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Minister calls Adams "a man who takes off socks to count to 20" after RTÉ interview

With polling just eight days away, tensions are high.

RTÉ Radio 1 / SoundCloud

GERRY ADAMS HAS been angry about what he perceives as an anti-Sinn Féin bias in RTÉ in recent days.

However, when he was in the national broadcaster’s studio today for an interview with Sean O’Rourke, he didn’t sound thrilled with the coverage.

The veteran broadcaster and Sinn Féin leader went toe-to-toe in a tetchy 33-minute debate.

Adams denied that he was “misleading” the public on his claim that people will save €260 on water charges under a Sinn Féin government.

O’Rourke said that he was presenting “simple arithmetic” which Adams did not accept.

When Adams spoke about the fiscal space, the exchange became more heated.

Adams: Fine Gael fiddled the books, Fianna Fáil cooked the books and pretended that they had €2 billion that they didn’t have. What they’re doing…

O’Rourke: (Talking over Adams) I want to get into the detail of what this means for ordinary people.

Adams: Yes, Sean, don’t shout me down. What we want to do is make sure that each of those stinking, miserable, mean-spirited little cuts is reversed.

O’Rourke: I won’t shout you down if you don’t waffle.

Adams: I’ll try not to waffle, but I have to be able to articulate my position.

Adams went on to pledge the repeal of water and property taxes as well as universal health care.

Thomas 'Slab' Murphy court case Niall Carson Niall Carson

O’Rourke accused Adams of “dealing in broad brush strokes” while he was “trying to get into specifics”.

He asked Adams what a person who had health insurance here and did not have “rich friends in America willing to pay for their treatment” – a reference to Adams’ taking private medical care in the US in 2013 – would do.


The pair continued to clash as Adams outlined the broad ideas behind Sinn Féin’s manifesto, with O’Rourke pushing for examples.

O’Rourke put it to Adams that under Sinn Féin’s plan, two teachers, married to each other, with posts of responsibility and salaries of €70,000 each would be less taxed than a worker on €120,000.

NI Executive crisis PA Wire / Press Association Images PA Wire / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

Adams said that high earners would pay 7% tax on earnings above €100,000. He then said it would be closer to 59%, before challenging O’Rourke to “interview people on the street who cannot afford to eat”, before turning the conversation to medical cards.

O’Rourke accused Adams of being “confused”, a charge the Sinn Féin leader denied.

Pay your way

Adams said that he was not against wealth, but wanted any surplus to be used to build infrastructure.

The two then ended up back on the issue of the tax rate.

Adams: We would ensure that self-employed people have the same opportunity to grow their sector the same way as multi-nationals.

O’Rourke: And part of your policy is, where self-employed people are concerned, is to increase the marginal tax rate to 62% because you’re going to increase their PRSI liability to 15.75%. People will be going is it any wonder that Slab Murphy puts all the money in the shed and hides it away in cash.

Adams: Sean, that’s a cheap shot and you know it, you’re better than that. This is a document which is 50 pages long, you obviously haven’t studied it as well as you should have.

O’Rourke: I read it and your Budget document last night as it happens.

Adams: Maybe you should have read it long before that.

O’Rourke: What’s your point?

Adams: We will not increase PRSI for anyone other than employers who employ people earning above €100,000.

Adams said that Sinn Féin would propose a referendum on either side of the border on Irish unity. He added that he would be remaining as leader of Sinn Féin as long as the party, his health and family allowed.

Count to 20

Labour junior minister Ged Nash said the interview showed Adams had “little or no concept of the marginal tax rate.

Given ample opportunities to clarify his party’s position, Gerry Adams didn’t even recognise the extent of his errors and dismissed any such questioning.

“This is a man who has to take his shoes off to help him count to 20.”

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