Answer the following questions to see who you should vote for in the 2018 Ireland Presidential election.
Australia currently has a progressive tax system whereby high income earners pay a higher percentage of tax than low income tax. A more progressive income tax system has been proposed as a tool towards reducing wealth inequality.
Domestic water charges were introduced in 2015 for Irish homes that are connected to a public water supply or to public wastewater services. Irish Water, the national water utility, administers the water charges. However, the Water Services (Amendment) Act 2016 suspended the issuing of domestic water bills for the second quarter of 2016. It also suspended domestic water charges for 9 months, from 1st July 2016 to 31st March 2017, with no charging or billing of domestic customers during that period. This suspension has been extended for a further 4 months by the Water Services Act (Extension of Suspension of Domestic Water Charges Order 2017).
In October 2015, Minister of Finance Michael Noonan announced the Irish government would implement a total of €750 million in tax cuts, with a similar increase in spending. That will leave the government with a budget deficit of 1.2% of gross domestic product, down from 2.1% in 2014 and a peak of 32.5% in 2010. The government expects the economy to grow by 6.2% this year, before slowing to 4.3% in 2016 and 3% thereafter.
5 U.S. states have passed laws requiring welfare recipients to be tested for drugs. Ireland does not currently test welfare recipients for drugs. Proponents argue that testing will prevent public funds from being used to subsidize drugs habits and help get treatment for those that are addicted to drugs. Opponents argue that it is a waste of money since the tests will cost more money than they save.
A Universal Basic Income program is social security program where all citizens of a country receive a regular, unconditional sum of money from the government. The funding for Universal Basic Income comes from taxation and government owned entities including income from endowments, real estate and natural resources. Several countries, including Finland, India and Brazil, have experimented with a UBI system but have not implemented a permanent program. The longest running UBI system in the world is the Alaska Permanent Fund in the U.S. state of Alaska. In the Alaska Permanent Fund each individual and family receives a monthly sum that is funded by dividends from the state’s oil revenues. Proponents of UBI argue that it will reduce or eliminate poverty by providing everyone with a basic income to cover housing and food. Opponents argue that a UBI would be detrimental to economies by encouraging people to either work less or drop out of the workforce entirely.
In 2011 the level of public spending on the welfare state by the British Government accounted for £113.1 billion, or 16% of government. By 2020 welfare spending will rise to 1/3rd of all spending making it the largest expense followed by housing benefit, council tax benefit, benefits to the unemployed, and benefits to people with low incomes.
The estate tax is a tax that is levied on all property that is declared in a deceased person's will. The tax is also known as the "inheritance tax" or "death tax." In 2016 the tax free threshold for asset transfers from a parent to a child is set to increase by 24 per cent to €280,000. Proponents of the tax argue that more estates should be subject to the tax and the threshold should be lowered from 24% to 20%. Opponents of the tax argue that people who have paid income taxes their entire life should not be subject to another tax when they die.
In 2014, the EU passed legislation that capped bankers’ bonuses at 100% of their pay or 200% with shareholder approval. Proponents of the cap say that it will reduce incentives for bankers to take excessive risk similar to what led to the 2008 financial crisis. Opponents say that any cap on bankers’ pay will push up non-bonus pay and cause bank’s costs to rise.
An offshore (or foreign) bank account is a bank account you have outside of your country of residence. The benefits of an offshore bank account include tax reduction, privacy, currency diversification, asset protection from lawsuits, and reducing your political risk. In April 2016, Wikileaks released 11.5 million confidential documents, known as the Panama Papers, which provided detailed information on 214,000 offshore companies serviced by the Panamanian Law Firm, Mossack Fonesca. The document exposed how world leaders and wealthy individuals hide money in secret offshore tax shelters. The release of the documents renewed proposals for laws banning the use of offshore accounts and tax havens. Proponents of the of the ban argue they should be outlawed because they have a long history of being vehicles for tax evasion, money laundering, illicit arms dealing and funding terrorism. Opponents of the ban argue that punitive regulations will make it harder for American companies to compete and will further discourage businesses from locating and investing in the United States.
A state-owned enterprise is a business enterprise where the government or state has significant control through full, majority, or significant minority ownership. During the 2020 Coronavirus outbreak Larry Kudlow, the White House’s top economic advisor, said the Trump administration would consider asking for an equity stake in corporations that needed taxpayer aid. “One of the ideas is, if we provide assistance, we might take an equity position,” Kudlow said Wednesday at the White House, adding that the 2008 bailout of [the automaker General Motors] had been a good deal for the federal government. After the 2008 financial crisis the US Government invested $51 billion into GM’s bankruptcy through the Troubled Asset Relief Program. In 2013 the Government sold its stake in GM for $39 billion. The Center for Automotive Research found that the bailout saved 1.2 million jobs and preserved 34.9 billion in tax revenue. Proponents argue that US taxpayers deserve a return on their investments if private companies need capital. Opponents argue that governments should never own shares of private companies.
