Dublin lobby on prop­erty tax nar­row minded

Bray People - - COMMENT -

SMALL THOUGH Ire­land is, it some­times seems like two coun­tries, made up not of North and South but those in­side the pale and those out­side - a trou­ble­some lot who have been noth­ing but a source of bother this past 800 years and more.

It's all well and good to visit re­mote parts like West­port, Din­gle or Tramore for a week, have a pint in their quaint pubs and marvel at their bu­colic be­hav­iour. ‘Stay­ca­tions' are in the na­tional in­ter­est af­ter all. But we don't need to carry the coun­try cousins on our backs - or so would seem to be the view of a tren­chant co­terie of Fine Gael back­benchers.

This Dublin Set is very ex­er­cised at the moment by the prop­erty tax, which is due to start tak­ing a hefty chunk out of tax­pay­ers' pock­ets from July. How­ever, the con­cern of the Dublin Set is not just with the prop­erty tax per se but with the hor­ri­fy­ing thought that the home own­ers of Dublin will be car­ry­ing the rest of the coun­try on their backs.

Dublin South Fine Gael TD Olivia Mitchell rep­re­sents this view nicely. ‘I bit­terly re­sent hav­ing to pay this [prop­erty tax] be­cause we are paying for the rest of the coun­try. We do it al­ready in terms of in­come tax, where Dublin sub­sidises the rest and here is an­other tax do­ing the same.’

Ms Mitchell's case is based on the fact that Dublin prop­erty prices are higher than the na­tional av­er­age and that Dublin prop­erty own­ers will there­fore be forced to pay a dis­pro­por­tion­ate share of the €500 mil­lion the value-based prop­erty tax is de­signed to ex­tract. Ms Mitchell's view is shared by, among oth­ers, her Dublin South East col­league, Fine Gael TD Eoghan Murphy, who de­scribes the prop­erty tax as “a fis­cal trans­fer from ur­ban ar­eas to ru­ral ar­eas”. In his view the tax is ‘grossly un­fair to peo­ple liv­ing in Dublin’.

Th­ese Dublin ‘revo­lu­tion­ar­ies' plan to lobby Fi­nance Min­is­ter Michael Noo­nan in an ef­fort to per­suade him to al­ter the struc­ture of the prop­erty tax be­fore it is im­ple­mented in July. If they were to suc­ceed in their cam­paign then one must as­sume the tax would be re­con­fig­ured so that Dublin prop­erty own­ers pay less and home-own­ers ‘out­side the Pale' pay more.

The Dublin Set's de­fence of their own lit­tle realm is ad­mirable in its own way but it is ap­palling in its nar­row-mind­ed­ness. Surely they must have for­got­ten how Ber­tie Ah­ern's Government di­rected the bulk of the bil­lions of euro spent on in­fra­struc­ture devel­op­ment to­wards Dublin and the sprawl of dor­mi­tory towns feed­ing the metropo­lis. Mean­while in ru­ral Ire­land, drivers con­tinue to nav­i­gate their way around pot-holed, sub­stan­dard roads.

And, it so hap­pens that prop­erty prices in ru­ral Ire­land aren't al­ways in the bargain base­ment cat­e­gory. In many of the more scenic parts of the coun­try, lo­cals can't af­ford to live in their home place be­cause prop­erty prices have been ar­ti­fi­cially in­flated by the de­mand for hol­i­day homes

Th­ese are in­deed hard times. They're hard for ev­ery­body and, as Enda Kenny might say, we all need to put a shoul­der to the wheel. It's a laud­able sen­ti­ment but one that is cer­tainly not helped by some of the whingers within his own party.

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