February 17, 2008

The Irish are treated as second-class EU citizens

Posted in Euro · 40 comments ·

While the government may be appealing for a Yes vote on the Lisbon Treaty, it consistently prevents us from benefiting from the common market.

Let’s make a contract with the government. We will vote Yes to the Lisbon Treaty when it starts to treat us European citizens on a par with the other citizens of the union. The reason for such a contract is that we are treated as second-class Europeans by our own state.

Anyone who has tried to import a car into this country will know exactly where being a ‘‘good European’’ begins and ends in the eyes of the Irish government. Our state demands that we sign up to a treaty, yet every day it thwarts thousands of citizens who are trying to reap the benefits of the common market.

Forget all the lofty ideas which will be spouted in the next few months: for many people, ‘‘Europe’’ begins with small things. I recently explored the idea of importing a ‘‘jammer’’ into Ireland from Britain to save money and to avail of a better standard of car. The British market is huge, so the quality and range of secondhand cars is far superior to our own.

One would expect that, if the government’s rhetoric about Europe held any water, a citizen of Ireland would be treated the same as a citizen of Britain – or anywhere else for that matter. Try to import a car based on the underlying aspirations of the Treaty of Rome — the EU’s founding document – and you will quickly see that the idea of a free, flexible, trading Europe is not only years away, but is actually being frustrated by the very government that wants us to be good Europeans in the first place.

Let’s go back to 1957 and the Treaty of Rome. Robert Schuman and his mate Jean Monnet realised that some of the xenophobia of the pre-war years stemmed from economic patriotism.

Thus, they thought it essential that the European Economic Community – as it was then – should begin as an economic entity. Gradually thereafter, it would seep into national politics and sovereignty.

Accepting the primacy of economics as a healer was part and parcel of the original EU. So Schuman and Monnet outlined the fundamental pillars of the EU. These became known as the four freedoms:
1.The free movement of goods
2.The free movement of capital
3.The free movement of people
4.The freedom to deal in services and establish businesses.

This is what a common market means. Anything which contravenes these freedoms is against the substantive law of the EU.

In fact, article 25 of the EC Treaty indicated that member states were prohibited from levying any duties on goods crossing a border-goods produced within the EU or those produced outside. Once a good has been imported into the EU from a third country and the appropriate customs duty paid, Article 24 dictates that it shall then be considered to be in free circulation between the member states.

So far, so comprehensible. On the basis of the four freedoms, Ireland positions itself as a great location for US multinationals to set up.

No country in the EU could slap a tax on Microsoft’s software made in Ireland, nor could Irish-made Viagra be banned in France, just because a French company was working on an alternative aphrodisiac, nor could Intel processors made in Leixlip be banned in Italy just because the Italians might be trying to protect their own industry.

That’s the game and we all know the rules. Equally, any Pole or Lithuanian can come through Dublin Airport, because the four freedoms say that there has to be free movement of people and workers. The same applied to us years ago when we flooded into Germany to take up jobs.

The free movement of capital means that Irish banks last year could borrow 40 per cent of all the cash they lent from the EU money markets, when they inflated the Irish bubble to bursting point. The Irish government did not interfere in this ‘‘money go round’’ because the four freedoms stated that there could be no tax put on capital from within the EU circulating anywhere in the EU jurisdiction.

So if money can flow around, people can move around, hi-tech goods can be exported and imported freely – what about cars? Surely any Irish citizen can go to England and import a car freely without having to pay extra duty simply for taking the car over the border? Well, just try doing it.

Traipse over to Britain. You find your dream car for, let’s say, £18,000.You bring it back to Ireland. You are then confronted with the first tax – VRT. So already the state is bending the rules.

Resigned, you are then prepared to pay the tax on the euro value of the sterling cost of the car. So the first rule of the Treaty of Rome is broken the minute you get off the boat at Dun Laoghaire, because any tax on any good at the point of entry contravenes the original Treaty of Rome.

But worse is to come. The Revenue then judge that it’s not the cost of the car in Britain that counts for the tax, it is some Orwellian-sounding levy called the ‘‘open market selling price’’. The Revenue, in an approach which protects Irish car dealers, squeeze money out of the beleaguered Irish motorist with another, extra tax.

