Friday 30 November 2012

Brady slams Fine Gael and Labour as they try introduce Fianna Fáil's Property Tax Plans

Wicklow Sinn Fein County Councillor John Brady had stated that Fianna Fáil are not credible on property tax as they proposed it in Government and are opposing it in opposition. In Fianna Fáil's National Recovery Plan 2011-2014 they proposed a property tax, watercharges, significant reductions in frontline public sector workers, the recruitment moratorium, increasing the student contribution fee, massive cuts to social welfare supports were all measures. Much of these issues are in fact currently been perused by Labour and FineGael.

The Sinn Féin Councillor said " I find it very amusing to listen to Fianna Fáil and the hypocrisy they are spouting on the issue of property tax. Much of the policy measures currently pursued by FineGael and Labour were in fact already committed to by Fianna Fáil in government. Fianna Fáil’s National Recovery Plan 2011 –2014 included a property tax, water charges, significant reductions in frontline public sector workers, the recruitment moratorium, increasing the student contribution fee, massive cuts to social welfare supports were all measures".

Brady went onto say "Micheál Martin was a member of the cabinet who signed off on all of them before Fianna Fáil were kicked out of power. For Fianna Fáil to come out now and say they are opposed to the tax is pure opportunism and it simply doesn't wash with the public. Fianna Fáil are simply not credible on property tax. They proposed it in Government and are opposing it in opposition. When they say ‘wrongtime’ they say this because they are now in opposition".

The Wicklow County Councillor continued "Unlike the system in the North of Ireland which has been imposed by Westminister, householders at least get some return for the money they pay there. In the 26 counties people will still have to pay a raft of other stealth taxes along with the property tax, such as refuse collection, water charges, higher motor tax and fire-service charges to name a few. Sinn Féin are working towards breaking the link to Westminster and giving total fiscal control to the Assembly to fundamentally change the system in the North and allow Irish people control their own financial destiny".

Brady concluded “This is not about broadening the tax base. This is about hitting the same people once again who have borne the brunt of this recession. There are 160,000 families with distressed mortgages.It is estimated the average rate of property tax will be around €300 under a self-assessment system. The value of the home will go up in bands of €50,000 and it will be calculated by self-assessment. Householders will pay the rate attached to the nearest €50,000 band, so a house worth €235,000 will pay the rate for all houses between €200,000 and €250,000 of €500. The property tax is expected to range from €200 to €400 for most homeowners. The property tax will be the last straw for struggling householders and will be difficult to implement. Fine Gael and Labours plan to tax the family home is straight out of Fianna Fáil’s four year plan. The government is continuing to implement the brutal austerity plan Fianna Fáil put in place. There is an alternative and Sinn Féin has proposed a wealth tax is both fair and easy to implement".

Wednesday 28 November 2012

Wicklow Sinn Fein to hold pre budget Protest

Wicklow Sinn Féin are to hold a Pre budget protest this Saturday, 1st
December at 2pm. The protest will take place outside the constituency office 
of Wicklow Labour TD Anne Ferris and it will happen only days before
Budget 2013 which will take place on Wednesday 5th December. Sinn Fein
are campaigning for a fair budget, against cuts and against the
property tax.

Speaking ahead of Saturdays protest Sinn Féin County Councillor John
Brady said "We are asking people to take to the streets of Bray on
Saturday to demand a fair budget.  Sinn Féin have shown in our pre
budget submission that there is a better way. We have been told that
this will be another tough budget and that there will be cuts and
taxes of €3.5 billion included, this will be the 5th consecutive
budget of its type and its simply deepening the recession and
increasing unemployment".

Cllr Brady went on to say "Politics is all about choices and its clear
the Government have choices to make on December 5th. We are simply
asking for fairness and this simply means those who can pay a little
bit more doing so, fairness also means protecting struggling families
and cuts starting at the top. It has been well flagged that Labour and
Fine Gael are planning on introducing a property tax, this will be the
last straw for struggling householders and will be difficult to
implement. A wealth tax is both fair and easy to implement. The main
message of the pre budget protest is tax wealth, not homes".

