Tag Archives: RTE


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.

Deja Vu

Listening today to An Taoiseach Brian Cowan on RTE’s News at One exhorting us all to vote yes in the second, upcoming referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, I had a terrible sense of Deja Vu. You know that feeling where you are sure you have heard or lived through something before?

Our glorious leader warned us all that the best way to keep our commissioner was to vote yes. If we wanted to be at the heart of Europe we should vote yes. If we wanted to retain our ‘influence’ in Europe we should vote yes. If we didn’t want to be shunned by Europe we should vote yes.

Hadn’t I heard all this before not more than fifteen months ago? Did not our Taoiseach Mr Cowan himself tell us all this during the first and very recent referendum? Didn’t he have anything new to bring to the table? Then it occurred to me that I might possibly be listening to an interview which RTE had dragged up from the archives of the last referendum debate, but no, the presenter clearly informed the listeners that the interview was conducted live in the studio today Wednesday Sept 02 2009.

Is it truly possible that this Government thinks that it can win this referendum by repeating the arguments of the last one, arguments which were rejected by the people little more than a year ago? Is it conceivable that despite all the consultations, summits and other activities since the last referendum the Taoiseach can only come up with a repeat of the same arguments put forward back then? Or is it possible that Mr Cowan, having seen the so called ‘legal guarantees’ being exposed as little more than a toothless political agreement between heads of state, now realises that in fact what he is putting to the people next October is exactly the same as was put to them over a year ago, hence the repetition of the same argument as last time? And if this is true then could not Mr Cowan and many on the yes side be accused of corrupting and manipulating our democratic process to suit their wishes over those of the people by presenting the exact same argument which the people rejected on June 13 last year by a sizeable 53.4% of the votes?

A further worrying familiarity is that at the end of the interview Mr Cowan was asked again if he had read the treaty. This was a question he chose, for whatever reason, not to answer, instead preferring to tell us that the Government and all Departments would be ‘au-fe’ (I’ve never really understood what the hell that means) with all aspects of the treaty.

Today’s interview raises many questions which those who have been through the first referendum will find familiar. That is because they are exactly the same questions raised last time out. Questions like, if we vote no will we lose our Commissioner? If we vote no will we be shunned by Europe, and if so, who wants any part of that kind of democracy? Is our influence in Europe dependent on us saying yes to everything Europe demands? Oh and one last but very important one. Has our Taoiseach actually read the treaty this time?

Please tell us that you have Taoiseach….Please….

See what I mean about Deja Vu!

Where are they now?

Dan McLaughlin. Remember him? Yeah, sure you do! You know, the economist guy with the Bank of Ireland who became one of the cheerleaders of the ‘celtic tiger’. Dan was a great man for figures and abbreviations. A few years back when the party was in full swing all RTE had to do was point a camera at Dan and he would let off a volley of CAPITAL LETTERS, percentages, numbers, and statistics to reassure us all that said party would not be coming to an end any time in the near future. The housing market was sound. The economy was in fantastic shape. Ireland was a world beater! Dan the man!  Dan the Bullish Man!

Funny thing is that if you add a t to Bullish and then move the sh in front of the i you come up with possibly a more suitable and descriptive word for Dan. Go on. You know you want to try it!

Of course Dan the Bullish Man was only doing his job. And a bloody great job he did too. Talking up the property market, talking up the economy, talking up the bank that paid his wages. Sure what else would you expect him to do? Anyone with an ounce of wit would know that right? Anyone that is, apart from the mandarins in RTE who seemed to hang unquestionably on his every word.

One has to wonder at the wisdom of paying too much attention to the bullish outpourings of someone who clearly had  a vested interest in talking up the economy. Nonetheless, Dan had his day. Bullishly telling us from TV screens, print and internet media, how wonderful life was. Always dapper, always well versed, Dan oozed positivity and confidence so that we all could feel good about ourselves as we spent our way to nirvana.

Then, one day, without warning or fanfare, Dan the Bullish Man, disappeared. Disappeared before our very eyes he did, and since that day not a trace of him has been found. RTE in particular seem to have great difficulty in finding him. Apparently a huge search was conducted within the RTE campus for him. Every basement, disused studio, props department, and costume cupboard  was thoroughly searched but they found no sign of the man. Many RTE staff and personnel were asked to check the outhouses and sheds of their houses in the hope he might have followed them home, but alas, nothing. Some say he has taken himself to the desert to live the life of a hermit in an attempt to reshape his vision of the world. Others claim to have seen him in many places around the world, yet none can pin him to one location.

It seems that Dan the Bullish Man has completely slipped off the radar of the Irish psyche and having blazed a trail during the boom years, has finally been put out to grass.

I wonder why?

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