Irish Republican News · August 27, 2010
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
New tax for van usage

A ban by Environment Minister John Gormley on using commercial vehicles for family journeys has sparked a coalition rift.

A prominent Fianna Fail backbencher branded the move “farcical and unenforcable”. Other Fianna Fail deputies are likely to come under serious pressure from constituents to force a U-turn.

Clare Fianna Fail TD Timmy Dooley joined growing calls for the the blanket ban to be immediately rescinded.

Mr Dooley said he had formally written to Mr Gormley to review laws relating to the taxing of commercial vehicles. If necessary, he said, the declaration at the centre of the heated row had to be amended to clear up the confusion, which he described as “farcical”.

The declaration states that the vehicles, including trade vans and farm jeeps and landrovers, would not be used for “any family purposes”, or a higher tax rate must be paid.

Sinn Fein spokesperson on the Environment and Local Government Martin Ferris TD slammed the proposal.

Deputy Ferris said: “One thing that has to be said about this Government is that they have demonstrated great ingenuity in inventing new ways to take money off people. There is absolutely no good reason that I can see for this proposed tax.

“Many small business people and indeed employees use commercial vehicles for purposes other than work. Indeed in many instances a commercial vehicle is the only means of transport that people have.

“The Minister therefore in proposing to introduce a new tax is going to be targeting many people who are already finding things difficult.

“It will also I imagine impose considerable extra burdens on the Gardai who surely have better things to do than stopping Mr Murphy’s bread van on a Saturday night and interrogating him as to whether he was delivering sliced pans or going to the local club match or dropping his mother to Mass.”

Meanwhile, Green Party colleague, Energy Minister Eamon Ryan, has warned consumers to brace themselves for for the first of two possible energy price hikes.

A 5% price increase takes place in October, while a separate electricity price review next month could push bills even higher. The Minister is planning to increase electricity costs for households in order to subsidise electricity supply for large multinational companies, such as Intel, which are protesting Ireland’s high energy costs.

With the recent introduction of the carbon tax and the likelihood of water charges on the horizon, the minister also said he was concerned there was a “mistaken” perception that the Green Party were seen as a party of tax.

Ryan said he was “worried” about this view but did not see it as the reality.

“I know that what we’re doing in Government as I said, day in, day out, is to actually help people, protect people and skills and new skills in areas like the green economy.”

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