They calculate the difference between what the car cost in the free, unfettered market of Britain and what it might cost here in the protected, sewn-up kleptocracy that is Ireland and then slap another totally unjustified tax on top of the original totally unjustified tax.

If you want to see how this shameless infringement of EU law works, check out https://www.ros.ie/VRTEnquiryServlet/ showCarCalculator. Rather than enhance competition, our government smothers it. The motorist is being penalised twice to protect Irish car dealers who have being making a fortune in recent years by selling overpriced cars. The state, therefore, is not only breaking the rules of the EU but, more egregiously, is protecting an industry here which is actually doing nothing.

At some level, it is easy to understand protectionism, if you are protecting a domestic industry which is employing people, exercising brain power and creating value.

However, car dealers are just brokers who import at a low price and sell at a higher price. The state is supporting this vested interest over the people – yet again. Crucially, buying cars has been made commonplace because the public transport alternative is so poor. Therefore, the state, by not providing a public alternative, has funnelled us into the clutches of the car dealers and then, when we try to exercise our European constitutional right to buy abroad, the government hammers us with a tax.

Inmost other areas, Europe works well and the world is integrated. For example, I wrote this article from an internet cafe in Foxford, Co Mayo, run by a Dutchman named Kees – and I was there because of a tale from the first era of globalisation, when trade was free and people benefited from it.

Foxford is the birthplace of Admiral William Brown – the founder of the Argentinian navy and a man widely respected in Argentina. Back then, free trade drew Irishmen and women to Argentina from where they exported grain back to Ireland. If the present Irish government were in power now, it would probably have tried to halt this trade too. Today we have the ludicrous spectacle of our government urging us to vote Yes to the Lisbon Treaty.

I’m sure there are good enough reasons for this, but how can we trust the government on one European treaty if they are prepared to tear up their obligations on another? They want us to vote Yes to the Lisbon Treaty, even though they ignore the basic founding principles upon which the EU was constructed.

Until the iniquitous VRT scam is scrapped, we should argue that, on the basis of being good Europeans, we can’t vote for the Lisbon Treaty because it is supported by a government that is not European enough.

  1. ray

    Are you actually advocating that we withdraw from Europe merely due to your displeasure at VRT, would such anger not be better reserved for local and national elections. To use such methods that you promote (i.e not voting for the Lisbon Treaty unless VRT is not reformed) smacks of lobbyism and goes against judging the Lisbon treaty on its own merits.

    Furthermore I dont see what the link between VRT and the Lisbon Treaty is except as a means of protest. While I agree on you that VRT is a stupid (but valuable source of revenue) for the government as it is more just for social and environmental reasons to control desired behaviours on variable and not fixed costs in the case of cars. There are many infuriating things about Ireland in contrast to our european counterparts, i.e health, public transport, crap planning etc that need to be reformed more urgently than VRT

  2. truth speaks

    The Irish government insited on unfettered access for east Europeans, The same is not true for the Big guns like France Germany and Italy who kept their borders closed. Free movement – Yeah right! Freedom of French and German Lip service to the Treaty more like!

  3. I agree with David. VRT is a very important issue as it is such a clear contravention of the treaty of Rome. Remember this is a tax on cars, not some arbitrary electronic goods and is clearly aimed at the highest value item people will import.

    Open Market Selling Price comes from Car Dealers and will generally go up if the dealers see a certain car being imported. I have actually seen the OMSP of a car I was looking go from €5,000 to €15,000 in the space of a week – and this was a 13 year old car! (The price in the UK was about £3,000).

    From July the government are going to base the tax rate on CO2 instead of engine capacity. This is another simplistic measure which ignores the pollution involved in manufacturing. (http://www.atrier.com/blog/2007/12/12/there-is-no-environmental-free-lunch/). If you are buying a new car now check to see if the VRT is going to go up or down. E.g. A BMW 520d will go down from €54k to €45k and annual road tax from €588 to €150 so there’s some good news.

  4. I have paid for a poorly equipped 2 years old car more than the fully equipped higher engine TDI version of that car costs in Spain.

    The real problem is that the tax is considered fair because it applies to the imported vehicles as well as to the new vehicle and it’s not a tax but a registering costs, and registering a foreign registered vehicle is mandatory under the UE regulations.

