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I welcome the opportunity to speak on budget 2019. The budget is shamefully
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.
Significant additional income could have been raised if the Government was prepared to
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.
What happened in this budget? According to the CSO, 1.18 million workers are
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.
Contrast that to what has happened to people of wealth, the rich and
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.
This budget continues the bonanza for landlords. The provision of 100%
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
numbers.
This budget widens the divide between the rich and poor. Ireland is a
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
growing wealth.
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, SVP, budget submission months ago
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
share.
Issues need to be dealt with in my constituency of Tipperary. There is an
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.
Communities in rural towns throughout the country, including Tipperary town,
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
job creation.
I have referred to the health services in Tipperary but I would like to
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.
There is also a white elephant in Cashel, County Tipperary, in what was
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.
On roads, I welcome the additional investment of €40 million for the upkeep
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.
On education, the increase in capitation is welcome even though it is not
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.
I have spoken consistently about housing in this Chamber for a number of
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.
I ask the Government again to look at the proposal by Irish Water to bring
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.
I am not at all happy that this budget deals with the real world in any way.
This Government, the Independent Alliance and Fianna Fáil have lost all
contact with ordinary people and this budget book of Estimates proves that.

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Seamus Healy TD (Member of Oireachtas Committee on Water Services) calls for complete abolition of Domestic Water Charges, opposes any payment for domestic water and rejects any extra taxation to pay for water twice including a new dedicated water tax similar to Local Property Tax (LPT). Irish Water must be abolished. I have been nominated to the Oireachtas Committee On Water Services. I will be resisting these recommendations.

I will also be organising and participating in mass marches against the implementation of these recommendations

A majority, 90 of the 158 Teachtaí Dála (TD’s) elected in the last general election were elected on the basis of complete abolition of water charges and The Irish Water utility.  The combination of Expert Commission-Oireachtas Committee-Dáil Vote in March was devised by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael after the General Election to negate the democratic vote of the people and bring back water charges.

The Commission essentially recommends that households pay for water twice through a combination of charges and taxes.

The Report states:

5.2.17  The recommended Funding Model, if implemented, will place the main burden of financing the operational cost of providing domestic water services on the exchequer to be paid for through taxation. The Question of whether there should be a dedicated tax, a broadly based fiscal instrument, or an adjustment to existing taxes to fund this requirement would be a matter of Budgetary Policy and outside the scope of this report, but is worthy of further consideration.”-Commission Report Page 35

The underlying assumption in the above recommendation is that domestic water should be paid for by the citizens for a second time. This must be firmly rejected.

New  “Dedicated Tax” suggests an LPT style arrangement which would convert a charges system to a tax liability which can be compulsorily deducted from income at source. This can be imposed on households with no taxable income (e.g. social welfare/low pay).

“A broadly based Fiscal Instrument” means that there would be a specific provision in law for some kind of water or house tax including water tax. This can be imposed on households with no taxable income (e.g. social welfare/low pay)

“Adjustment to Existing Taxes” means that there should be a general tax increase to pay a second time for water through an adjustment of rates/bands/ allowances/ tax credits.

The commission has also recommended that Irish Water be retained and that charges be imposed for extra usage.

Refuse charges were originally introduced at €5.  Now hundreds of Euro are payable. The same will happen with water if there is any charge for water under any guise.

I have been nominated to the Oireachtas Committee On Water Services. I will be resisting these recommendations. I will also be organising and participating in mass marches against the implementation of these recommendations.

 The money which is being paid and was being paid for water services through taxation for many years was not used for water services but was given to others and is being spent for other purposes. It is being used to fund part of the 7 Billion in interest being paid annually on money borrowed to bail out banks and billionaire bondholders. It is also being used partly to fund the 172 million reductions of personal taxes on the top 5% of income recipients on an average of 186,000Eu per year.

The 172 million tax reduction must be cancelled. A tax on the Financial Assets of the top 10% whose financial assets are now 35 billion above peak boom level could be used to fully fund water services.

Water charges and Irish water Must Be fully abolished.

Domestic water must not be commodified.     We will not pay Twice  

Seamus Healy TD   087-2802199


Press Statement
Another 100 Tipperary Homes to Be Repossessed?

