Tag Archives: ronan gallagher

Taxman

If you drive a car I’ll tax the street,
If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat,
If you get too cold, I’ll tax the heat,
If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet.

Should five per cent appear too small,
Be thankful I don’t take it all.
‘Cos I’m the Taxman,
Yeah yeah, I’m the Taxman.

And you’re working for no one but me.

I was reminded of the above Beatles song while listening the other day to Joe Duffy on RTE’s ever popular Liveline in which a cash strapped small business owner told the nation how a 6,000 euro tax arrears bill, through penalties and interest, had quickly notched up to 16,000 in a very short space of time. The Revenue Commissioners it seems, cared little about his financial problems, were pursuing him for the full amount,  and had sent the Sheriff  to collect their money on a number of occasions.

One has to really question the Revenue Commissioners approach to this problem, especially in view of the current financial difficulties caused by the recession and credit crunch. Whilst their primary purpose is to collect taxes due to the state, they also have a responsibility to ensure that in doing so they do not damage the economy further.

Rather than penalising and taking such a heavy handed approach with taxpayers in arrears, why does the Revenue Commissioner not take a NAMA type approach to the problem? They could for instance adopt a policy of gathering the arrears over an agreed and sustainable payment period, as long as current taxes are being paid also. After all, the much put upon taxpayer, trying to survive a recession caused by banks, developers, and Government incompetence, sees their taxes going not to health, education, and other services, but to bolstering the finances of politicians expense accounts, bailing out bankers and developers, and rewarding incompetence and greed with large pensions and golden handshakes. If the Revenue Commissioner adopted a more pragmatic and conciliatory approach to these troubled companies, they could help alleviate the financial difficulties of many small business’s, maintain current tax revenues, and hopefully keep the jobs (and the tax revenues they generate) in these business’s long enough to be able to survive the recession which is crippling them through no fault of their own.

If the Revenue Commissioner does not already see that this makes good sense for our economy, and for our society, then should he/she be collecting our taxes at all?  Or should someone with a more sensible approach take over the role? Someone who realises that being a taxman or taxwoman is not just about collecting revenue, it’s also about ensuring our economy remains healthy and is able to maintain the revenues required to support services.

I can’t see where top heavy penalties, liquidations, business closures, and forcing people on to the dole queues will help that.

‘Cos I’m the Taxman,
Yeah yeah, I’m the Taxman.


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Lisbon: Post Coital.

The Lisbon Treaty referendum which we just went through was a bit like sex for Catholics.  We wanted to do it, but was it right? In the heat of the moment, with Lisbon, beautiful Lisbon, spread before us and simmering with seductive promise, we gave in, and in one  lustful moment threw caution to the wind resulting in a Yes! Yes! Yessssss! And now, as we lie, exhausted, sated, and puffing ponderously on  the post coital cigarette, the first tinges of guilt and the prospects of regret begin to creep in.

The tinges of guilt will stem from the fact that perhaps the whole thing was kind of forced, that in our lust we just couldn’t take no for an answer, the prospects of regret perhaps coming from the knowledge that now that we have made our bed, we must lie in it and can only hope we don’t get the wet side.

And if we do get the wet side what then? As the pro Lisbon forces in the country danced ‘the seven veils’ in front of our eyes, tantalising us with the promise of better things to come, they risked raising our excitement and expectation to levels they might not be able to live up to. The promise of jobs, economic stability, and a voice at the center of Europe was at the heart of the Yes campaign’s seductive moves as they strutted their stuff in a sensuous political pole dance which ended with them having their way with us. But as we all know, relationships often change and after the memory of the climax of our yes vote has faded, if those promises are not fulfilled, will we look to our bedfellow with the same dreamy, lust filled eyes? Or, in the cold light of day, will we  begin to see imperfections in our partner? If the result of the seduction does not lead to an improvement in our economy, more jobs, and our voice being heard effectively in Europe, will we become more distant and more critical? Will our lust turn to resentment, anger and ultimately blame? Will we begin to see Europe as a mistake, and, as with all mistakes in relationships, will it eventually lead  to increased pressure for a parting of the ways? And what if the same unfulfilled promise results in similar ‘relationship difficulties’ for other countries who ratified Lisbon, many without being even allowed to vote? What then for this new post coital Europe?

