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Monday 19 February 2018

Kenny told to give up 'perk'

Michael Brennan and Michael Carr

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny is coming under pressure from within the Government to give up a tax break on his second home in Dublin after a coalition member called for the "perk" to be reviewed.

The decision by Mr Kenny to draw down the payment signals a U-turn on his previous pledge to abolish the dual allowance if he got into power.

Rural-based ministers are entitled to write off the cost of mortgage interest on the Dublin properties they stay in while attending the Dail -- as well as electricity bills, gas bills, repairs and maintenance.

This "dual abode allowance" is capped at a maximum of €6,350 unless further receipts are provided -- and has cost the taxpayer around €600,000 over the last seven years.

Labour TD Ged Nash said such "perks" should be reviewed in the Budget as senior government ministers on salaries of €169,000 per year were "sufficiently well-paid" to deal with the costs of paying for a second home.

Mr Kenny's family home is in Castlebar in Mayo, but in 2004 he bought an apartment on Fenian Street to be within walking distance of Leinster House when he stays in Dublin.

Since becoming Taoiseach, he has cut his own salary from €214,000 to €200,000.

Mr Kenny pledged to abolish the dual abode allowance back in 2009, if he got into power.

Yesterday, Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said it was the "latest in a line of unfulfilled promises" during the Government's first 250 days in office.

"They did commit to those who bought houses during 2004-08, the 'negative equity generation', that they would provide mortgage relief, which shows no signs of being implemented.

"So the fact that they've reneged on commitments isn't a surprise to me," he said.

Mr Kenny's decision to accept the allowance was defended yesterday by Fine Gael TD Liam Twomey and Labour TD Michael McNamara.

They said that the scheme covered the same accommodation costs that TDs received expenses for.

TDs based outside Dublin do not get the dual abode allowance but instead receive expenses of up to €37,000 per year to cover the cost of travelling from their constituencies and staying overnight in hotels or apartments.

Irish Independent

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