19 May 2005

Sinn Féin

Ground rents are a hangover from the days of British colonial rule in Ireland and should be abolished

Published: 19 May, 2005

Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson, Arthur Morgan TD has called for the abolition of ground rents. Deputy Morgan described ground rents a "an ongoing injustice" and "a hangover from the days of British colonial rule in Ireland".

Speaking in the Dáil today on the Landlord and Tenants (Ground Rents) Bill he said, "Sinn Féin has reiterated our demand for the abolition of ground rents on many occasions in this House and indeed set out our stall on this issue in our submission on property rights to the Oireachtas All-Party Committee on the Constitution."

"Ground rents represent an ongoing injustice against the people of this state and are a feudal tax, a hangover from the days of British colonial rule in Ireland, and their abolition must be facilitated. Ground rent landlords do not need to be compensated in the event of their abolition. As a legacy of colonialism, ground rents have been unjust from the start. Therefore, to compensate would legitimise what is manifestly unjust. It is to the shame of consecutive governments that over 80 years of self-rule in the 26 counties has not seen this issue dealt with.

"Householders whose leases are about to expire are placed in an unacceptable position whereby they are forced to choose between buying a freehold on their house for one eighth of its value or signing a new lease for a drastically increased rent. With the value of houses going up, people whose leases are due to expire are justifiably angry and concerned. The alternative for those who cannot afford to buy out the expired lease is to sign a renewal of the lease for 35 years.

"The formula for the new ground rent per annum is computed on the basis of the open market rental value of the house. Many of those who find themselves in this invidious position are elderly and have no income other than their pension. They spend their remaining days in fear, yet the Government says there is nothing it can do.

"Various Government Minister have given the excuse of possible constitutional difficulties as a reason for long fingering this long overdue legislation. I would call on the Government to bring forward legislation now and allow it to be tested in the Supreme Court as was done with Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2002. If it is unconstitutional we can then proceed to a constitutional referendum to allow for such legislation. Sinn Féin will continue to hound the Government until the abolition of ground rents is realised and subjection of citizens of this state to unjust tyranny from ground rent landlords is at an end." ENDS

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