Jason OMahony - Irish political blogger, Irish politics, EU politics
 
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Watch as the property tax brings out the worst in people.

Posted by Jason O on Apr 7, 2012 in Irish Politics

Cold hard cash: the real driver in Irish life.

Cold hard cash: the real driver in Irish life.

A story in the Irish Times today suggests that the government may give some tax relief to those who paid large amounts of stamp duty relatively recently, in the event of a property tax being introduced next year. Whereas it seems like a fair and reasonable idea, I can already see where the bone of contention is going to be, the “talk to Joe” moment. Can anyone see it?

The cut-off point. Just watch as the government announces that, say, anyone who paid stamp duty after June 1st 2007 will be exempt for the first five years. Watch as everyone who paid in the previous twelve months to that take to the airwaves in indignation. Watch as opposition TDs (especially on the left. Curious how much time the Irish left spend defending the very wealthy) take up the banner on behalf of those who bought hugely expensive houses and so paid large amounts of stamp duty. Watch as opportunistic independent TDs demand that the time line should be extended to a more “fair and equitable” deadline, like, say, June 1st 1854. There will be war.

Of course, all of this will be academic if the government fails to enforce the Household Charge. We all know people who have not paid, and we’ll know if they get away with it, and if they do, the government can forget about the property tax. You would assume that they know that, but you can never know how insular the Leinster House mind can get.

 
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The Exhaustion Factor.

Posted by Jason O on Apr 7, 2012 in Irish Politics

Aine Collins TD

Aine Collins TD

I was recently on a discussion panel on Newstalk’s “Talking Points” with a new Fine Gael TD, Aine Collins. We discussed my usual hobby horse, the fact that there is almost no difference between Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, and Aine, to her credit, gave as good as she got. But talking to her I was reminded of something I had forgotten since I had ceased to be active in a party. I was struck by how physically tired she was, having left her constituency in Cork at 5:30 that morning.

It’s something that people not involved in politics don’t realise, just how actually physical Irish politics is, because our voters require our elected representatives to be present at all hours across their constituency. Nearly every TD I have known, from across the political spectrum, if they are serious about keeping their seats, have to go from early in the morning until normally after midnight. The funny thing is that it is a vicious circle, in that the public go to TDs because they feel, often rightly, that the Irish system of public administration is set up in such a way as to make it impervious to action unless a TD or senator or especially a minister pulls the right strings. Therefore TDs have to make themselves available to pull the strings, yet the only reason the strings need to be pulled in the first place is the fact that TDs feel it is what gets them elected.

Are they right? Do they need to have this exhausting runaround as the only way of proving their worth to their voters? It is TDs’s fault to a large degree. There is little reason why, as we do when buying books or airline tickets, citizens can’t just enter their PPS numbers online, fill in details,       and be told whether they are entitled to something or not, and get the cash sent to their bank or post office account. TDs will tell you that it isn’t that simple, that the social welfare system is not so straightforward, but who designed it? Those same TDs who complain. Are they really saying that the Irish welfare system is more complicated than the international credit card, airline booking, DVD ordering and MP3 track downloading systems combined? What many won’t admit is that many TDs (but not all) will attempt to influence the the system to get people things they are not entitled to. If not, then shouldn’t those TDs welcome an online welfare system? 

It is not in our interest that TDs be shattered all the time, nor is it necessary. There are plenty of politicians that the public admire who don’t live in their constituency, but get the admiration because of their national performance. But would the public vote for them? Not if being the constituency ombudsman, running around like a blue arsed fly, is what is on the ballot. But supposing they had two ballot papers, one for the local area and a second for a national constituency? We might see a different type of voter then. The problem is that so many TDs are terrified that if they are not consituency fixers, what are they? How about some class of a member of the national legislature?  

Copyright © 2018 Jason O Mahony All rights reserved. Email: Jason@JasonOMahony.ie.