Labour must assert values, says chairman
THE OUTSPOKEN Labour Party chairman Colm Keaveney has said his party must ensure its traditional values are taken into account when the budget is being formulated by Cabinet Ministers.
Mr Keaveney warned that people would become angry and cynical unless powerful vested interest groups were challenged and said the last budget had too little impact on well-off individuals.
“We in Labour must now assert our values on questions like social justice and the continuing protection of the lower paid and other vulnerable groups in society and impress these values on Government policy in general and on the budget in particular,” he said.
Mr Keaveney said the challenge facing the Labour Party was to ensure that income inequality did not continue to grow. He said those tasked with framing the upcoming budget must take this into account.
“The budget will not be accepted unless it is seen to be fair and just in terms of the different burdens that the budget will place on the various groups in our society,” he said.
People in the middle- and lower-income groups could not be asked to bear any further effects of fiscal adjustments while those on higher incomes escaped “any significant burden”, he said.
“It is simply an injustice that the only financial effect of the last budget of someone on a high income like myself was confined to a loss of €105; the household charge and the septic tank registration fee.”
The Galway East TD said he had been alarmed by reports of a large rise in the number of tax exiles. “This practice must be addressed. There is something seriously wrong whereby someone can avail of tax avoidance in that manner while their family still resident here can enjoy the publicly provided services paid for by other citizens paying their full share of the tax burden,” he said.
“Unless issues like these and powerful vested interest groups like the hospital consultants are challenged and addressed, then the willingness of the rest of those in society to play their part in our recovery will be lost and replaced with cynicism and anger.”
Mr Keaveney has been something of a thorn in the side of the Labour leadership in recent times. An email he sent to Labour personnel describing a meeting with Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore where the resignation of former minister of state for primary care Róisín Shortall was discussed was leaked, causing discomfort for the party.