Universal Service Charge: Motion (Resumed)

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 728 No. 7

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The following motion was moved by Deputy Pearse Doherty on Tuesday, 29 March 2011:

Debate resumed on amendment No. 1:

[896]

Deputy Michael Moynihan: Information on Michael Moynihan  Zoom on Michael Moynihan  I welcome the opportunity to speak on the debate on the universal social charge.

If I may, with the permission of the Chair, comment on the previous debate, the Abbeylara committee of which I was a member was one that challenged many legal positions that the Houses of the Oireachtas had not foreseen.

On the universal social charge, I suppose there is not a politician in any party who did not find it hotly debated on every doorstep the length and breadth of the country right up to 25 February. Having voted it through, my party was certainly getting more stick than most in this regard. It certainly had an impact on people. The universal social charge was one of the main issues in the election.

However, as we must be realistic in our debate and on how we go forward as a nation, the simple facts of the matter are we are spending more money as a nation than we are earning and we must address that fundamental issue. There were discussions on broadening the tax base and I suppose the issue at which we must look is how will we get enough money to bring down the deficit and ensure the deficit is maintained. We looked at many issues in the past Government and the simple fact was there was a significant amount of people who were outside the tax net. That had to be looked at because in any democracy one must balance the books.

As the Government has changed and the roles are reversed in a dramatic form since the election, a review of the social charge is promised. We can have a review of the social charge, but the figures will not change. The reality is that we, the Parliament and the people, must implement tough decisions that will impact on the lives of everybody. We have done so over the past two and a half to three years since the economy went into a tail spin and we have seen the political consequences of that, particularly for Government.

Howsoever, there is one fundamental that we must ensure in any decisions made by the incoming Government. I wish it well. It has a tough, difficult and onerous task and I wish the two Ministers of State who are here on the front bench, Deputies Ryan and Perry, well in their respective portfolios. There is good will towards the Government and there is a hope and expectation that we can turn the tide around in this economy. What we must do is ensure we are fair in the decisions we must take.

When the universal social charge was brought in by the previous Administration, we made changes to it subsequently to ensure fairness. There is no Government, Minister for Finance, politician or person who wishes to have these difficult decisions to make. I suppose politicians by nature are optimistic and they also like to be bearers of good news. However, we will be measured, not perhaps in the immediate term but in the long term, by how we tackle the biggest economic decline that has happened, not alone in Ireland but in the world, since 1929.

Returning to the issue of the motion, many people found the charge unjust. However, we had developed a taxation system with the health levy, the unemployment levy and the income levy. We had a huge amount of levies at different stages. What we must do now is ensure that we make reforms of the taxation system, which no doubt will arise, simple and not have too many tags on different taxation. Taxation, irrespective of its type, is really a exercise for the Government so that it can generate revenue to provide services, such as in health, social welfare and education, for its people. Those are the simple facts. No doubt we must raise funds.

We have developed an excellent public service. We have developed an excellent service in health and education and, indeed, our welfare system, while it might be attacked on occasion, [897]is better than those of several economies that would be competing with us or comparative economies.

While I welcome the decision to review it, Members have stated that they will abolish it. That is not being realistic because we must raise funds through the universal social charge and other taxation measures. All I ask of any review is that the system is as fair and as balanced as can be and protects the vulnerable. A society is measured by how it protects the most vulnerable and I sincerely hope that is an indication of it. I thank the Acting Chairman, Deputy Broughan, for the opportunity to speak on this matter.

Deputy John O’Mahony: Information on John O'Mahony  Zoom on John O'Mahony  I want to share time with Deputies Simon Harris, Anne Ferris, Derek Nolan, Regina Doherty and Colm Keaveney.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Thomas P. Broughan): Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Everybody has five minutes.

Deputy John O’Mahony: Information on John O'Mahony  Zoom on John O'Mahony  I am glad to contribute to this motion on the universal social charge.

Looking back on the recent general election campaign, it was an issue that came up on every doorstep. Many of those who were lucky enough to still have a job showed us their payslips outlining the large chunks of their month or weekly salaries deducted by the universal social charge. As a member of Fine Gael, I would have liked to have been able to say to them that if they put us into Government they would not have to pay that the following month. Unfortunately, because of the state of the economy brought about by the mismanagement, wastage and incompetence of the previous Administration, we were not in such a position and, for once, people really respected the idea that we told them we would review it but we could not abolish it. We promised a review of it if and when in Government, and I am to glad that promise is kept in the programme for Government.

No matter what the review, as the previous speaker stated, we will not be able to abolish it. However, the review is necessary because there is no doubt that low-paid workers at the middle-income level are suffering significantly. I have come across numerous examples, as I am sure everybody else here has, of families that are at their wit’s end to pay their household bills. It is unfair to penalise lower middle-income families who have worked hard all of their lives and have never been a burden to the State but now find themselves unable to meet their normal household outgoings, whether it be mortgage repayments or third level registration fees for their children because they are not entitled to grants, or in some cases, to put food on the table. Those on a higher income are better able to cope. It is the lower middle-income group that must be helped when this review takes place.

I also accept the figures given by the Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Deputy Brian Hayes, last evening when he outlined that someone on €100,000 a year pays 93 times the tax that someone on €16,000 pays. I suppose the point we would make is that they are well able to do that. Even though they are only on 6.25 times the income, it does not hide the fact that a person on €16,000 needs some further help in this review when it is carried out.

We saw the previous Government giving a myriad of tax breaks to wealthy high-rollers in the past to such an extent that many of the high earners on €100,000 did not have to pay any tax at all. Fine Gael and the Labour Party had a good record of looking after the underprivileged and the less well off in the past and I have no doubt that when the review is complete, they will do so again. On this occasion, let the tax breaks and the concessions be for the lower paid and lower income families. Times are difficult and the country may be in receivership, but a worker on as little as €77 per week needs some hope and assurance. I have no doubt that the proposed review will give them that.

[898]I was glad to see the Finance Act also introduced a high rate universal social charge applying to large bonuses paid to bankers at the head of banks bailed out by the Government over the past two years. The charge is applied to the bonus at 45%, leaving an aggregate charge of payments of 90% made up of the 45% from the universal social charge, income tax at 41% and PRSI at 4%. That is as it should be. I am glad that the terms of reference for the review of the social charge are being finalised by the Minister and that Sinn Féin and all other interested parties can contribute and make submissions.

Deputy Simon Harris: Information on Simon Harris  Zoom on Simon Harris  I welcome the opportunity to speak tonight in this debate on the future of the universal social charge and I thank Sinn Féin for dedicating its Private Members’ time to a discussion on this important issue, which no doubt is a cause of extreme concern to families the length and breadth of the country.

The universal social charge in its current form is flawed. It is a blunt instrument which has caused sharp pain to families in Ireland. It was introduced in a rushed fashion by a panicked Government running out of both ideas and political capital. While I am sure Members on all sides of the House would relish the prospect of scrapping the universal social charge, those of us on the Government benches do not have the luxury of ducking difficult decisions. This country, as mentioned by Deputy O’Mahony, is in receivership for all intents and purposes. Our economic future is no longer in our sovereign hands. The errors, mistakes, misjudgments and miscalculations of the previous Government have ensured that economic sovereignty is something we must yet again aspire to as a nation.

As a public representative, I like all Members know very well the problems posed by the USC in its current guise. I am aware of the difficulties facing hard-working families and I, along with my 75 other colleagues in the Fine Gael Party in this House, ran in an election with a very clear commitment in our manifesto on the issue. We did not promise the sun, the moon and the stars. We did not engage in auction politics or make tax pledges over which we could not stand. On page 69 of our manifesto we stated in clear, concise language our commitment on this issue and I would like to put that commitment on the record of the House. Our manifesto stated: “Fine Gael will carry out a review of the effect of the universal social charge on work incentives and employment participation in time for the 2012 budget.” That is what we committed to and it is on the back of that manifesto that I and my party colleagues received our mandate to serve in this House In our negotiated programme for Government with the Labour Party we have honoured that election commitment.

Our commitment on this issue stems from the fact that work must pay and that people must be incentivised to work. It is unacceptable that some hard-working families working all the hours God sends find themselves struggling to make ends meet and feeling that they would be better cared for by the State if they did not work at all. We need to ensure that the USC is reformed so that it does not disincentivise people from working and from participating in employment opportunities. To do this correctly, we must carry out a thorough review of the impact of the USC and ensure that plans are in place to change it in the budget which will be presented to the House at the end of this year. I know the Minister and the Government are committed to doing this and I know that this process is open to all Members of the House, of all parties and none. I would encourage all to contribute their views and ideas.

My colleague, the Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Deputy Brian Hayes, outlined in the House last night the problems with changing a taxation system mid-year and the difficulties that such changes would present for already struggling small and medium-sized businesses in Ireland. Creating such difficulties for small local employers is clearly not in the [899]interest of getting Ireland back to work. Furthermore, mid-year and rushed changes would create a series of potential new challenges and hardships for taxpayers, with Revenue having to recalculate tax liabilities and potentially seek additional money from hard-pressed taxpayers. While I have no doubt the intentions of the Private Members’ motion are sound and well-meaning, unfortunately the impact and the practicalities are not. It is also important to note that the re-introduction of health and income levies is not necessarily a positive development for the country and its taxpayers. It would require legislative changes to re-create and re-impose these levies.