Cllr Brady concluded "I am asking people who what to see fairness in
next weeks budget to come out on Saturday and join in the protest, it
will take place outside the office of Labour TD Anne Ferris and will
be a chance for people to let their voices be heard prior to the

Friday 23 November 2012

Sinn Fein alternative budget protects families, frontline services and jobs - Brady

A €3.5 billion adjustment can be made next year through fair taxes and
savings and in turn protect families, frontline services and jobs,
according to Sinn Féin County Councillor John Brady. The Wicklow
Councillor was speaking following the launch of his party’s
alternative budget ‘Making the right choices.’ Outlining a number of
the party’s measures, Brady said that the government had choices
before it which could either push struggling families over the edge
while protecting the wealthiest in society, or ensure a larger
contribution from the wealthiest while the most vulnerable sectors are

Cllr Brady said “Budgets are about choices. Do you introduce a
property tax that calls on struggling households to pay more or do you
introduce a wealth tax that asks the most well off to pay more? Do you
cut Child Benefit or do you cut politicians’ and high paid civil
servants’ wages? Do you protect tax reliefs for those who can afford
to avail of them or do you reduce the cost of petrol and diesel for
everyone? These are the choices the government has before it. For my
party the choices are obvious.

“Sinn Féin agrees that a €3.5 billion adjustment can be made next
year. In ‘Making the right choices’ we set out proposals for that
deficit adjustment and for new expenditure measures, paid for by net
new taxes of €2.758 billion and public spending savings of €1.044
billion. We include the tax carry-over of €220 million and our
expenditure measures amount to €338.68 million.

“On the tax side, we have concentrated on sections of society which we
believe can afford to pay more. So we introduce a third rate of tax of
48% on income in excess of €100,000. We propose a 1% wealth tax on net
wealth in excess of €1 million, excluding business assets, working
farms, pension pots and 20% of the family home. We propose increases
in CGT and CAT, with a reduction in the CAT threshold. We propose
targeting tax evasion. We maintain all discretionary tax reliefs but
standardise them. We introduce consumer tax on gambling. We propose a
new third rate of PRSI of 15.75% for employers on income paid over
€100,000 and we reduce the pensions related earning cap. The full list
of proposals is set out in the document and each of them is explained
through case studies and examples.

“Our savings include charging the full cost of private care in public
hospitals and increasing the use of generic drugs. We propose phasing
out the public subsidy of private schools. We want a social welfare
amnesty introduced. We want to see an emergency pay cap of €100,000
across the civil and public sector for three years, at which point we
would review the cap while bringing fairness to the remuneration paid
to the lowest and highest ranking civil and public servants. We
propose capping hospital consultant pay at €150,000, again for three
years. We also want to see politicians leading from the front, so we
propose reducing all Dáil and Seanad elected representatives’ pay,
scrapping allowances for chairs, abolishing the ‘super junior
minister’ payment, capping ministers’ special advisors’ pay, reducing
government jet spend and scrapping Oireachtas members’ mobile phone
set allowances. Again the full list is within the document and the
proposals are explained in detail.

“In addition to a section on protecting children’s rights, we also
include new expenditure to lift the recruitment embargo to hire 3,500
essential frontline staff; to resintate the almost one million home
help hours cut; to restore the training and material allowance for CE
schemes and to reduce the fee for non-doctor-referred A&E visits.

“A priority for us is to make life easier for struggling families. We
include proposals to reduce excise duty on fuel and diesel by 5 cent,
which will have a hugely positive effect on families, particularly in
rural Ireland. We take 296,000 low income workers out of the USC,
which will mean an extra €10 a week in the pocket of someone earning
€17,000 a year, or approximately €500 per year. We make allowances for
these on the tax side of our document, where we also include an
adjustment to allow for any loss after capping civil and public
servants at €100,000

“Sinn Féin has always said this crisis can be fixed by tackling
unemployment and the lack of growth, by overhauling the banks and
ending the tax payer subsidy and by cutting the deficit with fair,
growth friendly measures. These are our choices and the government
still has time to choose them too.”

