Payback Time


Sir, - With the economic indicators showing strong growth and with more money in State coffers there is now the opportunity to tackle the pockets of poverty and inequality for which Ireland continues to be noted for among its European partners. Tax cuts are all very well but alone cannot narrow the yawning gap between the highest earners and those on low pay or social welfare.

There is a strong correlation between crime, drugs and economic disparities. So far the boom has bypassed the long-term unemployed; areas with serious heroin problems; lone parents and their children; and travellers. It has been of little benefit to those outside the tax net. Tax reform aimed at equalising resource allocation and combating poverty is urgently needed. Across-the-board tax cuts will be of least benefit to the lowest earners and will perpetuate inequality.

Much could be done to tackle the drugs and crime problems in Ireland's major cities and towns if the accumulated wealth of the country was used directly and appropriately in worst affected areas. It is no longer enough to hope that there will be a trickle down of prosperity to all areas of society. It cannot happen without tax reform, targeting low-paid workers and tackling inequality in income distribution, ensuring a basic income for everybody and large input of resources into communities organising to tackle their social problems.

There is now an almost unprecedented opportunity to create stability and offer full participation to all citizens in our economic and cultural life. We call on the Government to have the confidence to take this opportunity and redistribute our new wealth more equally. - Yours, etc.,

Anne McCluskey, Dr John Baker, Frances Gaynor, Dr Kathleen Lynch,

Equality Studies Department, UCD, Dublin 4.