South Tipperary councillors vote to support new property tax following heated debate
Families ‘at the pin of their collars’, meeting told

Eamonn Lacey

Eamonn Lacey

South Tipperary County Council has given its seal of approval for the introduction of a property tax.

Members voted by ten votes to six to reject a motion calling on the government not to introduce a property tax at their meeting on Monday.

Fine Gael’s Michael Fitzgerald and Liam Ahearn both objected to the motion being put to a vote at the end of a heated discussion but a vote was taken after the motion was proposed by Cllr. Sylvia Sheehan Cooney and seconded by Cllr. Pat English.

Ten Fine Gael members voted against the motion while Three fianna Fail, two WUAGs and one Labour councillor voted for the motion.

Speaking to the motion Cllr. Sheehan Cooney, who was constantly interrupted by Fine Gael’s Tom Acheson who reminded her what party had made the mess the country was in, said people could just not afford to pay a property tax.

“This is not the time or the place for a property tax. It’s disgraceful that this government is going to put a property tax on the people of Ireland who are at the pin of their collar,” said Cllr. Sheehan Cooney.

People, she said, were scared ‘out of their wits’ at what was coming down the road as they desperately struggled to cope with massive increases in petrol and heating fuel costs, health insurance, and third level costs.

She called on the government to go after the bonuses, increments and expenses being paid out to the ‘fat cats’ who were loaded with money.

“Your memory is very short, Fianna Fail broke this country” interjected Cllr. Acheson.

Cllr.Sheehan Cooney said the past could not be changed and she called on the government not to pay for what happened in the past ‘on the backs of the ordinary people’

“If people cannot pay the €100 household charge what hope have hey of paying up to €700 in a property tax next year,” she warned.

Cllr. Marie Murphy said the previous government agreed to the property tax with the troika and the current government had no choice but to implement the agreement with the troika.

Cllr. Billy Shoer said that 35% of the people in the county had not paid the household charge.

“Some cannot afford it and other won’t pay it. That 35% will be 65% this time next year. People cannot afford to pay,the government cannot keep taking money out of people’s pockets,” said Cllr. Shoer.

He informed the meeting that the Mayor’s Fund in Clonmel collapsed last year going from a €12,000 collection to €1,500 which was distributed to the needy in Clonmel.

“People just did not have the money to give, it just was not there,” said Cllr. Shoer.

Cllr. Joe Brennan said the property tax was going to be introduced and he hoped something would be done to protect people on low incomes.

Cllr. Pat English said ordinary people were being hounded while the wealthy were not.

“They should go after the people with the money,” insisted Cllr. English.

Cllr. Acheson, who was interrupted by Cllr. Sheehan Cooney as he spoke, said the government had an obligation to balance the books and Ireland was one of the few countries in Europe not to have a property tax.

“We either increase income tax on the coping classes or bring in a property tax” said Cllr. Acheson.

Cllr. Bobby Fitzgerald said the property tax was signed up to because of the IMF agreement. Cllr.Fitzgerald said the previous government got a bad deal with the Croke Park agreement.

“County managers earn more than the Spanish Prime Minister, 7,000 civil servants earn over €130,000,” said Cllr. Fitzgerald.

He acknowledged that others in the public sector were inadequately paid, those that were working in the frontline, but that nothing would be changed while Croke Park was in existence.

Cllr. Fitzgerald said his own party was also responsible for the situation and he said ordinary people in society werebeing affected due to the adherence of the government to maintain the Croke Park agreement.

Cllr. Michael Anglim said he noticed that the county council had served notice to quit letters to twenty nine people. He asked how those people could afford a property tax.

“The Croke Park agreement should be torn up, things change, it’s a different society now,” said Cllr. Sheehan Cooney.

Cllr. Liam Ahearn told officials that there was no need to put the motion to a vote because the council had no say over government policy.

He was supported by party colleague Cllr.Michael Fitzgerald who said there was no need to vote.

Cllr. Sheehan Cooney insisted on a vote being taken. Her motion was seconded by Cllr.Pat English.

Ten Fine Gael councillors - John Crosse (Chairman), Liam Ahearn, Tom Acheson, Joe Brennan, Jack Crowe, Michael Fitzgerald, Marie Murphy, Michael Murphy, Mary Hanna Hourigan and John Fahey voted to reject the motion.

Cllr.Sheehan Cooney (FF) voted for the motion as did party colleagues Joe Donovan, and Michael Anglim, WUAG councillors Pat English and Billy Shoer. Labour councillor Bobby Fitzgerald also voted for the motion.

Ten members of the council were not present at the time of the vote. They were FG’s Louise McLoughlin and Jimmy O Brien, Fianna Fail’s Siobhan Ambrose, Dr.Sean McCarthy, Labour’s Sean Lonergan and Darren Ryan, and Independents Denis Leahy, Richie Molloy. Tom Wood and Eddie O’Meara.