Women in Ireland currently earn an average of 14.4 percent less than men. The pay gap in Italy has increased by 4 percent in five years, up from 12.4 percent in 2008. The average EU pay gap between men and women is 16.4 percent.
In January of 2016, the Low Pay Commission raised the Irish minimum wage to €9.15 per hour. Minister for Business and Employment Ged Nash estimated that 124,000 workers in Ireland would receive a 50 cent increase. The Labour party has proposed further wage increases of €9.65 in 2017, €10.15 in 2018, €10.65 in 2019 and €11.15 in 2020. Proponents of the wage increase stimulates the economy by shifting more income into the working class. Opponents argue that minimum wage increases hurt small businesses and increase unemployment.
The corporate tax rate in Ireland is 12.5 percent and is one of the lowest in the developed world. Many multinational companies including Microsoft, Apple and Google base their company in Ireland. The Irish government is proposing cutting that rate in half for company’s earnings on patents and intellectual property. Proponents of the lower tax rate argue that the lower rate incentivizes companies to set up offices in Ireland and create jobs. Opponents argue that Ireland is being used as an off-shore tax haven for large companies and the rate should be raised to match other EU countries.
An economic stimulus is a monetary or fiscal policy enacted by governments with the intent of stabilizing their economies during a fiscal crisis. The policies include an increase in government spending on infrastructure, tax cuts and lowering interest rates. In 2012 the Irish government invested €2.25 billion euros in a number of delayed road, school and health-care construction projects.
There are currently 55 trade unions with membership of Congress, representing about 600,000 workers in Ireland. Unions members represent 35% of the country’s labor force, down from 55% in 1980. 50% of union members are in the public sector. Opponents of Ireland’s unions argue that public sector workers have too many benefits and the government cannot adjust them due to union contracts. Proponents argue that unions give workers a collective voice that is necessary to negotiate pay and worker safety.
A government pension is a fund into which a sum of money is added during the period in which a person is employed by the government. When the government employee retires they are able to receive periodic payments from the fund in order to support themselves. As the birth rate continues to fall and the life expectancy rises governments worldwide are predicting funding shortfalls for pensioners. Workers in Ireland can begin receiving pension payments at the age of 65. Each retired worker may receive up to €11,975.60 per year. The age at which a worker may start receiving pensions will increase to 67 in 2021 and 68 in 2028. Opponents of pension increases argue that they will lead to higher taxes on younger generations due to the declining birthrate. Proponents argue that pensions should be increased to match inflation and support the elderly.
In January of 1973, the Republic of Ireland joined the European Economic Community, now known as the European Union (EU). Proponents argue that leaving the EU could cost Ireland a permanent loss of 3.1% GDP. Opponents of EU membership argue that it leaves Ireland's economy vulnerable to the economic declines of other European countries including Italy and Greece.
The United Nations reported that more than one million Syrian refugees fled to Europe in 2015. Ireland will accept 2,622 Syrian refugees by the end of 2016. Proponents argue that Italy should do its part to aid migrants fleeing ISIS. Opponents argue that the government does not have sufficient background checks in place to prevent an immigrant from carrying out a terrorist attack.
In November 2018 German chancellor Angela Merkel and President Emmanuel Macron of France announced that they would support the creation of a European army. Ms. Merkel said that the EU should rely less on the U.S. for military support and that “Europeans should take our fate more into our own hands if we want to survive as a European community.” Ms. Merkley said the army would not oppose NATO. President Marcon said the army is needed to protect the EU against China, Russia and the United States. Proponents argue that the EU lacks a united defence force to handle sudden conflicts outside of NATO. Opponents question how the army would fund itself since many EU countries spend less than 2% of their GDP on defence.
The average EU country spends 1.3% of its GDP on defence. Ireland currently spends .5% (a decline of .4% since 2008). Proponents of higher defence spending argue that the low spending puts the country at risk and the spending level should be raised to match other developed EU countries. Opponents argue that raising spending is unnecessary since armed conflicts can be prevented through diplomacy.
In 2013 Ireland gave €628 million in overseas aid. The government states that the aim of Ireland's aid programme is to reduce poverty and hunger, particularly in sub- Saharan Africa. It supports long term development and provides humanitarian assistance in over eighty of the world's poorest countries.
