UPDATE:SUPER-RICH IRISH AWASH WITH MONEY!

August 31, 2014 Leave a comment

(SEE ALSO on this Blog:  Tax Evasion by Irish Rich    http://wp.me/pKzXa-oM)

UPDATE MAY 12

TOP 10% OWN OVER HALF OF IRISH WEALTH

Irish Examiner Tuesday, May 12, 2015

By Peter O’Dwyer
Reporter

More than half of the country’s net household wealth rests in the hands of just 10% of the population, while people in less well-off sectors of society owe more than they own.

CSO research shows the top 10% of the country’s richest households own 53.8% of net wealth — defined as real and financial assets minus debt.

The top 5% of households can lay claim to almost 38% of net wealth while 15% of the wealth lies in the pockets of the richest 1%.

At the opposite end of the scale, the data paints a darker picture as the poorest 20% of households owe more than they own.

The figures illustrate the two-tier society that has developed across the country, partly as a result of government policy, according to Fr Sean Healy of Social Justice Ireland.

“These figures emphasise that it was profoundly wrong of the Government to prioritise the better-off in society in the last four budgets,” said Fr Healy. “As resources become available in Budget 2016 and beyond, priority should be given to those hit hardest during the recession — Ireland’s poorest.”

With some of the country’s richest individuals experiencing large-scale losses in the past seven or so years, the level of inequality has not risen to a major degree. However, low- and middle-income families have been badly affected.

“Some people on exorbitantly high incomes have lost out despite recent budgets favouring them and, consequently, inequality has not risen dramatically,” said Fr Healy.

“However, those already struggling to survive have been stretched even further. This was not an accident, this was the result of Government decisions.”

With the Government flagging an equal split of additional funding between spending increases and tax cuts when it announced the budget in October, a much fairer manner of distributing the benefits of recovery would be to put twice the amount into restoration of services, Fr Healy said.

Recent research by the Central Bank points to a higher level of wealth inequality in Ireland than the eurozone average. However, it is less than that in the US.

Research indicates that countries with higher economic inequality suffer from greater unemployment, social instability, and reduced investment, although other academics dispute these effects.

Although open to a degree of statistical error due to the challenges in accessing relevant data, the Irish wealth gap appears to have widened over time, according to Tom Healy, a director of the Nevin Economic Research Institute.

Since the 1980s, a range of factors, including taxation policy, changing demographics, and house price fluctuations may have driven the changes.

Research carried out by Brian Nolan of the ESRI in 1987 showed that the top 10% of the population then owned 42% of net household wealth as opposed to 53% in current times. The top 1% then owned 10% of net wealth.

Mr Healy said wealth distribution has not tended to feature in public discourse here to the same degree as in some other European countries.

“While comprehensive data are hard to come by, Thomas Piketty in his book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, managed to track the main trends and composition of wealth in a number of large countries such as Britain, France, and Germany,” Mr Healy said.

“Here in Ireland, discussion of wealth has been an under-researched and under-reported area until comparatively recent times.”

Mr Piketty’s best-selling book put the distribution of income and wealth back in the public consciousness last year.

Update April 29

Political Promises In Spring Statement As Government  Allows  Super-Rich To Make Huge Gains While It Crucifies The Poor  With Austerity And Water Charges

Deputy Seamus Healy TD (Tipperary) Speaking in Dáil yesterday

This Spring Statement is effectively an election manifesto of sorts with the bulk of the promises made to be implemented after the next general election. It is a series of political promises but we know well what happens to political promises. They are made to be broken, according to the former Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Deputy Rabbitte, who said that is what politicians do at election time – they make promises they fully intend to break after the election. That is what happened in 2011 and this Government cannot be trusted or believed. What we have heard today in this Spring Statement is effectively pie in the sky.

It is important to note what this Fine Gael-Labour Party coalition promised in 2011 and what it did with its promises and commitments. We heard a lot about a democratic revolution but we hear very little about it nowadays. Fine Gael told us that it would burn the bondholders and that not another cent would be given to the banks. The Labour Party went even further and said that it would be Labour’s way and not Frankfurt’s way. Its infamous Tesco-style advertisements promised no cuts to child benefit, opposition to domestic water charges and so forth. It contained very specific promises and lines such as “Look what Fine Gael have in store for you” and “Fine Gael – Every Little Hurts”. The Labour Party in government went on to cut child benefit, with a loss of up to €1,500 for many families. A Labour Party Minister is now implementing the introduction of domestic water charges, having gone around north Tipperary in the last election campaign asking people to vote for him to ensure that Fine Gael could not introduce such charges. We were also told that the Labour Party would protect the vulnerable, a point to which I will return later.

This Fine Gael-Labour Party Government continued the austerity of the Fianna Fáil-Green Party Government and did exactly the opposite to what it had promised. Government policy in the past four years has deliberately increased the income and assets of the super rich in society. It ensured that austerity affected only low and middle income families while there was a recovery for the wealthy and the super rich. The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Howlin, spoke about sharing the fruits of economic growth. He said that a functioning society is a fair one, where the fruits of economic growth are shared among all of the people, which demonstrates both dishonesty and hypocrisy. We know for a fact, as referred to by other speakers, that very wealthy people have increased their income and assets hugely during the course of this recession. An article in the Sunday Times last weekend pointed out that Ireland’s super wealthy now have a combined wealth that surpasses the heights reached at the peak of the Celtic tiger era. Ireland’s 250 richest people have increased their wealth by more than 15% in the past year to €75 billion, equivalent to 30% of Irish GDP. The number of Irish billionaires has increased from nine last year to 13 this year. There have been huge increases in the financial assets of the super rich as confirmed by the Central Statistics Office. The increase in assets from the time of the bust in 2008 to 2013 was €93 billion or an increase of 51% of GDP and there have been further increases since then. The situation is exactly the same with regard to income.

A very small proportion of very wealthy people have huge incomes. The 10,000 wealthiest have average incomes of €595,000 per year, a figure supplied to me by the Minister, Deputy Noonan. That wealth situation was confirmed about a month ago by the Sunday Independent rich list of the 300 wealthiest people in Ireland. Those 300 people have €84 billion between them. So the super-rich have done very well out of this recession while ordinary people have paid for it which they had no hand, act or part in creating.

On the other hand, it is instructive to look at what has happened to ordinary low and middle-income families. A recent Central Statistics Office report, the SILC report, shows that 400,000 children are living in households experiencing multiple forms of deprivation, of whom 135,000 are suffering daily material deprivation. The number of children living in consistent poverty has doubled from 6% to almost 12%.

The Labour Party claimed it would protect the vulnerable and particularly social welfare recipients. What is the record of the Labour Party and the Tánaiste in social welfare? She protected the social welfare recipients and low and middle-income families but I am afraid the cuts she introduced in recent budgets have devastated ordinary people and undermined the social welfare system.

It is important to mention some of those cuts, which I call the dirty baker’s dozen cuts: child benefit was cut by up to €1,500 per annum per family; cuts to the back-to-school allowance; cuts to maternity benefit; cuts to the fuel allowance; abolition of the telephone allowance; cuts to the household benefits package; cuts to jobseeker’s allowance; new qualifications for State pensions particularly affecting women who are out of the workforce to rear their families; the carer’s respite grant was cut by €325; farm assist payments cut; back-to-education allowance cut; exceptional needs payment cut; increase in eligibility for State pensions; taxation of maternity benefit; abolition of illness benefit for widows and lone parents who work; huge cuts, of course, to one-parent families with another huge cut coming on 2 July; cuts to rent allowance; and abolition, unbelievably, of the very small bereavement grant.

The so-called recovery is a recovery for those who are already wealthy and it certainly means continued austerity for low and middle-income families. The public does not trust or believe the Government. They know that what the Government says does not transfer into action. They know that middle and low-income families have been crucified by the Government. They want to see the Government going to the country and calling a general election. The Government has absolutely no mandate for what it has done. The public believe that it simply cannot be trusted. This Spring Statement is simply an election manifesto of sorts, one that the public will not believe and one that should be put to the country sooner rather than later.

Update April 17     HUGE RISE IN ASSETS OF SUPER-RICH CONFIRMED BY CSO

As usual this aspect of the CSO release was ignored by media

Increase in Financial Assets from the 2008 (“Bust”) to 2013 was 93 billion or an increase 51% of Gross Domestic Product(GDP) . There has been further annual increases since then.

These Assets have more than doubled. There is no wealth tax on these massive gains.

In 2013 Net Financial Assets of Households were 26 Billion Euro above 2006 “boom” level. The super-rich are now richer than they were at the height of the boom

Between 2011 and 2013 NET FINANCIAL ASSETS OF HOUSEHOLDS INCREASED BY OVER 40 Billion EURO

Only 17 billion of this was due to paying down debt giving a rise of 23 billion due to appreciation of financial assets in the two years concerned.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2014 at constant (2012) prices is 181.33 Billion Euro-Central Statistics Office(CSO)

As financial assets of many households are negative due to mortgage, credit card and loan debt, it is a reasonable assumption that the net financial assets of the wealthiest 5% are comparable to the net financial assets of all households at 165 Billion Euro

Central Statistics Office(CSO)   April 15,2015      Institutional Sector Accounts  Table 5B

http://www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/ep/p-isanff/institutionalsectoraccountsnon-financialandfinancial2013/financialaccounts/table5bfinancialbalancesheetend-years2009-2013consolidatedliabilities/#.VTDYutzF-QE

Financial assets include shares, bank deposits and insurance policies on the positive side. Liabilities, which are deducted to get net financial assets include mortgage debt, credit card debt and bank loans to households (eg car loans)

Financial assets do not include any fixed assets such as homes, buy-to-lets, farms, land, business premises or factories and workshops.

As there has been major appreciation of property values as well as financial assets , the increase in the overall net wealth of the super-rich since 2008 is far greater than indicated by the financial figures below

Financial  Assets Households(millions)    TA=total assets         TL=total liabilities        NA=Net Assets

TA                     TL                    NA

2006           310,899          172,052                   138,848          

2007            310,711          199,036                   111,675

2008           281,650           209,774                     71,876

2009         306,338              207,272                     99,066

2010         316,375               194,250                   122,125

2011         315,028               190,056                    124,972

2012         333,654                179,554                    154,100

2013         342,735                177,805                     164,930

————————————————————————————————————————-

Irish Rich Get New 25 Billion Bonanza as 135,000 Children Suffer Multiple Deprivation!

The Contrast Could Not Be More Stark!!!!!

In 2013 Net Financial Assets of Households were 26 Billion Euro above 2006 “boom” level and more than double 2008 “bust” level. Gross Financial Assets were 18 billion above the 2006 peak level.

In 2013, net financial assets of households rose again by  25 billion, only 7 billion of which was due to paying down debt.

The Gains For the Rich got virtually no media coverage as usual

These are the most recent statistics issued by  The Central Statistics Office (CSO).In another recent release by the CSO, the SILC Report, it is shown that we now have 400,000 children living in households experiencing multiple forms of deprivation and 135,000 children are suffering daily material deprivation. The number of children living in consistent poverty – meaning they are living both at risk of poverty and experiencing deprivation – doubled from 6 per cent to just under 12 per cent between 2008 and 2013

Financial assets include shares, bank deposits and insurance policies on the positive side. Liabilities, which are deducted to get net financial assets include mortgage debt, credit card debt and bank loans to households (eg car loans)

Financial assets do not include any fixed assets such as homes, buy-to-lets, farms, land, business premises or factories and workshops.

Total F. assets     Total Liabilities        NET F. Assets

2006           310,899          172,052                   138,848          

2007            310,711          199,036                   111,675

2008           281,650           209,774                     71,876

2009           304,885           206,620                      98,264

2010            311,372           194,219                       117,153  

2011              310,093        189,982                        120,111 

2012               324,381          184,467                        139,914

2013                   342,735       177,805                        164,930

Nov 30

Anglo Bondholder List Leaked

International Financial Institutions Which invested in Anglo and to whom an Irish Government Paid Out 30 Billion Euro. We are now paying off the money borrowed for this purpose to other international financial institutions!

http://www.irishcentral.com/news/list-of-bondholders-in-anglo-irish-bank-leaked-110903209-237728261.html#=

UPDATE  Department of Finance Confirms Budget 2015 “Give-Away” to Rich

Department of Finance Press Officer Confirms that those on incomes over 100,000 Euro will gain a net 747 Eur per year from the combination of the tax and USC measures in Budget 2015

Sir, – The editorial “Taxing the self-employed” (October 24th) stated that the divide between PAYE workers and self-assessed workers has “widened further with the Government’s decision to make the self-employed pay an 11 per cent rate of universal social charge on earnings over €100,000”. To suggest the divide has widened as a result of changes introduced in Budget 2015 is simply not true.

The marginal tax rate for the self-employed earning over €100,000 has not altered with the changes introduced in Budget 2015. In 2014 self-assessed workers earning over €100,000 face a 55 per cent marginal tax rate comprised of 41 per cent income tax, 10 per cent USC and 4 per cent PRSI. Following the introduction of the measures introduced in Budget 2015, a self-assessed worker earning over €100,000 will continue to pay 55 per cent tax; however it will now be comprised of 40 per cent income tax, 11 per cent USC and 4 per cent PRSI.

These changes to rates will result in an increase in net income for the self-employed taxpayers at all income levels.

The factual position is that a single PAYE worker and a single self-assessed worker earning €100,000 will see an increase of €747 in their net income in 2015, as a result of the Budget 2015 changes. – Yours, etc,

BRENDAN LOUGHNANE,

Press Officer,

Department of Finance,

Dublin 2.

UPDATE        Ireland More Prosperous than France and Germany!!    Irish Examiner Nov 3

“It might sound like a contradiction, but austerity hasn’t ruined our prosperity, according to a global study.

A report by the influential Legatum Institute places Ireland 12th out of 142 countries in its annual prosperity index, published today. That maintains the position we held last year and may signal an end to the slide that has seen us drop from a high of ninth in 2009. It also puts us one place ahead of Britain, and, somewhat surprisingly, two places ahead of Germany, while France could only manage 21st, Spain 26th and Italy 37th.

Norway makes the number one slot for the sixth year in a row. The index does not measure economic performance alone, but assesses countries on 90 indicators which are then collated under eight headings.”

August 30,2014

Because of the publicity given to bankruptcies of very rich Irish people, it maybe inferred that the Irish  rich generally are doing very badly. But it must be remembered that for every developer who bought over-priced sites and assets, there was another person or persons who has the large sum of money paid by the developer.

Many people also wrongly believe that Ireland has become a very poor country due to the banking crash. This may lead them to excuse cuts by government in spending on  health, education and other public services.

BUT NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH!!!

“Ireland is still one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Gross Domestic Product (total of all goods and services produced) per head of population in Republic of Ireland is greater than that in Germany, France and the UK”  (Nevin Economic Research Institute Report 2012)

Irish Examiner Sept 16

The growing number of poor people in crisis-hit countries and among young people threatens the existence of the EU, warned the prestigious German think-tank which carried out the study.

Despite Ireland being one of the richest countries in the EU, the study reveals we are nearly last when it comes to distribution of wealth, ranking 18th — in the bottom-third of the EU(28) countries along with Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, and Latvia.

Irish Times Sept 16

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/ireland-urged-to-do-more-for-its-vulnerable-population-1.1929914

“Germany’s Bertelsmann Foundation ranked Ireland 18th among the EU 28 members, below Poland and Slovakia, in a survey of social justice in Europe.

“The foundation cited Ireland as an example of how high GDP per capita did not translate automatically into social justice for the population. “Ireland has a similarly high GDP per capita,similar to Sweden, but ranks considerably below average when it comes to social justice and counts as one of the biggest losers in the country comparison,” the report noted.” (Irish Times)

It is true that public finances are in an appalling state.

But this is because:

1)successive governments have refused to impose sufficiently high taxes on the incomes and assets of the super-rich Irish to pay for necessary public services

2) The current and previous government have agreed that the citizens of the state should pay the 67 Billion Euro which LARGE international investors had lent to privately owned Irish Banks when the banks crashed.(small shareholders were not rescued)

The official statistics on incomes and assets set out below show the obscene wealth of the super-rich Irish at this time. In summary, the top 10,000 income recipients have average declared incomes of 595,000 euro per year each. The financial assets (shares, bank deposits) of Irish households had already climbed back above 2006 boom levels in 2012

From 2010 to 2012 the wealth of the top 300 Irish rich has increased by 12 Billion Euro from 50 Billion to 62 Billion or a gain of 200 million euro each ( Nick Webb,Business Editor, Sunday Independent, March 11 2012)

The overwhelming majority of  the  super-rich are active in the private sector of the economy. 

BUT ALL RECENT GOVERNMENT PROPOSALS FOR INCOME TAX RELIEF WOULD GIVE GREATEST BENEFIT TO THE SUPER-RICH AND NOTHING TO THE POOREST!!

Read also UPDATE:Poorest Pay Most Tax on this Blog 

Average Per Capita Wealth

Gross Domestic Product (total of all goods and services produced) per head of population in Republic of Ireland is the 7th highest in EU-Higher than Germany, France and the UK  (Nevin Economic Research Institute Report 2012)

                            

WEALTH OF IRISH SUPER-RICH

Financial Assets of Households      (Table 3 Institutional Sector Accounts Central Statistics Office 2012)

Total financial assets          Total Liabilities              NET Financial Assets

2006     310,899                  172,052                                         138,848

2007      310,711                199,036                                           111,675

2008      281,650                 209,774                                           71,876

2009      304,885               206,620                                             98,264

2010      311,372               194,219                                             117,153

2011      310,093               189,982                                             120,111

2012      324,381                 184,467                                            139,914

These figures show that net personal financial assets of all households have increased by 68 billion or by almost 100%(almost doubled since the low point of 2008 and both total financial assets and net financial assets are now above the peak 2006 level. (Table 3 Institutional Sector Accounts, CSO 2012)

Financial assets are mainly shares and bank deposits, the bulk of which are held by the rich. Houses, farms and business premises are not  financial assets and are not,therefore, included. The liabilities are bank loans,overdrafts, credit card debt, and household Mortgage Debt, the bulk of which are held by those on low and middle incomes

Thus the total financial asset figure is the better measure of the assets of the rich as many households have negative net financial assets.

 Average Per Capita Wealth

GDP per capita is the 7th highest in EU-Higher than Germany France and the UK  (Nevin Economic Research Institute Report 2012)

(This wealth is distributed most unfairly. According to Central Statistics Office (CSO) this unfairness has been worsened by the state budget for 2014- PH)

 Incomes of Irish Super-Rich 

The table below is compiled from a table issued by Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan in reply to a parliamentary question on Oct 3,  2012 .  It is based on projections by the Revenue Commissioners of expected earnings and expected revenue in the current year(2012) given the distribution of incomes in 2009 and subsequent developments. NB Below Revenue=tax+PRSI+USC. Effective tax rate includes income tax, PRSI and Universal Social Charge

Income Tax 2012

Below  NO.=number of  earners; G.I.=Gross Income of all earners ;

Av. I.=Average Income per Earner, REV.=Total Revenue from all earners; E.T.R.=effective tax rate

Earners               NO.         G.I.             Av. I.         REV.     E.T.R

Top 10,000  10,000  €5,959m   €595,900  €2,321 m  39%         Average AFTER TAX INCOME 364,000
Top 1%  21,650   €8,742 m     €403,760   €3,349 m   38%       Average AFTER TAX INCOME     349,000
Top 5%  108,250  €20,122 m  €185,885   €7,145 m   36%       Average After Tax INCOME       €120,000

 

Top 10%  216,500  €29,600 m   €136,710  €9,849 m   33%    

Average after tax Income   €91,500   

  • Earners may be individuals or couples who have agreed to be taxed jointly. Revenue commissioners do not provide data for individuals only.
  •   revenue=income tax+ PRSI +Univ. Soc. Charge (effective      tax rate includes USC and PRSI)

Less than 6% of income recipients earning over 100,000  are in the public service and a large proportion of these are medical consultants

All of the top 10,000 tax payers who have  an average income of €595,900 each (Reply by Michael Noonan to parliamentary question)  are in the private sector.

From 2010 to 2012 the wealth of the top 300 Irish rich has increased by 12 Billion Euro to 62 Billion or 200 million each ( Nick Webb,Business Editor, Sunday Independent, March 11 2012)

POOREST IRISH PEOPLE PAY MOST TAX!

Poor People Pay most Tax—-NERI   Aug  28, 2014

NEW research from the Nevin Economic Research Institute (funded by Irish Trade Unions) shows that the bottom 10% of the Irish Population pays the highest percentage of their income in tax whereas the richest 10% pay only 29.6% of their income when all direct and indirect taxes are taken into account.

BUT ALL RECENT GOVERNMENT PROPOSALS FOR INCOME TAX RELIEF WOULD GIVE GREATEST BENEFIT TO THE SUPER-RICH AND NOTHING TO THE POOREST!!

More detailed discussion on this matter can be found in my post UPDATED: POOREST PEOPLE PAY MOST TAX    on this blog

Categories: Uncategorized

What Would A Sinn Féin Led Government Do?

July 2, 2014 1 comment

See also on this blog “Irish Sovereignty and Political Realignment of the Irish Left” and  Sinn Féin’s 32-County Organisation would not survive Coalition

UPDATE MAY 12

REAL CRISIS In Sinn Féin Deepens With Re-Election of Tory Government-  (Statement by Villiers)

What would a Sinn Féin led 26-County government do if a minority Fianna Fáil coalition partner VETOED taxation of Super-Rich in order to end austerity?.

scroll down

// From irishtimes.com – Villiers: Sinn Féin should ‘stand by what they agreed’ on reform – Mon May 11 19:47:21 IST 2015//

To Read Sinn Féin View As Reported By Brian Feeney (SDLP) Click Below   

http://republican-news.org/current/news/2015/03/sinn_fein_right_to_pull_rug_fr.html#.VVGwA45VhHw

(Reappointed Tory Northern Secretary)Villiers: Sinn Féin should ‘stand by what they agreed’ on (WELFARE) Reform

Mark Hennessy

Sinn Féin must “get to grips” with Northern Ireland welfare cuts because the British government will not pay for a more generous welfare system than exists elsewhere in the UK, the newly reappointed Northern Secretary has said.

Theresa Villiers retained the Northern Ireland portfolio when prime minister David Cameron named his cabinet following the Conservatives win in last week’s general election.

Ms Villiers said there had been meaningful discussions about welfare over the past few weeks, “but, frankly, it is difficult for those ever to take place during a general election”.

She dismissed speculation that direct rule by London is looming.

“I think we are some way off that, to be honest.” she said. “Without a budget, the institutions will become increasingly dysfunctional and unable to carry out their basic functions, so it does jeopardise their credibility and even their sustainability. But I don’t see that we are at a cliff edge of imminent direct rule.”

No orders

Facing calls from Alliance Party leader David Ford to put pressure on Sinn Féin to reach a deal on welfare, Ms Villiers said Mr Ford knew “perfectly well” that she can not “order them to take a different position”.

“That is what devolution is all about. If you want to persuade parties, you have to do it by convincing them. There is nothing mandatory that you can do to change their mind.”

However, Ms Villiers warned that Northern Ireland’s budget would quickly become “dysfunctional” unless a deal was reached.

Asked if she feared Sinn Féin’s stand was being dictated by its ambition to make gains in the general election in the Republic, due next year, Ms Villiers replied: “Regardless of what is driving this, it needs to be fixed.”

She added: “Martin McGuinness, Gerry Adams have been negotiating in some shape or form for 20 years. They signed up to a package of top-ups on welfare reform, which they for many months hailed as a great triumph. It was a generous package, a sensible package.

A good deal

“They should stand by what they agreed. Yes, there may have been some misunderstanding, but they agreed it, they signed up for it, they went out and championed it. It is a good deal for Northern Ireland,” Ms Villiers told The Irish Times.

“It is not possible to insulate the Northern Ireland Executive from the kind of difficult decisions that every single other elected administration in the Western world has had to make over the last few years.

“It simply isn’t possible for it to be absolutely completely unaffected,” she said. “We have done our very best in terms of the generosity of the settlement that we have given and we have supplemented it even further.”

Ms Villiers expressed hopes that an agreement can be reached.

“I believe that we can get through this issue. It will continue to be difficult because austerity is not at an end. But this has to be done, because unless it is the Executive’s finances become increasingly dysfunctional.”

UPDATE MARCH 13

Support Workers on Strike in Northern Ireland Today!

Public service workers are holding a one-day strike to-day against the cuts contained in the Stormont House Agreement.

Northern workers again give a lead to all!

THIS IS A UNIQUE EVENT. The strikers are taking action against cuts agreed by all the main parties in the UK and Ireland who brokered or supported the AGREEMENT—Fine Gael/Labour, Tory/Lib Dems, Sinn Féin, DUP, UUP,SDLP

Under the Stormont House Agreement, Stormont ministers are obliged cut £1.3 billion, more than 10 percent of the region’s budget, by 2019.

Unite regional secretary Jimmy Kelly said in a statement: “Without standing up to this, we can expect another four years of even more punishing austerity budgets.”

UPDATE March 12,2015

The Real Crisis in Sinn Féin

Sinn Féin Attitude to Austerity in All-Ireland Causing Deepening Crisis in Party

In August 2014, in my piece on this blog ” Sinn Féin’s 32-County Organisation Would not Survive Coalition” I said : “Already the pressures on Sinn Féin as a result of being a 32-county party in a partitioned Ireland are becoming evident. In Northern Ireland, Sinn Féin has vetoed Tory welfare cuts. This has led to reductions in the British financial subvention and increased tensions within the Stormont executive. Supporters of the party will say that this would have happened in any event. However, it is a fact that it would be seriously damaging to Sinn Féin in the Republic if it had supported such cuts. In addition, it would appear strange to northern nationalists if Sinn Féin were imposing cuts in Belfast while fulminating against such cuts in Dublin”

Since I wrote the piece, Sinn Féin has done a deal on cuts in the 6-counties with the Unionists and the two governments through the Stormont House Agreement.   But now the party has had  to step back from that deal under pressure from southern workers and northern workers. Southern workers will not trust a party and continue to support it at elections on the basis that it will end austerity in the south if it is simultaneously imposing austerity in the north.  Tomorrow  trade unions in the six counties hold a one day strike against the cuts in jobs and public spending in the Stormont House Agreement.

The right wing of Sinn Féin want to be in coalition administrations in Stormont and Leinster House. The revolutionary republicans, genuine socialists and conscious workers north and south see the lifting of austerity throughout the island as the first priority. This is causing severe tensions in Sinn Féin.

Claims by Sinn Féin leaders that they were misled by the DUP and Stormont officials in elation to the Agreement do not bear examination.

The crisis in Sinn Féin which I expected to reach its peak after Sinn Féin joined a coalition in Dublin (either as a majority or minority party) may now occur earlier or progress more quickly than I anticipated.

I carry below an opinion piece by Eamonn McCann in the Irish Times to-day.

I believe that mobilisation for Irish unity , independence and sovereignty will be a key factor in the Irish Socialist Revolution.

As Secretary of the NationaL H-Block Trade Union Committee which organised work stoppages in support of the H-Block prisoners, I believed at that time that it was totally wrong to demobilise the mass movement in the South after the death of Bobby Sands and to seek an internal solution in the six counties.

Union protests pushed Sinn Féin to Pull out of Agreement

Eamonn McCann

Irish Times   Last Updated: Thursday, March 12, 2015, 05:00

One of the factors behind Sinn Féin’s decision on Monday to pull out of the Stormont House Agreement was a series of trade union demonstrations tomorrow calling for rejection of the agreement.

All major public sector unions in the North will be on strike. Most schools and, it is expected, all social security, Housing Executive and civil service offices will be closed. No buses or trains will run. Marches and rallies opposing the economic components of the agreement will be held in Belfast, Derry, Strabane, Enniskillen, Omagh, Magherafelt, Cookstown, Dungannon and Craigavon. (Interest declared: I represent the NUJ on Derry Trades Union Council.)

Over the past month, more than 100 meetings have been held in union offices, community centres and rooms above pubs urging attendance at the protests. Some have been small, others have drawn reasonable audiences of 50-100. This has been the most extensive union operation in the North in living memory.

The demonstrations may not be as big as union optimists expect. The success of appeals to the wider community is far from guaranteed. Enthusiasm sits alongside a degree of cynicism. References to the Grand Old Duke of York have regularly been heard.

20,000 job losses

The unions’ main concern is that the agreement involves the loss of 20,000 public sector jobs. Assurances that there will be no compulsory redundancies have cut little ice. When the jobs are gone, they’re gone for good. Union density is significantly greater in the public sector than in private businesses. A reduction of 20,000 in the workforce would not only lengthen the dole queues but cost the unions almost 20,000 members.

The prospect of being at loggerheads with the unions has dismayed many in Sinn Féin. The party’s ardfheis in Derry last weekend heard an address by Ictu president Jack Douglas, extolling its adherence to the union cause. To the delight of the party, Siptu general secretary Jack O’Connor chose the occasion of the Labour Party conference in Tralee a fortnight ago to hail Sinn Féin as a potential friend of Labour in government.

The party will be acutely aware that many of those who march tomorrow are likely to have voted Sinn Féin in the past.

The vehemence of the unions’ denunciation of the agreement has taken many aback. Leaflets and advertisements have been headed “No Deal! . . . No one voted for our elected politicians to do a deal like this. It is bad for workers, for all communities, for society and for equality.”

This is the first time trade unions have opposed a Stormont deal. On every previous occasion, they have hailed the outcome as a welcome contribution to the consolidation of peace.

Sinn Féin will also have been aware that, despite chaotic disagreement between the two main parties as to what was actually agreed, some past statements on the Assembly record are damning. Responding to claims that the party only discovered last weekend that its Executive partner was interpreting the agreement to mean that “top-up” payments would not apply automatically to all present and future recipients of disability living allowance, the DUP has repeatedly quoted its Social Development Minister Mervyn Storey in the Assembly on February 14th:

“The disability protection scheme . . . involves making a financial payment to those DLA claimants who are unsuccessful in their claim for personal independence payment and who subsequently appeal the disallowance decision . . . A financial payment should be made to those claimants and continue until the appeals service has made a decision on the claimant’s appeal.

“[Another] element provides support for those claimants who receive a lower level of payment under the personal independence payment . . . This will involve a . . . payment that will continue for a specified period depending on the date when the claimant is reassessed for personal independence payment.”

Inexplicable

The DUP argues that it is inexplicable in light of these and a number of other apparently unambiguous statements that Sinn Féin can have believed what it now says it believed.

Green Party leader Steven Agnew MLA, whose attempts to amend the Welfare Bill were systematically voted down by both main parties, described as “irresponsible” Sinn Féin’s claim that no claimant would lose out under the agreement it had put its name to.

The fact that Sinn Féin is now opposing at least some of the cuts which most observers see in the agreement has been welcomed by claimants’ organisations and community and union groups. But the fact that the party has taken such a long and winding road to reach this point has not encouraged confidence that the way ahead will be straightforward.

The numbers mobilised by the unions tomorrow may tell a tale of more relevance to the chances of the agreement surviving than many of the matters widely canvassed since the start of the week.

UPDATE August 8,2014-I discuss here two important Articles from the August edition of Sinn Fein monthly magazine, An Phoblacht, published on August 1.  The articles themselves are carried below my comment. The  coverage of the earlier part of this  discussion is carried further down-Paddy Healy

Further UPDATE Sept 20,2014

There are two further contributions to the political discussion on the way forward carried in the September edition of AnPhoblact. One is by Jack O’Connor, General President of SIPTU, Irelands giant 32-county  union, and arguably the organization through which historically Irish workers became  “a class for itself”. SIPTU remains affiliated to the Labour Party which is the junior partner in the Coalition government which has been in power for over 3 years. It is worth noting that SIPTU supported Joan Burton in the Labour party leadership race. Because of the collapse of the Labour party from over 200 seats to 51 in the local elections, the Labour Party is almost solely dependant on SIPTU support for its continued existence.

The other contribution is by Jimmy Kelly who is General Secretary of the Irish Region of UNITE THE UNION which also covers all 32 counties but is bigger in the 6-county area. UNITE has always been to the left of SIPTU in the 26-counties. The Irish Region of UNITE has now dissaffiliated from the IRISH Labour Party, but UNITE as a whole remains affiliated to the British Labour Party.

These contributions are carried further down in this blog.  I will address their content in the near future

There are a number of opinion pieces in the August edition of An Phoblacht. Two are of particular importance because they are written by Sinn Féin members-Cllr Eoin Ó Broin and SIPTU NEC Member  David Connolly who represents members employed in the community sector..

The editorial in An Phoblacht contains the statement “Reactionary parties, north and south, who champion these cuts need to explain to those who elect them why they are so keen to punish the most vulnerable.——They should join with Sinn Féin and growing numbers of others fighting against austerity and cuts”. Presumably the editor is inviting the right wing parties- FG, FF, DUP, UUP who are implementing the cuts to join SF in opposing the cuts. If this is not political small talk, it is very dangerously confusing. It would be in line with a view that FF and FG could change sufficiently to be suitable partners for coalition government with Sinn Féin as a minority element. Sinn Féin leaders-Gerry Adams, Mary Lou McDonald and Pearse Doherty have not ruled out such a position. The most recent opinion poll shows Sinn Féin and the main governing party, Fine Gael in equal first position when statistical survey error is taken into account.
It is important to recognise that the O Broin and Connolly positions are indeed “another view” even if they do not go nearly far enough and are generally fudged . Neither contribution deals sharply with the coalition issue which is the issue. All else can be forgotten as mere political rhetoric if actual coalition with FF and/or FG in government is effected.

The piece by Eoin Ó Broin is heavily weighted against coalition as a minority partner with FF,FG. He says: ”The experience of our Left republican predecessors in Ireland must be fully understood” and goes on to mention Clann Na Poblachta, The labour Party, The workers Party etc.

However he does not mention let alone sharply oppose participation in coalition as a minority party explicitly as he does in his blog . This is worrying. It is particularly necessary to sharply oppose coalition well in advance of the issue arising in practice. If the Free State wants SF in coalition, the pressure exerted on the party will be massive. All will change in the media. Pro-coalition Sinn Féin leaders who have been vilified for decades will be portrayed as great saviours of the Irish people etc. They will be praised by EU and American leaders who are allies of the Free State. Unless the left republicans are very clear on their position and well prepared, they will be steam-rolled. New reasons will be dredged up to convince members that coalition is needed to save the Irish people from much worse. It may be claimed that entry into coalition is necessary to “save the peace process” and to save northern nationalists from a return to one-party unionist domination etc It would not be difficult for the British government, the Free State authorities and the US to “ready up” such a situation

The best part of the contribution of David Connolly  is :” As presently constituted, the Irish state is incapable of change.” He also advocates joining with community organisations in a mass movement against austerity. All this is very positive. However he does not even mention the elephant which is blocking the road ahead for Irish workers. SIPTU is by far the most important of all Irish working class organisations and sets all agendas both political and economic. But its current leadership is a key support to the government’s austerity agenda and the main barrier to mobilisation of workers. It had also been deeply implicated with Fianna Fáil and the entire Irish elite in creating the circumstances in which an economic collapse was inevitable. For example, the ICTU which it dominates, was represented on the board of the central bank which allowed an outrageous level of foreign borrowing by the banking sector. Despite the savage austerity visited on workers by the Labour Party in government, unlike UNITE The UNION, SIPTU remains affiliated to the party and vigorously defends its role in government. The SIPTU leadership uses the old explanation used by all capitulators and collaborators-it would be even worse for workers if the Labour Party was not in government.

To create a wide mobilisation against austerity, The SIPTU leadership must be removed or, at a minimum, pushed aside. For a leading elected representative of workers to remain silent on these matters is inexcusable. It would not be at all surprising if, after the Labour Party is wiped out,  the SIPTU leadership puts strong pressure, both in public and in private, on Sinn Féin to replace it in coalition. Is the Sinn Féin leadership keeping lines open to the capitulationist trade union leadership?

Some years ago, Gerry Adams said that if SF had entered a joint executive with Unionists at Stormont, it would have no difficulty in principle with being in coalition with any party in Dublin.
Since the recent elections, Sinn Féin leaders (Gerry Adams, Mary Lou McDonald, Pearse Doherty) in several interviews have failed to rule out coalition with FF and/or FG in response to direct questions. They have said that abolition of the property tax is a red line issue or precondition for entering a coalition government. In response to further questions they have refused to set out any other red line issue including abolition of water charges, rejection of the Fiscal Treaty, or any particular initiative in relation to Irish Unity
The strongest position taken in public is that of Cllr Eoin Ó Broin who says that Sinn Féin should not enter a coalition in which Sinn Féin was in a minority. Some spokespeople have also said that Sinn Féin would prefer to be in a Sinn Féin-Labour-Left coalition.
The Dublin government is bound by the EU Fiscal Treaty. In the Dáil Caoimhín Ó Caolain on behalf of Sinn Féin has described this as an austerity treaty which flies in the face of the 1916 proclamation in that it is the negation of Irish sovereignty.

Whether Fianna Fáil and/or Fine Gael are the majority or minority party in a coalition, each party will insist on implementing this Treaty.
Why has Sinn Féin not made rejection of this Treaty a red line issue for participation in coalition?

THE Adams statement which inferred that if SF had entered a joint executive with Unionists at Stormont, it would have no difficulty in principle with being in coalition with any party in Dublin is seriously wrong and misleading. It may lead supporters to believe that since participation in the Stormont Executive has done no electoral damage to Sinn Féin support in the six counties, that participation in a coalition government in Dublin would not necessarily damage Sinn Fein support in the south.

The two situations are entirely different.
The northern executive is merely a mechanism for regional administration within the United Kingdom. It is not and it does not purport to be a sovereign government. It is a fact that the majority of northern nationalists have continued to support Sinn Féin as it participates in this body. Indeed Sinn Féin has ousted SDLP as the leading party in Derry in the recent elections.It is my view that northern nationalists see this continued participation as a guarantee against the return of institutionalised discrimination in the allocation of houses, other public services and to lower status in society generally.
The Dublin parliament is a totally different matter.

Despite severe de facto limitations on its actual powers, it is technically a sovereign parliament and is viewed as such and expected to act as such by the population.
There is no threat of a return to domination by a Unionist caste as in the north.
I believe that participation by Sinn Féin in a government in Dublin which did not deliver significant economic gains to the majority of the population and did not make serious progress in enhancing Irish unity and sovereignty would lead to a collapse in electoral support for Sinn Féin. The party would follow the downward road travelled by Clann na Poblachta, The Workers Party and the Labour Party. If Sinn Féin participated in a government which implemented austerity in accordance with the Fiscal Treaty, it would be wiped out.
Ireland is facing a major historical turning point. The decision of Sinn Féin on coalition in Dublin will be central to the outcome.

I believe that the depth of the historical turning point which Ireland is facing in the next two years is being underestimated . Things cannot go on in the old way because the people of the 26 counties will not tolerate increasing austerity for much longer. They have only voted against austerity. The main cohorts have not yet fought through strikes, demonstations etc but this is on the way as it is now becoming widely understood that restraint will not work. The outcome of the recent elections has accelerated this process. I believe that political crisis will be the most intense since the civil war.
I believe that the notion that Sinn Féin will be able to “play a long game” in opposition while retaining coherence is mistaken. Sinn Féin, in its membership and support, contains a number of political components. At one pole are the revolutionary republicans and at the other are the capitulationist pro-capitalists and there are all shades in between, many simply confused.
It is well to recall that all capitulators claim to be “playing a long game”. Collins said we should settle for a “stepping stone” to Irish Freedom . Brendan Corish said he was fighting for socialism “eventually”. McBride said he had first to remove Fianna Fáil patronage in giving out roadwork and to secure the declaration of a 26-county republic.
After the next election, I believe that the 26 county capitalists will not initially allow a Fine Gael- Fianna Fail coalition. This would leave them with no fall- back position as the more populist FF would be wiped out. This will leave no possibility of a government being formed without Sinn Féin. The problem is likely to be addressed in the context of a significant degree of popular mobilisation on economic issues. The class pressures on the political components of Sinn Féin will be massive as they were in the civil war period of 1921 to 1923.
There will be an intense discussion within Sinn Féin. The issue will not be one of tactical stupidity or cleverness. It is the duty of those of us who understand the positive role that revolutionary republicanism can play in the Irish socialist revolution to do what we can to ensure that the revolutionary republicans are victorious. That is why a serious discussion must take place now so that people cannot be fooled.
Simply denouncing Sinn fein in its entirety as some left wing groups do is counter-productive.
ClannNa Poblachta leader Mac Bride told the small farmer and cottier supporters of Clann Na Poblachta that he had to go into coalition with Fine Gael to break the Fianna Fail ganger system of allocating work on the roads. Collins said the Treaty would give us the freedom to win freedom. We must be ready for the “new fangled” excuses. The need to save “the peace process” and to prevent a return to one party unionist administration in the north is likely to be invoked. But there are always unexpected excuses in politics.

Let us do something positive to protect against capitulation. Let us ask Sinn Féin to publicly commit against coalition with Fianna Fáil and/or Fine Gael and to give an undertaking not to implement the Fiscal Treaty which sets aside Irish sovereignty and imposes continued austerity.
The electorate is entitled to know BEFORE the election
If Sinn Féin made such a commitment it would create a new position which would have to be considered by left wing organisations.

What is important is to positively effect what happens in the FUTURE.
Discussion of previous or current mistakes is important in order to learn from them. There are very many genuine people in Sinn Féin andin left wing groups.
There is wide agreement on the left that entry of Sinn Féin or left TDs into coalition with Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael would be disastrous for the Irish People.

There are also several “left” TDs who have not ruled out coalition with FF and/or Fine Gael.

I believe that we should focus in the discussion on getting a public undertaking in advance from Sinn Féin and left wing TDs that they will not go into coalition with FF and/or FG after the next election and that they will under no circumstances implement the Fiscal Treaty which flies in the face of the 1916 Proclamation

An Phoblacht EDITORIAL  Extract

The an Phoblacht editorial says: “Reactionary parties, north and south, who champion these cuts need to explain to those who elect them why they are so keen to punish the most vulnerable.——They should join with Sinn Féin and growing numbers of others fighting against austerity and cuts”
Presumably the editor is inviting Fg, FF, DUP, UUP who are implementing the cuts to join SF in opposing the cuts. If this is not political small talk, it is very dangerous.
It is important to recognise that the O Broin and Connolly positions are indeed “another view”.

Ready For Government? An Phoblacht, Lúnasa, 2014

Another View-Eoin ó Broin (Sinn Féin Councillor)

THERE IS A LOT OF TALK of Sinn Fein in govern­ment these days. Gerry (Adams) is telling us to get ready. Micheal (Martin FF Leader) and Enda (Kenny, Taoiseach and FG leader) are saying no way. The Indo (Irish Independent-main establishment newspaper)is in panic mode.  Things seem to be getting serious.

