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Minister and wife claim tax breaks on 13-bed Moneygall mansion

James Reilly and his wife receive tax breaks for the upkeep of their Offaly mansion by opening it for paid public entrance.

Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

MINISTER FOR HEALTH Dr James Reilly and his wife Dorothy are benefiting from public tax breaks, reclaiming some of the expenses for the upkeep of their 13-bedroom mansion in Co Offaly, it has been revealed.

The massive Laughton House – which sits on a 150-acre site in Moneygall, set for a visit from Barack Obama next month – has been extensively refurbished since Reilly bought the house in 2002, with those refurbishment costs then recoupable from the taxpayer.

In return for receiving the compensation, which is intended to ensure the upkeep of approved buildings considered of historical or archaeological importance, Reilly is merely required to open the house to the public for part of the year.

The Irish Daily Mail yesterday reported that while many landowners benefiting from the tax provisions open their facilities to the public for free, the Reillys charge between €3 and €5 for each entry – and only open the building for three months of the year.

While there was no indication of how much the couple have claimed back from the taxpayer in respect of the lavish Moneygall pad – which has been offered for use by Obama and his security team during next month’s visit – the most recent Revenue Commissioners figures show that €5.8m was refunded to the owners of approved buildings in 2008.

The complex was put up for sale in 2000 with a guide price of IR£2.75m (€3.5m), and Reilly confirmed to the Mail that he had bought it in 2002.

The Irish Examiner today confirmed that the building was being considered as a base for some of the vehicles being used in the visit of US president Obama, who will visit in the latter half of May.

Laughton House itself is held in Dorothy’s name, but the 150 acres of land on which it sits are in the name of the minister, who declared the land among his property in the most recent Register of Members’ Interests.

Reilly also owns a commercial complex in Lusk housing a handful of retail units including a supermarket and doctor’s surgery, as well as the 86-acre former family farm which is now let out for tillage.

He also owns sites in Stamullen in Co Meath; Balrothery, near Tallaght; and a commercial site at Nevinstown in Swords, as well as a holiday home at Doonbeg Golf Club in Co Clare where he is a member.

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Gavan Reilly

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