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Landlords to be ÔfleecedÕ on the double

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Date Published: {J}

BY ENDA CUNNINGHAMLandlords and holiday home owners are set to be ‘fleeced’ by having to fork out for the €200 ‘second home’ levy again in January, Galway West Deputy Padraic McCormack has warned.

The Deputy said that under current legislation for the Non-Principal Private Residence (NPPR) levy – which had to be paid by September 30 – the €200 payment will fall due again in January.

He has called on Environment Minister John Gormley to change the legislation so the payment is due in October of every year.

At the moment, there are believed to be more than 28,000 homes in Galway City and County which are liable for the tax, based on Census 2006 figures, although local authorities have admitted they do not have a definitive figure.

“The Government’s new annual €200 charge on second homes that homeowners had to pay will only last until the end of the year before it has to be renewed again,” said Deputy McCormack.

He explained that the issue emerged at the Oireachtas Environment Committee – of which Deputy McCormack is a member – and said Minister Gormley should allow all those who paid the tax get a full 12 months.

“This is simply a rip-off by Fianna Fáil and the Greens that fleeces taxpayers. “Under Section 3.2 of the Local Government Charges Act, the second home tax had to be paid by last month. However, instead of this payment covering the next 12 months, it will only last until December. At that point, each liable taxpayer will have to pay for the 2010 calendar year

“Most taxpayers were under the impression that the payment in October would last for 12 months. However, it was only for the 2009 calendar year and the payment for 2010 calendar year is due next March at the latest.

“There is no good reason for the payment deadline not to be every October and for those who paid their annual charge last month to get a full year’s worth out of it. The Minister must rescind this section and allow for this to happen,” said Deputy McCormack.

He said the discrepancy was another example of ‘rushed legislation’ by the Government.

“This incident is also another example of rushed legislation being bad legislation. The Local Government Charges Bill was rushed through the Oireachtas with the Government curtailing and guillotining debate. Considering that this rip-off slipped into the legislation unseen, it is clear why Fianna Fáil and the Greens adopted such tactics,” said Deputy McCormack.

As well as their own databases for the crackdown, the Councils also have access to databases operated by the Revenue Commissioners, the ESB and the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB), with whom landlords are legally obliged to register tenancies. However, it is widely acknowledged that all rented properties are not included on the PRTB register.

The levy comes with a late penalty fee of €20 per month for each, or part of each month, for each property.

Figures for the County Council area show there are up to 14,000 properties in the county area liable to be ‘hit’ by the levy, with a further 14,500 rented and empty properties in Galway City.

Recent figures from the City Council showed that the levy had been paid on just over 5,800 properties.

The new tax, introduced in last April’s ‘emergency’ Budget, applies to anyone who owns a residential property that is not their place of residence, although there are a number of exceptions to the law. The new levy income has been welcomed by local authorities in Galway which are desperately attempting to create new revenue streams to shore up finances.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.

 

For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

images/files/images/x3_Courthouse.jpg

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Archive News

Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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