Today my first campaign as an independent candidate for the constituency of North Tipperary & South Offaly comes to an end. It’s been an amazing experience in more ways than one. Less than three weeks ago I had no plans to run in this election. I was as many of you that read this, an Irish citizen fed up and annoyed by the way this country of ours had been brought to a state of financial & economic ruin by a government that was completely disconnected from and ignorant of the wishes and needs of it’s citizens. With the election in sight I started looking around at who the candidates in my constituency were. Not a single one of them instilled much confidence. Those representing the current government parties deserved to be put behind bars or to be at least barred from politics. The rest either represented opposition parties who idly stood by while this country was ruined or did not have an agenda that I had any faith in. Every single one of them was full of lofty promises but I have not an ounce of faith in these being fulfilled once they are elected.
Because we live in unprecedented times. Forget about my policies for a moment. You can read those here. Let me just lay out the facts for you. Our country is in an economic depression, what’s more we haven’t seen the bottom yet. There is a wave of mortgage default coming down the line and the government has failed to put the buffer on the line to stop this. Instead all the effort and money has gone into paying of a debt that isn’t ours. An 85 billion euro bailout has been accepted at a punitive interest rate. We have a 15+ billion euro deficit. We have a level of unemployment that is just plain scary. We, my fellow Irish citizens, are waist deep in the poop. And we need strong people to help us get out of this. We need people who can make the right decisions, who do not have any allegiance to the “old order”, political hierarchy or any other false idols. We need people who will face the brutal light of day and who will make decisions with the interest of Ireland and it’s citizens foremost in their minds.
Those people cannot be found in any of the current parties. Every single one of them is blinded by party dogma, too tangled in the web of corrupt politics and have been flogged till they bleed by the party whip. We need a strong independent representation in the next Dail. A counterweight against the self interest of the current political incumbents. We need it to be the proverbial 800 pound gorilla in the room ready to pounce on anyone who makes a decision or tries to force a policy that is not in the interest of the Irish people.
I am appealing to you tomorrow to give your local independent candidate your first preference vote. This is the only way we will see real change. Because change is what we need. We need to reject the current IMF/EU “bailout” deal for two simple reasons; it’s not a bailout and we can never ever repay this. The current deal will bring this country to it’s knees and our children and grandchildren will still be repaying this debt without it having any benefit to the Irish economy. It’s dead money plain and simple. We also need jobs, real jobs. Not green jobs, pink jobs or mauve jobs. We need jobs that will allow people to pay their bills. No airy-fairy talk but real action. We need to stop cutting the poor and vunerable to fill this deficit hole. It does not make sense cutting welfare payment when there is a jobs deficit. You cut welfare when there are jobs for everyone *not* when there are no jobs. You do not cut child benefit and other payments when peoples income is shrinking drastically. You save when you have plenty and you use those savings when you have little. My mother taught me that and anyone who ever ran a household will know this. The FF/GP government purposely failed to do so and is now making the people at the bottom end of the society pay for that. We need a more equitable tax system (hello flat-tax) that protects the poor while at the same time not penalising the wealth creators in this society.
Please ignore all the blurb about the independents not having any power. There are 233 independent candidates running campaigns across Ireland. That is a considerable number and cannot be ignored. A lot of these independents have similar policies and will vote as a block when in government. Further down the line this could have the makings of a party. Now is the time to make a stand! We need to send a clear signal to the political establishment (who have ruined this country) that we have no faith in them. If we do not do this and continue to vote for parties that make up the current stale political system we have lost our chance to make a change for the good. You hold the power to bring along this change and I ask you, I plead with you to do so. We now not only have people emigrating because they have to, we have young smart people emigrating by choice because they have lost faith in this country. If we do not make a change now we will lose a whole generation and this will become a poor hollow country inhabited by old, grey and angry people.
Do not get me wrong however, voting for an independent is not magically going to fix all our problems. However it will make this country change course in the right direction rather than sailing straight to the end of the flat earth that the current parties seem to have based their policies on. We need a direction and policies that will rebuild this country and bring it into prosperous times again. We need forward thinking and we need people who are willing to put their shoulders under the economy in order to achieve this. We do not need career politicians who are only doing this for the money, power and pension.
