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Sinn Féin will oppose increased development charges - Doherty

21 September, 2005

Donegal Sinn Féin Councillor Pearse Doherty has called on all parties on Donegal County Council to oppose proposed increases in development charges. Cllr Doherty was speaking after a draft development contribution scheme was presented to him at a committee meeting of Donegal County Council which would see an almost tenfold increase on development charges on new homes being built in most areas of the county, increase from €480 to €5,400 for houses over 151m square.

The Sinn Féin group leader said:

"Sinn Féin will be vigorously opposing this completely unjust and excessive development charge, which will be mainly aimed at young couples that are trying to make a start in life and small start up businesses. There is no way that any elected member that has any type of social conscience in Donegal should even be complementing such increases, particularly in the present economic environment in our county recently confirmed by the Combat Poverty Agency and yet more job losses. I am appealing to all political parties to stand firm on this issue and ensure that no extra burden is placed on the most vulnerable in Donegal".

"These development charges are nothing more than a stealth tax. Over the past few years this government has refused to entirely fund various capital projects and has demanded that the county council raise anything from 5% to 25% of the overall costs. In order for Donegal County Council to provide the sewerage schemes, water schemes and other capital programmes that are planned over the next three years, charges on new homes would have to be increased to between €8,000 and €10,000".

"This policy is flawed, and demands that the County Council do the government's dirty work for them. We in Donegal already pay taxes on our wages, we also pay our VAT on purchases, VRT on cars and all the other hidden taxes that this government has introduced.

To now expect a small section of Donegal people, mainly young families who are already struggling to build a home for themselves, to pay for major capital work like sewerage schemes is nothing short of a disgrace".

"Anyone who has recently built a home for themselves will know the cost involved and the financial burden that has been placed on them for their entire working life. This has been made all the more difficult since the government abolished the first time buyers grant. On top of this, if Donegal County Council adopts this proposed development charge, young families will have to find up to another 5,400 euro that they just don't have. The Sinn Féin councillors are now appealing to our colleagues on Donegal County Council to reject this patently unjust and inequitable stealth tax.

Cllr. Doherty concluded,

"All parties took a principled stand before the local elections and refused to increase development charges. I am appealing to them now, to show the public that this was not just an election gimmick, but a principled policy that they will continue with. The rational at that time to refuse to accept the increases was that they were unjust and unfair to the people of Donegal, that are already suffering as a result of high unemployment. There is no reason for parties to change their position on this, if anything in the last two years the situation in Donegal has regressed. With 60% of our population in Donegal dependent on social welfare payments, over four times the national unemployment level, 90% more chance that we here will be living in poverty than the rest of the country, and the level of low wages that this county has are all reason for all elected representatives here in Donegal to stand together, shoulder to shoulder and demand that the government make an exception of this county and fund our capitol projects 100% as they did in the past." ENDS

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