    Sure It is not fair and it’s just there to protect the Irish dealers, but this country voted for the current government a few months ago, so I suppose voters like this laws.

  5. I agree with Ray, there are differences between Ireland and the rest of the EU that are far more important than VRT.

    And those he says are good examples.

    For EU citizens living in Ireland VRT is an unfair tax, but we are not too worried about paying taxes. What we are worried about is about the crappy services we receive in exchange of our taxes.

    VRT with the same Health & transport infrastructure that other EU countries, would mean we are overtaxed.

    VRT with Irish health & transport infrastructure means we are being cheated.

  6. I believe a chap brought the Finnish gov. to court over just this issue, and won. I notice that the concept did not propagate.

  7. AndrewGMooney

    Calm down David, you’ll give yourself a coronary if you carry on like this.

    Not content with making mischief about the integrity of the Irish Property and Farming / Landowner Political Class (I.P.F.L-PC) you now turn your ire/gun-fire on the poor little Arfur Daley’s of Eire. Just for trying to earn a dishonest crust/buck/euro with scams as old and lucrative as those of that other ‘oldest of professions’!

    Pity the Poor Paddy Daley’s of this world:
    Is it not the proper place of their golf – playing , tart-laying dodgy – handshaking mates in local and national government to ‘set the rules’ and ‘move the goal-posts’ as appropriate? Who are you to get all hi-falutin with this ‘economics’ malarkey?

    It’s finally all caught up with you. You’re getting all bitter and twisted. You were pilloried for so long, now you’ve been proven right, but you can’t just smugly say: “I told yous so!”. No, you have to find another ‘hobby horse’ to ride. Well, Ireland would be a better place without the likes of you being all negative and untrusting of our seniors and betters. Who are you (or we) to ask these type of questions? How can order and authority be maintained with this seditious questioning?

    Ok, enough of impersonating some old biddy from Ballyragget who used to ‘tell me off’ for not going to Mass in the 1970s! Heathen English!

    Your ‘acerbic cynicism’ is spot on for Eire: But it rings hollow in the ears of an Anglo-Irish Brit Citizen.

    We don’t even get the chance of a yea/nay/ or car-tax-protest vote on the ‘Lisbon Treaty-Constitution-In-Disguise’. So, who are the ‘second-class citizens’ of Europe? We are.

    Second question. Unless the Citizenship rules have been changed overnight: I can formalise my ‘Irish-ness’ today. Let’s do that as a ‘thought experiment’.

    So, fast-forward a few months. I’m officially ‘batting for both sides’ (citizenship! Stop that facetious smirking at the back of the class!). Having done so -and also having decided to buy a nice little condo in Dublin Bay at a ‘historic buying opportunity price’: Dual citizenship / residences.

    I drive off my boat with a nice wee ‘jammer’, flash my Brit passport, leaving the Irish one in the glove compartment.
    Do I have to pay this ‘VRT’ shite? Yes? Well Fc-Uk you Mr/Ms Garda Síochána Customs & Excise Uniformed Whore. And you, ‘Tánaiste and Minister for Finance Mr. Brian Cowen T.D’. Over my dead body. Literally.
    I think I’ll take this one to the Court of European Human Rights or some such bollocks/bollix. Could be an entertaining waste of public time and funds, but would keep the Bureaucrat Class busy ‘doing something’.

    Goodness me, what a sour-puss response this is turning out to be, so I’ll ‘lighten up’. Had to google ‘jammer’. Out of touch, must swot up the lingo/lexicon if I do decide ‘Dublin Is Mine’. Thanks to ‘ansmuigin’:


    Am I confused or does it really mean an old automotive wreck? For £18K?! This writing lark clearly pays well David!

  8. VincentH

    Is there such a thing as an Irish blue book, or for that matter black brown or green book on car values.

  9. Jonathan

    Interesting take on Europeanism. I like this four freedoms idea.Where can I sign up for them, hahaha. I must find out what this Lisbon thing is about, I still don’t know.
    On a more general note tax in Ireland could use a complete overhaul. Why do we pay motor tax and 3rd party insurance when the fuel could include both of these. There’s less costs since the county councils doesn’t have to process anything (can anyone say “redundancy”?) and the garda don’t have to check anything bar the odd NCT. Money saved and resources freed….genius!! The same could be said for the TV license. TV license inspectors, TV adds, admin,etc…,what a waste of money!!
    The stealth taxes are criminal as well, and very un-socialist for a supposedly socialist government. Taxing the ATM card of the unemployed and other such measures are lunacy.

