Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy; Revenue’s Help to Buy Incentive; journalist Paul O’Donoghue

Today.

In The Times Ireland edition.

Paul O’Donoghue has looked at the Government’s Help To Buy scheme, which aims to help first-time buyers purchase new homes, and analysed who the scheme is helping…

He writes:

In September the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO), a body set up to provide independent advice to TDs and senators, found that the scheme had cost the state a lot of money and tended to benefit well-off households more.

…The analysis also revealed that while homes worth €225,000 or less account for almost half of sales, only 13 per cent of people using Help to Buy bought property at this price.

Meanwhile, 21 per cent of claimants bought properties worth more than €375,000, which requires an income of almost €100,000. This was well above the national median salary in 2016 [€45,256], the latest year for which figures are available.

“This suggests that the scheme is largely benefiting households at the higher end of the income distribution,” the PBO said.

the assistance could apply only to homes worth a lower amount, such as €300,000. At present it is €500,000.

…But neither Fine Gael nor Fianna Fáil is proposing that. Instead, people using Help to Buy will get more money. Again, this will probably go disproportionately to wealthier households.

There you go now.

Help to Buy throws money at the wrong people (Paul O’Donoghue, The Times Ireland edition)

Previously: ‘It’s Not Possible To Make Housing More Affordable By Just Increasing Supply’

This morning.

Via Fingal County Council:

Fingal County Council invites applications for the Artists’ Support Scheme 2020, which provides funding of up to €4,000 to assist individual professional artists to develop their practice.

The Scheme is open to practising artists working in music, visual art, drama, literature, dance and other forms at all stages in their professional careers who were born, have studied, or currently reside in the Fingal administrative area.

Artists can apply for funding under one of three Application Types: Residency, Travel/Professional Development, and Bursary towards the Development of Work.

Projects or initiatives supported by the fund must take place from May 1 to December 31, 2020.

Application form here

Closing date February 22 at 4pm.

Via a Canada=-based Reddit user, :

‘Anyone else find it weird that a company located in Victoria British Columbia [Canada] is so active in elections around the world?

For those who don’t know, this is the company that was under severe investigation due to taking part in the Brexit and Ted Cruz campaigns of yesteryear.

In this latest example AggregateIQ is running a company called “Gript” targeted at Irish voters.

It has tens of thousands of followers in Ireland and purports itself to be a local-to-Ireland company. (registered in Ireland as “GRIPT MEDIA LIMITED”)

I mean could you be more sketchy AggregateIQ?

Oh yeah, they can.

Their privacy page is just a never ending loading screen…’

Anyone?

Why is Victoria-based AggregateIQ fooling around with ANOTHER foreign election? “This Time its Ireland” Edition (Reddit)

Gript Media

UPDATE:

Via John McGuirk

EARLIER:

Billboard from SIPTU’s ‘Stop 67’ campaign

This morning.

SIPTU’s Deputy General Secretary Ethel Buckley spoke to RTÉ Radio One’s Seán O’Rourke about the union’s “Stop 67” campaign to stop plans to raise Ireland’s State pension age to 67 from January 1, 2021.

Ms Buckley said the campaign has been running for “a number of months” but today’s launch of the campaign is being carried out in conjunction with other groups such as the National Women’s Council of Ireland, Age Action and Active Retirement.

From the interview…

Ethel Buckley: “Our priority is to ensure that the legislation is changed so that they do not proceed with 67 on New Year’s Day [2021] and we have not heard yet, from Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil that they will repeal the legislation.

“So our campaign will continue, in fact it will ramp up to get those commitments from those parties.

“And the first priority of the next administration, however that will be made up, is to repeal the legislation and then to engage in a negotiation, a real negotiation, on the issues presented by State pension age in the long term.

“The progressive parties have said that they will legislate to remove the 67 increase, with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have not yet.”

Seán O’Rourke: “Well, effectively, have they not done the same thing by saying they will have a transition payment, equivalent to the pension?”

“No, I have not heard them saying that it is equivalent to what people would receive on the State pension. What I have heard them say is they will continue the transitional arrangement that was there.

“And that represents a gap of €45 in the income of a single person and €76 for a couple between the transition payment and what you would get on a State pension…”

O’Rourke: “I’m just looking at what Fianna Fáil have said. They will pay sums equivalent to the old-age pension to people over 65 in the meantime, pending a review.”

