Lenihan will not move on stamp duty

FINANCE Minister Brian Lenihan looks unlikely to make any radical changes to property taxation after yesterday dismissing the possibility of abolishing stamp duty.

The minister warned that while tough times were ahead for Ireland’s economy, any suggestion that doing away with property taxes would boost the housing market was “misguided”.

He went on to suggest the arrangements on stamp duty were “entirely satisfactory”.

Mr Lenihan said he had enjoyed the justice portfolio, and and pointed, in particular, to his role in tackling crime, combating public order problems and the moves towards using surveillance evidence against gangs.

He told RTÉ that, to date, only general discussions regarding his new portfolio had been held with Taoiseach Brian Cowen.

“It’s clear that this is one of the toughest times… to take over as minister for finance.

“There’s clearly challenging work to be done there and I look forward to the challenge.

“It’s important that we exercise the necessary discipline that is essential given the international positions, [but] on the other hand that we identify clear opportunities for Ireland to grow and progress.”

He said it was necessary to “exercise discipline” when managing public finances and suggested that spending would be reined in this year and next.

Mary Hanafin admitted she had hoped to stay on as education minister for another year but was looking forward to her new role in social and family affairs.

She saw no reason why the taoiseach would have been disaffected with her, considering her hard work in cabinet in recent years.

The former primary teacher said she had loved her four years at education. It had been the longest period a minister was in charge there for a decade, she added.

During that time she had overseen measures for special needs children, about 6,000 extra primary school teachers, as well as reforms in the third-level sector.

“It’s good for me to get a change,” she added.

She pointed out that the Department of Social and Family Affairs had a budget of e17 billion, with 1.5 million people getting weekly payments.

“It’s called the Department of Social and Family Affairs and not the Department of Social Welfare, and it’s the family aspect that I really want to work on — supporting families is the best way of supporting society.”


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