No defections in property tax vote
There were no Government defections on the legislation introducing the controversial property tax despite criticism by coalition backbenchers of the Bill.
The Government had a comfortable 79 to 44 victory on the introductory or second stage of the Finance (Local Property Tax) Bill.
Introducing the Bill Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said houses with a “certifiable level of pyrite” should receive a waiver from the property tax.
The levy was necessary and an “opportunity for very real political reform at local government level”, he said. Mobile homes and vessels will not be taxed.
Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan said the household charge had to date raised €113 million and almost 70 per cent of liable homes had paid. He said the revenue went exclusively to the local government sector.
He warned the remaining 30 per cent of householders who had not registered or paid the charge that if it was not paid by June next year they faced an additional €200 fee.
Earlier the Opposition sharply criticised the Government for “ramming” the Bill through in two days.
Fianna Fail finance spokesman Michael McGrath said the Bill was “absolutely not fair” because it did not consider net wealth.
Sinn Fein finance spokesman Pearse Doherty described the charge as a “bad and deeply unfair tax. It is unworkable and will be the cause of hardship for hundreds of thousands of families.”
Fine Gael Dublin South TD Olivia Mitchell said “this tax is a gross injustice to the people of Dublin and, to a lesser extent, people in other urban areas. It is an injustice because the method of calculation is based solely on the value of the property, with no reference to the cost of supply of local services.”
Labour Dublin Mid-West TD Robert Dowds described the Bill as “flawed” and said he agreed with the Opposition that there should be more time to consider the legislation.
Independent Wicklow TD Stephen Donnelly said the tax was unfair and unnecessary and would raise €350, “half the amount needed for pay rises to public sector workers”.
Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins warned that the Government “will not face division between urban and rural on the property tax issue but the national solidarity of working people, the unemployed and pensioners. There will be a common and national fight in solidarity against injustice.”
During the debate about 200 people from the Campaign against household and water taxes gathered at the gates of Leinster House to protest against the property tax.
The Pyrite Action Group said it welcomes the move as it is a “recognition of the hardship” faced by pyrite homeowners.
But Sandra Lewis voiced concern about the costs homeowners could face in proving their property is affected by the mineral. She said the Department has not yet released the full details and asked whether people who haven’t been tested will have “to make a decision as to whether to pay €3,000” on tests.
Pyrite was included in hard-core used in the foundations of some homes. When exposed to air or water it became unstable and caused structural damage in the homes, including cracking and buckling of walls and floors.