Government owned banks (AIB, PTSB, and EBS) and other lenders have been seeking
repossession of approximately 100 Tipperary homes every month in the past year.

A similar number of family homes will be threatened with eviction before Christmas. In the New Year, this will be augmented by evictions of private tenants if the Courts Bill 2016, currently going through the Dáil, is passed.

Deputies Alan Kelly ( Labour) and Jackie Cahil (FF) voted for the new bill designed to
fast track evictions through the circuit court. Deputy Michael Lowry did not vote in the division on second stage of the Bill.

I call on them now to join me in voting against further stages of the Bill. I am also
seeking support for the formal declaration of a housing emergency by the Oireachtas.
This would prevent the use of the Constitution by Banks to block a moratorium on
evictions while the housing crisis continues. The Oireachtas Commission on Housing
recommended such a moratorium on evictions.

Eviction of blameless families who are the victims of reckless banks and politicians is
savage, cruel and anti-human. It is even more devastating at Christmas time. Suicide rates have increased steeply since the recession.

How many of our neighbours will end up in the next best thing to a stable this Christmas?

Seamus Healy T.D.

22/11/2016

Tel 087 2802199


 

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


These additional beds are absolutely essential and would make a huge difference for patients and staff. The Winter Health Service Initiative of the Government is generally disappointing. It is particularly so as regarding extra beds at South Tipperary General Hospital. While the modular/hotel type beds proposal is included, it is not definitive and is only referred to as 1 of 2 options. These beds must be approved and delivered without delay as we approach the autumn/winter period. The Minister for Health, Simon Harris T.D. will be visiting the hospital in October and he must formally confirm these additional beds then. Should the Minister fail to do so it will be clear that the government commitment is not serious. I call on all stakeholders including all political representatives, national and local, to rally behind the hospital to ensure that the additional beds are delivered. The last thing we need is political wrangling, point scoring and disunity. If these beds are not delivered, the Minister and the Government should be warned that People Power will be back on the streets of Clonmel. The people of Tipperary are determined that hospital patients be treated with respect and are provided with quality services at South Tipperary General Hospital.
Seamus Healy T.D. 13/9/2016 Tel 087 2802199
Note on Fit out Option
Fit out space within new build under construction. This refers to the building under construction for CT and MRI Scanning Units. The 1st floor of this building is currently a shell. This proposal would be totally inadequate, would not address the serious overcrowding at the hospital and is a cul de sac. It is currently earmarked for Day Surgery and would be robbing Peter to pay Paul. At most, it would accommodate 5 beds going nowhere near addressing the overcrowding problem. There were 28 patients on trolleys yesterday and it has been as high as the mid 40’s.

Seamus Healy TD was the only Tipperary TD To Vote Against The Government Motion To Appeal the Award of 13 billion Plus Interest to Ireland in Corporation Tax at the Special Sitting of Dáil Eireann.
Deputy Healy said “I am proud to have voted against the return of in excess of 13 billion Euro to Apple. I want the money to be used to address the severe crises in housing, health, education and other public services for the needy. Sweetheart deals and allowing corporate entities to avoid paying their fair share of tax have serious consequences for ordinary people. It is not a victimless crime.
We have, for instance, a serious housing emergency, with more than 100,000 families on housing waiting lists, and a growing homelessness problem, with 2,000 children living in emergency accommodation. Families continue to be evicted from their homes by banks owned by the State. Hundreds of thousands of people are on hospital waiting lists and chaos prevails in hospital emergency departments. Home help services, home care packages and education are being cut and the list goes on. Low and middle income families are also being fleeced by the universal social charge, house tax, inheritance tax, VAT, student fees and the water tax. Fine Gael, the “Endapendents”, Fianna Fáil and the Labour Party are betraying the Irish people by refusing to accept €13 billion with interest from the €228 billion which Apple has resting in subsidiaries with no tax residence anywhere in the world.
The same politicians meekly gave €64 billion of citizens’ money to large international investors who gambled on Irish bank bonds and imposed austerity on our people They now want to give back the guts of €19 billion to one of the largest companies in the world, thus leaving our public services in deep crisis”.
Seamus Healy T.D. Tel 087 2802199


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