Elected Cork City Council 2004 and re-elected 2009 and 2014. Elected TD in 2016. Thirty-five years of activism including being jailed for my part in the campaign against the introduction of bin charges.
Party positions on the election issues:
These positions were provided by the party
Taxes and Spending
The government should prioritise putting money aside for future challenges (e.g. Brexit) rather than putting it back into the economy now
The government now takes in more money than it spends. Some argue that this should be set aside to prepare for shocks like Brexit or a sharp reduction in corporation tax revenue. Others argue that the priority should be putting money into the economy through higher public spending or tax cuts.
When there is scope for tax cuts or public spending increases, what should be done?
During the recession, new taxes were introduced and public spending was cut. Some argue that when possible, the government should cut taxes to put money back into people’s pockets. Others argue that the priority should be to increase public spending in areas such as housing and health.
Some tax cuts and some increases in spending on public services
Significant increase in spending on public services
"We are in favour of increasing taxes on the rich and big business, we are not in favour of increasing the tax burden on ordinary workers, who are already experiencing a serious squeeze. We do not support a policy of levying charges or taxes as a means to alter human behaviour and actions."
Should taxes on lower earners (below €35,000) be increased or decreased?
Currently, people earning under €16,500 do not pay income tax. People earning over that pay the standard rate of 20%. There is also the Universal Social Charge: those earning under €13,000 are exempt, while those earning up to €20,000 pay up to 2%, rising to 4.5% for earnings over that amount.
"A radical progressive overhaul in the taxation system that we favour would include an abolition of the USC as well as the tax on primary residences (i.e. the property tax) which for those under €35,000 would be experienced as a tax decrease"
Should taxes on middle earners (€35,000-€70,000) be increased or decreased?
The standard rate of income tax is 20%, which applies to all income up €35,300 (for a single person); earnings above that are taxed at 40%. The Universal Social Charge is 4.5% on income between €20,000 and €70,000.
Should corporation taxes be increased or decreased?
Ireland’s corporate tax rate is 12.5%, which is low by international standards. Many large companies pay a much lower rate in practice. This makes us attractive for multinationals, which are a major contributor to the economy; it has also led to accusations of Ireland being a tax haven.
Should the local property tax rates be increased or decreased?
The standard rate of LPT is 0.18% of a property’s market value. This rate can be adjusted up or down by the local authority. The revenue raised is used to fund local services and some of it is redistributed to other local authorities. LPT currently makes up less than 1% of all tax revenue.
A rent freeze should be introduced across the country
Currently, rent increases are limited to 4% in ‘rent pressure zones’. Some argue that there should be a blanket rent freeze, so landlords could not increase rents at all for a period. Others argue that a rent freeze would drive landlords out of the sector and reduce the supply of houses for rent.
"The freezing of rents while being a step forward is not enough in situations where they are currently too high. No individual or family should be paying more than 30% of their incomes on standard accommodation. That means cuts to rent must apply. "
Much more resources should be directed to building local authority housing, even if that means cutting back in other areas or raising taxes
Some argue that local authority house building should be increased dramatically, as there are almost 70,000 people on waiting lists. Others favour alternative methods of solving the housing crisis, such as encouraging more private development or providing more supports for people to rent or buy.
"We favour raising taxes on unearned wealth, profits & other undertaxed or untaxed economic activity such as financial transactions through the IFSC. The cuts we favour are certain regressive tax expenditures and outsourcing to the private sector but not public services that working people depend on"
The best solution to the housing crisis is to incentivise more building by private developers
To solve the housing crisis, some argue we need to incentivise developers to build more houses (e.g. by reducing taxes on construction or introducing harsher penalties for ‘land hording’). Others argue that the solution should instead focus on building more local authority housing.
"Private developers are the problem not the solution . They are seeking Celtic Tiger era profits and deliberately build at a pace slow enough to maintain prices artificially high. We favour public housing on public land via a state building company"
There should be free health care for all, even those on higher incomes
Currently, only some people are entitled to a medical card or free GP care. Many people who can afford it choose to take out private health insurance. Some argue that there should be universal health care for most medical treatments, paid with public funds. Others say this would cost too much.
What should the focus be for investment in transport?
Some say we need to reduce our dependence on cars, and invest in sustainable transport instead (e.g. buses, trains, cycling, walking). Others argue that failing to invest in our road network will damage the economy. Currently we spend more on roads than on public transport and cycleways.
Spread resources evenly between roads and public transport/cycle lanes
Cut spending on roads and invest significantly in public transport and cycle lanes
"We are in favour of the massive extension of trains, trams and buses. Fares for public transport should be scrapped for all. No one in an urban area should live more than five minutes from a train, tram or bus stop that is serviced at least every ten minutes at peak hours. "
Carbon tax applies to fossil fuels, e.g. oil, petrol, diesel, gas. It recently increased from €20 to €26 per tonne of CO2. The Climate Change Advisory Council recommends a rapid increase (€80 per tonne by 2030). Critics say that carbon tax disproportionately impacts those on low incomes.
Increased significantly (reaching €80 per tonne by 2030)
Increased at a more moderate rate
"We are in favour of carbon tax on big business and big agri-business as they are the greatest polluters. Industries that refuse to engage in a rapid transition to a carbon-zero approach should be taken into public ownership. No to a carbon tax that punishes working people."
