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10 May 2007 Edition

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The Mitchel McLaughlin Column

The real auction politics

In the run-up to the election Fianna Fáil, the PD’s, Fine Gael and Labour have at one time or another accused each other of indulging in ‘auction politics’. In an attempt to buy votes in their quest for power they have issued a string of unsustainable promises on tax cuts, abolishing stamp duty, more Gardaí on the beat, a contract with the people, promises to wipe out hospital waiting lists etc.
While all of these issues are important most of the promises are designed to appease the conservative politics of the professional classes and business elite, who as well as being the biggest contributors to these parties are the main beneficiaries of such policies.
After all a 2% cut in the upper bands of income tax would be of no benefit to the majority of workers in the state but it represents quite a sizeable windfall for the 2-3% of top earners. While abolition of stamp duty is populist it would soon be manipulated by unscrupulous developers to further increase profits. And as has been the experience following previous elections the first casualties in the reassessment of political priorities following an election are those that would benefit the less well off – health, education, housing etc.
While traditional support for Fianna Fáil would suggest that many people would trust them to manage the economy I do not believe that most people trust them to spend our money to the best benefit of the majority of the Irish people.
Not only do the rich continue to reap the benefits of the fiscal policies of these conservative parties but the resources and national assets that could have been used to generate income to provide world-class health, education and infrastructure has been squandered.
But not satisfied with giving away Irish gas and natural resource exploration rights to multinationals, the Fianna Fáil/PD coalition now want to squander public land on our hospital campuses for development of private hospitals that will primarily cater for those capable of buying healthcare.
Furthermore the actions of Minister, Dick Roche could be better compared with that of a heritage and environmental vandal than a custodian of national environmental and heritage treasures. This is the real auction politics that must be exposed and opposed.
Instead of accumulating royalties and taxes from the rich veins of natural resources off our coast that could ease the tax burden on all the people of Ireland it is the coffers of Shell and Statoil that are reaping the benefits from our natural resources. As Statoil is a Norwegian state company, the people of Norway actually accrue greater benefits from our natural resources than the people of Ireland. This is the auction politics that all of the other parties don’t want to talk about. It’s up to Sinn Féin to expose this hypocrisy.

An Phoblacht Magazine


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