Buckley: “In 2017, there was a Joint Oireachtas committee looking at the issue of the State pension. And there were very prominent members of the Fianna Fáil party, including Willie O’Dea, the pensions spokesperson, on that committee.

“And the committee recommended to the minister, in July 2017, to conduct a review and to not go ahead with 67 as planned.

“That was in July 2017, we’re now in January 2020 and they have not done that. So we have heard this before from Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

“And we need cast-iron guarantees and what people need is that cast-iron guarantee before they go to the polls on the 8th of February.

“People need to know exactly not idle promises, they need definite commitments.”

O’Rourke: “And what about the cost of this? I mean what’s your estimate of the cost?”

Buckley: “Well, the minister’s estimate of the cost, she [Regina Doherty] was, there were parliamentary questions put to the minister Regina Doherty on the 10th, 11th and 12th of December and she said, on the record on the Dáil, that the annual net cost is €217billion a year. Those are the minister’s figures.

“And we accept them.”

O’Rourke: “Yes, but I mean the gross figure is €430million and that’s the basis upon which they must operate. And what you’re saying is the net thing, which I suppose, you know, it allows for what the State would claw back in income tax and so forth.”

Meanwhile…

Election 2020 leaflet from Age Action.

Via Age Action

Listen back in full here

EARLIER:

This Saturday, at noon.

Outside the Intreo office on Cork Street in Dublin 8.

People Before Profit’s Bríd Smyth, above right, who’s hoping to retain her Dáil seat in Dublin South Central, will host a protest over the pension age increase.

She writes:

“Next year the age at which a person qualifies for a state pension will increase to 67. Each year’s increase in the pension age costs a worker €12,911 a year.

“So, next year, the Irish state will save €25,822 for every worker in the country. This is a shocking robbery and must be stopped. This is will be one of the highest retirement ages in the developed world.

“People Before Profit TDs want to restore the pension age to 65. We shall try to initiate a major ‘people power’ movement that will seeks to follow the example of French workers and restore an established retirement age.”

Pension protest: Restore the pension age to 65! (Facebook)

Previously: When I’m 65

Grey Expectations

From top: Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar arriving at Virgin Media One HQ last night and in studio with Pat Kenny (centre); Eamonn Kelly

In social employment schemes you work a half a week and another person works the other half of the same week.

This idea has been brought over to government now, with FG’s week finished and Fianna Fáil looking to fill the warm seat.

The Great Debate at least confirmed that sad little fact. That should the voting fall a certain way that FG would be prepared to take the secondary role in a confidence and supply arrangement, with Micheál at the helm.

However, unlike a social employment scheme, this arrangement can be cheated a little and the same person might continue, claiming the whole job at the expense of the other.

This is what election 2020 is about, to decide who wins the work scheme, Leo or Micheál.

And since both parties are agreed to never go into government with Sinn Féin, the other 20+something party according to some polls, it’s clear they can only go into government with each other, with maybe a few Greens to balance their diets.

Which meant that this wasn’t really a debate as such, it was more like theatre, and might well have been considered for an IFTA nomination if it hadn’t been so lacking in drama.

This was not a debate in the accepted sense of the word. That is, two opposing views presenting opposite sides of a clearly discernible difference of opinion in a classical thesis, anti-thesis, synthesis type of way.

This was more like two right shoes deciding on how they might go for walk without looking too awkward. Or two negative charges deciding which of them will adopt the role of positive charge for the sake of appearances.

I’ve heard better debates in the pub, because at least there were honest opposing views, even if both sides were a little bit pissed. Maybe even because both sides were a little bit pissed.

Here the debate was centred on tweaking something that was already taken for granted, namely a centre right position on the spectrum, with accompanying conservative world-view. With both sides shadow-boxing on an agreeing to disagree basis.

Because no matter what happens, both will still either be chief or chief in waiting, and both positions have their perks.

But both are the same sides of the same coin, two horses of the same colour, two peas in the same pod, two flies in the same ointment. And debate as they might they will only ever produce the same thing: an overwhelming neutral.

At best maybe two neutrals of the same neutral collapsing into a singularity, with a great big politician’s smile.

There was no difference between them because there was no representation of even one idea from the centre left side of the political spectrum, the very ingredient that Sinn Féin might have brought to the dead party, to put a little zest in the political sauce.

