Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Labour 'must target the wealthy'

The Red C survey in the Sunday Business Post newspaper shows that Eamon Gilmore's party has slipped one point

A Labour councillor has claimed there is no surprise in a poll that shows support for the party has dropped.

Cian O'Callaghan, the Mayor of Fingal, said revelations that more than half of Labour supporters are becoming disillusioned are in line with sentiment among party members.

The Red C survey in the Sunday Business Post newspaper shows that Eamon Gilmore's party has slipped one point, down to 13%, in the last month while Fine Gael rose to 34%.

But Mr O'Callaghan said it is not too late for the Labour leadership to act decisively to reverse the trend by targeting the wealthy. He said: "They must insist that Budget 2013 targets those who can pay most rather than the vulnerable and marginalised."

Analysis by the ESRI for Budget 2012 shows that those least well off were hit four times as hard as the top 10% of society, Mr O'Callaghan said.

"A number of proposals have been set out by organisations such as Tasc and the Nevin Economic Research Institute, which demonstrate how the budget deficit can be reduced in an equitable manner. If the Labour leadership is serious about restoring strong support for the party, they must insist on these measures."

A number of Labour backbenchers also called for high earners to pay more tax by increasing the Universal Social Charge in the budget for anyone earning over 100,000 euro.

TD Joanna Tuffy claimed the hike - from 3% to 10% cent - would raise 71m euro and would make other budget cuts more bearable. On RTE she said: "It will send out an important signal that everybody is having to make a contribution to Ireland's recovery. I think it's particularly important people to see that people on higher incomes are paying their share."

However Fine Gael's Lucinda Creighton argued there had already been hikes in some wealth taxes: "Steps have been taken already to ensure that we gain the maximum revenues from wealth, from capital in this country, and I think we have to weigh up the implications of taking further steps."

Elsewhere Sinn Fein called on the Government to go further, while Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins branded the idea a pathetic move by Labour backbenchers.

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