FG at­tack­ing mid­dle classes, says Cos­grave

Web Sum­mit chief says he hopes bud­get mea­sures only due to ‘blind id­iocy’

The Irish Times - Business - - BUSINESS | NEWS - CHAR­LIE TAY­LOR

Mea­sures in­tro­duced in Bud­get 2019 to deal with the hous­ing cri­sis are go­ing to “crush the mid­dle classes”, ac­cord­ing to Web Sum­mit co-founder and chief ex­ec­u­tive Paddy Cos­grave.

“I strug­gle to un­der­stand why Fine Gael is at­tack­ing its own elec­toral base and im­pov­er­ish­ing the chil­dren of that base,” he said, re­fer­ring to a se­ries of bud­getary mea­sures an­nounced this week. Speak­ing to The Ir­ish Times af­ter hold­ing a press con­fer­ence to dis­cuss fu­ture plans for the Web Sum­mit, Mr Cos­grave said he hoped the new mea­sures were due to “blind id­iocy,’ rather than be­ing the re­sult of “some­one get­ting paid off some­where”.


He crit­i­cised in par­tic­u­lar the de­ci­sion to give un­capped mort­gage de­ductibil­ity to land­lords. “Not even Don­ald Trump dared to go that far in his give­away to the 1 per cent,” he added.

Mr Cos­grave, a long-time critic of the Gov­ern­ment’s at­tempts to re­solve the hous­ing cri­sis, said the mort­gage de­ductibil­ity mea­sure was noth­ing more than a “tax break for the su­per rich.”

While the Web Sum­mit founder has him­self been crit­i­cised for his in­ter­ven­tion into the hous­ing cri­sis, he said it was amoral not to speak out on the is­sue when he was in a po­si­tion to do so. He added that the hous­ing prob­lem was a sign of the State be­ing run in­ef­fec­tively.

“If you want to run a coun­try ef­fi­ciently then the last thing you want to do is to en­able peo­ple to put their hands in the till,” he said. “Fine Gael used to be the busi­ness party but now they are loot­ing busi­ness peo­ple,” Mr Cos­grave added. The Web Sum­mit chief ex­ec­u­tive also called for re­form of Ir­ish li­bel laws, claim­ing that the reg­u­la­tions are out­dated and are hold­ing back jour­nal­ists from re­port­ing on crit­i­cal is­sues ef­fec­tively.

Lis­bon deal

Com­ment­ing on the €110mil­lion deal an­nounced last week in which the Web Sum­mit is to re­main in Lis­bon un­til 2028, Mr Cos­grave said Ber­lin and Madrid were also in close con­tention to be host cities for the tech­nol­ogy con­fer­ence.

He said that un­der the agree­ment, the Por­tuguese gov­ern­ment would build the equiv­a­lent of 10 Dublin con­ven­tion cen­tres in ad­di­tion to cur­rent fa­cil­i­ties. This would en­able the con­fer­ence to ex­pand fur­ther.

Mr Cos­grave, who has pre­vi­ously in­sisted that Web Sum­mit is a tech­nol­ogy, rather than just an events com­pany, con­firmed it was con­sid­er­ing sell­ing its so­lu­tions into other in­dus­tries.

“Ev­ery time we hold an event we are in­un­dated with of­fers from oth­ers but my key pri­or­ity is to stay fo­cused and grow the com­pany right now,” he said.

The com­pany would also con­sider host­ing more events in Dublin in the fu­ture, he added.


Paddy Cos­grave: “Fine Gael used to be the busi­ness party but now they are loot­ing busi­ness peo­ple”.

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