Seanad debates

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business


2:30 pm

Photo of Gerry HorkanGerry Horkan (Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I thank the Leader for outlining the Order of Business for today. I note the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill is back again.

I wish to raise an important report published by the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council. The words do not come from Fianna Fáil or the Opposition but from the Government's body, which points out that there are very significant challenges ahead. It states that while growth is good, between €3 billion and €6 billion of our €10 billion in corporation tax is quite vulnerable. Of course, there is still the risk of a no-deal Brexit, which is certainly not off the table but very possible based on what is happening in the United Kingdom. We have seen many spending Estimates massively ignored. There was an additional €645 million in supplementary funding for the Department of Health last year and overspends on capital projects such as the national children's hospital and broadband are happening far too often.

The council has pointed out that the Government is very vulnerable to slippage in corporation tax. The digital taxation agenda, which is worldwide at this stage in terms of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD, and what is being discussed, has the potential to damage our corporation tax receipts. Members should not misunderstand me - the more corporation tax we get, the better. It is positive that there is so much foreign direct investment in this country, but let us not underestimate its vulnerability. Thankfully, the estimates of corporation tax in all previous years up to recently have underestimated what we got. We got more. However, what goes up probably ends up going down. I believe we must have a debate about our fiscal policy, our spending, the Estimates and that vulnerability. In previous years people quite rightly criticised an over-reliance on stamp duty, but any drop in the corporation tax being paid by the top ten companies which pay half of the corporation tax would be very difficult.

Second, I welcome the start of Men's Health Week, which began yesterday and runs until Father's Day next Sunday. The purpose of the week is to highlight awareness of preventable health problems for men of all ages. On average, men die four years younger than women and they have higher death rates than women in respect of all the leading causes of death. Their smoking, drinking, obesity and suicide rates are much higher. In Ireland, 75% of suicides are by men. We must encourage men to look after their health and to take cognisance of what is happening.

Finally, it is almost 30 years since smoky coal was banned in Dublin and other urban centres, but despite the green agenda and all our talk about climate change the Minister is still refusing to introduce a nationwide ban. He is basically giving way to lobbyists who say it cannot be done. If people in cities are entitled to clean air, people in the rest of the country are equally entitled to it.I ask that the Minister come to the House to tell us why he is not introducing a ban. He should introduce a ban on smoky coal across the State as soon as possible. Everybody deserves to have clean air, not just the people in the cities.


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