On Thursday of last week a small report in the national newspapers told us that a family doctor in north county Dublin had been sent to jail for sixteen months for failure to pay almost €100,000 in income tax.
The doctor, Dr. Bassam Naser, who has lived in Ireland for thirty years, and who has seven children, admitted his wrongdoing and was prepared to pay the €100,000 that he owed –and indeed had a cheque in court to cover the entire amount. Despite this, and the fact that he does a huge amount of charity work for his native Palestine, and that he has a vibrant popular medical practice, the Judge in his wisdom felt that he should send this man to prison.
Now I am aware that people should pay their taxes, and I am not privy to all the relevant information that the good Judge had in front of him, but in this case I cannot see any benefit in sending a hard-working family man to jail.
Every so often there is a list of tax defaulters published in the national newspapers, and in many cases the amounts involved can be much greater than the €100,000 that the doctor owed – and I have never heard of any of those people being incarcerated.
I would have to say that back in the day tax evasion seems to have been almost a popular way of life amongst a lot of our ‘bigger’ business people.
On the same page in the paper, there was a story of a 20-year-old lad who stole a bus while drunk, drove it around the M18 motorway, crashed it into a wall, doing more than €5,000 worth of damage to the bus (and the wall), and who then walked free from court – well, with fines totalling €600 and a four-year driving ban.
Now, again I accept he made a stupid mistake, and more than likely won’t re-offend, but why he avoided prison when his drunk-driving could have resulted in a major accident (particularly on a motorway) – and the doctor didn’t – makes me once again wonder at the workings of our legal system.
There seems to be a lot of disquiet about the prison sentence handed down to Dr. Naser, so maybe something might yet be done. Personally I hope he is pardoned, let him pay what he owes, get on with his daily work, and continue to give what appears to be an excellent service to his many happy clients.
Just out of curiosity I decided to have a look at the last list of tax defaulters published in Stubb’s Gazette, and in the last few years there were judgements of up to €750,000, several in the €300,000-€400,000 bracket, loads more above €200,000, a good number around the €100,000 figure, and as far as I could see they all came to some agreement with the Revenue, were listed as tax defaulters, and no-one was either sent to jail or criminalised.
Why there is one law for the ‘Good Doctor’ and another one for the hundreds if not thousands of other tax avoiders beats me, and my gut reaction is that it’s very unfair and not morally correct.
Thank God for sporting heroics
All I can say is thank God for all the magnificent sports people who week in week out put on amazing entertainment in so many different sports to keep all of us sport fanatics glued to the TV screens.
Normally, with another local Galway- Roscommon derby on the horizon next Sunday, and the start of the 2018 Soccer World Cup also happening this week, those would be the events which would be occupying my mind on this lovely Monday morning.
However, over the weekend there were a few happenings in other sports that captured my attention, notably the achievement of tennis player Rafael Nadal, when despite an agonising attack of cramp in – of all places – his serving hand, he won an incredible 11th French Open.
I am not a regular viewer of tennis matches, so when I used my parental prerogative to watch the last couple of sets – instead of the Dublin and Longford mismatch – I have to admit that my popularity in the home was at an all-time low. However, the Spaniard overcame every obstacle and deservedly made his own piece of history, and at 32 years of age he – along with Roger Federer – is proving that the elder statesmen are still capable of dominating a game that is generally regarded as a young man’s sport.
In boxing, Tyson Fury made a winning comeback in a fight that was a complete joke, when he forced Sefer Seferi, a limited opponent who was nearly 5 stone lighter than Fury, to retire after 4 rounds of comic book boxing. As I watched the action (not sure that’s the right word), the only thought in my mind was…if by any chance Fury slipped and fell on his opponent he might conceivably kill him – he definitely wasn’t going to do any major damage with his punching.
Talking of punching, an unusual incident took place on Sunday during what was described as a weighing room fracas in Goodwood, when two jockeys, Raul Da Silva and Jim Crowley, had a disagreement which ended with Da Silva punching the former champion jockey, splitting his lip, and incurring a 21-day riding ban for ‘violent conduct’. We are always being told about the great camaraderie that exists between all the jockeys. Obviously not in this case, but why they bothered beats me – as Da Silva had finished last of nine runners, with Crowley in fifth place.
That was certainly a battle of two lightweights, but back to next Sunday’s Connacht final and we have two heavyweights in Western football going head to head in a mouthwatering clash in the Hyde. I have my ticket got, must dig out my fading Tommy Varden jersey, and be ready for another Titanic battle.
I won’t be popular with followers of the Tribesmen, but I am not convinced that they are deserving of all the hype they are getting, and bearing in mind that the Rossies beat them by nine points in Salthill last year, I am giving a very hesitant and reluctant vote to Roscommon, and I fear we’ll have another sad Sunday evening in Mikeen’s listening to the pontifications of our victorious neighbours.
However, hope springs eternal, and maybe Damien Comer and the lads can dig deep and avenge last year’s defeat. Wouldn’t I, like Kevin Keegan famously said, love that!
Finally for this week, the funds from the Barrie Harris Walk were distributed at a ‘do’ in Mikeen’s on Saturday night last, and we had a great night of music, porter and craic. To my cardiologist’s delight, I polished off several sandwiches, lovely cream eclairs and a few slices of Bina’s fabulous apple pie.
I am back in training for the next St. Stephen’s Day Walk, and Saturday night’s break-out on the confectionary front is my last for at least a week or two as I have to mind my figure. Anyway, it was a great night, the Walk as usual was a great success, and almost €12,000 is being distributed to many worthy charities.
Till next week, Bye for now!