There is no doubt that Sinn Fein wants to be in gov­ernment in the South. But big questions remain, one of which is: ‘Are we ready?’

The straight answer is no, we are nowhere near ready to participate in government in Leinster House. But there is enough time to get ready, if we use that time wisely.

So what must we do?

The first thing is to learn from the mistakes of the past so as not to repeat them.

The experience of our Left republican predecessors in Ireland must be fully understood.

Why did Clan na Poblachta’s challenge to Fianna Fail hegemony collapse after such a bright start. Was the implosion of the Workers’ Party and the dissolution of Democratic Left inevitable?

We must also take seriously the failure of Labour to have a meaningful long-term impact on Government policy or to permanently break beyond its half-party subordinate role in Southern politics.

International experience must also be understood.

Why have European democratic socialist parties suf­fered (electorally and organisationally) from their par­ticipation in Government in France, Italy and Sweden?

 

Progressive forces have squabbled about the best route to a more equal society – reform or revolution?

What explains the return of the Right to government in Norway after the Left coalitions successful two terms in office?

If we want to enter Government to achieve real polit­ical, social and economic transformation then we need to debate and understand these failures in order to develop strategies that allow us to achieve our goals in ways that our Irish and international predecessors did not.

Then there is the question of what kind of social, eco­nomic and political transformation are we talking about.

Sinn Fein policy is strong on end points – we know where we want to get to. But we have yet to map out, in concrete policy terms, how we would get there.

How do you get from a dysfunctional and wasteful two-tier, partitioned health system to an all-Ireland, free-at-the-point-of-delivery, one-tier system? If we can’t answer these kinds of questions then we won’t be able to deliver the change we promise.

There is an urgent need for the party to map out the detail of our vision for Ireland and the route by which we plan to get there – step by step, policy decision by policy decision, across the key areas of political, social and economic life.

But policy detail is not enough. We also need to start building the coalitions for change required to overcome the already existing power alliances of the status quo.

Sinn Fein cannot deliver the kind of transformation we are seeking alone. We need to be part of a myriad of movements for change – some local, some national, some short-term and tactical, some long-term and strategic.

These alliances must be social and political, institu­tional and popular. They must involve people and organisations and combined must constitute a mass movement for a better Ireland.

For over a century, progressive forces across the globe squabbled about which was the best route to a more equal society – reform or revolution?

Today this debate is redundant. There are elements of both philosophies and strategies that are necessary if we are to fundamentally change our society.

Our goal is the radical transformation of the political, social and economic fabric of Ireland. This can only be achieved by securing a critical mass of reforms within the institutions supported by a strong and diverse pop­ular movement for change outside the institutions.

Sinn Fein are trying to do something that all of our predecessors, in Ireland and internationally, have failed to achieve to date.

Our success will depend on many things, including on how well we prepare for government.

What cannot be doubted is the seriousness of our intent. Maybe that’s why the political establishment is starting to panic.

 

Offering A Real Alternative For Government

By David Connolly, Community and SIPTU Trade Union              

Activist

DAVID CONNOLLY IS WRITING HERE IN A PERSONAL CAPACITY

(David Connolly is a member of the National Executive

Committee of SIPTU and is Chair of the Community Sector

 Committee of ICTU-Paddy Healy)

IT’S NOT SURPRISING that much of the focus by the Dublin mainstream media after the recent election successes of Sinn Fein has been on the prospects of the party being cen­tral to the formation of the next government. The results certainly sent real shockwaves through the political establishment.

As a community and trade union activist, my concern is that Sinn Fein maintains a focus on building the wider participation and engage­ment necessary to create a radically alternative political reality that serves all of our people.

Gerry Adams in his oration at the Wolfe Tone Commemoration in June declared: “We are about creating a

New Republic, with new pol­itics and a new way of doing things that puts fairness and equality at the heart of how this country is governed.”

In the struggle to achieve this ambitious and worthwhile objective, electoral activity is only one element. It is necessary to engage with and mobilise a wide range of interests, including civil society organisations, single focus groups and social issue campaigns so as to construct a broad popular movement capa­ble of enforcing a fundamental shift in the way this country is governed and enhancing the prospect of real unity across the island.

As presently constituted, the Irish state is incapable of change. This is evidenced by the continuing litany of acute social issues covered up and unresolved, and in the way the severe econom­ic collapse was foisted on the most vulnerable in soci­ety and the poorest people were punished by the impo­sition of austerity.

The governing elite – the wealthy, the professionals, the senior civil ser­vants and their political representatives – remain in power despite the destruction wrought by them, their associates and their policies.

A whole new political dispensation is required that is much more than the revolving of government between political parties. In this context Sinn Fein has much to offer.

Given Sinn Fein’s experience and evolution over the past three decades, it has very different perspec­tives on fundamental values such as justice, equality, par­ticipation and rights.

In a more immediate way it has been involved in an alternative form of govem­ing in the North; it is dealing with legacy issues arising from conflict that can inform a wider policy and has an international reputation and connections unlike any other political party on this island.

It is an outsider to the cosy political appara­tus that has governed since the foundation of the state. This offers a positive agent for change.

Undoubtedly, the attraction will be to con­centrate on consolidating the electoral victory and preparing for the next general election

Given Sinn Fein’s experience and evolution over the past three decades, it has very different perspectives on fundamental values such as justice, equality, participation and rights

with the prospect of entering government; however, in the longer term, it would be preferable to build a real alternative capable of realising the vision set out at Bodenstown. This requires a more sophisticated approach which must also complement the electoral dynamic.

In effect this will involve the party members, the elected representatives and the leadership reaching out to, participating with and helping to shape and influence campaigns mounted by and involving civic society organisations, including trade unions, NGOs, community and voluntary sector entities and campaign­ing movements involved in working for rights around disability, equality, language, gender, minorities and the broad spectrum of cam­paigning issues.

In other words, to engage not as a passive recipient of people’s issues or as a route to build the party as other political parties do, but through genuine participation bringing the function and role of the party to the centre of

the diverse range of current struggles aimed at securing justice and realising rights.

 

It is necessary to construct a broad popular movement capable of enforcing a fundamental shift in the way this country is governed and enhancing the prospect of real unity across the island

Implementing this approach involves a two­ way process, entailing increased demands on party members to become active in relevant organisations and a willing­ ness on the part of the wide range of activists who com­prise campaigning organisa­tions and movements to work with Sinn Fein as an integral part of achieving real change.

It is the effective integra­tion between political activi­ties and popular movements that will greatly enhance the capacity of Sinn Fein to offer a real alternative for govern­ment, not relying on deals with other parties but pre­senting a powerful, and collective manifesto for change that can help to achieve the vision of a New Republic, a New Ireland.

DAVID CONNOLLY IS WRITING HERE IN A PERSONAL CAPACITY

What would a Sinn Féin led Government Do?-Paddy Healy

Would Withdrawal from the Fiscal Treaty be a Red Line Issue?

Sinn Féin regards the Fiscal Treaty as a fundamental renunciation of the Sovereignty of the Irish People.

  In Dáil Éireann (Irish Parliament) during the debate on the EU Fiscal Compact ( Treaty) on April 20,2012, the Sinn Féin spokesperson, Caoimhín Ó Caoláin said : “ On Easter Sunday the Taoiseach and other Cabinet Ministers, as well as Oireachtas Members, myself included, stood outside the GPO and listened to the words of the Proclamation. As I speak on the austerity treaty today, I wonder did the Cabinet Ministers hear the same words that I heard: “We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible.” The Cabinet that stood to hear those words now asks us to put before the people for approval a treaty (The Fiscal Compact) that flies in the face of the 1916 Proclamation. It is a treaty that seeks to negate the right of the Irish people to the ownership of Ireland. It is a treaty that would surrender control of Irish destinies and fetter this and future elected governments, tying them to the failed economics of austerity. The people would have expected such a surrender from the last Government.”

http://oireachtasdebates.oireachtas.ie/debates%20authoring/debateswebpack.nsf/takes/dail2012042000006?opendocument

On RTE on July 18,2014, Pádraig Mac Lochlann TD (Sinn Féin, Donegal North East) said that his preference would be for a government of Sinn Féin, the Labour Party and Left wing TDS. He did not rule out a coalition government with traditional capitalist parties, a position which is in line with recent statements of the leader and deputy leader of Sinn Féin. However his emphasis was distinctly different.

Some weeks ago, Cllr Eoin Ó Broin, who has huge electoral support in the Dublin working class suburb of Clondalkin, opposed SF entering coalition government as a minority partner with Fianna Fail and/or Fine Gael. Clearly, the question of entering a coalition government is now a burning issue in Sinn Féin. This is to be expected as there is a strong possibility that Sinn Féin will be the biggest single party in the Dublin parliament after the next election.

I have dealt with the general issue of coalition in an earlier document. (see below)

Perhaps the most worrying aspect of recent statements by Sinn Féin leaders is the common statement that the abolition of the local property tax would be a red line issue or precondition for participation in a coalition government. Attempts by media interviewers to get the leaders to set out other red line issues failed. For example, all refused to say whether the abolition of the new water charges would be a red line issue. The implication is that abolition of property tax is the only red line issue for the Sinn Féin leaders. Revenue from property tax can easily be replaced by an equally regressive austerity measure.

In fact the tasks to be faced by any government committed to act in the interests of the majority of the Irish people will be massive. I discuss these below. In that context, it may be useful to discuss what the programme of a Sinn Féin-Labour Party-Left government would or should be. It is important to recognise that the degree of economic and political sovereignty of the Irish people is now less than at any time since before the Land Acts of the late 1800s. The Dublin Government has borrowed massively abroad to bail out the large (but not the small) investors in Irish banks. It has also borrowed massively to pay for public services, however reduced, rather than tax the incomes and/or assets of the very rich.

One outcome of this is the payment of in excess of 8 billion per year in debt servicing charges to big international investors by the exchequer alone. The political representatives of these investors, the EU powers and the US Government, have effectively total control of the current Dublin government as it had of its predecessor. A heavily indebted capitalist government can only survive by borrowing and this gives the lenders total political control. Because loans to government mature regularly and must be repaid on time, governments must regularly “roll-over” or replace loans even if it does not need to increase total borrowing.

In addition, through sales of loan books by the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA), IBRC and other Irish banks to international vulture capitalists, many more homes, shopping centres, businesses and even farms are now owned abroad than was the case before the crash. When debt servicing costs by government, banks,  householders, private businesses etc are added together, the magnitude of the outflow of value from Ireland is probably unprecedented since before the time of Michael Davitt and the land league. Total external debt, private and public, was over ten times the size of Irish GDP(over 1000% of GDP !!), one of the highest in the world even before the current fire-sales of assets began. See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_external_debt

Successive governments have pursued a policy which has made the provision of extra jobs almost solely dependent on multi-national companies when there is not a construction bubble in existence. The recent successful demand by Bausch and Lomb in Waterford for pay cuts raises issues of national sovereignty as well as trade union issues. Now the Irish Government is coming under severe international pressure to change aspects of its low corporation tax regime which is central to its job creation policy.Ultimately the EU and the US will decide what corporate tax regime Ireland is allowed to have.  In summary, successive governments have put the provision of existing and future Irish jobs in the hands of other countries.

The Fiscal Compact requires that the current deficit be reduced below 3% of GDP by end of 2015, that the “structural deficit” be eliminated by 2018 and that the public debt to GDP ratio be reduced to 60% over 20 years. Despite the physical exit of the Troika from Dublin , the government is treaty bound to further reduce the current budget deficit in 2015 to reduce the deficit from 4.8% to 3% of GDP. There has been no recovery of national sovereignty.

The current budget deficit of Germany has been below 3% for a number of years. ” But although the German public deficit stayed within the EU limit of 3 percent of GDP for the third year in a row in 2013, it came down from a budget surplus of 0.1 percent in 2012.” http://www.dw.de/german-economic-growth-flat-in-2013-but-deficit-under-control/a-17362284

The EU has now quantified the budgetary position which would be required to eliminate  the Irish “structural deficit” in order to comply with the Fiscal Treaty. (EU Report on Ireland, March 2014)   The over-all deficit needs to be converted from -4.8 % of GDP in 2014  to +4.9% in 2018. Based on a GDP of 148 billion Euro in 2012, this requires a further 14 billion in cuts and tax rises unless there is significant economic growth. Growth in GDP in 2013 was +0.2% , which means total stagnation as 0.2% is less than the probable error in the estimate.

Germany has no structural deficit.  http://ec.europa.eu/europe2020/pdf/nd/sp2013_germany_en.pdf

Under the Fiscal Treaty Irish government debt must be reduced (not rolled over) from 102% of GDP now to 60% of GDP over the next 20 years. This requires further significant expenditure cuts and tax rises into the distant future. German national debt to GDP ratio at 57% is already below the 60% figure in the Treaty as can be seen at this link . http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_public_debt

Fire-sales of assets by the current government may provide it with some short term relief of pressure but only at the cost of increasing debt and austerity above what it otherwise would be in the longer term. In summary, a Sinn Féin –Left Government, would be faced with a very difficult situation, to put it mildly. The extraction of a few hundred million in wealth tax from millionaires, however welcome, would merely scratch the surface of the problem.

In summary, a government cannot act in the interests of the Irish people while implementing the Fiscal Treaty. This Treaty, while its provisions are formally the same for all countries covered, is grossly discriminatory against the programme countries in general and against Ireland in particular. Germany is a net creditor country while Ireland and other programme countries are large net debtors.  See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Net_international_investment_position

In summary Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil supported a grossly unequal Treaty which had no effect on the German budgetary or state debt position but which crucified the Irish people under every heading!!!

Would Sinn Féin in Government implement the Fiscal Treaty? To do so would be to continue the undermining of Irish Sovereignty and to continue austerity policies with inevitable failure to tackle unemployment. It would be to continue doing what Caoimhín Ó Caolaáin TD (SF) accused the current government of doing in his Dáil speech!!!! Refusal to implement the Fiscal Treaty should be the real red line issue for any left government!

What Would Fianna Fáil Do if Elected?

It  may be useful to discuss what a Fianna Fáil government if elected would do in the context of these constraints. Fianna Fail, with the exception of Eamonn Ó Caoimh TD, supported the Fiscal Treaty and can be expected to implement it. But they will need a political cover. It is inevitable that Fianna Fáil would say that the current government left a complete mess. The “recovery” was a complete fake. Fine Gael and Labour are to blame. Further austerity is necessary to bring about a real recovery!

What Would Sinn Féin Do if Elected???  (To Be continued) (In the document below I say:For my part, I would ,of course, insist that socialists and republicans should not be in any government which includes Fianna Fail and/or Fine Gael even as minority parties. They would veto any real change even from a minority position.)   ( Continued higher up here)

The Exciting Possibility of A LEFT GOVERNMENT by Jack O’Connor, General President SIPTU

OVER the last two elections, upwards of 40% of the electorate, twice as many as previously, opted for ‘Left’ platforms. This raises the exciting possibility of a Left of centre government. However, the scale of the challenge should not be underestimated.

Even on the basis of the most recent polls, the parties of the Centre-Right would still easily command an absolute majority of seats in the Oireachtas. Moreover, if the turnout in the next general election replicates that of 2011, there will be 14 votes cast for every 10 in the locals. All the polls show the “don’t knows” running in the order of 30%. These are the people who will tip the balance.

The next election will not be a plebiscite on austerity but rather a search for solutions. If the Left is to seriously contest to win, it must offer a sustainable economic and social strategy, in the context of globalisation, also taking account of the debt reduction rule of the Fiscal Treaty.

The vitriolically superficial character of our public exchanges should end at once. Labour people should acknowledge that, despite legiti­mate criticisms, the current leadership of Sinn Fein has returned its party to the Left republican course which reflects the outlook of the Democratic Programme of 1919, the 1916 Proclamation and the egalitarian values which extend back through the Fenians and Wolfe Tone to the French Revolution.

Moreover, we should also acknowledge the success of that approach in the Peace Process which now offers the realistic possibility of the reunification of Ireland through consent.

Sinn Fein and people on the non-sectarian Left should acknowledge that, far from selling out and notwith­standing equally legitimate criticisms, Labour in Government has prevented public spending cuts which would have extended to between a further €1.Sbil­lion to €2billion. This would have entailed slashing the basic rates of social wel­fare and outsourcing of public provision on an industrial        scale, resulting inthe ‘Greyhoundisation’ of thousands of jobs.

They should also acknowledge Labour’s role in improving collective bargaining rights and defending the legal infrastructure which protects the pay and terms of employment of more than 200,000 lower-paid workers as well as prevent­ing the wholesale divestiture of public assets at bargain basement prices. All of us should also recognise the critically important role of ”Left Independents” in pursuit of democratic accountability and defending communities. However, they in turn should accept that the attainment of a left of centre government would offer the prospect of much greater progress towards a prosperous, egalitar­ian society.

Realistically, a Government of the Left would not unilaterally “burn the bondholders” or repu­diate the Fiscal Treaty either, given the danger that such a route could become a one-way tick­et to the Stone Age. However, they could shift the tax/cuts burden by €lbillion to €1.5 billion incrementally, from those least able to those most able to shoulder it, in the manner outlined by the Nevin Institute. This would allow for the abolition of both the Property Tax and the Water Charges, which undoubtedly would be popular but hardly progressive.

Deployment of these new resources on build­ing a decent health service, universally available to all, free at the point of use, ending the hous­ing crisis, improving education and public provi­sion otherwise, or making gradual progress on all three simultaneously would be far better.

That would actually constitute a real egalitar­ian agenda.

Of course, some steps could be taken to rebal­ance the Property Tax further, thus rendering it fairer, and to introduce a system of water credits to ensure that everyone had an adequate free supply to meet their basic household needs.

The real challenge for the Left, though, is on the generation of wealth as distinct from the dis­tribution of it.

We must counter the inevitable cuts, public asset divestment and tax competition approach of the Centre Right with a ‘New
Economic Policy’, constructed around public enterprise, strategic investment and skills development.

This in turn should be complemented by a sophisticated elec­toral alliance that is not simply about Labour and others

on the Left serving as transfer fodder for Sinn Fein but which is designed to maximise seat gain to offer the electorate the prospect of a cohe­sive, stable alternative Government.

At the end of the day, the real battle between Right and Left is as it always was – low tax, pri­vate affluence and public squalor on the one hand versus social solidarity, through sustain­able public provision, underpinned by fair taxa­tion, high productivity and a prosperous economy on the other.

BEYOND THE POLITICS OF ANTI-AUSTERITY, By Jimmy Kelly General Secretary og Irish Region, UNITE THE UNION

FOLLOWING the recent elections, progres­sives have still not grabbed the opportunity to drive a new agenda. The Right and employers still dominate the narrative, from taxation to banking policy to economic growth. This challenges all who share progressive values to coalesce and offer a political alternative to the two conservative parties.

But providing a clear economic and social alternative means moving beyond the politics of anti-austerity. This will require honest debate and a radical vision. Challenging the orthodoxy is never easy; it will be even more difficult when the dominant commentary would have us believe that the economy is not only recovering but actually roaring back .That this refrain was rejected by hundreds of thousands in the last election will be of little benefit if we can’ t, together, advance an alter­native vision.

We need to identify several policies to pro­mote long-term, sustainable growth capable of creating full employment with liv­ing wages. Most importantly, the driving force behind economic pros­perity is the level of investment in the economy – public and infrastructural investment, business investment and investment in people’s skill, education and access to the labour market. In all these, Ireland performs poorly. This is not just a result of the recession but something that was apparent before and covered over by the property bubble.

Despite the propaganda, Ireland would have to double its level of investment just to reach the European average.

The deficits are everywhere – from the massive social housing waiting lists, to a creaking water and waste system, to an underdeveloped telecommunications nd energy infrastructure.

In particular, the social housing crisis – with 90,000 on the waiting lists and growing – needs to be urgently addressed. Permanent stable housing is a fundamental social right. To increase social housing would not only vindicate this right, it would drive employ­ment in the badly-hit construction sector.

We also need to address the historically low level of business investment in Ireland. We have the perverse situation where we have one of the highest levels of corporate profit, an ultra-low corporate tax rate but one of the lowest levels of corporate investment. With our corporate model coming under increas­ing international scrutiny, we need a new approach to building a sustainable market economy and export sector.

We need a revolution in education and fam­ily support policies. Increasing investment in education (especially early education) is the one of the best ways to promote future growth. We need a rational, efficient and free public education system at all levels. And we need policies that help families as they attempt to balance work and home life – in particular, a strong public sector childcare network at affordable fees.

Investing in children, families and people’s skills and life opportunities is not a cost – it is the recipe for growth.

We must also accept that our indigenous sector is currently incapable of delivering full employment. We would have to double our manufacturing employment in indigenous companies just to reach the average of other small open European economies. Throwing around money and subsidies will not address this problem (that’s what we have been doing for decades). We need new planning mecha­nisms and the full participation of all stake­holders – that is, workers – to create a dynamic native business sector.

A successful economy will be wage-led. Unite was involved with other groups in the Living Wage Technical Group which calculat­ed the Living Wage to be €11.45. We estimate that over 300,000 workers earn below this hourly level. And this dcesn’ t count those workers with children (who require a higher wage or public services) or those workers stuck in precarious work, unable to find full­time, stable employment.

We need strategies to strengthen labour in the workplace: an increased minimum wage, a more robust Joint Labour Committee syst­em, real collective bargaining rights, and the right of part-time workers to extra hours in the workplace as per an EU Directive that succes­ive governments have failed to implement We also need a strong social wage if we want good public services, income supports and pensions.

Irish living standards are well below the EU 15­ average while deprivation – which affects more than one million people (of whom a quarter are actually in work) – is growing. A

strong social wage would mean substantially increasing employers’ PRSI (social insurance) payments. We cannot tolerate a situation where workers have to pay for their own services ­out of wages which are below those of other countries.

Such a new social compact can only be driven forward by a coalition of progressives based on shared values, a common analysis and determination to ensure that – when the recovery does happen – it is a recovery for people.

Comment By Rory Hearne on article below on Facebook

Rory Hearne
July 19 at 7:01pm
It highlights the need for a political alliance/organisation on the left that makes the case that significant change will only come when working unemployment & marginalised people engage in struggle – themselves & would only partake in a left led gov that would supprt radical transformation – A New Republic -Sinn Fein will come under massive pressure to be responsible & limit their radical policies. Where is the increse on taxes on multinationals or ending ppps & privatisation & expanding public & community & cooperative services. The left still has a way to go to build a popular base in struggle & electoral support – jumping into a market constrained gov would be a disaster

Earlier article   Sinn Féin and Participation in Coalition with Traditional Capitalist Parties Cllr Eoin Ó Broin, Sinn Fein, has ignited a discussion on the attitude of the leadership of Sinn Féin to coalition with Irish traditional capitalist parties. He has enunciated a position of opposition to participation in any coalition government LED by these parties (Fianna Fail and Fine Gael). This is markedly different from the position of the leader and deputy leader of Sinn Féin who have not ruled out such participation. THE CONTEXT OF THE DISCUSSION I believe that WBS (administrator of the Left Wing Blog:Cedar Lounge Revolution)  is correct when he says:” It(Fianna Fail-the main party of Government since 1932) is now in deep trouble because it is outflanked on its Republican side by Sinn Féin. And on its centre left side by… Sinn Féin. On its right side Fine Gael(current majority party in Government) offers an alternative, and an alternative that despite its not great poll position has at least the single great virtue of being in government and likely to remain there after the next election.” For my part,I believe that the European election outcome is the best estimate of the support for parties. European Election %   May 23 FF 22.3 FG 22.3 SF 19.5 Lab 5.3 Others 30.6 FF benefitted from traditional loyalties to local FF families in the local elections and to some extent by the return of conservative voters who had defected to Fine Gael in the 2011 General Election.  Indeed the FF figure in the European elections is inflated by the unusual personal vote of Brian Crowley in Ireland South. (Crowley has now defied the FF leadership and defected to the group which includes the British Tories in the EU Parliament-an indication of the deep crisis in Fianna Fáil) I would go further than WBS. FF cannot recover unless and until Sinn Féin is fatally damaged. FF previously recovered in the fifties after former IRA leader Seán McBride , leader of Clann na Poblachta, entered coalition with Fine Gael. Could it happen again by Sinn Féin entering coalition? The report of an interview with Mary Lou McDonald in the Sunday Times last Sunday (carried below) is deeply disturbing. Though Fine Gael support is diminishing, it is a much more stable political and social formation than Fianna Fáil being deeply rooted in the old Irish propertied and self-employed professional classes. I believe that the real Irish decision makers will prevent a coalition of FF and FG coming to power except as a very last resort. The separate options of governments anchored by FF and FG has been a key factor in maintaining the relative stability of the Free State for decades. A coalition of FF and FG would lead to the rapid disintegration of FF in the context of implementing the Fiscal Treaty. Additionally, the trade union leaders despite their best efforts to protect such a government would be unable to keep workers in check. I believe that the Irish elite will opt for a Fine Gael/Sinn Fein Government. When this becomes very unpopular, Fianna Fail would be available as the anchor of an alternative government. It is the task of socialists and genuine republicans to prevent this elite strategy achieving success. Sinn Féin Leaders on Coalition The position of Cllr Eoin Ó Broin (carried below) is a very different position to that put forward by Sinn Fein President, Gerry Adams, and Deputy Leader, Mary Lou McDonald (both carried below) and I welcome it as an important step. In the recent local elections, Eoin O Broin headed the poll in the heavily working class South Dublin  ward of Clondalkin. The second person elected was also a Sinn Fein candidate. He is virtually certain to be elected to the Dáil in the next general election. For my part, I would ,of course, insist that socialists and republicans should not be in any government which includes Fianna Fail and/or Fine Gael even as minority parties. They would veto any real change even from a minority position. In this they would be supported by the entire ruling elite and its international allies (remember the Allende Government in Chile). Eoin only rules out Sinn Fein being in a Fine Gael or Fianna Fail LED government. However his position is, indeed, an important step. It ignites a real discussion on the way forward. Councillor Eoin Ó Broin on his Blog   02/07/14 After The Election http://eoinobroin.wordpress.com/2014/07/01/after-the-election/ Posted: July 1, 2014 in Elections, Sinn Féin Tags: Elections Sinn Féin had a good election. We consolidated our position in the North and significantly increased our strength in the South. We are now well placed to make significant gains in the next Dáil election. As we face into that electoral contest two questions will loom large. Voters and the media will want to know who we would enter government with and what economic policies will form the core of our campaign. In the 2007 election we fudged the first question and back-peddled on the second. The electorate punished us for both mistakes. In 2011 we set out a real alternative to the austerity consensus and pledged not to enter coalition with Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael. The electorate rewarded us with an extra 10 seats. Of course there was a lot more to these elections than just that – but a central part of the outcome of both contests was our answer to those two key questions. The reason is simple. In Dáil elections most voters are thinking about who they want and who they don’t want in government. They make strategic calculations based on what they think is actually possible. Until recently a government led by any party other than Fianna Fail or Fine Gael was not available, no matter how much some of us may have wished for it. This is changing. The combined support for the two centre right parties is falling. A growing number of people –as indicated in the left of centre vote in 2011 and 2014- want something different. The electorate are realising that a better fairer southern Ireland requires an end to the dominance of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. Whether there will be enough of us to end that dominance by the next general election is not yet clear. In large part that will be determined by how we fight the campaign and whether we can convince enough of those people yearning for real change that Sinn Féin is the party that can deliver. We need to come our early and set out our stall clearly. Sinn Féin should loudly declare that we will not participate in a Fianna Fail or Fine Gael led government after the next general election. We want to be in government – but not at any price. We want to be in power to deliver deep and long lasting social, economic and political change. That can-not be achieved in a government where the majority voice is either of the centre right parties. So we should tell the electorate that if they want real change they need a government led by Sinn Féin. If the post elections numbers don’t allow this people need to know that we won’t go back on our word, but will continue to build popular support for a real alternative from the opposition benches. We also need to set out our key political commitments – the red line issues that must form the basis of Sinn Féin participation in any government. We should produce a short pre-election manifesto outlining our key priorities on job creation, tax reform, public spending and political reform. It should be radical, credible and costed. We should print a million copies in pocket book format and go door to door from October. Our aim should be to convince as many people as possible of the merits of our left republican alternative before the election is even called. The next Dáil election has the potential to be a game changer. But that requires us to play a different type of game to 2007 and 2011. If we are serious about the kind of Ireland we want to help create then we need to rise to the challenge. People are hungry for change but they are distrustful of politicians. We have to convince them that Sinn Féin is different – that we mean what we say and will only take office if it means wielding real power to create a better and more equal Ireland

COMMENTS

Séamus says July 2,2014: I think you have to accept that motions to reject coalition with FF and FG and any right-wing party have been defeated at the party’s Ard Fheis.
Eamonn Óg Ó Gallachóir says:
July 3, 2014 at 17:36
An Ard comhairle meeting can rectify that- bring a special meeting if they need, I would include labour in with the right wing to leave them out- questions what u know about left and right

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald, Deputy Leader of Sinn Fein,  in Sunday Times   Sinn Fein: Tax Ideals Up For Negotiation McDonald says pledge could be sacrificed to form government, writes Stephen O’Brien  Sunday Times 29/06/14 MARY LOU McDONALD has admitted Sinn Fein’s promises of a 1% wealth tax on assets over €lm and a48% tax rate for high earners – those paid over €100,000 -could be sacrificed in negotiations to agree a Pro­gramme for Government. The deputy leader of Sinn Fein has revealed her party’s commitment to abolish the property tax will be the only red line in any talks with other parties about formation of a government after the next gen­eral election. “We don’t believe it to be intrinsically a left-wing virtue to tax the family home. The notion is that you tax income, certainly, and that you tax wealth to create a fairer distri­bution,” she said. McDonald admitted the yield from the party’s proposed wealth tax would not be fully costed by the Department of Finance this year, because the Central Statistics Office would not have gathered all the data necessary to measure the likely yield until mid-2015. In 2012, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions estimated that a wealth tax of 1% on assets over €2m could yield €60-€80m a year. Sinn Fein is estimating that its wealth tax – 1% on assets over €lm – could bring in up to 0.5% of GDP or €800m in a full tax year. McDonald said the party would submit all of its budget proposals to the Department of Finance for costing “as a whole”, but it would propose setting aside the yield from a wealth tax for a job stimulus fund. This would mean if Sinn Fein’s estimate of revenue proved to be too high, this would not have an impact on its calculations of the budget deficit. Labour, the Socialist party and People Before Profit would be her preference as coalition partners for Sinn Fein in gov­ernment. McDonald, the favourite to succeed Gerry Adams as party leader, said she would be more comfortable in government with “the party of Connolly” and other left­leaning groups and independ­ents than with either Hanna Fail or Fine Gael. “The dynamic of Irish poli­tics now is different than it was five or 10 years ago. We are in a state of flux, which makes it interesting,” said McDonald. “If the numbers stack up and if the people wish it to be so, of course you could have a left­leaning government. I would have a preference for that, for the simple reason it allows you a lot more political scope to deliver change. It is not that evry party or candidate of the left . . . shares every single policy and detail in common, there is a common dynamic and I think the dynamic is important alongside the policy position.” However, McDonald did not rule out the prospect of coali­tion with either Fianna Fail or Fine Gael, though she agreed a Fine Gael/Sinn Fein alliance seemed “incompatible” and the least likely outcome “given their background, their past”. She said Sinn Fein would not rush into government just for the sake of being there. Asked if her preferred coali­tion option was a hint that she feels Labour will do better than expected at the next election, McDonald said: “No, I think the Labour party is in big, big trouble, worse than that sug­gested by opinion poll figures or election results. “It is almost an existential crisis for the Labour party. Who are they, what do they represent, why are they in gov­ernment? “I don’t have a crystal ball, but I would like to think the party of James Connolly and that tradition in Irish political life would find its feet again, and I think the correct collabo­rators or allies for [that] party are people on the left and the likes of Sinn Fein. “I am always baffled at senior Labour party people going off on a bizarre tangent of feeling that their role in life is to, savage or to stop Sinn Fein … very, very odd. You hear it even from the two candidates for leadership, Alex White and Joan Burton.” In a RedC poll published today, the first since the local elections last May, the Labour party’s support was measured at 7%, down four points on the previous poll and tracking its performance in May. McDonald declined to state what number of seats Sinn Fein would need to win in order to consider entering govern­ment, but did say having 30 TDs would put it “in the mix” in terms of considering the options.   Property tax removal a condition for coalition, says Adams Harry McGee   Irish Times   Last Updated: Monday, June 23, 2014, 10:46 Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has confirmed that reversing the property tax will be a bottom-line issue for the party to enter a coalition government. However, he refused to say if a 48 per cent rate of tax for those earning €100,000 or more would be a deal-breaker. Over the weekend Mr Adams told a Sinn Féin meeting the party needs to begin preparing for government and getting its policy priorities right. Outlining the party’s strategy, he told RTE this morning this will mean developing and working out where best it can stand in preparing candidates and also changing mindsets. “We want to be in government and we want to be ambitious for change,” he said. He said Sinn Féin would not go into government like Labour did and provide a cover for conservative parties. “Let’s get ready to be in government and let’s work out the terms.” When pressed on specific non-negotiable issues for Sinn Féin, Mr Adams agreed it would insist on property tax being scrapped. But in response to persistent questioning on Morning Ireland, Mr Adams would not give the same commitment for the top rate of tax for those earning over €100,000. “We are putting people on alert that we need to be ready for government. This will all be prepared in the upcoming period,” he said. Mr Adams emphasised the biggest difference between Sinn Féin and other parties was its emphasis on core republican values, and the entitlements of citizens to a job, a clean environment and other rights. “We want to see a strategy for Irish unity,” he said, saying Sinn Féin wanted a democratic way of bringing it about with unionists.Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has confirmed that reversing the property tax will be a bottom-line issue for the party to enter government. However, he refused to say if a 48 per cent rate of tax for those earning €100,000 or more would be a deal-breaker. Over the weekend Mr Adams told a Sinn Féin meeting the party needs to begin preparing for government, getting its policy priorities right. Outlining the party’s strategy, he told RTÉ radio this morning that it will mean getting policy priorities right, developing and working out where best it can stand in preparing candidates and also changing mindsets. “We want to be in government and we want to be ambitious for change,” he said. He said Sinn Féin would not go into government like Labour did and provide a cover for conservative parties. “Let’s get ready to be in government and let’s work out the terms.” When pressed on specific non-negotiable issues for Sinn Féin, Mr Adams agreed it would insist on property tax being scrapped. But in response to persistent questioning on Morning Ireland, Mr Adams would not give the same commitment for the top rate of tax for those earning over €100,000. “We are putting people on alert that we need to be ready for government. This will all be prepared in the upcoming period,” he said. Mr Adams emphasised the biggest difference between Sinn Féin and other parties was its emphasis on core republican values, and the entitlements of citizens to a job, a clean environment and other rights. “We want to see a strategy for Irish unity,” he said, saying Sinn Féin wanted a democratic way of bringing it about with unionists. © 2014 irishtimes.com

Categories: Uncategorized

UPDATED:WHAT IS TO BE DONE IN TRADE UNIONS?

A general article on the approach union activists should adopt to combat the capitulatory union leaders is carried below.

STOP PRESS

RESTORATION OF PAY CUTS IN PUBLIC SERVICE???????

New Government-ICTU Confidence Trick

The story about restoration of pay and pensions in the public service is a misleading kite been flown jointly by government and the Public Services Committee of ICTU. It is designed to relieve pressure on union leaders and on government. The timescale , they hope, should see them through the general election. We will be invited to vote Labour to ensure restoration of pay and pensions and the “success” of the talks.

Already the timescale of the Haddington Rd agreement was set to see the government through the next election.

But even the promise of jam tomorrow is completely false. Already unions are negotiating pay rises in the profitable part of the private sector covering about 50% of private sector workers according to  LRC chief Kieran Mulvey in a radio interview.. He has also pointed out that SIPTU has negotiated pay  rises  in 250 employments recently and MANDATE has also done so in large retail employments. Mulvey said these rises were normaly of the order of 2 to 5%. This means they are effectively cost of living rises. Faced with the inevitability of conceding similar rises in the public service, ICTU and Government have decided to call them “restoration”. Because they are the same cost of living rises as in the profitable private sector, there will be in fact no restoration in comparison to the profitable part of the private sector. Those in the public service who get the cost of living rises will have them strung out over years. But Minister Howlins statement indicates that many public servants will not receive “restoration”. This means they will not even receive cost of living rises.

This confidence trick would not be possible without the collusion of the public service trade union leaders who are responsible for a historic capitulation through Croke Park 1, Croke Park 2, Haddington Rd and aove all agreeing to FEMPI, the anti-worker  law.

We are seeing a continuation of the historic capitulation of ICTU in new packaging.

 

 

 

What is to be Done in Trade Unions?

ICTU CONFERENCE UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTED EMERGENCY MOTION ON THE FISCAL EMERGENCY MEASURES IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST LEGISLATION at its meeting in Belfast in June 2013:The following motion, sponsored by the INMO, Civil and Public Services Union (CPSU), UNITE and the Irish Bank Officials Association (IBOA) was unanimously adopted by the ICTU Biennial Delegate Conference:

“ Conference, noting:

  • that the Fiscal Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act undermines the principle of collective bargaining in the public sector and concerned that this may set a precedent for the private sector;
  •  that the legislation provides extraordinary powers to government Ministers to unilaterally vary terms and conditions of employment;
  • that there is no specified end period for this “emergency” legislation; and
  • that this anti trade union legislation has been introduced in the centenary of the 1913 lockout;

calls on the incoming Executive to mount a vigorous, and robust, campaign against this legislation with the goal of seeing it repealed.”

It should be noted that SIPTU, IMPACT, PSEU and the teachers unions voted for this resolution after they had used the Act to force members to accept the Haddington Rd Agreement under which conditions of employment and pensions were significantly worsened. Nothing whatever has been done to implement the resolution in the year since it was passed-surprise! surprise!

The unions  proposing the motion were only too correct when they included in the motion the fact that they were “concerned that this may set  a precedent for the private sector”. Indeed in its recommendation to members to reject Croke Park 2, the TEEU rightly gave as one of the reasons that the cuts would knock-on to the private sector.  

Employers in the private sector, as expected, have now intensified their assault on pay and conditions. Bausch and Lomb, the Greyhound bin company and numerous employers about the country are imposing pay cuts and other worsening of conditions, often, after Labour Court/LRC intervention. For example Bulmers Cider-Showerings and a chemical company , both in Clonmel, have recently imposed pay reductions. The attempt by Iarnród Éireann to cut pay continues.

(The demands of Bausch and Lomb are extremely threatening for workers in multinational companies and for the Irish people generally. The powerlessness of workers and the Irish Government in the face of these threatshighlights the effect of undue reliance on multi-national investment which, itself, is related to the failure to solve the national question in the 1798 to 1923 period with all its implications for economic sovereignty. I will return to this in a further document)

And why wouldn’t employers go on the offensive? Public service unions, including SIPTU, have been telling members for months that they had to vote for cuts under the Haddington Rd Agreement lest worse befall them under the FEMPI Act. Indeed, after the vast majority of public servants had rejected Croke Park 2, ICTU Gen Sec David Begg “intervened” and went on Radio Eireann to say that unions who said that no cuts in the public service pay bill were acceptable were being “unrealistic”!!!!  Private sector employers are now taking him at his word!!! The slogan; “an injury to one is the concern of all” is not solely or even mainly based on altruism.

What is happening at the top of the trade union  movement is a degree of betrayal of Irish workers interests that is unprecedented.    

Trade union activists of my age would have spent a lifetime criticising trade union leaders from my own general secretaries to Mickey Mullen, Fitan Kennedy, Denis Larkin, Tommy Heerey, John Mulhall, Harold O’Sullivan in the early years to more recent leaders such as Billy Atlee and many others for not being sufficiently militant.  But none of these were ever involved in anything remotely like the level of compliance with government that has occurred since the banking crash. Engaging in talks in the context of statutory pay and pension cuts by Lenihan, failing to oppose FEMPI while Howlin was piloting it through the Dail and continuing negotiations in its shadow, allowing government to deduct Home Tax from pay,  agreeing for the first time, under Croke Park 1, that permanent public servants could were liable for compulsory redundancy and therefore had to agree to cuts to avoid it. The level of compliance is also unsurpassed in any of the European bailout countries.

 

 UNION LEADERS SUPPORTING LABOUR HUMILIATED IN EUROPEAN ELECTION!

 

The political earthquake in voting allegiance in recent elections presents huge problems for union leaders. The combined non-Labour Party Left (excluding Sinn Féin) is now bigger than the Labour Party in local government! Big unions affiliated to the Labour Party were unable to deliver votes to Labour. A large banner on the SIPTU building in central Dublin urged votes for Emer Costelloe (Labour Party). There are 11 other trade unions affiliated  to the Labour Party including TSSA, UCATT and Municipal Employees Division of IMPACT. The Irish Region of UNITE had dissaffiliated from the Irish Labour Party before the election. The big retail union MANDATE has not been affiliated to the Labour Party for decades. Because of its pivotal place in the past and present of the Irish working class, in addition to its size, SIPTU (ITGWU)  through its leadership has a special responsibility for the austerity being imposed by the Labour Party in government.

In addition to Sinn Féin heading the European election poll in the Dublin Constituency with over 88,000 votes we see the following in details of the first count:

Socialist Party Murphy, Paul 29953
Labour Party Costello, Emer 25961
People before Profit (SWP) Smith, Bríd 23875

The leaders of SIPTU, the giant general union, were totally ignored by their members.  It is clear that union leaders are totally out of step with the popular mood. Nevertheless, since the election, SIPTU leader Jack O’Connor has  said: “Labour should remain in Government. It is vital there is a voice in Cabinet to challenge austerity” (Cork Echo June 5)     UNBELIEVABLE!!!!!!!!  National mobilisation of members could not even be mentioned as an alternative!

 

Stirrings Among Union Members  

Already, union members are wearying of continued retreats before the offensive of employers in the private and public sectors. Is the unofficial stoppage at Greyhound a harbinger of the great waves of unofficial strikes of the sixties which culminated in the defeat of the employers in the Maintenance strike. Workers in Irish rail, Aer lingus, Bausch and Lomb and the Paris Bakery are either involved or have been recently involved in industrial conflict situations. The blows delivered to the government parties  in the recent elections cannot but give impetus to the determination of workers to resist economic attacks in their employments. Collaboration with austerity  governments has reached an all time intensity in recent pay reduction deals in the public service. The trade union leaderships are the praetorian guard of pro-austerity governments. But the worm may now be turning—–.

