Thursday 22 February 2018

We are now able to deliver overdue financial relief

Hold the old chestnut about buying elections, people have come through hard times, says Simon Harris, and the Government can help

Enda Kenny
Enda Kenny

Simon Harris

The result of the election in our nearest neighbouring country was a surprise to many. While we are different countries in terms of political systems, we do, however, have three points of commonality. The first is that both countries have experienced a difficult economic period over the last several years. The second is that the economies in both countries are now growing again. The third is the fact that people in both countries have suffered greatly on the road to recovery.

Many of the Irish people who have suffered quietly are among what are frequently called the "squeezed middle" and the "coping classes". They don't call themselves either of those terms. Tolstoy wrote that while all happy families are alike, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. Each and every family in this country that found themselves poorer as a result of the economic meltdown at the end of the last government's time in office knows the truth of that sentence, because each has been hit by a set of financial problems unique to them. For one family, it's been the need to get money for speech therapy for a child with a disability. For another, it's been the humiliation of asking a parent for a dig-out because otherwise the mortgage payment can't be met. For a third, it's the misery of an incoming unexpected bill that plays hell with the best laid family plans.

People who pay their way, do their best and still find the bank account runs dry towards the end of a month are developing the sense of exhaustion that comes from running fast to stay in the same place. The way to help these people is to recognise that their tax bill is too high and needs to come down. We need to use the new-found and hard-won "fiscal space" available to the Government and to the country to acknowledge this and to take action.

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