Lucinda Creighton: Property tax system ‘will cause ghettoes’

Renua Ireland leader Lucinda Creighton says the property tax system is going to cause “chaos” if continued in its current form and will lead to the creation of “urban ghettos”.

Lucinda Creighton: Property tax system ‘will cause ghettoes’

Ms Creighton also said that when she was part of the Government, she raised her concerns with Finance Minister Michael Noonan about the tax many times, but these fell on “deaf ears”.

In an interview with the Irish Examiner, the former European Affairs Minister outlined some of Renua’s proposals on water charges and the property tax.

The party wants to change how local authorities are funded and how home- owners are charged for the tax, as part of a two-tiered system

A zoned land charge would be applied and this would be given to local authorities. A separate site value charge would be applied to people’s properties, which would then feed into a central fund. Cities, towns and local areas would compete for this, draw it down and use it to fund community facilities. Local authorities would set their own site value charges.

Ms Creighton said the current system, where property taxes apply to people’s areas, was causing problems for people on different incomes in the same neighborhood.

Asked whether she had raised concerns about the tax when in Fine Gael before she left the party in 2013, she said she had written to Finance Minister Michael Noonan and met him:

“I put it on the record I was deeply concerned about the property tax from day one and it fell on deaf ears,” said Ms Creighton. “I certainly put my huge concerns on the record, on a few occasions.

“I wrote to Michael Noonan a few times, about specific scenarios and the likely consequences.”

“I believe that the property tax is going to cause, if it continues as it is formulated, ghettos in urban areas. It will make it impossible to have integrated communities, mixed communities.”

She noted her constituency of Dublin Bay South, stretching from Ringsend to Terenure, was very mixed, with some very wealthy residents and others who were on the breadline.

“They can co-exist in the same areas and shop in the same shops,” she said. “It’s going to become impossible.”

Ms Creighton also said Irish Water was a “mess” and any future government should return to using the model decided by Fine Gael in 2010. This had a user-pay approach, she said.

She criticised former Environment Minister Phil Hogan, who she claimed held secret meetings with local authority managers.

“They did it in secret meetings where they didn’t take minutes and they decided on staffing allocations, decided on all of the benefits and all of the various arrangements for staffing figures within Irish Water and it was done at the expense of Irish taxpayers,” said Ms Creighton.

She said her party would announce proposals in the autumn on how to remove the lower paid or those on welfare from poverty traps.

“One of the problems with single mothers returning to work is that if they take a certain numbers of hours a week, they start to lose all their benefits,” she said. “And it’s a very blunt instrument.”

She said her party would not propose any increases in welfare payments.

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