The Irish trade union leadership has been unusually compliant since 1969. That was the year in which an elected cross-union strike committee of maintenance craftsmen inflicted a historic defeat on Irish employers as a whole. The craftsmen won with massive support from general workers who respected their pickets.  Only one of 23 craft union leaderships was supporting the strike when the employers collapsed and settled individually with the strikers. The then Leader of the ICTU had called on members of his own general union (Marine Port and General Workers Union) to place pickets on workplaces in protest against the craftsmen’s activities!! Following the strike the entire unionised Irish workforce through relativity systems and under threat of a strike wave secured bigger increases than the craftsmen who then caught up! All modern wages in Ireland are based on the gains of the strike of maintenance craftsmen in 1969. Far from celebrating the victory, the top ICTU leadership immediately changed picketing rules in an attempt to ensure that the solidarity shown could never happen again. ICTU then tolerated changes in industrial relations law by government, which inter alia, gave increased powers to general secretaries over members and elected executives!

Background

Since the anti-conscription strike of 1917, the  ITUC Congress and Labour Party, as it was then known, has not spoken politically on behalf of the majority of Irish workers. It failed to lead the national struggle and the social struggles of the 1918-1923 period to a successful conclusion. This failure ceded the allegiance of Irish workers to Unionist parties in the northern state and pro-capitalist nationalist parties in the souther state. Since then, social democracy in Ireland north and south has always been a stunted organism. Unlike the Irish case, in imperialist countries, such as Germany  and the UK, its parties have been in government alone. There was a huge surge of workers into the trade unions in the 1918 to 1922 period, principally but not only into the ITGWU, now called SIPTU. In this sense, the self identity of the Irish working class as having a separate class interest is historically and practically centred on the trade unions rather than on the Labour Party as in the UK. The Irish trade union leadership was deeply involved in the false boom and subsequently in collaboration with the FF/Green Government and the FG/Lab government in implementing austerity programmes.

 

RECENT HISTORY

ICTU secretary General David Begg was a senior member of the board of the Central Bank  for 14 years up to the year 2010.  He reports to the executive council of ICTU. Before he became governor of the Central Bank, the current governor, Professor Honohan, in Economic and Social Review (Summer 2009) said:“Irish banking system had been, in effect, on a life-support system since September 2008.—-.Complacency resulted in the banks fuelling the late stage of an obvious construction bubble with massive foreign borrowing, leaving them exposed to solvency and liquidity risks which in past times would have been inconceivable–At the end of 2003, net indebtedness of Irish banks to the rest of the world was just 10 per cent of GDP. By early 2008 that had jumped to over 60 per cent”   The borrowing of 50% of Gross Domestic Product over 5 years by the covered banks is precisely what the Central Bank is tasked to prevent-grossly irresponsible borrowing which threatens financial stability. Following the banking collapse, countless thousands have lost their jobs and savage austerity has been visited on the population including pay and pension cuts.   There had been a formal system of social partnership in place from 1987 until the economic collapse in 2009. Subsequently collaboration with government by the trade union leadership intensified.   After the FF/Green government legislated for pay and pension cuts in the public service (Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act, 2010) and implemented a moratorium on the filling of posts in the public service, union leaders negotiated further major reductions in the public service pay  bill over 3 years(Public Service Agreement 2011-2014) with the same government! Though the new FG/Lab  government reneged on the deal in 2013, and introduced draconian anti-union Legislation (FEMPI 2013), the union leaders negotiated a new 3 year deal implementing further cuts in the public pay bill  with the FG/Labour government . The trade union leaders are completely complicit in implementing austerity policies. Currently, the collaboration takes place through Labour Party ministers in government. But I do not believe that the complicity with the present government is due to the presence of the Labour Party in the government.  All the evidence is that the union leaders would be equally complicit with any government which maintained the cast of senior trade union officials as an integral part of the elite of Irish society. SEE   http://wp.me/pKzXa-gw

 

What Is to Be Done?

When I say that it is essential that the left and the trade unions show a new way forward to the Irish people in the current ongoing economic and political crisis, I do not mean that the current trade union leaders can be expected to do this. Activists must, of course, continue and intensify efforts to bring the leaders under democratic control of members and to replace those not amenable to such control.  However, if one depended solely on proceedings at annual congresses and branch/section meetings, workers would be long defeated before such processes were concluded. Irish workers have a particularly strong tradition of “unofficial” industrial action in addition to official action. But workers have been particularly quiet since the beginning of the economic crisis. There had been very significant improvements in workers living standards in the decade before the onset of recession.   The recession came as quite a shock to all. Trade union leaders and politicians reinforced the same message. If short term or temporary pain were accepted, previous relative prosperity would be recovered. Many believed this or thought it might be true.  But very few now hold this view and the number decreases as time goes by. After the overall exchequer deficit has been reduced below 3% of GDP in the budget 2015, the state is committed to removing the “structural deficit” by 2018 and paying down state debt from 120% of GDP to 60% over 20 years under the Fiscal Treaty. Resistance by workers in their employment is already increasing. Commercial companies which are partially or wholly owned by the state are now seeking to worsen conditions of employment. Workers in Aer Lingus and Irish rail are resisting. The largely immigrant workforce in a small Dublin centre bakery is sitting in to demand wages owed and redundancy payments. All this could become contagious! The current unofficial “downer” at Greyhound by lowly paid workers may be a straw in the wind! This possibility is enhanced by the outcome of recent elections.  The blows delivered to the government parties in the recent European and Local elections shows to workers that the government can be shaken and that there is widespread opposition to government policies. The wipe-out of the Labour Party  and the surge to Sinn Féin has rocked the political system and the irish elites including the trade union leaders.

  • In line with the new  mood, union activists must now redouble their efforts to secure support of fellow workers to resist attacks on pay ,pensions and conditions in the public and private sectors
  • Union leaders must be called to account for their support for Austerity Measures and for the Labour Party in Government
  • An alternative economic path for the country based on the interests of workers and the poor should be advocated (see x below)
  • Dissaffiliation from the Labour Party should be advocated (see y below)
  • Workers should be urged to seek and sign the official form form forbidding the union to give any part of union dues to the party.
  • Full time officials who represent unions on Public Service Committee of ICTU  and on the Executive Council of ICTU should be replaced by executive members subject to re-election. (This does not require a change of union rules in most cases)
  • All officials must be subject to election and re-election

X    several left wing organisations have put forward such programmes.  At a minimum a steeply progressive taxation of the incomes and assets of the very rich should be advocated (the top 10,000 income earners have an average income of 595,000 Euro each and financial assets (bank deposits and shares) of households only (not companies) have increased by 70 billion since the onset of recession and are now above peak boom levels (Central Statistics Office, Institutional Sector Accounts 2013). Water charges, to be introduced in October should be resisted by trade unions)

y  How can a union remain affiliated to the Labour Party after ICTU, itself, has passed the following resolution concerning the emergency legislation introduced by Labour Party Minister, Brendan Howlin: ICTU CONFERENCE UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTS EMERGENCY MOTION ON THE FISCAL EMERGENCY MEASURES IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST LEGISLATION The following motion, sponsored by the INMO, Civil and Public Services Union (CPSU), UNITE and the Irish Bank Officials Association (IBOA) was unanimously adopted by the ICTU Biennial Delegate Conference at its meeting in Belfast today (June 2013): Conference, noting:

  • that the Fiscal Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act undermines the principle of collective bargaining in the public sector and concerned that this may set a precedent for the private sector;
  •  that the legislation provides extraordinary powers to government Ministers to unilaterally vary terms and conditions of employment;
  • that there is no specified end period for this “emergency” legislation; and
  • that this anti trade union legislation has been introduced in the centenary of the 1913 lockout;

calls on the incoming Executive to mount a vigorous, and robust, campaign against this legislation with the goal of seeing it repealed.

(Nothing has been done to implement the resolution in the last 12 months. there is no union affiliated to the Labour Party among the proposers!! P H)

Labour Leadership Race: Savour the Total cynicism of Labour and Trade Union Leaders Miriam Lord : http://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/the-question-that-should-have-been-asked-at-the-labour-husting-was-why-are-we-all-here-1.1833442 …

Read More http://wp.me/pKzXa-kQ 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized

UPDATE:Labour Destroyed Itself through Coalition

UPDATE OCT 11

Labour Backed by SIPTU Humiliated in Two Bye-elections

The pathetic vote for Labour backed by SIPTU and it’s President Jack O’Connor and the massive turnout on the Abolish the Water Charges Demonstration to-day shows that the majority of Workers are rejecting the SIPTU Position

The demonstration was backed by 5 unions -MANDATE, UNITE, CPSU,OPATSI, CWU but SIPTU continues to support Burton and the Labour Party Leadership which is enforcing the water charges

UPDATE:October 6

Labour to be Humiliated in Bye-Elections 

Water charges, supported by Labour, have become the main issue in both bye-elections to be held next Friday. Labour currently has two seats in the Dublin Southwest constituency-Pat Rabitte and Eamonn Maloney.

The results will show that Labour will get no seat in the constituency in a general election.

This bears out my contention in the analysis below that coalition with FG and or FF has destroyed the Labour Party and will also destroy Sinn Féin if it enters into such a coalition

UPDATE JULY 4

New Labour Leadership But No change

SIPTU LEADERSHIP NOW DIRECTLY RESPONSIBLE FOR LABOUR ACTIONS IN GOVERNMENT

The entire Labour party leadership affair is a low farce with little substance. The vote for the Labour candidate in the recent bye-election in Joan Burton’s constituency of Dublin West was 5.2% for Lorraine Mulligan. Joan Canvassed for the candidate. She delivered a derisory vote.
In the new All Tipperary Co Council, the Labour Party has one seat only. The candidate was elected to the ninth seat in the Nenagh ward without reaching the quota. This is the “turf” of Alan Kelly TD who has been elected as Deputy leader of the Labour Party.
If a general election were held to-morrow, there can be little doubt that the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Lasbour Party would lose their seats.
The Labour Party is terminally ill but is being kept alive by Jack O’Connor and the SIPTU leadership. Jack has referred to the “vile lie” that Labour broke its promises. He has also claimed that the Labour Party has “saved” the workers from 2 billion in additional cuts which otherwise would have been implemented by Fine GaeL.
If SIPTU withdrew support from the Labour Party leadership, the party would collapse. A convention of the Labour movement, political and industrial, could then be held to discuss a way forward.
It is clear that the leaderships of several trade unions are distinctly unhappy with the role of the Labour Party in government. UNITE has already dissaffiliated. The emergency resolution passed by ICTU Biennial Congress in June 2013 calling for a vigorous campaign against Labour Howlins anti-worker FEMPI wage cutting act were INMO, IBOA and MANDATE in addition to UNITE. O’Connor and Coady(IMPACT) poured cold water on the resolution but voted for it. But they have ensured that the resolution has not been implemented in any respect in the last twelve months.
The SIPTU leadership must be held to be directly responsible for everything Burton and Kelly do in government.
It should be recalled that the affiliated unions supported the return to coalitionism in 1970. Instead of celebrating the historic victory of the unofficialmaintenance workers strike over the employers, they were terrified by it.
Everybody should attend the Greyhound Workers Support meeting in Libert Hall on Monday. But as we do, we should ask ourselves how SIPTU allowed a situation to arise where an employer could dare to bring in “agency workers” to break an official strike a year after we celibrated the hundredth anniversary of 1913!!

 

Irish People Will Pay a heavy Price if Left and Trade Unions fail to show a way forward

Prior to the 1969 General election the Labour Party leadership adopted a policy of refusing to enter coalition with Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael in the future. While the Labour Party vote improved in the 1969 General Election, Labour did not make the sweeping gains that some had expected. The leadership immediately used the outcome to reverse its “no coalition” policy. The reality was that the Labour and Trade Union leaders were frightened by the unofficial strike wave which culminated in the great national victory over the employers by the maintenance craftworkers in 1969. The mobilisation around civil rights in the north added to the dangers of destabilisation of the capitalist Treaty settlement of 1922. As always, Irish social democracy returned to its first principle: protect t capitalist stability. This required a return to coalition.

I resisted this reversal and I was elected to the National Executive (then called the Administrative Council at the1970 Party Conference on that basis . I was expelled at the first meeting.

Again in 2011, following the unprecedented economic crash and the linked damage to the main ruling party Fianna Fáil, capitalist stability was in danger. It was clear to all that any party representing workers would be fatally damaged by participation in a capitalist coalitrion government in the circumstances. Yet Labour entered with its eyes open to protect Irish capitalism once again.

This coalitionist policy has led to disaster after disaster for the Labour Party. Now it is on the brink of oblivion.

Written on the tombstone of Labour will be the legend: “It died protecting Irish capitalism. It turned on its own””

Because none of the leadership candidates are questioning the coalition policy, the outcome of the leadership election is immaterial.

The material below was contained in an edition of  Comment,the UCD Labour Party Magazine published in 1967. It was edited by Ruairí Quinn who has just retired as Minister for Education. It gives a glimpse of the brief “no coalition” era in the Labour Party in the late sixties.

Ruairí Quinn writes an editorial against coalition with Fianna Fail and Fine Gael.

Paddy Healy(myself!) elaborates on the history and meaning of Connolly’s concept of the Workers Republic. This is carried below.

Full Magazine here http://irishelectionliterature.wordpress.com/2014/07/02

WORKERS’REPUBLIC

Pat Healy is a graduate of UCD and is currently a lecturer in Bolton ST1

At the coming Labour Party conference motions will be discussed calling for the reinsertion of the demand for a Workers Republic among the aims and objects of tine party. This development, which is a reflection of the growing leftward trend in Irish politics, will be welcomed by all workers who see the need for a radical reorganisation of the economy in the interest of the working class,       This need will become all the more apparent in the coming months when Fianna Fáil, the executive committee of the exploiting class, will attempt to shackle the workers by enacting anti-trade union legislation.

 

The history of the demand for a Workers Republic in the Labour movement is most instructive, It was the goal of James Connolly co-founder with Larkin of the Labour Party. It was clear to him that independence alone would not alleviate the plight of the toiling man. Consequently, he instructed the Citizen Army to hold onto their arms in the coming fight lest those who were with them stop short of his objective. In the thirties, the demand for a Workers Republic split the Republican Congress2 ,its opponents holding that the national revolution must first be completed-shades of Devalera’s infamous dictum “Labour must wait”.

It was formally incorporatod as an objective of the Labour

Party in 1936. However, anti-progressive forces wore soon to show their hand. The executive of the Irish National Teachers Organisation, who were then affiliated to the Labour Party, sent a letter to the Hierarchy asking their opinion as to whether the aims and objects of the Labour Party ware in any way in conflict with Catholic teaching.    This was referred by the Hierarchy to a committee of experts, who replied that certain things were and gave as an example the fact that the Worker’s Republic was the ultimate objective of the party.

A series of amendments were placed on the agenda of the 1938 conference by the INTO, with the object of deleting the objectionable clauses from the constitution. It became apparent however, after a number of discussions between the executive of the I.N.T.O.and some members of the AC of the Party that the amendments would not be passed. They were accordingly withdrawn after an assurance by NORTON that he would use “other means” to have them adopted. The amendments again appeared on the agenda of the 1939  conference but were referred back. However, the A.C, sought and obtained permission from the conference to redraft the constitution. This wassupported by Tom 0’Connell, a former Chairman of the Party, who remarked “people might think we’re socialists”.    A new draft-constitution was circula­ted in April 1940 and in this draft all reference to the Workers’ Republic had been omitted. This was flltina passed in the 1940’s and following this the INTO received the express commendation of the Bishops. Before this statement from the bishops no public mention had been made of the negotiations that had been going on between the executive of the INTO, certain members of the A.C. of the Labour Party and the Hierarchy. Even to-day it is not thought advisable to make public reference to the circumstances which led up to the alterations in the constitution. It is significant that no direct vote was ever taken on the deletion of the Worker’s Republic clause.

 

The Labour Party has recently declared itself to be a socialist party, but declarations alone are meaningless unless the Party adopts a socialist programme for workers power centred around the demand for a workers Republic.

 

There must be no ambiguity about the goal for which we are striving. WE can learn much from the experience of the British Labour Party. This so-called socialist party was elected without a socialist programme and with no perspective outside the capitalist system.   Now, having no other perspective, they govern in the in the interest of the exploiters and when these exploiters encounter difficulties which spring from the inherent contradictions in capitalism they unload the problems onto the backs of the workers by deliberately creating unemployment. This human suffering, this gross waste of resources which should be used to better the lot of those who work could never take place in a planned economy. Anyone who has any illusions that the British Labour Party is governing in the interest of the workers should consult the growing dole queues.

 

This is not what we mean by a Worker’s Republic. The Worker’s Republic the rule of the majority, organizised through workers’ councils, without standing army or permanent bureaucracy, needing repression initially only against the formerly exploiting minority. The electorate will retain the right of immediate recall of  its representatives at all levels. Therefore the character of this semi-state of the working class is radically different.Whereas present “democracy” is based on a state of exploitation of the vast majority, and is only an empty, legalistic formula masking an employers’ dictatorship, the Workers’ Republic means real democracy, the reality of the controlling will of the workers: it is democracy by and for tile working people against the exploiters.

 

In the Workers’Republic the means of life will be social property. The factories, banks, insurance companies and means of transport and communication will be common property of the working people,controlled democratically. All imperialist economic holdings will be expropriated. Large scale industry will be nationalised,(nationalisation being understood as the transfer of  ownership to the workers state under the direct socialist management of the working class).    The existing state-capitalist enterprises will also be transferred into social property by the Workers’ State.    Large estates and capitalist agricultural undertakings  will be nationalised. There will be state monopoly of the wholesale trade, :Nationalisaxion for use by the people of large houses in town and country.   Small property in town and country will not be expropriated and non-exploiters will not be coerced.   Only when the small farmers can see the advantages of amalgamation and large scale agriculture will there be any question of reorganisation here. Until that time, planning by the Workers State will,  will at least, free the small farmer from the disastrous effects the present anarchic capitalist system.

 

At a local level workers management will be the rule; on a national level, economic functions will be centralised in the hands of the democratically controlled workers state. The central and local

will interact and mutually adjust to the other. For the  first time a rational economy planned in the interests of the self-controlling working man will be possible

 

In relation to the Labour Party Conference a word of warning is necessary. Past experience has shown that the cleverest careerists often adopt left sounding phrases as a means to their own ends. When Hugh Gaitskell sought to delete Clause 1V from the British Labour Party constitution his vigorous opponent was Harold Wilson (Claus IV states that the aim of the Party is the control of the means of production by those who labour by hand or by brain). Now Wilson and his fellow traitors not alone ignore Clause IV but even their own election promises.

It will not be surprising, therefore, if the conference accepts the Workers’ Republic motion by a large majority with strong vocal support from all manner of oppartunists

and place-seekers.But let us not be deceived.Let us elect officers who will struggle for Connollys glorious goal and after conference let us wage a constant determined struggle within the Party lest any bureaucrat, blackleg or traitor should renege on the battle for socialism and place his owm selfish interest before those of the working class.

 

Onward to the Workers Republic!!

1 if the author had been consulted by Editor Ruairí Quinn he would have been told that my name is Paddy Healy and that I had joined the lecturing staff at Kevin St (PH 2014)

 

 

 

Huge Political Crisis Developing in Ireland

The reality is that political room for social democracy has been removed in EU “programme countries” .Classical social democracy is almost extinct in Greece and is now dying in Ireland
I rarely agree with John Bruton but he is correct in predicting (at least) 10 years more of austerity. The EU has quantified what is necessary to remove “the structural deficit” under the fiscal treaty- a change from -4.8% of GDP in 2014 to +4.9% in 2018. Then the requirement to PAY DOWN (not roll-over) the state debt from 120% of GDP to 60% of GDP over 20 years kicks in. No wonder, John Bruton is concerned about the government parties “raising expectations”.
THE REAL PROOF THAT THE LABOUR PARTY IS IN DIRE LONG TERM DIFFICULTY IS THAT NO LEADERSHIP CANDIDATE(even in the election for Deputy Leadership ) IS PROPOSING TO LEAVE THE COALITION GOVERNMENT EVEN ON AN OPPORTUNISTIC BASIS!

(Labour Leadership Contest: Neither of the two candidates propose to leave the austerity coalition of which Labour is a part. Under the Fiscal Treaty, which Labour supported, austerity is to continue for 20 years as government debt must be reduced (not rolled over) from 120% to 60% of GDP! Any Labour Party member, who wishes to oppose the trajectory supported by both candidates and call for a break with coalitionism, should write on the ballot paper: “none of these”
I was expelled from the National Executive of the Labour Party in 1970 for opposing the return to coalitionism after the 1969 general election. My stand has been only too trajically vindicated! )

Unless there is decisive intervention from the left, the following is likely to happen: Some combination of Sinn Fein and the traditional parties will come into government in the next general election. The government will “discover” that the economy is not “recovering” after all and that the outgoing government has concealed the extent of the problems. Blaming the outgoing government (It was ever thus), they will then launch a new round of austerity in line with the Fiscal Treaty.
Meanwhile extreme right wing forces will gather as the left and the trade union movement fail to show a way forward for the people
There will be a heavy price to be paid if the left cannot create a credible and principled alternative–
A pretend alternative, involving forces which are not opposed to coalition with FG and/or FF in principle, would create a worse scenario with a fraction of the “left alternative” joining the government (“a national government”), thereby further disorienting any left alternative which may have existed before the election ——

These matters must be addressed urgently on the left and in the trade unions. It is well to remember that in Irish circumstances, it is through the trade unions that the working class became “a class for itself”, as the political wing of the labour movement failed to play a progressive and leading role on the national question after 1916.

In the discussion a colleague  has replied: sounds like “same old, same old” despite the “seismic shift”

I replied:

The “seismic shift” is away from political allegiance to the traditional parties. That alone could not be expected to provide a way forward. But the circumstance in which the southern state can no longer depend solely on the traditional FF, FG, Lab parties is not a “same old, same old” situation.
The last big political crisis was “solved” for capitalism by MacBride entering government AND by the expansionist Keynesian policies of westen governments(including Marshall Aid) which created a relatively favourable international environment.
There are many differences to-day. Sinn Fein already has more seats than Clann Na Poblahta achieved and is about to gain far more. Sinn Fein is organised on a 32 county basis. It will be far more difficult for Sinn Fein to deliver its southern supporters to support austerity than it was to enter an administration with Unionism. Northern nationalists feel threatened by sectarian discrimination and many see SF participation in the Stormont administration as a protection.
How many southern workers would forgive SF for supporting austerity?
I would opine that the real movers and shakers of the southern state (eg. John Bruton) are very worried. Clearly they believe that the EU is determined to continue implementing austerity under the Fiscal Treaty. Has the EU any choice? What would “expectations” be like if Sinn féin entered government having promised to end austerity?
There are similarities with the past but there are also important and crucial differences.
There are serious opportunities for the left and the trade unions if they are grasped.

Categories: Uncategorized

AFTERSHOCK WORSE THAN POLITICAL EARTHQUAKE

UPDATE   Dec 4

Government Parties SLUMP in IPSOS/MRBI(IRIAH TIMES) Poll

The full “aftershock” is now apparent in this huge slump for government parties and surge for IND/Others. SF as biggest party goes ahead of Fine Gael. “Troika” parties combined are now down to 46% in final outcome. As there are 22% undecided, The core vote for the “Troika” parties combined is 37%!!!!!!!!!!

IND/Others=32%

FG+FF+LAB=19+21+6=46%

SF=22%

Gerry Adams most popuar party leader as Burton drops 12% !!!!

Party leader support from all polled     Gerry Adams 26%(Down 9), Joan Burton 25%(down 12)    Micheál Martin    25%( down 1), Enda Kenny  19%(down 7)

The low level of support for all party leaders is evident.

NOTE: UNLIKE  RED C AND B&A, IPSOS/MRBI gives no bonus for performance in last General Election in processing raw data

From Irish Times DEC 4

“When people were asked who they would vote for if an election were held tomorrow, party support – when undecideds are excluded – compared with the last Irish Times poll in October was: Fine Gael, 19 per cent (down five points); Labour, 6 per cent (down three points); Fianna Fáil, 21 per cent (up one point); Sinn Féin, 22 per cent (down two points); and Independents/Others, 32 per cent (up nine points).

The survey was undertaken on Monday and Tuesday this week among a representative sample of 1,200 voters aged 18 and over, in face-to-face interviews at 100 sampling points in all constituencies. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.8 per cent.

The core vote for the parties – before undecideds are excluded – compared with the last poll was: Fine Gael, 16 per cent (down three points); Labour, 5 per cent (down two); Fianna Fáil, 16 per cent (no change); Sinn Féin, 17 per cent (down one); Independents/Others, 25 per cent (up eight); and undecided voters, 22 per cent (down one). (Irish Times DEC 4)

Update Nov 23  Red C Poll

http://www.redcresearch.ie/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/SBP-November-2014-Poll-Report.pdf

Sinn Féin lead Fine Gael by 3% in Red C Poll

Even the highly processed RED C outcome shows FF+Fg+Lab below 50%!!!

http://www.redcresearch.ie/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/SBP-November-2014-Poll-Report.pdf

As usual RED C does not provide the “raw vote” on its website. It provides a “Core Vote” which was:

Core Vote:  Others 26, Sinn Féin 21, FG 18, FF, 15  Labour 6, Undecided 12

As can be seen, while Others are the leaders, Sinn Féin at 21% is 3 points ahead of the nearest party Fine Gael on 18%

How did FG catch up with Sinn Féin in the “processing” to be level on 22% in the final outcome?

FG was elevated both on “likely to vote” criteria and got a bonus for the higher vote for Fine Gael at the last General election. The Sinn Féin “core vote” was reduced under both criteria.

The reason the Red C “Core Vote” is different from the raw votes given by Millward Brown and IPSOS/MRBI is those least likely to vote have been already removed by Red C

The real number of dont know/wont vote is probably over 20% as seen in the Nov 2, Millward Brown Poll immediately below

UPDATE   Nov 2   MILLWARD BROWN POLL Sunday Independent

MB Raw Vote Nov 2                           FG  17     FF  15       SF 20   Lab 6    Ind/Others     18         Undecided  24  

B&A  Raw Vote   OCT 27             FG17        FF   14            SF 17       Lab 4    Ind/others  23             Undecided 24

Equivalent Raw Vote(Red C)   FG 20         FF 14     SF  17          Lab 5  Ind/others     21             Undecided 24

Oct 27

The drop in support for Ind/others from 23% in B&A to 18% in Millward Brown is greater than the margin of error. Other changes are within that margin including the Sinn Féin increase and the FG decrease

UPDATE Mon OCT 27

LOSS OF MEMORY ERODES BONUS FOR GOVERNMENT PARTIES IN RED C And B&A POLLS!!!
WHEEL TURNS FULL CIRCLE!!!
For some time I have been saying that weighting polls to mid-way between the actual responses and the recall of respondents of how they voted in the last election is no longer appropriate because of the political earthquake demonstrated by the outcome of the local and European elections and indeed the sharp decline in government support before that. Fine Gael and Labour were getting a significant bonus in these polls due to their performances in the 2011 GE. Because of this I track the raw votes over time from all companies in this blog(see below)
It is stated on the RED C site: ““A further past vote weighting is included that takes the current recall for how people voted at the last election, compares this to the actual results, and weights the data to halfway between the two.”
Believe it or not : The combination of the political earthquake and the time honoured propensity of human beings to forget their past mistakes and transgressions has granted my wish!!!!
The figures below taken from the Red C site show that though 36% of voters supported FG in the 2011 election only 20% of the sample now recall doing so!. 19.4% of voters supported Labour but now only 7% of the sample recall doing so! On the other hand Sinn Féin which is now showing double its 2011 result in polls and usually is the big loser in the weighting process now only loses one point.In the B&A Poll of August 17 the SF vote of 27% after undecideds were eliminated was “adjusted”downward to 19%! (See Misleading Poll belowCould a higher proportion of respondent nows be “remembering” voting for SF in 2011 than actually voted for them??? This  farce must end

The wheel has now turned full circle. The weighting process is actually disadvantaging Fine Gael and is of little use to Labour.
I expect B&A and Red C to dispense with this weighting process shortly!!!!!!!!!!!!
Red C CORE Vote 25 Oct 5 FG 22 FF 16 SF 19 Lab 5
Ind/ Others 23 Undecided 15
Impact of Weighting FG 21 FF 15 SF 18 Lab 6
IND/other 24 Undecided 16

RED C has now provided more detailed information on its website. AS USUAL THE RAW VOTE HAS NOT BEEN PROVIDED. A core vote(above) has been provided which has been arrived at by eliminating those very unlikely to vote.

I have produced an estimate of the raw vote by increasing Undecided from 15 to 24 s in B&A Raw and recalculating the figures for each party (In B&A “Undecideds” include those unlikely to vote)

As can be seen here there is no difference between the raw vote figures in each poll when margin of error(3.1%) is taken into account. Both Polls record a significant increase in support for Independents/Others

Equivalent Raw Vote(Red C)      FG 20         FF 14     SF  17   Lab 5       Ind/others 21    Undecided 24

 

B&A  Raw Vote                                   FG17        FF   14     SF 17     Lab 4  Ind/others  23        Undecided 24

PARTY SCORES IN POORER AND RICHER HALVES OF POPULATION IN B&A POLLs AUG 17, 2014 and Oct 25,2014

( IPSOS/MRBI  Full Data  OCT  9   http://pollresults.mag.irishtimes.com/)

In to-days B&A Poll Support for FG+FG+Labour Drops from 35% to 26%,Down 9%, in the Poorer half of Population!!!!!!!!!!

Labour now at 2% !!!!!!!! TWO PER CENT IN THE POORER HALF OF THE POPULATION!
http://wp.me/pKzXa-kQ

Behaviour and Attitudes has provided a detailed breakdown of the poll by age, region, social category etc on its website. The outcomes have not been “adjusted” and include all those expressing no opinion. The outcomes by social category are of particular political interest.

As there are approximately 500 respondents in each group of categories, the margin of error for 95% confidence remains reasonable at about 4.5% (3.1% in total poll of 1000)

Oct 25

ABC1 Ind/others 25, FG 18, SF 13, FF17, Lab 7, No Opinion 20

C2DE SF 22 Ind/Others 24 FF 11 FG 13 Lab 2 No Opinion 29

Aug 17

ABC1 Ind/others 21, FG 19, SF 17, FF15, Lab 11, No Opinion 19

C2DE SF 27 Ind/Others 16 FF 15 FG 15 Lab 5 No Opinion 22
C2DE comprises the less “well off” 53% of population

As pointed out above the combined vote of FG,FF and Labour has fallen 9 percentage points to 26% in approximately 2 months in the poorer half of the population. The Labour vote to-day(OCT 25) at 2% is abysmal. This is in line with recent bye-election results.

There can be little doubt that support for the left as part of Independent /Others has increased. INd/others have risen by eight percentage points among C2DEs!! but only by 4% among ABC1 categories
Other notable outcomes are the low vote of Labour and the very high vote of Sinn Féin and INd/Others in the less well off section of the population. This was reaffirmed in the Millward Brown Poll of Sept 21

It is also of interest that independents/others lead Fine Gael among the wealthier categories and that even among these Sinn Féin lead Labour

Overall Result

OCTOBER 25  TWO POLLS—RED C and B&A

Government Fooled Nobody in Budget!!!!!

COMPARING RAW VOTES IN RECENT POLLS -Because of Differing “Adjustments” it is best to compare raw votes over time in polls taken by many companies.

RED C does not provide a raw vote to the public. It provides a “core vote” which has already been adjusted to some extent.

Taking a margin of Error of 3% for 95% confidence, from OCT 9(IPSOS/MRBI) and OCT 25(B&A), the only statistically significant change has been a rise of 6% for Ind/Others including Greens.

In to-days poll OCT 25, there is no significant change in the vote for Sinn Féin. While the change in the Labour Vote is just within the margin of error, it is abysmally low. It means tha onlyt 40 people out of a thousand said, when asked, that they would vote Labour.   That means that it could be between 10(1%) and 70 (7%).

In to-days poll B&A(OCT 25)  when “undecideds are simply eliminated, the outcome is

FF19     FG 23    Lab 5      SF 23      Ind/others  31

Independents/others are Eight points ahead of FG and SF

Raw Votes

OCT 25

B&A  Raw Vote  FF   14   FG17     Lab 4  SF 17    Ind/others    23   undecided 24

Ipsos MRBI   OCT 9

Raw Vote FF  15    FG 17   FG 19  Labour 7   Sinn Féin  18  Ind/ Others 17  Undecided 23

Millward Brown Sept 21    Note Large rise in UNDECIDED

Raw Vote      FF   15   FG 17  Labour 6  Sinn Fen 15    Others 16          UNDECIDED 29

RED C September 15

Sept 15

Red C Equiv Raw Vote (Estimate)   FF 15   FG23     Lab 6   SF  19       Others 19  Undecided  19

Aug 17

B&A   Raw  Vote           FF 15     FG 18   Lab 7  SF 22        Others 19           Undecided    19

Political Earthquake Grows!        Oct 12,2014

No Government Candidate in Top Three Candidates in Two Bye-Elections

Non Labour Left Plus Sinn Féin Get Twice the COMBINED VOTE of  Troika Parties

                            In Dublin South West

Government Candidates Come to only 63% of radical vote(SF+Fitzmaurice) in Roscommon- Leitrim  

Dublin South West           Urban Largely Working Class

Elected: Paul Murphy   Anti-Austerity Alliance and Socialist Party

(campaigning against Water Charges and Austerity Generally)

         

           SF      7288                                      FG    2110

          AAA  6540                                      FF     2077                  

          PBP   530                                         Lab   2043

Total      14358                                              6230

14358/6230 =2.3

Did not Vote                                              36,120

Roscommon -Leitrim        Provincial/Rural

Elected: Michael Fitzmaurice    Independent   Ally of Luke Flanagan Independent MEP

(campaigning against EU Restrictions on Turf Cutting and Transfer of EU Farming Funds from small to large farmers and undrinkable water)  

Top Three

FF                                             7334

Fitzmaurice                            6220

Sinn Féin                                5906

FG                                           5593

Save Hospital                       2944

Labour                                   2037

———————————————————————————————

Fitzmaurice +Sinn Féin                                 12,126

Fitzmaurice +SF+Save Hospital                   15,070        

FG+Lab(GOVT)                                                  7,620

FF +FG+ Lab                                                      14,95

OCT 9    IPSOS/MRBI (Irish Times) Poll

When people were asked who they would vote for if an election were held tomorrow, party support – when 23% undecideds are excluded – compared with the last Irish Times poll in May was: Fine Gael, 24 per cent (no change); Labour, 9 per cent (up two points); Fianna Fáil, 20 per cent (down five points); Sinn Féin, 24 per cent (up four points); and Independents/ Others, 23 per cent (down one point).

A representative sample of 1,200 voters aged 18 and over, in face-to-face interviews at 100 sampling points in all constituencies. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.8 per cent for 95% confidence.

Independents/Others are strongest in Dublin, where their support outstrips even Sinn Féin which is on 26% in Dublin and ahead of all other political parties

So far , breakdown by social category has not been supplied by IPSOS/MRBI or by Irish Times

The raw votes are compared here.  From this it is clear that Sinn Féin continues to do well. But Fine Gael has gone down 4 points since Sept 15. This may show the effect of the Mc Nulty Seanad Election Controversy. The IPSOS /MRBI outcome in Irish Times is compared with an IPSOS/MRBI poll taken last May and could not capture this effect as the controversy occurred since Sept 15 when the Dáil resumed.

COMPARING RAW VOTES IN RECENT POLLS

Ipsos MRBI   OCT 9

Raw Vote FF  15    FG 17   FG 19  Labour 7   Sinn Féin  18   Others 17  Undecided 23

Millward Brown Sept 21    Note Large rise in UNDECIDED

Raw Vote      FF   15   FG 17  Labour 6  Sinn Fen 15    Others 16          UNDECIDED 29

RED C September 15

Sept 15

Red C Equiv Raw Vote  FF 15   FG23     Lab 6   SF  19       Others 19           Undecided  19

Aug 17

B&A   Raw  Vote           FF 15     FG 18   Lab 7  SF 22        Others 19           Undecided    19

Millward Brown Confirms Behaviour and Attititudes Finding of Labour Collapse and Sinn Féin surge among Less Well OFF (C2DE) Voters

Millward Brown Sunday INDEPENDENT Sept 21,2014

Paul Moran, Millward Brown, in Sunday Independent on Poll

“They (Labour Party) slightly over-index both in Dublin at 11pc and among the affluent ABs at 13pc.

Two issues arise as a result of this. Labour’s traditional heartland, the working class (C2DE) voter, has fallen out of love with them – they muster just eight per cent among this cohort (with Sinn Fein being the main beneficiary, attracting 28pc support among the same group).”

PARTY SCORES IN POORER AND RICHER HALVES OF POPULATION IN B&A POLL   AUG 17, 2014

Behaviour and Attitudes  has provided a detailed breakdown of the poll by age, region, social category etc on its website. The outcomes have not been “adjusted” and include all those expressing no opinion. The outcomes by social category are of particular political interest.

As there are approximately 500 respondents in each group of categories, the margin of error for 95% confidence remains reasonable at about 4.5% (3.1% in total poll of 1000)

ABC1  Ind/others   21,             FG 19,                 SF 17,             FF15,              Lab 11,                 No Opinion  19

C2DE                 SF  27      Ind/Others 16          FF 15                   FG 15                Lab 5                 No Opinion 22

C2DE   comprises the less “well off” 53% of population

Notable outcomes are the low vote of Labour at 5% and the very high vote of Sinn Féin in the less well off section of the population. This was reaffirmed in the Millward Brown Poll of Sept 21(see below)

It is also of interest that independents/others lead Fine Gael among the wealthier categories and that even among these Sinn Féin lead Labour

 Millward Brown Sunday INDEPENDENT Sept 21,2014

Paul Moran, Millward Brown, in Sunday Independent on Poll

“They (Labour Party) slightly over-index both in Dublin at 11pc and among the affluent ABs at 13pc.

Two issues arise as a result of this. Labour’s traditional heartland, the working class (C2DE) voter, has fallen out of love with them – they muster just eight per cent among this cohort (with Sinn Fein being the main beneficiary, attracting 28pc support among the same group).”

COMPARING RAW VOTES IN RECENT POLLS

Millward Brown Sept 21    Note Large rise in UNDECIDED

Raw Vote      FF   15   FG 17  Labour 6  Sinn Fen 15    Others 16          UNDECIDED 29

RED C September 15

Sept 15

Red C Equiv Raw Vote  FF 15   FG23     Lab 6   SF  19       Others 19           Undecided  19

Aug 17

B&A   Raw  Vote           FF 15     FG 18   Lab 7  SF 22        Others 19           Undecided    19

DR Adran Kavanagh Blog  Political Geographer

The latest Sunday Independent-Millward Brown poll estimates party support levels as follows (and relative to the previous Sunday Independent-Millward Brown poll ): Fine Gael 25% (NC), Sinn Fein 22% (down 2%), Fianna Fail 21% (up 1%), Labour Party 9% (up 1%), Independents, Green Party and Others 23% (NC). My constituency-level analysis of these poll figures estimates that party seat levels, should such national support trends be replicated in an actual general election, would be as follows: Fianna Fail 37, Fine Gael 49, Sinn Fein 34, Labour Party 8, Independents and Others 30

“BURTON BOUNCE” DISSAPPEARS!

On August the 17, the Sunday Times reported a Behaviour and Attitudes Poll Outcome. It gave Labour 14% a rise of 6%! I have explained below the misleading nature of the poll in current circumstances due to inappropriate “adjustments”. The Red C poll published in Sunday Business Post on Sept 15 gave Labour an outcome of  8%. The Burton bounce has dissappeared though the Dáil was in recess!

Red C applies adjustments similar to B&A which favour parties which did well in last GENERAL ELECTION(2011)

Because of changing political circumstances, I have suggested that the professional polling bodies insist that the raw or unadjusted vote be published by polling companies. B&A does this. But Red  C provides a “core” vote after eliminating those least likely to vote.This left 10% undecided in RED C. I have ESTIMATED the equivalent  raw vote for RED C assuming that the actual number of those not expressing a preference was the same as in the B&A Raw Vote at 19% .

RED C September 15

Sept 15

Red C Equiv Raw Vote       FF 15    FG23  Lab 6   SF  19   Others 19,     Undecided  19

Aug 17

B&A   Raw  Vote                FF 15     FG 18   Lab 7  SF 22   Others 19 ,   Undecided    19

RTE failed to mention that these polls are subject to a margin of error of plus or minus 3% for 95% confidence. This allowed them to report a boost for the government

There may be no difference in fact between the B&A and Red C Polls above and the previous Red C poll published on June 30

For Example, adding and subtracting 3% from each score

FG    Red C   20 to 26      B&A   15 to 21

SF      Red C  16 to 22        B&A    19 to 25

There is overlap in each case

Constituency Level Analysis by Dr Adrian Kavanagh, political geographer, NUI Maynooth

http://adriankavanaghelections.org/2014/09/13/good-news-for-fine-gael-and-sinn-fein-constituency-level-analysis-of-the-sunday-business-post-red-c-poll-14th-september-2014/

“Good news for Fine Gael and Sinn Fein: Constituency-level analysis of the Sunday Business Post-Red C poll (14th September 2014) | Irish Elections: Geography, Facts and Analyses// // //

“My constituency-level analysis of these poll figures estimates that party seat levels, should such national support trends be replicated in an actual general election, would be as follows: Fianna Fail 32, Fine Gael 56, Sinn Fein 37, Labour Party 3, Independents and Others 30″. ( Adrian Kavanagh)

August 17

Sinn Féin Forge Further ahead in Poll

Sunday Times  August 17, Behaviour And Attitudes Poll

Misleading Poll

The News headlines said Labour recover and “Burton Bounce”. But this is totally misleading.

In the behaviour and Attitudes poll in Sunday Times,  Sinn Féin came first the Raw Vote at 22%.  When undecideds were eliminated (As is done in Millward Brown, Sunday Independent)) Sinn Fein Led on 27%!!! After “adjustment” of data Sinn Fein came third at 19%!!!!

Labour got 7% in the raw vote and 9% when undecideds were eliminated. But the adjustment employed(and declared) by B&A gave Labour a figure of 14% !

The headlines would have been “Sinn Féin, now the largest party,  Lead Fine Gael by a full 5 Points –Small Labour Increase” if  the undecideds were merely eliminated!

Adjustment of raw data in the manner  which was employed in stable political times  is totally misleading in the course of a political earthquake. The last General  Election is still raising the

Labour vote in B&A and Red C polls as can be seen from the adjustment notes supplied by B&A below and SF actually get less than they got in raw vote!

It isn’t that there is a conspiracy or a pro-active attempt by the polling company to distort the figures. The problem is that political assumptions which were valid during boom in stable political conditions are no longer valid. In particular, the assumption that voters will revert to parties they voted for in the last GENERAL ELECTION in  similar numbers to previous reversions in General Elections is no longer appropriate. Political behaviour has changed hugely as evidenced by the recent local and European elections.

