Richest 1% of Irish people own more than a quarter of country’s wealth – Oxfam

The richest 1% of Irish people have more than a quarter of the country’s wealth, according to a report from anti-poverty charity Oxfam.

The number of Irish people with individual wealth of more than 46.6 million euro has more than doubled between 2012 and 2022, from 655 to 1,435.

Oxfam said that for every 93.15 euro of wealth created in the last ten years, 31.67 euro has gone to the richest 1% and less than 0.5 euro to the bottom 50%.

According to the charity, this means that the richest 1% have gained 70 times more wealth than the bottom 50% in the last 10 years.

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Oxfam Ireland is calling for a tax on Irish wealth at graduated rates of 2%, 3% and 5% above a threshold of 4.7 million euro, which it said would raise billions annually “with the potential to transform Irish public services”.

The charity said there should be an international approach to taxing the super-rich through permanent wealth taxes and temporary windfall taxes, and that governments should aim to halve the wealth of, and the number of, billionaires.

Chief executive of Oxfam Ireland Jim Clarken said: “This rising wealth at the top and rising poverty for the rest are two sides of the same coin, proof that our economic system is functioning exactly how the rich and powerful designed it to.

“It was 10 years ago when we first sounded the alarm about extreme inequality at the World Economic Forum and yet since then the world’s billionaires have almost doubled their wealth.

“As crisis after crisis hits the poorest people hardest, it’s time for governments, including Ireland’s, to tax the rich.

“The very existence of billionaires while out-of-control inequality rises, is damning proof of policy failure.”

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Oxfam’s Survival of the Richest report is published to coincide with the gathering of world leaders and business elites in Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Finance Minister Michael McGrath are among those attending the summit this week.

After Mr McGrath attends a Eurogroup meeting in Brussels on Monday, and the Ecofin Council on Tuesday, he will travel to Davos where he will take part in a panel discussion called Jobs Consortium: Towards a New Vision for the Future of Work.

Mr McGrath will also host a dinner with IDA client companies who are deemed to be key investors in Ireland.

Speaking ahead of the trip, Mr McGrath said the World Economic Forum provides “a valuable opportunity” for Ireland to engage with senior political and business leaders from across the world.

“I will devote a lot of my time at the Forum to meeting current and potential job-creators in Ireland, with a view to promoting the expansion of existing investments and the establishment of new ones,” he said.