  10. David:

    Thriftcriminal hit the nail on the head, and your solution is in your article. Initiate a legal action against the government for violation of its Treaty obligations. You’ll likely have to go the whole way to the European Court of Justice. However, you shouldn’t have to bear the whole legal burden yourself. In the event you prevail, your case may well result in VRT refunds for a lot of Irish citizens.

    So gather together a few large fellows, who have been stung by VRT, and who would be willing to join you in a class action suit, and get yourself lawyered up.

  11. Fergal Treanor

    Remember that the free movement of people throughout the EU will mean the Irish government will have to lift its ban on work permits for Romanians and Bulgarians.

    And Kosovars soon enough..

  12. JonnieG

    Taxation without representation!. Ireland has benefited from the presence of multinationals taking advantage of our generous corporation tax. However you must question the average Irish persons benefit. Two wages to buy a house and still need to be in huge debt to afford to live. People might have been sucked into consumerism enough to obsess about decking but the reality of their lives is very different. Consumer comforts might provide some level of distraction from the realities of modern Irish life. The EU has furnished us with inflation and excessive cost of living pressures. What does the Lisbon treaty have in store for us. A more atomised society increasingly distanced from the levers of power which dictate on every aspect of their life. Its difficult to get representation at local council and Dail Eireann level never mind some distant EU bureaucrat. If our government refuses to recognise our rights under existing law what manipulations should we expect when our sovereignty if further eroded. I’m a young person, and believe we have forgotten the lessons of our history and the hard one struggles for freedom we endured as European peoples. I question the wisdom of diluting hard one rights and giving up our rights only to live in “Fortress Europe” with its soon to be established biometric borders and identity cards. Fascism started in seemingly benign ways throughout history. Besides the Irish people answered this question before when presented with the EU constitution, Lisbon is another presentation of the same principles in the hope that we are all distracted by traffic jams and house prices and agree. Its the same crap as before!!. Generation X & Y need to read history or we will sleepwalk into situation we have no control of or way to extract ourselves from. Politicians and bureaucrats have proven time and time again that they cannot be trusted to represent the best interests of the electorate and represent small special interest lobbies who incentivise them with perks.

  13. Paul

    Totally agree David. It’s a scam, pure & simple, aided & abetted by the Government. Who’d have thought that voting car dealers was such a big constituency? I’ve heard rumours of people planning to take a case against it, but nothing yet. As we inch closer to July 1st, just watch the “open market value” (an unintended irony?) of low CO2 diesel cars coming from the UK creep up – with customary nudging from the local importers.

    Vincent – it’s called “Glasses Guide” and all the dealers have one. Good luck with getting hold of it!

  14. Ed

    I think that Denmark has higher taxes on their cars than we do – the base value of our cars is lower than that in Britain and this helps our balance of payments. Do we want tax harmonisation or should we keep our independence ? That is the real question. Germany is taxed much heavier than us, but, then their social services work much better – translate that over to Ireland and the opposite would be true – the more in ,the less out. Affluence and leisure are related.

  15. KD

    Spot on David, I’m with you on this. Some may argue that there are bigger issues at this level of government but I say build some solid foundations first. This is a fundamental issue for the Irish. We must be on a level playing field.

  16. Philip

    VRT has actually contributed to more unsafe cars on the road relative to our neighbours. Base price is cheaper than UK. Rational reaction of manufacturer to make up for lost margin is to only provide lower specified cars into this country. There are dozens of examples of 08 cars coming in here whose standard spec is either downgraded or several years behind that of the UK. That impacts safety and fuel economy. – the very thing these green plonkers try to con you into believing they are trying to help. 2nd Class Citizens with second rate rubbish

    I really do not understand what this government and civil service are up to – but it seems that their benchmark is to keep Mr Irish Joe Soap down. We are but da general public…nothing more.

  17. WhyStopAtVRT?

    What about the rip-off that is car insurance? Why is it that our European brethern pay upto 1/4 the price that Irish people are forced into paying if they want to drive legally on the roads?

