Tuesday 16 January 2018

Doherty defends Adams after 'car crash' interview

Sinn Fein's Pearse Doherty (Tom Burke)
Sinn Fein's Pearse Doherty (Tom Burke)

Gerry Adams' grasp of financial matters took a battering in the course of a "car crash" interview on the national airwaves.

The Sinn Fein leader floundered as he came under intense questioning on his party's plans for taxing the rich and water charges.

His constituency rival, Ged Nash of Labour, described the interview on RTE Radio as a "car crash" and said "he hadn't a clue about his tax plans".

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein's finance spokesman Pearse Doherty was forced to deny that Mr Adams' understanding of economic matters is becoming a liability to the party.

During the interview, RTE's Sean O'Rourke singled out Sinn Fein's plan for additional taxes on individuals with incomes of more than €100,000.

He pointed out that a couple earning €70,000 each - a ­combined €140,000 - would not be affected while a car salesman on €110,000 with a stay-at-home partner would pay more.

Mr O'Rourke put it to Mr Adams that the car salesman would end up paying 59c on every euro above €100,000 while Mr Adams repeatedly said it was 7c on the euro.


"That is not the case," said Mr O'Rourke.

"That is the case Sean," Mr Adams replied. As the discussion continued, Mr Adams did seem to concede it would be 59c before returning to 7c.

"You seem to be suggesting two different things," said Mr O'Rourke.

"No, I'm sorry, I'm not, Sean. You're the one that's confused. I'm not the least bit confused," Adams replied.

"I'm not in the slightest confused," Mr O'Rourke said, adding: "Perhaps our listeners might be."

Mr Doherty said he did not hear the interview, but added: "I don't believe my party leader does find difficulty in explaining it [Sinn Fein's tax policy]."

In a later interview with Bryan Dobson, Mr Adams was asked about the reduction of tax relief for pension contributions.

"No one below €100,000 will have to pay one extra penny or will lose one extra penny because of the policies that Sinn Fein are bringing out," he said.

Mr Dobson said someone earning €43,000 and putting aside a 5pc pension contribution would be down €430 under Sinn Fein's plans, but Mr Adams insisted: "I've already said to you, it will not cost anyone earning below €100,000 anything."

In other remarks, Mr Doherty said that becoming leader of Sinn Fein is not an ambition of his, but that if he is asked in the future he would be "willing to step up to the challenge".

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