I believe that if current processes were seriously distorting the Fine Gael and Labour parties poll outcomes, as is now happening to Sinn Féin, the rules would have been changed as pro-establishment academics and journalists would already have pressurised the polling company and raised the matter publicly

B&A Poll      August 17 Sunday Times

Raw  Vote                      FF 15     FG 18   Lab 7   SF 22   Others 19 ,   Undecided    19

Excluding Undecided Only           FF 18     FG 22   Lab 9   SF 27   Others 23

“ADJUSTED”                                   FF  18     FG 24  Lab 14  SF 19   Others 24

Adjusted figures based on:

 All who state they would definitely vote

 Weighting of those respondents who give a definite answer as to who they would vote for in a general election

and who they voted for in the last election, in line with the result of the last election.

 Making no adjustment to stated voting intention of those who do not indicate how they voted in last election.     

June 12

LABOUR SINKS  FURTHER TO 4% BUT SUPPORT EXAGGERATED IN PROCESSING???

RED C Poll    June 12

FG 22% Sinn Féin 22% FF 18%  Lab 4% Others 34%

Remember all agree (including Adrian Kavanagh) that Red C exaggerates Labour Support

If RED C has processed the raw data in the normal way, I believe that the actual number of respondents to the poll who said they would vote Labour in a general election could be as low a 20 respondents or 2%

Remember that the 12% “don’t Knows” mentioned in media does not include those who say they are unlikely to vote, normally 10% approx

As Labour got almost 20% in the last General election, typically 20% of the 10% who won’t vote are added to the raw Labour vote if RED C is using the Last General Election!

This is hardly realistic in current circumstances.

Labour could have got as much from this as it got positive votes! !

The Public should be given the “raw” data  not what RED C regards as the “core vote”

——————————————————————————————————

Political Earthquake Rumbles On!

Millward BrownPoll and Election Results Are Compared Below

It is to be expected that parties such as Sinn Féin which surged forward during the actual election would surge further forward  in polls for a period thereafter. The Sinn Féin increase to 26% up over 10% on the local election performance in the poll is truly remarkable. Equally expected is a continued downward trend for parties such as Fine Gael and Labour who did badly in the election. Though the Labour drop is within the margin of error, the actual figure is at the boundary of complete marginalisation. The local election outcome has damaged the credibility of the Labour party and credibility is a huge factor in politics. As I pointed out  earlier, the Labour Party in Local government is not only 100 seats behind Sinn Féin, but has a  seat less than the combined labour movement left on local authorities. (Lab 51 seats, Combined Left 52 seats)

The drop in FF, FG, Lab could also be partially explained by traditional party supporters voting for individuals(neighbours etc) despite their party banner in the local elections. The European election results, where the vast majority were not voting for local figures, are much nearer the poll figures. But the increase for SF in the Poll is still remarkable in comparison to its higher the European election figure (19.5).

Sinn Fein voters were explicitly voting for the Sinn Fein Party in both elections and are assumed to be continuing to do so in poll. Transfers rates between Sinn féin candidates in the same local authority electoral area were much higher than transfers between candidates of the same traditional party.

Local elections%       May 23      Actual

FF 25.3    Fg 24     SF   15.2       Lab 7.2   Others  28.3

Millward Brown  Poll%   June 7

FF 20    FG 20    SF     26               Lab 5        Others 29

European Election %  May 23

FG 22.3  FG 22.3  SF 19.5 Lab 5.3 Others  30.6
“Dont Knows” have not yet become available in THE MILLWARD BROWN POLL

Wed June 4

Labour Party now in a Minority among Labour Movement Co Councillors

     totals                   Labour Party      51                                            Non LP –Labour Movement    52

      (there may be other independent councillors who regard themselves as part of Labour Movement)

Aligned Non-LP Left elected

 

Prople before Profit    14

AAA                               14

WUA                                 1

Workers Party               1

Joan Collins TD              1

T Pringle  TD                   2

J Halligan TD                    2

Catherine Murphy TD        3

Finian McGrath      TD         1

Gannon    “Gregory”  IND              1

Non Aligned Left Elected

 

Kieran Perry   Dublin           1

Eilish Ryan Dublin                1

Brendan Young(Kildare)          1

Joanne  Pender(Kildare)      1

Lorna Nolan  Ex SP  Fingal             1

J Synnott   Fingal    1

Paul Mulville      Fingal     1

Declan Bree  (Sligo)                    1

John Gilligan  (limerick)       1

Ml Kilcoyne Siptu  Mayo        1

Paul Hand    Dublin City        1

Catherine Connolly   Galway       1

EX-Labour Party Independents  Elected

Tom Fortune (Wicklow)                  1

Cian O Callaghan Dublin City                  1

Dermot Looney    Dublin                                    1

Paddy Bourke     Dublin city                             1

Total Non-Labour Lefts                                                                     52

Explicitly Opposed to Coalition with FF/FG in principle                    31+

Labour Losses  2014 Local elections—- New Geographical Distribution of Labour Seats

Labour Lost  81 County Council seats

Retained        51   County Council Seats

of which 23 in Dublin (Dl-Rathdown, Dublin City, Fingal, South Dublin)

(Co louth)Drogheda 2       Co Kidare  5   Co Meath 0      Co Wicklow 0

Total in Dublin and Dublin Commuter Belt              30

Rest of Ireland                                                              21

Co Council Elections leave Labour with 51 elected Representatives

NO labour  Councillor elected  : Cork City,  Clare, Meath, Wicklow,  Co Galway, Sligo, Leitrim, Longford,  Mayo,  Monaghan,  Offally,  Roscommon,

One Labour Councillor Elected:

Tipperary, Waterford, Donegal, Laois.

Total Labour Co councillors in Munster        9

Total Labour TDs in Munster                        9

 Monday May 27

56% of Dublin electorate  did not vote in Euro Election!

Sum of votes for traditional parties FG+FF+Lab is 35% of VOTERS!

 But the earthquake in the actual election is greater than in polls! ! !

Only 15% of ELECTORATE voted for FF+ FG + Lab

The polls published before the election indicated  that 30% of the ELECTORATE would vote for them.

There may well have been a significant abstention by voters for traditional parties in addition to the defections 

Tuesday May 20

Earthquake Confirmed Nationwide-Tremor a little less outside of Dublin

Labour Wipe-out much Greater outside of Dublin

National Tremor a little less than in Dublin!!!
IPSOS/MRBI National Local Election Poll   May 20   Irish Times
Base 1500 Error= +or – 2.6%
Including Dont Knows (30%)
FG FF SF Lab Others dont Know
16 16 13 5 20 30

FG+ FG+LAB= 37

Excluding Don’t Know

FG FF SF Lab Others
23 23 19 7 28

FF+ FG+ Lab = 53

The other big feature is confirmation of the Labour “wipe-out”

While regional figures are not yet available this often approximates to 10% in Dublin and 5% outside

The quota in a 9 or 10 seat ward is about 10%. Even in the bigger wards outside of Dublin, they will get very few seats.

SF should get two in the bigger wards and one in almost every other ward.
Many “others” will be elected despite their lack of political coherence

Monday May 19

Mainstream media is now taking up earthquake theme– — —
For the EU Election in the Dublin Region, I have now combined Millward Brown, Behaviour and Attitudes and IPSOS MRBI Poll in Irish Times to-day
The combination of three polls confirms the earthquake!

BASE 1500 Error +or- 2.6% 3 seats Quota 25%
Including Don’t Knows FF+FG+Lab =455= 30%
Excluding Don’t Knows FF+Fg+lab= 455= 40%

Candidate Scores
Excluding Don’t Knows
Voted 1125=75% Don’t Know 375= 25%
Boylan 22% Hayes 20% Fitzpatrick 12% Childers 11% Ryan 9%
Costelloe 9% Smith 8% Murphy 7% Others 2%

Boylan and Hayes are certainties.

Technically any of the others named could take the third seat. Despite the reduced error on the 1500 sample, they are very close together. If you subtract 2.6% from Fitzpatrick and add 2.6% to Murphy, the outcome is the same figure!
Second Preferences given by repondents are informative and indicative but very unreliable due to very small samples for each candidate. In practice the outcome is so finely balanced that factors such as location(eg Northside/Southside) and order of elimination could have a big influence..
The rates of actual transfer in the election between Smith and Murphy will be heavily dependent on how many, if any, Boylan needs to reach the quota. If Boylan is already elected it gives Smith/Murphy some chance.
My gut instinct is that Fitzpatrick and Costelloe will not make it because transferring to them requires a big political leap from the rest and from each other. Caution:I may be biassed!
I hope either Bríd or Paul makes it.
But if I were betting and in need of money, I would back Chlders. It is relatively easy for the rest to transfer to her.

The political earthquake is on track- – –

Sunday May 18, 2014

I have properly combined the B&A and Millword Brown Polls for the Dublin Region (not just by averaging the stated outcomes) which seek to predict the outcome of the election to be held next Friday.

The total offering a vote was 775  Dont Know   225

Probable Error is now down to +or- 3% as the combined sample is about   1000

REJECTION OF MAIN PARTIES

Including Don’t Know FF+Fg+Lab=  31%

Excluding Don’t Know  FF+FG+Lab=  39%

Almost 70% of respondents when asked their voting intention DID NOT indicate for Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil or Labour!

This would have been inconceivable a short few years ago

Combined Outcome for Candidates excluding Dont Knows

Boylan 21%    Hayes   19%  Childers 12%   Fitzpatrick 11%  Costelloe 9%   Ryan 9%

Smith 8%      Murphy 8%

In Dublin (3 seats only) the quota is 25%

Clearly the socialist vote(Murphy,Smith) has improved due to campaigning(well done, keep it up!)

In one of the polls Costelloe (Labour) was down to 7% below both Brid Smith and Paul Murphy. At 9% in the  Combined Polls Costelloe seems doomed. We can also take it that Labour has lost its seat in Dublin West and will do very badly in the local elections-even worse outside of Dublin where it depends on a more working class vote.

It will be difficult for Fianna Fáil to win a seat in Midlands Northwest. As Fianna Fail no longer constitutes a strong “cause” and the two candidates are widely seperated geographically, transfer rates will be very low. Failure of Fiann Fail to get a seat in the West of Ireland would surely herald an earthquake!!!

It is difficult to make sense of the Munster constituency as Brian Crowley is getting a very big non-Fianna Fáil  vote. His surplus will scatter widely.

On the basis of all the polls it now seems probable that the outcome will be:

FG 4, SF 3,FF 1, Lab 0, Others 3

Note the tendency towards polarisation of political allegiances to the left and to the right which is common during prolonged economic and political crises.

Categories: Uncategorized

Howlin,Labour Protects Super-Rich from Tax Rise

April 13, 2014 Leave a comment

Statement Seamus Healy TD    087-2802199

Seamus Healy TD—Leaders Questions  Thursday April 10     Listen Live   http://wp.me/p1Uvd5-B0

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Seamus Healy TD

 

Irish Examiner Friday April 11  Juno McEnroe

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Categories: Uncategorized

All Mortgage Distress Cases Not “Solvable” Despite Assurance by Taoiseach At Leaders Questions

All Mortgage Distress Cases Not “Solvable” Despite Assurance by Taoiseach At Leaders Questions

Thousands of people are in danger of losing their homes.
On Wednesday last, at Leaders Questions in The Dail, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said that if people engaged with their lenders all mortgage distress cases were “solvable”. Seamus Healy Td, who raised the matter, was accused of scaremongering about people losing their homes.
But for the second day in a row, the Taoiseach has been shown to be completely wrong. The Insolvency Service of Ireland (ISI) has to-day revealed that only a handful of mortgages have been restructured through the insolvency procedure over the 6 months since it came into effect. Seamus had pointed out to Enda Kenny several weeks ago that 30,000 householders would be unable to avail of the process because their incomes were below the minimum allowable expenses under the Insolvency Act. Now the advocacy groups for those in mortgage distress-Phoenix, New Beginnings, Flac and Irish Mortgage Holders Association- have confirmed that this is one of two major reasons that the system is failing. Many people have no money to give the bank. The second reason is that the bank has too much power under the act to veto settlements. So even if the householder has some money to pay the bank, most such householders cannot avail of it either. The system is not working.
Yesterday the Taoiseach told Seamus Healy that it was untrue to say that a house was being repossessed every day. Within two hours this was shown to be false at the sitting of the Oireachtas Committee on Finance. The Central Bank website showed that already almost two householders per day were losing their homes. This figure is to rise sharply as the number of repossession processes initiated in the second half of 2013 increased by a factor of six-from 565 to 33,000.
The government parties are trying to cover up the problem until after the local elections

Professor Ray Kinsella , Professor of Banking at UCD, has supported the view of Seamus Healy TD that the extent  of repossessions of homes now in train constitutes a major crisis.

In his column in the Irish Examiner to-day Friday April 4, Professor Kinsella says:

But there are also developments in the wider economy that impact on health, including mental health, that is left pushed to the outside of a policy calculus on UHI. A notable example is the exponential increase in housing repossession now under way and which will inevitably and inexorably impose the most severe levels of mental stress, and worse, on the health of tens of thousands of householders.

The Government knows this to be the case — the figures cited in the Dáil recently by Séamus Healy TD are truly shocking. TDs have repeatedly referred to the causes of this crisis and what needs to be done. Mainstream politics is in denial.”

A further raft of repossession cases will come before circuit court sittings in the coming week

 

Categories: Uncategorized

ESRI Economic Forecasts-Worse than Weather Forecasts!

December 25, 2013 Leave a comment

The Economic and Social Research Institute infamously forecast a soft landing to the bubble! Now it is forecasting a growth rate of 3% for the Irish Economy next year. The Institute has many professors and highly qualified staff. When challenged, Professor John Fitzgerald replied: “I never claimed to be infallible”. That was, of course, the last thing of which he had been accused! How could this high powered Institute get it so wrong? It wasn’t just a few percentage points out in the growth rate.

It is understandable that forecasters linked to finance houses and even newspapers habitually paint a rosy picture. Their employers have a vested interest in rising share values and higher levels of business.

But why The ESRI?  It has no direct financial interest in over-optimistic forecasting.

True, the right to academic freedom conferred by the Universities Act does not apply to ESRI Academic staff. But then with the exception of UCD Professor, Morgan Kelly, none of the business/economics faculties covered themselves in glory either!

The ESRI and the business faculties are committed to the survival of capitalism and to the notion that, if regulated properly, it can function in the interest of humanity. This predisposes these institutions to give favourable economic forecasts. To them it is unthinkable that the system itself is the cause of misery to billions and will inevitably collapse.

But there are special factors predisposing the ESRI to cheer-lead the capitalist government in power and to reinforce its message.

The governing board has the following composition according to the ESRI website: “ESRI Council members are elected at the Institute’s AGM for a three year term. They represent a cross-section of ESRI members: academia, civil services, state agencies, business and civil society. Council Members: Laurence Crowley, Chairman of ESRI, Chairman, Gaisce; Frances Ruane, Director of the Institute (ex officio);Vani Borooah, Professor of Applied Economics, University of Ulster; John Buckley, former Comptroller and Auditor General;Patrick Honohan, Governor, Central Bank of Ireland; Paul Johnson, Director, Institute for Fiscal Studies, London;Michael Kelly, former Chairman, Higher Education Authority;Philip Lane, Professor of International Macroeconomics, Trinity College Dublin;Hannah McGee, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Royal College of Surgeons;Padraig McManus, Chairman, Eircom; David Moloney, Department of Public Expenditure and Reform;Brid O’Brien, Head of Policy and Media, Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed ;Gerry O’Hanlon, former Director General, Central Statistics Office.

Is it possible to imagine a body more representative of the Irish elite or more linked to the government of the day?

Furthermore a practice has arisen under which any candidate for election to the council at the AGM of the Institute must be PRE-APPROVED by the existing council!!!!. In other words the council is self-perpetuating!!

Citizens are paying for this Institute through their taxes!

Clearly the Institute has no independence from the Irish establishment.

This arrangement must not continue.

There is an interesting discussion on the failure of economic forecasting generally on Michael Roberts Blog:

http://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2013/12/24/the-failure-of-forecasting/

Categories: Uncategorized

Labour Lowest for Decades in Red C Poll

October 27, 2013 Leave a comment

Ind/Others Soar to 32%

FF+FG may not make a majority?

B&A Poll   Sunday Times July 18

Sinn Féin score was reduced by 3 points in Sunday Times/B&A  Poll  by use of “filters”

SF would have got  20% not 17% in other polls based on same data

Significant 5 point move from undecided to independents/others (32%)

B&A July 14   Margin of Error  +or -3% on scores of individual parties

http://banda.ie/wp-content/uploads/Sunday-Times-Poll-18th-July-2015.pdf

Core: July 14         FF 15    FG 18  SF 15  Lab 5   Others 25    Undecided 23—–B&A

Core: June 15        FF 17   FG15   SF 16    Lab 4   Others 20    Undecided 28——-B&A

July 14  B&A  Excluding Undecided Unadjusted (No Filters used)

FF19    FG24    Lab7      SF 20   Others32

July 14 B&A  Final Outcome-Excluding Undecided With use of likelihood to vote and recall of vote in last GENERAL ELECTION  Filters

FF 18   FG24   Lab8    SF17   Others 32

Core Votes  Since Mid-March   (Red C excluded due to unexplained “pre-processing” of core votes by Red C)

Core Votes        http://wp.me/pKzXa-jh

B&A             July 14                FG 18     Others 25   SF 15       FF 15    Lab 5       Undecided 23

B&A            June 21                 FG 15,  Others 20,     SF 16,     FF 17,      Lab 4,     Undecided 28

Ipsos/Mrbi      May 18               FG 22   Others 19       SF 17      FF 15     LP  6      Undecided  21

B&A                 May 17             FG  19   Others23        SF 17      FF 12      LP  5     Undecided  25

Millward Brown   April 4           FG 20    Others 16,      SF 19        FF 15     Lab 7,      Undecided 20

Ipsos/MRBI      Mar 25            FG 18,    Others 22,      SF 18       FF 13,      Lab 5,     Undecided 24

B&A               Mar 16              FG 19     Others 19,      SF19        FF 14,       Lab 5,      Undecided 24

Red C   June 26 CORE

FG 24, Others 22,  FF 17  SF 17,  Lab 5, Undecided 15   Margin of error  +or – 3%

Core Vote  (before filters are applied and before elimination of undecided)  As undecided is again unusually low in Red C, it appears that some processing of raw vote has already taken place

FG 24, Others 22,  FF 17  SF 17,  Lab 5, Undecided 15   Margin of error  +or – 3%

Very low level of support for Labour Confirmed       5%       +or – 3!!!!!

FF, SF  are neck and neck for months

UPDATE June 21

B&A Poll Sunday Times Sunday June 21 (%)

The main feature of this B&A Poll is the decline of 5 points in the core vote for government parties and the increase of 5 points for FF in comparison with B&a poll of May 17, almost exactly a month ago. Labour is again at its lowest ever(?) core vote of 4%.  This means that only 40 out of 1000 positively said that they would vote Labour when asked.

As polling companies employ “adjustments” to the raw poll which may be specific to each, it is best to compare raw votes or core votes. I have argued that the filters employed by B&A and REd C are inappropriate in current political circumstances. This is underlined again to-day in the fact that Labour who got only 4% in the core vote gained 3% from the filters!!!! The 28% undecided in this poll underlines again the question mark over the Undecided figures in Red C polls(14% on June 7)

Core Vote

In comparison to B&A 17.5.2015 almost exactly a month ago

Ind/Others 20(-3), FF17(+5),  SF16(-1),  FG 15(-4),  Lab 4(-1), Undecided 28(+3)

Excluding Undecided

Ind/Otthers 29, FF 24, SF 22, FG 21,  LAB 6,

“Adjusted” for likelihood to vote and recall of past voting intention

Ind/Others 28, FF21,  SF 19,  FG 24,  Lab 9.

Core Votes

B&A July 14                               FF 15    FG 18  SF 15  Lab 5   Others 25    Undecided 23

Red C June 26                        FG 24, Others 22,    FF 17  SF 17,   Lab 5,       Undecided 15

B&A                June 21             FG 15, Others 20,     SF 16,   FF 17,      Lab 4,     Undecided 28

Red C SBP    JUNE 7             FG  25   Others 18        SF 19      FF17      LP 7      Undecided  14

Ipsos/Mrbi      18/5                FG 22   Others 19       SF 17      FF 15     LP  6      Undecided  21

B&A                 17/5              FG  19   Others23        SF 17      FF 12      LP  5     Undecided  25

Millward Brown   April 4         FG 20    Others 16,      SF 19      FF 15     Lab 7,   Undecided 20

Red C              Mar 29          FG23      Others 24      SF 16      FF15      Lab 8     Undecided  14

Ipsos/MRBI      Mar 25          FG 18,    Others 22,      SF 18     FF 13,   Lab 5,     Undecided 24

B&A               Mar 16            Fg 19     Others 19,      SF19      FF 14,    Lab 5,     Undecided 24

Red C             Feb 22            Fg 21     Others 26       Sf 19      FF  15    Lab 5   Undecided  14

 MB

Why the Discrepency  in “Undecideds” between RED C and All other Polling Companies?

“UNDECIDED” AVERAGE

Red C  (3polls)                                                  Average Undecided        14%

All other Polling Companies (6 polls)                   Average undecided        25%

Margin of error on Polls is typically c 3%

RED C must be doing something quite different in determining “undecideds” than all other polling companies

Red C site: Vote intention results are based on those who will actually go and vote, using a 10 point scale, where 1 is not at all likely and 10 is very likely, those rating 4 to 10 are included as being those who will actually go and vote

Does this mean that only those rating 4 to 10 are included in “core vote”.

After a core vote is established in Red C polls a likelihood to vote filter is applied  subsequently! Is this filtering based solely on the 4 to 10 likely to vote cohort?

——————————————————————————————————————————————-

May 24 LABOUR DISASTER IN CARLOW-KILKENNY BYE-ELECTION Labour Tally  Carlow-Kilkenny Bye Election Labour Candidate Willie Quinn Lives near Bagenalstown (Muine Beag) Carlow area where he got almost 50% of his votes. He as the only candidate of a major party from Co Carlow. Otherwise he would have dipped below 5% over all!!!!! He got only(c.1500) or 3% of the vote in Co Kilkenny where Minister of State Phelan is a Labour TD 96%   of boxes tallied LAB        %                Area  Total Muine Beag        2094      21.6%               9694 Carlow Town         738      7.9%                 9341 ——————————————————————————– Co Carlow Total    2832    14.9%               19,035 Castlecomer            415     3.6%                11,528 Kilkenny west           170     1.6%                 10,625 Kilkenny East            377     3.4%                  11,088 Ferry bank                 257     2.4 %                10,708 Postal votes                40      7.8%                  513 Co Kilkenny Total      1259   2.8%                44,462 Constituency Total    4,091   6.44%               63,497 Actual First Count      4,673    7.0%                66,834 The tallies above can be “fitted” to the actual outcome by increasing the area totals by 5% and the Labour totals by 11% The 5% increase in area totals and in the tallied total valid poll corresponds to compensation for the 4% of boxes not tallied. The 11% increase in Labour totals in each area and in the Labour total corresponds to a combination of compensation for   boxes not tallied and for the fact that the tally team missed 1 in 20 of Labour votes. This is not unusual. Government Support Exactly Halved in Bye-Election! First Preference Vote    Carlow Kilkenny Constituency General Election 2011 FG+Lab       39.22+16.25         =55.47% Bye-Election  2015       FG+Lab        20.6+7.0         =27.6% Reduction  in Gov Support                               = 27.87% Break the Media Conspiracy of Silence!!! If this were repeated in a General Election in the 5 seat Carlow-Kilkenny Constituency, Labour would lose the seat held by Minister Phelan FG would definitely lose 1 of its 3 seats but could lose 2 Fianna Fail likely to gain a seat ending with 2 Sinn Féin   Will definitely take a seat Sinn Féin   First Pref Bye-election      16.2% Sinn Féin First Pref in GE 2011          9.54% Quota in 5 seat Constituency             16.7% Not Mentioned In   Media!!! Very Bad Bye-Election for Fine Gael –Drop of 15% of Poll on 2011 General Election After the General Election 2011 Fine Gael Held 3 Seats in Carlow-Kilkenny having polled 39.22% of First Preference Votes General Election 2011 FG First Preference Total=                                                      39.22% Bye-Election 2015 FG  First Preference               13,744                                       20.6% FG  First Pref.+Renua Transfers  13,74+2,263=16,007             24.0% Reduction                                                                                 15.22%

May 18

Only 60 out of a thousand say they will vote Labour in IPSOS/MRBI Poll Dr Adrian Kavanagh NUIM Predicts 2 seats for Labour!

Fianna Fail 36, Fine Gael 55, Sinn Fein 33, Labour Party 2, Independents and Others 32

Dreadful News For Labour Confirmed in Second Poll

No Difference in 2 Recent Polls when Margin of Error(MoE) is Applied

Comparing  Raw Polls

Ipsos/Mrbi  Monday 18/5     FG   22   Others 19   SF 17      FF  15     LP  6     Undecided  21 MoE  +or-2.8% B&A  Sunday 17/5                FG  19  Others23     SF 17      FF 12      LP  5     Undecided  25  MoE  +or -3.2% (Ipsos/Mrbi, unlike B&A, doesn’t use Filters)

May 17 B&A   General Election Poll Sunday May 17 Only 50 out of a thousand say they will vote Labour in Poll! Gap of 2% between SF and FG in Raw Poll increases to 7% due to Processing Labour Vote almost Increases by three fifths  in “Processing” http://banda.ie/wp-content/uploads/J.6535-Sunday-Times-May-Poll-2015.pdf

Stated Outcome:  Fine Gael 27% (NC), Independents and Others 26% (up 2%), Sinn Fein 20% (up 1%), Fianna Fail 17% (down 1%),  Labour Party 8% (down 1%), Green Party 3% (NC).

B&A    May 17 Raw Vote                       FG 19    Others23   Sinn Féin 17    FF 12    LP 5

Undecided 25

Excluding Undecided1         FG  25  Others 30   Sinn Féin 22    FF 15    LP 7 Filters Applied2                   FG 27    Others29   Sinn Fein 20     FF 17    LP 83 ———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————— 1    without rounding           FG 25.3   Others 30.7   SF22.7        FF 16(?) LP 6.7 2   Liklihood to vote and Past Voting Record in GENERAL ELECTION filters used

3 LP vote is so small that exclusion of undecideds, rounding and filters increase it by 3/5=60% April 28   RED C releases Core Vote Final Outcome is reached by applying a likelihood to vote filter, then a recall of voting in last GENERAL Election filter and finally by eliminating the modified undecided which was 14%( not 20% as in core vote!) Core Vote             Undecided 20  Others 20  FF 14  FG 20  Lab 6  SF 20

Final outcome        Others 26  FF 19  FG 25 Lab 8   SF 22

Note how FG and Lab are advantaged by this process and Sinn Féin is disadvantaged in this process

%  of core vote by which  each party increases through Red C processing FG   +25% SF +10% Lab  +33% FF +  35% Others +  30%

April 26 Red C (SBP)

Final outcome FG 25% [-2%]. LP 8% [-2%], SF 22% [+5%], FF 19% [+1%], Ind/Small Parties 26 [-2%].

Corevote Undecided 17%   Others 22  FF 16   FG 21 Lab 7 SF 18

full Red C Results not yet posted

Update March 30 CORE VOTES Red C Mar 29                 Undecided  14 Others 24  FF15 FG23 Lab 8    SF 16 Ipsos/MRBI  Mar 25     Undecided 24, Others 22, FF 13, FG 18, Lab 5,SF 18 B&A   Mar 16                    Undecided 24, Others 19, FF 14, Fg 19, Lab 5, SF 19 Is it credible that 10% of population left “undecided”, made up their minds and 8% extra voted for government parties within a week in which no major political event took place? Is Red C “pre-processing” data to get core vote ? Or is it asking further questions of “undecideds”.? If so it should declare this on its site. “Undecided” voter figures are consistently lower in Red C than in other polls On the blog  The Cedar Lounge Revolution, Liberius has stated://

“It’s worth pointing out though that Red C’s numbers are statistically more favourable to FG and Labour than any of the other polling firms; an average of 28% for FG in all of their polls since January 2012, with an average of 11% for Labour.” (See below for use of special weighting factors or filters by Red C and B&A which are not used by Ipsos/Mrbi or Millward Brown ).

UPDATE MARCH 25 IPSOS/MRBI(Irish Times) to-day is virtually identical to B&A(Sunday Times) March 16 Ipsos/MRBI  Mar 25  Undecided 24, Others 22, FF 13, FG 18, Lab 5, SF 18 B&A   Mar 16                 Undecided 24, Others 19, FF 14, Fg 19, Lab 5, SF 19 The probable error for 95% confidence on each party score is approximately 3% in both cases Ipsos/Mrbi unlike B&A, does not use likelihood to vote or recall of vote in the last  general election filters(weighting factors). The final outcome in B&A for FG was 27% and for SF was 19%    !!! The final outcome in IPSOS/MRBI for FG was 24% and for SF was 24%   !!! The difference is the application of outdated filters by B&A!!!! I can see or hear no comment in the media this morning to the effect that the results of the two polls are in  fact identical. !!!!! VOTE By Social Stratum in IPSOS/MRBI Poll Today (Percentages) These figures should be treated with caution as the probable error on them is very high due to low sample size  The social strata in descending order of wealth and status are taken as A,B, C, D1, D2

A+B voters: FG 43, Ind/Oth 31, FF 14, Lab 7, SF 6 C1 voters: Ind/Oth 29, FG 24, FF 19, SF 19, Lab 9 C2 voters: Ind/Oth 31, SF 30, FG 19, FF 14, Lab 5 D+E voters: SF 36, Ind/Oth 26, FF 16, FG 15, Lab 8 Note the huge 43% for FG in the two uppermost strata and the large 36% for Sinn Féin among the two lowest strata. The really bad news for Labour is that it is only scoring 8% among the two lowest strata!!!! It comes last of all parties and others among the poorest strata. Farmers are treated seperately with F1 being the catefory of those above 50 good acres and F2 being those below that. F1/F2 voters: FG 35, FF 29, SF 17, Ind/Oth 17, Lab 2 FF+FG account for 64% but 17% for Sinn Féin is substantial.

UPDATE MARCH 16,2015 OUTDATED FILTERS DISTORT POLLS-Advantaging Government Parties Poll Results Distorted By Filters Unlike Millward Brown who simply eliminate undecideds B&A and REDC who reported in recent days apply “filters” to voting intentions expressed in polls Take the recent Sunday Times B&A Poll as an example. B&A Mar15  Undecided 24, Others 19, FF 14,  FG 19,  Lab 5, SF 19-Core Vote B&A website The  elimination of undecided gave Others 25% FF 18 FG 25% Lab 7 SF 25%—–B&A website But  after “Filtering” Sinn Fein were 6% lower and FG were 2% higher giving Others 26%  FF18%   FG 27%   Lab 9%  SF  19% —B&A website Overall FG and SF started on 19% in core vote –FG rose by 8 points to 27% but Sinn Féin remained on 19% after processing despite the elimination of 24% undecided!!!! The actual Labour vote was almost doubled!! Why Filters Employed by B&A and REDC Are No Longer Valid Likelihood To Vote Filter Unlike recent GENERAL elections the less well-off are not now passive but are actively organising against austerity. Those of us who regularly call to homes in local authority estates know that the residents are “spitting blood” at the government and particularly at the Labour Party and rightly so. They will be highly motivated to vote in the next general election. This should largely cancel out the perception that “the poor don’t vote” as expressed in this filter. Recall of Voting in Last General Election Filter This filter puts in to effect the normal tendency of voter to “stray” between general elections but to return to old habits in the actual election. Given the political earthquake evident in the recent local and European elections it is clear that this tendency is very unlikely to be as effective as in the past if, indeed, it exists at all. Indeed, it is my view that poll results would be even more highly distorted by this filter but for the “selective amnesia” of human beings in relation to unpleasant events and past misdeeds.  Fortunately, large numbers who clearly voted for FG and Lab cannot recall doing so!!!!! ——————————————————————- 27-10-2013 It is important to realise that the 9% attributed to Labour by RED C is not an increase on the 6% attributed to it on Oct 1 by Irish Times IPSOS/MRBI. This is because these polling companies process the raw data quite differently. Dr  Adrian Kavanagh(NUI Maynooth) has pointed out that Labour is polling consistently higher in Red C polls. In previous messages, I have shown how Red C unduly elevates the Labour (and the FG) votes. This is basically because REd C allocates half the “DONT’T Knows” (after the c. 10% who are unlikely to vote are excluded) in the proportion achieved by the parties in the last general election as recalled by those polled! This cannot fail to advantage Labour and FG and to disadvantage FF , SF and Others. I believe that this process is unjustified in a rapidly changing and unprecedented political situation, The IPSOS/MRBI figure(6%) for Labour is the lowest since 1987. The RED C figure(9%) for Labour is the lowest for decades. According to Dr Kavanagh, based on essentially  similar raw data in both polls, if IPSOS/MRBI forecast turns out to be correct in a general election, Labour will get between zero and four seats. If the REDC forecast turns out to be correct, Labour will get 9 seats  In any event Labour will suffer huge losses in the local and European elections RED C explains its treatment of raw data here: http://redcresearch.ie/blog/do-undecided-voters-desire-for-new-party Analysis by Dr Kavanagh, including allocation of seats by constituency in accordance with the poll, is available here:  http://politicalreform.ie/2013/10/26/apres-la-guerre-constituency-level-analyses-of-post-budget-opinion-polls/ Paddy Healy

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ESRI In Denial-Opinion Slot for Director in IRISH TIMES

January 12, 2012 1 comment

ESRI in Denial
The Irish Times (Jan 12) has given free rein to the ESRI to cover up its past. Above all, ESRI failed to give adequate warning of the danger to the Irish economy from the combination of excessive bank borrowing abroad and excessive lending both at home and abroad.
The level of denial by the ESRI itself and the extent of the protection from criticism it has enjoyed in the media has particular dangers for citizens. The dangers in the current austerity policy are sure to be understated by ESRI if radical change in the governance of the Institute does not take place.
ESRI director is given the facility of a personal opinion piece in the newspaper, to-day Jan 12. In addition, under the heading “Director says ESRI economy warnings ignored“ Paul Cullen of the Irish Times political staff wrote an article which contained no quotations from anybody other than the ESRI director. I had been interviewed for half an hour on telephone by Paul Cullen in advance of the publication of the article. The article begins: “SUCCESSIVE GOVERNMENTS deliberately ignored warnings from the Economic and Social Research Institute about the dangers of an overheating economy, according to its director, Prof Frances Ruane. Prof Ruane yesterday defended the independence of the ESRI and the accuracy of its forecasting in the face of trenchant criticism last week by departing staff member Richard Tol.” In a third article, also by Paul Cullen, some criticism is carried including a criticism of the governance of the Institute by myself. This article says that the Institute circulated Morgan Kelly’s article (July 1997) predicting the “bust” without saying that the Institute had dissociated itself from it! As I explain below, the Institute was saying the opposite at the time.
What are the facts? The Irish economy was in mortal danger in Summer 2007. “Members of the Media should note that Professor Morgan Kelly is not a staff member of The ESRI. Whilst this Article has been accepted for publication by The ESRI, the views expressed are not the views of The ESRI”. This is the legend that accompanied the circulation by ESRI of the article by Morgan Kelly in July 2007 predicting the bursting of the property bubble and its consequences. There is no record in the article of the director being asked to explain this disclaimer.(The journalist had discussed this contention in my letter to all media with me)
But what was the ESRI itself saying at the same time in Summer 2007? In Spring 2006 the Institute had predicted a soft landing saying: “We add our voice to those expressing concern about the possibility of a bubble bursting. However, this does not imply that a sharp fall will occur. A soft landing is still the more likely outcome.” In its Quarterly Economic Commentary, Summer 2007, a “smooth transition” was predicted. “As the housing boom comes to an end, the economy must move resources to other areas of economic activity, such that the transition is as smooth as possible in terms of output and employment. We are optimistic that a smooth transition will occur and this is reflected in our forecasts for services and industry growth. However, if the current high rate of CPI inflation feeds into excessive wage demands, this could endanger a smooth transition. (Preamble to QEC, Summer 2007). And in its General Assessment, the same publication states : “With employment growth slowing, tax revenues growing more slowly than last year and early indicators of activity in house building pointing towards a slowdown, our task in producing forecasts has been to estimate whether the slowdown will be moderate or otherwise.For now, our belief is that the slowdown will indeed be moderate.”
The same publication pointed to dangers to their optimistic outcome. Was there any mention of excessive bank borrowing and lending? Not a word. The main danger was wage inflation according to ESRI. Government and employers cannot have been unhappy with that!
The contention in my letter to the media that the warnings were so understated as to be totally ineffective is more than justified. This is particularly so as the warnings were addenda to optimistic predictions at a time when the country was hurtling towards receivership.

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No Academic Freedom at Economic and Social Research Institute

January 6, 2012 4 comments

Professor Richard Tol recently departed from the Economic and Social Reserch Institute. In an interview with Colm Keena (Irish Times Jan 2) he criticised the lack of academic freedom at the Institute. Read full article pasted below. As the role of the ESRI is to advise the government and the citizens on economic matters the statements made by Professor Tol should give rise to great concern. Yet ESRI had not seen fit to comment on these statements(Jan 2) until Sunday Jan 8. I believe that my letters to the media and my tweets played a role in eliciting the reply. The issue is covered in an article in Sunday Independent Jan 8 (Analysis, Daniel McConnell P8) and was discussed on Marian Finucane Show on Sunday Jan 8. Richard Toll, in the course of his interview with Daniel McConnell, stated “You work on the basis of professional integrity. In the ESRI you are not supposed to talk outside your area of expertise. That is perfectly acceptable. However, in the last two years or so there was quite strong pressure from the director to keep messages out of the media that are not politically acceptable or that might upset council members or funders.” A tweet by Richard Toll is also quoted:”It was funny to hear academics complain about distant threats to academic freedom. At the ESRI, we were muffled,” The ESRI has denied the allegations saying: “The allegations made by Richard Tol are wholly unsubstantiated.”The article from the Sunday Independent is pasted below.
In the course of the Marian Finucane Show distinguished Journalist, Sam Smyth said:”They say that if you live in Rome you shouldn’t fight with the Pope and there is a relationship between the state and the ESRI”. He seemed to be justifying the ESRI position. Of course, the lack of freedom for the ESRI and its researchers to criticise government policy is the core issue.
My letter(text below) to the editor on this matter was published in Irish Independent to-day, Jan 6

From Paddy Healy Convener of Campaign for Academic Freedom, 086-4183732
88 Griffith Court,
Fairview,
Dublin 3

Dear Editor,
Academic Freedom and ESRI
“Members of the Media should note that Professor Morgan Kelly is not a staff member of The ESRI. Whilst this Article has been accepted for publication by The ESRI, the views expressed are not the views of The ESRI”. This is the legend that accompanied the circulation by ESRI of the article by Morgan Kelly in July 2007 predicting the bursting of the property bubble and its consequences. Professor Richard Tol ,who has recently left ESRI, is right when he says: “the institute did issue warnings about policy during the Ahern years, but did not do so loudly enough”.
In fact the warnings were so understated as to be totally ineffective.
The allegations of lack of independence and absence of academic freedom for researchers at ESRI by Richard Tol are a very serious matter for Irish citizens. The institute is largely funded by the state. Citizens are entitled to expect full and unbiased information in economic matters. The council of ESRI is a self-perpetuating establishment club. Candidates for election to the governing body must be pre-approved by a majority of the existing members of the council.
The remedy for this extremely unsatisfactory situation follows from the remark by Richard Tol “In a university you can say what you like if you behave responsibly. It’s not the same with the ESRI”. Clearly the ESRI should be subsumed into a university or other third level institute where academic freedom is either guaranteed by law or enshrined in contracts of employment.
Yours sincerely,
Paddy Healy 086-4183732
Note from Paddy Healy
In 2005, as president of Teachers Union of Ireland, I was proposed for a vacancy on the Council of ESRI by Dublin Institute of Technology having been a member of the Governing Body and Academic Council of DIT for several years.
My nomination was declared invalid at the AGM as my candidacy was not “pre-approved” by the existing Council.

Economist criticises aspects of ESRI
COLM KEENA
Mon, Jan 02, 2012
ENERGY ECONOMIST Richard Tol, who has left the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) to take up the position of professor of economics with Sussex University, has criticised aspects of the public think-tank.
Prof Tol said the financial position of the institute affected the independence of the work it produced. He said people who worked there were discouraged from expressing personal opinions to journalists or on social media sites such as Twitter.
Efforts to contact representatives of the institute were unsuccessful.
Prof Tol spoke to The Irish Times yesterday after he had posted a number of comments on Twitter about his decision to leave the ESRI after five and a half years. “In a university you can say what you like if you behave responsibly. It’s not the same with the ESRI,” he said. “If you violate policy and upset people, you can get into trouble.”
He said the institute’s independence was compromised by the fact it got so much of its funding from government. He said this could manifest itself in the way the research it conducts is put into the public domain.
He was critical of the standard of information technology available at the institute.
In one of his tweets he said it was not a coincidence he was one of five senior research professors who had left over the past number of years. The institute has about 40 research assistants and about 10 research professors, he told The Irish Times. “So five in the last five years is significant.”
The ESRI was set up during the Lemass era to improve the quality of policy analysis available to the government.
Prof Tol said the institute did issue warnings about policy during the Ahern years, but did not do so loudly enough.
He said the institute did not have a banking expert even though during the bubble years banking was one of the economy’s largest sectors. “So the whole thing of the bank crisis caught the ESRI from left field.”
The international financial crisis, he said, was caused by factors that the whole of the international economics profession believed could not happen. “So you can’t blame the ESRI on that.”
When Ireland was joining the euro the institute had warned that fiscal policy would have to take account of the new situation, but Charlie McCreevy then became minister for finance “and went in the opposite direction to where we should be going”.
This was criticised by the institute but not loudly enough, he said. “The ESRI can make its voice heard, but it didn’t.”
Prof Tol said the view of many people in the institute now was on the financial threat to its survival – and personal relief that they had a job.
He said there were many positive aspects to working in the institute, not least the people he worked alongside and the fact he was able to engage in applied research.
A native of the Netherlands, he said he would be sad to leave Ireland, which he really loved. However, his wife was a civil engineer and they had two children.
“Ireland is facing 10 years of austerity. Leaving Ireland is the best thing you can do at the moment if you are responsible for a young family.”
© 2012 The Irish Times
Daniel McConnell: A fearless whistleblower or a disgruntled crank?
The ESRI and Richard Tol are at war since the economist’s bitter departure, writes Daniel McConnell

It was a most bizarre image. The lead story on the main evening news on RTE showed a scruffy, long-haired foreigner packing up his house to move to England.

This same man starkly warned that despite cuts of over €24bn in government spending since 2008 Ireland faces another decade of austerity.

