Wealth tax needed to tackle 'enormous and growing inequality' in Ireland - PBP

The richest 1% of the Irish population holds more wealth than one-third of the country combined.
Michael Staines
Michael Staines

10.04 15 Jan 2024

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Wealth tax needed to tackle 'e...

Wealth tax needed to tackle 'enormous and growing inequality' in Ireland - PBP

Michael Staines
Michael Staines

10.04 15 Jan 2024

Share this article

We need to introduce a wealth tax to address the “enormous and growing inequality” in Irish society, People Before Profit has warned.

The latest Oxfam Inequality Inc. report warns that the richest 1% of the Irish population holds more wealth than one-third of Ireland’s wealth.

Meanwhile, the country’s two richest billionaires possess more wealth than the less-well-off half of the population.


Internationally, meanwhile, the report notes that five billion people around the world have become poorer in in the last four years – while the world’s five richest have more than doubled their fortunes – at a rate of $14 million (€12.79 million) per hour.

Wealth Tax

On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy said it makes “all the sense in the world” to bring in a wealth tax to tackle the inequality in Ireland.

“I mean, we live in a world of enormous and growing inequality,” he said. “That's what's highlighted every year by these Oxfam reports – and every year the figures get worse.

“So, on a global basis, the top five richest billionaires in the world have doubled their wealth since 2020, while 60% of the world's population have seen their wealth decline.

“The same is basically mirrored in Ireland, where the top two richest people have as much wealth as the bottom 50%.

“Where most workers have seen their incomes decline in real terms over the last couple of years, where we have 13,000 people in emergency homeless accommodation, where we've almost a million people on hospital waiting lists, where we have a real lack of investment in terms of serious climate action and actually those at the very top of our society are most responsible for the climate destruction.

“So the idea that we should be tackling this inequality by measures like a wealth tax clearly makes all the sense in the world.”


Also on the show, Fine Gael Senator Barry Ward said he does not believe a wealth tax is the answer to the inequality in the world.

“I mean, there will always be inequality until or unless we put in place a system where everybody must have the same, which I think is called communism,” he said.

“Paul may well support that, but I don't think it's a good thing for Ireland and in fact, while he talks about the economic problems of this country, in actual fact we've been returning budget surpluses in this country for the last number of years because of prudent management of the economy, so it's not clear to me why this is necessary.”

He also criticised People Before Profit for opposing increases to the Local Property Tax, which he said is a form of wealth tax.

Property tax

Deputy Murphy said the property tax is a tax on the family home – noting that for most people, the bank owns a “very, very large part” of their home.

“I think it is not rational that as a society we say that the multi, multi-billionaires, in the world but in this country as well, are allowed to just accumulate more and more wealth while our society crumbles in terms of all of the different crises that we face,” he said.

“Like how, how is it rational that we have billionaires getting richer and richer while there's people living on the streets and while our health service has real problems?

“You know it makes sense to tax that wealth and to use it to tackle the problems that we have. In society.”

He said a wealth tax is “a pretty minimal step” to take for any society aiming to work towards equality.

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Davos The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Davos, Switzerland, 25-01-2018. Image: Twitter

The Oxfam wealth report is released to coincide with the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Oxfam describes the conference as an “annual gathering where politicians, billionaires, and business leaders come together to supposedly improve the state of the world” even though “the big players in Davos are often the very same people driving inequality”.

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is attending the forum in Davos later this week.

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