    Could the filthy hand of government collusion be stopping Irish citizens from seeking a better deal? :D

  18. Glen Quinn

    Also in the UK stamp duty reaches a max of 4% on prices over 500,000GBP compared to Irelands 9%.

    Thats why I moved to London and I’m living like a king over here its that much cheaper than Dublin.

    The whole idea of the EU is, as an EU citizen you should be able to go to any bank in the EU regardless of what country it is in and be able to take out a mortgage/Loan. Thats the freedom of both movement and capital. Instead if you go to an Irish bank to take out a loan/mortgage, the Bank will insist that the money is spent in Ireland while AIB goes over to Poland and buys the property. Who said we live in an equal and free society, we don’t and never have because it was all an illusion. Once an economic block becomes heavily regulated then it start moving from Socialism (Evil) to Communism (Greater Evil) and restricts freedom, movement and capital.

  19. Fergal Treanor

    Glen, you lost me at the bit where you say “socialism is evil”, could you explain that in more detail please?

  20. coldblow

    “… a protected, sewn-up, kleptocracy …” The late great Raymond Crotty examined all this in some detail. And if it wasn’t for his Supreme Court case in 1987 the Lisbon Treaty-Constitution needn’t trouble the Irish electorate. When I came over here some years ago sentiment was swiftly discarded. When my GB passport expired it was a simple decision to renew since it was only a fraction of the cost of an Irish one and I needed every penny after forking out on VRT. By the way, I remember at the time being puzzled by the ad for non-resident accounts in my local building society (where I went to draw out, not lodge) and wondering who these people were.

  21. If VRT is registration charges, why is each car different, it doesnt cost them any extra to register car A over car B !

  22. Mark

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Free market my eye!

  23. Jerry

    “…but you turn right over to the TV page” as Neil Finn put it.

    Until someone stands up to the Government for this illegal tax, and takes them all the way to the European Court of Justice, we can all just sit around and bang our fists on the table about VRT. We would need a legal fund to be set up, and a public figure to take it all the way, if sufficient funds were donated to the cause. So David – how far do you want to take this? I’m in if you are!

  24. Glen Quinn

    Hi Fergal Treanor,

    I say that Socialism is evil because of over regulation that a socialist government tends to do.

    The regulations try to regulate people and business to a point that it the cost of doing business is to expensive and people lose there freedoms. Basically a socialist government tends to be a nanny state.

  25. dermopj

    Just a little question does anyone know if our minister pay Benefit in kind for their company cars?

  26. Geckko


    I find the following statement dangerous, in that gives totally onfounded succor to the merchantilist leanings of Ireland.

    “At some level, it is easy to understand protectionism, if you are protecting a domestic industry which is employing people, exercising brain power and creating value.”

    What you should have written is that “It is easier to fall into the trap of tolerating protectionism…”

    Track down a “grains into cars” fable Brad de Long posted to his web site some years back. It is wonderful.

    If you were to broaden and build your debate this type of issue I would fully support you. The tyranny of merchantilist beliefs and the protectionist policies they breed drives me to distraction. The recent jubilation in Ireland at the decision of the EU to prevent it citizens from eating Brazilian beef. Add that to a long long list that grows daily and infringes on my rights and drvies down my standard of living.

  27. Geckko

    I feel I need to add to my vent. You are a little naive holding the EU as founded on the beliefs of economic freedoms and the wealth that creates (hail Adam Smith!!).

    The EU is but an protectionist little enclave, built to allow such economically stupid policies to continue to be pursued without tipping into war.

    So we get Germans and French trading off coal steel interests for agricultural ones. As for the rest of the world (and the EUI citizens who suffer from these polcies) – “go take a running jump”. And the poorer the “non EU ” member the better.

    “Here Somalia, we have thousands of more tonnes of tomatoes than pepole want to consume and we have already squandered taxpayers money paying farmers for them, so you have them for free.”

    “What’s more, we rack it up as “international aid” aren’t we lovely. Sure, it doesn’t matter if that debases you own market and improvishes local industry – clearly you are poor and need as much free stuff as we can dispose of, I mean donate your way.”

    “What? No, you may not sell our citizens anything you grow. We’re not being rascist, its just that you it is obvious that your country is dirty and disease ridden and we need to protect our citizens. Nothing personal you understand”.

    The people of the EU rejoice. Hooray we are wonderful!!!

