Anthony Connor of Direct Democracy Ireland.
The statement by Mayor of Drogheda, Labour Councillor Paul Bell, as reported by Drogheda Life yesterday, that the Local Property Tax (LPT) should be raised to help pay for vacant homes to be brought back into use to help alleviate homelessness has hit a nerve and drawn much criticism.
Of the more than 10,000 people who saw the article on Facebook, over 200 made comments the vast bulk of which were critical and sometimes personally insulting to Councillor Bell. In fairness though, some 500 people liked the article on Drogheda Life.
Direct Democracy Ireland’s Anthony Connor, a fierce critic of Bell, released a statement today in which he questions Councillor Bell’s timing and reasoning for what Connor calls his “shameful” call to increase the LPT.
“Bell said ‘...it will take a degree of political courage to increase the local Property Tax...’, but where was this political courage when he was seeking re-election not two months ago? Connor asked.
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“Given that this was Bell’s first order of business as Mayor he must have known there was such a plan in mind and he neglected to inform the electorate. One can’t help but be suspicious of his motives in calling for this tax increase hot on the heels of the substantial increase in business rates and parking fees in Drogheda and surrounding areas.
“Would he have topped the poll had he the political courage that he now speaks of prior to, or during, his re-election campaign?”
Connor said he predicted back in 2015 that Bell would seek an increase in the LPT. “Anyone who follows me via social media will know the most likely reason why Bell is now seeking such an increase” he said.
“If Bell was truly concerned about the housing crisis he would put forward a motion to cease the payments to Councillors by Louth County Council by way of the discretionary fund, money that is paid to all councillors on top of their salaries to spend at their discretion.
“But is this fund dependent on not having a reduction to the LPT? “I believe so” stated Connor, “the phrase turkeys voting for Christmas comes to mind.
“The millions of Euro earmarked for the refurbishment of council offices on Fair Street would be better spent addressing the housing crisis the Mayor claims to be so concerned about” Mr. Connor said.
“This money would go a long way to relieving the painful suffering of the many homeless families, but in true political form we are not to speak of these special “funds” instead we must and indeed are told to accept that local councillors have our best interest at heart.
“People should not be surprised by Bell calling for an increase in the LPT however they should be concerned when he tries to insult their intelligence by implying he is seeking the increase to resolve the housing crisis.
“People who voted for the Labour Party’s candidate should now call into question his pre-election promises and commitments and remember for the next five years we cannot hold Bell, or the rest of the council, to account while we wait for the next local elections in May 2024.
“By then he and the rest of the council will be counting on people forgetting and forgiving him for taking more money from their family’s purse. If I am so bold as to make another prediction, he will seek to the have a reduction in the Local Property Tax in 2023, just in time for the Local Elections the following year.”