The amendment before the House tonight clearly recommits the Government to carrying out a much needed review of the USC, which as a result of such comprehensive consideration will ensure that a fairer USC is introduced in time for the next budget. The amendment is in line with the election manifesto of the Fine Gael Party, the programme for Government and the mandate I received from the people of Wicklow and east Carlow. I support and commend the amendment in the name of the Minister for Finance, which is realistic, responsible, economically solid and which commits to resolving the issue by the end of this year.

Deputy Anne Ferris: Information on Anne Ferris  Zoom on Anne Ferris  I would like to take this opportunity to thank the people of County Wicklow and east Carlow for electing me to the 31st Dáil and I promise to serve them to the best of my ability in the coming years. It is a great privilege for me to stand here in the Dáil Chamber representing the garden county and it is not one I take lightly.

These are difficult times for the people of Ireland and as a Government we have a responsibility to ensure we fix our economy and rebuild our society, anchored on the core principles of equality and solidarity. The motion proposed by Sinn Féin, while welcome, is premature and I will join my colleagues from Fine Gael in supporting the counter motion proposed by the Minister of State at the Department of Finance. I remind the Members in Sinn Féin that the programme for Government, which was debated and voted on here just two weeks ago, included a promise that as part of our fiscal strategy we are committed to a review of the universal social charge. While I agree with some of the points contained in the Sinn Féin motion, it is a bit ironic to hear the Sinn Féin Deputies call on a daily basis for a reversal of the budget cutbacks when earlier this month their counterparts in Northern Ireland voted through one of the most austere budgets in recent history. As the Leader of the SDLP, Margaret Ritchie, said: “The position of the party can be summarised as follows: in the North, green Tory; in the South, different story.”

The new national Government, only in office now a few weeks, has inherited a mess from the previous Fianna Fáil Administration and we are fighting on a number of fronts to reverse some of the terrible decisions it made. Among these, we are committed to changing the unequal and regressive system created by Fianna Fáil in its levying of the universal social charge, a scheme which actually reduced the amount paid by some of the highest earners, while attacking low paid workers. The Labour Party, in its manifesto, committed to a review of the universal social charge so as to identify the families that have been hardest hit and to reform the tax accordingly. It is clear that this tax was not thought through properly and came as something of a shock when people opened their pay packets in January. Indeed recent Exchequer figures have shown that the State’s finances are not as expected, despite the introduction of the universal social charge.

In seeking to create a more equal and fair society, I am particularly proud of the commitment in the programme for Government under our proposals on a fiscal strategy for the implementation of a minimum effective tax rate of 30% for very high earners, the abolition of tax shelters which benefit high income tax earners and the abolition of property tax reliefs. I believe that among many proposals, the minimum effective tax rate of 30% is an important recognition that [900]those who can afford most must pay most. As Members are aware, a jobs budget will come up in May and it will be crucial in getting our people back to work and stemming the flow of our best and brightest going overseas. At every second door I knocked on in County Wicklow during the recent election campaign, I met someone who had directly experienced the effects of forced emigration, whether for a family member or friend. If we leave any legacy, it should be to ensure that we stop this loss which is tearing our communities apart.

It is quite clear the previous Government pursued an agenda to increase income inequality in our society, something to which both myself and the Labour Party are vehemently opposed. Part of this agenda was to lower the minimum wage, a policy which widened income inequality and attempted to drive down wages for other low paid workers. This Government is committed to reversing this attack on the ordinary working person. I, therefore, look forward to the review of the universal social charge, which I have no doubt will lead to major changes in the levy as part of an overall fiscal strategy that will be implemented by the Government. I believe the review will address many of the issues raised by this motion. I am glad that the current scheme applies a lower rate for those aged 70 and over and those on a full medical card. These concessions demonstrate that more can and must be done to make the universal social charge more fair. All the fiscal proposals I have mentioned, when combined, will give the Government the flexibility to address the inequalities that exist under the current universal social charge. I look forward to working with the Minister and other interested Deputies in reshaping this charge in the context of an overall strategy to create a more fair and progressive tax system, where those who can afford most contribute the most to funding the services our society needs.

Deputy Derek Nolan: Information on Derek Nolan  Zoom on Derek Nolan  As is customary when making a maiden speech, I thank the people of Galway West for their support in the general election and for the trust they have placed in me. In the course of my time in the 31st Dáil, I hope to live up to their expectations and to represent them with determination and honesty in any debates and business I conduct.

The debate on the universal social charge, USC, and its impact is very welcome. During the course of the recent general election campaign, it was an issue that came up repeatedly on the canvass. There is scarcely a Deputy in this House who did not spend many an evening discussing it with their constituents. Given the worry and anxiety the USC is causing, it is right that we should discuss it at this early time in the life of the Dáil, and I thank the proposers for taking the initiative on it.

The history to the USC is well known. Its introduction was facilitated by Fianna Fáil and the Green Party in the last budget. It has been much discussed in the course of the debate, and the hardship it causes is continuing. The programme for Government commits to a review of the USC. I think this acknowledges that the USC is an important issue, and that it must be addressed, not merely examined again.

I appreciate the difficulty of changing the taxation system mid-year. The State has become dependent on the revenue to be raised. There is a need for legislation and there is an administrative cost both to the State and to employers in implementing the change. The delay must not be used or abused as a method of desensitising people to the pain they are feeling, however, nor must it be used to create a breathing space for the administrative acceptance of the USC as it stands. On the contrary, it must be used to draft necessary changes and find sufficient resources to ease the burden on the lowest earners in society whom the USC is hurting so badly.

The very name of the tax — the universal social charge — must be viewed with much cynicism. In the minds of many, it created the impression of a social insurance charge for which people would receive a tangible benefit in return, such as a guaranteed health benefit in the [901]form of health care access, dental services, unemployment benefit or some such other social benefit. However, it did not do that. It is a tax, pure and simple. To attach such a euphemistic and confusing label as a universal social charge was cynical and deliberately confusing.

The context in which the tax was introduced also needs to be highlighted. I remember one evening canvassing on the doorsteps in Galway and meeting a lady who was working with the HSE and who was mortgaged to the hilt. She had already seen her pay cut and suffered tax increases, and it was in that context that a further universal social charge was introduced. The tax in itself cannot be viewed in isolation from the previous taxes and pay cuts that have been introduced.

There is a need for a wider debate in this House on taxation. The idea of a social wage and a social charge, as is common in Germany and the Nordic states, is something we do not have in this country. The idea is not that we give up money to have it transferred to the State only to see it disappear, but rather that it is a give and take benefit which we receive and which is part of the State’s commitment that taxpayers and citizens will have their taxes used for their benefit. I worked in Frankfurt for two years and I will always remember getting my first pay cheque. It contained the tax payable, which was only a small amount of money, a solidarity charge to help pay for the rebuilding of the former East Germany, a public health insurance charge, a public nursing insurance charge, and a charge for the public pension. There was utter transparency and openness in what one was paying and why one was paying it.

We need to rephrase our debate to explain how we want the taxation system to work in our country. We need the same buy-in in order that people appreciate that paying tax is part of a wider benefit to them. That kind of a debate will lead to greater tax compliance and enthusiasm for the taxation system. We need to work on that model with the same level of priority we have for other things. We must create a real social taxation system that is wider than the universal social charge, but not as much an imperative. I hope that this will happen over the course of the next few months.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Thomas P. Broughan): Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  I congratulate you, Deputy, on your maiden speech. I also offer my congratulations to all our new Deputies who have spoken so well over recent weeks. I now call on Deputy Regina Doherty, who has five minutes.

Deputy Regina Doherty: Information on Regina Doherty  Zoom on Regina Doherty  Gabhaim buíochas le muintir na Mí as ucht an iontaoibh a chuir siad ionam chun ionadaíocht a dhéanamh ar a son sa Dáil. Gabhaim buíochas freisin le mo theaghlach, mo chairde agus an lucht tacaíochta a chabhraigh liom. As this is my maiden speech, I thank the people of Meath East for placing their trust in me to represent them in the 31st Dáil. I also thank my family, friends and supporters who have assisted me greatly in achieving my ambition to do so.

Tonight we debate the abolition of the universal social charge, as proposed by Sinn Féin. Last night Deputy Adams stated our economy is in crisis because of the political choices which were made by a deeply corrupt political elite operating within a flawed political system. While I largely agree with Deputy Adams, it is for that very reason that no rash decisions should be made about any changes to taxation policy by the current, reforming Government. Through our programme for Government, we are committed to reviewing the universal social charge, the terms of reference for which are currently being prepared and on which submissions have been sought from Members.

Last night, Sinn Féin Deputies said they would favour the reintroduction of the former income and health levies, but only as an interim measure pending root and branch reform of taxation policy. In Fine Gael we do not introduce interim measures after only three weeks in power. Our plan is to do things correctly, fairly and efficiently the first time.

[902]Once the review board is established, I will propose recommendations to ease the impact of the universal social charge for those most adversely affected, as well as ensuring a rebalancing of the tax system in order that high earners and investors would contribute their fair share in a progressive tax system. In my view, an economic and social impact analysis should also be carried out in recognition of the burden the universal social charge represents, especially on the incomes of the lowest paid. Any revised tax policy should be cognisant of such a review.

