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Today’s Leaders’ Questions, which was scheduled for 30 minutes, was drawn out by questions on the renting plan and a report on tax evasion released by Oxfam.

In a plan released yesterday afternoon by Simon Coveney, a cap on rent increases in the designated zones to 4% per year over a three year period was announced.

Today, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin said that the plan didn’t go far enough to control spiralling rent costs, and ensure there homes for people.

Meanwhile, Independent TDs Stephen Donnelly and Maureen O’Sullivan addressed allegations against the government in a report by Oxfam Ireland.

“Tá d’am caite,” says the Dáil chairman after Mícheál Martin delivers a very long, roundabout question, signalling the first in a long series of warnings for TDs to hurry up.

Enda Kenny answers his questions around the cap of rents to 4% in certain areas. Kenny says there needs to be “a reasonable return on investment”, that the rate chosen by the government is 20% lower than in previous decades in the country’s history, and the rate is less than half of the current rental rise nationally.

He hammers home the point by going over time himself, and comparing rent capped rates globally:

  • Germany – 20%
  • New York – 7.5%
  • Sweden – 5%

micheal 14 Source: Oireachtas

Micheál says that consultations on the plan were very late, and the focus on Cork and Dublin is far too great (he previously listed rising rent rates in areas outside of Dublin and Cork).

After another long question and another chiding for Micheal Martin by the chairman, Enda says that the start will be with those two areas, and it will spread to others eventually (pending feedback, you’d assume).

Fiery questioning from Gerry Adams as per usual.

“You’re actually publishing more reports than you’re building houses,” he says, saying that they’ve failed on their approach through their rent cap proposal.

He says 90 amendments were suggested by Sinn Fein TD Eoin Ó Broin, including one on rent certainty, which was voted down.

“Do the right thing and introduce rent certainty, not rent punishment,” he says, before sitting back down.

Gerry Adams seems most delighted with the fact that he’s finished within his allocated time.

mairead Source: Oireachtas TV

Maureen O’Sullivan brings up ‘tax injustice’ and tax evasion.

“If we’re serious about eliminating poverty, we have to look at tax systems for corporations.”

Our role and reputation internationally will be undermined unless we commit to tax justice, she says.

Those on the lowest incomes benefitted most from the last Budget, begins Kenny, citing figures released this morning by a government-backed report.

We are fully compliant with tax regulations, says Kenny. He rejects Oxfam’s assertion in their annual report that their corporate tax rate of 12.5% is part of their tax haven status, saying that the rate is in line with the OECD, and is only available on trading profits.

We have not been and we will never be a brass plate economy, he says emphatically.

Stephen Donnelly Source: Oireachtas TV

Stephen Donnelly addresses the Oxfam report as well. He analyses three of the allegations they made, and rejects two of them:

  • “Corporation tax rate is too low” – Donnelly says that’s none of their business
  • “Ireland facilitates large scale profit sharing” – he agrees with the government that progress has been made.

On the third charge, he says they’re “on the money”.

He says that certain companies aren’t obliged to publish their accounts, meaning we don’t know how much tax they’ve avoided.

He says that these companies are defined by four criteria, and foreign landlords meet three of these criteria. Does Enda approve of the accounts not being published?

 

Enda first thanks Stephen Donnelly for his work on the Finance Bill, which looked at addressing transparency around tax payments.

He was then asked to table a bill, which would ensure vulture funds and other organisations would have to publish their accounts so “TDs, journalists and politicians can see what they’re doing.”

No commitment made by Enda, but he thanks Stephen for his work on the Finance Bill, and his questions.

brian stack 2 Source: Oireachtas TV

An Taoiseach corrects a statement he made in the Dáil on the 6 December, where he said that Gerry Adams drove the sons of murdered prison officer Brian Stack in a blacked out van.

Following a letter from Gerry Adams, Kenny clarified that Gerry Adams drove his own car, and the blacked out van was driven by someone else.

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