Saturday

27th May 2017

Irish citizens boycott austerity tax

Almost half of Irish people have refused to pay a household tax imposed as part of promised savings measures, while government pressure to secure the levy risks further angering an austerity-weary public.

By a Saturday (31 March) midnight deadline, around 805,000 of the country's 1.6 million registered households had paid the tax, which has been subject to a high-profile boycott campaign.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Pro-Lisbon-Treaty ad from 2009: Ireland has been the poster-boy of EU anti-crisis efforts up to now (Photo: Conor McCabe/Jason Clarke)

The Irish government agreed to introduce it in 2012 as part of a deal with the EU and the International Monetary Fund - from which it secured an €85 billion loan in 2010.

But it has been unpopular from the very beginning for its across-the-board nature: the same levy is applied both to rich and poor households.

The boycott has been led by nine members of parliament. They compare the campaign to the massive protests in Ireland in the late 19 century against high rents and evictions.

"The Household Tax is linked in the minds of those opposing with the billions being paid from taxpayers' funds to bail out bankers and speculators for bad private gambling debts and with the swingeing austerity being imposed," said a recent statement by the group-of-nine.

Those who do not pay will be fined and risk court action.

For its part, the government has appealed to people's civic and patriotic duty. It has also pledged to spend the €160m raised by the tax on local services.

"I thank them and acknowledge their genuine patriotism to this country at a difficult time," said environment minister Phil Hogan in reference to those who have already paid up.

The authorities are in a difficult position, however. Irish citizens have already been subject to tough austerity measures in the form of €24 billion of tax rises and spending cuts.

Until now the country has been held up as a shining example of how to beat the crisis - imposing the cuts without seeing widespread social unrest.

The test comes as figures released by the country's national statistics office last week show the country is back in recession, with GDP falling by 0.2 percent for the last quarter of 2011, after falling by 1.1% in the previous quarter.

The current debate may also become embroiled in the forthcoming referendum on the fiscal discipline treaty. Ireland is holding a vote on the document on 31 May. Failure to approve the treaty will mean that Ireland will not be allowed to receive funds from the eurozone's forthcoming permanent bail-out fund, the European Stability Mechanism.

Ireland to hold referendum on fiscal compact

The Irish government will hold a referendum on the EU's new fiscal treaty. The pact can still enter into force in other euro-countries if it says No, but Dublin would not be eligible for future bail-outs.

Ireland downgraded to 'junk' in spiralling euro-crisis

US-based credit rating agency Moody's has downgraded to 'junk' status Ireland's capacity to pay back its debt, amid growing concerns about the stability of the eurozone as the crisis reaches Italy and Spain.

MEPs vote to start democracy probe on Hungary

The European Parliament took the first step towards launching the Article 7 procedure against Hungary for backsliding on democracy. The process might lead to sanctions, but Orban is not backing down.

MEPs preparing to crack down on Orban

The EU assembly's largest group is split by its "enfant terrible", but enough MEPs are likely to abstain or vote Yes on the "Article 7" crackdown over Orban's illiberal rule.

Schulz fails to beat Merkel in German home state

Former EU parliament leader, Martin Schulz, says the defeat of his social-democrats in North Rhine-Westphalia is "difficult". The elections showed that a "Schulz effect" does not (yet) exist.

Austria heading for snap elections

Foreign minister Kurz has taken leadership of the conservative party in what could lead to an alliance with the far-right.

News in Brief

  1. Malloch will not be US ambassador to the EU
  2. 'Significant' drop in EU migration to UK
  3. Bomb injures former Greek PM
  4. British PM to speak out on US terrorism leaks
  5. Tusk calls for 'values, not just interests' after Trump meeting
  6. Pressure grows on climate impact of EU timber harvesting
  7. US goes after Fiat Chrysler over emissions cheat
  8. Munich police break up Europe-wide burglar clan

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFChild Alert on Myanmar: Fruits of Rapid Development yet to Reach Remote Regions
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersBecome an Explorer - 'Traces of Nordic' Seeking Storytellers Around the World
  3. Malta EU 2017Closer Cooperation and Reinforced Solidarity to Ensure Security of Gas Supply
  4. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceHigh-Intensity Interval Training Is Therapeutic Option for Type 2 Diabetes
  5. Dialogue Platform"The West Must Help Turkey Return to a Democratic Path" a Call by Fethullah Gulen
  6. ILGA-EuropeRainbow Europe 2017 Is Live - Which Countries Are Leading on LGBTI Equality?
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWhen You Invest in a Refugee Woman You Help the Whole Community
  8. Eurogroup for AnimalsECJ Ruling: Member States Given No Say on Wildlife Protection In Trade
  9. European Heart NetworkCall for Urgent Adoption of EU-Wide Nutrient Profiles for Nutrition & Health Claims
  10. Counter BalanceInvestment Plan for Europe More Climate Friendly but European Parliament Shows Little Ambition
  11. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi: China's Belt and Road Initiative Benefits People Around the World
  12. Malta EU 2017EU Strengthens Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Firearms