A Eagarthóir, The great turmoil in Cyprus is a dire warning of how close we as a nation are to a similar situation of total meltdown. People both young and not so young are very frightened for their future. Those with some savings hope that Minister Coveney's assurance will hold true. Those with little are terrified at the prospect of having to pay the property tax.
We are all well aware that the Fianna Fáil/Green Party coalition - and the alliances plus Independents that preceded it - allowed 'light touch' regulation to virtually bankrupt the country. It is good that at least some of them have acknowledged, by way of public apology, the errors of their ways. But terrible damage has been done and the road back is fraught with danger and great challenge.
Now we are assailed and insulted by a document from Minister Hogan that is grandiosely titled: Putting People First. The first obvious contradiction to that seemingly noble sentiment is to deprive local authorities of the entitlement to collect the Property Tax and to hand the task to the Revenue Commissioners. The Minister's intention was that only 65 per cent would accrue to the councils but pressure has recently seen that upped to 80 per cent. The question still remains of what is to become of the other 20 per cent. Surely it will not cost that much to collect the tax! Is the remainder to be a ministerial 'slush fund'?
Local authorities have always had a sensitivity as to whether or not people had an ability to pay for services provided. For those on low incomes or experiencing financial hardship the council either provided a waiver system in the matter of refuse charges or dealt flexibly with those with cash-flow problems. The great demon of centralisation has done away with those human dimensions. Phil Hogan and his colleagues, already intent on the destruction of town councils, are determined to slight and diminish county councils.
Those who wish to condemn local authorities might take a little time to consider how centralisation has dealt with third level student grants (SUSIE) and the Health Service Executive to name but two. We still await and wonder how Uisce will locate that hidden leak.
No government has a right to impose real poverty and possible hunger on individuals and families. In fact the very opposite is the central job of those elected to Dáil Éireann. The almost universal levying of the Property Tax is going to impose impossible hardship on quite a number of people and they are terrified. I have met with them and felt their terror.
Mise, le Meas,
Michael Gleeson (Cllr),