Stamp Duty

Stamp Duty

Fianna Fail will be announcing today that they will be the abolition of stamp duty for first time buyers and the removal of any ceiling on the value of the property being bought.

According to the Irish Examiner

Senior Fianna Fáil strategists hope that this extraordinary change on stamp duty will help shore up support for the party after a terrible first four days of the campaign.

They also hope it will draw a line under the controversy surrounding the payment of £30,000 sterling in the 1990s to the Taoiseach’s former partner Celia Larkin, by a Manchester businessman whose house they were renting at the time.

….so, to distract people from what type of stamp duty resulted in Celia Larkin receiving £30k sterling from Bertie’s landlord the strategic planners have lumped for a manifesto policy that will put stamp duty full square in the headlines for a day or two.

The fact that the abolition would be backdated to the 30th of April is puported to be a measure to ‘remove uncertainty in the market’.

This is classic Zapp Brannigan politics. FF have for months resisted proposals to amend the Stamp Duty regime. They’ve postponed the problem until it became a crisis and, lo and behold, the solution arrives in the form of a bribe to the electorate that will cost (according to the Examiner) “several hundred million euros per annum”.

Given that (as points out in detail in a manner that reminds me of the end of “The Usual Suspects”) FF has consistently and dogmatically resisted any call to change the stamp duty regime on the grounds that it would:

  • Cost 1000s of jobs
  • Likely as not have no real effect with the money going to developers instead
  • Only amount to auction politics, which FF wouldn’t do

this represents a U-Turn on a staggering scale. A bit like a famous Danish beer, Fianna Fail don’t do auction politics. But if they did it’d be the best auction politics in the world. And just like said beer, too much quaffing from that trough will have you waking up with a massive headache feeling wretched and wondering what the hell you thought you were doing the night before.

Irish Elections rightly ask

Why was this not included in Fianna Fail’s Economic Policy document last week or yesterday?

To echo Minister Cowen’s own challenge to Fine Gael’s Manifesto – how has this been costed in?
What happens if there shortfall in growth forecasts? Will first time buyers be given a choice between their stamp-duty free homes or gardaí to police the estate or nurses to work in the local hospital, which may or may not get built because there might not be enough money for a hospital and a primary school.

If it looks too good to be true it probably is. On Morning Ireland this morning George Lee’s view is that the measure would cause property prices to rise rather than plateau which will not address the underlying economic issue of affordability of housing for first time buyers.

Hot on the heels of nurses and coppers, it’s the Prison Officers!!

The Prison Officer’s Association is having it’s conference from today in sunny Sligo.

Apparently their members are a bit peeved at the Minister for Justice seeking accountability from the prison officers one or some of whom, he claimed, must have been complicit in smuggling in the phone used to ring a national radio programme.

They’ve pointed out that due to cuts in staff numbers on prison landings overall security is down 20% and that while Sunday visits have been permitted for some criminals no extra staff have been rostered to cover these visits allowing contraband and phones to be smuggled in.

Remind me again who is responsible for staffing numbers, resources and policies in the Prison Service?

Could it be the same person who jumped on the bait of the ‘blue flue’ (which had not been mentioned by the GRA) and made the possibility of a ‘blue flu’ an election sound bite?

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