As a direct result of the reckless mismanagement of the economy by the previous Government, Ireland faces a profound economic crisis. The most important consequence of this weakness is job losses. The challenge that faces this Government is to develop a strategy that will allow for job growth. Job creation is central to any recovery and when we introduce our jobs budget, I believe we will address this issue head on. The creative measures laid out in our programme for Government will go a long way to putting us on the road to recovery. Examples include cutting the 13.5% rate of VAT to 12%, halving the lower 8.5% employer rate of PRSI, and providing additional resources for the national housing energy retrofitting plan.

The challenge facing this Government is unlike any other. Our economy and our politics have been shattered, but our people’s spirit has not. We have seen that in the hope that people have expressed during recent weeks. It is that hope and trust which encourages new Members like me to look to the future with a sense of confidence. We have a sense of hope that with the right plans, the right people and with a unified sense of purpose, our country will recover. I support the amendment to the motion as proposed by the Minister of State, Deputy Brian Hayes.

Deputy Colm Keaveney: Information on Colm Keaveney  Zoom on Colm Keaveney  A Chathaoirligh, I thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak on this important issue. Tonight’s debate gives the House an opportunity to discuss the universal social charge in an informed and objective manner. I thank Sinn Féin for using its time to raise this important issue. I note that the primary objective is to achieve as much fairness as possible in respect of the effect of the universal social charge on people.

A review of the universal social charge is on the cards at this stage. The programme for Government clearly states the establishment of a review mechanism is one of its primary objectives. I am delighted such an opportunity is to be made available. During the recent bruising and hard general election campaign we heard many difficult stories about the effect of the universal social charge on people in society. I do not doubt that this matter can be debated objectively by those who say their words tonight. If Sinn Féin’s motion is not passed, I trust that it will enthusiastically participate in the forthcoming review. Everyone agrees that there are some anomalies with the universal social charge. We have all heard stories about the difficulties that need to be reviewed in this context.

Sinn Féin has called for the immediate abolition of the universal social charge and its replacement with income and health levies, but that is entirely impossible. It would require us to envelop ourselves in a legislative process. I do not think the public would forgive us if we had to undertake a precess of legislating again, which is what would be required to make the health levy practical at this juncture. The idea that we should change the tax system during the tax year is entirely impractical, as it would cause significant problems for the various Departments which rely on the revenue received from the universal social charge, the abolition of which would present significant problems for the Government. It would impose a significant cost on the administrative burden of government at this juncture. I will not claim that the universal social charge represents the most progressive means of raising revenue. I suppose our EU partners and the European Commission have stated it is a fair way of approaching the question [903]of providing for a fairer taxation system. I do not have much more to say on it, other than to emphasise that we have to move forward with it if we are to ensure the public finances will be sustainable in these difficult times. As a consequence of the mismanagement of the economy, there are no more opportunities to raise boom revenues. We have to broaden the tax base and steer the country out of the receivership in which it finds itself.

Taxpayers deserve to be able to contribute to a progressive taxation system. In its current form, the universal social charge is not perfect. When the review takes place, we will come up with a formula that will lead to a fairer system. I accept that the universal social charge removes some of the poverty traps evident when the old levies were in place. However, we have to agree that we have an obligation to pay tax in order that important public services can be delivered in times of scarce resources. We have to start building a sustainable and robust system of taxation. Unfortunately, the universal social charge is part of the system as it stands. I accept that Sinn Féin has a well meaning objective. However, we are at risk of exposing the State to significant costs if we reintroduce the historical system. I am sure our friends in Sinn Féin will engage with the review enthusiastically. There are anomalies in the implications of the universal social charge. It is clear from the questions tabled to the Minister for Finance this week for written reply that there are significant problems with it. We have to adjust it and move on.

Deputy Joan Collins: Information on Joan Collins  Zoom on Joan Collins  I would like to share time with Deputies Stephen Donnelly, Clare Daly, Catherine Murphy, Mattie McGrath, Thomas Pringle, Mick Wallace and Richard Boyd Barrett.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Thomas P. Broughan): Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Is that agreed? Agreed.

Deputy Joan Collins: Information on Joan Collins  Zoom on Joan Collins  When the Government which consisted of Deputies from Fianna Fáil, the Green Party, the Progressive Democrats, the Fianna Fáil gene pool and Deputy Lowry introduced this tax, it should have been honest with people and called it the “universal anti-social charge”. Like many of those present, I canvassed at doorsteps during the recent general election campaign and this was one of the main issues about which the people of Dublin South-Central were boiling mad. The universal social charge must be one of the most hated measures to have been introduced by any Government. The people of my constituency have no problem paying their taxes — they are prepared to do so — but they think everybody else should be doing likewise. It is incredible that the wealthy pay taxes in America, the most capitalist country in the world, whereas the wealthy in this country are protected by Government policies. I have to say that although I support the call for the abolition of this charge, I find nothing progressive in the health and income levies. I would be absolutely opposed to their reintroduction, particularly as far as those on low and moderate incomes are concerned.

We have choices to make when we seek alternatives to the universal anti-social charge and the cuts in welfare payments. I suggest we choose to make the very wealthy pay for the crisis caused by their greed. This could be done by introducing a wealth tax. Such a tax would raise €1 billion at a rate of 1%. The tax exile status of wealthy individuals is a scandalous joke that should be brought to an end. It is an insult that someone like Denis O’Brien who became ridiculously wealthy as a result of a contract awarded by the State in dubious circumstances — we discussed that matter earlier — does not pay a red cent towards the health service or our children’s education. He has no problem with paying 50% of the inflated salary of a football manager as long as he is not asked to contribute to the society from which his massive wealth derives.

We could have a third, higher tax rate that would apply to individual incomes of more than €100,000. We could cap all public service and public sector salaries at €100,000 a year. When the question of making the wealthy pay is raised, the Establishment, those involved in politics [904]and the business community, argue that it cannot be done. They say it would cost jobs and prevent talent from being attracted. In other words, they say “hands off the wealthy”. They think it is okay to tax people on very low incomes as long as the wealthy are not touched. They are concerned about their friends — the people with whom they play golf, go for exclusive dinners and share the Galway tent. The political establishment can continue to defend the indefensible, but I am not here to represent the rich. With my colleagues in the United Left Alliance, I am here to fight for the interests of working people. We will fight for the reversal of every cut and tax increase that affects people on low and moderate incomes.

Deputy Stephen Donnelly: Information on Stephen Donnelly  Zoom on Stephen Donnelly  The introduction of the universal social charge was a bizarre measure. I am encouraged that Sinn Féin has tabled this motion and that the Government has agreed to review the charge. Having listened to the debate, there seems to be broad consensus in the House that such a review needs to happen. I accept that we need to broaden the tax base, not because we want lower income workers and families to pay more but because we all have to contribute if we are to get the public finances under control and not drown in the tsunami of debt we face. However, this is not the way to do that. It does not reflect the nature of this Parliament or society.

The universal social charge is a regressive tax. By my calculations, the switch from the health and income levies to the charge caused the amount of tax paid by someone earning €14,000 to increase by 1.4%. By contrast, I calculate that the same switch caused the amount of tax paid by someone earning €250,000 to decrease by the same amount, 1.4%. That is why it is a bizarre and regressive tax that runs contrary to our social values and the stated aims of many Members of the House.

The universal social charge penalises self-employed persons. It provides that self-employed persons who earn more than €100,000 must pay an additional 3% by comparison with those who are employed. It could be argued that those who earn more than €100,000 can well afford to pay an additional 3% — that may well be the case — but they should not be penalised in a way that people who are employed are not. It could be argued that persons who are self-employed face additional stresses and take additional risks. The penalisation of such individuals seems bizarre. The motion has two advantages over the Government amendment. First, it explicitly recognises the regressive nature of the universal social charge, something which the proposed amendment fails to do. Second, it proposes immediate measures to help the most vulnerable, namely, reversing the universal social charge and introducing a health and income levy which, although imperfect, represents progress. The claims by various contributors that the levy would be administratively complex, that Departments would find it difficult to adjust their accounts or that Fine Gael gets things right first time and therefore does not take helpful interim steps are disingenuous and unworthy. I certainly would not tell the most vulnerable people in our society that it is too difficult or that we want to get it right before we help them. For these reasons, I will be voting to support the motion.

Deputy Clare Daly: Information on Clare Daly  Zoom on Clare Daly  It was sickening to hear Government Deputies crying ochón about the hardships faced by ordinary people who are the victims of this charge while condemning them to a review which will be completed at some point in the future. Everybody knows the universal social charge was the last Government’s great Robin Hood in reverse tax. It took money from the poor in order to give it to those at the top. When the last budget was passed, those on annual incomes of €500,000 gained thousands of euro, whereas the lowest paid workers were forced to pay exorbitant proportions of their incomes. The charge is an absolute disgrace and it does not even make sense because those earning the lowest incomes spend the largest proportion of their money, thereby making a positive impact on the economy. The only justifi[905]cation given for the charge is that we need the money and must share the burden. It is like the response the Taoiseach gave earlier today in regard to the bin men of south Dublin who have to take a €200 hit on their weekly wages so that we all share the pain. The only sharing of pain is by ordinary and middle income earners while those at the top make the gain.

