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  • Senator Sharon Keogan

Senator Sharon Keogan — Solving Dublin's Overcrowding

I call for a debate with the Minister for Finance about creating tax incentives for people to live in the commuter belt areas of our cities. Such tax breaks could help to stop the brain drain we are experiencing. Many young people are leaving the country because they see no future for themselves here. Teachers, healthcare workers and people in traditional middle-class professions are struggling to build a life for themselves. Now we are educating people to go abroad. Many are going to places where housing is more affordable or they do not have to pay as much tax. Places such as Germany, Australia and the United Arab Emirates often appear more attractive than Ireland.

Many workers undertake long commutes that are very unappealing to them. Areas like Drogheda, Athy and Tullamore have housing for sale and rent that is more affordable than areas of Dublin. These areas have excellent rail infrastructure and could become more appealing if the Government was prepared to offer tax breaks to individuals. Any area that is a 50-minute commute from our larger cities of Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick could be considered.

This could help revitalise local economies nationwide. Keeping high earners here via tax incentives would also provide councils with much-needed additional revenue. When so much of the money we take in from multinational corporations is indirect, it is essential we find ways to keep people in Ireland. Tax incentives like this exist in countries like Portugal and Italy. Some countries offer tax incentives to digital nomads to live in certain areas. Could the Government look at something similar?

The European Court of Justice case on Apple's tax bill is due for hearing at the end of May. With interest, this could be approximately €16 billion due to the Exchequer. At a time when the Government will be giving tax breaks to the developers keeping the cost of rent and property artificially high, could it also focus on helping to look after our young people, who are leaving in droves? Let us incentivise our people to stay in Ireland.

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