Naughten says Fair Deal amendment agreed to in return for Murphy vote

Older people’s homes are being ‘taxed on the treble’, says Roscommon TD

The price of Independent TD Denis Naughten’s vote in support of the Government in the motion of no confidence on Tuesday is an amendment to Fair Deal legislation to benefit families struggling to pay nursing home bills.

The Roscommon-Galway TD said the amendment could also make a real difference to families in emergency accommodation.

Mr Naughten confirmed amendment of the fair deal legislation was the price of his support despite the Taoiseach’s insistence earlier that no promises were made to Independent TDs.

Leo Varadkar was responding to Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin, who said there was “apparently a lot of activity with Deputy Mattie McGrath” before the vote. He said “I might be wrong there but apparently there was a great deal of engagement that came to naught in the end”.


The Taoiseach said: “I confirm that no promises were made to Independent deputies in return for votes on the confidence motion and there is nothing to publish.”

But he added: “However, Independent deputies and plenty of Opposition deputies are in touch with Ministers all the time looking for help on issues and we try to help them as best we can.”

Mr Naughten said only 600 houses are being rented out by older people in long-term nursing home care in the State and 10,000 are vacant because families are being “taxed on the treble”.

The former Fine Gael TD and minister said that currently under the Fair Deal scheme 7.5 per cent of the market value of a house is part of the payment. If the home is rented out, then the gross income is also taxed and when the rent money goes into their account it is taxed again at 7.5 per cent as cash on deposit.

Under his proposal the tax will be on the capital asset or on the rental income but not both. He added that if only one in five of those 10,000 vacant homes were rented out “that’s enough to house all the homeless families”.

Mr Naughten added that the proposal “allows older people the option of renting out their homes without having to pay three times for it. They’ll pay the capital asset or the income generated from it”.


The Fair Deal legislation is to come before the Dáil in January to introduce a three-year cap on the liability of capital assets in farms and businesses.

Mr Naughten said currently there is no cap and if a farmer is in a nursing home for 10 years “75 per cent of the farm is gone” because it is taxed at 7.5 per cent a year. He brought the “treble tax” up when the legislation underwent scrutiny in the Oireachtas last month.

"The officials were completely opposed to it, so that's why I used the opportunity that I had to get it moved," he said of his decision to support the Government in the vote on Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy.

He said he was concerned because “the officials weren’t prepared to budge on it”.

“And in fairness to Eoghan Murphy he agreed with me that it’s an area that should be addressed and they’ve agreed to do it,” he said.

Mr Naughten said it would be an additional section in the Fair Deal legislation for farms and businesses. He said he was confident the Government would act on the matter because Minister of State “Jim Daly is anxious to get this legislation through because it’s costing families their farm holdings the whole time”.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times