LABOUR â€œis testing the faithâ€ of its support base and must â€œadhere to its core valuesâ€ in supporting the less well-off, Cllr Joe Leddin has said.
The Labour councillor, who is parliamentary assistant to Minister of State Jan Oâ€™Sullivan, said he remained opposed to the way in which the property tax was being applied. Minister Oâ€™Sullivan has defended the tax. Last week, Environment Minister Phil Hogan appeared to blame his minister of state for the fact that property owners on unfinished estates who escaped the household charge will not be so lucky with the property tax.
â€œI am having that conversation with Jan (on the property tax),â€ Cllr Leddin said, â€œPeople within parties have differing views and there is nothing new in that.â€
â€œMy main issue with the property tax is the fact that there is nothing is there regarding ability to pay. As currently designed, if you are on social welfare or on a modest pension, you will be asked to pay the same rate of property tax as your neighbour who is in a well-paid job. We could have insisted on a waiver like with bin charges or some other mechanism whereby ability to pay was included.â€
Labour has been criticised for breaking election promises on child benefit and water charges and Cllr Leddin said he agreed with calls within the party for a special conference of mid-term review of its performace in government.
â€œWe are two and a half years in government, having inherited a complete mess and in fairness we have made progress in stabilising the economy, in instilling confidence for foreign direct investment, in pushing out the bailout loans and reducing interest rates and so on. But I would like to see more progress in protecting the elderly, the disabled, the unemployed and the vulnerable. We have definitely tested the faith of those who voted Labour and we have to adhere to the core values of the party,â€ he said.
He added, however, that were it not for Labour, Fine Gael would have reduced core social welfare rates.