Donie Cassidy: Sorry lads, there’s no sitting. I’m off to play golf in Turkey…

Whilst we’ve been obsessing with things Nordie, there’s been a whole series of awkward expenses stories in the south that’s led, for instances, to the resignation of the Fianna Fail whip by Ivor Callely.  Technically there’s nothing wrong with Parliamentarians playing golf with other Parliamentarians from other countries. But when you close down the upper house in order to facilitate your trip, that’s a different matter. Apparently that’s what Fianna Fail Senator (and leader of the house) Donie Cassidy did

Hmmm… Either the Seanad provides a useful function for the State, or it’s entirely subservient to the interest of individual politicians. I’d be interested in hearing the remarks of Terry Leyden, who was pretty robust in his defence of the upper house when I interviewed him last Autumn at the BPA in Swansea…

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  • “But when you close down the upper house in order to facilitate your trip, that’s a different matter.”

    I suppose it is better than closing down the country, which is what the governing party’s in the lower house have attempted to do with their cuts.

  • Drumlin Rock

    “Fine Gael chief whip… the failure of the Upper House to sit this week … is an absolute disgrace”. or “The Seanad was not scheduled to sit this week” which is true?
    “– and then going to play golf in Turkey” or ” It is understood the trip also involves official functions” which are they mainly doing?

    FG are planning to scrap the Senate are they not? so their main function in spinning this story is to undermine the Upper House. In no way am I a fan of the FF cronyism in Dublin (in makes Westminster scandals look like the boy scouts) but I don’t like being spun either.

  • Mack

    I suppose it is better than closing down the country, which is what the governing party’s in the lower house have attempted to do with their cuts.

    I can’t help wondering if you are as critical of tax rises?

    50% of Irish workers pay no income tax. All of them earn less than half the average salary of a public sector worker. Which is fairer – raise taxes bringing the lowest 50% of workers into the tax net? Or to cut the salaries of public servants in a progressive manner concentrating the largest cuts for those earning the most?

  • Argosjohn

    Biffo Cowen is the second highest politican in the world (after Singapore’s leader). All Irish politicos are over paid but not by so much that they do not want to rob and plunder the national till. Still, as people continue to vote for them….

    The Senate was a sop to Southern Prots, like the Trinity mob. Ireland is over governed anyway, Scrap the Seanad and the Dail. Get rid of the over paid Presidency and send the Aide de camp to Afghanistan.

    The system is rigged. Crooked politicians and a supine electorate. Jesus should weep along with the rest of us.

  • Mack

    You’re the expert on the South’s economy not me, as I am UK centric on this, but if you are saying that 50% of the RoI workers in the private sector pay no income tax, the first conclusion I would draw is their wage rate is to low, and I see no reason why the state should have subsidised low paying employers in the boom years, the more so as their tax rates were low. Even today it is better to take up the slack of unemployment by employing people in the Public sector, rather than subsidising private business with tax breaks etc. Although in some circumstances such generosity can have a role to play.

    According to google corporation tax in the RoI is and has been for some time extremely low, which is ridiculous in my view. Such a low rate has surly proved a failure, as it has not improved the unbalanced economy nor has it extended the RoI industrial base. All you ended up with was low payed workers being subsidised by tax credits whilst the employers failed to pay their fair share of tax.

    I wonder if you add in the tax credits private sector workers receive, and then compare public and private sector wages, does it make a difference.

    Myself I would prefer raised PAYE taxes to decimating the public sector and cutting pensions, dole money, etc, as I see cutting jobs and benefits as the road to disaster, both economically and societally. To put ever more people on the dole in a recession is not only plain daft it is criminally insane, as it will deepen the recession. The only way doing this can save public money is if the government reduce unemployment and other benefits to a pittance a la 1930’s and look how that turned out.

    I would considerably raise corporation and inheritance tax for a set period, say five years and then reassess the situation. I believe Camerons plan to raise VAT and extend it to food and children’s clothes is outrageous, as it hits the economically disadvantaged hardest. (Hence it will be raised)

    By the way I was making a joke about the senate closure not a serious point. Although I do realise the Irish economy is in big trouble but I doubt ridged rightwing economic thinking is the way to solve the problem. We probably need someone who will tackle all the vested interests and that includes big business; and as far as I can see no one in any EU government is prepared to do this.

    Thus if we carry on like we are history is likely to repeat itself and we will end up with either a large scale hot war, or some sort of trade wars.

    Happy days.

  • Eire32

    Mack.. “50% of Irish workers pay no income tax”

    do they not pay other taxes though, such as the Income levy and other hidden taxes…

    Vat, Health etc etc…

  • Mack

    That is true.

    We lost the run of ourselves during the recent past. We can’t expect European level public services (and high public sector salaries) without paying European level taxes (which broadly only those earning around the average public sector wage do – those above and particularly below tend to pay a lot less).

    It’s just a question of fairness. The public sector wage premia (for roughly equivalent skill levels) was well documented (excluding factors such as job security and pensions) – it would be unfair to make the adjustment slowly via taxes as some portion of that greater burden would fall on those who earn less.

    Mickhall’s idea on inheritance tax is a good one. Raising corporation tax (beyond minor tinkering) would be a disaster for Ireland (foreign multinationals are responsible for about 80% of our exports).

  • Mack

    The letter below basically sums up my beef with your take on how to deal with this economic crises and that of the MSM and political elite in Ireland and the UK. I would be interested in your views on it.

    “Tax versus expenditure remains an ideological as well as an economic question that each generation needs to ask itself anew. Do we tax more (affecting the richest in society more) or spend less (hurting the poorest in society more)? So far, nobody is openly addressing this issue, beyond mooting small increases in VAT and an increase in tax on certain speculative forms of wealth generation. If the relative merits of cutting spending and raising taxes are not publicly discussed soon, those on the economic-liberal right will be able to continue gleefully dressing up their ideologies as economic necessity. The bigger question of what kind of a society we want will thus have been answered without even being asked.

    Dr Richard Misek

    University of Bristol

  • Mack

    Ireland and the UK don’t have the same tax structures. You can take a look at the graph on this blog that graphically illustrates median workers in Ireland pay much, much less tax than workers in the UK, the US and Europe!

    We also don’t have a property tax (esp. once exemptions for stamp duty are taken into account).

    Taxes are going up, have to go up, will go up.

    At the same time government spending is 55% of GNP (even in the USSR the black market meant that the private economy made up around 40% of the total).

    Some of that I wouldn’t like to see cut (and has been cut unfortunately) e.g. capital spending (infrastructure projects – boost the economy & will give a return), service levels where possible should be maintained.

  • Mack

    My reply to this is marked as Spam – if someone wants to approve it!