Fallout will spur fight over household tax, warns Higgins


THE FALLOUT from the Mahon tribunal report will “intensify the campaign against the household charge”, it has been claimed in the Dáil.

About 300,000 of the estimated 1.6 million households in the Republic have to date registered for the €100 tax, which is due by March 31st.

Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins said people would make a link between the “enormous greed and corruption of a tiny elite who plundered society” and the majority who “will have to pay for their greed with disastrous consequences for society”.

Tánaiste Éamon Gilmore acknowledged a link between the contents of the Mahon report and “the difficulties that this country faces today”.

Mr Gilmore said there would be a comprehensive debate in the Dáil on the Mahon tribunal report next week.

During leaders’ questions, the Tánaiste said the issue the Government “is dealing with right now is to renegotiate the terms of the bailout for Anglo Irish Bank”.

It was dealing with the mess that was created by the previous government, with a financial institution “which was the piggy bank for the property bubble that brought the economy to its knees. Some of that property bubble was in turn unfortunately connected to corrupt acts that were performed by some individuals.”

The report “is related to the difficulties the Government has in managing our way out of the mess inherited from the previous government”.

Mr Higgins, who called in the Dáil for the Government to abandon the household charge, said there was a “herd of elephants stampeding from Malin Head to Mizen Head” that the Government was ignoring. This was the “massive revolt” against the household charge by “the ordinary, decent, compliant taxpaying majority in society against a new tier of taxation” which he said would “quickly rise to a figure of €1,000 and above”.

He said the Government should not have put the burden of the “corruption and reckless speculation” that was outlined in the Mahon report “on the backs of the people. That is why there is a massive revolt.”

He told Mr Gilmore: “The Labour elves have not done their job in making you aware of the extent of the anger that is out there.”

He renewed a call for the Government to abandon the household charge.

In response, the Tánaiste said: “If we were to follow your ideas, Deputy Higgins, we’d run out of money”.

Rounding on Mr Higgins he told him: “The only occasion your people ran anything was in the 1980s when they ran the city of Liverpool.”

He said the local authority at the time ran out of money and when there were no wages to pay the “gravediggers, the road workers and other employees of the city, your people were obliged to hire taxis to deliver P45s to these individuals”.

During heckling from all sides of the House, Mr Higgins told the Tánaiste he should take his own advice of two weeks ago and “take your head out of the archives”.

Mr Gilmore went on: “Your people were also subsequently found to be corrupt”, to which Mr Higgins demanded he detail who he was in fact stating was corrupt.

The Tánaiste added: “Your juvenile economics will not get the country out of the difficulties in which it currently finds itself.”