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28 September 2006 Edition

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The Mitchel McLaughlin Column

Greed triumphs over need

Scarcely a day passes that we don't witness the effects of the cosy relationship between government, developers and mainstream political parties. There is the ongoing issue of the gas pipeline in Mayo and the granting of further lucrative exploration licences around our coast to multinationals that will bring no benefit to the Irish taxpayer. All of the parties that have held power in the last twenty years are culpable in this blatant asset-stripping of Irish national, natural resources and their giveaway to these multinationals. Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, the PDs and Labour are all complicit in this rip-off of the people of Ireland. Correctly negotiated, these assets could provide the income through royalties or other tax-raising procedures to wipe out the under-funding in health and education provision. But it is not just in oil and gas exploration that successive Irish governments have failed to protect Irish citizens from the unjust profiteering of foreign nationals and companies.

The length and breadth of the Irish state there are situations where whole towns and villages are paying land rents to absentee landlords - some of whom have never set foot in Ireland. We see Irish citizens having to pay these rents to English Lords and other gentry on no other basis than that their ancestors were gifted the lands - confiscated from indigenous Irish - for services to the British Crown. Even our leisure pursuits are subject to taxation by these British landlords through their ownership of fishing and hunting rights in vast tracts of our countryside. It's time that an Irish government gathered some national pride and abolished this outdated form of foreign taxation of the Irish people.

Unfortunately, foreign profiteers are not the sole culprits in ripping off the people of Ireland. The modern day exploiters of a new generation are the developers and land speculators who are making it impossible for first-time buyers and young people in particular to get into the property market. Through the greed of this sector and the inaction of successive governments, we have now entered the era of 40, 50 and probably 100-year mortgages. This is nothing short of a long-term lease agreement with no possibility of ever owning the property. Instead of inheriting the family home, future generations will inherit the family debt.

The latest money-spinning racket being perpetrated by developers is advertising new developments in a particular price range and once they gauge the level of interest they impose a deadline on the receipt of deposits - after which they increase the selling price of the houses by as much as €20,000 to €30,000. This despite the fact that the developers have not incurred any substantial additional investment! It is time that we had an Irish government that will govern on behalf of the people of Ireland and not for the benefit of multinationals' profit.

An Phoblacht Magazine


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