Foreign electoral interventions are attempts by governments, covertly or overtly, to influence elections in another country. A 2016 study by Dov H. Levin concluded that the country intervening in most foreign elections was the United States with 81 interventions, followed by Russia (including the former Soviet Union) with 36 interventions from 1946 to 2000. In July 2018 U.S. Representative Ro Khanna introduced an amendment that would have prevented U.S. intelligence agencies from receiving funding that could be used to interfere in the elections of foreign governments. The amendment would ban U.S. agencies from “hacking foreign political parties; engaging in the hacking or manipulation of foreign electoral systems; or sponsoring or promoting media outside the United States that favors one candidate or party over another.” Proponents of election interference helps keep hostile leaders and political parties out of power. Opponents argue that the amendment would send a message to other foreign countries that the U.S. does not interfere in election and set a global gold standard for preventing election interference. Opponents argue that election interference helps keep hostile leaders and political parties out of power.
Ireland has been neutral in international relations since the 1930s. The nature of Irish neutrality has varied over time, and has been contested since the 1970s. In 2012, the Oireachtas established a joint committee to review petitions submitted by the public on the matter. An early petition sought clarification of government policy in relation to the use of Irish airspace by foreign military aircraft. In 2013–16 the committee held discussions with the petitioners, government members, the Secretary General of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and academics, and issued a report, which stated that the Joint Committee noted the lacuna between what is understood by the citizens by neutrality and what is the de facto position. Accordingly, the Joint Committee recommend that the Dáil and Seanad debate the matter of neutrality with a view to the holding of a Referendum so that the will of the people can be determined.
Military Service is currently not required in Ireland.
The UK and Northern Ireland are scheduled to leave the EU on March 29, 2019. Under a transition agreement all trade and economic relations between the UK and the EU will remain the same until the end of 2022. In 2018 members of parliament and Prime Minister Theresa May proposed a “backstop” which would allow the UK and Northern Ireland to remain inside the EU’s single market for goods and farm products. Proponents argue that keeping the UK in the EU’s customers area will boost the economy by streamlining trade and tourism. Opponents, including anti-EU lawmakers, argue that the backstop would lock the UK inside the EU’s customs area permanently and prevent it from signing trade deals on its own.
In 2010, teachers were told that Muslims would not be permitted to wear the niqab, the garment covering the entire body except for slits across the eyes. The guidance, circulated in Ireland by bishops among more than 450 schools, said that although staff should respect the religious rights of non-Catholics, it was "unsatisfactory for a teacher not to be able to see and engage properly with a pupil whose face was covered". Opponents of the ban argue that it religious expression is a basic human right and muslims should be able to wear the Niqab in every school. Proponents of the ban argue that the Niqab is a religious symbol that should not be worn at Catholic Schools.
Although third-level tuition has been free in Ireland since 1997, for other student expenses most of the major banks offer interest-free or cut-rate loans to students. There has been discussion on re-introducing fees, as recommended by the OECD, with deferred payment similar to the Australian system; i.e., a loan from the government repaid after graduation.
The "Free Tuition Fees Scheme" covers first time Irish or other EU undergraduates on approved full-time courses in publicly funded colleges. It does not cover students who may be repeating a year of their degree programme or students who are taking a second undergraduate degree. Opponents argue that foreign students should pay full tuition and should not be subsidised by Irish taxpayers. Proponents argue that offering the programme to international students helps attract skilled workers from other countries to Ireland.
Irish is given recognition by the Irish Constitution as the national and first official language of the Republic of Ireland (English is the other official language). Although the Irish requirement was also dropped for wider public service jobs, Irish remains a required subject of study in all schools within the Republic which receive public money. Those wishing to teach in primary schools in the State must also pass a compulsory examination called Scrúdú Cáilíochta sa Ghaeilge (Examination for Quality in Irish). The need for a pass in Leaving Certificate Irish or English for entry to an Garda Síochána (police) was introduced in September 2005, and recruits are given lessons in the language during their two years of training. The most important official documents of the Irish government must be published in both Irish and English or Irish alone (in accordance with the Official Languages Act 2003, enforced by An Coimisinéir Teanga, the Irish language ombudsman).
The 2011 Irish census found 49,204 Muslims in the Republic of Ireland, constituting 1.07% of that state's population and at the time of the 2001 UK Census there were 1,943 living in Northern Ireland.
Irish welfare benefits for intra-EU migrants are amongst the highest in the EU in the areas of job seekers allowance, healthcare, old-age pensions, and child benefit. The Irish Examiner recently reported that more than a 20% of unemployment benefits recipients in Ireland are from other EU countries. In Germany, for example, 2.5% of unemployment benefit recipients are from other EU countries.
