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If you’re Irish, come into the parlour

De Facto

De Facto
Liamy MacNally

Leinster House is like a milking parlour. Instead of milking Friesians, herds of citizens are routinely milked using every trick in the book. Not for our Government the standard twice-daily round-up of the herd; you can find yourself being turned back into the parlour once you have stepped outside. It’s a bit like a milking parlour merry-go-round.
You are milked on every conceivable occasion and also on some inconceivable occasions (even condoms attract a VAT rate of 13.5 percent!). The Government tax farmer is always on duty. He never misses a beat.
Even Brexit is a cause for celebration. Using his best scare tactic, he is advising all British driving-licence holders here to exchange their licences for Irish ones. Seems simple, until you check it out. It costs! A full €55 to be exact. And because so many are exchanging British licences there is a backlog.
When you submit your licence you will be given a note while your application is processed. However, the National Driver Licence Service (NDLS) advises that this ‘note’ has no validity if stopped by a Garda. They take your money and your valid licence, and hand you a useless chit! A driving licence is simply a permit to drive, no more and no less. How can it lose its raison d’être because of politics?
And those Government bedfellows, the insurance companies, are also in on the act. Some insurers want to charge us for a green card to state that the car that has always been insured might not be because of Brexit. Please! Give us a break!
Insurance companies are also ripping off owners of cars more than ten years old. You pay more, regardless of having an up-to-date and valid NCT. This is the kind of nonsense and pure ‘con mentality’ that the Government should forbid, but it won’t because it is also in business of extracting money from us.
Check the car-tax scam – pre-2008 two-litre car tax costs €700 annually, as against a similar post-2008 car at €280. And if you pay the €700 in three month instalments months you wind up paying an extra €100. Why are less well-off people with older cars being doubly penalised? Another round of the milking parlour.
The carbon footprint of fuel-efficient older cars is smaller than buying a new car, according to Michael Berners-Lee in his book ‘How Bad Are Bananas? The Carbon Footprint of Nearly Everything’. Cars generate between six and 35 tonnes of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) in manufacture alone. An average car generates up 17 tonnes of CO2e. The reality is if I buy a second-hand car, the Government gets very little, but if I buy a new car, they pocket thousands in VRT. Motorists are high-yielders for the tax farmer – VRT, motor tax, fuel tax, VAT on replacement parts and labour, and a levy on the insurance.
In Westport, the tax farmer is going one better with parking charges imminent. Even clearways and double-yellow lines have been painted over to create extra spaces for the ‘cash cow’ motorist. Someone has to pay for the new poles displaying charges (street furniture!). Yet concerns from business owners, residents, employees and locals are ignored.
Will residents have to fight for space with regular motorists? Will it cost an employee a few hundred euro just to park while working, on top of all the taxes already being paid by the motorist? Where are the ‘wheel blockers’ at the Quay to stop people reversing in over the pavement? This is dangerous for pedestrians, especially cars with a tow-bar.
Spare a thought for our Dookinella cousins in Achill – still sinking, rocking and rolling on their pot-holed road. It is a Wild Atlantic Way route to the Fr Manus Sweeney monument, a cillín, beach and Minaun Cliffs. The last time the road was properly done was 1988. How much tax has been paid by Dookinella motorists since then? Their tax euros have the same value as Dublin 4 euros, but they are not being treated fairly.
Those in authority have responsibilities – service and fair play. It’s time to close the milking parlour. The cows have gone dry.