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Sinn Féin raises New Ross Town Council overcharging scandal in Dáil

14 December, 2004

Sinn Féin spokesperson on the Environment, Heritage and Local Government Arthur Morgan T.D. tonight raised the failure by New Ross Town Council to apply the proper terms of the local authority tenant purchase scheme in the Dáil. Deputy Morgan raised this matter with the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government at the request of New Ross Town Councillor and Wexford County Councillor John Dwyer who brought to his attention the fact that tenant purchasers who bought their houses from New Ross Town Council since 1995 had been overcharged by €3,809 each.

Speaking in the Dáil during Matters on the Adjournment tonight Deputy Morgan said

"This issue was brought to my attention by Sinn Fein Wexford County Councillor John Dwyer, after he discovered that New Ross Town Council had not, when calculating the discount to be applied to the gross property price in the sale of local authority houses, applied the additional amount of €3,809 as per circular HRT 6/95 from the Department of the Environment and Local Government. The suspicion is that the failure was ongoing over approximately 10 years and amounts to a considerable sum of money. The Minister needs to tell the house how long this situation has been going on and when it was brought to his attention?

"How much money must New Ross Town Council now pay out to those who did not receive the appropriate discounts when they bought their house? Where will this money come from? Will it be paid out of by the Department in recognition of their failure to conduct adequate audits?

"There are serious concerns that the practice of not applying the €3,809 discount in all cases has been in place in all five local authorities throughout Wexford. As Wexford County Council is the loans authority for the county then all valuation certificates for local authority houses sold under the tenant purchase scheme pass through this office. If New Ross Town Council was alone among the Wexford local authorities in not applying the €3800 discount this matter would have been spotted and rectified.

"Has the Minister investigated the compliance of other authorities with the terms set out by his Department? The Minister needs to outline in his response what procedural checks his Department has in place in order to prevent deviation by local authorities from the terms of the tenant purchase scheme? If these procedural checks are in place, how did this go undetected?" ENDS

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