The Sinn Fein Councillor concluded "The Sinn Fein alternative budget
is workable and realistic unlike the Fianna Fail proposals for Budget
2013. Thirteen of their proposals would hit those on low incomes
hardest and result in loss of jobs. Cutting capital expenditure will
mean fewer schools, fewer hospitals, less jobs and less tax revenue.
Cutting social welfare payments such as rent supplement and free
travel and increasing prescription charges for medical card holders
will hit those in greatest need hardest. What we need is a clear
change of direction. It is clear this government of Fine Gael and
Labour are singing from Fianna Fails hymn sheet, and its those polices
that have brought this Country to the very edge".

Thursday 22 November 2012

More needs to be done to protect the Language School Industry in Wicklow

Sinn Fein Councillor John Brady has said more needs to be done to
protect and help grow the English Language school Industry in Wicklow.
His calls follow an attack on a number of foreign students in Bray
over the last week. The industry brings thousands of students to
Wicklow each year and is worth several million Euro to the local

Speaking after meeting with a number of groups of students who have
been at the receiving end of both verbal and physical abuse the Sinn
Féin Councillor said "Wicklow and in particular Bray has long been
associated with foreign students, mainly coming from Spain, France and
Italy and in more recent years students are travelling from places as
far away as Brazil, Korea and China to learn English. In Bray there
are a large number of excellent English Language schools and these
bring in thousands of students each year, most students stay with
local families which in turn brings a little extra income into the
house. The vast majority of the time the students have a very
enjoyable and memorable stay, unfortunately there are a small number
of instances were students are attacked or targeted by mindless,
narrow minded thugs. Bray Town Council needs to take the led in
ensuring that everything that can be done will be done to promote the
protect the industry and they need to work with the schools and the
Gardaí as part of that process"

Cllr Brady continued "Unfortunately it is the attacks which happen on
a very small number of students each year that make the news. It would
be incorrect and foolish if we didn't admit that it happens, albeit
very rarely, to shy away from the issue is the wrong thing to do. We
need to tackle the issue head on to ensure the good name that Wicklow
has for hosting foreign students is protected. This is a multi million
euro industry and probably the biggest industry in Bray and more needs
to be done to protect it from the small number of short sighted thugs"

He went onto say the violence against foreigners was "a serious
social, educational, diplomatic and probably economic crisis that no
one is taking seriously enough. Unfortunately some schools have
already had to take the unprecedented step of curtailing some areas of
Bray where they can let students stay because of past incidents. This
has been a blow to the many local families in these areas who had
hosted students over many years without incident".

Cllr Brady concluded "I have already spoken to a large number of
students about their experiences in Wicklow which have mostly been
positive, unfortunately some had negative experiences. I am also
making arrangements to meet representatives of the schools to listen
to their concerns too and what they think can be done. There needs to
be an educational aspect to the solution and that needs to be about
showing some the real benefits locally of having students and this
could be done through the schools sponsoring local sports clubs for
example. I also plan on raising the issue at the next meeting of the
Joint Policing Committee (JPC), I will be asking for a permanent
position to be made for a representative from the foreign schools on
the JPC, so policing policies can be formulated to protect the
industry across Wicklow".

New Bray Municipal District Council should include areas of Bray which are in Co.Dublin

Wicklow Sinn Féin County Councillor John Brady has welcomed the
support he received at a recent Bray area meeting of Wicklow County
Council, to make a submission to the newly established Local Electoral
Area Boundary Committee. He received unanimous support to send a
submission asking to have areas of north Bray incorporated into the
new municipal district of the greater Bray area once its established
in 2014. Areas such as Corke Abbey and Old Connaught Avenue are
marginally over the county boundary and are currently administered by
Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council.

