A Ceann Comhairle,
I welcome the opportunity to speak before the house this evening.
As everyone on both sides of the house is aware a fair, efficient and competitive income tax system is vital for not only economic growth but also job creation. Since this country was plunged into economic chaos by the reckless policies of the previous Fianna Fail led Government our citizens have gone through probably the worst financial crisis in the history of the state. Over 300,000 jobs were lost, our economic reputation was in shreds, we were losing the youngest and brightest of our citizens to emigration and we had lost our financial independence.
In the 4 years since we took office we have turned this situation round. Today we can stand here and say that:
- We have regained our financial independence and seen the back of the Troika.
- Over 100,000 new jobs have been created and by 2018 we are on track to have full employment
- By 2018 we will have net immigration and will see the return of many of the young people who had to leave these shore in order to secure employment.
- We have ended austerity
- There is a new found confidence to be found in our people.
- The proposal before the house totally ignores the fairness and progressiveness within our income tax system, indeed the measures proposed would be hugely damaging to the economy if introduced.
In my own constituency these measures before the house would be disastrous.
In my clinic in Dundalk and indeed clinics in Ardee, Drogheda, Dunleer and Carlingford I am finding a new found optimism and hope amongst the people. People are securing employment and this factor alone is vital to bring people out of the poverty trap. I am seeing this at first hand on a daily basis. This new found confidence and optimism does not suit our political opponents, it does not suit them to have an electorate that are starting to find their feet again. It should be noted that our tax system is extremely fair, especially to those on lower income.
Those bringing this motion to the house completely ignore the fact that:
- 40% of income earners are not liable to income tax and we have cut income tax rates for everybody earning less than 70,000 euro.
- Substantial reductions in USC have been introduced to relief those on low incomes. In fact we have removed over 410,000 people from USC
- Core social welfare rates have been protected in spite of the difficult circumstances
- Ireland has the most progressive income tax system in the EU.
- It should be noted that the top 1% of income earners pay 21% of the total income tax and USC, the top 6% pay 44% and the top 24% pay 80% of all income tax and USC
From these figures it is clear that we have a system where we have a relatively high tax on high earnings and low or zero tax on low incomes. As I have said already, the new found optimism and confidence of the Irish people as a result of the improving economic climate, does not suit the members opposite. I would ask them to visit County Louth where we have seen a dramatic drop in the unemployment rate which has resulted in almost 3,500 people less singing on the last register. Their proposal before the house would put in danger all of the hard work and sacrifices made by the people of this country over the last number of years and I would question their motives for doing so. The only reason I can see that this motion is before the house is purely for populist political gain and for this reason I firmly believe that the people will see through it.
Over the next 12 months the people of this country will have some very important choices to make.
- Will they keep the government that has managed to fix our finances.
- Will they go back to a government which brought them financial chaos in the first place OR
- Will they choose a government that will put everything at risk with false and populist promises, you only have to look at what is happening in Greece at the present time to see the chaos this would bring.
I know from the many people who call to my constituency office that they want security and a real future and that a Fine Gael led government is the only option in this regard.
To conclude Ceann Comhairle, I wish to put on record that I totally reject the motion before the house and that what this country needs right now is more of the same fair and progressive policies of this government that has resulted in the great progress made since we took office.