How many U-turns does it take to make a hypocrite?
That is the awkward question tormenting Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore after a thundering leaflet from his Democratic Left days emerged denouncing those twin evils — water charges and property taxes.
“How Many Councillors Does It Take To Turn Off The Water Tax?” the 1994 missive demanded to know before helpfully providing the answer that it just took Outraged Eamon and 14 others to sink the tap tax.
And who could argue with Gilmore’s logic that “water charges are another tax on workers on top of PAYE, PRSI and levies”.
Indeed, if you substitute Fine Gael for Fianna Fáil this denunciation from Mr Gilmore could easily have come from any of his United Left Alliance/Sinn Féin opponents in the current Dáil: “This year the Fianna Fáil/Labour government is demanding more tax from the PAYE taxpayer. They have imposed residential property tax and now they are making us pay for water.”
Gilmore was clearly the Che Guevara of Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown council at the time and insisted the authority should put it up to the big man in the environment department and even risk being abolished for a point of principle.
“The PAYE taxpayer has already paid enough for local services and should not have to pay again,” the leaflet rails as his face beams from it.
But how times change — and power changes you. Now Mr Gilmore is happy to lead a merged, and supposedly still socialist, DL/Labour party which sees nothing wrong with not only imposing water charges, but doing so on the back of bringing in a property tax which is so crudely unfair it comes in the form of a flat rate levy which sees the obscenely wealthy and the welfare dependent pay exactly the same rate.
Not quite the sort of equality long since departed St Eamon the Tax Terminator would have approved of.
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