Speaking after the meeting Cllr Brady said "I am delighted that i
received unanimous agreement to make a submission to the newly formed
Local Electoral Area Boundary Committee which has been set up by Phil
Hogan. The Minister has said that the establishment of the Committee
is an important next step in implementing the Action Programme for
Effective Local Government and in reforming local government
structures. The review will have a specific goal of achieving a much
better balance and consistency in representational ratios, while
taking particular account of factors such as the location of towns in
the new municipal governance arrangement. Under the changes which are
due to come into effect in 2014 Bray Town Council will cease to exist
and a new municipal district will be created. It makes sense that the
Little Bray area that's currently in the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County
Council area would be managed and controlled by the new municipal
district made up of the greater Bray area"

Cllr Brady continued "I have been trying now for a number of years to
get the Bray Town boundaries extended so the one council would have
control of areas such as the Southern Cross Rd, Old Connaught Ave and
Corke Abbey areas of Little Bray. Currently Bray is controlled by
three different councils, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, Wicklow County
Council and Bray Town council and this has created many problems in
areas such as planning, maintenance and basic joined up thinking. This
current arrangement has served residents in many areas poorly and
needs to be addressed and i believe the  Local Electoral Area Boundary
Committee have an opportunity now to solve this problem once and for

The Wicklow Councillor went onto say "People living in the Little Bray
areas of Corke Abbey and Old Connaught Ave have a natural affinity to
Bray even though they live marginally over the County Boundary in
Dublin. Residents of these areas have a greater association with Bray
than they do with Dun Laoghaire, they school, shop, socialise, and
even go to mass in Bray and unfortunately because they are so far away
from Dun Laoghaire receive very little help from the council there. As
a Councillor i even get a lot of people in those areas asking for my
assistance on issues even though its outside my electoral area"

"The Minister has asked the new committee to report to him as soon as
possible and in any event no later than 31 May 2013. The committee
will make recommendations on local electoral area boundaries in the
context of the results of census 2011 and the Action Programme for
Effective Local Government published on 16 October 2012. In
recommending changes to local electoral areas, the Committee has been
asked to take due account of local and community identities and i
believe the communities identity in Little Bray needs to be taken into
account. The Bray area Councillors on Wicklow County County Wicklow
agreed with me on this issue and it was agreed that a submission would
be made to the Local Electoral Area Boundary Committee" concluded Cllr

Tuesday 20 November 2012

Council to remove costly unwanted fence from the Deerpark Estate

Late last week contractors working on behalf of Bray Town Council
moved into the Deerpark, Heatherwood Estates in Bray and started
erecting a fence the length of the public green which runs along by
the main road into the estate. There was a lot of concern and
opposition, no one including the Residents Association had been
consulted prior to this work commencing. However following a meeting
on site with the Residents Association and Cllr John Brady the council
has agreed to start removing the fence and the scrap their plans.

Cllr Brady said "The fence was not wanted or needed, the first anyone
knew about this was when the contractors started erecting the fence in
the middle of the public open space. There has been no consultation
with the Councillors or the very active residents association who use
the open space for their family fun days during the summer. Residents
in the area like the open plan of the green and a fence or hedge would
only create numerous problems in the area.

"The residents and i met an official from the council on Friday and
the concerns of the residents were put across to him. Thankfully  our
concerns have been taken on board and it has agreed to remove the
fence and scrap the plans for it"

Cllr Brady went onto say "There was deep concern by the residents in
the area that this was an attempt to start the process of trying to
open a through road onto the Southerncross Rd from the Boghall Rd. I
have stated to the council time and time again that any attempt to
force a road through the estate will be bitterly opposed by the
residents and myself"

Cllr Brady finished by saying "This shows again that consultation with
communities is critical rather than trying to impose things on them
without any input from them. The council must work with communities
and residents associations to identify what their needs are and then
work from there. Thankfully the council have agreed to reverse the
works they have started, however it has come at a needless expense
that could have been spent on other more needy projects in the area"

Sunday 18 November 2012

Wicklow is haemorrhaging people

Wicklow is haemorrhaging people, particularly young people, because they can't get jobs at home. 

Can there be a greater barometer to the failure of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour than the spectre of renewed mass emigration? Forced emigration sees sons and daughters, nephews and nieces, grandsons and granddaughters and even parents leaving their home to seek work abroad.

