The President of ICMSA has said that it is both remarkable and regrettable that what he called the ‘Capital Assets – Red Herring’ is once again being touted as a serious proposal just a few short years after then Minister for Education, Mr. Ruairi Quinn, contemplated such a policy before exposure to the facts and the reality of farm income halted the idea in its tracks. Mr. John Comer said that the facts and indisputable logic against such a capital assets test had not changed since ICMSA had decisively won the argument the last time this unfair and unworkable proposal was made and he promised that ICMSA would fight “tooth-and-nail” against any move that tried to position a family farm as some kind of capital asset instead of the means by which a family earns their income.
Mr. Comer said that farming families – and their elected representatives – should be under no illusion that in this context ‘capital assets test’ is a euphemism for ‘institutional discrimination against the children of farm families’ because, once introduced, the children of a typical family farm will never qualify for a higher education grant.
“Farmers’ children will be disqualified from higher education grants because such a test will certainly place a value on land and other productive assets without any reference to the actual income these assets produce. We will be moving away from the fundamental principle that places income as the fairest measure of eligibility in these matters. The assets test sets out to replace my income with an estimate of the value of the tools I use to produce my income. That is not a fair measure and will function – and ICMSA suspects is intended to function – as a bar to farm families qualifying for Third Level grants on the same basis as their urban and suburban counterparts. The frightening prospect here is that farmers’ sons and daughters just won’t have the income to go on to university and – under these kinds of so-called asset test – they cannot qualify for grants”, said Mr Comer.
“Why, for instance, would a family farm in Leitrim be considered any more of a capital asset than a detached mansion in Foxrock or a civil service guaranteed pension? How is that fair? If this proposal was to be developed, then ICMSA will fight tooth-and-nail against it and approach every TD to ascertain where they stand on this manifestly unfair and illogical idea”, he concluded.
Ends 14 July 2016.
John Comer, 087-2057846
Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758
ICMSA Press Office