Press Statement: Manufactured Dail travel expenses controversy will not divert from fight against unjust home taxes

* Vindictive Smear campaign by Independent Newspapers Against Socialist Party/Left TDs and Anti Austerity Campaigns

* Manufactured Dail Travel Expenses Controversy Will Not Divert From Fight Against Unjust Home Taxes

Independent Newspapers’ attempt to manufacture an artificial controversy over Socialist Party and some other Left TDs’ travel allowance being used to attend anti House Tax meetings around the country is a transparent attempt to smear those who are engaged in a major fight against destructive austerity policies in general and the Household Tax in particular.

Deputy Political Editor of the Irish Independent, Michael Brennan, claims that Socialist Party TD, Clare Daly, is ‘embroiled in controversy’ because she stated that some of the TDs travel allowance was used to travel the length and breadth of the country to campaign against this new austerity tax called a ‘Household Charge’. But the so called controversy is entirely and artificially manufactured and used to try and denigrate those who strongly and actively oppose the savage austerity imposed on the Irish people to bail out European and Irish bondholders and speculators. There is absolutely no issue here as a simple glance at Statutory Instrument 80/2010 will show. It is a disgusting attempt to suggest impropriety which is dishonest and disingenuous.

Independent Newspapers Hypocrisy on Tax

Independent Newspapers have assisted the Government/Troika austerity onslaught on ordinary taxpayers with denigrating headlines. On June 5, the Irish Independent’s banner front page headline over an article by Political Editor Fionan Sheahan, was ‘Letter Plan to Target Household Tax Dodgers.’

Calling the decent taxpaying backbone of the State ‘tax dodgers’, because they are engaged in boycott of a new and totally unjust imposition as part of the austerity drive arising from the speculators ruining the economy, is not only disgusting but also highly hypocritical in the pages of Independent Newspapers. Two billionaires with the mass of shares in Independent News and Media, Denis O Brien and Tony O Reilly, through tax exile have avoided paying massive amounts of tax over decades in this State. Mr Sheahan and his fellow editors might consider directing their attention in that direction rather than targeting those salt of the earth workers and pensioners who have funded this State all their lives.

Home Taxes Fight Will Be Intensified

This attempt to smear Socialist Party and other TDs and to create an utterly false suggestion of impropriety will not weaken our fight against the destructive policies of austerity and its manifestation in the Household Tax.

A simple reading of the Statutory Instrument 84/2010 makes very clear that the travel allowance is to be used on ‘overnight expenses and travel expenses which the member is obliged to incur in the performance of his or her duties as a member of Dail Eireann.’

I consider it an obligation and an honouring of election pledges to travel the length and breadth of this country in assisting local people campaign against many manifestations of austerity and in 2012 that has mainly been in response to the House Tax. Since the middle of January I have spoken to and met tens of thousands of people at major public meetings, rallies, assemblies and protests in opposition to the Home tax. In that time, apart from Dublin, I have travelled to these events in, Donegal, Sligo, Mayo, Galway, Limerick, Clare, Kerry, Cork, Waterford, Wexford, Wicklow, Carlow, Tipperary, Offaly, Westmeath, Meath, Kildare, Louth and Monaghan. I will continue to do so and media smears will not curtail the stepping up of a fight against the destructive austerity by which billionaire bankers are salvaged from their speculation through imposing socially destructive austerity and suffering on our people.

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