Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daly says a Government vote against a Fianna Fáil motion on commercial rates will decimate rural towns and villages.
Under proposed legislation, Fine Gael and Labour want to charge half commercial rates on properties that are vacant.
Senator Daly commented: “In the Seanad, Fianna Fáil Senators put forward a motion to annul a Ministerial Order which will effectively charge commercial rates on vacant properties. This motion was unfortunately not supported by Fine Gael and Labour Senators. This Ministerial Order will result in councils imposing commercial rates on vacant properties. Although the rate will be half that of occupied premises, this could decimate rural towns and villages.
“No Regulator Impact Assessment on this Ministerial Order has taken place, what I fear may happen is vacant commercial buildings in towns and villages will be knocked down. Owners who are currently unable to conduct business in the vacant properties or receive rent will be forced to demolish their premises as they will be unable to pay the commercial rates that will be imposed. The majority of County Councils in the country do not charge for properties which are vacant, a change to this may jeopardise any hopes of towns and villages have of recovering and enticing businesses to set-up in these urban centres.
“This move by the Government is another attack on rural Ireland, there have been numerous unfair policies implemented which adversely affect rural people. For instance, rural Post Offices have been closed, over 100 rural Garda stations were shut, rural bus routes have been curtailed and small schools have been forced to close. The change to the commercial rates system will be another nail in the coffin of rural Ireland.”