But most controversially, Richard Tol, non-conformist voice and energy economist, also had some harsh words for his former employers and colleagues in the State’s economic think tank, the Economic Social and Research Institute (ESRI).

During that RTE interview, he called into question the organisation’s independence and condemned it for a lack of transparency.

However, online — his favoured medium — Tol went for the jugular.

Over a 48-hour period, the 42-year-old Dutch academic made a host of serious allegations into how the ESRI operates, about its transparency, its relationship with Government and how it is funded.

Today, the ESRI hits back very strongly at the various allegations made by Tol online and during an interview with this newspaper. It vehemently denies the failings alleged by Tol, rejecting his outlook almost entirely. “The allegations made by Richard Tol are wholly unsubstantiated.”

His criticisms of the ESRI on television were somewhat muted and restricted, no doubt by the station’s lawyers, and Tol himself is bemused that his departure was given so much prominence. “It is a slow news day if the lead story is the hairy guy packing a box,” he tweeted.

But it was on Twitter that Tol made the most serious allegations about the organisation.

He accused it of being a xenophobic and nepotistic body which is caught in a timewarp using antiquated technology. He also stated that he was the fifth senior person to leave the institute, implying cultural and endemic problems at the ESRI.

“It was funny to hear academics complain about distant threats to academic freedom. At the ESRI, we were muffled,” he tweeted.

“The wife said: The ESRI reflects all that is good and bad about Irish society. She is right,” he wrote a short time later.

For those left behind in the ESRI, Tol is a trouble-making crank who has sought to wash his dirty laundry in public.

For others, in a country which has a shameful record of treating whistleblowers poorly, Tol was a welcome dissenting voice holding up a mirror to reveal our flaws as well as our strengths.

In the wake of his outbursts online, the Sunday Independent spoke to Tol to try and see if he would elaborate on the serious allegations he made about the state’s economic think tank.

According to Tol, the ESRI has many faults and many positives. The faults, he says, are incredibly serious and strike to the core of its credibility. He calls into question its independence and its transparency.

“Transparency is most important and at the ESRI the models used for our analysis is not transparent at all. The way it is, you aren’t sure who contributed what to a particular paper; accessibility to information is not there. This is one of the most serious issues affecting the ESRI,” he said.

I ask him about independence and academic freedom.

Tol detailed his often fractious relationship with his superiors within the ESRI, and said that clear pressure was brought to bear on him and his fellow researchers by the director of the ESRI, Frances Ruane, to keep “politically unacceptable” messages suppressed.

“You work on the basis of professional integrity. In the ESRI you are not supposed to talk outside your area of expertise. That is perfectly acceptable. However, in the last two years or so there was quite strong pressure from the director to keep messages out of the media that are not politically acceptable or that might upset council members or funders.”

He said that he had fallen foul of Ruane’s instructions and was disciplined as a result.

“The ESRI is supposed to be an academic institution,

where you can speak on the basis of evidenced-based analysis. Disciplinary measures have been taken. Pressure came in the form of conversations, emails and letters. Such measures have been taken against me. I have had many conversations with the director, so my comments would not have come as any surprise to her,” he said.

In response, the ESRI said: “ESRI researchers are free to participate in public debate. There are no restrictions on ESRI staff members discussing their research in whatever forum they deem appropriate. Indeed, research staff members have participated in wide-ranging discussions in many media outlets.”

The Sunday Independent has obtained a copy of the institute’s protocols for publishing material, and researchers are subject to a host of detailed instructions in how to “disseminate” information to the public.

Researchers must run press releases by the director or her nominee before release, and opinion pieces for national publication in a newspaper must be cleared by a colleague, head of division or the director before being submitted. Researchers are permitted to upload material to certain websites like the Irisheconomy.ie without clearance from superiors if it is in their field of expertise.

“Staff at the ESRI know there is a policy about the relaying of information and are expected to adhere to that policy. If they don’t, disciplinary measures are utilised, and were in the case of Richard Tol,” the ESRI spokeswoman said.

Tol was also critical that websites such as Twitter and Facebook were blocked for staff by the ESRI, reflecting an attitude toward technology more suited to the 1990s.

Tol’s statements about xenophobia and nepotism are the most controversial.

He alleges that within the ESRI, those from Ireland were in someway treated above those from foreign countries, which impacted on people’s career prospects.

He said: “There was a hierarchy within there. It was native Irish first, then English, then European, then others. This impacted on how fast you got promoted.”

The ESRI has strongly refuted any suggestion of favouritism, saying it has staff from many nationalities currently employed there. It stated it has fully developed human resources policies and such a scenario just simply couldn’t occur.

Tol went further, alleging that racist complaints made by staff toward colleagues were “ignored” by the director and by the council of the ESRI.

“Some people made racist remarks toward their colleagues. Complaints about racism and such racist remarks were ignored by management and even the council of the ESRI. It shouldn’t happen. It wasn’t racism, say white versus black, but it was racist comments directed at colleagues. It is totally unacceptable. Just because it is more common in Ireland doesn’t make it right,” he said.

“With regard to Professor Tol’s comments on xenophobia and racism, similar allegations were made in the recent past by Professor Tol when they were fully investigated and found to be groundless,” an ESRI spokeswoman said.

She said the ESRI had an employment equality policy and a code of business conduct for employees in numerous areas, including racism. These policies are brought to the attention of all members of staff. Complaints are dealt with under the grievance policy and procedure agreed between management and staff.

On his allegation of nepotism, Tol said this related to the hiring of “friends or allies” by powerful people within the organisation, irrespective of their abilities.

“Some of the more powerful people seem to have the right to appoint their friends to positions. It was easy to spot when you looked at the publication records, who the more productive ones are.”

In response, the ESRI said: “There is no basis for his comments on nepotism. All new appointments at the ESRI are made on the basis of public advertisement. The ESRI uses fully open and transparent procedures for appointments and promotion of research staff to ensure that these are made on merit. Interview boards always include an outside expert to ensure the independence and transparency of the process. The recommendations of the interview board must be approved by the ESRI council.”

Opinion within Irish academia about Richard Tol’s departure to the University of Sussex is mixed, with some, like Colm McCarthy of this newspaper and UCD, describing him as a “big loss to ESRI”.

He wrote: “Best of luck Richard”.

Others were less kind. Stephen Kinsella, an economist at the University of Limerick who moderated a discussion on the influential Irisheconomy.ie website, said the opinions expressed were “very polarised.”

“Richard Tol had the ability to be dismissive and condescending of other people’s work, especially in the area of environmental economics,” wrote a contributor named Mr Rudgelift.

“Richard seems to have annoyed some and said some extreme things and I had to delete some of the more personal attacks on him. But from my point of view, I always regret the loss of such a contrarian voice,” added Kinsella.

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Fuel Poverty-Paddy Healy Replies to Minister Rabitte

December 28, 2011 Leave a comment

Below is an unedited version of my letter published in Irish Times to-day Dec 28
Paddy Healy 086-4183732
Dear Editor,
Minister Rabitte (Irish Times letters Dec 27) seeks to contradict the piece by Fintan O’Toole on fuel poverty (Irish Times December 20)
The Labour- Fine Gael government has introduced two cuts in fuel allowances since coming to power. From September, the smokeless fuel allowance was abolished and the annual allowance of free units was reduced from 2400 to 1800. In Budget 2012, the heating period was reduced by 6 weeks. Fuel allowance is a means tested payment. Only the poor are entitled to this benefit.
The piece of research to which Minister Rabitte and Fintan O’Toole refer is“Fuel Poverty, Older People and Cold Weather: An all-island analysis”, (at http://www.publichealth.ie). It found that the excess winter death rate in the Republic for the winter of 2006/7 was 1,281. Of these, 1,216 were aged over-65. The majority died of cardiovascular and respiratory illness – cold-related conditions. The fuel allowance in the year in question was only fractionally less than that now available and fuel prices are now much higher.
During the new year, 2012, the hundredth anniversary of the proposal by Connolly and Larkin to the Irish TUC meeting in Clonmel that a Labour Party should be founded will occur. It is scarcely credible that a party which claims Connolly as founder should be cutting fuel allowances to the poor. This is all the more so as the Labour Party, just over a year ago when in opposition, introduced a private members motion in Dáil Éireann (October 12, 2010) calling on the government to increase fuel allowances!
Fintan O’Toole was right to refer to refer to “the unacceptable reality that current policies are making Ireland a cold house for basic decency.”
Yours sincerely,
Paddy Healy

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F O’Toole on Minister Rabitte and Fuel Poverty

December 20, 2011 Leave a comment

How Low can they GO?
In the recent Budget the period for which the poor and the old receive free gas and electricity units was reduced by six weeks. During the warmer summer months, Minister for “Social Protection”, Joan Burton(LabourParty Deputy Leader) announced cuts to the home benefits package for pensioners and social welfare beneficiaries. The allocations of electricity units and gas units so important for home heating were reduced by between 20% and 25% and the smokeless fuel allowance payable in Dublin was abolished. These are means tested payments which means that they are only paid to people at risk. AGE ACTION IRELAND has stated “Research on fuel poverty and older people by the Dublin Institute of Technology and the Institute of Public Health shows that during the winter of 2006/7 there were 1,281 excess winter deaths*. Of these, the vast majority were older people (1,216 were aged over-65).
The piece of research referred to by Age Action was publicly launched last week by Minister Rabitte (Labour Party) In Irish Times 20/12/2011, columnist Fintan O’Toole analyses Minister Rabitte’s launching address-Paddy Healy
RABITTE OUT IN THE COLD ON ELDERLY FUEL CUTS
Irish Times Tue, Dec 20, 2011
Pat Rabbitte is wrong that the fuel crisis is not as bad as reported. In fact, it is likely to be much worse, writes FINTAN O’TOOLE
OSCAR WILDE said he could resist everything except temptation. We, his compatriots, can imagine everything except reality. Collectively, we find it hard to believe what we see around us.
One of the things that’s easiest to spot in public spaces is old people sheltering from the cold. You see them in Ikea, sitting in the restaurant half the day over cheap cups of tea. You see them in shopping centres, where benches are being removed, not to stop teenagers from congregating, but to prevent the clusters of elderly heat-seekers. You see them in public libraries. You even see them on trains, riding up and down the lines with their free travel passes. And these, of course, are the luckier ones, the ones who are mobile and healthy enough to be able to get out of the house. But seeing is not believing.
Last week, there was a strange vignette of official incredulity. Minister for Energy Pat Rabbitte launched a report by the Institute of Public Health on fuel poverty among the elderly. It is a very serious, scholarly piece of work, conducted on an all-island basis by a team of researchers from the Republic, Northern Ireland and Britain, led by Prof Patrick Goodman of Dublin Institute of Technology.
One of its findings is that 51.1 per cent of older people surveyed said they “went without necessities such as food and clothing in order to pay for heat over the winter period”.
This is not a comfortable finding for a Minister in the week after a budget that has cut the fuel allowance period by six weeks. How did Pat Rabbitte deal with it? By claiming it did not exist. According to The Irish Times report of the launch, “he said the claim that half of older people were forgoing essentials to heat their home had been published in a press release but was not in the report. He added that no politician or social worker would believe that it was true.”
In fact, the finding appears twice in the report: on page 12 and on page 60. When this was pointed out to the Minister, he stood by his position that it could not be so, pointing out that the survey was “not a representative sample of older people”.
This is true, but probably not in the sense that Rabbitte meant. No one claims the survey is representative, in the sense that, for example, an opinion poll using weighted demographical sampling might be. Its aim is somewhat different: not to tick boxes, but to get a good sense of the actual experience of older people during last winter.
The sampling method, using bodies such as Age Action, Energy Action, the Rural Transport Network and Dublin City Council’s sheltered housing liaison officers to distribute the surveys, probably does distort the results somewhat. But – and here’s the real point – it distorts them by understating the problem. People who are isolated from networks and services were excluded. People who have problems with literacy or blindness couldn’t complete the written survey. Such people are more, not less, likely to suffer from deprivation.
There is a further factor at work: the “mustn’t grumble” ethic of the elderly. Older people don’t like to complain. In the same survey, 90 per cent of the respondents listed their health status as fair to very good, even though 75 per cent had a long-term illness. They are an almost comically stoical bunch.
One respondent with both Parkinson’s disease and arthritis gave her health status as “good” and explained that “as long as I am mobile and above ground I tend not to panic or bitch”.
How probable is it that these same people are wildly exaggerating when they say they sacrifice food or clothing for heat?
And yet, the official view from the Minister is that it simply could not be true that anything like half of older people are doing without other necessities in order to heat their homes. “No politician or social worker would believe that it was true.”
That no politician, moving from heated offices to heated cars, would believe it is understandable. But I’m not sure the incredulity would extend to anyone who works with Age Action, Friends of the Elderly, St Vincent de Paul or social services. The only sense in which it is not “true” is that its reality is impermissibly awkward.
This vignette is eloquent in its own way as an example of the cognitive dissonance of officialdom. Cognitive dissonance is the condition that affects people when their belief system comes into conflict with reality. They close the gap, not by altering their belief systems, but by redefining reality.
In this case, Pat Rabbitte’s belief system (social justice) is in radical conflict with most of what he’s doing in Government. So he’s redefining reality: it is simply not possible that the Government is cutting fuel allowances for people who are already suffering deprivation in order to stay warm.
Otherwise, he would have to face the unacceptable reality that current policies are making Ireland a cold house for basic decency.
© 2011 The Irish Times

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ULA Proposal to Tax the Assets and Incomes of the Super-Rich

December 2, 2011 Leave a comment

As the Richer get Richer 17 Billion Must be Taken from Super-Rich to Avoid Austerity!
A statement from the Central Statistics Office on Wednesday last showed that the wealthiest top 20% had 5.5 times more income than the poorest 20% in 2010 and this has grown from 4.3 times in 2009. Net Financial Assets(shares etc) which are mainly the preserve of the rich have increase by 45 billion since 2008 and are now above pre-crash (2007) levels. These are facts issued by the state. The rich are,in fact,getting richer as the poor get poorer! ULA is demanding that, in the Budget, 10 billion be taken from the Assets of the top 5% of wealth holders, 5 billion be taken from the incomes of the top 5% of income earners and that measures be introduced to take 2 billion off tax exiles.
This will avoid further cuts and extra taxes on low and middle income people and can be used to reverse the imposition of the Universal Social Charge and cuts in social welfare, health and education and to allow for an ambitious state job creation programme
Explanatory Document on Taxation
10 Billion in Wealth Tax on the Top 5% of Wealth Holders, 5 Billion in Income Tax from Top 5% of Incomes, 2 Billion from Tax Exiles

Personal Assets Tax
There is currently no annually recurring tax on wealth or assets in Ireland. Such a tax was imposed by Minister for Finance Ritchie Ryan during the 1973-1977 Fine Gael-Labour Coalition Government. It was subsequently abolished by the succeeding Fianna Fail Government. Assets taxes still exist in a number of countries including France, Norway, Switzerland and in a number of states of the USA. Many were abolished in other countries under the influence of neo-liberal Thatcher-Reagan economic ideology which has brought the world to the current economic crisis.
Recent statistics from the CSO show that in 2010 the financial assets of Irish people (not businesses) were as follows:
CSO Nov 2011 Personal Financial Assets (millions)
(Financial wealth below is made up of cash, shares, pension and insurance funds (net equity) and business assets/liabilities of self-employed/sole traders. Land, housing and non-financial personal property (e.g. yachts, art, etc.) are not included. Gross financial wealth refers to total financial assets; Net financial wealth refers to gross financial wealth minus liabilities -almost all liabilities refer to loans-CSO). (loans include mortgage loans and credit card debt-PH)

Total Financial Assets Total Financial liabilities Net Financial Assets

2007 310,711 199,036 111,675
2008 281,650 209,774 71,876
2009 304,885 206,620 98,264
2010 311,372 194,219 117,153

These figures show that net personal financial assets of have increased by 45 billion since the low point of 2008. Total and net financial assets are now above 2007 level, that is before the crash. The rich are Getting Richer while the Poor are Getting Poorer http://www.cso.ie/en/media/csoie/releasespublications/documents/economy/2010/isanonfinfin2010.pdf

The net figure underestimates the assets of the wealthy as a far higher proportion of the liabilities including mortgage and credit card debt are held by those with no asset other than the principal private residence which is not included in the gross figure.

Recently (Nov 2011) Credit Suisse, the Swiss finance house, has published an analysis of wealth distribution in Ireland.
It shows that the top 1% of the Irish population hold 28.1% of all wealth and the top 5% hold 46.85 of all wealth.
Credit Suisse estimates that financial assets make up 47 percent of total assets (Table 2-4 on page 71 in Credit Suisse Global Assets Report). This means that there is €311 billion in financial assets and €351 billion in non-financial assets for a total of €662 billion (using latest CSO data). After financial liabilities of €194 billion, total net wealth is €468 billion.
As 28.1% of net wealth is held by the top 1%, they hold 131.5 billion of total net wealth.
As 46.85% of net wealth is held by the top 5%, they hold 219.3 billion of total net wealth
These are a significant underestimations as total liabilities of households which have been deducted lean proportionally most heavily on the less wealthy households.
The Revenue Commissioners have no data on the assets of specific individuals as assets tax was abolished over 30 years ago. Such a register should be established by law immediately so that there is complete transparency in relation to the ownership of wealth. The overall data above was deduced by the Central Statistics Office from other data.
ULA has set a target of collecting 10 billion per year in assets tax from the top 5% until the fiscal deficit is removed and 5 billion annually thereafter.
As these assets are not contingent on receipt of income or income changes, ULA proposes that the deadline for payment be March 1, 2012. This would facilitate early implementation of our job creation programme
The 10 billion in revenue from assets tax is available for purposes such as job creation, elimination of USC, restoration of cuts in welfare etc
It is a matter for government which has Department of Finance , Revenue Commissioners, Central Statistics Office etc at its disposal to devise legislation to reach the target revenue of 10 billion from the top 5 % and that, in particular that the homes , farms and pension funds of those outside the top 5% be exempt.
The measure proposed is a tax on personal assets only not on the assets of businesses
If the target revenue of 10 Billion is not reached by March 1, further measures should be introduced.

Income Tax
There was an increase in income inequality between 2009 and 2010 as shown by the quintile share ratio. The ratio showed that the average income of those in the highest income quintile was 5.5 times that of those in the lowest income quintile. The ratio was 4.3 one year earlier. CSO Press Release Nov 30,2011
There can be little doubt that the imposition of an assets tax would increase the yield from income tax. The contrast between large assets and low declared incomes in the non-PAYE sector would become clear.
The most recently published official statistics are for 2009
The top 5% of earners had a total income of 18 billion Euro in 2009 (22.6% of all income) and paid only 4.9 billion in income tax. If tax reliefs and capital allowances claimed are taken into account, their Gross Income, which is their actual income, is 19.8 billion. (Revenue Commissioners, Statistical Report, Table ISD1)
Deductions from that table, show the top 5% of units have 24% of all income and pay 46% of all income tax. Notwithstanding right wing propaganda, this is to be expected as they have a totally disproportionate share of discretionary income. The imposition of the USC and increased taxation of the lower paid will have significantly reduced the 46% figure in 2010. They only paid 25% of their own total income in tax in 2009
Tax reliefs which proportionally favour the rich are very high in Ireland at 20.2% of total tax revenue as against 8.5% in Germany, 5.1% in the Netherlands (OECD, Commission on Taxation)
Official figures show that those individuals as opposed to couples in receipt of incomes over 100,000 Euro only paid 31.4% of all income tax in 2008 (Irish Times Com Keena 20/3/2009). Figures for 2009 indicate little change in this regard.
Due to heavy impositions on those in receipt of low incomes in more recent budgets this percentage has probably decreased and 10,677 units (0.5% of earners) earned 6.01billion in 2009 or 7.33%% of all income. They paid c (Revenue Commissioners Statistical Report 2010) These very rich earned on average 563,000 Euro each. There is no significant change expected to these figures expected in 2010. It can reasonably be assumed that such people avail of considerable tax breaks and have the advice of tax experts. This 0.5% of earners paid 1.783 billion in income tax in 2009 leaving them with an “after-tax” income of 4.27 billion or 400,000Euro each.
ULA proposes that the minimum effective tax rate on this group be adjusted to yield an additional 2.5 billion to the exchequer leaving them with after-tax income of 1.77 billion or 166,000 Euro each.
The next 0.5% of income recipients(9,933) just below the top group had a gross income of c. 2.3 billion and paid c. 608 million in tax. ULA proposes to take a further 0.5 billion off this group leaving them with 1.2 billion Euro or 121,000Euro each in after tax income
The ULA target is to generate 3 billion Euro from the top 1% of income earners.
Because of massive tax reliefs enjoyed by high earners the use of minimum effective tax rates is a sure means of extracting additional tax from high earners.
This would require a scale of minimum effective tax rates on all income ramping upwards from the current level of 30% as incomes exceed thresholds of 100,000, 150,000, 200,000,250,000 etc. The minimum effective rates may have to be as high as respectively 35%, 40%, 45% , 50% and 60% for those earning above 300,000. The current minimum effective tax rate only applies to those with income of over 125,000 Euro claiming tax relief in excess of 80,000 Euro! This restriction should be abolished.
There must be no increase in the effective tax rates of those with gross incomes below 100,000 Euro
The total increase in revenue due to the preceding measures is 13 billion
Increased Taxation of Very High Incomes
High incomes are very lightly taxed in Ireland and the burden of income taxation on low and middle incomes was hugely increased by the imposition of the Universal Social Charge and by reduction of personal tax credits and thresholds.
There are approximately 88,500 income recipients (4.1% of taxpayers) with incomes between 100,000 and 200,00 euro and these are outside the top 1% of income recipients discussed above. They have a total income of 11.6 billion and paid 2.57 billion in tax in 2009. ULA proposes to increase the income tax yield from this group by 2 billion, through a combination of minimum effective tax rates on all income and higher marginal tax rates on income above 100,000Euro, leaving them with 7 Billion Euro, an average 79,600 Euro each in after tax income . While retaining this revenue target, adjustments of taxation will be necessary within this group in order not to penalise tax payers with an adult dependent or couples who are jointly assessed for tax.
The deployment of minimum effective tax rates is designed to combat the loss of revenue due to tax reliefs enjoyed by the rich. Relief on pension contributions to provide pensions capped at 50,000 per annum per adult should be continued.

The cumulative revenue total raised by the above measures is now 15 billion Euro

Tax Exiles
The Domicile Levy introduced in Budget 2011 to address the problem of tax exiles has generated a paltry 1.5 million in revenue and is clearly totally inadequate.
It is reasonable to expect that citizens of Ireland who have income generated in Ireland and/or assets held in Ireland should pay tax to the Irish state. The United States expects its citizens resident abroad to pay US income tax when their earnings abroad exceed a certain threshold. Failure to do so attracts public disapproval. Irish tax exiles, on the other hand, are fawned on by politicians. Denis O’Brien was invited by Eamonn Gilmore to the Farmleigh conference at the behest of Fine Gael. Michael Smurfit was appointed honorary consul to Monaco by Charles Haughey and furnished with a diplomatic passport. The Labour Party leader is continuing Mr Smurfit in office.
The ULA proposes that the principles underlying US practice be applied to wealthy individuals living abroad.
We call on the Government to introduce measures in Budget 2012 to require by Law that Irish citizens resident abroad for tax purposes pay to the Irish exchequer annual amounts of tax as follows:
1 Assets Tax: An assets tax of 10% on net global personal assets in excess of 2 million Euro less the assets tax paid to the state in which the Irish citizen is resident.
2 Income Tax: A minimum effective income tax rate of 50% on annual global income in excess of 200,000 Euro, less the income tax paid to the state in which the Irish citizen is resident.
3Current Domicile Levy of €200,000 introduced in Budget 2010 to be increased to 500,000Euro per year. This levy should apply to all Irish-domiciled individuals who are Irish citizens to ensure that wealthy Irish domiciled individuals make a contribution to the State during these times of economic and fiscal difficulty. The Levy will apply to wealthy Irish-domiciled individuals with Irish located capital greater than €2 million, worldwide income in excess of €1million and an Irish income tax liability less than €500,000. Persons liable to the Levy will have to pay it regardless of where they live or where they are tax resident.

It is impossible to predict the revenue which would be generated by the above measures. However the deadline for paying the assets tax, domicile levy and preliminary income tax should be set at March 1, 2011. If the income generated falls below a projected 2 billion for the year as a whole, further changes should be made to remedy the short fall
Other measures are also open to the Minister in his budget such as drastically reducing the number of days the “exile” can stay in Ireland while retaining residence abroad for tax purposes.
ULA has set a minimum initial target of 2 billion Euro in revenue from the above 3 measures

Categories: Uncategorized

Minister Burton Misleads to Cut Welfare

November 20, 2011 Leave a comment

“Now that the recession has bitten hard and deep we have a scale of expenditure that is completely out of step with our ability to fund it. We do not have the means or revenue as a country to support our level of spending.”Burton Seanad, Nov 17
This is completely wrong. The truth is that the government has decided that the poor and middle income earners will bear the brunt of the fiscal adjustment (3.8m) . Net Financial assets(shares etc) of irish households increased by 45 billion over the last two years as private sector investment fell by 30 billion. The government should take 10 billion of the 45 billion in a wealth tax instead of spending cuts. The spending cuts will continue to destroy jobs (315,000 since 2007 and 3000 net fulltime jobs in the first 3 months of this government)
Dr Nat O’Connor, Director of TASC, the progressive research group last Thursday told a conference that the “Troika” had informed him that if money could be raised in alternative ways, they would have no problem with that.
So cuts in welfare are purely a Labour/Fine Gael decision
EU Comparison
Contrary to claims that welfare in Ireland is high and a ‘disincentive’ to work, welfare payments in Ireland are among the lowest in the original EU fifteen states. A report by the EAPN from Sept 2009, based on figures for 2006 comparing social protection spending in the EU 15, found that while there was an average spend of 27% of GDP, Ireland came 13t out of 15 with 18.2%.

The net replacement rate, welfare compared to previous income was only 34.5% in Ireland, again the lowest in the EU 15. Social protection in Ireland is even below the average of the EU 27 which contains many countries much poorer tan Ireland

It is appalling that social welfare should top the cuts league according to the leaked German draft.
GOVERNMENT POLICY
“The (leaked) EU documents appear to suggest that the savings will be achieved by welfare fraud elimination, cuts to other entitlements and a reduction in the number of people eligible for benefit payments.” (Journal.ie)
Earlier this month the Government stated its intentions:

They(GOV) stress that instead of “pursuing across-the-board reductions in primary social welfare rates”, the Government will take a “selective approach” to “reforming entitlements”, and state:
“The Department of Social Protection will build on their recent studies on working age payments, child income support and disability allowance with a view to producing, after consultation with stakeholders, a comprehensive programme of reforms that can help better target social support to those on lower incomes, and ensure that work pays for welfare recipients.” (Jounal.ie)
Already people with perfectly legitimate welfare claims are being cut off like flies through use of new arbitrary criteria and in a savage Scrooge operation heating support has being reduced to the poor and the old this Christmas leading to more unnecessary deaths this winter.
Now Burton wants to cut Child Benefit even to the needy. Brnardos has described this measure as “crossing moral boundaries”
How Low can she Go?
Public Sector
It may not be widely known that the proposed transfer of illness benefit payment to employers includes public sector employers and state companies- This means that these cuts will end up in hospital wards, schools and local authority services and on bin charges, electricity and gas bills.
Private Sector
This reduction in demand by people who spend all their money every week will lead to further job destruction by government as shops and small businesses continue to close
I would be not as neutral or “agnostic” as David Begg on the transfer of the first four weeks of sickness benefit to employers. There are serious concerns arising from Burtons Seanad Speech on Thursday night.
Small Businesses
Firstly, many businesses including small shops, cafes and hairdressers have less than ten employees. To trade they must replace sick employees. Now they must pay benefit to the sick employee as well. Many are hanging on by their finger nails and will close, adding to the dole queues.
Multi-Nationals
In relation to large profit-making Irish and multinational companies, my concern is not for such companies but for their employees. Trade unions are not permitted in these companies. Burton said in the Seanad that the transfer of the first 4 weeks sick leave to employers would enable employers to “manage absenteeism”. Does this mean that a sick cert from an employee’s GP will no longer guarantee payment of sickness benefit.?
Will people who have not fully recovered be forced to go back to work too soon?
There are also predatory employers in some parts of the public sector with whom the health of employees would not be safe.
I have no confidence that a Minister who has cut winter fuel allowances to the old will give first priority to the health of employees in the new legislation she will introduce to implement the changes.
Paddy Healy 087-4183732 paddy.healy@eircom.net
NOV 18 2011

Categories: Uncategorized

Labour Reduces Free Heat Units to Poor this winter

October 30, 2011 2 comments

How Low can they GO?
During the warmer summer months, Minister for “Social Protection”, Joan Burton(LabourParty Deputy Leader) announced cuts to the home benefits package for pensioners and social welfare beneficiaries. The allocations of electricity units and gas units so important for home heating were reduced by between 20% and 25%. AGE ACTION IRELAND has stated “Research on fuel poverty and older people by the Dublin Institute of Technology and the Institute of Public Health — funded by CARDI and due to be published in the coming weeks — shows that during the winter of 2006/7 there were 1,281 excess winter deaths*. Of these, the vast majority were older people (1,216 were aged over-65). How many preventable deaths will take place this winter?
The latest figures from CSO show that the nett financial assets of Irish households increased by 27 billion euro in 2009 and gross financial assets have increased by a further 7 billion in 2010. Not a penny in tax on these assets has been imposed by the Labour government.
Homeless charities say demand for their services has increased by up to 40% in the current year. Yet HSE has just announced cuts to services to the homeless. Kathleen Lynch (Labour) is Minister for State at the Department of Health and children.
Please sign the Age Action Petition here http://www.emailmeform.com/builder/form/FOyR76aN2J6UCXnG2
Paddy Healy 086-4183732

FROM AGE ACTION IRELAND
Sign petition to help protect vulnerable older people this winter
Wed, 26/10/2011 – 15:23
Age Action is urging the Government to reverse cuts to the free gas and electricity units for pensioners, amid growing concern at the severe hardship which the cuts will have for the most vulnerable of older people this winter.
Read Full Statement http://www.ageaction.ie/sign-petition-help-protect-vulnerable-older-people-winter
How Low Can They Go?
Hundreds of older people die each winter in Ireland because they cannot afford to keep themselves warm. Lives could be saved if the Government reversed its decision to cut their electricity and gas units.

I call on the Government to reverse the cuts to the free gas/electricity units available under the Household Benefits Package, given the increased hardship it will cause for older people on low incomes.
Click on Link Below to sign the petition
http://www.emailmeform.com/builder/form/FOyR76aN2J6UCXnG2
Homeless services to be cut by 10%
CARL O’BRIEN
Irish Times Thu, Oct 27, 2011
HEALTH AUTHORITIES are cutting funding for homeless services in parts of the capital by up to 10 per cent over the coming winter months, despite growing pressure on services.
Service providers say the cuts will impact heavily on their ability to provide shelter and support to homeless people at a time when they are under strain.
The Health Service Executive (HSE) – one of the main funders of homeless services – told providers last week it is cutting between 5 per cent and 10 per cent of grants which were due to be paid between October and December of this year.
However, homeless charities say they have recorded increases in demand for services of between 20 and 40 per cent over the past year. Services say they are continuing to give out sleeping bags at night-time due to ongoing shortages of emergency beds.
Dublin Simon’s chief executive Sam McGuinness said: “With the harsh winter already upon us and demand for homeless accommodation stretching all service providers to the limit, it is unacceptable for the most vulnerable and destitute to suffer further HSE year-end panic cuts because of their spending excesses.”
Focus Ireland’s chief executive Joyce Loughnan said if deeper cuts were to be made at this late stage in the year, it would hit its ability to provide “vital lifeline services” to homeless people.
The funding cuts were confirmed this week by the Dublin Region Homeless Executive – a partnership run by the city’s four local authorities – which is in charge of organising homeless services in the capital.
The two main areas affected are Dublin south-west – which includes Tallaght, Clondalkin and Kildare – and Dublin south-central, which includes much of the inner city.
These areas are due to receive cuts of between 5 per cent and 10 per cent respectively, on top of cuts of 5 per cent earlier this year.
In a letter to one service provider dated October 13th, the HSE said: “It is recognised that maintaining services will require significant levels of change, flexibility and creativity.
“Therefore, you will need to make the savings to remain within the budget through value-for-money initiatives and other administrative efficiencies in order to achieve a break-even financial position by year’s end.”
In a statement, the Dublin Region Homeless Executive said the overall implication and impact of the cuts had been “fully considered” by the HSE.
It added there had not been a reduction in funding from the Department of the Environment, the other main source of public funding for homeless organisations.
In the meantime, the Dublin Region Homeless Executive has been working to secure longer-term beds for dozens of people in emergency accommodation to help alleviate pressure on services.
© 2011 The Irish Times

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Labour Party and SIPTU Capitulate on Low Pay

From Paddy Healy 086-4183732
Mandate Trade Union and Unite the Union have roundly condemned the Government proposals to cut the low pay of over 200,000 employees.
The proposals will give rise to reduction of JLC rates generally, elimination of Sunday premium, and allow employers to claim inability to pay.
Thousands face pay cuts after JLC reforms are published
From Daily News Digest of Unite The Union
“The government published its proposed reforms of the JLC structure yesterday. In a move which the Minister admits will lead to a ‘lowering of hiring costs’, the number of JLC’s will be reduced from 13 to six and there will be only one rate with two additional discretionary ones. The premium for Sunday pay will be swept away to be replaced on paper with guidelines for employers, and bosses will now be able to seek derogation through a new inability to pay clause. This is terrible news for all low paid workers and those whose wages will be set with reference to them, as well as for the economy which will now have less money, less tax and little prospect of anything other than increased unemployment.—-
UIONS NOT AT ONE OVER JLC REFORMS
UNITE sees the reforms of the JLC structure as a dark day for those on low pay and for all working people. That view is broadly shared in the Irish Times analysis but not fully across the union movement.”
“The trade union Unite said last night it would not rule out industrial action in protest at the Government’s planned measures. The plan was also strongly criticised by Mandate, the union representing retail workers.” Martin Wall Irish Times, July 29
But following the surrender of the Labour Party in Cabinet, SIPTU has described the proposals as “relatively positive” on RTE Television News, July 28 and has given the government plan “a cautious welcome” (Martin Wall, Irish Times July 29).
This is a dark day for Irelands biggest union which was built by Larkin and Connolly
The trade union affiliation of the new government appointees to the board of Solas (replacing Fás) will be of considerable interest
The extent of the attack on the low-paid can be gauged from the remarks by John Douglas, General Secretary , MANDATE, on Morning Ireland, to-day, July 29
“This is devastating for 200,000 workers- following increases in gas prices, mortgages, food prices, thousands will be driven over the edge- majority are women earning no more than 9.50 an hour trying to put food on table-this is not to create jobs but to lower pay and conditions-it won’t create a single extra job. When Margaret Thatcher dismantled the wage councils in England ,it did not create one extra job-the research shows this despite the ministers claims”

Analysis
The EU-IMF deal commits the Irish Government to a “review of wage setting mechanisms”. There may have been additional secret assurances given by the previous government but the EU-IMF Deal does not specify any particular measure.
Bruton had made his proposals before the JLC system was struck down by the courts on constitutional grounds. The changes to pay rates, conditions of service and terms of reference in the proposals have nothing to do with the decision of the court. The proposals for these changes pre-date the courts decision. There are changes in procedures which are genuinely required in the light of the courts decision. In the wake of the court decision there are no legally enforceable Employment Regulation Orders (ERO) in existence in the state. The process of establishing new constitutional EROs will have to commence from scratch. This will take several months during which no legally binding EROs will exist.
If the Fine Gael/Labour Government were interested in protecting the 200,000 employees covered by the original EROs at the earliest possible date, they would have introduced the procedural measures contained in the proposals published yesterday before the Dail was adjourned for the summer one week ago or alternatively, they could have kept the Dail in session to deal with the matter.
Government “spin” to the effect that the measures were announced yesterday to protect workers in the light of the court decision is entirely false and misleading.
The way that the matter has been handled ensures that workers will remain unprotected by EROs for several months and when new EROs are produced their provisions will be far inferior for workers to the ones that have been struck down by the courts.
Job Creation?
The Minister and the employer body IBEC continually argue that pay and conditions under EROs must be reduced in order to create jobs. There is no evidence for this. Indeed, the Duffy/Walsh Report to the Minister for Enterprise, Employment and Innovation concludes inter alia : “We have concluded that lowering the basic JLC rates to the level of the minimum wage rate is unlikely to have a substantial effect on employment.” and “ we conclude that it is not accurate to suggest that the body of primary employment rights legislation currently in force adequately covers matters dealt with by EROs and REAs.” According to the OECD, Ireland suffers from some of the highest levels of low‐pay. Over 21% of full‐time employees are ‘low‐paid, compared to a Eurozone average of 14.7% and EU Commission data shows that labour costs (include wages and employers’ contributions) in the Food & Accommodation sector in Ireland are 6% below the EU-15 average.
Despite the fact that the above information has been contained in several statements by trade unions and ULA TDs , Minister Bruton was allowed to repeatedly assert that the measures would to create jobs in interviews on Drivetime and RTE News without the contrary evidence being put to him. IBEC spokespeople have also been allowed on all media to claim that 40% of restaurants do not open on Sunday “due to the Sunday premium”. Of course many restaurants have always remained closed on Sunday because their trade depends on demand from locally employed people who do not work on Sundays. Restaurant closures, limited opening hours and increased Sunday closing is due to the reduction in demand caused by increased unemployment and income reductions due to recent budgets. The IBEC claim is a gross abuse of dubious statistics based on surveys of restaurant owners. “They would say that, wouldn’t they?”
Key Measures
The Minister asserts that new JLC rates will be lower. This is because the terms of reference for the wage setting process have been changed to the disadvantage of the worker side. “These include competitiveness factors, average hourly rates set in comparable sectors in Ireland’s main trading partners as well as employment and unemployment rates” Martin Wall, Irish Times,July 29. For example, the employer side will now be able to argue that pay rates should be lowered due to the extent of unemployment. This is a classic use of unemployment by employers to drive down wages. It has no justification except capitalist greed. It will now be supported by statutory terms of reference agreed by the Labour Party.
The Minister claims that these new lower rates will not affect existing workers who are protected by the terms of their current employment contracts. The minister knows well that existing employees can be pressurised in many ways to agree to reductions in existing pay rates if these are not legally binding. That is a major reason why legally binding JLC rates exist. Employers have many ways of discriminating in favour of new cheaper workers (eg allocation of overtime, denial of promotion, assignment to easier or more pleasant job etc). In addition, a new businesses paying lower rates will be able to undermine existing businesses paying higher rates. This is also the case in relation to the new provision of allowing businesses to claim inability to pay. An employer being undermined by competitors can then pressurise employees to accept the lower legal rate or face closure and unemployment. The original JLC system was designed to prevent this “race to the bottom” in competing businesses dependent on finite demand.
The new JLCs will be precluded from setting a Sunday premium. The suggestion that the provisions of The Working Time Act is an adequate replacement to protect workers is completely false. Under that Act the employer can simply give another day off instead. This effectively means that staff can be made to work at the flat rate. Sunday premium has been simply abolished.
————————————————————————————————

The article below from Irish Independent July 27 (below) indicates that the Labour Party has agreed to Government attacks on the low-paid at the cabinet meeting held yesterday.
In a time-honoured and cowardly manner, the deal was done and announced while the Dail was not sitting and just before the ministers went on holiday. This will form a precedent for further attacks on the incomes of all employees. The 100 Euro tax on homes was also agreed at the cabinet meeting. Though net financial assets (exclusive of houses and land) increased by 27 billion Euro in 2009 and are expected to have increased by a similar amount in 2010, no tax whatever has been placed on these assets
Paddy Healy 086-4183732 paddy.healy@eircom.net
Member National Steering Committee United Left Alliance
A fuller report from Irish Independent July 28 (below) on the Labour capitulation on Low Pay is carried below.
Not alone has the Labour Party agreed to the scrapping of the Sunday premium for low paid workers, it has also agreed to allow employers to claim inability to pay and ,if successful, to pay a lesser rate for normal working days. In circumstances in which demand is being continuously removed from the economy by government, this can only lead to continuous reduction in the direction of the minimum wage and the effective collapse of the system. Compliant employers will be progressively undermined by those paying a lower rate.
The scrapping of the Sunday premium will simply add to the profits of highly successful multi-national retail chains at the expense of their employees.
The 100th anniversary of the founding of the Labour Party in Clonmel by Larkin and Connolly in 1912 which will be held next year will be a in the nature of a wake.
The actions of the Labour Party are an insult to the memory of Larkin and Connolly. Larkin is rightly celebrated for his heroic battles on behalf of the low-paid. In addition, Connolly is celebrated for his heroic stand for Irish Independence and sovereignty. But the Labour Party is allowing internatonal financiers to suck the lifeblood out of Ireland and even allowing them to dictate cuts in low pay under the EU-IMF Deal. When it is considered that cuts in low pay will actually worsen the national finances by lowering the tax take, the capitulation of Gilmore on the JLC issue must be the most abject surrender of Irish sovereignty conceivable.
Paddy Healy 086-4183732
Member of National Steering Committee, United Left Alliance

By Fionnan Sheahan and Lise Hand
Irish Independent Wednesday July 27 2011
Low paid workers will be entitled to slightly more than the minimum wage working on a Sunday under a new deal to replace the existing system of setting wages.
New rules governing the wages in the catering, hotels, retail, grocery, contract cleaning and some other sectors were agreed by the Government yesterday.
Jobs Minister Richard Bruton is understood to have struck a deal with Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore on the contentious issue of the Joint Labour Committees (JLCs).
The Government agreed yesterday to draw up new laws to reform the area after the High Court ruled the wage setting agreements were unconstitutional.
Coalition sources said the current rates of Sunday premium pay will be done away with, but employees working on a Sunday will still be entitled to slightly more than the minimum wage — just not as much as they are currently paid.
However, what has yet to be determined is how much more than the minimum wage will be paid.
After attacking Mr Bruton on his proposals to reform the area, the Labour Party was said to be keen to get the legislation in place to provide protection to workers following the High Court case. A spokesperson for the Labour Party said the legislation was agreed on by the Cabinet.
Last night Mr Bruton said: “It will be a system that will protect workers, it will be robust but will introduce the reforms so that we can exploit the opportunities for employment.”
– Fionnan Sheahan and Lise Hand
Employers can claim an ‘inability to pay’ under wage reforms
By Fionnan Sheahan and Anne-Marie Walshe
Irish Independent, Thursday July 28 2011
Employers will be allowed to claim an inability to pay the rates agreed under the wage-setting system for low-paid staff, the Irish Independent has learned.
Sunday premium pay for those covered by the Joint Labour Committees (JLCs) will also be scrapped.
The controversial new rules governing the wages in the catering, hotels, retail, grocery, contract cleaning and some other sectors will be announced today.
Ahead of the publication, the Labour Party was accused last night of capitulating in an attack on the low paid.
Under the reforms to the JLCs, low-paid staff will be entitled to the same protection as other employees for working on a Sunday.
The existing Organisation of Working Time Act allows for staff to be compensated for working on Sunday through the negotiation of extra pay, an increased average wage across the week or a day off in lieu.
In reality, though, the scrapping of the Sunday premium payments will mean a pay cut for staff in those sectors who work on that day.
The number of JLC agreements is also widely expected to be reduced substantially.
Jobs Minister Richard Bruton is understood to have struck a deal with Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore, granting some concessions from his original proposals.
After coming under attack from the Labour Party, Mr Bruton is believed to have got through the bulk of his proposals.
The minister’s hand was strengthened substantially by a High Court ruling that JLCs were unconstitutional and pressure from the IMF and EU to reform the area.
The new deal will have to be cleared with the troika lending Ireland the €85bn bailout.
The Government is also believed to have accepted the recommendation on the introduction of an inability-to-pay clause for employers.
The expert report on the area said there should be a “derogation on economic grounds” introduced, where the employer can claim it would damage the viability of the firm and cause job losses if they had to pay the rates agreed.
The United Left Alliance said the deal was done “in a time-honoured and cowardly manner”, announced while the Dail wasn’t sitting and just before ministers took holidays.
– Fionnan Sheahan and Anne-Marie Walshe

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Sinn Féin and Coalition in Dublin

August 2015

Since I wrote the piece below almost a year ago, Sinn Féin has decided not to go into a coalition government in Dublin unless it is the lead party. This means that it is prepared to go into a coalition with FF or FG provided these parties are in a minority within government. While this is a step forward from the previous position, it is a highly dangerous position for the Irish people as I argue below and in my separate piece on this blog: The Composition of the Next Government

Just because FF or FG are minorities in a Dublin Government does not mean that SF and the left would be able to determine government policy or, in general, “call the shots”. 