  28. Glen Quinn

    To Fergal Treanor:

    I say that Socialism is evil because it heavily regulates both people and business there by reducing capital to start new business. Because of the heavy regulation makes running a business more expensive and for people the over regulations take away there responsibility (Nanny State) and in doing so the people cannot think for themselves.

  29. Fergal Treanor

    To Glen,

    do you believe that there should be no regulation of businesses?

    Do you believe the state should have no part in the responsibility for running a national economy?

    Please say in more detail what the people we elect to look after the well-being of all citizens should actually do.



  30. Hi-Brit in London

    Ireland isn’t the only country which has given open access to Eastern European workers – the UK has well. We’ve over a million Poles in the UK – and they, along with the Czechs and the Balts keep the country running, just as my mother did when she came over from Ireland in 1964 to work in the National Health Service.

    re the comment about the cost of passports – it’s now a darn sight cheaper to get an Irish one that a UK one. I’ve just put an application for my (UK-born, as I am) son to have Irish nationality – I don’t want him to have one of those wretched id cards.

  31. Glen Quinn

    Fergal Treanor,

    There should be some laws to govern business, like making sure that the workplace is clean and wage are increases in line with inflation. But there is no need for over regulation which is what happens with Socialist countries. Just look at the new regulations coming out of Germany.

    Also there should be laws for people as well but not the type of laws that disrupts how a person should live. E.g. No smoking laws, binge drinking laws etc. These laws were brought out under the guise of Health and safety is really riduculous.

    We live in a supposedly free European Union and you can live your live the way you want it as long as you don’t break the law of the land. If a person wants to drink and smoke then so be it, that person should have the freedom to do just that.

    If a person is not allowed to do what they want to do then we are all living in a communist country or block.

    Also a country does not need to tax its citizens as income tax was only brought out just before World War 1 before that the USA had no income tax for over a hundred years since its foiundation. The USA got its revenue from a tariff that they put on imports and exports. This is what Nickolas Sarkozy is proposing for France (Clever guy).

    If the Irish government really wanted to improve Ireland (Lets assume pre Euro 1997 say) then all they had to do was the following:
    1 Make the Irish punt go down against all major currencies, that way Irish good produced in Ireland will be cheaper than other Western countries.
    2 Get rid of income tax (This will make the Irish people even richer)
    3 Get rid of Corporation tax (This will help Irish business and promote enterpreneurs as well as stimulating interest for foreign firms to invest in the country)
    4 Put tariffs on imports and exports of goods (This will make the goods being exported a little more expensive but with the currency down it will still make these goods cheaper than other countries, also the import of goods will be more dearer which will encourage people to buy Irish goods as these will be cheaper due to the tariff on imports)
    5 Create and help improve financial services in all Irish cities (This will also imrove the amount of money going through Irish banks and our money supply)
    6 Upgrtade and build new Railway systems using the help of capital markets to do the funding (All funding for the railroads would be raised by issuing debt on the Irish Stock Exchange. This will enable people and freight to travell very quickly through the country, there will be about 4-10 different track lines making room for high speed direct trains from Dublin to Cork for example)
    6 Build trans-road that travel from one masjor Irish city to another one. (This will also make it quicker for people to travel directly to other cities by car)
    7 Relocate and build ports to improve moving of freight efficiencies. (We need to increase our efficiency on getting good from/to our ports by either Road or Rail)
    8 Promote the Irish Stock Exchange (Getting foreign companies to float there debt or other new companies whether Irish or foreign to float on the exchange)

  32. Glen Quinn

    Fergal Treanor

    Also the main point is that ‘people are responsible for there own actions’.

    If people have a problem with the above line then we need to change our education system so that people understand that the only person who can help them is themselves and not other people.

    Also I believe currently that our social welfare system is too high. The problem with social welfare is that it keeps people at the poverty level and it doesn’t help people to get out of it. People that are on social welfare need to understand that only themselves can help them and not the government.

  33. Fergal Treanor

    To Glen Quinn,

    Glen, would you say that Ireland is a meritocracy, where the people with the most talent and who work hardest are the ones who reach positions of leadership and responsibility?

    Is it your opinion that people who are better off have no responsibility towards the socially disadvantaged?