As Deputy Joan Collins stated, this is about choices. The universal social charge is not necessary and the Government did not need to await the outcome of a review to choose to reduce tax breaks to the EU average, thereby saving the State €5 billion in tax foregone. That is much more than what is generated by the universal social charge. It could have reformed the tax exile legislation that allows citizens like Denis O’Brien to escape taxes. It could have introduced PRSI charges or health and income contribution levies on capital allowances. I am surprised Sinn Féin is not targeting that sector instead of asking workers to pay more taxes. These measures could have raised far more than the universal social charge.

The Government decided in advance of a review to reduce VAT and employer PRSI, which is already one of the lowest in Europe, in order to benefit employers. However, it has chosen to ignore proposals that could alleviate the enormous hardships that workers are experiencing. It is not good enough; the charge should be abolished straight away.

Deputy Catherine Murphy: Information on Catherine Murphy  Zoom on Catherine Murphy  One of the main questions I was asked on doorsteps during the general election was what exactly this charge is for. While most people do not like paying taxes, they accept tax has to be collected for the day-to-day running of the State and to fund health, education and local authority services. However, they expect their taxes to be used in a way that achieves value for money. Most people are also broadly aware of the purpose of pay related social insurance, although that is a diminishing benefit in terms of dental treatment and other supports.

They see the universal social charge as a penalty for wrongdoing that is being applied to the wrong people. Not only do they see it as deeply unfair but they are aware that individuals on large incomes gain from the measure as opposed to those on low and moderate incomes. One individual pointed out to me that while the first €4,000 is exempt, anyone who earns even a marginal sum above that level will incur a total liability. How can that be seen to be fair?

This charge was imposed in budget 2010 but its full impact was only felt when it was withdrawn from wages and salaries in January 2011. It caused frustration and hurt among ordinary families who were struggling to pay their mortgages and juggling competing demands such as buying food or heating their houses. Those who are also struggling to keep their children in college wonder what it is all about when they see their offspring emigrating.

If we are to impose taxes, they should be fair. As a flat tax, this charge disproportionately affects those on low to middle incomes. This is not a charge; it is a deeply unfair tax. The absence of consequences for those who have caused the problem, the golden handshakes that were given to many of those who departed important positions in disgrace and the fact that nobody has been sent to jail are further reasons for the resistance to this tax. People believe the rule is that tax is only for little people. They want a fair tax system and they will pay their share but this is an unfair and regressive tax.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath  Zoom on Mattie McGrath  I concur with previous speakers that the universal social charge is a tax. It was presented as a way of simplifying the tax system by consolidating health income levies. We had no problem with it when it was first announced because there is nothing wrong with the concept of a universal social charge in itself. The problem, however, is that the rates at which it is charged affect low and middle income earners who are already struggling on the [906]breadline or below it. This flat tax targets people earning as little as €77 per week at the same rate as those on annual incomes of €100,000. That is unfair by any standards.

Little notice was taken of the charge until its impact was felt in people’s wage packages. We have seen the devastation in our economy ever since in terms of shops and businesses which are not doing transactions. It will have a massive impact on next year’s tax returns. I recently spoke with a Revenue official who acknowledged that many small businesses are unable to pay taxes or wages, which has the result of forcing staff onto the dole queues. This was a short-sighted decision by the mandarins in the Department of Finance. I am glad the former Minister for Finance is in the Chamber because I had numerous exchanges with him on the issue. I thank him for changing the measures that affected medical card holders but this charge is unfair and will have the wrong impact.

The budget introduced a cut to the minimum wage but we were unable to introduce a maximum wage. I lobbied the then Minister on that measure but, while he announced it in his budget speech, he conveniently forgot about it when it came to the Finance Act. The high salaries paid across the public sector and to the CEOs of semi-State companies are unjust and inequitable.

The charge must be reversed because it will have an adverse effect on the Exchequer. People will have insufficient money to buy basic necessities and businesses will close or be unable to pay their tax returns.

Deputy Thomas Pringle: Information on Thomas Pringle  Zoom on Thomas Pringle  It is widely accepted in civil society that the USC is an unequal and regressive tax targeted at low- and middle-income earners. The Labour Party recognised this when it called for a review of the tax in the past. To see a tax introduced that disproportionately affects workers on low and middle incomes and then, when in Government, to support its continued collection is an affront to the hard-pressed workers in our society. A worker earning €25,000 per year is paying €1,069 in the USC tax, which represents an increase of €569 per year compared to the old health levy system. This regressive tax has knocked the wind out of people who are already struggling and finding it more and more difficult to survive this recession. It is even more galling for these workers when they see the billions that have been — and will be over the coming days — poured into the zombie banks in our State.

The Government does not seem to realise that low- and middle-income earners spend proportionately more of their income in the real economy, driving demand for goods and services that in turn generates more tax income. It is no surprise that the Exchequer returns from February of this year show a VAT shortfall of €129 million. This can be directly related to the impact of the USC. The effect will be compounded in the year ahead as people on these income levels see their spending power curtailed further. The USC tax will have the compounding effect of further reducing demand in the economy, and the vicious circle will continue unabated.

The programme for Government states that the USC is to be reviewed. The review needs to bring real change to this unjust tax. However, the Labour Party will probably achieve only a token adjustment from its senior Government colleagues, which will be dressed up as a victory, while low-income workers continue to suffer. For these reasons, I will support the motion as put tonight.

Deputy Mick Wallace: Information on Mick Wallace  Zoom on Mick Wallace  Most speakers have more or less agreed that the USC is very unfair. I have not heard many people say it is a fair system. It is good that the Government has decided to review it, but I hope “review” means “reverse”. I note that on page 2 of the programme for [907]Government it is stated: “Both our parties are committed to protecting the vulnerable and to burden-sharing on an equitable basis.” It would be nice if it were true, because it would be a noble aim. If there is any truth in that statement, the Government will reverse this tax rather than tinkering around with it. It is hitting the less well off, as everybody has said, more than the well off. I cannot remember a time when I heard so many people complaining about their take-home pay. It has come as such a shock to people. I run a few restaurants in the city centre. Our turnover is down and we have had to lay off a couple of people since Christmas. People cannot believe how little money they have to pay their debts. It does not make sense any more. We are sucking the living daylights out of the economy, and we cannot possibly expect it to recover on these terms.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Tommy Broughan): Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Next is Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett, who has three minutes.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett  Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett  Can I have slightly longer because Deputy Wallace took less time than expected?

Acting Chairman (Deputy Tommy Broughan): Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Well, we will be flexible.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett  Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett  Thank you, Chairman.

One of the Government spokespersons described the USC as an anomaly and said it was not perfect. That is an unbelievable understatement in view of the reality of the USC. I hope it is not, but I fear it is, an indication of a lack of intention on the part of the Government to reverse the charge, perhaps watering it down or diluting it instead. The USC is not an anomaly; it is not simply imperfect. It is a disgusting attack on low- and middle-income families carried out by a now thankfully discredited Government, on whom ordinary people rightly took their revenge in the recent election. This attack is now threatening to put tens of thousands of ordinary working people under — people who are unable to pay their bills or meet their mortgage repayments and who are really struggling. They are in no way responsible for the economic crisis, but they are being asked to pay for it.

As well as being an anti-social charge, it is a bankers’ tax. It was the decision of the last Government to cold-bloodedly transfer responsibility for the banking crisis created by it and its banker and speculator friends on to the backs of working people. That was a choice it made, as a number of other people have said.

  8 o’clock

Some of the facts about the USC are truly shocking. The UNITE trade union, using the Deloitte tax calculator, unearthed the fact that those who earn more than €1 million per year will be €24,000 better off as a result of this charge, while ordinary working families will lose hundreds. The ESRI estimates that there will be no wage growth in the economy next year, but non-wage income — rents, dividends, interest and self-employment — will grow by 29%. The shocking fact revealed in the Sunday Independent rich list was that the richest few hundred people in this country are €6.7 billion richer this year than they were last year. We have taken from the poor to protect the rich. That is what the last Government did and, sadly, this Government is beginning to look very lukewarm about reversing it.

I have proposals for the Government, because I do not intend only to be critical. If it is serious in its sentiments of concern about the injustice of the USC, not to mention its economic counter-productiveness in sucking money from the pockets of people who could spend it, I suggest that it completely scrap the charge and institute a 1% — I would like to see 5%, but I [908]will settle for 1% — wealth tax on the assets of people who have assets of more than €1 million. That would yield, even based on the most conservative estimates, €1.2 billion, which is nearly three times what the USC has earned for the State. Could we have a tax of just 1% on the wealthiest people instead of the USC? If the Government is serious, it will consider that. I would like to see higher wealth taxes to help reverse all the other cuts, but I ask it to commit just to that simple thing — a 1% tax on the richest people to remove the injustice of the USC. That is the sort of commitment the Government should give tonight.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Tommy Broughan): Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Earlier in the debate, Deputy Brian Lenihan indicated that he wished to speak but was inadvertently missed. With the agreement of the House, I will ask Deputy Lenihan to take a few minutes to make his contribution to the House. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Fianna Fáil does not intend to vote on this motion. We do not agree with the economic analysis of the Sinn Féin approach and we are not convinced that the Government review will establish many changes with regard to the USC. However, we welcome the review, and the motion, as an opportunity to discuss the issue. The review is an opportunity, in the normal course of things, for the Government to consider this matter. Governments consider all tax issues coming up to the budget, so there is nothing unusual about having a review that will end with the budget next year. It is impractical to have a change mid-year.