 The minority capitalist party would have the full backing of  Irish, European, and American capitalism and their agencies-EU, IMF etc. and the framework of the Fiscal Treaty to legally enforce their will.

FF or FG would paralyse the government and bring it down at a time of their choosing.

The grovelling position of the Labour party in the current coalition is no guide to the behaviour of a capitalist party in a left led coalition

I believe that Sinn Féin should adopt a position of no coalition in principle with FF or FG and the left groups who hold the same position should enter the next election in a progressive alliance with Sinn Féin on that basis.

September  2014

Some years ago, Gerry Adams said that if SF had entered a joint executive with Unionists at Stormont, it would have no difficulty in principle with being in coalition with any party in Dublin.
Since the recent elections, Sinn Féin leaders (Gerry Adams, Mary Lou McDonald, Pearse Doherty) in several interviews have failed to rule out coalition with FF and/or FG in response to direct questions. They have said that abolition of the property tax is a red line issue or precondition for entering a coalition government. In response to further questions they have refused to set out any other red line issue including abolition of water charges, rejection of the Fiscal Treaty, or any particular initiative in relation to Irish Unity
The strongest position taken in public is that of Cllr Eoin Ó Broin who says that Sinn Féin should not enter a coalition in which Sinn Féin was in a minority. Some spokespeople have also said that Sinn Féin would prefer to be in a Sinn Féin-Labour-Left coalition.
The Dublin government is bound by the EU Fiscal Treaty. In the Dáil Caoimhín Ó Caolain on behalf of Sinn Féin has described this as an austerity treaty which flies in the face of the 1916 proclamation in that it is the negation of Irish sovereignty.

Whether Fianna Fáil and/or Fine Gael are the majority or minority party in a coalition, each party will insist on implementing this Treaty.
Why has Sinn Féin not made rejection of this Treaty a red line issue for participation in coalition?

THE Adams statement which inferred that if SF had entered a joint executive with Unionists at Stormont, it would have no difficulty in principle with being in coalition with any party in Dublin is seriously wrong and misleading. It may lead supporters to believe that since participation in the Stormont Executive has done no electoral damage to Sinn Féin support in the six counties, that participation in a coalition government in Dublin would not necessarily damage Sinn Fein support in the south.

The two situations are entirely different.
The northern executive is merely a mechanism for regional administration within the United Kingdom. It is not and it does not purport to be a sovereign government. It is a fact that the majority of northern nationalists have continued to support Sinn Féin as it participates in this body. Indeed Sinn Féin has ousted SDLP as the leading party in Derry in the recent elections.It is my view that northern nationalists see this continued participation as a guarantee against the return of institutionalised discrimination in the allocation of houses, other public services and to lower status in society generally.
The Dublin parliament is a totally different matter.

Despite severe de facto limitations on its actual powers, it is technically a sovereign parliament and is viewed as such and expected to act as such by the population.
There is no threat of a return to domination by a Unionist caste as in the north.
I believe that participation by Sinn Féin in a government in Dublin which did not deliver significant economic gains to the majority of the population and did not make serious progress in enhancing Irish unity and sovereignty would lead to a collapse in electoral support for Sinn Féin. The party would follow the downward road travelled by Clann na Poblachta, The Workers Party and the Labour Party. If Sinn Féin participated in a government which implemented austerity in accordance with the Fiscal Treaty, it would be wiped out.
Ireland is facing a major historical turning point. The decision of Sinn Féin on coalition in Dublin will be central to the outcome.

I believe that the depth of the historical turning point which Ireland is facing in the next two years is being underestimated . Things cannot go on in the old way because the people of the 26 counties will not tolerate increasing austerity for much longer. They have only voted against austerity. The main cohorts have not yet fought through strikes, demonstations etc but this is on the way as it is now becoming widely understood that restraint will not work. The outcome of the recent elections has accelerated this process. I believe that political crisis will be the most intense since the civil war.
I believe that the notion that Sinn Féin will be able to “play a long game” in opposition while retaining coherence is mistaken. Sinn Féin, in its membership and support, contains a number of political components. At one pole are the revolutionary republicans and at the other are the capitulationist pro-capitalists and there are all shades in between, many simply confused.
It is well to recall that all capitulators claim to be “playing a long game”. Collins said we should settle for a “stepping stone” to Irish Freedom . Brendan Corish said he was fighting for socialism “eventually”. McBride said he had first to remove Fianna Fáil patronage in giving out roadwork and to secure the declaration of a 26-county republic.
After the next election, I believe that the 26 county capitalists will not initially allow a Fine Gael- Fianna Fail coalition. This would leave them with no fall- back position as the more populist FF would be wiped out. This will leave no possibility of a government being formed without Sinn Féin. The problem is likely to be addressed in the context of a significant degree of popular mobilisation on economic issues. The class pressures on the political components of Sinn Féin will be massive as they were in the civil war period of 1921 to 1923.
There will be an intense discussion within Sinn Féin. The issue will not be one of tactical stupidity or cleverness. It is the duty of those of us who understand the positive role that revolutionary republicanism can play in the Irish socialist revolution to do what we can to ensure that the revolutionary republicans are victorious. That is why a serious discussion must take place now so that people cannot be fooled.
Simply denouncing Sinn fein in its entirety as some left wing groups do is counter-productive.
ClannNa Poblachta leader Mac Bride told the small farmer and cottier supporters of Clann Na Poblachta that he had to go into coalition with Fine Gael to break the Fianna Fail ganger system of allocating work on the roads. Collins said the Treaty would give us the freedom to win freedom. We must be ready for the “new fangled” excuses. The need to save “the peace process” and to prevent a return to one party unionist administration in the north is likely to be invoked. But there are always unexpected excuses in politics.

Let us do something positive to protect against capitulation. Let us ask Sinn Féin to publicly commit against coalition with Fianna Fáil and/or Fine Gael and to give an undertaking not to implement the Fiscal Treaty which sets aside Irish sovereignty and imposes continued austerity.
The electorate is entitled to know BEFORE the election
If Sinn Féin made such a commitment it would create a new position which would have to be considered by left wing organisations.

What is important is to positively effect what happens in the FUTURE.
Discussion of previous or current mistakes is important in order to learn from them. There are very many genuine people in Sinn Féin andin left wing groups.
There is wide agreement on the left that entry of Sinn Féin or left TDs into coalition with Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael would be disastrous for the Irish People.

There are also several “left” TDs who have not ruled out coalition with FF and/or Fine Gael.

I believe that we should focus in the discussion on getting a public undertaking in advance from Sinn Féin and left wing TDs that they will not go into coalition with FF and/or FG after the next election and that they will under no circumstances implement the Fiscal Treaty which flies in the face of the 1916 Proclamation

Categories: Uncategorized

The Composition of Next Government?

July 14, 2015 1 comment

DISCUSSION: FG/ Sinn Féin Coalition? Could it happen?

The Dublin parliament is a totally different matter to the Stormont Assembly

Despite severe de facto limitations on its actual powers, it is technically a sovereign parliament and is viewed as such and expected to act as such by the population.
There is no threat of a return to domination by a Unionist caste as in the north.
I believe that participation by Sinn Féin in a government in Dublin which did not deliver significant economic gains to the majority of the population and did not make serious progress in enhancing Irish unity and sovereignty would lead to a collapse in electoral support for Sinn Féin in the 26 counties. The party would follow the downward road travelled by Clann na Poblachta,The Workers Party, the Green Party and the Labour Party. If Sinn Féin participated in a government which implemented austerity in accordance with the Fiscal Treaty, it would be wiped out.
Ireland is facing a major historical turning point. The decision of Sinn Féin on coalition in Dublin will be central to the outcome.

I believe that the depth of the historical turning point which Ireland is facing in the next two years is being underestimated . Things cannot go on in the old way because the people of the 26 counties will not tolerate increasing austerity for much longer. They have only voted against austerity in the local elections. The main cohorts have not yet fought through strikes, demonstations etc but this is on the way as it is now becoming widely understood that restraint will not work. The outcome of the recent local elections has accelerated this process. I believe that political crisis will be the most intense since the civil war.
I believe that the notion that Sinn Féin will be able to “play a long game” in opposition while retaining coherence is mistaken. Sinn Féin, in its membership and support, contains a number of political components. At one pole are the revolutionary republicans and at the other are the capitulationist pro-capitalists and there are all shades in between, most entirely genuine but politucally confused. It goes without saying that the vast majority of Sinn Féin voters are genuinely seeking an end to austerity.
It is well to recall that all capitulators claim to be “playing a long game”. Collins said we should settle for a “stepping stone” to Irish Freedom . Brendan Corish said he was fighting for socialism “eventually”. McBride said he had first to remove Fianna Fáil patronage in giving out roadwork and to secure the declaration of a 26-county republic.
After the next election, I believe that the 26 county capitalists and their key planners will not initially allow a Fine Gael- Fianna Fail coalition. This would leave them with no fall- back position as the more populist FF would be wiped out. This will leave no possibility of a government being formed without Sinn Féin. The problem is likely to be addressed in the context of a significant degree of popular mobilisation on economic issues. The class pressures on the political components of Sinn Féin will be massive as they were in the civil war period of 1921 to 1923.
There will be an intense discussion within Sinn Féin. The issue will not be one of tactical stupidity or cleverness. It is the duty of those of us who understand the positive role that revolutionary republicanism can play in the Irish socialist revolution to do what we can to ensure that the revolutionary republicans are victorious. That is why a serious discussion must take place now so that people cannot be fooled in the future.
Simply denouncing Sinn fein in its entirety as some left wing groups do is counter-productive.
ClannNa Poblachta leader Mac Bride told the small farmer and cottier supporters of Clann Na Poblachta that he had to go into coalition with Fine Gael to break the Fianna Fail ganger system of allocating work on the roads. Collins said the Treaty would give us the freedom to win freedom. We must be ready for the “new fangled” excuses. The need to save “the peace process” and to prevent a return to one party unionist administration in the north is likely to be invoked.The threat of a Fine Gael/Fianna Fáil government will also be stressed. But there are always unexpected excuses in politics.

Following its most recent Ard-Fheis, Sinn Féin has taken the position that it can enter coalition provided Fine Gael and/or Fianna Fail are a minority in the government. Many may have the incorrect impression that in such an arrangement Sinn Féin and the left would be in control. The fact that Fine Gael are in control in the current coalition may lend credence to this view. But nothing could be further from the reality. A minority capitalist party in a coalition would have the full support of the entire Irish pro-capitalist elite. It would also have the support of the the EU and of Germany, France etc. The savagery of the EU attack on Greece and Syriza in recent days should be a warning. The Syriza coalition was unable to stand up to the EU powers. What would the chances be of an Irish government containing FF or FG, even as a minority partner, standing up to the EU? Caoimhín O Caoláin correctly said in the Dáil that the Fiscal Treaty was a setting aside of Irish Sovereignty and “flies in the face of the 1916 Proclamation”.

In my view, there is no possibility of a government containing FF or FG as a minority setting aside the Fiscal Compact. Backed by the EU powers. FF or FG would simply bring down the government.

Let us do something positive to protect against capitulation. Let us ask Sinn Féin to publicly commit against coalition with Fianna Fáil and/or Fine Gael, even as minority partners, and to give an undertaking not to implement the Fiscal Treaty which sets aside Irish sovereignty and imposes continued austerity.
The electorate is entitled to know BEFORE the election
If Sinn Féin made such a commitment it would create a new position which would have to be considered by left wing organisations.

What is important is to positively effect what happens in the FUTURE.
Discussion of previous or current mistakes is important in order to learn from them. There are very many genuine people in Sinn Féin andin left wing groups.
There is wide agreement on the left that entry of Sinn Féin or left TDs into coalition with Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael would be disastrous for the Irish People.

There are also several “left” TDs who have not ruled out coalition with FF and/or Fine Gael.

I believe that we should focus in the discussion on getting a public undertaking in advance from Sinn Féin and left wing TDs that they will not go into coalition with FF and/or FG after the next election and that they will under no circumstances implement the Fiscal Treaty which “flies in the face of the 1916 Proclamation” according to Caoimhín O Caoláin.

Categories: Uncategorized

LANSDOWNE RD-BAD DEAL FOR NURSES, CLERICAL, ADMINISTRATIVE, PROFESSIONAL STAFF

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VOTE NO TO LANSDOWNE ROAD

IMPACT GRASS ROOTS:  VOTE NO  TO LANSDOWNE RD  AGREEMENT!!

NURSES, CLERICAL, ADMINISTRATIVE, PROFESSIONAL STAFF

Rotten Deal! Vote No!

It is a very bad deal for all public servants. The increases provided are minimal even for those

 on low and middle incomes. A person on 30,000 Euro per annum will get an extra gross income

of just over 1000 euro per year or 700 Euro per year after deductions or 14 Euro per week

For this the employee will work the extra 2 hours per week in the current agreement  which

is being extended for a further two years.  For the same reason the 4 days holidays will still be lost each year.

Without Lansdowne Rd these would have expired this time next year.

Unionised employees in the private sector, including many who have had no pay cut,

are to get similar or  greater pay rises. In effect, there is almost no “restoration” of pay cuts, just the same rise as those in private sector. But for us  the extra hours and lost holidays will continue for 3 years from today. Prices have risen by 10%

since the pay  cuts and extra taxes such as water charges and property tax must be paid in addition

to  “rip-off” interest rates on mortgages and huge child-minding fees.

AS ALWAYS IMPACT NATIONAL EXECUTIVE HAS RECOMMENDED A  YES VOTE

BUT THE VAST MAJORITY OF SPEAKERS AT THE 300 STRONG NATIONAL EXECUTIVE CONSULTATIVE COUNCIL HELD RECENTLY  SPOKE AGAINST THE AGREEMENT!!!

We are heartened by the recommendation of Teachers Union of Ireland, OPATSI the plasterers union and the Irish Medical Orgaisation to  members to vote against this Agreement.

It is a disastrous Deal. What Can You Do ?  VOTE NO and Spread the Word!

Categories: Uncategorized

Vote NO in INTO! Campaign Against Lansdowne Rd Agreement

June 10, 2015 1 comment

National Public Service Alliance Against Lansdowne Rd Agreement    Convener: Paddy Healy   086-4183732 Email:paddy.healy@eircom.net

Two pieces are carried below; VOTE NO Leaflet from INTO Activist and further down piece by Gregor Kerr, ChairDistrict 14

The Lansdowne Road Agreement (LRA).  Buyer Beware!    VOTE  NO!

The LRA is a classic case of smoke and mirrors! Those selling it are distortingthe meaning of  the word ‘restoration’ via a branding and repackagingoperation.

LRA Fact: The only LRAspecific salary scaleincreasewillnot be paid until September 2017!Depending on your tax rate this will be worth between €500 or €750net.The other increases claimed by LRA actually come from two othersources:

1) The AlreadyCommitted restoration of pay scale increments and payment for substitution/supervision as alreadyagreed in the Haddington Road Agreement  ( it is therefore dishonestto repackage  these as being somehow gained inthe LRA)

2) A reduction in the Pension Levy of  between E6.50 and E10.00 per week by end of 2016.

Consider 1: OfficialInflation amounted to a further loss of 10.7% over the period 2010-2013! A similar bout again would more than wipe out all LRA and HRA pay adjustments!! Consider 2: LRA says FEMPI  stays!…“the financial emergency deal legislation will continue..”

Is there an Alternative?The deal is presented to us(as always) on the spurious basis that there is no alternative but industrial action…. But…..

Why not let the Haddington Road Agreement run its course, allow the Croke Park/HRA extra hours to expire and negotiate an alternative agreement from next January with all those  hoping to be in government in 2016. With an election immanent we will thenbe in a far stronger bargaining position! Is it not premature &foolish to jump now at Labor’sbehest??

Can the Government source the money to fund full Pay Restoration?

  • The Government recently announced they are 2000million above target for tax collected 2015. The tiny LRA increases at E180million p.a. will amount to less than 0.033% of all taxes collected this year (E45Billion)!
  • Tough Enforcement of actual Corporation Tax rates, and a higher rate of tax for all income earned above 100,000E would yield billions more to State Revenues.
  • The richest 250 people in Ireland are worth a combined €75.03 billion, their wealth increased by 15.9% in the last year alone!!(Sunday Times) The union leaders could have insisted on a Wealth Tax, but evidently this would only upset our betters!
  • The Government paid E16 billion in the past two years on interest payments on ‘our’ debt. Ireland should play hardball and pay only the ECB Base Rate of 0.025% interest on any loans. This would save over E2000million a year! Our Coalition has agreed to pay all Ireland’s banking/speculation debts+interest back, saying its ‘affordable’!!

The TUI and the IMO have recommended NO in contrast to our compliant CEC.

Vote No to the LRA . Demand Full Restoration in line with actual INTO Policy.

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From VOICE FOR TEACHERS FACEBOOK PAGE

We received this ‘Why I am voting No’ piece from Gregor Kerr, Chair District 14 INTO:-

“I’m voting No because I’m fed up of the lies and the spin. I’m fed up of the fact that all the cuts to pay and services that we have endured have been used to facilitate the paying off of the debts of international financial gamblers and have facilitated a massive transfer of wealth from us, from other public servants, from private sector workers and from the unemployed to the super-wealthy.

I’m voting No because through successive deals the trade union movement have accepted government policy which has targeted our incomes yet refused to introduce a wealth tax and led to a situation where the super-wealthy are now richer than they were at the height of the boom.

Put simply, those who caused the “financial crisis” have gained from it while the rest of us have seen our incomes and the services we work in and depend on slashed.

*The latest figures from the ‘Sunday Times’ Rich List (published on 25th April 2015) show that the richest 250 people in Ireland are worth a combined €75.03 billion and have seen their wealth increase by 15.9 per cent in the last year alone

*Recent controversies relating to IBRC (the former Anglo Irish Bank) and the manner in which huge debts owed to it (and therefore to the Irish taxpayer) were written off show that the super wealthy are treated very differently to the rest of us

*In 2012 the top 5% of income recipients (108,250 individuals) had a total income of over €20 Billion – an average of €189,000. The top 10,000 had an average income of €595,000

*Central Statistics Office figures show that when all taxes, including VAT and excise is taken into account the poorest 10% pay the highest proportion of their income in tax

Economically, Irish society now is now more unequal than it was even at the height of the boom. By agreeing this deal and by putting it to us with a recommendation to accept, our union leadership is giving its stamp of approval to the economic policies that have underpinned this. They are also accepting that the amount of money on offer is the best that can be got in terms of pay restoration.

*They could have insisted on the introduction of a wealth tax – they didn’t.
*They could have insisted that the incomes of those with most be taxed at a higher rate – they didn’t.

Instead they accepted that public servants who pay tax at the 20% rate should be content with approx €6 a week after tax from January, another €4 per week from September 2016 and another €10 per week from September 2017 – and no chance of anything else until at least September 2018.
For those who pay tax at the higher rate those figures are €4 per week, then €2.50 per week, and finally €6.50 per week.

Compared to the amount that we have lost over the past number of years these figures are insulting and derisory. Indeed, given projected growth figures for the economy, these amounts will probably be less than inflation. In that context how can the word ‘restoration’ even be applied to them?

Not alone that but the deal signs us up to
*ongoing co-operation with the government’s ‘reform agenda’ including ‘Curricular Reform’ (Section 3.2)
*acceptance that the FEMPI legislation (which allows the government to unilaterally cut our pay) will, while amended, stay on the statute books
*another two years at least of the dreaded Croke Park hours
* that we can’t fight any of the cuts to services that have happened in recent years – the government’s ‘change and reform agenda’ to which we will be signing up won’t include improvements to the service but we will be signing up to “no cost-increasing claims for improvements in ….. conditions….” and agreeing that “…strikes or other forms of industrial action by trade unions, employees or employers are precluded…”

Why don’t we let the Haddington Road Agreement run its course and seek an alternative agreement with whoever is in government in June 2016? No more Croke Park hours, No more FEMPI, restoration of pay cuts and end of the pension levy, end to the 2-tier payscale, a restoration of some degree of economic equality…… None adequately dealt with in this deal ….

I’m voting No to retain some degree of self-respect as a union member.”

Categories: Uncategorized

NUIG Conference: Workers agitation, left-wing activism in Ireland

Conference this Friday and Saturday at NUI Galway: Programme Below

From Civil Rights to the Bailout: Social movements, workers agitation, and left-wing activism in Ireland, 1968-2010

 https://fromcivilrightstothebailout.wordpress.com/

Irish Centre for the Histories of Labour & Class,

NUI Galway

19-20 June 2015

David Convery has asked me to circulate the arrangements for the conference to be held this week-end at NUIG

From David Convery

Dear all,

Please find attached the programme for a conference the Irish Centre for the Histories of Labour & Class is organising in NUI Galway titled ‘From Civil Rights to the Bailout: Social movements, workers agitation, and left-wing activism in Ireland, 1968-2010′. The conference takes place on 19-20 June. It promises to be a weekend of lively debate and discussion, featuring papers from both academics and activists. All are welcome to attend. The cost for the event is only €5 which includes tea and coffee throughout, and lunch on the Saturday. Please let me know beforehand if you plan on attending. I would be very grateful if you could also forward this to anyone else you think may be interested.

The schedule is carried below, but it, and the abstracts for each paper, can also be read at the following website:

https://fromcivilrightstothebailout.wordpress.com/

Very best wishes,

David   Convery   David Convery [david_convery@yahoo.co.uk]; david.convery@nuigalway.ie

From Civil Rights to the Bailout: Social movements, workers agitation, and left-wing activism in Ireland, 1968-2010

Irish Centre for the Histories of Labour & Class,

Moore Institute,

Hardiman Research Building,

Room G010,

NUI Galway

19-20 June 2015

Conference Overview

Friday 19 June

13.00-13.45 Registration

13.45 Welcome address

14.00-15.30 Panel 1: The context of Northern Ireland

15.30-15.45 Break

15.45-17.15 Panel 2: Varieties of Protest

19.30 Mechanics’ Institute, Middle Street: ‘Civil Rights and Union Rights: Veteran Voices from the West of Ireland’

Saturday 20 June

10.00-11.30 Panel 3: Radical Politics

11.30-11.45 Break

11.45-13.15 Panel 4: Challenging legal and cultural constraints

13.15-14.00 Lunch

14.00-15.30 Panel 5: Engaging Beyond Ireland

15.30-15.45 Break

15.45-17.45 Panel 6: Preserving History: Oral History and Archives

CLOSE OF CONFERENCE

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Burton(Labour) Hits Lone Parents-Breaks Childcare Promise

April 28, 2015 Leave a comment

Stagg, Labour whip, Voted for Lone Parent Cuts Twice But Admits They Were a “Bad Decision”!!!!

From Irish Times to-day July 9

In the email (to a constituent), Mr Stagg said he voted in favour of the changes in 2012 because he believed that promised improvements in the child care system would be put in place. He acknowledged that they had not materialised.

He also voted with the Government in last week’s private members motion, tabled by the Opposition after a July 2nd deadline which saw 30,000 people being transferred from lone parents’ allowance to theory forms of social welfare.

The email from Mr Stagg states there have been angry exchanges in parliamentary party meetings over the issue.

“I simply fail to see how cutting the income of the very ones who are making a real effort to improve the lot of their families and themselves helps in some way to get out of the poverty trap. It clearly has the opposite effect.

“I will continue to press for a reversal of this bad decision,” he states.

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Call for Reversal of Lone Parent Cuts by Newton International Fellow

UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, This Week, Condemned Irish Government for Failing to Protect the Vulnerable

Dr Clara Fischer ,Newton International Fellow at the LSE Gender Institute in Irish Times, Friday July 3

This week, lone parents were subject to the last of a series of cuts to welfare payments that supplemented their part-time, low-paid employment. Introduced by the Minister for Social Protection since Budget 2012, the policy of switching off One-Parent Family Payment for lone parents with children aged seven was originally decided on mid-crisis and in the context of a wider policy approach that prescribed austerity as a means of redressing Ireland’s economic woes.

More recently, the Government has proclaimed a tentative recovery, calling into question the need for cuts that have already had a detrimental effect on lone-parent families. Poverty in these households has increased since the adoption of these particular measures, with 63 per cent living in deprivation and many at risk of homelessness or in emergency accommodation, given the cumulative pressures of rent supplement limits.

The picture for lone-parent households is thus grim. Despite research consistently showing them to be the poorest of our society, and capturing record levels of poverty, the Government has persisted in pursuing cuts that exacerbate the situation.

A strong moral argument can therefore now be made for abandoning the position adopted during the economic crisis and for establishing a more appropriate response to lone parent “activation” that reflects the economic and social realities of today.

Objective

Such an argument could draw on the Government’s vision as outlined in the Programme for Government, where it adopts the elimination of poverty as an objective, and commits to “protecting the vulnerable and to burden-sharing on an equitable basis”. Sadly, data and research in recent years reflects the fact that equitable burden-sharing has not taken place, and “the vulnerable” have often borne the brunt of austerity measures.

This much was borne out again, ironically, just this week, by a report published by the UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, which noted that austerity measures had a particularly adverse effect on “disadvantaged and marginalised individuals and groups”, that such measures were “adopted without proper assessments of their impact on economic, social, and cultural rights”, and that “no review has been carried out of such measures in a comprehensive and human rights-based manner”.

In other words, despite the Government’s aim to protect “the vulnerable”, it has not undertaken the necessary impact assessments and policy review to actually ensure the protection of same, resulting in the disproportionate and adverse effects which research from a variety of bodies, including Tasc and the ESRI, has long shown.

Informed decisions

For human rights organisations and advocacy groups in Ireland, particularly for the equality budgeting campaign, the committee’s report merely corroborates what they have been arguing for years: the policy-making process in Ireland must involve impact assessments and equality-proofing, especially of the budget, to allow policymakers to arrive at properly informed decisions.

What the UN committee has called the Government out on is an approach to political decision-making that is not based on evidence; that does not involve maximising information and at least trying to predict likely consequences, particularly for marginalised groups; and that therefore – unsurprisingly – results in the inequitable treatment of such groups.

While other countries routinely use impact assessments and equality-proofing as part of the policy process and, importantly, before decisions are made, Ireland lags behind by refusing to introduce such measures – measures that would give teeth to empty promises of protecting “the vulnerable”.

The most recent cuts to lone parents highlight the fact it is now time for the introduction of equality-proofing and impact assessments, as the Government’s current approach does not work. Not only is the present stance on lone parents morally problematic, but it is having the opposite effect to that intended.

Although the cuts were ostensibly introduced to increase lone parents’ participation in the labour market, there are now fewer lone parents working than in 2012. This clearly is a policy failure, which can be traced directly to structural problems with the way in which policy is made in Ireland. With that said, it is still not too late for Government to reconsider, to undertake a review and to amend its stance accordingly.

More generally, Irish policy-makers who are serious about ensuring the equitable treatment of members of our society should heed the UN committee’s recommendation to introduce impact assessments as a matter of urgency.

Dr Clara Fischer is a Newton International Fellow at the LSE Gender Institute

Read Also in Irish Times

Fintan O’Toole: Poorest will be hardest hit by lone-parent cut

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Unite Calls for Suspension of Lone Parent Cuts    SIPTU?

Unite calls for suspension of lone parent cuts pending full review, consultation with advocacy groups         

Union warns low-paid workers will bear brunt of changes

Trade union Unite today (Monday June 29th) called on the Government to suspend the introduction of changes to the One Parent Family Payment scheduled to take effect this coming Thursday.  The union’s Ireland Secretary Jimmy Kelly said that the Department of Social Protection should now undertake a full review of the planned changes, including a comprehensive impact assessment and consultation with advocacy groups representing lone parents.

Commenting, Jimmy Kelly said:

“These savage cuts will affect around 30,000 lone parents, some of whom could face a weekly income loss of up to €140 per week at a time when 63% of lone parents are already suffering deprivation

“The impact on low-earning women workers will be particularly severe:  workers who, in an age of growing precarious employment, are simply unable to increase their hours and who – even if they could increase their hours – are unable to access affordable childcare.

“The inevitable result will be the creation of new poverty traps.

“I am calling on Social Protection Minister Joan Burton to take a step back, suspend the planned introduction of the changes on Thursday, and initiate a full review.  In addition to a comprehensive impact assessment, that review should include consultation with the various groups advocating for lone parents and children.

“Lone parents and low earners were among those who bore the brunt of the recession.  They should not now be asked to pay for the recovery”, Jimmy Kelly concluded.

ENDS

TIME TO RETHINK A BAD POLICY OF IMPOVERISHING LONE PARENTS–Director, Nevin Economic Research Institute

 Post by Dr Tom Healy

  http://www.nerinstitute.net/blog/2015/06/27/first-principle-do-no-harm/ // //

“There is time, still, to re-think a bad social policy of impoverishing lone parents that misses its target and causes collateral damage by way of higher poverty.  It is never too late to consider an alternative approach that includes serious level-investment in childcare, suitable vocational education with a strong social safety net to avoid poverty.”

FR Peter McVerry-The Department of Social Protection has become hard-hearted and even ruthless

-unnecessary hardship for thousands of lone parents and their children

Letter to irish Times

Sir, – The abolition of the one-parent family payment from July 1st for parents whose youngest child is over seven years of age, in an effort by the Department of Social Protection to save money, will cause unnecessary hardship for thousands of lone parents and their children, and should be abandoned. Many will face increased financial difficulties and some may be forced to give up their part-time employment and become fully dependent on social welfare.

However, this is only the latest in a number of policies by that department which have caused huge hardship. The reduction of the jobseeker allowance for those under 25 to €100 per week targeted a group of people who are not politically organised or active. The rationale for the measure was ostensibly to get young people off their couches, away from the television set and go out to look for work, a mindset which reflects the kind of policies advocated by the right wing of the Conservative Party in the UK. Recently, I met a young man who had been living in a long-term homeless hostel, for which he had to pay €50 per week as rent. Unable to survive on the other €50, he fell behind with his rent, was evicted and is now once more living on the streets.

I know many young people who are drug-free who are refused social welfare payments because they have no address, as they are unwilling to stay in hostels which are full of drugs.

Again, the department was quick to reduce the rent supplement for those in private rented accommodation when the recession began and rents were falling but has refused to increase it now that rents in urban areas are almost at their pre-recession level. This policy is directly responsible for hundreds of families and individuals being evicted into homelessness from their rented accommodation over the past 18 months.

My experience over the last few years is that, increasingly, the Department of Social Protection has become hard-hearted and even ruthless, to the dismay of some of its own staff.

In the pursuit of austerity, compassion has been abandoned. To a great extent, Ireland’s economic recovery has been built on the hardship imposed on people who are poor, homeless or otherwise vulnerable. – Yours, etc,

Fr PETER McVERRY, SJ

Jesuit Centre

for Faith and Justice,

Seamus Healy on Tippfm  To-day   10.05

PQ to Minister for Social Protection, Ms Joan Burton from Seamus Healy TD

Speaking in the Dáil on 18th April 2012, you said that you would only proceed with plans to reform the One Parent Family Payment by 2014/15 if you got a “credible and bankable commitment” by the time of  Budget 2013 that the Irish Government would put in place “a system of safe, affordable and accessible child care , similar to what is found in the Scandinavian countries to whose systems of social protection we aspire”.

In the light of the failure of the government through the Ministry for Children to put in place a system of safe, affordable and accessible child care in place, similar to what is found in the Scandinavian countries, will you withdraw the measures in relation to lone parents to be implemented on JULY 2, and in particular the reduction in the age of the youngest child to 7 years as the threshold above which the one parent family payment is not payable.—Seamus Healy TD  

Tánaiste Joan Burton TD reneges on promise to Lone Parents. Statement By Seamus Healy TD

Deputy Seamus Healy has called on Minister Alan Kelly TD and Minister Tom Hayes TD to insist that Tánaiste Joan Burton TD keeps her promise to withdraw changes for Lone Parents due on 2nd July next.

When Minister Burton first announced these changes’, she promised in April 2012 not to proceed with them unless affordable childcare had been introduced by Government
She said that the new rules would not be implemented unless there was a “system of safe affordable and accessible childcare in place, similar to what is found in the Scandinavian countries to whose systems of social protection we aspire”.
The Minister promised that she wouldonly proceed with the measures to reduce the upper age limit to seven years in the event that I get a credible and bankable commitment on the delivery of such a system of childcare by the time of this year’s budget. If this is not forthcoming, the measure will not proceed.” (April 2012).

The Tánaiste is now reneging on that promise.

From July 2, 2015 when the youngest child of a single parent reaches 7 years of age, the parent will be transferred from the One Parent Family Payment to Transition Job Seekers Allowance.

To be eligible for the Jobseekers Transition allowance  “you must participate in employment activation measures and you have to participate in any recommended course of education, training or employment programme. If you don’t participate you may be paid a lower amount of JST (a penalty rate).” If you cannot afford childcare, you will have to accept a lower “penalty rate” if you need to look after a 7 year old child.

In addition, from July 2nd lone parents working more than 19 hours a week would lose the one-parent family payment when their youngest child turned seven years of age. Up to 32,000 families will be affected by this measure and, in many cases, their incomes will be slashed by up to €80 per week. Seamus Healy TD  087-2802199

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SIPTU MUST NOW LEAVE LABOUR PARTY 

Joan Burton has refused to reverse next month’s ruthless cuts to single parent benefits-IrishMirror.

Thousands are to have their welfare payments slashed by up to €86, depending on circumstances

Thousands are to have their welfare payments slashed by up to €86, depending on circumstances.

Around 6,400 will lose up to €36.50 per week and 4,500 will miss out on €57 per week.

The proposals will see the maximum age that the One Parent Family Payment can be claimed dropped from 17 to just seven.

The Tanaiste met with lone parent groups at a private meeting in Dublin today.

Ms Burton confirmed the hated cuts will go ahead on July 2, but also revealed there may be “some good news in the Budget”.

The Government said the move is aimed at digging one-parents families out of welfare dependency.

They would be required to seek work or training as soon as their youngest child reaches the age of seven.

But cash-strapped parents fear the cuts will put families on the breadline by pushing single parents out of part-time jobs.

SPARK (Single Parents Acting for the Rights of our Kids) said most parents can already only afford to work part-time because of the hefty cost of childcare. Spokeswoman Louise Bayliss fumed: “It seems ironic that she is calling this an activation measure – yet it is only impacting on those who are already activated, ie working.

“Our problem is hundreds of lone parents will be forced to give up their jobs because we still have the issue of high costs of childcare.”

The latest CSO figures indicate two-thirds of lone parents live in poverty, even though half are working.

Last week, hundreds of parents staged protests outside Leinster House calling for a reversal of the hated cuts.

SIPTU MUST PUBLICLY CALL ON JOAN BURTON TO STOP CUTS TO LONE PARENTS DUE ON JULY 2

UNITE and MANDATE TRADE UNIONS HAVE ALREADY DONE SO

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BURTON TO MEET LONE PARENT GROUPS To-Day–SIPTU Jack O’Connor Must Phone Her NOW!!

Pressure mounts on Joan Burton over lone parent reform —-   Irish Times to-day

Government insists reforms will end poverty trap and improve access to education

Karen Kiernan of One Family: “This reform process is forcing lone parents who are already working part-time to give up their jobs because they no longer meet the eligibility criteria and because work does not pay, meaning even greater poverty.”

Tánaiste Joan Burton will today meet lone parent groups as pressure mounts on the Government to delay welfare reforms which will affect 30,000 lone parents from next month.

Under the changes, lone parents on welfare will be required to seek employment or training as soon as their youngest child reaches seven years of age.

The Government argues the move is aimed at enabling one-parent families move out of welfare dependency and access education and employment.

But lone parent groups say the reforms will end up penalising thousands of single parents working part-time and could force many to give up work.

Official figures indicate the majority of lone parents will experience no income changes or will gain after the changes come into effect on July 2nd next.

Eligibility

A key focus is on an estimated 4,000 lone parents who stand to lose out because they are currently working 19 hours or more and claiming the family income supplement.

Karen Kiernan of One Family, which is meeting Ms Burton today, has called on the Government to revisit the changes which, she says, may force many to quit work.

“This reform process is forcing lone parents who are already working part-time to give up their jobs because they no longer meet the eligibility criteria and because work does not pay, meaning even greater poverty,” she said.

Latest figures indicate that two-thirds of lone parent families live in deprivation and suffer the highest poverty rates, even though just over half are in the labour market.

Ms Kiernan said there has been a surge in calls to its helplines from parents in recent weeks who stand to lose out and say they are unable to get clarity on crucial issues from their local welfare offices.

“We know it is poverty and not family form that has the greatest impact on outcomes for children, yet this reform is doing little to remove the practical barriers lone parents face in returning to work and education, such as affordable, accessible childcare,” she said.

Dependency

Lone parent groups have been involved in a behind-the- scenes lobbying campaign, focusing on Labour Party backbenchers in particular, to persuade the Government to revisit the planned changes.

But well-placed Government sources say there is little prospect of changes as next month’s reforms are the final element of a process which began two years ago.

Ms Burton has argued that the existing welfare scheme has been unsuccessful in lifting lone parents out of poverty because it is passive in nature and has created a dependency on welfare.

Her officials say many lone parents who are working part-time and receiving welfare would actually benefit, if they increase their working hours to 19. This would entitle them to the family income supplement and the new back to work family dividend.

They acknowledge, however, that about 4,000 of those working more than 19 hours stand to suffer an income loss.

A spokesman for Ms Burton said lone parents could help avoid these losses by working more hours and availing of subsidised childcare supports.

The Department of Children currently subsidises approximately 25,000 childcare places, many for low income parents.

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WHY LABOUR PARTY WOMEN VOTED AGAINST MOTION TO STOP BURTON’s CRUEL CUTS For LONE PARENTS

JUDAS EXPLAINS ALL!// //

LW statement on ‘7 is too young’ campaign

15 June 2012


We have been asked to explain why we voted against a motion at the NWCI AGM which asks for the removal of section 4 of the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2012. We would have liked to submit an amendment to the motion but our executive was unable to meet before the deadline for amendments. Below is Labour Women Chair Katherine Dunne’s speech opposing the motion at NWCI.
“I want to start by saying that seven is too young for any child to be left alone without the supervision of his or her parent or another responsible adult.
I commend Frances Byrne and OPEN for their campaign which has highlighted the reduction in age limit of the youngest child of families in receipt of the One-Parent Family Payment and the effect this could have on single parent families, the majority of whom are headed by women and 40% of whom are at risk of poverty.
OPEN’s campaign has rightly focused on the lack of affordable after-school childcare available to families in Ireland, the provision of which would allow more parents to work, as most have expressed a wish to do.
Indeed, an achievement of the campaign has been that when introducing the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill that contains the age reduction, the Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton made a commitment that the reforms will not go ahead unless provisions for adequate affordable and accessible childcare are included in the next budget.
I understand the wariness of campaigners towards such a promise, especially when the measure to reduce the payments is already in the Act. However it is precisely because of this – that the Act is going ahead but the Minister has made a commitment regarding its implementation – that I argue that the NWCI should concentrate on a campaign to hold the Minister and her Government colleagues to that commitment. Earlier we heard the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Frances Fitzgerald make similar commitments to working with Ministers Burton and Quinn on this issue.
I believe that working together with the Minister towards something on which we are all agreed in principle is more likely to succeed than calling for removal of the section of the Act that is already going ahead. I know that OPEN and the NWCI have expressed concerns regarding the practicality of introducing adequate childcare provisions in such a short timeframe. Of course the flipside to demanding the provisions is to hold the Minister to her promise NOT to proceed with the cuts if the provisions are not in place.
I believe we should support this approach as the NWCI does and should have a commitment to campaigning for the development of a quality childcare infrastructure in Ireland. Whilst Ireland spends relatively high amounts on social welfare it has a relatively low success rate at raising people out of poverty. This is a result of a lack of infrastructure and services that are more developed in other countries.
OPEN and the NWCI have stated that they do support welfare reform, once proper childcare provision is in place. I believe that this is in line with the commitment made by the Minister and that it is imperative that we hold her and her colleagues to this rather than fighting a battle we are unlikely to win.”

Lone Parents Call on Burton To Stop CUTS due on July 2- Irish Examiner

Social Protection Minister Joan Burton has been urged to hold back on cutting the main support payment to lone parents amid warnings that it could push many people into poverty.

Budget 2013 included measures included changes to the One-Parent Family Payment (OPFP) that were to be phased in over a period of time, described as activation measures to encourage more lone parents to access work or education.

However, while the changes to the criteria for eligibility have already seen thousands of lone parents affected, tens of thousands of others face losing the OPFP in July — including an estimated 4,000 who are already working.

One Family, which provides support for one-parent families, said that there was inadequate research at present into how the changes already implemented had affected people — and similarly, how the impending changes would impact on families from this July.

According to One Family, an estimated 36,348 people will be affected by the changes this July, a far higher figure than in the same month in 2014 and 2013.

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Karen Kiernan, CEO of One Family, said: “The transition of another 30,000 [people] off the OPFP has to be stopped and paused until the right supports are in place and research is done to see how it has impacted on those who have already transitioned. We think they are poorer [as a result].”

