question has been marching in Ballyhea for the past 115 weeks. The group in Charleville has been marching for 100 weeks and the growing Ireland Says No movement has been doing so for 15 weeks. The Ballyhea group commenced its protest on 6 March 2011, shortly after the most recent general election and in the immediate aftermath of the announcement by the Taoiseach, Deputy Enda Kenny, that burden-sharing with the banks would not happen. The latter was, of course, a complete U-turn and represented a reneging on the promises and commitments made by Fine Gael during the general election campaign. Apart from its weekly march, the Ballyhea group has visited Dáil Éireann on three occasions, has travelled to Brussels on two occasions and has been in the ECB’s headquarters in Frankfurt. Its members did all of this at their own expense. The Ballyhea group includes members of all political beliefs and none. Collectively, the group is apolitical. The members of the group are not economic experts and do not pretend to be. In the context of age, gender and employment status, they represent a cross-section of society. However, they have a single, united agenda, namely, to lift the unjust bailout from the shoulders of the people. Those in the group are not going to rest until they have been successful in that regard.
The Ballyhea group has put forward a number of proposals in respect of bank debt, the Europe-wide crisis and the major imbalance that exists in the context of Ireland’s contribution to resolving that crisis. It has called on the ECB to write off the €28.1 billion in sovereign bonds currently held by the Central Bank in lieu of the promissory notes—–
Acting Chairman (Deputy Seán Kenny): Will the Deputy address the content of the Bill?
Deputy Seamus Healy: I am doing so. This is Second Stage and all the matters to which I refer are germane to the debate.
Acting Chairman (Deputy Seán Kenny): Yes, but perhaps the Deputy could speak on the actual legislation.
Deputy Seamus Healy: The promissory notes were issued in 2010 to cover a flagrant abuse of the emergency liquidity assistance fund, when €31 billion was pumped into two already insolvent institutions, namely, the former Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society. This was an abuse which the ECB approved. The group is also seeking that the EU – through the European Stability Mechanism – restore to the Irish Exchequer the €3.1 billion already destroyed on the basis of those promissory notes, the €20.7 billion taken from the National Pensions Reserve Fund to bail out the banks to which I refer and the remaining €13 billion or so borrowed from the various emergency funds to bail out the Irish banks in general. The first proposal in this regard would ease the long-term bank debt burden and the second would ease the current situation, provide money to be invested in job creation and enable us grow our way out of the recession. I support these proposals and I hope other Members of this House and the Seanad will do likewise.
The Bill before the House has been introduced on the instructions of the troika. It facilitates the implementation of the six pack and the EMS treaty and is part of a plan to hand over detailed control of our economy to the larger European powers. In other words, it is a plan to diminish Irish sovereignty.
[Deputy Seamus Healy: ] When we joined the EU in the 1970s, we were told by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael that it was not a surrender of our sovereignty but a pooling of it. Due to the reckless lending of European banks and the collaboration with same by the wealthy Irish establishment and its political representatives, namely, Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Labour Party, total control of Ireland has been handed over to international financiers.
Deputy Anthony Lawlor: And Deputy Ross.
Acting Chairman (Deputy Seán Kenny): Order, please.
Deputy Seamus Healy: International vulture capitalists are roaming the country buying up assets for a song. The Government led the way in these fire sales when it allowed 37% of Bank of Ireland to be bought by the American financier Wilbur Ross for just over €1 billion, leaving the State with a 15% stake in the bank in which it invested €5 billion.
This Bill is related to a deliberately misleading analysis that alleges that Ireland’s public expenditure is excessive. Nothing could be further from the truth. Irish public expenditure in 2011, at 42% of GDP, was lower than that of the UK, Germany and Sweden, at 47.3%, 43.7% and 52.5%, respectively. Irish public expenditure increased in the 2000 to 2008 period, but it was still behind other European countries and started from a low base.
The budgetary deficit is mainly due to the collapse in tax revenue, although low and middle income families are heavily and unfairly taxed. The main reason for the collapse was the transfer of the tax burden from the rich to stamp duty on property transactions. At 30.8% of GDP, the Irish tax take is well below that in other European countries – 38.9% in Britain, 40.6% in Germany and 47.9% in Sweden. To a considerable extent, this is due to tax breaks for the rich. In a 2012 report, Social Justice Ireland stated that investment property-related tax breaks – for example, car parks, hotels and section 23 and section 48 properties – were costing the Exchequer €435 million per year.
The super-rich often claim that they are in favour of free enterprise. They are opposed to prudent regulation, as we know from recent years. They are also in favour of profits subsidised by Irish citizens.
The Bill sets in stone the policy of austerity being pursued by the Government. That policy unfairly taxes low and middle income families while wealthy people with significant incomes and assets get off almost scot free. I oppose the Bill.