I do not accept many of the imputations and comments that have been made in the debate, and I especially resent the imputation that there is some connection between the USC and the corruption of office-holders, as was suggested by Deputy Adams, or the more recent comment I heard a few moments ago that I was influenced in the performance of my duties by any person of substance or wealth in the community.

I accept new Deputies have canvassed and heard the views of many voters on the universal social charge. I heard them loud and clear too. It must be remembered, however, that the OECD in a study of the tax systems of 24 member states established Ireland has one of the most progressive. It examined income distribution and poverty across 24 member states according to the share of taxes paid by the super-rich and their share of market income. Figures showed the richest 10% of Ireland’s population paid 39.1% of the total income tax bill. Ireland ranks third behind only two other states where the richest 10% pay more than 40% of their state's tax bill. On average across all 24 countries surveyed, the richest 10% of the population pay 31.6% of the tax bill. The study also considered the percentage of overall income earned by those in the wealthiest 10% of the population with an OECD average of 28% emerging. The progressivity of Ireland’s tax system is very advanced when compared internationally.

This is, however, at variance with the rhetoric and the ideological guff we have had to listen to from some quarters in this House. The programme for national recovery makes the real position clear. We have eroded the income tax base to an unsustainable level which must be rectified. It can only be rectified by the abolition of tax shelters, as well as the broadening of the tax base. After 2000, the entry point in income tax increased from €7,238 to €18,300. Since the introduction of individualisation, tax bands have widened by 105% for a single person and married earners. Credits have increased by 92% since their introduction in 2001. These increases in tax exemptions and immunity from taxation were introduced over time. Accordingly, in 2004, 34% of tax units were exempt from paying income tax. Last year, that percentage had increased to 45%. When I hear the constant referral in this House to ordinary people, I [909]recall the 55% of ordinary people who pay tax. Is it Sinn Féin policy that the other 45% should pay no tax at all?

I am sure there will be some guffaws but I do consider myself a social democrat and believe the payment of taxation is fundamental to the ordering of a just society. So too is the progressive payment of taxation which does not entail a large group should pay no tax at all. That is the proposition that Sinn Féin, with its ideologically driven slogans, is trying to push.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald  Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald  Everyone pays tax. Take VAT for example.

Deputy Seán Crowe: Information on Sean Crowe  Zoom on Sean Crowe  There are many poor people paying taxes.

Deputy Dessie Ellis: Information on Dessie Ellis  Zoom on Dessie Ellis  Does that mean applying a charge on incomes of €4,000?

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  When he was Minister for Finance, Deputy Lenihan never took ability to pay the charge into account.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Thomas P. Broughan): Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  No interruptions, please.

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  We all have to contribute according to our means. No one can be left in a position in which they contribute nothing at all.

The OECD study is very clear. Ireland has one of the most progressive income tax systems in the world. The thinking behind the universal social charge was to consolidate the income levy with the health charge and, in time, with PRSI. This would have ensured there were no poverty traps and income distortions which existed with a system of 12 different levies.

I wish the Government well in its review of the universal social charge. There are many aspects of it that can be reviewed, as with all taxation. However, as the taxing assembly, we cannot lose sight of the core issue that the State must have a viable tax base. Political parties that call for more expenditure while objecting to expenditure reductions and stating there should be exemptions from income tax for a large section of the population are not advancing a credible economic policy.

Deputy Peter Mathews: Information on Peter Mathews  Zoom on Peter Mathews  Listening to this debate both yesterday and this evening, it is very obvious there is an awakening sense of fairness again, a good sign. For some time our society was operating in a fog which led to disaster and catastrophe. The people we would expect to be leaders in society, not just politicians but professionals, actually helped create that fog. It is surprising the talented and skilled in the professions do not seem to have made any serious contribution, except for their clients, to the public debate towards getting back to a sense of fairness in the contributions that must be made for the services provided by the State to its people. It is also breathtaking that a group of 17 people recently had the nerve to suggest in their blueprint for Ireland’s recovery that they would be able to throw light on a better way of running this country and highlight a path to recovery.

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  One of them was Fine Gael’s director of elections.

Deputy Peter Mathews: Information on Peter Mathews  Zoom on Peter Mathews  Half of this group do not even reside in the country for taxation purposes.

Deputy Lenihan should recall I am a Member of this House in order to represent the thoughts and feelings of my constituents. I am certain what I have to say in this debate reflects what I, along with many other Deputies, heard on the doorsteps during the election.

[910]It is important a review of the universal social charge is carried out. The term “review” often gets mixed up with television and radio reviews when it should be about looking again at how the tax system is structured. It is silly and absurd that people on €14,000 a year are being hit with unsustainable tax rates. In the spirit exhorted by the Taoiseach, we must all contribute to a speedy, effective and efficient review. We must all help each other with a sense of collegiality, co-operation and encouragement of one another.

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan  Zoom on Michael Noonan  I followed last night’s debate in the House with interest and want to recap on four of the points made on both sides.

First, there will be a review of the universal social charge. It is a commitment in the programme for Government and I have already invited submissions in this House from Sinn Féin and any other interested parties or Members.

Second, the universal social charge is progressive. When all charges on income are taken together we have a highly progressive taxation system. Ireland has one of the most progressive taxation systems in the entire OECD.

Third, the universal social charge removes most of the poverty traps inherent in the old, jerry-built, system of the income levy and the health levy with their different bases, exemptions, rates and thresholds.

Finally, we must have a sustainable, robust taxation system and the universal social charge is part of that system.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett  Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett  Is the Minister reading Deputy Lenihan’s speech?

Deputy Michael Noonan: Information on Michael Noonan  Zoom on Michael Noonan  Sinn Féin’s charge of regressivity of the universal social charge was dealt with soundly last night. The comparison made by Sinn Féin of the individual on €16,016 and €100,000 as an example of regressivity is wrong. An individual earning €16,016 in 2011 will be expected to pay €440 in taxes over the entire year. An individual earning €100,000 in 2011 will be expected to pay €40,867 in taxes and charges. This means that the individual on €100,000 earns six and a quarter times the income of an individual on €16,016, but pays 93 times the tax. It is hard to argue that is regressive; that is one of the more progressive taxes one will find. Some €440 is paid on the lower income, while €40,867 is paid on the higher income. This makes the point.

Many would argue that the universal social charge is a just tax because everybody pays it. There is no shelter from it and the wealthy cannot use tax avoidance schemes to evade the charge. Passive investors cannot reduce their liability through capital allowances. There are no exemptions for investments from forestry, mining, patent royalties or artistic pursuits. Everyone pays this charge. For a party advocating the removal of tax breaks that allow the wealthy to avoid paying their fair share of tax, this seems to be an instrument in which Sinn Féin might see some merit. It removes all possibility of tax avoidance.

In condemning the universal social charge, Sinn Féin finds itself unlikely bedfellows with tax accountants, tax planners——

Deputy Seán Crowe: Information on Sean Crowe  Zoom on Sean Crowe  And the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

Deputy Michael Noonan: Information on Michael Noonan  Zoom on Michael Noonan  ——and their wealthy clients, who, seeing no way of avoiding the universal social charge, also deem it an unfair and draconian tax. The media and the financial papers show that the strongest opponents of the universal social charge are the categories of [911]professionals I refer to. The proposals of Sinn Féin are not well thought out. They are responding to the anger felt by people on whom this tax was imposed for the first time. There is unfairness in the tax and it should be subject to review. In seeking to amend it, however, Sinn Féin has taken too general a view of the matter.

Sinn Féin proposes to abolish the universal social charge three months into the year. It proposes to dust down and re-introduce two levies with three quarters of the tax year remaining. Sinn Féin will then introduce a third rate of income tax on incomes over €100,000 to make up some of the loss of the yield from the abolition of the universal social charge. All of this is being done three months into the year and there seems to have been no consideration of the upheaval this would cause, not to mention the cost. It would not just be Revenue and employers that would bear this extra burden; every income earner in the country would have to get a second tax certificate for the year because the tax year would have to be split in two and the tax credits apportioned pro rata. We would be awash with underpayments and overpayments, assessments and reviews, head scratching and hand wringing. Income tax is often decried as being overly complex but if this proposal was adopted, no one would be sure of tax liability for the remainder of the year.

According to Deputy Doherty, Sinn Féin has done all the good work on this but the proposal is to abolish the income levy or the health levy or both without any mention of how the shortfall of €3.6 billion would be collected.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  We sent the figures in before the budget. It is all on the Minister, Deputy Noonan’s desk.

Deputy Michael Noonan: Information on Michael Noonan  Zoom on Michael Noonan  It is the old story. We know precisely what Sinn Féin is against but we never know what that party is for.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  The Minister should not replicate the mistakes of his predecessors.

Deputy Michael Noonan: Information on Michael Noonan  Zoom on Michael Noonan  I am sorry, we know Sinn Féin is in favour of a united Ireland but, apart from that, we do not know what Sinn Féin is in favour of.

Deputy Sandra McLellan: Information on Sandra McLellan  Zoom on Sandra McLellan  Equality and fairness.

Deputy Michael Noonan: Information on Michael Noonan  Zoom on Michael Noonan  Let me close by confirming that the universal social charge will be reviewed. I encourage all interested parties to make submissions to the Department of Finance. These will be considered in the context of the next budget.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Thomas P. Broughan): Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  I understand Deputies Seán Crowe, Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Pádraig Mac Lochlainn are sharing the final 15 minutes.