Some research is underway into international models of activation supports but One Family said plans for Scandinavian-style childcare supports had clearly not come into being.

Niall Egan of the Department of Social Protection recently told an Oireachtas Committee: “With regard to childcare, as I stated, the key measure to be addressed first is the jobseeker’s allowance transition payment. It largely negates the need for a lot of child care provision.”

He said someone with a young child can qualify for the Family Income Supplement (FIS) “and still not require child care provision because FIS involves 19 hours, which works out at just under four hours per day. Admittedly, this is not possible in all circumstances but it is possible for a lone parent with a child in school to match what is required”.

One Family said Jobseeker’s Transition Payment was not filling the gap for families losing the OPFP.

It said that while the system did need to be reformed, the changes were counter-productive, reiterating that “the real impact of these current reforms is that many thousands of parents will experience catastrophic reductions in their weekly income” and that “many will now be forced to give up their part-time jobs, due to a complex and unwieldy system”.

One Family gave a number of examples in which it said part-time workers would be most affected by the changes.

In one example, of an OFP recipient with a 15-year-old daughter and a 15-hour-a-week contract, she is ineligible for FIS because her contract does not state she works 19 hours or more a week, or 38 in a fortnight and, as her child is over 14, the woman will not qualify for Jobseeker’s Allowance Transition and so must meet the full conditionality of Jobseeker’s Allowance.

One Family said this would mean that, for those weeks when her work is spread over more than three days, she will no longer be eligible for any payment.

In another example, of a man on OFP and with a morning job while his two children are at secondary school, he also faces being moved to Jobseeker’s Allowance once his youngest child turns 14 and will not be eligible for FIS as he cannot increase his hours in his current job, but will also not meet the eligibility criteria for Jobseeker’s Allowance if he continues with his job.

“He will have to give up his current job and will be down €100 per week,” said One Family.

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‘It’s not about money, it’s about emotional support for kids’

“I don’t actually know, and that’s the truth of it,” says Karen, a mother of two from East Cork.

On paper, it doesn’t seem like much of one. For the past 14 years, she has been working part-time in a job she loves in Cork, clocking up 19 hours spread across two-and-a-half days, meaning on the other days she is at home for her two boys, who are both at primary school.

But the times are changing. Back in Budget 2013, Minister for Social Welfare Joan Burton announced phased changes to the parameters for the One-Parent Family Payment (OPFP). As those changes have come in, changing the eligibility thresholds, it has affected Karen’s financial situation.

Now, with the final changes due in July, Karen believes that she faces a choice: Give up work altogether to be there for the boys, or work full-time, slashing the amount of time when she, as the lone parent, will be available to them.

“Lone parents should be applauded and given as much support as possible,” she says. “It needs to come away from the Live Register and money and politics and come down to emotional support for children.”

In a letter to Ms Burton, Karen outlined how, while continuing in her job-share, in recent years the children’s allowance has been reduced and the OPFP has been reduced by €58.80 per week. This estimated overall loss of €74.30 a week was offset with the support of the Family Income Supplement (FIS), but she is still down €40 a week.

In July, Karen will no longer receive the OPFP, resulting in a further loss of €75 per week, and she will also no longer qualify for the €20 per week fuel allowance in winter, as one of the conditions of eligibility was to be in receipt of the OPFP.

If all this sounds confusing, it is, and other lone parents in different circumstances will be affected in different ways.

Karen recalls that when the changes to the OPFP were announced they were to be implemented along with a Scandinavian-style childcare system, which has not materialised.

She wrote to her local TDs but did not receive a adequate response, and she is hoping that some alterations can be made that will allow her to continue the way she is: working because she wants to work, and being at home as the one adult in the house for her children.

“The family home is the foundation of our society and we cannot underestimate the importance of at least one consistent parent within that home,” she wrote to Ms Burton.

She is still investing faith in something changing, and so is putting off her decision.

“I really have not given up hope of Joan Burton turning this around,” she says.

“I don’t want to think about the alternatives.”

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Seanad Motion Calling On Burton to Reconsider the JULY 2 Measures Withdrawn following opposition from  Senator Ivana Bacik( Labour)  ! Read full Seanad Debate Below INCOME CUTS FOR LONE PARENTS From July 2nd lone parents working more than 19 hours a week would lose the one-parent family payment when their youngest child turned seven years of age. Up to 32,000 families will be affected by this measure and, in many cases, their incomes will be slashed by up to €80 per week. In addition, lone parents whose youngest child exceeds 7 years of age will be forced to take up “job activation measures” including jobridge outside the home on pain of having their Job Seeker Transition Payment reduced. When Minister Burton was introducing this measure she promised that it would not be implemented until “Scandinavian Style Childcare” was in place. Now she has broken that promise and the measures are set to be implemented in two months time on July 2, 2015 Government Motion deleting the call to reconsider the July 2 implementation included Seanad Eireann – recognises the Government’s commitment to: – maintain core social welfare weekly rates of payment; – tackle long term social welfare dependency by ending the expectation that lone parents will remain outside of the labour force indefinitely; – enhance lone parents’ access to the range of education, training and employment supports and services in order to develop their skills set with the aim of securing employment and financial independence Full Seanad Debate  April 15 One-Parent Family Supports:       Motion An Cathaoirleach:   I welcome the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection, Deputy Joan Burton, to the House. Senator Katherine Zappone:   I move: That Seanad Éireann: – notes that 1 in 4 families with children in Ireland is a one-parent family, that over half a million people live in one-parent families (Census 2011) and that over 30 per cent of the Irish population experienced two or more types of enforced deprivation, compared to 63.2 per cent of those in lone parent households (SILC 2013); – further notes that Budget 2012 restricted eligibility for the One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) to those parenting alone whose youngest child is aged seven, and initiated phased reductions of income disregards for lone parents to equal those of jobseekers allowances, albeit we welcome the Government decision in November, 2014 to halt the final €30 cut; – acknowledges the Minister for Social Protection’s decision to establish the Jobseeker’s Transition Allowance Scheme for lone parents with children aged between 7 and 14; – regrets that accessible, affordable, quality childcare to accompany policy changes has not been delivered, though acknowledges the €14 million investment in after-school care; – notes with concern that almost 40,000 lone parents are expected to transition from OFP with 30,200 transitioning on 2nd July, 2015 (just as school holidays cause childcare costs to increase), and how this change will impact negatively on thousands of working lone parents who will be financially worse off; and – welcomes the Minister for Social Protection’s recent announcements that people in receipt of OFP will maintain eligibility for the half-rate Carer’s Allowance and that she commits to resolving anomalies for those taking up Jobseeker’s Transition and accessing SUSI maintenance supports; and calls on the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection to: – acknowledge that changes in labour market policies regarding lone parents are resulting in unintended consequences, such as lone parents giving up work or full-time education, and agree to immediately review recent policy changes in light of this; – resolve with immediate effect all remaining administrative and policy anomalies concerning the roll out of Jobseekers Transition including access to Carers Allowance, Back to Education Allowance and self-employed or enterprise supports and to ensure no working lone parents with children over 14 are financially worse off after transitioning to Jobseeker’s Allowance; – honour previous commitments and implement a ‘system of safe, affordable and accessible childcare’ to accompany the changes to OFP; and – engage in a comprehensive review of the policy decision to compel lone parents to work full time and to examine whether this policy is consistent with a child’s right to parenting and consistent with equality of family status. I welcome the Tánaiste to the House. It is timely to debate these issues now as the Government puts the final touches on its much-anticipated spring statement and when all people, especially those whose boat has not yet lifted with the upward swell of the economy, await their chance for prosperity, well-being and equal participation in building a new Ireland. I have proposed this motion along with my Independent colleagues because we believe the changes in one-parent family policies have not been effective in achieving the stated objective of encouraging single parents into job activation and education. Equally significant, we believe the underlying rationale for the policy changes is not correct. The rationale is that single parents should be compelled to work full-time once their youngest child reaches the age of 14. The State does not compel two-parent families to do so. Before I lay out our case, I must acknowledge the Tánaiste’s commitment to social welfare reform and getting the reform right. That is why our motion welcomes and notes a number of her decisions to amend the policies announced since 2011, and also the leadership and extensive work of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Education and Social Protection to support these positive amendments. I acknowledge also the ambition and commitment of single parents themselves to reach for higher education and employment that pays while balancing their parental responsibilities of care. They are actively dismantling the stereotype of long-term welfare dependency. That is why I held a civic forum with many of them in Leinster House yesterday and why we concentrated on proposing positive recommendations for change, some of which I will mention this evening, and all of which will be compiled into a report that we will submit to the Government and joint committee for consideration. I appreciate the expert assistance of Dr. Mary Murphy in this regard, in addition to the assistance of the advocates for one-parent families, some of whom are with us this evening, including One Family, the National Women’s Council of Ireland, the Union of Students in Ireland, SPARK and Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union. While public policies in the 1990s supported a mother worker regime where part-time work was facilitated alongside parental caring responsibilities, as exemplified by the higher income disregards that supported child care costs, the latest changes from the mid-2000s are such that single parent policy shifted towards an adult worker regime in which the adult is expected to work full-time with care, in theory, provided by a public service or purchased in the marketplace. The ideal should instead be a carer-earner model – with appropriate incentives and support for higher education – that facilitates an adequate level of labour market participation while also accommodating care choices. This is unlikely to be facilitated by a system that privileges or insists on full-time employment.  We think that this is unlikely to be facilitated by a system that privileges or insists on full-time employment. Government policies are rooted in the assumption that the way out of poverty is a job. We say that the way out of poverty for one-parent families is education and a job that can balance caring responsibilities. Let us consider some of the evidence that we have to date, subsequent to the changes in one-parent family policies. In 2013 the survey in living conditions cited that the consistent poverty rate for the Irish population was 8.2% but that the rate was 23% for one-parent families. It also recorded that over 30% of the population experienced two or more types of enforced deprivation but that 63% of those living in one-parent households experienced deprivation. Senator van Turnhout will speak on the impact that such poverty and deprivation has had on the children of one-parent families. With regard to employment, Department of Social Protection figures for 2011 show that 49% of recipients of the one-parent family payment were in employment. This decreased in 2013 to 36%. It increased again in 2014 and 2015 but at the end of January 2015 45% of recipients were in employment, which is still under the 49% figure. There are a number of reasons for the fluctuations, the main one being of course the economic crisis which affected everyone, including single parents in employment. Many single parents lost employment, but another key factor is what happened at the beginning of 2012. Previously, recipients of the one-parent family payment could participate on a community employment scheme, receive their one-parent family payment and also get a payment of the community employment allowance. As the Tánaiste knows, this was stopped. A direct result of this was significant decline in the number of single parents in community employment. The Tánaiste is also aware of the various calculations that have been put forward indicating that, when 30,200 single parents transition on 2 July 2015, just as school holidays cause child care costs to increase, this change will impact negatively on thousands of working parents who will be financially worse off. The Department of Social Protection estimates that two-thirds will transfer to the jobseeker’s transition allowance and our motion has welcomed the establishment of this scheme as a better option than jobseeker’s allowance. However, the jobseeker’s transition allowance has a lower income disregard than the one-parent family payment and hence, for example, a worker earning €200 will lose €29 a week after the transition. Those parents who have no child under 14 years will transfer onto the jobseeker’s allowance and there are concerns that many of them will have to give up their part-time employment due to the jobseeker’s allowance conditionality requirements. Those single parents who are in paid employment of sufficient hours to qualify for the in-work benefit FIS as a top-up to their one-parent family payment will transfer to the FIS scheme exclusively, which will provide a lower level of income support than they currently receive, even with the back-to-work family dividend payment. There is also great concern regarding lone parents’ access to education, especially for those whose youngest child is over 14 and those who wish to pursue education goals in the future. We have welcomed that the Government has revised its policy regarding lone parents currently in full-time education and whose youngest child is under 14. One-parent family payment recipients in full-time education can remain on the payment until their course is completed but this arrangement is for recipients coming off one-parent family payment up to 2 July 2015 only. Those who exit one-parent family payment after this date will have to opt for the jobseeker’s transition allowance or the back-to-education allowance. If one qualifies for jobseeker’s transition allowance, one will be eligible to receive the SUSI maintenance grant, which is crucial for child support. However, a parent whose youngest child is 14 years or above will be treated the same as if he or she had no dependants and will only be able to access the back-to-education allowance without any maintenance support for child care and travel. As was pointed out yesterday in our civic forum, it is considerably less costly to the Exchequer to support single parents through higher level education than it is to support them on welfare for the entirety of their lives. For these reasons, and others allied to them, the motion calls for a comprehensive review of the policy decision to compel single parents to work full-time and asks if this policy is consistent with a child’s right to parenting and is consistent with the equality of family status. Some of the positive recommendations coming from the civic forum include the following. Single parents in or wishing to access full-time education and those in part-time employment should be able to access one-parent family payment support until their youngest child is 18. The State should recognise that all citizens under 18 years of age are children and thus still dependent on parental support. If lone parents are already in employment or education, they do not need the removal of the payment to activate them. Further, how is it that one parent in a two-parent household can be classified as a dependant, in our social welfare policy, yet a child between the ages of 14 and 18 in a one-parent household is not recognised as a dependant? Another recommendation is that if the State insists on a transition to jobseeker status after the youngest child reaches seven, we should bring back the higher levels of income disregards for those on jobseeker’s transition allowance, by way of supporting the caring responsibilities of lone parents, given there does not yet exist adequate public locally-based child care services that do school collections from their child’s school. There are many more recommendations, including the need for quality part-time options, such as work, training and education, to be recognised. It is not easy for single parents to negotiate increases in part-time hours within a context of mini-jobs, zero contract hours and the idea of bundling slivers of time. It would be helpful if the Organisation of Working Time Act was amended from a 15-hour minimum threshold to a 20-hour minimum threshold. We think these are better ways for single parents to reduce long-term social welfare dependency, to balance their ambitions to learn, earn and care, and eventually to achieve financial independence and well-being for themselves and their children. This is why we call on the Government to engage in a comprehensive review. Senator Jillian van Turnhout:   I welcome the Tánaiste. It is with pride that I second the motion. The result of inadequate income for many one-parent families is food poverty, fuel poverty, over-indebtedness, difficulty with education-related costs, cutting out extra-curricular activities and children’s hobbies, living in poor quality housing, risk of homelessness, and homelessness. The latest SILC data for 2013 revealed that in lone parent households, the at-risk-of-poverty rate was 31.7%, the deprivation rate was 63.2% and the consistent poverty rate was 23%. The particular and distinct vulnerability of this group is further shown by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul which has confirmed that one-parent families constitute one of the major groups to which it provides services. The financial assistance the Society of St. Vincent de Paul provides is connected with their low and inadequate incomes, particularly those in receipt of one-parent family payment. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul has advised that despite incredibly careful budgeting, there simply is not enough money in the house, and they find they need a payment to buy food or meet the costs of school, energy and housing. Parents who work part-time find that their pay is low and unlikely to rise significantly as they often have low educational levels because of the situation they are in. Child care is an issue in terms of cost of child care and the salaries for those working in child care because all too often jobs that are considered to be women’s work get lower rates of pay. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul also supports both two and one-parent homeless families that are in emergency hotel accommodation, in the majority of cases because of the major shortage in social housing or having been pushed out of the unregulated monopolistic private rental sector where market rate far exceeds rent supplement caps and where the housing assistance payment is only available from selected housing authorities. That is an issue that differs around the country. Society of St. Vincent de Paul volunteers report that their members are finding that the move from one-parent family payment to the jobseeker’s transition allowance is causing them considerable uncertainty and fear, particularly among those who have received the letter from the Department. This is something I found repeatedly as I talked to groups in preparation for this debate. The proposed changes regarding the one-parent family payment have also caused considerable stress, upset and confusion with Doras Buí, a community-development organisation centre that provides high quality supports and services to one-parent families living in the Coolock area of Dublin. That organisation outlined some of its concerns. Obviously a major cause of concern is the provision of adequate, quality and affordable child care in that area. It claims that the provision of the after-school subvention scheme is not adequate. First, not all private child care providers have taken up this scheme and many parents are unable to find a provider to collect their child from their school. It is great to say that one has the scheme in one place and the child somewhere else, but how is the child supposed to get to the scheme?  Second, the subsidised scheme only lasts for 52 weeks. What are parents to do after the first year of the scheme finishes? The Department has advised parents to contact their child care committee after this time. Many parents have expressed concerns regarding their current working arrangements and qualifying conditions for jobseeker’s allowance. Some are working ten to 15 hours per week, broken down to two to three hours per day for five days, in order to fit around child care arrangements. While working these hours, they do not qualify for jobseeker’s allowance because they work for more than three days per week. Many parents and their employers are not in a position to increase working hours to at least 19 hours, which would allow parents to be eligible for FIS and the back to work dividend. Another example has been clearly illustrated by the Dunnes Stores workers who work 15 hours per week. We see the precarious position they have been put in. A person may be called in to work thinking they might have five hours, and organise child care on that basis, only to go in to find out they have one hour of work. Due to the current housing crisis and the lack of social housing, many lone parents are in receipt of rent supplement. Under the conditions of rent allowance a recipient cannot work more than 30 hours per week, so we are moving up the scale. If they do, they lose their rent supplement, so parents are left with a choice between working full time and keeping their home. While there are child care education and training support programmes available for parents who are studying a FETAC level 5 course to help towards the cost of further education, there is no such funding for parents who want to go to degree level. This is limiting their education choices, which in turn limits their ability to gain full-time well paid employment. I will end by mentioning a lone parent involved in Doras Buí who asked me to share her story with the House. Her name is Leanne and she is a single mother of one. She says: The new changes in the One Parent Family Payment will really affect me in a bad way. My son turns 7 years old on the 14th of July, so this will affect me immediately. My son has been diagnosed with ADHD and Oppositional Defiant Disorder and takes daily medication. I attend monthly and sometimes weekly appointments in the Mater CAMHS hospital. I am currently working part time and I face a drop of 70/80 euro a week, basically between 280/320 a month. This is a huge stress on a lone parent like me, trying to better myself for my son by getting out and working part time and this strain is unbelievable. I attend counselling over these stresses. I cannot work full time as I don’t have a minder for my child and with these changes I won’t be able to afford one any time soon. This really illustrates how a number of factors that I have tried to demonstrate come together and compound this downward spiral at a time when we should be supporting and lifting up lone parents and giving them the opportunities we say we wish to give them. I cannot see the evidence of investment in child care and after-school care. There has been investment, but there are no guidelines, no clear structures and no regulations, so the reality is that when people try to access services, be they housing or employment, all these obstacles are in the way. We really need to tackle this issue to lift lone parents and their children out of poverty. Senator Terry Brennan:   I move amendment No. 2: To delete all the words after “Seanad Éireann” and substitute the following: – acknowledges that despite significant levels of investment, including an estimated €607 million in 2015, the One-Parent Family Payment scheme has not been successful in preventing lone parents from being significantly more at risk of consistent poverty than the population as a whole; – recognises that in 2004, during the height of the economic boom lone parents were more than four-and-a-half times more at risk of consistent poverty than the population as a whole. (SILC data); – recognises that Ireland’s supports for lone parents need to be updated in order to provide for greater levels of opportunity for lone parents and for their children; – acknowledges that the very long duration, potentially 18-22 years, can engender long term social welfare dependency and associated poverty and social exclusion amongst lone parents and their families; and – welcomes the Government’s decision to retain the One-Parent Family Payment income disregards at €90 per week; – recognises the Government’s commitment to: – maintain core social welfare weekly rates of payment; – tackle long term social welfare dependency by ending the expectation that lone parents will remain outside of the labour force indefinitely; – enhance lone parents’ access to the range of education, training and employment supports and services in order to develop their skills set with the aim of securing employment and financial independence; and – support lone parents to make the transition from the One-Parent Family Payment onto another social welfare payment; – welcomes the steps the Government have taken to ease the transition of affected lone parents from the One-Parent Family Payment, including: – the introduction of the Jobseeker’s Allowance transitional arrangement, which allows lone parents whose youngest child is aged 7-13 to balance their caring responsibilities by exempting them from having to be available for and genuinely seeking full time employment; – the creation for the first time the opportunity for lone parents to have access to a Case Officer on a one to one basis in order to agree their own personal development plan; – the automatic reviews and increases of Family Income Supplement for affected lone parents, following their transition from the One-Parent Family Payment; – the introduction of the Back to Work Family Dividend for all lone parents who transition off OFP into employment and which allows them to retain their child proportion of their social welfare payment; – the introduction of the After School Childcare scheme and the Community Employment Childcare Scheme to build on the existing 25,000 subsidised childcare places, which the State provides to low income parents in order to facilitate their transition into employment; – the establishment of an interdepartmental group to carry out an economic and cost benefit analysis of policies and future options for increasing the supply, accessibility and affordability of quality child care; – the proposal to allow lone parents in receipt of half rate Carer’s Allowance to retain their One-Parent Family Payment until their youngest child is 16 years of age; – the facility to allow lone parents who are currently undertaking an education course and are in receipt of a SUSI maintenance grant to maintain both their One-Parent Family Payment and the SUSI maintenance grant until they have completed their course of study; – the proposed extension to the Jobseeker’s Allowance transitional arrangement, which will allow all lone parents who have a child aged 7-13 to access the special arrangements of the transitional arrangement and not just former recipients of the One-Parent Family Payment; and – welcomes the research the Department of Social Protection is sponsoring into an active inclusion approach to lone parents, which is examining best practice and innovative approaches to assisting lone parents improve their well-being.” Despite huge investment in the one-parent family payment scheme, it has not been successful in preventing lone parents from being far more at risk of consistent poverty than the general population. Since the scheme was introduced in 1997 until the end of 2010, recipient numbers have increased by half and annual expenditure has increased by over €750 million. The total figure was in excess of €1 billion per year from 2008 to 2012. Throwing money at the problem clearly has not worked. As far back as 2004, lone parents were more than four and a half times more at risk of consistent poverty compared to the population as a whole. This was when the economy was booming and the previous Government showered every problem with available cash. Before the changes, lone parents could have been on the scheme until their youngest child turned 18 or 22 if they were in full-time education. Those criteria are also very much outside the norm internationally. What does this say? It says that the State is happy for someone to be on welfare until their child is an adult. That is not the way to ease poverty and help families. Additionally, the State pays one of the highest rates of child benefit in the developed world, yet it has one of the highest rates of child poverty in the developed world. All the evidence at home and internationally points to employment as the solution to poverty and exclusion. I believe this is the only solution. In its most recent report on employment and social developments in Europe, the European Commission indicated that there is a strong link between poverty and social exclusion on the one hand and the labour market on the other hand. It presents evidence that countries with high employment rates display lower rates of poverty or exclusion. When I say “employment”, I do not mean any old job. I mean employment that enables someone to earn a living. Employment does not automatically lead to the eradication of poverty. The quality of the employment and the active engagement of the person with the job market throughout a lifetime are essential. There must also be personalised approaches and counselling to ensure that people take up high-quality and sustainable jobs. Public investment in job creation is vital and has been at the core of this Government’s jobs strategy, particularly in sustainable, high-quality jobs. In order to address poverty, these jobs need to be accessible to people experiencing poverty. I, like Senators Zappone and van Turnhout, worry wholeheartedly about the levels of poverty and deprivation experienced by one-parent families in Ireland. I agree that their levels of poverty are much higher than the incidence in the general population. I also fully support Senator Zappone in her views on the child care element of the issue, which were very practical. I sincerely hope that there will be moves in the forthcoming budget to address this. I also agree with Senator Zappone that it is unacceptable that we still have such levels of poverty and deprivation in this day and age. I would also point out that none of these things are new. We have been living with the same situation for generations. The approach we are discussing is an attempt to address that. I do not get a sense from the Senator’s contribution that she has a principled objection to work activation measures or a move from a system that discourages welfare dependency. However, I think the Senator is right to point out that some people have genuinely held worries about what might be called the possible unintentional consequences of the changes to the scheme. In that light, I think it would be appropriate to review the scheme’s operation after a given period to test its effectiveness. Senator Terry Leyden:   I thank Senators Katherine Zappone, Jillian van Turnhout, Mary Ann O’Brien and Fiach Mac Conghail for tabling this motion. The ability of Senators to work together and put forward a proposal in the House to which the Tánaiste has listened proves how useful the Seanad is. Fianna Fáil is happy to support the motion.  This week marks the third anniversary of the promise made by the Tánaiste, Deputy Burton, not to proceed with these one-parent family payment cuts unless appropriate child care supports were in place. This is a commitment the Tánaiste has failed to honour and the consequences of her ill-thought-out policy continue to have devastating effects on one-parent families. The cuts imposed by the Tánaiste have led to huge financial losses for working lone parents and have increased the obstacles to lone parents seeking access to third level education. The cumulative effect of these changes is now clear. A lone parent working 20 hours per week on a minimum wage has lost €108 per week as a result of these so-called reforms, and in the absence of child care, work will no longer pay for many parents. These weekly losses are made up of a loss of €28 due to a reduction in income disregard, a loss of €50 in 2015 on cessation of one-parent family allowance and an additional loss of €30 in 2017 when the back-to-work family dividend will end. There has been a drop in the number of lone parents in paid employment and a drop in the number of applications to the Central Applications Office by lone parents. Moreover, while the European Union survey on income and living conditions, EU-SILC, report of 2013 showed there was no significant increase in consistent poverty in the general population, which increased from 7.7% to 8.2%, there was a shocking 32% increase in consistent poverty among one-parent families, the rate of which increased from 17.4% to 23% and is almost three times higher than that of the general population. I look forward to the Tánaiste’s response to this motion because the Senators have put forward a well worked out and researched document. On looking through it and on foot of the advice I have received from the Fianna Fáil research office, which has considered the points put forward by the Senators and has found nothing in the motion with which it can disagree, Fianna Fáil’s response is we have considered and fully support the motion. I revert to and reiterate the point on the proposed major reform of this House, about which I have strong reservations. This is because the concerns Members have expressed and which the Tánaiste represents could not be represented by a well-off representative in New York who might be elected to this House. Such representatives would not have the interest, the concern or the effect the Members present have. This is a small second House of Parliament and it strikes me that while one seeks more representations from different outlets and outlooks, this time the Government appointed a wide range of people, who have been joined by Senator Craughwell after the by-election. Therefore, there is a broad range of views in this House and that is why this motion is particularly appropriate and important. It is something Deputy Burton should act on as Tánaiste and as leader of the Labour Party, which places her in an onerous position as someone who retained the Ministry of Social Protection. This was a brave decision on her part as it would have been easier for the Tánaiste to have taken on another portfolio that might have been easier to manage. This is a difficult portfolio. I believe it is the second highest spending Department in the State, and it is extremely important to the most deprived people in society. If one looks back on Fianna Fáil’s last time in government, it put funds into child care and into crèche developments throughout Ireland, which incidentally has never been recognised. In addition, Fianna Fáil also gave the first full free preschool year. I hope the Tánaiste will be able to bring about a second preschool year and that such a proposal might appear in the next manifestos. It was a great support to and help for families that they could have one free year of preschool facilities. Moreover, the buildings that were constructed and provided throughout the countryside are really top-class buildings of quality. When one analyses the position put forward by the Senators, the Tánaiste will see that any effect it will have on a low income base is devastating. My daughter is a councillor who is working with parents who are under terrible pressure at present. They are trying to hold on to their houses, to local authority houses, and are trying to rear a family. They are finding it very difficult to get child care, which has become out of the price range of anyone who seeks to return to work. In most cases, such people do not receive income that is adequate to pay for a child in child care. These are all areas in which, as Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection, the Tánaiste can consider the individual effect this measure has. She can ask whether this has a major effect on the recipients. As it has, the Tánaiste has a duty and responsibility to examine the situation and tell her Government colleagues that this is not acceptable. She should do this in her extremely influential position as Tánaiste, that is, supporting and being part of the Government as Deputy Prime Minister, as well as the Minister with responsibility for this sensitive portfolio. I must state she has done her utmost in that Department, in so far as possible, in trying to protect the rates of allowances in difficult circumstances. The elderly have been affected badly by the removal of free services that were in place, such as free telephones and painful decisions were made. I note they were more painful for those who actually were deprived of those services. While the Tánaiste retained the free travel system, which is appreciated, other facilities have been withdrawn from people, which is not welcome. The Tánaiste should consider this motion to ascertain whether she can agree to defer this measure. I do not believe it is a question of voting and, if possible, this motion should not be put to a vote. The proposal should be examined by the Tánaiste. While the Government more or less has the numbers in this House, perhaps that is not true in this case and the Tánaiste may find that this motion will be approved. All 14 Fianna Fáil Members are supporting this motion 100%, as will other Members. Perhaps it would be advisable to review the Government amendment to this proposal and to revert to Members with concrete proposals to alleviate the concerns expressed. Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton):   At the outset, I thank Senators Zappone, van Turnhout, Mary Ann O’Brien and Mac Conghail for raising this important issue. The one-parent family payment scheme has played an important role in providing income support to lone parents since its introduction in its present form in 1997. The period from 1997 to 2010 saw the number of recipients increase by 50% and the annual expenditure increase by approximately 330% or €770 million. However, despite significant levels of investment, in which the State spent in excess of €1 billion per annum for a five-year period from 2008 to 2012 and notwithstanding the good points on which everyone agrees, the scheme has consistently failed to prevent lone parents being significantly more at risk of consistent poverty than the population as a whole. This means the outcomes for lone parents and in particular for their children are significantly worse than for other people in the population. According to the most recent survey on income and living conditions, 23% of lone parents are at risk of consistent poverty. This is 2.5 times greater than the population as a whole and this figure is simply not acceptable. This is not a new phenomenon, however, and it has been a feature of the scheme since its inception. In 2004, at the height of the boom, lone parents were more than 4.5 times at risk of consistent poverty than the population as a whole. We cannot afford to keep doing the same things and expect a different outcome. Previous to the reforms to the scheme, Ireland was on its own in how we supported lone parents. Lone parents could have been on the one-parent family payment scheme until their youngest child turned 18, or 22 if they were in full-time education. Other countries have moved away from providing long-duration income support towards a shorter, more active engagement approach with more support. For example, in New Zealand, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the North of Ireland, the equivalent supports for lone parents cease when the youngest child reaches the age of five.   I acknowledge and commend the many lone parents who have engaged in employment in order to improve the outcomes for their families. However, as somebody who works extensively with lone parents and organisations dealing with lone parents, I constantly meet lone parents, particularly women, who may have left education, training and work until they were in their late 40s or early 50s and then found, as has been described eloquently by Senators Zappone and van Turnhout, that they could not get well paid employment. That is the crux of the matter. If one does not get into education, training and work experience, followed by employment, before one’s late 40s or 50s, it is very difficult to do so subsequently. So many say to me that they only wish they had gone back to school and got training and qualifications at a much earlier stage in their life. On that important fact, there is considerable agreement on both sides of this House. Not all lone parents were in a position to get back into employment. Many have been in receipt of one-parent family payment for 18 or 22 years – maybe another ten years if they have two or three children with more than a ten-year gap between them – without ever working or engaging in education or training. This represents a significant portion of anyone’s working life, and in many instances it creates a welfare trap for those who are just as bright, industrious and hardworking, and, indeed, intelligent, as anyone else in the country. They deserve the best of opportunities in getting into education, training and well paid employment. Since I became involved in this area, which was 20 years ago, that has always been my approach. I have seen the impact on those who have not been able to be involved in education, training and bettering their life opportunities. It meant that lone parents in that situation were so distant from the labour force that they found it impossible to secure well paid employment when their payments ceased as their children went into adulthood. By not proactively engaging with lone parents, the State, in effect, is consigning these individuals and their families to a life of welfare dependency and putting them at an increased risk of poverty. Put simply, the one-parent family payment in its previous guise has to a certain extent failed lone parents and their families. It has provided income support to lone-parent families, but it also has ensured that some of these families are more likely to suffer from consistent poverty than the population as a whole. That is why we had to change our approach to supporting lone parents. As Tánaiste and Labour Party leader, I have always believed that the best protection against poverty is secure and fairly paid work, and there is no doubt that the road to that is through education, training and work experience. The Labour Party in government is focused on providing opportunities for all people. We need to provide for greater levels of opportunity for lone parents and their children. We need to have a more active engagement to offer them the supports and services they need so that they can secure economic independence and build a better future for their families. The genesis of the current reforms to the one-parent family payment was contained in the 2006 report “Proposals for Supporting Lone Parents”. This report recommended that a time limit for receipt of the payment should be put in place. The report also advocated that lone parents should be engaged with in a systematic manner in terms of facilitating their movement to education, training and employment supports. This is the critical issue. If one leaves doing that until late in people’s lives, it is difficult for them to achieve their goals. The reforms reduce the age of the youngest child for receipt of one-parent family payment on a phased basis over a long phasing. The final phase will see the age of the youngest child at which payment ceases being reduced to seven years for all recipients from 2 July 2015 onwards. It is expected that approximately 30,000 lone parents will transition from the one-parent family payment on that date. This is in addition to 16,000 lone parents who have already made the transition since the reforms commenced in 2013. The aim of these reforms is to reduce long-term welfare dependency by providing lone parents with enhanced access to the Department’s range of education, training and employment supports, and to further assist in the provision of appropriate supports to lone parents. The Department is sponsoring research by Dr. Michelle Millar whose aim is to identify best practice in how to assist lone parents in improving their access to education and employment to ensure they have greater levels of opportunity for themselves and their families. To ease the transition of lone parents from the one-parent family payment, I have introduced a wide range of measures. These measures, depending on the individual circumstances of the lone parent, aim to extend his or her eligibility to the one-parent family payment, remove conditionality, improve the financial incentive to take up employment or offer increased support for lone parents to engage in education and training. Lone parents who are recently bereaved are exempted from the reform. These reforms do not affect lone parents who are carers, but such lone parents, if they have any time, are free to become involved in the education and training and any other scheme that may be of interest to them. In order to help lone parents with young children who are affected by this reform, I introduced the jobseeker’s allowance transitional arrangement. Under this arrangement, lone parents whose youngest child is between seven and 13 years of age are exempt from the requirements of being available for and genuinely seeking full-time employment. This means that no lone parent with a youngest child under 14 years of age will be required to take up employment in order to receive income support from the Department. That is their choice in accordance with how they wish to arrange their affairs. There is no compulsion whatsoever involved. What is on offer is a series of opportunities that lone parents, as they see fit, may wish to take up. All of the lone parent customers will have access to the new Intreo service. They will have for the first time the opportunity to access a case officer on a one-to-one basis in order to agree their own personal development plan. This will enhance their access, whether to education, training or employment. We will be giving those lone parents all the support we can to achieve their ambitions and goals. Individuals on the jobseeker’s allowance transitional arrangement can move into employment, including, if they wish, part-time employment, but this is not a prerequisite for payment. The transitional arrangement thereby allows such lone parents to balance their caring responsibilities and significantly reduces their requirement for child care. For lone parents who are already in employment and in receipt of family income supplement, FIS, we have for the first time introduced automatic increases in their family income supplement entitlement – Senators will be aware that many lone parents will receive significant increases. This ensures that their income will increase to partially compensate them when they transition from the one-parent family payment. To further encourage lone parents to take up employment or to increase their hours of employment, departmental staff are actively promoting the family income supplement scheme as the best financial option available to lone parents. Departmental staff are actively promoting the family income supplement scheme as the best financial option available to lone parents. Lone parents who can increase the number of hours they can work to 19 hours per week will be significantly better off than if only in receipt of the one-parent family payment. On foot of the age reforms over the past two years, the evidence shows more lone parents than expected increased their working hours and claimed FIS for the first time. I expect this trend to continue with this year’s reforms. To further assist, I have asked the Labour Market Council to specifically examine the issue of how employers nationwide can assist lone parents in increasing their hours of work to enable them to qualify for the FIS payment. In addition to the FIS, lone parents who transition off welfare and into employment are eligible for the new back-to-work family dividend payment which is also contained in the Social Welfare Bill 2015. This payment allows lone parents and jobseekers to retain their child proportion, roughly €30 per week per child, of their social welfare payment when they move into employment. As the dividend has no impact on a family’s FIS entitlement, it offers an additional and significant incentive for lone parents who are moving into a greater level of work of €30 per child per week for the first year and half of this for the second year. The Government is committed to improving the provision of child care, including the supports available for lone parents. We have introduced the after school child care scheme and the community employment child care scheme, both of which offer heavily subsidised child care places and aim to assist lone parents to access either a community employment place or to take up employment. Both these schemes build on the existing 25,000 subsidised child care places which the State provides to low income parents in order to facilitate their movement into employment. This is a significant and vital investment and the Government is keen to build on the existing supports. For this reason, my colleague, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Deputy Reilly, has established an interdepartmental group to carry out an economic and cost benefit analysis of policies and future options for increasing the supply, accessibility and affordability of quality child care. My Department is involved in, and represented on, this group. My officials are feeding the group’s deliberations on the child care requirements of lone parents and jobseekers to enable them take up employment opportunities. I am pleased to say that in accordance with the aim of the reforms, any recipient of the one-parent family payment who is already undertaking an education course and is in receipt of a SUSI maintenance grant will be allowed to retain the one-parent family payment until completion of the course of education. In addition, there are no restrictions on a recipient of jobseeker’s allowance transitional arrangement to undertake a full-time education course and such person will also be able to receive a SUSI maintenance during that time. The reforms of the one-parent family payment are essential to the creation of a new, more active engagement process for lone parents. I know from meeting constantly with people who have moved into education and training that the transition towards paid employment, combined with family income supplement or other income supports, offers serious job and career prospects to lone parents as their children grow up. The feedback to the Department in relation to the changes has been extremely positive, particularly from the parents who have taken up the opportunities, starting in most cases with education and training over a prolonged period. I thank Senators for raising this issue, particularly those who spoke on the motion. We all share a common vision and ambition in that we want to see people supported by a strong and good social welfare system. Ireland’s social welfare system is among the best in Europe. For example, our rates are hugely in excess of the rates in the North of Ireland and in almost every other country of the European Union. Notwithstanding the economic difficulties of this country, we have been able to maintain that. However, as I said, we must continue to work to assist and make available the talents, intelligence and desire of lone parents to be involved in work, to start their own businesses and have good careers that will assist themselves and their children to financial independence. I know there are some people for whom this may not be an immediate objective. For example, approximately 20,000 lone parents are not involved in education or employment. By choice, they are involved in the full time care of their children. I want to stress that there is no change of any kind to their payment. As stated by Senator Zappone, the key and road to positive developments is education and training, which is precisely the Department’s desire for lone parents. The reason we have contacted lone parents is to give them the opportunity to engage with departmental officials in regard to the building of a career plan, which if it is not possible for them to undertake this year can be undertaken in three or four years’ time. There is too much talent there and it must not be left in a kind of poverty and welfare trap, which is what this debate is about. I again thank those who contributed. Senator Marie Moloney:   I welcome the Minister and thank the Taoiseach’s nominees for bringing forward this motion on an important issue that needs to be fully discussed. We are all well aware that the one-parent family payment scheme has played an important role in providing income support to parents who are parenting alone. However, even with this support lone parents still tend to experience high rates of consistent poverty, which makes it evident that the one-parent family payment only is not sufficient to lift people out of poverty. Throughout the Celtic tiger period lone parents still suffered a high rate of poverty. As stated by the Minister, the figure in this regard was four and half times that of the population as a whole. I welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Kevin Humphreys, back to the House. None of us would argue with the fact that the best route out of poverty and social exclusion is through employment and education. There is no doubt but that education is the key to well paid employment, which is the reason when I spoke earlier today, I raised with the Minister of State, Deputy Humphreys, the introduction of back-to-education transitional arrangements in conjunction with the jobseeker’s allowance transitional arrangement for those wishing to return to education. As I outlined earlier today, a lone parent in receipt of the one-parent family payment who chooses to return to education is eligible for a third level registration and maintenance grant. However, if such person transfers to the back-to-education allowance he or she while eligible for a grant in respect of the registration fee is not eligible for a maintenance grant, which would be essential to their continuing in education. I am delighted to note from the Minister’s speech that this matter has been addressed and there is no restriction on people on the jobseeker’s transitional arrangement accessing a full third level grant to cover registration and maintenance fees. It is true that rearing children on one’s own is far more difficult than rearing children with a partner or husband. Even in situations where there are two parents involved it is a constant struggle to provide child care, with often one parent working while the other cares for the children. In some cases, one parent goes out to work when the other comes home so that at all stages there is somebody in the family home to care for the children. This is an impossibility for those parenting alone, be such person a single parent, separated parent, a widow or a widower. The perception of some people is that a lone parent is a young girl who became pregnant and was left to bring up a child on her own. This is not always the case. In many cases, couples are happily married only for something to go wrong and the marriage breaks down, leaving one parent to rear the children on his or her own. In other cases, a parent dies and again the other parent has to rear the children on his or her own.  I welcome the fact a general move has been made towards helping lone parents through activation because while on the OPFP, they do not receive the help and support someone who is unemployed gets, that is, incentives and encouragement to take up employment. Many lone parents have returned to work through necessity to have a higher income coming into the house but it was never through being encouraged by the Department or through any activation measures supplied or supported by the Department. I am glad the Minister is recognising the needs of lone parents and the Department is offering them the same service available to others in receipt of unemployment payments. All the new arrangements being put in place to transfer lone parents to the jobseeker’s allowance and, for the first time, to devise a personal development plan with the Intreo office are welcome. These will be of great benefit to those who are unemployed. However, some of those who are currently employed will, unfortunately, by hit financially, as the disregard will no longer be in place, which means they will have a lower income. We should examine ways to help this cohort of lone parents in order that they will not be worse off financially. They activated themselves and found work and then balanced work and family life. It is important that lone parents in receipt of FIS and who may not be due for renewal of their payment until perhaps December this year or early next year be reviewed with immediate effect following the changes with a view to increasing their FIS payment due to loss of income. The transition to jobseeker’s allowance has been taking place over the past year or two years and many lone parents have transitioned. Will the Minister clarify whether there is a follow up on maintenance once they transfer? Over the past number of weeks while we debated the Child and Family Relationships Bill in the House, much emphasis was placed on the fact that it is better to have two parents to raise a child, that is, a mother and a father. However, I have heard no mention of the other parent during this debate, which could be either the father or the mother, otherwise known as the liable relative, although this is predominantly the father. I received figures from the CSO which highlight that 87% of lone parents are mothers. Time after time in discussions I have with the public, the issue of the father comes up and his responsibility to his child or, in most cases, his lack of responsibility. It is easy for a man to walk away from his responsibility and leave the woman holding the baby. I acknowledge a percentage of men are exceptionally good and they are greatly involved in their children’s upbringing and financially support them but, unfortunately, they are in a minority. Will the Minister clarify if having transferred to the jobseeker’s transitional arrangement that the Department will pursue the liable relative for maintenance, as the other parent has a duty of care to his or her child or children both physically and financially? The underlying factor in lone parents remaining in the poverty trap is the lack of accessibility to affordable child care. Child care costs are so high that it is not an option for these parents. Lone parents who work are more likely to be in low paid jobs, partly as a result of a lack of qualifications and partly because of the difficulty in accessing affordable child care. We need to give more than just a social welfare payment to them. We should put in place supports to help them to get out of the poverty trap. For the past four years while we have been in government, funding has been a major issue for us in trying to do everything we would like to do. The provision of child care has been one of the victims of the recession but, as the economy improves, we must seriously consider this issue not just for lone parents but also for those who we all now recognise as the squeezed middle. People are struggling to pay for child care, with some even giving up work because it is cheaper. I welcome the €14 million in funding the Minister has provided for the after school child care scheme. Unfortunately, there was a low uptake but the only place this care can be provided for those living in rural Ireland is in local schools because it is impossible for a parent to get from town to the school and take the child to the after school care provider before returning to work. An incentive should be in place for employers to operate a programme similar to JobsPlus, which would be centred on lone parents. It would revolve around school hours for lone parents. Family-friendly work arrangements are difficult to come by and I commend Marks & Spencer on the programme it runs, which accommodate lone parents to work flexible hours. If more companies did this, it would be fantastic. We need concrete, workable plans, which would make it easier for lone parents to join the workforce in order that they can avail of a better quality of life and move from welfare dependency. Senator Gerard P. Craughwell:   I came to the House to support my two colleagues and I had no intention whatsoever of speaking. I am trying to remain as calm as I can because the OPFP is nothing more than a great big stick with which to beat lone parents and make them crawl for the miserable shillings they get. Have the officials who wrote the Minister’s script ever known a day’s poverty in their lives? Do they honestly believe that somebody wants to sit at home as a single parent with no opportunity to work? The officials want these people to do 19 hours work a week. Will they do this in Dunnes Stores or somewhere else where they will be exploited to the last? If the Department wants to provide financial incentives for people to take up work, a State-funded crèche should be set up in every town and village where their child can be looked after. I recently became a grandfather and I heard my son and daughter-in-law talking about the cost of child care. It will cost them thousands of euro every month and they both work. Where will a single parent find that money? As an educator, I have heard references to personal development plans for years with the belief being that if a personal development plan is put in place everything will be fine. I agree wholeheartedly that education is the way out of poverty. I ought to know because I returned to education when I was 35 years old. However, I had a wife who stayed at home and looked after my family. She was ignored by me for the best part of four years because I spent my time studying. I used to go home for a nap in the evening and wake up late to study into the middle of the night. I know that education pays but I watched as a teacher lone parent after lone parent taking up PLC courses and having to withdraw because of family commitments. I am saddened by this, particularly when crèches are closed or their funding is cut. If we are serious about providing educational opportunities – and I believe the Minister of State is – then we must open crèches in every college and further education centre. We must provide child care facilities to enable people to attain educational qualifications. The new president of TCD’s students’ union is in second chance education and she is an inspiration to us all. Flexible education must be provided. I recall visiting a centre in Finglas some years ago where the same syllabus was run three times a day and arrangements were made to enable lone parents to do the course at different times of the day. That worked and such arrangements need to be incentivised in order that those who want to return to education can do so. Let us stop talking about work. Young lone parents probably lack educational qualifications and skills to secure decent, well paid work and, therefore, we should concentrate a little more on education and training to enable them to return to the workforce and earn a salary that will make it possible for them to look after their children. It cuts me to the quick to hear people talking about lone parents starting up businesses. Where are they to find the few shillings to do this? I watched a lone parent on television the other night who had been left stuck for €180,000 after her husband took off. Where will she get money? The Minister of State is a good guy and the Department does a good job overall but let us not try to put a positive spin on the OPFP and the incentives that go with it. It is about forcing lone parents to find a goddamned job and to stop living off the State.  That is the undercurrent that underpins this. When we start talking about incentivising people with children as young as seven to go out and find work, I cannot say a whole lot more about it. I just find the whole thing totally depressing. I am sorry I did not take the time to write a really meaningful speech on this but it breaks my heart, really and truly. Senator Jim D’Arcy:   I welcome this discussion on lone parents and note that one in four families with children in Ireland is a lone-parent family, including my own, I might add. I know what it is like to try to raise children on one’s own. Lone parents need and are entitled to every possible support. The vast majority of lone parents whom I deal with continually do an excellent job in child rearing, often in very difficult circumstances. I got an e-mail today from somebody who was giving out to me, anticipating that I was going to vote for marriage equality, which I am, and saying that the family with the father and the mother is the best family in the world, there is no family that comes near it and it is the one to go for. I know most two-parent families with the father and the mother are great families but a lot happened in dark Ireland in the 1950s and around that time in some of these supposedly wonderful families. My youngest daughter was in “Juno and the Paycock” the other night, where she was playing Mrs. Tancred. In the last lines of that play, the wee girl asks her mother, Juno, what the child will do without a dad. Juno replies, “It’ll have what’s far better- it’ll have two mothers”. That might be a good thing for the coming referendum. We recognise that despite significant levels of investment, including an estimated €607 million in 2015, the one-parent family scheme has not been successful in preventing lone parents from being significantly more at risk of poverty than the population as a whole. Support for lone parents needs to be updated in order to provide greater levels of opportunity for them and their children. Things are not perfect but nothing can be taken in isolation. The shocking economic circumstances of recent years have meant that while social transfers were maintained at 2007 levels, despite adjustments in other areas, it was not possible to add as much value as wished. Now the situation is improving, with the efforts of the Government and the people, and more jobs are being created, things are coming back on the right track and we can begin to look forward. I hear talk of a second free child care year, which I would welcome very much. The Government has taken several steps to ease the transition of affected lone parents from one-parent family payment, including the introduction of the jobseeker’s allowance transitional payment, creating for the first time the opportunity for lone parents to have access to a case officer on a one-to-one basis to agree their own personal development plan. The personal development plans for children in schools have had a major and positive effect on the education of children. They have stopped them from being isolated in the classroom and have given them a focus and a way forward. My daughter is not working in Dunnes Stores but she is working in Mace and she is very happy with her 20 to 25 hours. She gets enough to do her. If she handed up a wee bit more, I would be even happier. I keep telling her to hand it all up and she will get it all back, like my mother used to tell me, but it does not work these days. We have to look at new ways in education. The Acting Chairman knows one of the CEOs of the new education and training boards, Mr. Martin O’Brien, who is amazing at coming forward with flexible forms of education. I am sure that is the same in most of the ETBs. I recognise the great work the Government is doing and has done in difficult circumstances and the moves forward we have made. There is work to be done and that work should focus on enhancing not just the economic status but also the self-esteem of lone parents, particularly young lone parents. I quite often deal with young lone parents in regard to housing and other issues. We must value them as people and give them a way forward. I urge the Minister and the Government to continue to enhance their work in that regard. Acting Chairman (Senator Diarmuid Wilson):   Before I call our next speaker, I welcome Deputy Frank Feighan and his guests to the Visitors Gallery. I hope it is not a case of Deputy Feighan looking for his old seat back in this House. The Deputy is very welcome. Senator David Cullinane:   I would warmly welcome as many Fine Gael Deputies back into the Seanad as possible, Acting Chairman. Senator Jim D’Arcy:   Senator Cullinane will not be here. Senator David Cullinane:   I welcome the Minister and welcome the opportunity to have this debate. It is not often I disagree with Senator D’Arcy and it is not often I criticise him in this House, but I have to say I found his remarks in regard to the Dunnes Stores workers to be quite flippant. The reality is that those workers are at the moment being exploited by an employer and there are many people on low-hours contracts who do not want to be on them and who should be working full-time. I do not think we should be flippant about it. It is not just the Dunnes Stores workers. There are many workers in the hospitality sector, the tourism sector and in other sectors, such as administration and child care, who work for low pay. It is interesting that the majority of those who are working in low-paid jobs are women. We see from the EUROSTAT figures and its report, from the OECD report, from the TASC report and from all of the reports which look at low pay that the majority of those workers are women. It is difficult to congratulate this Government on anything it has done for lone parents. What we have seen from this Government since it came into office have been cruel and savage cuts to the most vulnerable in society, in particular lone parents but also their children. It is also impossible not to be cynical about its crude and dysfunctional so-called activation measures which brutally compel lone parents to seek employment. Budget after budget, from the moment this Government took office, it has targeted lone-parent families.  I sat in this Chamber when the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection, Deputy Burton, talked about changes to lone parent payments whereby the payment would cease when the child was aged over seven years. I was here when she said she would not follow through on the proposal unless there was serious investment in child care to provide proper, affordable and accessible child care for all citizens. She went ahead anyway, although we have had nothing like the investment in child care that we need. Child care is the most significant barrier for many lone parents, particularly women but some men also. Although it is one of the most serious issues, the Government has done little to deal with it. The Minister disallowed lone parents on community employment schemes from retaining a partial payment from the one-parent family scheme. She eliminated the half-rate payments lone parents had been able to receive on certain social insurance schemes. She abolished the six-month transitional OPF payment and ended the disregard for income in respect of home help, which was work in which many lone parents engaged. She cut the earnings disregard for lone parents in low-paid employment from €146.50 to €90. Lone parents were also hit by her cuts to the fuel allowance, the hike in the contribution towards rent supplement, and cuts to the back to school clothing and footwear allowance and child benefit. Almost all the secondary benefit cuts the Government has made have primarily hit women and lone parents. In budget after budget and cut after cut, those who had the least to give and had nothing to do with causing the economic crisis were hit. Lone parents are a very good example of this. The Tánaiste has continued to reduce the cut-off age for the OPF payment scheme and intends dropping it to just seven years in July. The reduction in the cut-off age to seven years will see almost 12,000 lone parents suffer a financial loss of up to €86 per week, which is a huge amount of money for lone parents, which they cannot afford to lose. Some 6,400 lone parents will lose up to €36.50 per week, 4,500 lone parents will lose up to €57 per week and 800 lone parents who are also carers will lose a staggering €86 per week. The only lone parents who will suffer an immediate financial loss from the move are those who are already in work. Although the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection is aware of all this, she continues to pretend that the reason for her crusade against lone parents is that she wants them to move into work. This is a very crude way for the Minister to go about it. Although many lone parents would love to be able to work and want to get back into employment, the jobs are not there. They are the very people who go into low-paid jobs. There is a huge amount of in-work poverty and many poverty traps, about which we spoke earlier today. When they return to work, they lose many of the benefits and social security supports they had, and it does not pay. There was a time when getting a job was the best route out of poverty. However, a recent OECD report showed that 20% of workers in the State are in low-paid jobs, and 14% of workers, mainly women, suffer from multiple deprivation and in-work poverty. These are staggering figures. Senator Jim D’Arcy talked about looking forward, and we hear from the Government about economic recovery. We should celebrate economic recovery, which we all want. We want as much wealth as possible. There is no quarrel about it. The quarrel is about what we do with the money when we have it. In the previous budget, the Government cut the top rate of tax by 1% for those who needed it least, while doing precious little for those who have borne the brunt of savage cut after cut. This is the unfairness many people see in the Government’s policy choices. Although it gives nobody any pleasure to criticise the Government, it is very difficult to commend the Government or say anything good about what it has done for lone parents when the reality is the opposite. Lone parents have been targeted and penalised, and have suffered and borne the brunt of cut after cut by the Government. If we are to have a recovery and celebrate it, and if the Government wants people to feel the effects of it, we could target lone parents, lift them out of poverty and put in place measures that deal with the reality of their lives. I suggest the Government do this in the next budget as a priority. Senator Ivana Bacik:   I welcome the Minister and commend Senators Zappone, van Turnhout and the others who have proposed the motion and given us the opportunity to debate this important issue. I commend the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection, Deputy Burton, on the reform measures she has introduced. I second the amendment to the motion, if that is necessary. Senator Moloney, who has a long track record of working on the issue, has already spoken on behalf of the Labour Party group in the House. The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Education and Social Protection, under the chairmanship of Deputy Tuffy, has done a great deal of work on the issue. Given that there has been much empty rhetoric in the House, I will make three key points on which we can all agree. First, it is important to acknowledge the diversity of lone parents. They are not a homogenous group and it is important that we do not stigmatise or stereotype lone parents by referring to all lone parents as poverty-stricken or stuck for a few shillings. Census figures tell us that more than 200,000 family units with children are headed by lone parents, comprising over 18% of family units and 25% of family units with children. As of January 2015, there are 69,773 recipients of the lone family payment. According to the data available, 42% of lone parents are at work, and this is the principal economic status of lone parents. It is important to point out that there is a very broad diversity of lone parents and that we should not stereotype or stigmatise them in any way. Everybody who has spoken agrees that the current system of payment is not working. The system was introduced in 1997 to replace what had previously been the unmarried mothers’ allowance. The unmarried mothers’ allowance was very progressive when it was originally introduced to bring single mothers out of the poverty trap, enable them to rear children alone and replace the appalling situation for lone parents which involved mother and baby homes, women being forced to give babies up for adoption, women travelling to England to have babies there and the dreadful stigmatising of lone parents that took place right up until the 1980s. The genesis of the lone parent allowance has been very progressive. However, everybody acknowledges that the current one-parent family payment has not succeeded in bringing single-parent families out of the poverty trap. Everybody has pointed out that unacceptable levels of poverty remain among lone-parent families. Even during the height of the economic boom, lone-parent families were at much more risk of consistent poverty than the population as a whole, and we must acknowledge this. Reform was necessary, and was recommended in the 2006 report on proposals for supporting lone parents, five years before the Government took office. The report recommended a time limit for receipt of payments and that lone parents should be engaged with in a systematic manner to facilitate movement to education, training and employment. We can all agree on my third point, which is, as Senator Moloney put it so succinctly, that the best way out of poverty and social exclusion is through education and employment and that keeping people out of the labour force and away from employment opportunities for long periods of time is no more than a welfare and poverty trap. The aim of these reforms is to reduce long-term welfare dependency for lone-parent families by ending the expectation that lone parents will remain outside the workforce for ten or more years. This is very important for all of us. We are all conscious, from our personal and family experience, of the vital importance of education and employment opportunities in order to enable people to escape poverty and welfare traps. It is difficult to listen to Sinn Féin’s views on the issue given that the party is in government in Northern Ireland and that similar reforms were introduced across the UK some time ago. Income support for lone parents in the UK ceases when the youngest child reaches the age of five. There has been a general move across Europe away from long-term and unconditional support towards more active engagement and work activation measures of the sort that have been introduced here. We must all agree with it in principle. I cannot see how anybody could support the current system without some measure of reform.  We know the reforms began to be introduced on a phased basis before the Government took office. I pay tribute to the Minister and the Oireachtas committee for seeking to ensure the reforms were impacted in a way that was positive and did not lead to income loss. Two issues have been raised and there is a critique of the reforms. The first is access to child care and the Government has put a very significant amount of money in place to ensure there is support for child care programmes but there is not sufficient affordability and accessibility of child care. I speak as a parent of young children and a user of child care services. I know the cost of child care and it is a major issue the Government must do more on. I am hopeful the Government will do more on this during the year to come. The other issue raised was the minority of lone parents affected by the loss of income in July because they are already on the family income supplement and have reached the cut-off age for the one parent family payment. Deputy Joanna Tuffy has engaged with this issue through the committee she chairs and has pointed out that all those transitioning to the jobseeker’s transitional allowance, who are working fewer than 19 hours, are in the group about whom there should be most concern and with whom there should be the greatest engagement. Deputy Tuffy pointed out on that lone parents currently on the one parent family payment can improve their access to income if working hours are increased to 19 hours. Deputy Tuffy has provided an example of a lone parent of three children who, if she increased her hours from 15 hours to 19 and moved from the jobseeker’s transitional payment to the family income supplement and the back to work dividend, she would be better off by up to €200 per week. It is important there is engagement with those most affected. The reforms brought forward envisage extensive engagement, increased opportunity to engage with education, training and employment supports and services and aim to develop the skill set of lone parents with the aim of securing access to employment in the first place. Others have pointed out the need for access to education and training in the first place, which is also very important. The role of employers is very important and Senator Moloney referred to providing incentives for employers to provide school hours employment. The level of school hours employment, of 20 hours, covers the time when children above seven years are in school and this is the kind of employment we are looking at. Marks & Spencer’s does this and it is also possible in the Civil Service. We must examine ways of doing this. We should also provide for crèches in workplaces. Trinity College Dublin is a good example of a workplace that has provided a crèche for a long time and others paid tribute to the incoming president of Trinity College Dublin student union, Lynn Ruane, who is returning to education. Across third level, we see a strong commitment to provide child care facilities but it must be supported further and more strongly by the Government. Senator Cáit Keane:   This is a most important subject because, when speaking about lone parents, we are speaking about children as well. I welcome some lone parents and some children to the Gallery. Bringing in children shows that child care is important. It is amazing that reforms meant to do such good have raised such public debate and fear among lone parents. When putting in place reform, it is important to spell out why it is being done. According to the media, it is all about cutting money from lone parents. The benefits of what this is supposed to do, what it hopefully will do, are not being enunciated. I hope the debate today will ensure the Minister of State gets what needs to be done, clarified and changed. The aims of the reform were to provide the necessary support to help lone parents gain the necessary training, education and employment and to develop their skills. Any lone parent has no objection to that objective because that is what people want for themselves. If their children are gone back to school and are not babies, most lone parents I know would love to go back to training and education and to be helped to do so. That is the objective of this. Perhaps the wrong message is going out. The reform should also reduce long-term social welfare dependency. No parent wants to be that way but the current system helps them to be that way and to be unemployed and on long-term payments for so long. The figures show that this is not working. The current system is not working for parents and they are the most important element, as are the children. Significant investment has been put in, including €1 billion per year from 2008 but has failed to prevent lone parents from being in consistent poverty. We saw the poverty rating two weeks ago, with lone parents working out much worse than anyone else. This particularly applies to women and 87% of lone parents are women. That is a debate that another Senator raised. In 2004, lone parents were four and a half times more at risk of consistent poverty compared to the population as a whole. They must be helped out of poverty. We must help everyone out of poverty but lone parents in particular because they are vulnerable and the children are vulnerable. Looking at examples from across the globe, we see New Zealand, the Netherlands and United Kingdom, where the equivalent of lone parent support ceases when the youngest child is aged five. There is an important caveat, which is child care. I hope the Minister of State, the Tánaiste, Deputy Joan Burton, and the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Deputy James Reilly, are listening. I have spoken about child care ad infinitum. Some 20 years ago, when I was on South Dublin County Council, I set up the first crèche in a local authority in Ireland. If we do not have child care, we will not facilitate people going back to work. The crèche was subsidised to get people, particularly women, into work and it was the first in Ireland. There are now a few of them. If there is not someone to mind their children, people cannot go back to work. We cannot put the cart before the horse and must provide for child care. Every Department must row in behind the idea and get child care in order. There are subsidies in place and I am sure the Minister of State will say that, with this reform, comes extended child care benefits for people on the family income supplement and the back to education allowance. We must acknowledge that the Tánaiste, Deputy Joan Burton, has done this and more subsidised places and funding are available. The family income supplement is reviewed annually and the Department recently amended the regulations allowing family income supplement to increase automatically to offset the loss from the one parent family payment. Until I researched further, I did not realise that because it was not stated often. Parents thinking about transitioning from one scheme to the other and considering going back to education should have this made more clear to them. Parents are hearing that they will be worse off by a certain amount, regardless of the fact that 20,000 lone parents will experience no change and some will experience an increase. One example, which Senator Bacik referred to, is a person with three children earning €20 an hour. By increasing the number of hours worked from 15 to 19 and moving from the one parent family payment to the back to education allowance, the person will be better off by €185 per week. That is by increasing part-time employment by four hours and the child of seven years is in school so the parent does not need child care. The parent will be home from work at the time the child is home from school. We must examine the cohort of families with children who must be held to go back to work if they want to. No one will be forced and that is an important point. With regard to child care, parents in the home should be facilitated to make a choice.  I know the Minister, Deputy Reilly, is working on the question of whether the best place for children under one year of age is in child care or with their parents at home. The whole thing has to work together for the benefit of the everyone. As it stands, it is not working for anybody. It is not working for lone parents at all and they are the most important people. Money is being put into this area. The current state of poverty of lone parents means they need to be helped. That is our objective and I hope we will achieve it. I hope that by working with the Tánaiste and the Minister, Deputy Reilly, we can ensure a better system of child care is in place by the end of this year to help lone parents and everybody else who is facing this dilemma. The back to education scheme is also important. As another Senator said, education is the most important thing for lone parents. Senator Katherine Zappone:   This has been a very good debate. I thank the Tánaiste for her passionate and systematic outline of what she is doing and why she is doing it. I am also grateful to the Senators who spoke during the debate. We have demonstrated our common passion and respect for single parents. It is great to hear that coming from the Seanad. We accept that the reforms initiated by the Government are based on passion and respect for single parents. Our criticisms of some of those policies and our recommendations for change are also based on that. We do not think the Government has got it right yet. It has moved back from some of the changes it initiated. We think the Government needs to move back from more of them. Government Senators, in particular, put forward views during the debate about some of the things the Government is doing, but unfortunately those things do not really bridge the gaps we have identified. They are not putting food on the table or fuel in the tank. They are not ensuring quality child care is accessible. We will continue to argue that more needs to be done, particularly with regard to raising the rationale that underlies much of the policy. Many of us spoke about the importance of education and employment in terms of enabling people to get out of poverty. We mentioned the failure to provide for the child care that needs to be in place in order to support that. We will continue to say there is a need not only for education and jobs, but also for an acknowledgement that parental responsibility of care in a one-parent family is equivalent to that in a two-parent family. We do not believe lone parents should be compelled to go into full-time work after their youngest child has reached the age of 14, particularly in the absence of adequate and affordable quality child care supports. This is an example of where current Government policy is neither sufficient nor acceptable. I suppose we question some of the policies that are currently in place and have not been changed. While we acknowledge the decision to establish the jobseeker’s allowance transition payment in recognition of the care duties of those parenting alone whose children are between the ages of seven and 13, we believe the care duties of those parenting alone whose children are aged 14 and over are not recognised. This means the need and ability of each parent to balance care and work or education, and his or her freedom to make appropriate parenting choices, particularly in one-parent families, is not properly recognised. It is for that reason that we believe there is no equality of family status in this regard. We accept that the jobseeker’s allowance transition payment has been introduced, but it is important to remember that the income disregard which was put in place within that structure to facilitate additional child care costs is still lower than that which applies under the one-parent family payment. Some families will lose income as a result. We have based many of our arguments on the figures that we have drawn from our research. Those figures suggest that the lone parents who are losing out financially as a result of the way these changes are operating do not represent a small minority. This is affecting more than a small minority, particularly because we still do not have enough affordable and accessible child care arrangements for the parents of one-parent families. We accept and welcome that provision has been made for access to Intreo and to personal case officers, but we do not think there is any justification for cutting the income of working lone parents to pay for this. They already constitute the poorest group. There is less of a financial incentive for a lone parent to work because of child care costs. The only people who can avail of the back to work family dividend are those who can get their employers to agree to guaranteed contracts. Many lone parents work in the retail industry and are therefore caught in a trap of lower hours. We have already spoken about after-school places. Many speakers indicated that while they welcome the establishment of such initiatives, there has been poor take-up in some cases because they were not designed around parents’ needs. I would like to speak about the issue of education with specific reference to parents staying in full-time higher education. While there has been a move back from some of the changes that were made, it should be noted that those single parents who moved to the back to education allowance, as distinct from the jobseeker’s allowance transition payment, will not get a maintenance grant. We are concerned that access to education, especially higher education, for lone parents in the future may not be guaranteed for one-parent families. An active inclusion approach is welcome. We are welcoming that. However, we think that a failure to recognise adequately the responsibility of care for one-parent families is continuing to underlie all of the Government’s policies. It is being recognised in words, but not necessarily in terms of the actions that are required to acknowledge the caring responsibility of one-parent families. That is not happening yet. For example, we do not understand why it has been decided that 14 is the appropriate age at which payment transition should happen. We have heard the argument that the more time a single parent spends in part-time work, the less time it might take him or her to move out of poverty. We do not feel that the other side of our responsibility to one-parent families, in relation to their care, has been sufficiently acknowledged. I have reviewed the Government amendment carefully but I have not seen any statement that there will be any kind of review of policies. Our motion concluded by calling on the Government to “engage in a comprehensive review” in light of the concerns we have. I note and welcome the reference in the Tánaiste’s speech to two reviews that will be going on. The first review, to be carried out by Dr. Michelle Millar, will identify best practice in how to assist lone parents to improve their access to education and employment – we believe housing should also be included in this context – to ensure they have greater opportunities for their families. It seems that a second review will stem from her request to the Labour Market Council to specifically examine how employers can assist lone parents to increase their hours, thereby enabling them to qualify for family income supplement. My colleague with whom I have consulted and I share the hope that these two significant reviews will include a questioning of some of the fundamental assumptions which, as we have tried to point out, have been underlying the policies that have been adopted to date. Indeed, some of the changes brought about by this Government may to a certain extent have represented an acceptance of the incorrectness of those assumptions. I have decided that I will not push this to a vote. I assume the Government will agree that we can feed into those reviews and into the work of the joint committee, which has been mentioned by Senator Bacik and which I acknowledged in my earlier remarks, some of the more extensive recommendations that have come from working with lone parents and their families, particularly at the civic forum. This has been a fine debate. I am grateful and delighted to hear that there is a commitment to common respect for one-parent families, particularly single parents who have ambitions to earn, care and learn. As I said at the outset, this is necessary to enable them to participate in, and find their place in, the building of the Ireland that all the rest of us hope to have an opportunity to build. Amendment agreed to. Motion, as amended, agreed to.

