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Thursday 21 September 2023 Dublin: 11°C
RTÉ Father Peter McVerry on Upfront with Katie Hannon
# Income Tax
Peter McVerry says Varadkar has his 'priorities wrong' when it come to tax cuts
‘My priority, if you have €1.5 billion to give away, are the hundreds of thousands struggling to make ends meet,’ McVerry said.

FATHER PETER MCVERRY has said that Fine Gael’s recent push for tax cuts for middle earners prioritises the least vulnerable in society.

Three Fine Gael ministers published an opinion article in the Irish Independent last week which called for a full-time worker on a wage of €52,000 to get €1,000 back in tax relief in the next budget.

This weekend, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that the measure, which is estimated to cost €1.5 billion, was “very much in line with Fine Gael policy”.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Upfront with Katie Hannon last night, McVerry was asked if he agreed with what Varadkar called his “priority of making sure people can buy their own home.”

“I disagree with that,” McVerry said.

“Clearly that’s his priority. But I think he’s saying ‘it’s not a great priority for me those people who are renting and paying extraordinary rents, those 9,000 households who are facing eviction from their home.”

“Those homeless people who would love to have a social housing house to move into. Clearly he’s saying those are not the priority for him. They would be my priority.

“It seems like the old conservative ideology that has long since been discredited that if you help those at the top, the benefits will trickle down to those at the bottom. That doesn’t work and never did work.”

McVerry said that if the government wanted to help end the housing crisis, it should implement the 1973 Kenny Report, which aims to reduce the cost of land for building homes.

The report recommended allowing the High Court to created “Designated Areas” near urban centres where local authorities could compulsorily buy land for low costs in order to use it for housing.

“One third of the cost of a house is based on the cost of the land it is built on, that is due to land speculation. The Kenny Report cut out land speculation. A €450,000 house could come down to €300,000 if it was implemented.

“It’s never even discussed at government, it seems like the elephant in the room,” he said.

When asked about the tax measures suggested by Fine Gael, McVerry said: 

“I don’t begrudge anybody getting an extra few bob, but the people prioritised by the Taoiseach, very few of those are concerned about buying food for their children, or heating their home, or replacing the washing machine if it breaks.”

“My priority, if you have €1.5 billion to give away, are the hundreds of thousands struggling to make ends meet.”

Kieran O’Donnell, Fine Gael Minister for State at the Department of Housing, claimed that the tax measure would benefit 1.9 million people.

“Someone making more than €40,00 at the moment is paying a 40% marginal rate. We believe that is too high,” he said.

“We believe what is in the programme for government, that when the economy is growing, we’d look to bring about tax cuts for middle income earners.”

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