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Landlords to be ÔfleecedÕ on the double

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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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Galway have lot to ponder in poor show

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

SLIGO 0-9

GALWAY 1-4

FRANK FARRAGHER IN ENNISCRONE

GALWAY’S first serious examination of the 2013 season rather disturbingly ended with a rating well below the 40% pass mark at the idyllic, if rather Siberian, seaside setting of Enniscrone on Sunday last.

The defeat cost Galway a place in the FBD League Final against Leitrim and also put a fair dent on their confidence shield for the bigger tests that lie ahead in February.

There was no fluke element in this success by an understrength Sligo side and by the time Leitrim referee, Frank Flynn, sounded the final whistle, there wasn’t a perished soul in the crowd of about 500 who could question the justice of the outcome.

It is only pre-season and last Sunday’s blast of dry polar winds did remind everyone that this is far from summer football, but make no mistake about it, the match did lay down some very worrying markers for Galway following a couple of victories over below par third level college teams.

Galway did start the game quite positively, leading by four points at the end of a first quarter when they missed as much more, but when Sligo stepped up the tempo of the game in the 10 minutes before half-time, the maroon resistance crumbled with frightening rapidity.

Some of the statistics of the match make for grim perusal. Over the course of the hour, Galway only scored two points from play and they went through a 52 minute period of the match, without raising a white flag – admittedly a late rally did bring them close to a draw but that would have been very rough justice on Sligo.

Sligo were backable at 9/4 coming into this match, the odds being stretched with the ‘missing list’ on Kevin Walsh’s team sheet – Adrian Marren, Stephen Coen, Tony Taylor, Ross Donovan, David Kelly, David Maye, Johnny Davey and Eamon O’Hara, were all marked absent for a variety of reasons.

Walsh has his Sligo side well schooled in the high intensity, close quarters type of football, and the harder Galway tried to go through the short game channels, the more the home side bottled them up.

Galway badly needed to find some variety in their attacking strategy and maybe there is a lot to be said for the traditional Meath style of giving long, quick ball to a full forward line with a big target man on the edge of the square – given Paul Conroy’s prowess close to goal last season, maybe it is time to ‘settle’ on a few basics.

Defensively, Galway were reasonably solid with Gary Sice at centre back probably their best player – he was one of the few men in maroon to deliver decent long ball deep into the attacking zone – while Finian Hanley, Conor Costello and Gary O’Donnell also kept things tight.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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