Wednesday, 13 December 2017
Order of Business
Yesterday, I came here on the Luas. I also listened yesterday to property commentators. They were saying that there would be an additional increase of up to 20% in the value of the houses along the Luas lines. Many people may think this is welcome, but I hesitate, because this increased value will inevitably lead to an increase in property tax. The street where I live was a run-down and semi-derelict 18th century street 40 years ago, when I bought the house. I restored my own house to a high standard. I rescued 35 North Great George's Street, turning it into a James Joyce Centre which is still very successful 20 or 30 years after it started. I was personally involved in the positive change of ownership of 12 out of the 48 houses in the street. I created a preservation society, which I have to say is absolutely excellent. It has had a succession of chairpersons after me. They have all worked hard. We have made a great impact on that street. It is now a desirable place to live. Combined with the Luas and the very welcome redevelopment of Parnell Square, particularly the library moving into the Coláiste Mhuire premises, this will lead to an increase in the value of our houses. This means that we will have to pay far more property tax. This is grossly unfair and wrong, and I believe that property tax should and must be scrapped. It is going right back to what James Fintan Lalor and his colleagues fought against, the practice of rack-renting. When a tenant farmer dared to increase his profits, to increase his holding, to redecorate his little farm or to improve his living conditions, the landlord immediately slapped extra rent on him. This is what is happening now, but it is not due to malign landlords, it is what our Government is doing to its own people. It is wrong and it has to stop. I would like to ask the Leader if we can have a debate on that in the new year. I believe there are some parties, principally Sinn Féin, which have taken up this issue, and they are prepared to go to an election with one of their planks being removal of the property tax. I think this is absolutely necessary in the interests of equity and fair treatment for citizens.