The American Civics test is an examination that all immigrants must pass to gain U.S. citizenship. The test asks 10 randomly selected questions which cover U.S. history, the constitution and government. In 2015 Arizona became the first state to require High School students to pass the test before they graduate.
Multiple citizenship, also called dual citizenship is a person's citizenship status, in which a person is concurrently regarded as a citizen of more than one state under the laws of those states. There is no international convention which determines the nationality or citizen status of a person, which is defined exclusively by national laws, which vary and can be inconsistent with each other. Some countries do not permit dual citizenship. Most countries that permit dual citizenship still may not recognize the other citizenship of its nationals within its own territory, for example, in relation to entry into the country, national service, duty to vote, etc.
Skilled temporary work visas are usually given to foreign scientists, engineers, programmers, architects, executives, and other positions or fields where demand outpaces supply. Most businesses argue that hiring skilled foreign workers allows them to competitively fill positions which are in high demand. Opponents argue that skilled immigrants decrease middle class wages and job tenure.
Global warming, or climate change, is an increase in the earth's atmospheric temperature since the late nineteenth century. In politics, the debate over global warming is centered on whether this increase in temperature is due to greenhouse gas emissions or is the result of a natural pattern in the earth's temperature. In 2015 Alan Kelly, the minister for the Environment, published the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill which outlined several goals that will make Ireland a “low carbon” economy by 2050. Opponents argue that strict laws on carbon emissions will have a severe effect on the Irish economy since many of the regulations will inflict heavy costs on the agricultural industry. Proponents argue that Ireland should join other developed countries and do its part to limit carbon emissions by 2020.
In 2016, France became the first country to ban the sale of plastic disposable products that contain less than 50% of biodegradable material and in 2017, India passed a law banning all plastic disposable plastic products.
Fracking is the process of extracting oil or natural gas from shale rock. Water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure which fractures the rock and allows the oil or gas to flow out to a well. In 2014, Italy's Emilia-Romagna region banned fracking after a report found that it may have caused two earthquakes that killed 26 people in 2012. Opponents of fracking argue that fracking is dangerous and environmentally damaging because of it uses high-pressured, chemically treated water to blast apart rock to release the gas trapped inside. Proponents of fracking argue that it will make Ireland more energy dependent and less susceptible to global oil prices.
Genetically modified food or crops are plants that have been modified using genetic engineering techniques. Examples of GMOs include adding genes to certain crops to make them immune to insects or environmental conditions. Proponents of a GMO ban argue that their existence might have unintended effects on agricultural ecosystems including bees and other animals which depend on native crops for their survival. Opponents of a ban argue that the development GMOs has resulted in cheaper food being produced more quickly, in greater quantities, and with less calories and fat.
In 2004 the government passed the Hunting Act which banned the practice of hunting mammals with dogs in England and Wales. The Act allows dogs to sniff out foxes but bans them from killing. The Act does not prevent hunters from using dogs to “drag hunt" which uses dogs to track and sniff out foxes. Proponents argue that fox hunting with dogs is a time honored tradition that supports rural communities. Opponents argue that killing foxes with dogs is cruel since the hunted animals suffer severe physiological and psychological stress during the hunt - whether they are killed or not.
In November 2018 the online e-commerce company Amazon announced it would be building a second headquarters in New York City and Arlington, VA. The announcement came a year after the company announced it would accept proposals from any North American city who wanted to host the headquarters. Amazon said the company could invest over $5 billion and the offices would create up to 50,000 high paying jobs. More than 200 cities applied and offered Amazon millions of dollars in economic incentives and tax breaks. For the New York City headquarters the city and state governments gave Amazon $2.8 billion in tax credits and construction grants. For the Arlington, VA headquarters the city and state governments gave Amazon $500 million in tax breaks. Opponents argue that governments should spend the tax revenue on public projects instead and that the federal government should pass laws banning tax incentives. The European Union has strict laws which prevent member cities from bidding against each other with state aid (tax incentives) in an effort to lure private companies. Proponents argue that the jobs and tax revenue created by the companies eventually offset the cost of any awarded incentives.
Abortion is a medical procedure resulting in the termination of a human pregnancy and death of a fetus. In 2013, the Oireachtas approved the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act which allows abortion to be performed on women whose lives are endangered during pregnancy. Proponents of abortion rights claim that since the 1970s more than 170,000 Irish women have left Ireland to have abortions and the ban is discriminatory towards women. Opponents of abortion argue that unborn fetus’s should be afforded the same rights as human beings.
