Friday, 16 July 2021
Finance (Local Property Tax) (Amendment) Bill 2021: Committee and Remaining Stages
Paschal Donohoe (Dublin Central, Fine Gael)
I wish everybody good morning. I thank Senators for the amendments that have been tabled and for the facilitating and scrutiny of this legislation. I will begin my comments on this amendment by absolutely identifying and appreciating the anxiety, huge stress and damage that has been caused to families and homeowners, which in turn has been created by the damage that has been done to their homes by the material that was used to build them. It has caused such harm to so many. The Government at the moment is reviewing our response to this huge challenge for many people.
The reason I am not in a position to accept the amendment is because of the way we have structured this exemption. To access this exemption, a person needs to be part of the scheme that is in place now to recognise this issue for homes that are currently affected by it. Access to that scheme is through a regulation that has been put in place by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage. That regulation and access to this exemption is in turn based on a similar exception we had in place for pyrite.
At present, all of this is being reviewed by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage. It could well make a decision that it will change recognition of damage through changing the regulation that is in place. That is where that should happen, rather than through the local property tax legislation. That work is currently under way. I understand it will be concluded by the end of this month. It really is not appropriate that I try to indicate in a local property tax Bill what we think are the right criteria for local authorities or the State deeming that a house has been affected by mica. That is a policy issue on which further progress probably needs to be and may well be made. With respect to Senator Gavan, however, I would contend to him that this work should not happen in the local property tax Bill. It should happen through the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage through the regulation. I believe that will be looked at in the context of the working group that is in place on this issue. That is the only reason I am not accepting the Senator's amendment. The place for these issues to be resolved is not in the LPT legislation. If we did, it would prejudge the working group that is under way and then put in place access criteria that are not consistent with how pyrite is currently being dealt with. For those reasons, while I absolutely appreciate the intention of the Senator with regard to this issue, I am still not in a position to accept this particular amendment.