Because of this I appeal to you tomorrow to vote and to vote independent!
The introduction of a flat tax system is one of the prominent points on my agenda. Last night on the Vincent Brown show I brought it up in discussion but it is clear from the reactions received from Vincent Brown (and others) do not understand the concept of flat tax. In an attempt to clarify this please read my press release from last week on the topic below:
For immediate release
INDEPENDENT CANDIDATE FOR NORTH TIPPERARY CALLS FOR FLAT TAX!
Kate Bopp, independent candidate for the North Tipperary / South Offaly constituency is campaigning for the introduction of a “flat tax system” on personal income. According to Mrs. Bopp there are a lot of issues surrounding the current system of progressive taxation. People complain that it’s imposes a too heavy tax burden on those on lower incomes while not taxing those on higher incomes sufficiently. Flat tax would address both those complaints without penalising either.
A flat tax system would tax all income over an acceptable level of tax-free at the same rate. There would be no deductions, no tax-free allowances but also no loopholes. This brings with it several advantages; it lowers some of the tax-burden on the lower incomes while at the same time not penalising those on higher incomes. It’s based on the more logical approach of valuing tax revenue by the actual amounts paid rather than relevant percentages. To use an actual example, someone on 40,000 euro p/a at a 17% flat tax rate would pay 6,800 euro while someone on 100,000 euro p/a would pay 17,000 euro tax. As the percentages stay the same but the actual amount increases it is the most equitable tax system possible. What it also does is that it removes the incentives for the rich to avoid tax (legally or otherwise) and the opportunities to do so. These, by the very complexity of the current tax system, are commensurately large for those on higher incomes.
Another great benefit is that a flat tax system greatly simplifies the tax system and results in a huge reduction in the costs of collecting tax revenues. The more complicated a country’s tax system becomes, the easier it is for governments to make it more complicated still, in an accelerating process of proliferating insanity. Flat tax would avoid all this and would result in tax returns that will fit on an A5 sheet of paper. Flat tax is also not just some mythical, theoretical solution to our tax woes. It has been implemented successfully in a number of European countries since 1994 when Estonia became the first country in Europe to introduce a “flat tax” on personal and corporate income. Income is taxed at a single uniform rate of 26%: no schedule of rates, no deductions. The economy has flourished. Others followed: first, Latvia and Lithuania, Estonia’s Baltic neighbours; later Russia (with a rate of 13% on personal income), then Slovakia (19% on personal and corporate income). One of Poland’s centre-right opposition parties is campaigning for a similar code (with a rate of 15%). In all of those countries it has show that it creates a more equal tax climate while not leading to a decrease in tax revenue.
Flat tax might just be the solution to one of the big problems facing the Irish state.
Kate is a Wexford born mother of 5 living in Coolbawn, Co. Tipperary together with her husband Evert Bopp. In addition to caring for her family she is also a final year law student at the University of Limerick. Kate is the co-founder of the aid organisation Haiti Connect which has been involved in a number of projects in Haiti for the last 12 months.
In the last 20 years Kate has worked and lived or worked in half a dozen European countries giving her a wealth of firsthand experience of different cultures, languages and types of government.
Having always had a keen interest in politics and current affairs she had steadily become more and more disillusioned with the current political status quo. With a view towards the upcoming general election of 2011 she started looking around for a suitable candidate to cast her vote only to come to the conclusion that none of the candidates from the entire political spectrum offered any hope of improvement. Faced with the choice between not voting, or voting for a candidate in whom she had no faith, Kate decided that her political ideas and grasp of the current economic & political situation put her in a position to run as a candidate herself and offer the people of North Tipperary a viable alternative and the option to vote for an improvement in the current situation rather than a continuation of the status quo.
I attended the “sod turning” ceremenony for Borrisokane Community College last week. It is great to see that this school will finally get a much need refurbishment. It is also a great opportunity to restore some of the historic buildings adjoining the school.
As always with these type of events present excellent photo opportunities and were used for this purpose by many (including myself).
Kate Bopp & Michael O’Meara
Máire Hoctor TD, Cllr Jim Casy, Darrah McKenna Mayor of Borrisokane, Kate Bopp Independent candidate and Cllr Michael O’Meara.