In the 26 Counties, there are now more than 460,000 people out of work and the unemployment rate has reached 14.8%.  In Wicklow there are 12,164 people currently unemployed. The collapse of the building industry has left more than 100,000 construction workers jobless. Youth unemployment has trebled since 2008. The Irish Congress of Trade Unions recently stated that one in three men under the age of 25 are unable to find work.

Unfortunately as shocking as these figures are, they don’t reflect the true picture of unemployment. Forced emigration has become accepted as part of what it means to be Irish.  For too long emigration has been dismissed as a necessary evil; a stop-gap solution to our unemployment problem. It reduced dole queues, removed the disaffected, and quelled the potential for public unrest.

Over 87,100 people left this state last year, an increase of 6,500 over the previous year. To put that in perspective, that’s more than the combined population of Bray, Greystones, Wicklow Town and Arklow. That breaks down at a daily average of 238, or one person every 303 seconds, which is just over five minutes. More people left the state, than sat the leaving cert last year. A generation is being lost to emigration as our skilled young people are forced to leave the country.

An entire generation of young people have been driven overseas in scenes reminiscent of the 1950s and 1980s. In County Leitrim, half of those between the ages of 22 and 26 have left. Here in Wicklow unfortunately we are no different to Counties such as Leitrim. Behind the statistics there are communities and families that are torn apart. Once again people from every town and village and from almost every family, people are being forced into involuntary exile. My family is no different to the thousands of other families that have been torn apart; I have lost 2 brothers to emigration, one to Australia and the other to South East Asia.

The 'brain drain' sucked the marrow out of Ireland's social and economic development in the last recession and we are again seeing history repeat itself with some of our brightest and best  making what Finance Minister Michael Noonan disgracefully called a “lifestyle choice” and leave their friends and families behind in the hope of a brighter future on foreign shores. There is a wealth of knowledge and skills that should be Irelands and Wicklow’s, but is, instead, distributed around the world.

The impact emigration is having on families and communities is devastating.  Once again GAA clubs and sporting organisations up and down Wicklow are being stripped of their very lifeblood as younger members leave by boat and plane in search of work and hope and a future. In one small Wicklow village, Kilmacanogue 15 young men under the age of 30 have recently packed up and gone, this is an entire GAA team and these have been joined by 2 entire families who have sold up everything and left the village and County they loved, unfortunately probably never to return.

The overall point is that we are losing a significant slice of the present generation of young people.  What is perfectly clear is that we need a change of direction. It may be too late for some but with a real economic alternative as laid out by Sinn Fein we can give our young people a life, a career and a sense of place in a modern Ireland. We have tried the alternative and South East Asia, Toronto and Melbourne are reaping the benefits. As a parent of a young family I fear what the future holds for my children, I am a proud Irishman like many others who have had their families ripped apart but unless there is a change of direction I will find it very difficult to stop my children moving Down Under to find employment and a better life, and who knows they might even get to meet their dear cousin they have never had the joy of meeting.  

Friday 16 November 2012

A large crowd turned up to listen to Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou
McDonald speak at a public meeting which was held in the Esplanade
Hotel In Bray on Thursday evening last. The large audience was told
that politics is all about choices and unfortunately Fine Gael and
Labour are making the wrong choices and following the policies of
Fianna Fail.

Speaking after the meeting Sinn Fein County Councillor John Brady said
"The meeting with Mary Lou McDonald was very positive and upbeat, Mary
Lou spoke at length about the wrong choices the current government are
making. The removal of €24 Billion from the economy over the last 5
budgets has had a destructive effect on communities, families and the
most vulnerable in society. She outlined clearly the alternative
choices the government could follow which would see those who could
pay a little more, pay a bit more"

Cllr Brady continued "She also outlined the need to stimulate the
economy and to get people back to work and gave details of Sinn Féin
Job creation plan which would see €13 Billion used to invest in jobs.
Mary Lou also stated that she would be launching Sinn Féin's
alternative budget proposals on Tuesday next and that there are clear
alternatives to the policies of slash and burn that are being followed
by Fine Gael and Labour"

Cllr Brady concluded "The meeting was then opened up to the floor and
there was excellent contributions and questions from the floor. Mary
Lou finished off the meeting by calling on people to take a stand and
to get involved in effecting change and to get involved in politics at
all levels. I think everyone present on the evening has taken
something positive from the meeting and it has also inspired people to
participate in the political process"