Will we be sitting together around the table come breakfast time or will we prefer to quietly slip out of the bed, sneak down the stairs and scuttle off into the cold, lonely, dark of the night? The outcome of this relationship depends on whether the seed of our seduction bears fruit or falls on barren ground. It is an outcome which now lies firmly in the control of our seducer whose power over us has been greatly enhanced with Lisbon.

Let us hope it is a power and an outcome that lives up to it’s promise.

For all our sakes.


Fab Vinnie, David Lee Roth and Michael O Leary

Back in the early eighties Dave Lee Roth, the spandex wearing ‘wella’ haired front man for 80’s superband Van Halen was being interviewed by Vincent Hanley otherwise known as ‘Fab Vinnie’ for the then hugely popular MT-USA Show on RTE. Vinnie, obviously in awe of the golden haired Roth, couldn’t contain himself and asked him what it was like to be so fabulously wealthy?

With a deft wave of a gold and diamond bejewelled hand, Roth flicked back his hair and looked right at Vinnie with those dreamy eyes and said

‘ You know Vincent, by the time I get to pay my manager, my lawyers, my accountants, my staff, my entertainment bills and the taxman, I’ve just about enough left to buy a small Caribbean island!’

I was reminded of this the other day while watching Michael ‘Arc Angel’ O Leary tell the nation in RTE’s Prime Time debate on Lisbon that we should vote for Lisbon because we are broke, because it is good for business and because he would rather have Europe run Ireland than the ‘Shower of incompetents in Leinster house‘. Michael went on to tell us that he was an important businessman. He employed a thousand people. He paid huge amounts of taxes here in his home country and told the nation that he brought inward investment with his company Ryan Air. Readers should note that it was at that point the memory of Vincent Hanley interviewing Mr Roth nearly a quarter of a century ago popped into my head.

You see, when Michael pays all his taxes etc you can be sure that his take home cheque wont leave him standing at the ATM machine praying to the God of ATM machines to please give him something, anything except that heart sinking message of

‘Sorry you have insufficient funds for this transaction’.

That aside, as long as Mr O Leary pays his fair amount of taxes and covers his costs which I’m sure he does, no matter how much he pays he should not feel that he has any rights or privileges over other tax payers, or that this gives him a right to a bigger say in our democracy than any other citizen of this state, be they taxpayer or welfare recipient.

And there’s where my problem with Europe lies. Deep under my skin I get the creeping feeling that Europe is getting more concerned about markets than people. More concerned about the economic imperative than the  social one. The more I hear ‘We need to be at the heart of Europe winning friends and influencing people‘, I can’t help but wonder if the whole European project amounts to nothing more than a lobbyists paradise? If so why not send a ‘Frank Dunlop’ to Brussels and save all this voting malarkey. Frankly speaking, a word in the right ear from a ‘Frank’ would surely see a jacuzzi in every house in the land. Just imagine it. A Europe with a budget worth billions of euro, covering nearly half a billion people, controlled by a gargantuan political structure where things get done by ‘winning friends and influencing people’ and where the social agenda is being tamed to allow free market conditions to prevail. What’s not to like for  Michael and many like him. It’s a businessman’s paradise!

So every time I hear a well paid business man, politician, economist, banker,  or lawyer tell the nation that they too are sharing the cuts and the pain like everyone else in this seemingly ‘banama’d’ republic, the memory of Mr Roth comes back to me. It rises up when I hear well paid commentators and journalists tell the nation that public sector pay must be cut, education and health cuts must be implemented, that we are all living beyond our means. And it really hits home when one realises that the cuts that the well heeled are taking are more than the average yearly wage of over 80% of the people in this country.

