Irish Republican News · August 3, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Harney backs inequality, opposes tax on wealthy

The 26-County Deputy Prime Minister, Tanaiste Mary Harney, has opposed greater taxation of Ireland’s wealthy, and said she hoped they would make charitable donations instead.

She was responding to questions about the fairness of the situation in which those on the minimum wage were in the tax net and those on the average industrial wage paid some tax at the top rate.

Figures show the top 30 earners in the State paid no income tax at all while the top 50 paid less than 5 per cent. The figures have contributed to the 26-Counties becoming the most unequal state in the world according to a UN report, second only to the United States.

In an Irish television interview, Harney says increasing tax on wealth would only encourage the rich to live elsewhere as tax exiles.

While opposing taxing the rich, she said she would encourage them to give something back to society through philanthropic and charitable acts.

“I would like to see perhaps in Ireland, on a voluntary basis, a greater culture of some of the wealth that is acquired going back to the State, not necessarily through taxes or through legislation but perhaps through endowments, through foundations.

“There is a very strong culture in the United States where very rich people have a great sense in wanting to give something back to the society which gave their wealth. You see, for example, a lot of education, health, a lot of worthy causes through foundations and endowments and indeed Ireland has been a huge beneficiary of Atlantic philanthropy. I’d love to see a greater culture in Ireland around that notion.”

She said she agreed with the concept Justice Minister Michael McDowell was trying to articulate recently when he spoke of inequality as being a driver of economic progress, although it “could have been explained using different language”.

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© 2004 Irish Republican News