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Michael Lowry and the Finance Bill: his statement in full

The full text of Michael Lowry’s statement on his opposition to the Finance Bill, which may now fail to survive the Dáil.

The full text of a statement released this afternoon by Michael Lowry TD, explaining his current opposition to the Finance Bill.

The past week has witnessed the dramatic collapse of the authority of the Taoiseach and the Government. It is unprecedented for there to be a mass resignation of Ministers and it is unprecedented for a Taoiseach not to be able to appoint Ministers.

This power vacuum, at a time of national economic crisis, is made all the worse by the internal disarray of the Fianna Fáil party and the destabilising and irresponsible ‘half in – half out’ performance of the Green Party since last November.

As a result, the Government is left with a critical lack of authority. In fact, it is devoid of the necessary authority and credibility to put any legislation before the Oireachtas. Deputy Lowry said that we have witnessed from this Government mind boggling blunders and illogical and irrational decisions by the Green Party.

Deputy Lowry stated that he had on Tuesday morning held discussions with An Taoiseach Brian Cowen and Minister Brian Lenihan. He told the Taoiseach that it was almost impossible, even in the national interest, to support a crippled Government.

Deputy Lowry informed the Taoiseach that he would not support the Finance Bill in its present format. He requested the Taoiseach at today’s cabinet meeting change elements of the bill.

Deputy Lowry requested changes in the following areas;
Universal social charge, under this measure no exemption has been made for the most vulnerable from a medical or financial perspective. Deputy Lowry has asked that medical card holders be exempted from the universal social charge. Retired civil servants have already taken a cut in their pensions previous to this. In the past they paid a reduced rate of health levy. They are now unfairly expected to shoulder the additional burden of the universal social charge. I believe this is unfair and unjust.

Deputy Lowry also asked the Taoiseach to rethink the decision to bring forward the Preliminary Tax Payment date from the 31st October to the 30th September. This will only increase difficulties for the already hard-pressed self-employed sector this year.

Thirdly, the Finance Bill does not allow for the taxation set off of student fees against income. This will place a further burden on students and parents.

Deputy Lowry has said that it is impossible to justify the omission of the purposed punitive 90% tax on obscene banker’s bonuses. This measure is not included because of the time restrictions on the passage of the Bill insisted on by Labour and Fine Gael.

The Finance Bill is the most important piece of legislation in the entire year and it is totally inappropriate for it to be rushed through in 3 days. This legislation affects every citizen in the state because it mandates the levying of taxation measures. The result of the mad rush, as already anticipated by Tax Lawyers and Accountants, will be flawed tax legislation, bad law and inadequate consideration of provisions which will hurt the vulnerable.

The blatant cynicism and political opportunism of the Labour Party in particular has been laid bare by their repeated declarations that (a) the Finance Bill has to be passed in the National Interest but (b) we are not going to vote for it. For political advantage, they want to see the Finance Bill passed by the outgoing Government so that they can avoid electorally unpalatable decisions and so that the in-coming Government can continue to play the blame game, both during and after the General Election.

It’s now time for Labour and others to walk the walk – to unveil during a 3-4 week election campaign what their economic solutions are for Ireland. Its time for the electorate to be given the choice. Its time for the people to be allowed decide whether they can cope with Fine Gael’s medicine for the economy, whether they can swallow Labour’s delusional pills and for the economic policies of all parties to be placed on the table.

Within a month, this Country can have a new Government with a likely large majority. The delay is relatively insignificant and logistically, bringing in the Finance Bill should not pose a problem for them but in the meantime, the electorate deserves to have an opportunity to hear from Labour and Fine Gael precisely what they propose to do. Let those who expect to be the decision-makers put their cards on the table.
In the coming week, I will not participate in a charade designed, not for the National Interest, but staged by those who want to gain party political advantage against a background of a collapsed and powerless Government. Stability needs to be restored and the only way that can happen is for a General Election to be called immediately.

I honoured my arrangements with the Government and in fairness the Government have delivered on its commitments to me. I have seen the Government unravel and disintegrate. I’ve witnessed the mind boggling blunders that have been made. I have watched the irrational behaviour and illogical decisions of the Green Party.

I supported the Government that at that time had leadership, direction, economic policies and cohesion. I never committed to condone the show sopping antics of the Green Party. I have no obligation or responsibility to now support a dysfunctional government. I am not culpable or in any way to blame for the sequence of politic events which have crippled this Government. In the national interest I read out my position on elements contained in the Finance Bill.

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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