    Do you think that there is no value in the elected representatives of the State having an active role in the planning of economy and infrastructue?

    British Railways are privately run; France’s are still completely state-run. How do you explain that French railways are so much better? (Anyone with experience of both is very likely to agree with this)

    Why, in your view, are Finland and Sweden – both countries with high levels of tax, social welfare, and state planning of infrastructure and education – regularly named the most advanced and competitive economies on the globe (source – annual reports of the world trade organisation).

    Please explain in more detain exactly how the money can be raised for the public infrastructure projects you propose if there is no tax.

    In your opinion, why are Ireland’s health and education systems equivalent to those of a developing country, although there is so much money on our island? do you think it is connected to the very low tax and the government policies of keeping public spending low?

    Looking forward to your answers to these questions,


  34. Glen Quinn

    To Fergal Treanor,

    I have answered a few of your questions that you propose.

    First of all, I come from a poor family in Finglas,Dublin. My father was the only bread winner in the house when I was growing up and my father was unemployed for 15 years (1980 -1995). So growing up was very difficult. Growing up in Ireland back then it did matter were you came from. The country was heavily class oriented. I won’t go into detail here. From the age of 6, I had to work at doing menial jobs. My typical day was finishing school at about 3pm and then going to work and finishing at 8pm and then having my dinner. I done this every day for 14 years. I got into University through scholarships. So, I know whats like to come from poverty and I have personally experienced it. I’m now a multi-millionaire.

    Now, I will answer your questions:
    Glen, would you say that Ireland is a meritocracy, where the people with the most talent and who work hardest are the ones who reach positions of leadership and responsibility?

    No, Ireland definitly is not. Just look at our politician none of them have achieved any success outside of politics. Most of them got into politics because they inherited it through there family. I don’t know of any current live politicion that works really hard. Ireland is still a class oriented structure. Also I see nothing wrong with some-one who has worked very hard and achieves a leadership or a position of responsibility, people should be awarded for there efforts and I will always commerate anyone who works hard regardless of there background.

    Is it your opinion that people who are better off have no responsibility towards the socially disadvantaged?

    You have to look at the source. Why are these people poor? I don’t want to hear any garbage about people self-pity about being on drugs, alcoholism etc. This just comes back to my point about everyone being responsible for there actions. If a person wants to stay on social welfare then they should be allowed to do that but they must also take responsiblity for there actions. If a person is poor and they want to come on, then there are plenty of courses to go on and they can get government assistance to help them and then for financial loans you have credit unions, which are great for taking out loans. With the credit unions loans a person takes out, the interest you pay goes back to help the area that your from by being able to give out more loans to other people that also need it.

    Do you think that there is no value in the elected representatives of the State having an active role in the planning of economy and infrastructue?

    At present, my answer is NO. just look at the present government. All services is inefficent and don’t work and everything is a mess. They just done things as they went ahead with absolutly no planning involved. It is my opinion that planning an economy should be a partnership between Government and business but the government should be looking at business as there friend and not as the enemy after all its companies that employ people who then spend the money that helps our economy.

    British Railways are privately run; France’s are still completely state-run. How do you explain that French railways are so much better? (Anyone with experience of both is very likely to agree with this)

    I don’t disagree with your point as it is absolutly correct, however railtrack today (This company actually build the railroads) is now government owed. The reason why the French railway system is better than the British is simply down to the fact that France spent more money on the railway infrastructure than the British. In Irelands case, we can have our railroads still owned by the government and the money can be raised by using the money markets (Floating railroad bonds on the Irish Stock Exchange), or having a few private railroad companies. So we can have two choices.

    Why, in your view, are Finland and Sweden – both countries with high levels of tax, social welfare, and state planning of infrastructure and education – regularly named the most advanced and competitive economies on the globe (source – annual reports of the world trade organisation).

    It’s down to there culture. Finland and Sweden are Germanic people. Germanic people have a rule based society. A Germanic person will work rather than get social welfare because they see it as helping there country. So, they work hard all there lives knowing that they can retire with a good pension and having access to very good facilities whether it is healthcare or education etc.

    Please explain in more detain exactly how the money can be raised for the public infrastructure projects you propose if there is no tax.