Europe and Ireland. A world of equals? I don’t think so.


Guest of the Nation

A short film I made some time back about an asylum seeker awaiting news of his family back home. Given the issue of asylum seekers raised it’s head this week I thought it would act as a reminder to people what many of them are running from.

The film highlights the plight of many asylum seekers who have been traumatised and tormented by forces in their own countries, many of whose regimes are encouraged and supported for financial and geo-political reasons by the very countries in the west that seek to stop such people seeking sanctuary. The film hopes to stimulate debate as to whether we should be looking at the push factors in the refugee issue as well as the pull factors.  What drives them to travel great distances, risk life and limb to get to our shores? In many cases it is because of brutality and human rights abuses, in many more it is for economic reasons brought about by appalling corruption and mismanagement of their economies by corrupt Governments, many of whose leaders are welcomed here as ‘Guests of the Nation’ having millions of taxpayers money spent on lavishing them in gifts, honours and trade.

A very different welcome than we extend to the victims of these same leaders.



Laws of Attraction

Some time back at the height of the boom, a high ranking member of one of the countries leading tourism bodies called for Ireland to build a ‘super attraction’, something like the Eden Project in the heart of the English countryside, a kind of ‘super botanical garden’ which apparently attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. The idea is that this ‘super attraction’ would bring lots and lots of people into the country and help boost our tourism revenues. Maybe it would and maybe it wouldn’t, but the notion that we need super attractions, whether they be Disney fairgrounds or well meaning scientific projects, underlines the fact that we have been obsessed with new development and have paid less and less regard to our most important and oldest attraction, our landscape and our heritage. It also says a lot about modern Ireland and how we see our selves in the twenty first century and gives us an indication of where we might be headed for in the future.

Ireland was not called the Emerald Isle for nothing. It described fairly accurately the first and immediate impressions of nearly every first time visitor to these shores. They saw a green and pleasant land rooted firmly to a vibrant and friendly rural community. Many of these visitors were people who spent most of their lives living in highly developed sprawling suburban landscapes that, while comfortable and modern, lacked charm, had no sense of history and no connection to the land or people around them. They holidayed in Ireland to get away from all that, not to see it replicated here.

Are we in danger of turning rural Ireland into such a place? Could we end up with a large modern urban sprawl with no charm, no scenery and no heritage? A kind of ‘Celtic Tiger Theme Park’ super attraction?  We don’t need to look too far to see that the pressures of modern Ireland as a vibrant economy weighed heavily on rural Ireland. All around the country large tracts of land were being traded for large housing or industrial developments while more and more farmers are forced to leave the land. Many small towns and villages around Ireland have been changed irrevocably due to the development of houses in and around them. This has had the effect of giving them a more urban or perhaps suburban feel. The white and yellow road markings, traffic islands and red brick pavements in our redeveloped towns and villages while making a place look tidy and fresh and possibly safer, do nothing to add to the charm and rural feel they once had. Every day it seems, another piece of rural Ireland is lost to us.

And what loss is it? A big loss actually. A loss which in future years could cost us dearly. Our landscape and our heritage is the very thing that makes us attractive in the first place. It is our very own ‘super attraction’ and it is an attraction that Disney and all of Hollywood couldn’t hold a candle to.  It is unique to us, and though it was forged from the past, it is as important to our future as the air we breathe today is to our present. It is our greatest asset and with its loss we might find that the stream of visitors and holidaymakers to this country and the accompanying revenues they bring will dry up to a mere trickle, something which may have terrible consequences for us all as we forge ahead into the twenty first century.


Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Underworld Trailer

A trailer for Underworld, one of my films with Don Baker and Michael McElhatton. If you like the trailer you can watch the full 20min film free at my site Iron Mountain Movies.  Just click on the Underworld thumbnail on the home page to view the film.  Don’t forget to turn up the volume and turn out the lights…

You’re not afraid of the dark?….

Are you?


John McGahern Documentary

Three Days In Summer

Documentary on Irish author JohnMcGahern


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