Taoiseach’s ‘good year’ consisted of defending the position of the comfortable
Our problem is not so much austerity per se as the distribution of wealth and income
Enda Kenny expects Ireland to exit the bailout programme next January. He told the MacGill Summer School 10 days ago: “That will be an important moment for our country for many reasons, not least because to be a real republic, Ireland must be a sovereign republic”. The sovereign republic was forfeited in the series of EU treaties that Fine Gael supported vigorously, while exiting the bailout may be worse than the bailout.
The social costs of this crisis are enormous and this Government has made them appreciably worse – to what degree will not be apparent for some time. The net outward migration of Irish nationals was 26,000 in this Government’s first year in office, in comparison with 22,400 for the previous year. The total net outward migration of Irish nationals was 34,400, the worst since 2008. We don’t know the cost of the crisis in terms of poverty and deprivation for the full period since this Government came to office but there is little reason to believe it is not worse than was recorded for 2011, its first year.
According to the Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC), in 2011 16 per cent of the population were living on incomes of €10,899 or below, and almost a quarter of the population (24.5 per cent) experienced two or more types of enforced deprivation (such as going without heating during the previous year because of insufficient income). Almost certainly this is now worse. According to data provided by the Revenue Commissioners, 54 per cent of earners live on incomes of less than €30,000 and they have an average income of less than €15,000. Over 100,000 earners get an average of €108,736 per annum and pay, on average, just 26 per cent on income tax.
According to SILC, the equivalised disposable income per household (this gives a weight of 1 to the first adult, 0.6 to each other adult [ie persons over 14] and 0.33 to each child under 14) is €21,400, which makes us among the richest in the world. The problem is more one of income and wealth distribution than of austerity itself. But the media, the political establishment and the “leaders of opinion” – all with a vested interest in inequality – propound that equality, or even just a little less inequality, are impossible.
Meanwhile the “have-nots” have less, while the “haves” remain at most just mildly inconvenienced. That is Enda Kenny’s real success.