Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has been described as “embarrassing” after he struggled to answer simple questions on his party’s policies.
Mr Adams repeatedly floundered when asked to provide clear answers on Sinn Féin’s tax rate proposals, he also denied he was “misleading the public on water charges” during a radio interview yesterday.
Pearse Doherty, the party’s finance spokesman, later defended Mr Adams, who had to be asked numerous times before he provided details on the party’s policy on marginal tax rates — which Sinn Féin would set at 59c in the euro on earnings over €100,000 a year.
Speaking to Seán O’Rourke, Mr Adams appeared to suggest that high earners would only pay 7c of tax in every euro they earn over €100,000.
“You’re going to pay 7c in every euro,” Mr Adams said, adding: “I can’t keep repeating myself.”
However, after being questioned more than 10 times on the issue he admitted the marginal rate would be 59c in every euro.
“You seem to be suggesting two different things,” Mr O’Rourke said.
“No I am sorry I am not Seán. You’re the one that’s confused. I’m not the least bit confused,” Mr Adams replied.
Mr O’Rouke said: “I’m not in the slightest confused, perhaps our listeners might be, I’m just trying to establish what the marginal tax rate under Sinn Féin’s policies is going to be.”
Labour Minister Jed Nash said Mr Adams’ “embarrassing performance” on RTÉ radio showed that he “simply hadn’t a clue about his own tax plans”.
“Over the course of the interview he tied himself in knots on the most basic details of his own tax policy, which the interviewer had a much clearer grasp of,” Mr Nash said.
“He appeared to suggest that Sinn Féin will offer a bonanza to our highest earners, through a 7% tax rate on earnings above €100,000. He also appeared to have little or no concept of the marginal tax rate. Given ample opportunities to clarify his party’s position, Gerry Adams didn’t even recognise the extent of his errors and dismissed any such questioning.”
But Mr Doherty defended Mr Adams’ performance.
“I don’t believe my party leader does find difficulty with policy,” Mr Doherty said before adding he had not heard the interview.
Asked whether Mr Adams should step down to allow for younger leadership of the party, Mr Doherty said the rising popularity of Sinn Féin in the polls was “down to the leadership of Gerry Adams”.
He said he has no ambitions to become leader of the party but would accept the position if it was offered.
“In terms of whether I see myself as a party leader in the future, it’s not something I have a personal ambition to but it’s something that if the party decided at a later stage, that it is something they want me to do then I would be willing to step up to the challenge,” Mr Doherty said.
“This is not about who is in a position of leadership”, he said and added that the party worked as a “collected leadership”.
“It’s not about being hungry for power; it’s about being hungry for change.
“Who is at the helm is a secondary issue,” Mr Doherty said as he set out the party’s plan to deliver a fair recovery and long-term economic growth.
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