    From the money markets. You can float the debt as bonds and the money raised by selling the bonds on the Irish Stock Exchange is your funding. You should read the following book:
    The Tycoons (How Andrew Carnegie, John D Rockefeller, Jay Gould and JP Morgan invented the American super economy.

    You should also study American business history in the 19th century.

    In your opinion, why are Ireland’s health and education systems equivalent to those of a developing country, although there is so much money on our island? do you think it is connected to the very low tax and the government policies of keeping public spending low?

    No, it is due to a lack of planning. The state of these services were always like this even through a period of very high growth (1996 – 2001). When I was growing up (70′s and 80′s) everyone said the reason why we have bad services in health care etc was because we were a poor country and the reason why we were poor was because our population was so small. I never bought into these arguments, my answer to these questions that I always gave and would still give is that any bad services in Ireland is down to government incompetance due to there lack of planning, forsight and determination. Today we still have the same bad services but now they have changed there argument which is now down to a slowing economy. I don’t believe in coming up with problems only solutions. If the government spent there energy on providing solutions instead of proving problems than our services would be alot better. Just look at the planning and forsight for the powder keg that education is coming into.

  35. Fergal Treanor

    Glen thank you for going into so much detail here.

    I am currently in a hurry to meet a friend, but I would like to take time out to exchange views with you on all these things – these are questions which are very important for Ireland, and it would be shame if this exchange of views turned into a “man in the pub” or “man on the website” row.

    What I will say for now is that in my view, what we need is not to eliminate government and taxation, but to improve it. Maybe you are with me on this one; the current government has neglected its public duty and wasted public money, so – get a better government, build public-private partnership.

    I am absolutely in favour of raising money through capital investment, but would be worried about debt bubbles, like the one we see in the US property market right now.

    I have lived and worked in Germany for ten years, and agree that there is a culture here of civic duty. That said, there are plenty of dole scroungers here, and my work ethi was learned in Dublin – my backround and story is similar to yours, although I am a southsider from Cabinteely.

    Have to run now, but I am genuinely interested in your views, in particular about imporving public rail transport. We can continue this debate here, or you can look me up on facebook. Whichever way.

    La brea dhuit,


  36. Glen Quinn

    No problem Fergal. I’m glad we had this conversation and yes I do agree with you about having a government-private partnership. A succesful government always needs this combination. A lot of European countries today are looking at businesses as there enemy.

    I’m on Face book as well but I live in London. I have been here over 3 years.

    Ps: I only go to the pub about once a month, if that.

    Best Regards

  37. David, We in the Association completely agree with you. We have also taken the position that the Treaty of Rome have not delivered the promised benefits to Irish citizens under Article 25 of the Treaty. Fot this reason and others we are encouraging all motorists to VOTE NO to the forthcoming so called “Reform Treaty”. Our Government went behind our backs when on the 22nd. January 1972, they took away these benefits by means of Protocol 7 of the Accession Treaty and told no-one come referendum time. We advocate this at our public meetings. The winners and losers of the Treaty of Rome were ‘declared in advance’. It is time that the Irish Citizen ‘woke up’ once and for all and as you say stop allowing ourselves being treated as the ‘boot-boys’ of Europe or as ‘second-class’ citizens. We are presently talking to solicitors with a view to abolishing this dispicable VRT and taking on the Government and Europe and also to have this VRT refunded to every citizen that purchased a new or imported a second hand car into Ireland and that in any event there should be a Europe wide registration scheme and not a situation where Irish citizens are forced to replace their existing registration plates with ‘irish’ plates and be charged thousands of Euro in the process. If there is anyone out there willing to contribute to creating a ‘fund’ to legally challenge this ‘rip-off’, let us hear from you and end this thing once and for all. Thanks for your comments David. We are with you. See our website for contact details. We have made numerous submissions to Government departments who respond with childish replies including our public consultation document demanding the abolition of VRT and its refunding to Irish Citizens.

  38. Eugene Gallagher

    Much as I hate to dent the view of the stormtroopers out harassing importers of foreign vehicles, I suggest you take a look at the large numbers of foreign registered vehicles driven by residents of Donegal.They usually have a variety of driving licences to accompany them, permitting them to rack up penalty points to their heart’s content.

    Not only is the State not terrorising motorists, it doesn’t even know which country many of them live in. Governments tend to reflect their electorates. Who votes the scam artists in? People of a similar mind set.

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