I got a call this morning from The Irish Times team covering the upcoming elections. They wanted a quick statement on why I have decided to put myself forward as an independent candidate. The recording has now been put online on their website and you can listen to it below:
I received an email recently from Atheists Ireland asking me if I could answer a number of question on the topic of religion. I have since replied to them but would like to share my answers to them with you so that they can serve as a clarification of my stance on this topic:
Q: Will you work to reform the education system so that all children in your constituency can access publicly-funded schools which have no religious ethos?
A: Yes, this is contained in my policies. I intend to campaign for a secular educational system with he removal of any religious preferences from publicly funded education
Q: Would you support a referendum to remove religious references from the Constitution?
A: Again; Yes.
Q: Do you believe that blasphemy should be a criminal offence?
A: To quote from my own website: ” I will call for removal of references to religion in the constitution. Revision of the Defamation Act to ensure compliance with the Article 40.6.1 of the Irish Constitution ensuring Freedom of Speech.” Hence my answer in short is : No it shouldn’t.
Q: Would you support legislation to prevent hospitals from having a religious ethos?
A: I will support and call for removal of any religious ethos from all publicly funded institutions including hospitals. However privately funded institutions should have the freedom to promote their own religious ethos.
Q: If elected, would you vote to ensure that religious bodies are treated the same as other organisations under equality and employment
Q: Do you believe that religions should have to pay their fair share of tax on income that does not come from charitable activities?
A: Yes, although the implementation of this will need very specific & detailed study.
Q: If you wish to provide a brief general statements of your views on the future development of secularisation in Ireland, or to highlight any
previous comments you have made on related issues, please do so.
A: I am a strong supporter of freedom of religion as well as freedom of speech. This means that everyone should be free to believe in whatever they want to choose not to have any religion. However it also means that religion is a private matter and should in no way be part of public life or institution.
This was my first debate since my decision to run as an candidate and I was eager to make my position know to my constituents as well as take on the other candidates. The debate was lively and gave an accurate snap shot of the mood in the constituency. From the stage I had a view on a full house of passionate and angry people. The frustration of many was evident. Core issues addressed were jobs and health. From the comments and questions it appeared that there was a mix self employed and people in waged employment present. Some were struggling to keep their enterprises afloat, others dealing with the aftermath of loss of their livelihoods. There were also parents of students, newly qualified teachers and nurses who are faced with the reality of their loved ones being forced to find employment abroad.
Anger expressed at the recent measures to cease payment to student nurses was met by current political incumbents with statistics and neatly quoted figures attempting to justify draconian measures. The real life distress of those affected was not eased by these meaningless dull soundbites. A furious parent of a student nurse was clearly not appeased by the explanation that six billion euro had to be saved and frontline workers had to be sacrificed because of that. There was palatable fury at the refusal to acknowledge that while a glut of middle and upper management remain, much need front line services have been slashed in the health service. A patronising reference to the proud achievement of sustaining a partial A&E facility at Nenagh hospital was not received well by a community that are only too aware of the fact that anything less than 24hr A&E is not acceptable.
Resident politicians were taking credit for empty achievements without acknowledging the shortfalls that could leave constituents in the hazardous position of having no urgent care facility outside of specified hours. The impending loss of an ICU which would culminate in the demise of a surgical facility was another area of extreme concern.
This is an issue I feel strongly about and for which I will campaign strongly if elected to the Dáil. As outlined in my policies I propose an overhaul of the complete healthcare system and one on the main points of my policy is the establishment of “Urgent Care Facilities” within acceptable distances from every person in this country. The measurement of what is an “acceptable distance” is based on the “golden hour” rule as first introduced by R Adams Cowley (who was an American surgeon considered a pioneer in emergency medicine and the treatment of shock trauma). It basically states that the survival chances of a victim of a life threatening injury seriously diminish after 60 minutes. Therefore it is essential that we have a healthcare system that guarantees a level of urgent care within that time-frame. By establishing this on a national level I will ensure by extension that Nenagh hospital will have a full-time A&E facility. I will also support that the current surgical theatres are not only maintained but will also ensure that they will be of a state-of-the-art standard.