OPW cannot explain conflicting figures for Garda station sales

Prices for some Garda stations given to the Dáil differ to State’s Property Price Register

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The OPW has said it cannot explain why the sale prices given by a senior government Minister for some former Garda stations differ from the sale prices recorded on the State’s Property Price Register.

In a number of cases sale price figures provided by Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe, to Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan in the Dáil, differed from the prices recorded on the register.

The register is maintained by the statutory Property Services Regulatory Authority and records the sale price as declared to the Revenue Commissioners for the purpose of stamp duty.

In addition to the discrepancies, many of the Garda station sales listed on Mr Donohoe’s list of 43 properties have yet to appear on the Property Price Register.

In one example, Lauragh Garda station in Co Kerry was, according to information provided by Mr Donohoe, sold on February 16th, 2016, for €115,000. Yet the figure recorded on the Property Price Register was €50,000.

Jamie Bingham whose family own the Derreen Estate near Kenmare which bought the property, said he could not explain the discrepancy. “I have no idea why that might be,” he said.

In another case, Cloone Garda station in Co Leitrim was said by Mr Donohoe to have achieved a sale price of €50,000, but the reported price on the Property Price Register was €40,000.

Further question

Mr O’Callaghan, who tabled the Dáil question on the sale of Garda stations, said he too could not explain the discrepancy in the State’s figures. He will ask a further question in the Dáil about it, he said.

Mr Donohoe’s department referred questions on this issue to the OPW. In a statement to The Irish Times the OPW said it “sold the [Lauragh Garda station] property for €115,000 and the monies were received in March 2016”.

The OPW said the Residential Property Price Register “holds the date of sale, price and address of residential properties purchased since January 2010, as declared by the purchaser to the Revenue Commissioners for the purposes of stamp duty”.

It added: “The data is provided by persons conveyancing a property on behalf of the purchaser. Therefore, the data entered on the register in this case is not a matter for the OPW.”

A spokesman for the Revenue Commissioners said it could not comment on individual tax cases.

The Property Price Register is maintained by the Property Services Regulatory Authority.

In a statement last night, a spokeswoman for the authority said the register contains two entries under the address of Lauragh Garda Station, one dated February 2016 with a sale price of €50,000 and a second entry dated February /2017 also with a sale price of €50,000.

“This Register is compiled from data which is filed, for stamp duty purposes, with the Revenue Commissioners,” she said.

“The data is primarily filed electronically by persons doing the conveyancing of the property on behalf of the purchaser. The PSRA does not in any way edit the data. It simply publishes, in a fully transparent manner, the data from the declarations which are filed with the Revenue Commissioners.

Barry Ward, a barrister, however suggested last night the discrepancy in the figures may be connected with the fact the residential property price register is focussed specifically on residential properties and many of the rural Garda stations sold may have included both residential and commercial elements. The commercial elements wouldn’t have been captured on the register.

Since 2014, including Garda stations, the OPW disposed of 32 properties by public auction, 42 properties were sold by private treaty and three properties were transferred to other State bodies.

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