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  Last night I sat through the Private Members’ debate from start to finish. At one stage, it was like waking up after a nightmare and I had to try to figure out whether the nightmare was real. I had one of those moments when the Minister of State, Deputy Brian Hayes, quoted the Democratic Programme. It was one of the most bizarre incidents I have ever witnessed in this House. Given the way he was quoting it, I do not think he had read the programme. It made clear that the Government is bound to prioritise the Irish people and their interests. It refers to the sovereignty of the Irish people, which the previous Government, with the support of this Government, was prepared to barter. It got a bad deal because the barter did not seem to work.

[912]The Democratic Programme also speaks, first and foremost, of ensuring our people’s needs are met and to employ all of the country’s resources to that end. That includes natural resources. This and the previous Government were more than willing to hand over Ireland’s natural resources. The gas reserves were given to Shell and our public infrastructure, built by Irish taxpayers’ money, was given to private interests. The Minister of State, Deputy Brian Hayes, spoke of the importance of Ireland standing on its own and paying its way but bailing out failed gamblers and foreign banks as his Government is willing to do will make that impossible. There would be no need for the universal social charge if this or the previous Government had lived up to the spirit of the First Dáil and made a political choice to tax the wealthy and to harness our natural resources for the good of the people. The choice was made to squander what is rightfully ours.

The Minister of State, Deputy Hayes, also accused my party of pursuing an austerity agenda in the Six Counties. This is a gross misrepresentation of the truth and the reality of British rule. That is the other part of the nightmare I had — the Minister of State lecturing Sinn Féin on the reality of the North. The Minister of State, Deputy Hayes, and his party were happy to facilitate what happened in the North and the occupation of our Six Counties for many years, as they are happy to facilitate the visit of the commander-in-chief of the British Army to our shores. This will take place not for an hour or so but for four full days. Shame on the Minister of State for that.

The gross misrepresentation of the reality of British rule is that the key fiscal powers necessary to pursue our alternative plan for recovery have not been devolved to the Assembly. If the Minister of State, Deputy Hayes, is that concerned about the Assembly and the Six Counties, he will join us in our effort to end British rule in Ireland forthwith.

Deputy Paschal Donohoe followed as part of that nightmare when he tried to poke a hole in our proposals, claiming initially there was a black hole in our figures. Obviously he had not bothered to read the motion. He continued with his speech and it became clear that our figures stood up to any test. Our proposal for a new rate of 48% on individual income in excess of €100,000 would raise the same amount of additional revenue raised by the introduction of the universal social charge. Hence, it would compensate for its abolition. Under our proposals, the pre-existing health and income levies would apply briefly until a more radical reform of our tax system made it truly progressive and fair when it was completed.

Deputy Seán Crowe: Information on Sean Crowe  Zoom on Sean Crowe  The universal social charge did come up on every doorstep. People were angry. We are articulating that anger tonight because it is wrong. People believed it was wrong. That has not changed. People still believe the new taxation is wrong because they were not given a choice. Every day they see fraudsters, gamblers, speculators and bankers being bailed out and they are still in the same situation.

Everyone in the Chamber knocked on doors. Did they promise more of the same? Not even Fianna Fáil promised more of the same. It said it would approach things differently. Everyone else in the Chamber said they were going to do things differently. I have not seen that happen yet. Neither has anyone else. People in this city who were poor are still poor. That is the reality. They are being told by the Government tonight that a review is on the way. People hanging off a financial cliff are being asked to hold on because a review is coming down the line. Children in this city are going to bed hungry but they are being told to hang on in there because a review is on the way. What is being said is that the Government knows that some of these things are a bit unfair but that it is going to change them.

[913]What also came up on the doorsteps is that people believe politicians live in a parallel universe. From listening to some of the debate I say they are correct. We do live in a parallel universe. We are on a different salary. That is for sure. We are not being affected in the same way as ordinary people. That is what is wrong. We do not have a clue what is happening in many people’s homes in terms of the universal social charge. It is all very well to talk about reviews when one has a lot of money in one’s pocket or one’s children are not going hungry. That is what has happened. We have sentenced people to debt. This motion is about commuting that debt. That is what we are asking people to do.

There are choices and alternatives which we put forward. It is not about bailing out bankers. It is about bailing out people who work for a living. The universal social charge is creating conditions whereby we are creating more and more working poor. That is what is happening right across this city and across the country. That is why people are angry. That is why I am angry. This is not my maiden speech but it is the first time I have raised my voice in this Chamber in a long time. What the Government proposes to continue with — review or no review — is more of the same. What the Government is talking about doing is bailing out crooks, fraudsters, speculators and gamblers, but no one is bailing out ordinary working people. That is what is wrong. We need to bring about change. Unguaranteed bondholders in Anglo Irish Bank were given €750 million by this State. That is a scandal. The Government did not have to do it, yet we introduce a new tax which is supposed to be burden sharing. Burden sharing my arse.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  It is quite a remarkable experience for people tonight watching the debate and those following it at home to see the previous Minister for Finance, Deputy Brian Lenihan, who oversaw the handing of our economic sovereignty over to others——

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  No.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  ——and who oversaw the bankruptcy of this State share the same ideological analysis and view as the likes of the Minister of State, Deputy Brian Hayes, the Minister for Finance, Deputy Michael Noonan — who practically read the same speech Deputy Brian Hayes read last night — and Deputy Paschal Donohoe, tell us that in fact we live in one of the most progressive states in the world which is terribly fair. They should tell that to the people who have watched our State being bankrupt to pay off the debts of reckless millionaires and billionaires not just in this country but across Europe. Those in Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil would tell us that we live in a great, progressive, advanced State that is terribly fair altogether. The parties might as well just get it over with, join together and form one party. They should just get it over with once and for all.

I am shocked to see Labour Deputies stand by quietly and listen to that type of right wing ideology and say nothing.

Deputy Jan O’Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  There is going to be a review.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  There have been very few Labour Deputies present until now for the debate. They will all come scurrying in for the vote in a few minutes. They will all be in the Chamber filling their seats but they have not been present for the debate on one of the biggest issues for the communities they represent. When they knocked on doors and met public servants, the middle classes, the lower middle classes, the working classes and those people who have been affected, they did not tell them that their party would work with Fine Gael and oversee the maintenance of this policy. I do not know if members of the Labour [914]Party took time to read the ideological view contained in the speech of the Minister of State, Deputy Brian Hayes, repeated by the Minister for Finance, Deputy Noonan, tonight.

Deputy Jan O’Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  Did Deputy Mac Lochlainn listen to the Labour Party contributions?

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Their view is very clear. They have defended the universal social charge as if they were the former Minister, Deputy Brian Lenihan. One would think they had introduced the universal social charge themselves such was their ideological support for this totally unjust tax which puts an additional burden on ordinary working people and lets off the very wealthy. The Government quoted figures from the OECD and talked about 10% of people paying 39.1% of taxes. How much wealth does that 10% own in this State? This is one of the most unequal societies in the developed world. That is a reality.

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  The OECD does not agree.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  That is where the Government is coming from. What was really interesting last night was watching the Minister of State, Deputy Brian Hayes, talk about the Six Counties. Apparently, there were bonfires burning in south Armagh, Tyrone, west Belfast and other parts of Belfast to celebrate the fact that Fine Gael at last has an interest in the people of the Six Counties. Where were they all the years when we needed them? They were imprisoning people and keeping down those who tried to do something for the people of the Six Counties. The reality, if the Minister of State, Deputy Brian Hayes, took time to educate himself, is that the people of the Six Counties are fighting to gain fiscal powers to have control over their own budgets so they can make real decisions for their communities. They are on that journey. What did we do in this State, where we had fiscal powers? We gave them away to the EU and IMF. The Minister of State, Deputy Brian Hayes, should have a wee bit of humility when he is backing up the view of the former Minister, Deputy Brian Lenihan, who gave our sovereignty away.

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Northern Ireland would have been in the IMF since 1922.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  That was one of the saddest days in the history of this State, a devastating day for our people.

I will not go over the details of the universal social charge again. Members know the realities in terms of its impact on the ground. Fine Gael has now put its right-wing clothing on. I single out Deputy Peter Matthews. His comments were thoughtful and represent an element within Fine Gael that clearly does not drift towards the right wing when it gets the chance. Is the Labour Party seriously going to serve for five years with people who articulate the views in the speech made last night by the Minister of State, Deputy Brian Hayes? Is that what it will do to its values and where it comes from?. The Labour Party knows whom it represents. It represents the same people that Sinn Féin and the Independent Deputies represent. Are its members going to betray their interests for right-wing ideology yet again, because the people voted with hope in their hearts that those days of the elites, tents, Moriarty and Mahon tribunals were over, that the wealthy elites would not control and that we would have fair, progressive taxation in this State? We do not have it at this point. The Ministers, Deputies Joan Burton and Róisín Shortall, said the USC was squeezing the poor, that it was a blatant and unjustifiable attack on the poor. That is what they said. That is how strongly they felt about this tax. The one or two Ministers who were present last night listened to the Minister of State, [915]Deputy Brian Hayes, talk about this being a fair, progressive State and they never said a word. They spoke about working in co-operation.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Thomas P. Broughan): Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  The Deputy has one minute left.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Deputy Broughan is one of the people on the left of the Labour Party and in his heart it must be hurting him to witness this behaviour.