There should be a tax on greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture
Agriculture is a key sector in the Irish economy. It is also responsible for 33% of Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions. Some have called for a new tax on greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, but opponents say that would be too damaging to the agri-food industry.
Should immigration into Ireland be made more restrictive or less restrictive?
Non-Irish nationals make up 12.7% of the population, most of whom came from the EU. Work permits are issued to people from other countries only with a well-paid job offer in certain occupations. Some say immigration puts pressure on services; while others say it is needed to tackle job shortages.
"Climate change, unjust global trade and economic policies, the arms industry, war and human rights abuses are all drivers of involuntary migration around the world. End the victimisation of migrants! No to fortress Europe!"
More resources should be given to improving conditions for asylum seekers
Asylum seekers are housed in Direct Provision centres. Some argue that conditions are poor and have a negative effect on the physical and mental health of residents. Others disagree and argue that improving conditions would cost too much and could attract more asylum seekers to Ireland.
"See the answer to question on immigration above. People in general including Irish people do not light mindedly leave their country of origin but do so for real reasons. Direct provision is the modern day Magdelane. It should end."
The liberalisation of abortion in Ireland has gone too far
The legislation introduced after the 2018 referendum allows for terminations for any reason up to 12 weeks in a pregnancy. Terminations are only permitted after this date (and before the foetus becomes viable) if there is a serious risk to the health of the pregnant woman.
"The provision of abortion on request up to 12 weeks is absolutely essential and hard fought for legal change. However further legal change is still necessary given that it has come to light that some women with tragic fatal Foetal diagnoses still have to travel to access a termination. "
Small towns and villages should not be forced to accommodate asylum seekers
There are approximately 6,000 asylum seekers living in Ireland. Many are accommodated in or near small towns and villages, where it is easier to find private premises to use as Direct Provision centres. In some cases locals have opposed this on the grounds that their town might be overwhelmed.
"The decline of rural towns and villages is a product of how capitalism distorts social and economic development within states to the detriment of smaller settlements is a problem that exists independently of the accommodation of asylum seekers."
The Church has too much control over Irish schools and hospitals
The Catholic Church runs a number of private hospitals. Most primary schools & many secondary schools are under the patronage of the Church. Some say the Church provides invaluable services in health and education, while others say that a Catholic ethos is being imposed against people’s wishes.
The reunification of Ireland would create more problems than it would solve
Some people are opposed to the division of Ireland and believe that reunification should happen as soon as possible. Others disagree on the grounds that Unionists in Northern Ireland do not want it, or because they believe it would be too expensive for the Irish government.
"See the response to previous question. The status quo is unacceptable but neither is a capitalist united ireland.We need unity of the working class on this island which can be achieved by a joint struggle for a socialist society free of poverty and division."
Irish citizens living abroad (including Northern Ireland) should have a vote in Presidential elections
A referendum on this has been proposed. Some argue that political participation should be a core aspect of citizenship, regardless of where you live. Others say that there are too many citizens living abroad, and that they may be out of touch with what is going on in Ireland.
"We are for the abolition of the presidency. We oppose votes for emigrants beyond a specified timeframe from the moment they leave the country as they will not directly experience the consequences of their vote"
A referendum on Irish unity should be held during the lifetime of the next government
The Good Friday Agreement allows for a referendum in Northern Ireland & the Republic on a united Ireland, if there is evidence that unification is desired by a majority. Some say that, in light of Brexit, a border poll should be held soon. Others believe this would be premature and divisive.
""Border polls” can not provide a basis to resolve the national question in Ireland. We do not support any measure which pits working class communities against each other and seek to support the rebuilding of cross-community working class politics. "
18 is the most common minimum voting age internationally, but some countries have reduced it to 16. Proponents argue that young people should have a say as it affects their future, while opponents argue that many 16-year-olds lack the maturity to vote responsibly.
Some people argue that the EU interferes too much in the affairs of member states, and powers should be returned to the national level. Others argue that further integration is necessary to tackle shared challenges and for economic stability.
"The concentration of powers in the Commission and away from national parliaments creates a democratic deficit where ordinary working people have less of an ability to check or change a policy that is being implemented. Working class unity across borders is the way to force change throughout Europe."
Ireland should cooperate with other EU member states on defence
Ireland has recently joined the PESCO framework, which seeks to increase defence cooperation between EU states. It commits members to work together on military planning & increase defence spending. It does not create an EU army, but some oppose it because they see it as a step in that direction.
"Ireland should not co-operate militarily with the imperialist designs of the dominant capitalist powers in Europe. We are opposed to any steps towards an EU army and towards further militarisation - no to war."
Ireland should boycott Israeli goods produced in the occupied territories
A proposed law would make it an offence to import or sell goods originating in an occupied territory. Proponents say this will show solidarity with Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. Critics say it discriminates unfairly against Israel, and could undermine important links with the US.
"The settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are a weapon of war against the Palestinian people, used to occupy and annex land. We support a boycott of settlement goods and call on the trade union movement to use its power to ensure that workers refuse to handle these goods."