Fianna Fail aims to punish consumers obtaining goods without payment of VAT

Former Louth schoolteacher piloting Bill through the Dail.

Sligo News File.

Fianna Fail is proposing legislation to penalise consumers who fail to pay VAT on purchases.

The Bill, introduced by Party TD Declan Breathnach aims to punish people found with goods on which tax hasn’t been paid.

Breathnach, a former primary school teacher, is based in Louth.

Under the Fianna Fail proposal, it looks that consumers will have to produce IDs as well as receipts for goods in their possession including whiskey, cigarettes, coal, briquettes and heating oil to escape punishment with €100 on-the-spot fines or appearances before the courts.

The former schoolteacher said the bill aims to discourage people from buying alcohol, cigarettes, tobacco and heating oil on which they haven’t paid taxes.

Nothing wrong with getting fuel from back of van

TD Michael Healy-Rae said he wasn’t sure about “going after the person who might cut a bit of timber, bag it and sell it out of the back of a van.

Michael Healy-Rea, TD

“Usually when we hear about something from the back of a van, it means there is something wrong with it. There is absolutely nothing wrong, however, with people getting a bit of fuel like that and delivering it to elderly people’s homes or a customer base which they have set up. It is up to them to keep their own tax affairs in order. However, to brand that activity as illegal is wrong.

“My late father, Jackie Healy-Rae, would have stood up here to say that he was here for the man selling the bag of turf or the load of timber. I am here tonight to do the exact  same thing because those people in my book are respectable, providing a required service in estates or in the countryside and helping older or vulnerable people.”

Proposals unworkable

Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Michael Darcy said would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to establish the evidence that would support a conviction of a person for knowingly buying illicit goods.

He went on to say: “The proposals contained in the Bill are not just unworkable but would undermine the good work that is ongoing in this area by diverting resources from where they are most required. Accordingly, I cannot support the Bill.”

Tony McLoughlin, TD

Those who voted support for the controversial Fianna Fail legislation include:

Marc MacSharry, Eamon Scanlon, Dessie Ellis, Pat The Cope Gallagher, Michael Fitzmaurice and Dara Calleary.

Tony McLoughlin, JoeMcHugh, Denis Naughton and Michael Ring voted against the Bill.

Drug injecting centres

Fianna Fail are meanwhile supporting a government measure where young people will soon be able to purchase cocaine and other banned substances from drug pushers on the street and use them in government-funded centres staffed by health professionals. An application for planning permission for the first of such facilities – located close to a school – has been submitted to a Dublin planning authority.

It’s believed similar centres are to be eventually laid on in every town and village of the country.

Some consider that centres for addicts to inject themselves with impunity and the growing pressure for the legalisation of illicit substances is proof beyond doubt that the government and gardai have lost the battle against illegal drugs and can no longer safeguard young people falling victim to the out-of-control drug epidemic currently pervading every corridor of the country from cities to towns to villages to rural townlands.

Owing to the failure to tackle the problem, Ireland now has the highest proportion of intravenous heroin users in Europe, and the rate of drug-related deaths in the country is three times higher than the EU average.