The longest petition for political divorce in Irish history

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The Greens have leaked or had stolen from their HQ some of their policy ideas for the new Program for Government. Engaging in some verbal theft of my own from Gerald Kaufman MP, who said of the 1983 Labour party manifesto that it was the longest political suicide note in history, I would say this set of ideas is the longest petition for political divorce in Irish history.

While some of the ideas are quite sensible the question is whether FF will be in any position to wear them given the state of the economy. I simply don’t know, but my guess is that they won’t. Agreeing to them would open the cabinet up to a list of ideas from their own backbenchers. Below are some of the Green thoughts and my own feelings on them

A reduction in the number of TDs, – no real problem there, but how big a reduction?

major changes in the electoral system – I would agree with the need for changes but what changes exactly. Not sure that top up TDs is the way to go.

a new third rate of income tax – I’d go for 4 rates of tax, with a new one of 55% and have an introductory rate of 10% which would apply to those on the minimum wage.

the abolition of the PRSI ceiling, – If we’re abolishing the ceiling then don’t we have to abolish the ceiling on the benefits of PRSI too? Otherwise it’s a tax by another name

the integration of the income levies with the tax rates – yes

and a clampdown on tax exiles. – By all means, not sure how much it would raise. But it seems the right thing to do.

An animal welfare Bill that would ban hare coursing, stag hunting, fur farming and the importation of wild animals to be used in circuses is another objective.- I’m sort of ambivalent about this

The Greens are also insisting that basic social welfare entitlements and overseas development aid should not be cut in the forthcoming budget.-

I’d cut the base rate of the social back to the nice round figure of €200 including reducing the non-contributory pension by the same amount (not to the same figure) while leaving the contributory as is.

They also want a massive shift of emphasis from investment in road building to public transport initiatives in the Government’s capital programme.- Let’s buy lots and lots of buses, and extend the frequency and capacity of the commuter rail network.

The party is also seeking a commitment from its partners that the value of social welfare payments should be protected for the next three years. – After the reduction above, I wouldn’t see any reason to reduce them further.

A total revamp of the health service with the introduction of a universal single-tier system is another key part of the plan.- i.e. this is the FG and Labour plans in essence so I’ve no problem with the over arching aims here.

Tax incentives for private health insurance would be abolished.- over time that makes some sense but we’d want to have fixed the health system first.

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