independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Give multi-millionaire tax exiles a break

* Following deliberations by the Oireachtas Sub-Committee on Finance last week on the subject of philanthropy, Minister Michael Noonan has promptly declared a proposition to extend the right of multi-millionaire tax exiles to reside in Ireland for up to 244 days per year, without any further liability to Irish taxation, "attractive", if they were to buy this right in the form of philanthropic payments of €15m to unspecified charities over a period of 10 years.

It is odd that he should find this attractive at a time when the State is waging a relentless and intensive public relations war across the globe to persuade a sceptical public that Ireland is not a soft touch when it comes to tax avoidance following the Apple Corporation tax controversy in the United States.

The fact that the bosses of many charities in Ireland receive remuneration on a huge scale, and that the State does not even have a charity commissioner to oversee these unregulated regimes, hardly strengthens the proposition. Nor does it make it attractive in the eyes of ordinary, hard-working taxpayers struggling to make ends meet.

However, were the proceeds of such a proposition to be applied, for example, exclusively to the Government's Irish Aid Programme, taxpayers in general would be immediately relieved of some of the obligation to fund this programme through additional borrowings of €600m a year.

The Government would be directly accountable to the citizens for the promotion and impact of its "tax breaks for tax exiles" strategy.

That strategy could become an iconic symbol of Ireland's foreign policy, a moment when our influence in the world is defined by the off-balance-sheet transactions of whom we attract and how much they donate.

The capacity of generous multi-millionaire tax-exile patrons to personally embrace the United Nations Millennium Development Goals would be laudable and give some tangible expression to the advocacy of Bono and his passionate belief that 80pc of Irish people support these goals.

This is because, under such a system, the funding of Irish Aid would become discretionary and not merely another unaffordable tax burden.

Myles Duffy

Glenageary, Co Dublin

NO CASES MAKE BAD LAW

* Some people have suggested that it would be a good idea for President Michael D Higgins to refer the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill to the Supreme Court under Article 26 of the Constitution to test its constitutionality . I do not agree.

The Article 26 procedure may be satisfactory when a single, readily identifiable point is at issue. But the constitutionality of more complex legislation is best tested in the light of the facts of particular cases.

In examining a bill under Article 26, the Supreme Court cannot foresee all of the situations that could arise in future cases and can only deal with the constitutionality of the bill in a theoretical fashion.

Once the court has found a bill to be constitutional under Article 26, no further challenge can be brought to the act in the future.

This is true even if a future case exposes considerations or circumstances that were unforeseen by the court, which would otherwise raise serious questions about the constitutionality of the act. Hard cases may make bad law but an absence of cases can make bad and unchangeable law.

Ciaran Connolly

Raheny, Dublin 5

NOT THE QUEEN'S ENGLISH

* The first indicators of summer are the swallows, which were late flying in from warmer climes this year. However, the other visitors from warmer climes arrived bang on schedule. Those cheery Spanish students are here to improve their command of the "queen's English".

Some of our news bulletins will not help, when the students hear that our "rubbee" players are home from the Lions tour and the "fuhhball champinnships" are in full swing.

At least they will hear that the temperatures will start in the "late teens" and reach the "early 20s". Even the weather has to act its age!

Sean Kelly

Tramore, Co Waterford

NEW THINKING NEEDED

* In your editorial (Irish Independent, July 15), you copper-fasten the myth that "banks" were the cause of economic collapse.

The banks were not the cause of our difficulties; their deplorable behaviour was the inevitable outcome of incorrect policies to cope with an unprecedented economic situation.

Economic activity has historically struggled to produce enough to sustain the human race. However, since the Industrial Revolution, despite enormous population increases and increasing affluence, technology has continually closed the gap. In the 21st Century, computer technology not only eliminated the gap but also reversed the whole situation of supply and demand.

In such a situation, "growth" is impossible. It is not sustainable to continually increase production in a world that is already producing too much.

When this situation became apparent at the end of the last century, it was perceived as "recession", a pause in the normal cycle of global economic growth. Old remedies were applied – low interest rates were introduced to stimulate investment. When this proved inadequate, laissez-faire lending was encouraged in place of prudent banking policy.

Banks obliged and an enormous bubble of unsustainable borrowing and unnecessary growth emerged. It all inevitably came crashing down, and then a secondary fallout of modern technology kicked in. A huge number of jobs were eliminated. So, the economies of the world are left with stagnant or declining growth, massive, unrepayable debt and an alarming rise in unemployment.

Current economic thinking is unable to cope with such an unprecedented situation. Whether we emerge from this crisis depends on whether we can change our economic mindset and plan, manage and share on a fair basis the genie of enormous productive power that technology has unleashed upon the world.

Padraic Neary

Tubbercurry, Co Sligo

OWN GOALS IN SEANAD

* Two nonsensical references to Hitler in the space of a week-and-a-half, one to Mussolini, two extraordinary rants against the Government having the temerity to ask the people what they want, and a TD being told she's speaking through something no one can speak through, nor speak of in the Seanad.

If certain Seanadoiri keep shooting themselves and their colleagues in the feet, the Government can kick back and look forward to a pretty easy referendum campaign.

Killian Foley-Walsh

Co Kilkenny

STOP SADISTIC BULL RUN

* It's incredibly fortunate that Dubliner Robert Thackaberry is recovering from the injuries he sustained at the Running of the Bulls over the weekend (Irish Independent, July 13).

If only the bulls were as lucky. Each one of the terrified animals forced to partake in this sadistic spectacle endured a slow and agonising death in the town's bullring after being repeatedly stabbed with spears and swords.

Thrill-seeking tourists share in the responsibility for the carnage. As long as Pamplona continues to make money from the festival, we will see horrific injuries like the ones that took place over the weekend, and bulls will continue to needlessly suffer and die. How many more devastating injuries and fatalities do we need before this bloody festival is finally given its marching orders?

Ben Williamson

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), London

Irish Independent

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