CHARITY shops in the Taoiseach's home town of Castlebar are facing demands for thousands of euro in commercial rates – but Enda Kenny's constituency office is exempt from the charge.
In a lucrative perk introduced some years ago as part of the national valuation regulations, TDs' offices are exempt from the rates.
But in Castlebar, Co Mayo, charities such as the St Vincent de Paul and Oxfam have rates charged on their premises at the same rate as other commercial premises. The same rules apply to charity shops all over Ireland run by organisations like Age Action Ireland, Aware, Barnardos and the Irish Cancer Society.
"It is outrageous that the Taoiseach's lavish constituency HQ is a freebie for Enda Kenny as far as rates are concerned while Oxfam and other charities are being crucified," complained local independent councillor Frank Durkan.
But attempts to make charity shops exempt from commercial rates have met with a stony silence from the Department of Finance.
"When you consider the valuable work done by charity shops in helping the marginalised in society on behalf of the State, the demand for commercial rates is ludicrous" said Paul Hughes of the Irish Charity Shops Association.
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