Micheál Martin needs to stop Fianna Fáil’s anti-rural agenda – O’Donovan

-   Patrick ODonovan TD

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin needs to clarify his party’s stance on the fair distribution of local property tax after one of his councillors confirmed a blatant anti -rural policy being pursued by the party in Dublin, a Fine Gael Minister has said has said.

Minister of State for Public Procurement, Open Government and eGovernment Patrick O’Donovan said Fianna Fáil’s mask slipped today as the true intent of how local property tax (LPT) funds will not be distributed around the country by the party became apparent.

“Fianna Fáil’s Dublin City Councillors have confirmed they are to lobby and argue with Government to be allowed break the current rules and retain all of the LPT collected in Dublin and not provide them to rural areas for the next five years.

“At the moment a portion of the tax collected is fed into a national equalisation fund which is distributed to local authorities around the country who do not have a sufficient revenue base. Many of the councils who benefit from this fund are county councils across rural Ireland.

“Retaining this money locally, in isolation, will leave 21 local authorities with a gaping black hole in their finances, running to tens of millions of euro.

“In Fianna Fáil’s local election manifesto they made vague commitments about “discretion” as to how LPT is spent locally and giving people a say in this. But nowhere did they outline to voters the negative impact this could have on many areas or how they planned to combat this. Now after the elections are over, the country learns their true intent.

“This is just another example of Fianna Fáil floating populist ill-thought out policies in the hope that they will get away with vague policies without having to account for the consequences of their proposals.

“By contrast Fine Gael’s local election manifesto dealt with the same issue in an honest and realistic way. Fine Gael believes local authorities should be able to retain all monies raised in their county or city council budget. But we have also committed to establishing a national equalisation fund to be paid from the exchequer to ensure that areas where there is a lower LPT base continue to be supported as they are now.

“That is the sensible approach to changing how LPT is used to fund vital services across the country. It is an approach that leaves no community behind and ensures that less well-off areas receive the same level of service as every other part of the country.

“Micheál Martin needs to outline why his councillors on Dublin City Council are pursuing this policy objective with absolutely zero regard for how it will affect other parts of the country.

“Is this the first hint that Fianna Fáil are willing to abandon rural Ireland in order to win votes in Dublin.

“Added to this is their bid to reprioritise the national development plan which will mean that major transport projects, to aid commuters, business and tourism, will be delayed or halted by Fianna Fáil,” Minister O’Donovan said.

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