It was like a house party without the in-laws. All you could do to energise proceedings was talk about them in their absence.

This meeting of same minds was so safely conservative that it’s a surprise that they didn’t manage to nullify one another in some kind of cosmic mutual cancellation, both vanishing into thin air with a loud pop, leaving Pat Kenny alone with only a pair of large contact lenses show-horned into his haggard eyes to afford us a vision of the future.

This was an event so lacking in necessary fundamental oppositions that it was flat stale coming out of the oven, if not dead on delivery, lacking as it was in the complimentary chemical compounds necessary for the animation of even the most basic cellular life forms found on Planet Earth.

As a debate it was a one-legged man, a one-balled dictator, two clones of a clone affecting individuality but determined to remain identical.

Two safe conservative twins glued forever to their centre right positions, singing the same tune, not even in harmony, but in deadly, toneless, monotonous unison.

Eamonn Kelly is a freelance Writer and Playwright.

Previously: Eamonn Kelly on Broadsheet

Rollingnews

Earlier:Dan Boyle: All Talk

Buzzin’

A very impressive remote control scale replica of a 1962 Oldsmobile Dynamic 88 Fiesta station wagon complete with built in chassis squeaks and engine noises, lights and an Arduino controlled active suspension that can raise and lower the car, allowing it to react to weight shifts and drift impressively.

awesomer

From top: then Fine Gael Leader Enda Kenny and then Taoiseach and Leader of Fianna Fail Bertie Ahern in the RTÉ Prime Time studio for the General Election 2007 TV Debate, May 18, 2007; Dan Boyle

Head to head debates during election campaigns rarely have the consequences they are portrayed as having. The format is unsuitable for the collective short term attention span we have evolved in having.

The winning is in perception, often informed by the superficial, and when it is by anything said it is by the glib soundbite than by any profound truth spoken.

The Kennedy/Nixon debate in 1960 launched the template of modern political intercourse, a template that has barely altered since.

Kennedy was deemed to have won the debate by virtue of appearing younger and more vibrant. Those who listened to the debate on radio, where greater consideration could be given to tone and content, marked the debate a draw.

Since then most set pieces seem to have become reduced to an incessant search for a zinger. The telling phrase, as short as possible and easily remembered.

Even when achieved they often have little effect on the eventual outcome.

When Lloyd Bentsen put down the embarrassingly ineffectual Dan Quayle in 1988, it didn’t stop George Bush Snr. becoming US President, nor Quayle his Vice President.

If the format has varied very little and its effect has been largely oversold, there have been examples when changing numbers taking part in a debate has had some effect.

In the US in 1992 and the UK in 2010 the introduction of third candidates did seem to affect voter behaviour.

Ross Perot and Nick Clegg took advantage of their participation in debates to gain greater support for their political platforms.

What third candidate participation achieved after these debates was not the breakthrough of a competing ideology, rather it identified a receptacle for the plague on both your houses vote.

While both Perot and Clegg achieved significant votes, because of the electoral college in the US, and first past the post in the UK, neither achieved an impact their votes would have had under a more proportionate system.

The history of head to head candidate debates in Ireland has hardly been littered with stellar moments. Because of that it can’t be claimed that such debates have been campaign defining or changing.

The last such significant debate was held between Bertie Ahern and Enda Kenny in the general election campaign of 2007. Neither had ever had been thought of as skilled debaters. Those expectations were met.

Modern politics has ‘developed’ to such an extent that, through an army of consultants and advisors, image has become paramount; content a potential trip zone.

If the main protagonists look the same, sound the same, behave the same and largely believe in the same things; how are they meant to be differentiated?

In the Ahern/Kenny 2007 debate Ahern was perceived to have had won because he was thought to be the more competent manager. Managing to keep a smooth running economy perform to expectation. That was what it was thought the electorate wanted.

Ironic I know.

We learn little from these debates. At best they confirm whether momemtum exists and can be sustained.

Despite protestations during every election campaign that many voters have yet to make up their minds up, most have. It is thought that on election day of those who vote, eighty per cent of those voters vote as they would do on day one of an election campaign.

Except under our system it is how votes subsequently transfer that determines the third, fourth and fifth seats in most constituencies. That is well worth continuing to argue over.

Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator and serves as a Green Party councillor on Cork City Council. His column appears here every Thursday. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle

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