Categories: Uncategorized

GOVT, CENTRAL BANK ALLOWS OVERCHARGING by BANKS!!

February 14, 2015 Leave a comment

UPDATE APRIL 13

FG-Lab government allowing banks an even greater rip-off-and now sending a water bill as well!!!

Banks expand profit margin on lending

Cliff Taylor, Irish Times, April 10

The profit margin banks take between the lending rates they charge households and the deposit rates they pay to savers has grown to 3.5 per cent, up from 1 per cent in 2012, according to new Central Bank figures.

Deposit rates have fallen along with European Central Bank rates, but interest rates charged on mortgages and consumer loans have remained high.

Update April 12

“If I was a borrower in any other Eurozone country, I would be paying as much as €400 less per month, with an interest rate of approximately 2.3pc. The “our blended cost of funds is too high” stock answer from the banks is simply not good enough. Irish SVR customers are being completely ripped off. It is immoral and unacceptable.”-Sara Hogan PTSB Variable Mortgage Holder, Sunday Independent, April 12

UPDATE APRIL 11

New Central Bank Figures published Today Show:

NEW MORTGAGE INTEREST RATES ARE ALSO  DOUBLE THE EUROZONE AVERAGE

Minister Noonan and government are responsible

The AGM of AIB is to take place shortly. As Government holds over 90% of the shares, Noonan can refuse to sanction continued overcharging of all variable mortgage holders both new and existing. He can sack the board of directors and elect a board that will reduce rates. But he will do neither because government want mortgage holders to complete the bank bail-out

Good detailed report in Irish Independent to-day on new Central Bank figures

http://www.independent.ie/business/irish/cost-of-mortgages-rises-as-we-pay-twice-eurozone-average-in-interest-31134110.html

Update April 10

Primetime/RTe News cover up Government Responsibility for Exorbitant Mortgage Rates and Decisions of Permanent TSB AGM held on Tuesday last.

I was naively hoping for an exposé of Government responsibility for the decision of the Permanent TSB AGM to continue exorbitant variable interest rates at double the average eurozone rate when I sat down to watch the Primetime programme las night. Silly me! The programme concentrated on the unfair decision of “the bank” to penalise existing variable rate customers. There was no reference to government responsibility.

In previous days RTE News avoided all attribution of PTSB AGM decisions to the holder of 99.2% of the shares-Minister for Finance Michael Noonan. The CEO was quoted as saying that Government “doesn’t interfere in commercial decisions” The bulletin failed to point out that o decision can be taken or fail to be taken without the consent of the 99.2% shareholder!

In fairness, Independent Newspapers has fully allocated responsibility to Michael Noonan for the PTSB decisions.   The true position is set out below.

Permanent TSB AGM: Noonan Refuses to Lower Variable Mortgage Rates

The AGM of PTSB was held yesterday. The state owns 99.2% of the shares in PTSB. Minister Noonan could have introduced a motion to lower variable rates, which at 4.5% are more than double the eurozone norm. He didn’t. He could have sacked the entire board of directors and put a new board in place with an instruction to reduce rates. He didn’t. Instead he approved the annual report which kept the rip-off rates in place and reappointed the existing board. Noonan says he is waiting for “research” from the central bank before calling in chief executives of banks on the matter. This is just spoof to cover up the continued crucifixion of borrowers by the FG/Lab government

At the AGM, Noonans representatives approve a plan to sell off a chunk of the states shareholding in PTSB for over 500 million, reducing the state holding to just over 50%.

This money will then be used to pay back money borrowed to fully compensate the billionaire investors (bond holders) who had approved policies which broke the bank.

Thus variable mortgage holders will continue to pay exorbitant rates to pay for the bank bail-out

When the restored bank is fully sold off to billionaire investors, they will then make profits on the backs of the Irish people until there is another bust. Then the citizenry will be asked to rescue them as before. So they have a risk free investment, a one way bet…..as long as any of the TROIKA parties FF, FG, Lab retain a veto on legislation by being part of a coalition government even as the minority party!!!

 

Update April 6

GOVERNMENT FACILITATES CARTEL TO KEEP UP MORTGAGE RATES

Minister Noonan as holder of over 90% share in AIB can remove all directors at AGM in 3 weeks time unless AIB has reduced variable mortgage  rates. But he is unlikely to do that. He has designated AIB and BoI as pillar banks. This has frightened off outside competition and Danske and Bank of Scotland has left. BoI and state owned AIB and Permanent TSB form a cosy cartel imposing rip-off rates. This situation has been facilitated by FG/Lab government in order to make variable mortgage holders and indebted small businesses to complete the bail out banks. Noonan could call a special AGM of state owned Permanent TSB and repeat the AIB exercise. Were AIB and Permanent TSB forced to reduce rates, all others would have to follow to avoid switching.

 BUT INSTEAD OF DOING THE ABOVE NOONAN IS SPOOFING ABOUT “RESEARCH” BY CENTRAL BANK. SHAME ON LABOUR FOR ALLOWING IT! SHAME ON ICTU FOR ALLOWING IT! WHAT IS SIPTU DES GERAGHTY DOING ON THE BOARD OF THE CENTRAL BANK?

Despit his abysmal record on banks during the boom, Shane Ross is good on this in Sunday Independent yesterday. Click Below:

http://www.independent.ie/opinion/columnists/shane-ross/noonan-could-help-variable-victims-but-he-wont-31118314.html

Update April 3

Fianna Fáil through the “blanket” bank guarantee forced the Irish people to bail-out the wealthy billionaires who owned the banks. It is sometmes forgotten that the “blanket” did not extend to those, including pensioners and redundant workers, who were advised to invest their lump sums in bank shares.

By continuing the FF measures  and by allowing  allowing banks to overcharge variable mortgage holders and small businesses for loans, Labour and Fine Gael are now forcing the public to pay for the bank bust.

However FF are now in opposition and are free to criticise FG and Lab on the rip-off interest rates.

All three Troika parties- FF, FG and Labour are responsible for ripping off the public and imposing austerity on the general citizenry.

Meanwhile the top 10,000 income tax payers continue to receive 595,000 per year each and the financial assets of the rich are now back above peak boom levels. (See Irish Super-Rich Awash with Money on this blog)

And the public will be paying twice for water and twice for local services  through the property tax to pay for the bank bail-out as well-and that’s not all!

The state is now paying 8 billion per year in interest on money borrowed to bail out billionaire bond-holders and to pay for the huge increase in unemployment and other costs caused by the bank bust

However Michael McGrath, FF Finace Spokesperson, neatly summed up the variable mortgage rip-off in an opinion piece in the Irish Independent to-day:

“Variable rate customers are typically paying 4-4.5pc on their mortgage.

The rates on sub-prime and buy-to-let loans are higher again.

The average rate in the euro area on new home loans is 2.3pc. The cost of funds for the banks(the rate of interest the bank pays to institutions which supply them with money to lend to the public-PH) in Ireland has fallen to between 1pc and 2pc.

Many variable rate customers are paying hundreds of euro extra each month because of excessive rates.

In simple terms, a 1pc difference in the interest rate on a €200,000 mortgage means an additional interest bill of €2,000 in a year.

People paying the marginal rate of tax need to earn €4,000 to come up with that money.”

 

Update April 2

Following their meeting yesterday, Minister Noonan and the Central Bank announced that the “CB will carry out research to find out why variable rates are so high” This is just spoof to buy time until the controversy dies down.

NO RESEARCH IS NEEDED TO CONCLUDE THAT THE BANKS WANT TO RAKE IN SUPER-PROFITS BY RIPPING OFF MORTGAGE HOLDERS

Government and Central Bank are just pretending that they have no power to lower rates.

For one thing the Government owns AIB and Permanent TSB and like any trader they can reduce prices if they wish. Competition would then force other banks to follow suit.

From Irish Independent to-day-Govt and Central Bank can Reduce Rates

“Consumer advocate Brendan Burgess of ASKABOUTMONEY.COM said it was not correct of the Government and the Central Bank to say they can do nothing about high rates.

“If the banks refuse to lower their variable rates, the Government should bring in powers to regulate rates, on the basis that it is an uncompetitive market.”

Mr Burgess said the discriminatory treatment of existing variable mortgage holders, compared with tracker holders and new buyers on introductory deals, must end.

He said this was a clear breach of the Central Bank’s Consumer Protection Code. The code demands banks treat all their customers equitably.”

Update April 2

Seamus Healy TD-Minister Kelly can bring in laws to take water charges from pay, pensions and other payments. But the government is refusing to make laws to end the 1 billion per year rip-off of variable mortgage holders by banks. Shame on Labour!

Noonan is meeting the Governor of the Central Bank today on the matter. He is just trying to pass the buck! In the Dáil, last night, he said the answer was to get new banks in to the system to increase competition!

Irish variable mortgage holders are being forced to pay for a second bail-out of the  the Banks including private banks such as ULSTER and Bank of Ireland which are owned by wealthy investors. Shame again on Labour!

From Irish Independent To-Day

http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/no-relief-for-300000-mortgage-holders-from-kenny-31112868.html

Taoiseach has no plans to force banks to reduce sky-high variable mortgage rates

No relief for 300,000 mortgage holders from Kenny

Charlie Weston

PUBLISHED02/04/2015 | 02:30

———————————————————————–

Update April 1

Update 11.45

Taoiseachs Honeyed words Masks Failure to End Rip Off Mortgage Rates

The Taoiseach has just said on RTE  that Banks should pass on reduced ECB interest rates to mortgage customers!

But he also said that the Government has no power in the matter!

 I repeat: The Government owns AIB and Permanent TSB

 Ministers Kelly and Hayes must insist that Minister Noonan use this ownership to reduce AIB and PTSB rates immediately and introduce legislation to force the hand of all banks—Seamus Healy TD

Variable mortgage holders deserted by Noonan

Prospects of a reprieve for hundreds of thousands of families struggling with punitive variable-rate mortgages have been dashed by the Government”.-Irish Independent Today April 1

Existing Mortgage Holders Paying up to 6000 Euro extra per year!

Government owns AIB and Permanent TSB but claims it cannot reduce rates!

Government Must Stop this Daylight Robbery Now!

Irish Variable Rate Mortgage Holders Being Overcharged by 1 Billion as Banks Rake in Super-Profits

Government and Central Bank Facilitate RIP-OFF

380,000 Irish variable mortgage holders paid an EXTRA 1 billion above their European counterparts in mortgage repayments in 2014.

AIB made 1.1 billion profit, Bank of Ireland made 920 million profit in 2014. Together with Ulster Bank the total profit came to 3 billion. Irish variable rate mortgage holders are paying typically 4.5% interest whereas our European Counterparts are paying almost 2% less!!

The difference is a 1 billion Euro PER YEAR  penalty for Irish mortgage holders!!!

The ECB wholesale money rate was held at 0.05% -almost zero, 2  weeks ago.

It is welcome that Banks have had to reduce rates to new customers to compete for business. But existing mortgage holders are being fleeced

During 2014, the robbery of bank customers increased. Though net lending to customers of the 3 banks fell by17 billion in 2014, the bank made more profit by increasing the difference between deposit rate and interest rates! David Doyle of investment firm ETX Capital said:”their return to profit has been aided by raising the interest rate margin on loans, reducing tracker mortgage exposure and lower savings deposit rates. (Sunday Independent March 8)

And now that house prices are rising banks are increasing applications for repossession of homes. The Court Service says that there are 7001 applications for repossession  before the courts and the Irish Mortgage Holders Association says that 25,000 homes will be repossessed this year if government does not intervene.

  • Last year state owned AIB repossessed 345 homes, Ulster Bank 500 and BoI 200 (Central Bank Report March 6,2015)

AIB, Permanent TSB and EBS are owned by the state. Dick Spring ,former Labour Party leader was on the board of AIB through 2014. The state own 15% of Bank of Ireland and has representatives on its governing council.

It is the duty of the Central Bank to police the Banks. It has the power to stop this robbery of mortgage holders  It is allowing it.

The government appoints the members of the board of the Central Bank. All the Irish elites are represented on it. But 380,000 variable mortgage holders are not represented.!!!!

I am calling on Ministers Kelly and Hayes to insist that the government stops this robbery Now!

Last month, the Financial Services Ombudsman was told by the High Court to look again at Danske Bank’s decision to hike its variable interest rate mortgages to more than 4pc when European Central Bank rates had plunged to almost zero.  Chief executive of the Consumers’ Association Dermott Jewell has now advised variable rate mortgage holders to complain to  the Financial Services Ombudsman of overcharging by providers.

Having firstly complained to the bank , aggrieved people can make a complaint by clicking https://www.financialombudsman.ie/complaints-process/submitting.asp?m=2.

Advice can be sought from http://thecai.ie/

Those threatened with repossession should contact the Irish Mortgage Holders Association or The Phoenix Project, Port Laoise

Seamus Healy TD  087-2802199

 

UPDATE MARCH 5,2015

AIB published its annual report today. After BoI, state owned AIB made a billion + by overcharging variable rate customers-by 2% above European Norm with connivance of government and Central BANK

Coincidentally, also today, the European Central Bank kept the central bank’s benchmark interest rate at 0.05 per cent following a meeting in Nicosia, the Cypriot capital. The Irish variable interest rate is 4.5%+ while the wholesale rate at which all European Banks are borrowing from the European Central Bank is now 0.05%-almost Zero. Why wouldn’t they be making large profits?. Variable interest rates in the other Eurozone countries are almost 2% below the Irish RATE.

UPDATE FEB 26 BOI make 921 million Profit in 2014—RIP- OFF of Irish Variable Mortgages Holders  Continues with Connivance of Central Bank and Government http://www.irishtimes.com/business/financial-services/bank-of-ireland-reports-pre-tax-profit-of-921m-for-2014-1.2119828 FEB 14   High Court judgment forces the ombudsman to reconsider a decision on Danske Bank to push up variable rates. (Irish Independent-see article below) Government is now forcing Irish Mortgage holders to Recapitalise the Banks  Variable Rate Mortgage Holders Overcharged in Ireland. Following the court judgement, all variable rate mortgage holders should complain to financial services ombudsman about overcharging by Irish Banks Variable rate mortgage holders are paying an interest rate which is almost 2% higher than the Eurozone average. The Irish interest rate is 4.5%+ while the wholesale rate at which all European Banks are borrowing from the European Central Bank is now 0.05%-almost Zero Around half of all new mortgages are supplied by the three banks fully owned by the Irish state – AIB, EBS and Ptsb.  So an arm of the state is overcharging its customers by around €500m a year for new mortgages alone. When overcharging by all Banks trading in Ireland and all variable rate mortgage holders are included, it is clear that Irish Banks are making approximately 1 billion Euro per year in unjustified extra or super profits This is being allowed by the Current Central Bank with full compliance by the Government. The previous Central Bank Board assisted the Banks in general in wrecking the country by issuing totally incorrect Financial Stability Reports each year NOW the current CENTRAL BANK is allowing banks to rip off their customers to repair their balance sheets. Government is totally agreeable to this as their “game changer” agreement that the ECB would retrospectively  recapitalise Irish Banks has vanished into thin air. Government is now forcing Mortgage holders to Recapitalise the Banks   Irish Independent Feb 14 2015 High Court judgment forces the ombudsman to reconsider a decision of Danske Bank to push up variable rates.   Thousands of people with expensive variable-rate mortgages are expected to take cases to the financial services ombudsman to get their interest rates reduced. It follows a High Court judgment forcing the ombudsman to reconsider a decision on Danske Bank to push up variable rates. Chief executive of the Consumers’ Association Dermott Jewell said he now expected huge numbers of people with variable-rate mortgages to take cases to the ombudsman. He was speaking after the Financial Services Ombudsman was told by the High Court to look again at Danske Bank’s decision to hike its variable interest rate mortgages to more than 4pc when European Central Bank rates had plunged to almost zero. Yesterday the ECB maintained its rate at 0.05pc. The ombudsman had thrown out a complaint by a North County Dublin couple that the bank had acted wrongly in increasing interest rates on six buy-to-let investment mortgages and the couple’s family home mortgage at a time when rates had fallen to historically low levels. Mr Justice Gerard Hogan ruled as ambiguous a clause in Danske Bank’s terms and conditions which stated that rates of interest would be altered in response to market conditions. The judge said Kenneth and Donna Millar, of Strand Road, Portmarnock, Co Dublin, have seven mortgage accounts, including a residential mortgage, with Danske all of which were currently being serviced and none of which were in arrears. Their complaint related to the manner in which Danske Bank purported to increase the rate under the terms and conditions that applied to the mortgages and the ombudsman had found the bank had acted in accordance with those conditions. David Hall of the Irish Mortgage Holders’ Organisation said the High Court ruling had the potential to impact on thousands of cases. Some 320,000 homeowners are on variable rates, which are among the highest in the eurozone, with another 60,000 people are estimated to have buy-to-let mortgages on variable rates. Mr Hall called on the Comptroller and Auditor General and the Dail’s Public Accounts Committee to conduct an investigation into the operation of the ombudsman’s office. The ombudsman has admitted that he finds in favour of banks in seven out of 10 cases, but has no choice in most cases. The judge said a number of banks had clauses in their mortgage contacts which implied that the variable rate would reflect the ECB rate, or market rates, which he said here also very low. Danske’s variable rate is 4pc, after it increased by almost 1pc in 2011. An ombudsman spokesman said it was reviewing the judgment. Irish Independent

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