Let us just deal with the facts. The Government speaks of alternatives. My alternative, which the Labour Party once supported, is to introduce a new rate of taxation of 48%. This would raise exactly the same additional income as the universal social charge. That is the choice to be made and it is a question of choices. Deputy Boyd Barrett referred to a 1% tax on the assets of the very wealthy. It is estimated by very progressive economists that this would raise over €1 billion. These are the choices that exist.

The Labour Party should examine its soul and listen to the people it represents. If it is to stand by and allow Fine Gael, whose members, with the exception of a few notable people, espouse a right-wing ideology, to get away with its agenda over the course of the next five years, it will have committed as big a betrayal of the people it represents as Fianna Fáil.

Amendment put.

The Dáil divided: Tá, 106; Níl, 27.

Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  Bannon, James. Information on Tom Barry  Zoom on Tom Barry  Barry, Tom.
Information on Pat Breen  Zoom on Pat Breen  Breen, Pat. Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Broughan, Thomas P.
Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  Bruton, Richard. Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Burton, Joan.
Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  Buttimer, Jerry. Information on Eric J. Byrne  Zoom on Eric J. Byrne  Byrne, Eric.
Information on Ciaran Cannon  Zoom on Ciaran Cannon  Cannon, Ciarán. Information on Joe Carey  Zoom on Joe Carey  Carey, Joe.
Information on Paudie Coffey  Zoom on Paudie Coffey  Coffey, Paudie. Information on Áine Collins  Zoom on Áine Collins  Collins, Áine.
Information on Michael Conaghan  Zoom on Michael Conaghan  Conaghan, Michael. Information on Sean Conlan  Zoom on Sean Conlan  Conlan, Seán.
Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  Connaughton, Paul J. Information on Ciara Conway  Zoom on Ciara Conway  Conway, Ciara.
Information on Noel Coonan  Zoom on Noel Coonan  Coonan, Noel. Information on Marcella MarcellaCorcoran Kennedy  Zoom on Marcella MarcellaCorcoran Kennedy  Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Costello, Joe. Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney  Coveney, Simon.
Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  Creed, Michael. Information on Lucinda Creighton  Zoom on Lucinda Creighton  Creighton, Lucinda.
Information on Jim Daly  Zoom on Jim Daly  Daly, Jim. Information on John Deasy  Zoom on John Deasy  Deasy, John.
Information on Jimmy Deenihan  Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan  Deenihan, Jimmy. Information on Patrick Deering  Zoom on Patrick Deering  Deering, Pat.
Information on Regina Doherty  Zoom on Regina Doherty  Doherty, Regina. Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe  Donohoe, Paschal.
Information on Robert Dowds  Zoom on Robert Dowds  Dowds, Robert. Information on Andrew Doyle  Zoom on Andrew Doyle  Doyle, Andrew.
Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Durkan, Bernard J. Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  English, Damien.
Information on Alan Farrell  Zoom on Alan Farrell  Farrell, Alan. Information on Frank Feighan  Zoom on Frank Feighan  Feighan, Frank.
Information on Anne Ferris  Zoom on Anne Ferris  Ferris, Anne. Information on Peter Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Peter Fitzpatrick  Fitzpatrick, Peter.
Information on Charles Flanagan  Zoom on Charles Flanagan  Flanagan, Charles. Information on Terence Flanagan  Zoom on Terence Flanagan  Flanagan, Terence.
Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Gilmore, Eamon. Information on Brendan Griffin  Zoom on Brendan Griffin  Griffin, Brendan.
Information on Dominic Hannigan  Zoom on Dominic Hannigan  Hannigan, Dominic. Information on Noel Harrington  Zoom on Noel Harrington  Harrington, Noel.
Information on Simon Harris  Zoom on Simon Harris  Harris, Simon. Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  Hayes, Tom.
Information on Martin Heydon  Zoom on Martin Heydon  Heydon, Martin. Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  Hogan, Phil.
Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Howlin, Brendan. Information on Heather Humphreys  Zoom on Heather Humphreys  Humphreys, Heather.
Information on Kevin Humphreys  Zoom on Kevin Humphreys  Humphreys, Kevin. Information on Derek Keating  Zoom on Derek Keating  Keating, Derek.
Information on Colm Keaveney  Zoom on Colm Keaveney  Keaveney, Colm. Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  Kehoe, Paul.
Information on Alan Kelly  Zoom on Alan Kelly  Kelly, Alan. Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Kenny, Enda.
Information on Seán Kenny  Zoom on Seán Kenny  Kenny, Seán. Information on Seán Kyne  Zoom on Seán Kyne  Kyne, Seán.
Information on Anthony Lawlor  Zoom on Anthony Lawlor  Lawlor, Anthony. Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  Lynch, Ciarán.
Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  Lynch, Kathleen. Information on John Lyons  Zoom on John Lyons  Lyons, John.
Information on Michael McCarthy  Zoom on Michael McCarthy  McCarthy, Michael. Information on Shane McEntee  Zoom on Shane McEntee  McEntee, Shane.
Information on Nicky McFadden  Zoom on Nicky McFadden  McFadden, Nicky. Information on Dinny McGinley  Zoom on Dinny McGinley  McGinley, Dinny.
Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  McHugh, Joe. Information on Tony McLoughlin  Zoom on Tony McLoughlin  McLoughlin, Tony.
Information on Michael McNamara  Zoom on Michael McNamara  McNamara, Michael. Information on Eamonn Maloney  Zoom on Eamonn Maloney  Maloney, Eamon.
Information on Peter Mathews  Zoom on Peter Mathews  Mathews, Peter. Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  Mitchell, Olivia.
Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor  Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor  Mitchell O’Connor, Mary. Information on Michelle Mulherin  Zoom on Michelle Mulherin  Mulherin, Michelle.
Information on Dara Murphy  Zoom on Dara Murphy  Murphy, Dara. Information on Eoghan Murphy  Zoom on Eoghan Murphy  Murphy, Eoghan.
Information on Gerald Nash  Zoom on Gerald Nash  Nash, Gerald. Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  Naughten, Denis.
Information on Dan Neville  Zoom on Dan Neville  Neville, Dan. Information on Derek Nolan  Zoom on Derek Nolan  Nolan, Derek.
Information on Michael Noonan  Zoom on Michael Noonan  Noonan, Michael. Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordán  Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordán  Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  O’Donnell, Kieran. Information on Patrick O'Donovan  Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan  O’Donovan, Patrick.
Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  O’Dowd, Fergus. Information on John O'Mahony  Zoom on John O'Mahony  O’Mahony, John.
Information on Joe O'Reilly  Zoom on Joe O'Reilly  O’Reilly, Joe. Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Jan.
Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose  Penrose, Willie. Information on John Perry  Zoom on John Perry  Perry, John.
Information on Ann Phelan  Zoom on Ann Phelan  Phelan, Ann. Information on John Paul Phelan  Zoom on John Paul Phelan  Phelan, John Paul.
Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Quinn, Ruairí. Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Rabbitte, Pat.
Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  Reilly, James. Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  Ring, Michael.
Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  Shatter, Alan. Information on Sean Sherlock  Zoom on Sean Sherlock  Sherlock, Sean.
Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  Shortall, Róisín. Information on Arthur Spring  Zoom on Arthur Spring  Spring, Arthur.
Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Stagg, Emmet. Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton  Stanton, David.
Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  Timmins, Billy. Information on Joanna Tuffy  Zoom on Joanna Tuffy  Tuffy, Joanna.
Information on Liam Twomey  Zoom on Liam Twomey  Twomey, Liam. Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  Wall, Jack.
Information on Brian Walsh  Zoom on Brian Walsh  Walsh, Brian. Information on Alex White  Zoom on Alex White  White, Alex.



Níl
Information on Gerry Adams  Zoom on Gerry Adams  Adams, Gerry. Information on Richard Boyd Barrett  Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett  Boyd Barrett, Richard.
Information on Joan Collins  Zoom on Joan Collins  Collins, Joan. Information on Michael Colreavy  Zoom on Michael Colreavy  Colreavy, Michael.
Information on Sean Crowe  Zoom on Sean Crowe  Crowe, Seán. Information on Clare Daly  Zoom on Clare Daly  Daly, Clare.
Information on Pearse Doherty  Zoom on Pearse Doherty  Doherty, Pearse. Information on Stephen Donnelly  Zoom on Stephen Donnelly  Donnelly, Stephen.
Information on Dessie Ellis  Zoom on Dessie Ellis  Ellis, Dessie. Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  Ferris, Martin.
Information on Tom Fleming  Zoom on Tom Fleming  Fleming, Tom. Information on Seamus Healy  Zoom on Seamus Healy  Healy, Seamus.
Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  Higgins, Joe. Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
Information on Mary Lou McDonald  Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald  McDonald, Mary Lou. Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  McGrath, Finian.
Information on Mattie McGrath  Zoom on Mattie McGrath  McGrath, Mattie. Information on Sandra McLellan  Zoom on Sandra McLellan  McLellan, Sandra.
Information on Catherine Murphy  Zoom on Catherine Murphy  Murphy, Catherine. Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  Ó Snodaigh, Aengus. Information on Jonathan O'Brien  Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien  O’Brien, Jonathan.
Information on Maureen O'Sullivan  Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Maureen. Information on Thomas Pringle  Zoom on Thomas Pringle  Pringle, Thomas.
Information on Brian Stanley  Zoom on Brian Stanley  Stanley, Brian. Information on Peadar Tóibín  Zoom on Peadar Tóibín  Tóibín, Peadar.
Information on Mick Wallace  Zoom on Mick Wallace  Wallace, Mick.  