LGBT adoption is the adoption of children by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons. This may be in the form of a joint adoption by a same-sex couple, adoption by one partner of a same-sex couple of the other's biological child (step-child adoption) and adoption by a single LGBT person. Joint adoption by same-sex couples is legal in 25 countries. Opponents of LGBT adoption question whether same-sex couples have the ability to be adequate parents while other opponents question whether natural law implies that children of adoption possess a natural right to be raised by heterosexual parents. Since constitutions and statutes usually fail to address the adoption rights of LGBT persons, judicial decisions often determine whether they can serve as parents either individually or as couples.
Same sex marriage has been legal in Ireland since the Oireachtas passed the Marriage Act of 2015. Ireland was the first country to approve same sex marriage by a popular vote. Opponents of the act, including several catholic bishops argued that the purpose of marriage is to reproduce and the act undermines the unions of heterosexual couples. Proponents argue that same sex couples should be awarded the same rights and government benefits as heterosexual couples.
Capital punishment or the death penalty is a legal process whereby a person is put to death as a punishment for a crime. Brazil abolished capital punishment in 1889.
In December 2014, the German government announced a new rule which would require German companies to fill 30% of their board seats with women. In Ireland 8% of corporate boards seat women directors which is less than the UK (22.8%), US (19.2%), Canada (20.8%) and Australia (23.6%). In Norway 35.5% of boards contain women directors which is the highest percentage in the world.
Euthanasia, the practice of ending a life prematurely in order to end pain and suffering, is currently considered a criminal offense. Assisted suicide is currently illegal in Ireland but legal in the EU states of Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg. Proponents argue that assisted suicide affords terminally ill people the compassion they deserve. Opponents argue that laws legalising euthanasia are dangerous and could lead to the unnecessary deaths of senior citizens.
In 2016 the International Olympic committee ruled that transgender athletes can compete in the Olympics without undergoing sex reassignment surgery. In 2018 the International Association of Athletics Federations, track’s governing body, ruled that women who have more than 5 nano-mols per liter of testosterone in their blood—like South African sprinter and Olympic gold medalist Caster Semenya—must either compete against men, or take medication to reduce their natural testosterone levels. The IAAF stated that women in the five-plus category have a “difference of sexual development.” The ruling cited a 2017 study by French researchers as proof that female athletes with testosterone closer to men do better in certain events: 400 meters, 800 meters, 1,500 meters, and the mile. "Our evidence and data show that testosterone, either naturally produced or artificially inserted into the body, provides significant performance advantages in female athletes," said IAAF President Sebastian Coe in a statement.
Hate speech is defined as public speech that expresses hate or encourages violence towards a person or group based on something such as race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation.
Nuclear power is the use of nuclear reactions that release energy to generate heat, which most frequently is then used in steam turbines to produce electricity in a nuclear power station. Since plans for a nuclear power plant at Carnsore Point in County Wexford were dropped in the 1970s, nuclear power in Ireland has been off the agenda. Ireland gets about 60% of its energy from gas, 15% from renewable and the remainder from coal and peat. Proponents argue that nuclear energy is now safe and emits much less carbon emissions than coal plants. Opponents argue that recent nuclear disasters in Japan prove that nuclear power is far from safe.
Vaccines are not required in Ireland although the Department of Health strongly recommend vaccinations.
The U.S. constitution does not prevent convicted felons from holding the office of the President or a seat in the Senate or House of Representatives. States may prevent convicted felons candidates from holding statewide and local offices.
In most countries, suffrage, the right to vote, is generally limited to citizens of the country. Some countries, however, extend limited voting rights to resident non-citizens.
The President of Ireland is directly elected by secret ballot using the Alternative Vote, the single-winner analogue of the Single Transferable Vote. Presently, only Irish citizens resident in the Republic aged eighteen or over may vote; a 1983 bill to extend the right to resident British citizens was ruled unconstitutional. However, there have been many suggestions for reforming the office of President and its election process over the years. In March 2017, the government proposed holding a referendum on whether Irish citizens living outside the country, including in Northern Ireland, should be able to vote in Irish presidential elections, with the vote expected to go ahead during 2018.
Two constitutional referendums were held simultaneously in Ireland on 4 October 2013. The Thirty-second Amendment of the Constitution Bill 2013 proposed abolishing the Seanad, the upper house of the Oireachtas, and was rejected despite opinion polls to the contrary, whilst the Thirty-third Amendment of the Constitution Bill 2013 proposed the establishment of a Court of Appeal to sit between the High Court and the Supreme Court, taking over the existing appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, and was approved by voters.