Munster: Carbon tax imposes double taxation and has zero effect on emissions

Sinn Féin TD for Louth, Imelda Munster has criticised the agreement between Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, Labour and the Green Party to increase carbon tax four-fold, saying it’s a clear evidence of how out of touch the parties are with the struggles faced by ordinary families across the state.

Deputy Munster sat on the Oireachtas Climate Action Committee, which agreed the proposal. The three Sinn Féin members of the Committee rejected the carbon tax, as it is unfair, does not reduce emissions and with no supporting measures forthcoming from the committee, will not change consumer behaviour.

The proposed increase would see the tax on a tonne of coal (25 bags) rise from €52.67 to €208. The tax is also subject to VAT, which is 13.5% on home heating and 23% on petrol and diesel. Since the tax was introduced in 2010 energy costs have increased by 24%. Deputy Munster said: “Families across the state are struggling to cope with the cost of living. Four hundred thousand households live in fuel poverty, and the Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, Labour and the Greens think that we should quadruple the carbon tax, despite the fact that no evidence exists to suggest that it will result in a reduction in emissions.

“We already have a carbon tax, so we already know that it disproportionally affects those on lower incomes. Increasing it won’t change behaviour, it will simply increase taxes for people already living in poverty.

“This measure won’t change consumer behaviour. If you look at an average rural family, who run an older car which they need due to poor public transport services, and they live in a poorly insulated house which they can’t afford to retrofit to improve the insulation – how is an increased carbon tax going to change their behaviour to lower emissions?

“The state needs to get real, and provide significant investment to allow people to retrofit their homes, and to choose cleaner fuels. We need investment in public transport, in the electricity grid and in renewable energies to bring down emissions.

“The main parties are slapping a tax on ordinary people as a lazy option, because they have no solutions. Sinn Féin is launching a climate report next week outlining our vision for addressing climate change which brings forward real, equitable solutions, which take the realities of people’s lives into consideration.”

Munster: Fine Gael stalling increase on Property Tax until after local elections

Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath, Imelda Munster, has criticised the government’s decision to yet again delay announcing their planned increase in local property tax valuations.

Deputy Munster has said that it is wrong for the public to be kept in the dark in regards to the plans. Deputy Munster said: “Sinn Féin has been consistent in outright opposition to the Local Property Tax. Fine Gael has championed the tax but is now afraid to announce their plans until next year.

“Fine Gael is playing to its base here. Sinn Féin has consistently said that if in government, we would remove this unfair tax.

“Fine Gael is using the tax as a political football, six weeks out from local and European elections.”

“Remember people were told by Labour and Fine Gael that they have to pay this extra tax in order to get extra public services, like libraries, public lighting, playgrounds and other basic services that people already pay for through PAYE, PRSI, USC, road tax, bin charges, toll charges, hospital charges – the list is endless.”

Cllr Joanna Byrne: Ad-hoc approach to emergency accommodation is failing our Homeless

At this month’s Municipal District of Drogheda meeting, Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne raised concerns about Louth County Council’s system to assist those seeking emergency accommodation.

Cllr Byrne, who has proved a strong advocate for the homeless in Drogheda, expressed major reservations about the process a homeless person has to go through to secure emergency accommodation.

Cllr Byrne also suggested some changes, which were dismissed on the night by the Senior Executive Officer for Housing Aoife Lawlor.

Cllr Byrne said “At present, somebody who is experiencing homelessness in Drogheda presents to the Homeless Officer, gets approved for assistance and if there are no beds available with the NGO’s who provide Homeless facilities in this town, they are then told to find a B&B and it will be paid for. This is all well and good until somebody can’t find a B&B, then where do they go, onto the streets?”

She went on to say “I have had many people present to my clinics in this distressing situation and I have spent numerous hours calling B&B’s who nine times out of ten seem to be fully booked when they hear it’s to house a homeless individual or family. There is, without a doubt, a stigma surrounding people in this unfortunate situation and there is a reluctance to take these people in. If a County Councillor cannot secure a booking for them what hope do they have themselves?”

Councillor Byrne asked if the local authority would consider establishing a link with some B&Bs, enough with a capacity to cater for the numbers presenting as homeless and requiring emergency accommodation in B&Bs, so that at any given stage the Homeless Officer would know what beds would be available to the local authority and have somewhere concrete to settle this person in until alternative solutions were made available – this suggestion was immediately dismissed with the Senior Executive Officer quoting “too many liabilities involved in such an arrangement”.

Cllr Byrne was deeply dissatisfied with this response and concluded in stating that “facing homelessness and a night on the streets is everybody’s worst nightmare, without the added pressure of ringing or calling to 10-15 B&B’s in some cases before securing a bed. This is an area the local authority is majorly lacking in, sitting back with a sporadic ad-hoc approach is failing our homeless and adding much more unnecessary pressure to an already daunting scenario. Some sort of legitimate system needs to be put in place especially as presentations of this nature are growing higher by the week.”

Cllr Pearse McGeough Questions Part 5 Procedures

Sinn Féin Councillor Pearse McGeough is seeking clarification from Louth County Council on their procedures to ensure standards have been met when purchasing social housing homes from Developers under Part 5 of the Planning Act.

The issue arose when Cllr McGeough was asked to visit a constituent who was living in one such house.

Cllr McGeough said “what I seen was appalling. The ceiling was damp and there was even damp running down the windows and there was mould. Now, this house isn’t very old and was purchased under Part 5 of the Planning Act which basically means the Council bought it from a Developer for social housing. I want to know what the procedure is when purchasing such a house. Is there a snag list as would be normal within a certain timeframe? Was there an inspection carried out before purchase as would also be the norm?”

Cllr McGeough said “we need social housing very badly in this county but when tax payers money is being used to purchase these homes then we must ensure there is value for money and we are not being left with sub-standard housing. In this particular case, there are children living in the house. Living in these conditions will inevitably lead to health problems.”