Home » Breaking News » Anger at ‘discrimination’ in pyrite LPT exemption

Anger at ‘discrimination’ in pyrite LPT exemption

THE government has been accused of “outrageous discrimination”, in excluding Clare from a new exemption on Local Property Tax (LPT) for homeowners who have defective concrete blocks.
As the Finance Minister unveiled legislation that will bring in a raft of changes to the way LPT is levied, Dr Martina Cleary of the Clare Pyrite Action Group hit out at the failure to acknowledge the proven presence of pyrite in a number of homes across this county. Under the new LPT rules, outlined by Minister Paschal Donohue, affected homeowners in Donegal and Mayo, will now be given a temporary exemption.
The redress scheme for those affected by pyrite and mica currently only covers those counties.
As the local authority prepares to make the case for Clare’s inclusion in the Defective Concrete Blocks Grant Scheme, Dr Cleary said she sees no reason why the exemption couldn’t be made available to homeowners in Clare who can have the documents required to prove they have pyrite.
“I’m really angry about this because there is no sign that the minster is taking Clare’s situation seriously,” she said.
“This is absolutely outrageous discrimination. We are excluded from the grant scheme. We are excluded from the committee set up to examine the adequacy of that grant scheme, and now we are excluded from the property tax exemption.
“There is no excuse for this, given that we now have definitive evidence, gathered with the help of a recognised expert, that five properties in Clare have pyrite. In addition to that, there is a growing number of other homeowners who have engineer’s reports to confirm that they have pyrite too.”
Dr Cleary accepted that a formal process, led by Clare County Council and involving testing of private property and some local authority housing, to make the case for the extension of the redress scheme will take a number of weeks, at least. However, she said this did not excuse the government’s decision to give the LPT exemption to just two counties.
“It’s all very well for the Department to say it’s waiting for Clare County Council to supply proof on the extent of the pyrite problem here,” she said.
“To my mind, that’s not a valid excuse. We have members of the action group who have exactly the same lab tests as homeowners in Donegal and Mayo and they deserve to be able to apply for the same exemption from the property tax.
The government don’t need to wait for an extensive report from Clare County Council. This could have been done immediately. If they were really sincere about supporting homeowners in other counties who are seeing their homes crumble because of pyrite, offering an exemption would have at least been a gesture. It would have been a signal that they are taking the situation seriously because there are a growing number of homes in Clare, and in other counties, that are affected.”
Dr Cleary said that if the LPT exemption was not extended to Clare homeowners, the action group would have to consider raising it with authorities in Europe. “The fact is that this is not a good sign for the extension of the redress scheme to Clare,” she said. “It’s absolutely shocking discrimination and if it continues, we will have to look at taking this to Europe and seeking some justice there.”
On Tuesday last, the Oireachtas Housing Committee was told that as a number of LPT exemptions are phased out, a temporary exemption will come in for homes in Mayo and Donegal that have been damaged through the use of defective concrete blocks in their construction.

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

Check Also

HURLING: Unbeaten Banner only getting better

Munster Senior Hurling Championship Round 5 Clare 3-31 Waterford 2-22 CLARE deservedly soared to the …