One of the benefits of Sinn Fein’s electoral triumph is that the Irish public will soon see ideas beloved of the left for a generation put, at along last, into practice. For two decades now, for example, the Irish people have been told that if Sinn Fein was in Government, US troops would have to pack up and leave Shannon Airport. Now that the party is about to be in power, it will surely follow through on this long standing commitment to international peace and justice, even at the cost of risking the future of Ireland’s second airport – won’t it?
More pressingly, the question in the headline should be at the front of every voter’s mind. For about five years, Sinn Fein has been very clear, along with the rest of the left: The Apple €14billion tax windfall was being kept from the Irish people by the malfeasance and ideological rigidity of a right wing government that was in bed with big business. Sinn Fein in Government would take the €14billion and put it to good use on behalf of the Irish people.
As Pearse Doherty said only in September:
“the Government is prioritising the interests of Apple and international finance.
“So far the Government has paid more than €7million in legal and consultant fees to ensure the Irish people cannot benefit from the €14.3billion in tax owed by Apple.
“These are resources that could be used to tackle climate change, transform our public services and upgrade our industrial strategy which for too long has prioritised foreign multinationals.
“Instead, the Government will mimic the attitude of Boris Johnson towards the EU, all to satisfy the interests of Apple and deny Ireland a windfall in investment.”
So, now that we will have a Government that will not “prioritise the interests of Apple and international finance”, that money will surely be used to “tackle climate change, transform services, and upgrade our industrial strategy”.
How can it be done?
Well, some of the money could be used to retrofit every home in Ireland to make it much more energy efficient, at no cost to the home owner, for example. Or it could be used to invest in electric busses, making the entire public transport fleet energy efficient.
If housing is the main priority, then Sinn Fein could use it to build 56,000 affordable homes, assuming that those homes can be built for €250,000 each. This would solve Ireland’s housing and homelessness crisis straight away.
In health, €14.3 billion could be used to solve so many problems. A new MRI scan machine – of which there are significant shortages, costs just 3million euros. Sinn Fein could buy nearly 5,000 of those with the Apple tax. It could also build and staff 14 new hospitals, assuming each one cost about a billion to get going (they wouldn’t need to be as big as the Children’s Hospital).
The €14.3 billion would also be enough to bring broadband to every home, allowing the Sinn Fein Government to get rid of the privatised scheme brought in by the Fine Gael Government.
The sensible thing, of course, would be to use the apple tax money to pay down a chunk off the national debt. Reducing the debt by that much would save the state about €280million a year in interest payments, which would then be available to tackle issues like disability or mental health, freeing up valuable current spending without raising taxes or implementing cuts from elsewhere.
Sinn Fein’s manifesto, curiously, does not mention the apple tax at all, or include it in their spending or tax plans. That was obviously an oversight.
Now they’re in Government, they will obviously be able to use that money for good.
After all, they’re caring and compassionate and put the Irish people first, in stark contrast to those capitalist running dogs in Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.