Ahern denies FF-PD rift over stamp duty

TAOISEACH Bertie Ahern yesterday categorically rejected reports of a rift between Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats over proposals to scrap stamp duty on houses.

He also declined to give an opinion on a suggestion by PD leader and Tánaiste Michael McDowell that stamp duties on house prices should be reduced.

The Taoiseach said the stamp duties idea was floated at a PD party meeting and, like all parties, the PDs were looking at issues into the future.

“What we are concerned about now is the preparation of the book of estimates and the Budget in December, and making sure the National [Development] Plan gets finished,” he said.

Interviewed by reporters in Tralee, Mr Ahern also said he did not expect to receive advance notice from Mr McDowell that he was going to moot the idea.

“In fairness to Michael McDowell, it is one of a number of options the PDs are looking at,” he said.

He said there were “no tensions whatever” between the Government parties and hit out at “some ridiculous headline in some ridiculous paper” yesterday about a melt down.

Mr Ahern, who officially opened an education centre for teachers, in Tralee, and a €1.8 million sports facility development at Tralee Institute of Technology, would not comment on the results of an Irish Examiner/Lansdowne Market Research poll, published on Monday.

The poll showed FF and the PDs to be on course for a third term in office.

“There’s lots of polls,” Mr Ahern said.

“I’m just keeping my mind on my job and will keep implementing the programme for government. Ultimately, there will be a poll [general election] and I’ll wait until that one.”

Mr Ahern also re-iterated his view that there won’t be an election until next year.

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