Victory for Residents as Council U Turn on Oldcourt Houses

Cllr John Brady and members of the Olcourt Residents Action Group holding a section of roofing which had been removed by contractors from the house behind them

Sinn Féin Councillor John Brady has welcomed the complete u turn by
Bray Town Council in relation to the fire safety works in the Oldcourt
Estate. After a number of weeks of pressure on the council by Cllr
Brady and the Oldcourt Residents Action Group the council has started
to remove the old flat roofs from the houses in the estate as
recommended in the 2007 fire safety audit.

Speaking after inspecting a number of the houses which are undergoing
the refurbishment work Councillor Brady said "I am delighted that the
penny has finally dropped with the council and they have eventually
taken on-board the concerns of the Oldcourt residents and actually
started removing the old flat roofs from the attic space in the
Oldcourt houses.  Since this work commenced in the estate on a number
of houses the council have been trying to dress the works up as an
energy efficiency scheme. The council had been adamant from the outset
that they would not be removing the original flat roof structure which
contains the highly flammable bitumen from the attic space. Huge
amounts of pressure have been exerted on the council by myself and the
Oldcourt Residents Action Group, this group had been established to
campaign for the houses in Oldcourt to be made safe in accordance with
the councils own fire safety audit which in 2007 listed a essential
works to be carried out"

Cllr Brady continued "Whilst i welcome the energy efficiency work that
will be carried out on the houses in Oldcourt which will see new
windows and doors, insulation boards fitted internally on the external
walls and new central heating systems, i firmly believe this is just a
pretext for the council to try address some of the serious fire
related problems in the houses without them putting their hands up and
admitting liability. At the last council meeting a large protest was
held and the views of the residents were articulated loud and clear
and this was followed up on Tuesday when officials from the council
along with the consultant engineer for the refurbishment project Mr.
Donal Higgins from Hayes Higgins Partnership met with residents from
Oldcourt to answer questions relating to the houses and to hold a
lottery to see what houses would be done first. At this meeting and
all along it has been stated that the flat roofs would not be removed
with officials stating it would be too inconvenient for the residents.
The Oldcourt Residents Action Group at that meeting stated that it
essential that the flat roofs be removed and the houses made safe once
and for all and they handed Mr Donal Higgins a letter of protest
out-ling what works needed to be done as was laid out in the fire
safety audit"

Brady went onto say "On Wednesday morning i got a tip off that the
contractors who are currently in Oldcourt working on a number of the
houses had been contacted by the council and informed that they had to
start the process of removing the flat roofs from the houses. The
contractors who have been working in the houses now for a number of
weeks where nearing the end of the works in these houses and in fact
have painters and decorators working in the houses, up until they got
word on Wednesday morning the removal of the flat roofs was not in
their contract, so its quite clear that the pressure on the council
from the Oldcourt Residents Action Group and myself has forced the
council into a complete u turn on this serious issue"

"This u turn by the council has to be welcomed and is a victory for
the residents whose  simple demand is to live in houses that a safe
and that the issues identified in the 2007 fire safety audit are fully
implemented. The decision by the council to start the process of
removing the fire hazard old flat roofs vindicates everything i have
being saying over many years about the houses and shows that ordinary
people can when they stand together make a huge difference because the
council had been hell bent on keeping the residents in the dark and
pushing through another botched job on the houses that didn't address
all the issues in the houses" continued Brady

Brady continued "The Oldcourt Residents Action Group should be very
proud of their victory which will go along way towards making the
Oldcourt houses safe once and for all and improving the quality of
life for everyone. However the group nor myself are not planning on
going away, nearly 30% of residents in the estate have bought their
homes in good faith from the council and the scheme must also be
extended to them. We also need guarantees that when the €1 million for
the 32 houses in phase 1 of the works is spent more funding will be
forthcoming to complete the entire estate"

Large quantities of the old flat roofing still containing Bitumen felt which has been removed from the attics and ready for removal