Why do people like Michael Lowry not declare something that is clearly valued higher than the level above which all such assets must be declared in the Oireachtas Register of Members Interests?
The answer is simple. It’s because he can and, even more importantly, because he can get away with it.
Mr Lowry and a business colleague apparently own 22 acres of land in an area that is expected to be rezoned at the edge of Wigan in the UK. Mr Lowry decided that while it might have some value if it was rezoned it currently is “worthless” and therefore he did not have to declare it.
That fact that valuers have stated that it’s worth £5,000 (€6,260) an acre if sold as agricultural land seems irrelevant to him. Even luckier for him it seems that it could be worth in the region of £6.7m if it is rezoned — not bad for “worthless” land. The whole performance is just another example of political double standards.
The country as an entity is broke. It’s been broke for several years since the banks finally owned up to needing a proverbial “dig-out”. We are now borrowing billions just to stand still. We are unable to pay our way without the support of strangers.
One would think that our so-called leaders would have wised up to that fact. But how have they and the business “elite” reacted to these circumstances? Have they recognised that we are all in this together and we must all share the pain? Do they appreciate that they are our alleged “leaders” and leaders should lead by example.
As far as our senior public servants are concerned the answer is an emphatic no. They do not share equally or even equitably in the pain they dish out to the people of Ireland. They do not lead by example. Their philosophy is do as I say, not as I do.
Sure they have taken a cut but they remain among the best paid politicians and ministers in the world. And even more importantly, they stand to gain enormously from over-generous unfunded pensions when they retire or even get thrown out by the electorate.
Within a short few weeks the 2013 Budget is about to be announced. Will that budget be fair and equitable? Will it be a budget that will get the economy moving again? Will it be one that targets those who can more than afford to pay, those who have done well not only out of the boom but who are still doing well even now that we are bust?
Unfortunately, the answer to all of the above is also likely to be a resounding no. We have already seen the kites and they indicate that we are in for another savage budget targeted at those least able to afford it. We know that they have already reduced home help and other essential services to the infirm and the elderly without any notice. Expect to see more and more of this.
Fortunately, for some the other side of the tracks is very rosy indeed. The taxpayer pays and pays to support the banks by borrowing billions. Some of the money is then used to pay pensions to people who partly precipitated the bust, some of whom should be in jail, not enjoying the benefit of a pension of €10,000 a week paid for by the taxpayer.
We are told by Finance Minister Michael Noonan that he cannot do anything for contractual reasons about IBRC or AIB salting away billions for future defined benefit pensions and that he cannot change the contracts of overpaid banking executives. We are told that ministerial contracts and pensions cannot be changed for constitutional and contractual reasons. All very convenient
It’s amazing really that the “wise guys” contracts cannot be amended, yet 99.99% of the population’s contracts and pensions can change at a the drop of a hat.
Ministers seem to have no problem reneging on the implied contract that was their pre-election promises. Gross double standards are not the way to economic recovery. They are the way to continued pain and eventual retribution.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved
More in this section