FINANCE Minister Brian Lenihan has promised tax entitlements for gay and cohabiting couples officially recognised by the State will be backdated to the start of the year -- even though the law to allow this will not be passed on his watch.
The minister saw the Finance Bill, which enacts the Budget, pass through the Seanad on a historic Saturday night sitting without any changes that would require it to return to the Dail. The legislation was passed by 30 votes to 20.
In an ongoing spat between Mr Lenihan and the Green Party, the minister's former junior coalition partners backed a proposal for a vote on naming and shaming bank staff who got bonuses. The three Green senators backed the Labour Party's suggestion to identify bank employees at all levels who got bonuses.
But Mr Lenihan argued the proposal could not be put into the Finance Bill, meaning new legislation would be required, which would take several weeks.
The Government defeated the proposal by 26 votes to 25, but needed the backing of Independents Eoghan Harris and Ronan Mullen.
Mr Lenihan lashed out at the Greens again for pulling the plug on the Government. He said he would normally spend a week going through the Finance Bill and the country needed "continuity".
Owing to the short time frame in which the legislation was passed, Mr Lenihan was unable to ensure those in civil partnerships would receive the same tax entitlements as spouses.
Independent senator David Norris secured a concession that tax law would be backdated to the start of this year when a new bill is brought in by the next government.
The recognition of civil partners will have an impact on their treatment under income tax, capital gains tax, capital acquisition tax and stamp duty.
"It is intended that the legislation, once passed, will apply as respects income tax for the whole of this tax year and subsequent years and as respects gift tax, inheritance tax and capital gains tax from January 1, 2011," Mr Lenihan said.