By Tim Ryan, Oireachtas Correspondent
The significant confusion that reigns among people across the country in relation to property tax was raised in the Upper House by Labour Senator Denis Landy.
“For example, in my town of Carrick-on-Suir residents of one full housing estate have received no notification of their property tax liability yet,” he said. “Some people might think this is great, but many of those people have come into my office and asked me why they have not received their notifications. There is also confusion among people with regard to how property tax can be paid and I ask the Leader to ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government to provide some clarity on this matter.”
At this stage, all properties liable for tax should have been notified and clarity should have been provided on the methods of payment, he said.
“In my county of Tipperary, I heard in the past couple of days the suggestion there would be kiosks installed in supermarkets where people could pay in instalments whenever suited them,” he said. “Many other ideas have been put out and we need clarity on all of these. I ask the Leader to seek that clarity from the Minister.”
In response, the Leader of the House, Senator Maurice Cummins said he was sure clarity can be given to the Senator and the general public on the matter.
Austerity destroying families - McGrath
Comments by a former IMF mission chief to Ireland, Mr. Ashoka Mody, that complete reliance on austerity was not reasonable and the construct for Ireland’s rescue was wrong, were quoted to the Taoiseach by Tipperary Independent Deputy Mattie McGrath.
Speaking during Leaders’ Questions he said these were plain and simple words, used in a moment of unusual honesty and humility and confirming what many observers have come to recognise.
“Austerity works, but only at the expense of hundreds of thousands of people losing their jobs and livelihoods, leaving families destroyed,” he said. “Of the suggested alternatives, the first choice was to force senior bondholders to bear some of the sovereign debt costs. Is the Tánaiste still here, as we heard the mantra many times from his side of the House? We had the phrase of ‘Labour’s way or Frankfurt’s way’ off by heart from listening to it. A second choice would have been an offer of concessional official financing, with a third choice of imposing austerity. We know which was taken. The Labour Party Tánaiste may be gone because he is fearful of the text messages he may be receiving about the Croke Park agreement. Promises were broken.”
Deputy McGrath said Mr. Mody was very honest but the Taoiseach’s dismissive reply when he was confronted by the media was to label him as an old fuddy-duddy who has retired.
“We all know what was the position,” he said. “These political measures are not working so will the Taoiseach at this late stage change tack and accept that the price of austerity is too high? It is crippling our economy and our families so will the Taoiseach give some chink of hope or light to our young people, ordinary workers, the so-called middle class and business people? They are not being helped in any way and austerity is clearly crippling our economy.”
“It is time for the Taoiseach to learn that message,” he continued. “He had seen the books before the last election and knew the situation but he has heaped austerity upon austerity. People cannot take any more and when more is taken from people’s pockets, they have less to spend or contribute via taxation. The economy is slowing as a result. There is no point in dismissing the views of those who tell us the obvious conclusion that austerity has failed, as it has in other countries.”
In reply, the Taoiseach said Deputy McGrath was aware of the programme set out by the Government to factor in a €300 million saving for this year and €1 billion by 2015.
“The Deputy is also aware of the challenges faced by many people. The alternative, as Deputy McGrath is aware, would be to have to consider the implications of the issue for front-line services.”
O’Murchú seeks action on 1916 historic buildings
The report of the relatives of the 1916 leaders of their visit to the historic buildings on Dublin’s Moore Street made sad reading, Cashel Fianna Fáil Senator Labhrás O’Murchú told the Upper House.
“These buildings are some of the most important national monuments we have, which we were given to understand would be conserved,” he said. “The relatives, however, said they were shocked and horrified at the state of the buildings. Water was running down the walls. Plastic sheeting was being used in an effort to keep out the elements. This is happening while we get closer to the centenary of the 1916 Rising.”
Senator O’Murchú asked if the Leader of the House would bring this to the attention of the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Deputy Jimmy Deenihan, for whom he had great respect.
“He needs to take a hands-on interest in this matter,” he said. “For example, if the Alamo site were treated like this, it would shock people internationally, especially those who want to respect the sacrifices of patriots of the past.”