Stamping on rural Ireland!


Local politicians react to Stamp Duty blow


Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice has described the announcement made in Tuesday’s Budget that Stamp Duty on commercial property and land would be subject to a new rate of 6% (up from 2%), as “a huge blow to Irish Agriculture” and that it would also “hit small rural businesses”.

  “As most people know it was announced in the Budget on Tuesday that the sale of commercial land would be subject to a new rate of 6%.

  “I (had) brought it to the attention of the Government that agricultural land would be included in this new situation and that was denied by the Minister,” he said.

  Deputy Fitzmaurice went on to say that he had received a call from Cllr. Ivan Connaughton, a local auctioneer, who had confirmed that agricultural land had indeed been included and would be subject to the new rate.

  Deputy Fitzmaurice added: “This will cost Irish agriculture €12 million in one year alone. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar might like to spend €5 million of that on his new communications unit but that kind of money cannot be found on the side of the road.”

  As for small rural businesses, Deputy Fitzmaurice said: “There are many politicians from all parties and none going around the country to towns and villages trying to get people to buy into businesses and to get employment going. 

  “I wanted to raise an amendment that if a person bought such a building and opened it in 6 or 9 months and employed people that they would get the stamp duty returned down to the 2% rate. It would be a boost to rural Ireland but that was not acceptable.”

  Deputy Fitzmaurice had, he said, introduced an amendment to the Dáil on Tuesday night that if land was bought for farming purposes and a declaration that it would only be used for that purpose for five years received, then the rate for the land in question would remain at 2%.

  “I expected that (that) amendment would have been supported by all sides of the house but unfortunately the Government did the usual and spun the story referring to state aid rules which was nonsense.”

  Fitzmaurice accused Fianna Fáil of “sitting on their hands” when the issue was put to a vote and said that the only hope now was to tackle the issue “with all he could muster” following the publication of the Finance Bill and ensure that the matter goes to a vote once more.

  Cllr. Ivan Connaughton agreed that the new rate was a “serious blow to the farming community and rural Ireland.”

  Speaking to the Roscommon People yesterday (Wednesday), Cllr. Connaughton said: “It flies in the face of a recovery plan for rural Ireland where our towns and villages are struggling to get off the ground and the importance of agriculture is often under-estimated.

  “During the course of the day (Tuesday), I spoke to numerous TDs and Senators, with many of them not realising that commercial stamp duty included agricultural land. This is worrying as they are the legislators we elected to represent us in both Dáil and Seanad Éireann.

  “Indeed, the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed at a press conference organised by Agri-land after the budget, is recorded as saying the increase from two to six percent would not include agricultural land.”

  Cllr. Connaughton went on to praise Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice for putting down an amendment in Dáil Eireann on Tuesday night.

  Cllr. Connaughton then took aim at both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil and said that this new rate would be to the detriment of rural Ireland.

  “Neither Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil want an election and will vote anything through Dáil Éireann at present. I really hope that common sense prevails and the decision is reversed in the coming weeks.

  “It will be thrown out there that I am an auctioneer and lobbying on behalf of that profession, that stamp duty rates for agricultural land were higher ten years ago and extra finance is required to fund Irish Water due to the (decision on) domestic water charges but I can assure you this increase will be to the demise of rural Ireland and that is why I will continue to make representation to all politicians to ensure this measure is reversed.”