Delia Henry Memoirs, Charlestown in Co. Mayo

Rent, Rates etc 1965

Going back in history we find rent and rates have always been a bone of contention between Irish tenants and Landlords. Then, we could lay the blame at the door of the English tyrants and the cruel laws. Poets wrote songs and singers sang their songs about those wrongs to arouse the feelings of a downtrodden people and urge them into action.

A measure of success was achieved, which can be vouched for, by what happened here on the shores of Lough Mask, when the people of this area took their stand against Captain Boycott. To-day unfortunately we cannot put the blame on English Landlords or English Laws for the present state of our Rating system.

If the population reduction caused so many schools to close with the loss of positions for teachers and Garda Stations, in the interest of economy, surely the people are not here, and so many Rate Collectors are not necessary, if at all. I understand that salaries are part of the cause of our high rates. I consider the Fire Service to be an essential service.

In our town there are eight to nine men employed, and as part-time jobs are helping many. I think it is high time there was an enquiry into the manner in which the Local Government was being run to see where economy could be applied wisely, and reduction in staff made in the same way as has been done in the teaching profession, the Gardai etc, as the Guinness company are about to do. One might say with some truth, that never in the history of Ireland, is so much being paid, for so many, by so few in County Mayo. Delia Henry.

When we got our freedom we still retained the Rating system. Under the English law a tenant who whitewashed his Cottage had his rent raised. The Irish got the name of being dirty because of this. To-day, if a person improves his house, he is penalized by having his valuation increased. This is the price of progress. It is a crime to be thrifty and the Local Government of Mayo see to it that one pays the penalty in increased Rates.

Each year these are soaring. Next year I understand that the cost of the Moy drainage scheme will be put on the Rates. In the progress of my little homework I have been told that then there will be cause for grumbling. In Columcille's prophesy about Irish people and the burdens they will be asked to bear, we are told that people will try to pay the Rates for the first years, but as they increase they will have to give the place to the Rate Collector.

I have been approached by several people who know that the ICA as a collective body can be a powerful lever to bring about pressure in any circumstance. If Rates were paid into the Bank, like ESB Bills are paid, by anyone who wishes to do it that way, it would suit many people. Here I would like to remind you that this does not apply to the people with cheque books. However I want to stress the fact that in paying Rates in this way, those concerned would not be considered second class citizens.

In order to economise, the Government has over the years, carried out a system of amalgamation in National Schools, thereby reducing the number of teachers. Consequently, the loss of several positions. In my parish in my time the number of teachers has fallen from eighteen to twelve to-day.

The six positions are lost forever to the parish. The Dept of Education has issued an order prohibiting the appointment of staff to Secondary or Vocational Schools, without first notifying the Department. This too is in the interest of economy. Our Garda Station is now reduced to four Guards, A Sergeant and three Guards.

You will wonder what this has to do with Rates, but now I make no apologies for saying that the administration of Local Government in Mayo is too expensive. There are too many officials. We have the County Manager - Salary: Five thousand to six thousand pounds per year, thirty one County Councillors who get travelling expenses, a Rate Collector for every Electoral Division and others too numerous to mention.

© Delia Henry 2002 Cathal Henry

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