Sunday 4 December 2016

Watch: Gerry Adams flounders under intense questioning on Sinn Fein plans for additional tax on salaries over €100k

Cormac McQuinn, Political Correspondent

Published 18/02/2016 | 11:58

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams listens to a question during an interview in Kilkenny. Photo: Reuters
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams listens to a question during an interview in Kilkenny. Photo: Reuters

SINN Féin leader Gerry Adams floundered as he came under intense questioning on his party’s plans for additional tax on salaries above €100,000.

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Mr Adams was also asked about his u-turn on water charges and his medical treatment abroad as he was grilled in a radio interview this morning.

"I'm not confused" - Gerry Adams and RTÉ’S Sean O’Rourke thrash out Sinn Féin’staxation policy #GE16 #todaysorhttps://t.co/4C9jMRH4FW

— RTÉ News (@rtenews) February 18, 2016

The Sinn Féin candidate for Louth found it difficult to hide his irritation at RTE’s Sean O’Rourke’s probing questions at times.

Read more: Revealed: Sinn Féin’s ‘orchestrated campaign’ of intimidation against RTÉ

He complained that a reference to tax cheat Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy – who he has previously described as “a good Republican” was a “cheap shot”.

Mr Adams found it difficult to hide his frustration as Mr O’Rourke asked about Sinn Féin’s plans to raise an additional €1.7bn in taxes.

Gerry Adams. Photo: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos
Gerry Adams. Photo: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

The presenter singled out the plan for additional taxes on individuals’ incomes over €100,000.

He pointed out that a couple earning €70,000 each - a combined €140,000 - would not be affected while a car salesman on €110,000 with a stay-at-home partner would pay more.

“Where’s fairness in that?,” he asked.

“The fairness is that that person under a Sinn Féin-led administration will get value for their money,” Mr Adams replied.

Read more: How bullying RTÉ worked for Sinn Féin at the last election, so the party is at it again

“I find as I go about the place that our people are very decent. They don’t complain – most people – about paying taxes. They complain about paying taxes and not getting services,” he added.

Asked if the car salesman would be pay 59c at the margin Mr Adams replied: “No, no. He’s going to be paying on every euro earned over €100,000… 7c in a euro.”

“All adding up to 59pc at the margin. Now c’mon we’re at basic facts here aren’t we,” Mr O’Rourke added.

“Yes but I’m conceding the point that an individual earning over €100,000 will pay no more than 7c in the euro for every euro earned,” Mr Adams replied.

“Sorry you seem to be suggesting that every euro you earn above €100,000 will only be taxed at 7c in the euro. That is not the case,” Mr O’Rourke said.

“That is the case Sean. That is the case that has been carefully worked out with us because we want to be fair in all of this but we also want to use the tax money to provide public services and I go back to the point I was making about the decency of people.

Read more: Rafferty family accuse Andrews of betrayal

“They want this to be a society in which children don’t go to be hungry,” he said, adding: “we would look to the patriotism of people and I find this is a huge element in the make-up of our people.”

“I don’t accept that you’re only going to be charging 7pc on income above €100,000,” Mr O’Rourke said.

“Well let’s agree to differ,” Mr Adams said before the presenter said that the facts would be checked.

“That would be a massive tax giveaway to people earning more than €100,000,” Mr O'Rourke added.

“Sean, sometimes you even surprise me,” Mr Adams said.

“Up until €100,000 people will be paying a tax rate of less than 50pc. The additional tax will come in on earnings above €100,000."

“At what rate?,” Mr O’Rourke asked.

“It would be around 59 in the full accumulation depending…how much they spend. This is about getting those who can afford to pay most to pay most,” Mr Adams said.

“So over €100,000 you’re paying 59c on the margin?,” Mr O’Rourke asked.

“You’re going to pay 7c in every euro,” Mr Adams replied adding “I can’t keep repeating myself”.

“You seem to be suggesting two different things,” O’Rourke said.

“No I am sorry I am not Sean. You’re the one that’s confused. I’m not the least bit confused,” Adams replied.

“I’m not in the slightest confused,” the presenter said adding: “Perhaps our listeners might be.”

Later Mr O’Rourke asked about the impact of Sinn Féin’s tax policies on the self-employed and put it to Mr Adams that his party would increase their PRSI liability.

“People will be turning around and saying if that’s what’s going to happen – isn’t it no wonder that ‘Slab’ Murphy puts all the money in the shed and hides it away in cash,” Mr O’Rourke said.

“Sean, Sean that’s a cheap shot and you know it. You’re better than that. This is a document that is maybe 50 pages long. You obviously haven’t studied it as well as you should have.”

“I read it and your budget document last night as it happens,” Mr O’Rourke replied.

“Well ok maybe you should have read it long before this,” said Mr Adams, adding: “The point is we will not increase PRSI for anyone other than employers who employ people earning above €100,000. It will not affect anyone earning below that.”

Mr Adams was also asked why he changed his mind from saying he would pay water charges for his holiday home in Donegal tosaying that he wouldn't.

He argued that the public are already paying for water through general taxation.

“But we do pay for water. This is an additional charge… nothing at all to do with water services – all to do with a deal done with the Troika by Fianna Fáil and then embraced by Fine Gael and Labour,” Mr Adams said.

He was also quizzed on Sinn Féin’s policy to bring in free healthcare at the point of entry and asked if public subsidies on private healthcare would be ended.

“What about somebody paying private health insurance who doesn’t have the advantage of having rich friends in America who can pay for their surgery as you had on one occasion – who want to have the treatment available to them,” Mr O’Rourke asked.

“Well first of all the treatments I had at that time wasn’t available here in this island,” Mr Adams replied before saying that he does use public health services and has “been on a trolley overnight in Our Lady of Lourdes”.

“I’m very grateful that my friend was able to sort that problem out for me and thanks be to God I remain in generally good health,” he added.

Asked again if his party wants to take away the tax relief for somebody using private health insurance, Mr Adams said: “What we want to do is ensure that all tax reliefs are standardised… there’s a difference.

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