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Emmet Stagg and Paul Kehoe; Níl, Deputies Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Catherine Murphy.

Amendment declared carried.

Question put: “That the motion, as amended, be agreed to.”

The Dáil divided: Tá, 106; Níl, 27.

Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  Bannon, James. Information on Tom Barry  Zoom on Tom Barry  Barry, Tom.
Information on Pat Breen  Zoom on Pat Breen  Breen, Pat. Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Broughan, Thomas P.
Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  Bruton, Richard. Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Burton, Joan.
Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  Buttimer, Jerry. Information on Eric J. Byrne  Zoom on Eric J. Byrne  Byrne, Eric.
Information on Ciaran Cannon  Zoom on Ciaran Cannon  Cannon, Ciarán. Information on Joe Carey  Zoom on Joe Carey  Carey, Joe.
Information on Paudie Coffey  Zoom on Paudie Coffey  Coffey, Paudie. Information on Áine Collins  Zoom on Áine Collins  Collins, Áine.
Information on Michael Conaghan  Zoom on Michael Conaghan  Conaghan, Michael. Information on Sean Conlan  Zoom on Sean Conlan  Conlan, Seán.
Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  Connaughton, Paul J. Information on Ciara Conway  Zoom on Ciara Conway  Conway, Ciara.
Information on Noel Coonan  Zoom on Noel Coonan  Coonan, Noel. Information on Marcella MarcellaCorcoran Kennedy  Zoom on Marcella MarcellaCorcoran Kennedy  Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Costello, Joe. Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney  Coveney, Simon.
Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  Creed, Michael. Information on Lucinda Creighton  Zoom on Lucinda Creighton  Creighton, Lucinda.
Information on Jim Daly  Zoom on Jim Daly  Daly, Jim. Information on John Deasy  Zoom on John Deasy  Deasy, John.
Information on Jimmy Deenihan  Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan  Deenihan, Jimmy. Information on Patrick Deering  Zoom on Patrick Deering  Deering, Pat.
Information on Regina Doherty  Zoom on Regina Doherty  Doherty, Regina. Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe  Donohoe, Paschal.
Information on Robert Dowds  Zoom on Robert Dowds  Dowds, Robert. Information on Andrew Doyle  Zoom on Andrew Doyle  Doyle, Andrew.
Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Durkan, Bernard J. Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  English, Damien.
Information on Alan Farrell  Zoom on Alan Farrell  Farrell, Alan. Information on Frank Feighan  Zoom on Frank Feighan  Feighan, Frank.
Information on Anne Ferris  Zoom on Anne Ferris  Ferris, Anne. Information on Peter Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Peter Fitzpatrick  Fitzpatrick, Peter.
Information on Charles Flanagan  Zoom on Charles Flanagan  Flanagan, Charles. Information on Terence Flanagan  Zoom on Terence Flanagan  Flanagan, Terence.
Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Gilmore, Eamon. Information on Brendan Griffin  Zoom on Brendan Griffin  Griffin, Brendan.
Information on Dominic Hannigan  Zoom on Dominic Hannigan  Hannigan, Dominic. Information on Noel Harrington  Zoom on Noel Harrington  Harrington, Noel.
Information on Simon Harris  Zoom on Simon Harris  Harris, Simon. Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  Hayes, Tom.
Information on Martin Heydon  Zoom on Martin Heydon  Heydon, Martin. Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  Hogan, Phil.
Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Howlin, Brendan. Information on Heather Humphreys  Zoom on Heather Humphreys  Humphreys, Heather.
Information on Kevin Humphreys  Zoom on Kevin Humphreys  Humphreys, Kevin. Information on Derek Keating  Zoom on Derek Keating  Keating, Derek.
Information on Colm Keaveney  Zoom on Colm Keaveney  Keaveney, Colm. Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  Kehoe, Paul.
Information on Alan Kelly  Zoom on Alan Kelly  Kelly, Alan. Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Kenny, Enda.
Information on Seán Kenny  Zoom on Seán Kenny  Kenny, Seán. Information on Seán Kyne  Zoom on Seán Kyne  Kyne, Seán.
Information on Anthony Lawlor  Zoom on Anthony Lawlor  Lawlor, Anthony. Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  Lynch, Ciarán.
Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  Lynch, Kathleen. Information on John Lyons  Zoom on John Lyons  Lyons, John.
Information on Michael McCarthy  Zoom on Michael McCarthy  McCarthy, Michael. Information on Shane McEntee  Zoom on Shane McEntee  McEntee, Shane.
Information on Nicky McFadden  Zoom on Nicky McFadden  McFadden, Nicky. Information on Dinny McGinley  Zoom on Dinny McGinley  McGinley, Dinny.
Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  McHugh, Joe. Information on Tony McLoughlin  Zoom on Tony McLoughlin  McLoughlin, Tony.
Information on Michael McNamara  Zoom on Michael McNamara  McNamara, Michael. Information on Eamonn Maloney  Zoom on Eamonn Maloney  Maloney, Eamon.
Information on Peter Mathews  Zoom on Peter Mathews  Mathews, Peter. Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  Mitchell, Olivia.
Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor  Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor  Mitchell O’Connor, Mary. Information on Michelle Mulherin  Zoom on Michelle Mulherin  Mulherin, Michelle.
Information on Dara Murphy  Zoom on Dara Murphy  Murphy, Dara. Information on Eoghan Murphy  Zoom on Eoghan Murphy  Murphy, Eoghan.
Information on Gerald Nash  Zoom on Gerald Nash  Nash, Gerald. Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  Naughten, Denis.
Information on Dan Neville  Zoom on Dan Neville  Neville, Dan. Information on Derek Nolan  Zoom on Derek Nolan  Nolan, Derek.
Information on Michael Noonan  Zoom on Michael Noonan  Noonan, Michael. Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordán  Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordán  Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  O’Donnell, Kieran. Information on Patrick O'Donovan  Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan  O’Donovan, Patrick.
Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  O’Dowd, Fergus. Information on John O'Mahony  Zoom on John O'Mahony  O’Mahony, John.
Information on Joe O'Reilly  Zoom on Joe O'Reilly  O’Reilly, Joe. Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Jan.
Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose  Penrose, Willie. Information on John Perry  Zoom on John Perry  Perry, John.
Information on Ann Phelan  Zoom on Ann Phelan  Phelan, Ann. Information on John Paul Phelan  Zoom on John Paul Phelan  Phelan, John Paul.
Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Quinn, Ruairí. Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Rabbitte, Pat.
Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  Reilly, James. Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  Ring, Michael.
Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  Shatter, Alan. Information on Sean Sherlock  Zoom on Sean Sherlock  Sherlock, Sean.
Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  Shortall, Róisín. Information on Arthur Spring  Zoom on Arthur Spring  Spring, Arthur.
Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Stagg, Emmet. Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton  Stanton, David.
Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  Timmins, Billy. Information on Joanna Tuffy  Zoom on Joanna Tuffy  Tuffy, Joanna.
Information on Liam Twomey  Zoom on Liam Twomey  Twomey, Liam. Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  Wall, Jack.
Information on Brian Walsh  Zoom on Brian Walsh  Walsh, Brian. Information on Alex White  Zoom on Alex White  White, Alex.



Níl
Information on Gerry Adams  Zoom on Gerry Adams  Adams, Gerry. Information on Richard Boyd Barrett  Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett  Boyd Barrett, Richard.
Information on Joan Collins  Zoom on Joan Collins  Collins, Joan. Information on Michael Colreavy  Zoom on Michael Colreavy  Colreavy, Michael.
Information on Sean Crowe  Zoom on Sean Crowe  Crowe, Seán. Information on Clare Daly  Zoom on Clare Daly  Daly, Clare.
Information on Pearse Doherty  Zoom on Pearse Doherty  Doherty, Pearse. Information on Stephen Donnelly  Zoom on Stephen Donnelly  Donnelly, Stephen.
Information on Dessie Ellis  Zoom on Dessie Ellis  Ellis, Dessie. Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  Ferris, Martin.
Information on Tom Fleming  Zoom on Tom Fleming  Fleming, Tom. Information on Seamus Healy  Zoom on Seamus Healy  Healy, Seamus.
Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  Higgins, Joe. Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
Information on Mary Lou McDonald  Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald  McDonald, Mary Lou. Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  McGrath, Finian.
Information on Mattie McGrath  Zoom on Mattie McGrath  McGrath, Mattie. Information on Sandra McLellan  Zoom on Sandra McLellan  McLellan, Sandra.
Information on Catherine Murphy  Zoom on Catherine Murphy  Murphy, Catherine. Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  Ó Snodaigh, Aengus. Information on Jonathan O'Brien  Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien  O’Brien, Jonathan.
Information on Maureen O'Sullivan  Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Maureen. Information on Thomas Pringle  Zoom on Thomas Pringle  Pringle, Thomas.
Information on Brian Stanley  Zoom on Brian Stanley  Stanley, Brian. Information on Peadar Tóibín  Zoom on Peadar Tóibín  Tóibín, Peadar.
Information on Mick Wallace  Zoom on Mick Wallace  Wallace, Mick.  

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Emmet Stagg and Paul Kehoe; Níl, Deputies Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Catherine Murphy.

Question declared carried.


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