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Dublin City Council

Labour pulls out of DCC 'progressive alliance' talks over disagreements on Local Property Tax

Talks are continuing without Labour as the other parties consider the inclusion of left-leaning independent councillors.

THE LABOUR PARTY has pulled out of talks to form a “progressive alliance” on Dublin City Council citing disagreements over the council-controlled Local Property Tax.

Talks about a potential alliance of parties on the left have been underway since the Social Democrats, the Green Party, Sinn Féin and the Labour Party all met for talks last week.

The discussions are now continuing without Labour with the three parties considering the potential inclusion of left-leaning independent councillors, The Journal understands. 

The Local Property Tax (LPT) was introduced in 2013 and councillors have the power to reduce or increase it by 15% either side of the baseline level; they has consistently voted to keep a reduced rate in recent years. 

The LPT  is an annual charge on all residential properties in the State; if you own a property you must pay the tax.

The amount a household pays is based on the value of the property, which is self-assessed. There are 20 different LPT bands to cover increasing property values.

The LPT is designed so that it has a base rate but may be modified at the discretion of local authorities.

Labour’s new leader among its four elected councillors, Darragh Moriarty, told The Journal that lower LPT rates in recent years have cost the city millions.

“We in Labour have consistently voted to maintain a relief at baseline level and we want maintenance at baseline level for next five years to be intrinsic to any coalition agreement. And that’s what we’re calling for very strongly,” he said. 

In a statement, Labour said it will only consider supporting a governing alliance on “that is willing to adopt a progressive approach in relation to the Local Property Tax”. 

“Over the course of the next council term, just by maintaining the LPT at its baseline instead of cutting it by 15% again, we can secure an additional €72.5 million to put into Dublin,” Moriarty said.

That position is in direct opposition to that of Sinn Féin, who Moriarty said will not budge on the issue.

“I wish Labour had raised that with us,” said Sinn Féin councillor Daithí Doolan in response.

“They had the opportunity to put it into the programme, and they didn’t. They didn’t attempt to amend the programme that we’re drafting at the moment, nothing’s written in stone.”

Doolan also said that Sinn Féin’s position on the tax “isn’t up for negotiation” because the party is in favour of abolishing it and has run on the promise of reducing it.

“We will use our mandate to reduce it by the maximum we can of 15% every year,” he said. 

According to Social Democrats councillor Catherine Stocker, the issue is essentially a non-starter. 

“We do not have a majority to bring local property tax back to baseline or do anything else with it,” she said, adding that it was “a shame” that Labour pulled out. 

Labour’s former leader on the council Dermot Lacey, who also won re-election last week, told The Journal that the numbers for a progressive alliance “simply don’t stack up”. 

He said that as a smaller party on the council, it is up to the larger players to hold talks and that Labour is not currently in talks with anyone but remains open to discussions. 

“There’s no point in having discussions at the moment with an alliance that simply doesn’t have the numbers to do what they are talking about,” Lacey said.

The four parties who attended the talks last week have 31 councillors among them out of the 63 on the council, just short of a 32-seat majority. 

The group would need to add independents or reach out to People Before Profit’s two council members, who Labour don’t see as reliable partners. People Before Profit also oppose the LPT and have consistently voted to reduce it.

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