Issue 2 - 2024 200dpi

27 September 2001 Edition

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Harney's short memory

After years of lobbying that the bulk of funds available for income tax cuts should go the low paid, it seems that the corridors of power are suddenly listening. PD leader and Enterprise, Trade and Employment minister Mary Harney declared this week that there will be no tax cuts in the 42% rate of income tax.

Harney said this week ``I believe there still needs to be income tax relief for PAYE workers at the bottom, particularly those earning below the minimum wage''.

However ,why after years of giving proportionately more to the higher earners does the minister suddenly want to try out the Robin Hood tights and give some money back to the relatively poor?

Simple really, the combination of declining economic conditions and the Foot and Mouth downturn has meant there isn't enough funds for the big tax cuts of past years. So now, when there is suddenly not enough money for a big splurge, this years' piecemeal tax package is set to be dressed up as a deal for the low paid.

Even more surprising was the claim by Harney that ``under no circumstances will we engage in any effort to buy people's votes with the people's money''.

Strange then that in the last Leinster House election of 1997 it wasn't just Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael who were offering to cut income tax - the PDs were also in there promising billion punt cuts. It seems that our new Robin Hood also suffers from a very short memory.

Sellafield threat

Suddenly it is all coming together. The Dublin government is taking action and is stressing the need for urgent reviews of safety and security at British nuclear plants and facilities.

So have they finally woken up to the appalling record of mismanagement and radioactive discharges at nuclear installations such as Sellafield? Well no, the Dublin government is concerned about the ability of the British government to protect their nuclear installations from attack, in the aftermath of the World Trade Centre tragedy.

Why is it that the Irish authorities are so concerned about a possible attack on Sellafield, which not only generates nuclear power, reprocesses spent fuel but has one of the world's largest storage facilities for nuclear waste, but are not concerned about its unacceptable record of safety failures and a litany of radioactive discharges at the British Nuclear Fuels plant?

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