The Indo reported on Thursday 18th Oct that the property tax "gets thumbs up from the Smart Taxes group".
Smart Taxes is made up of An Taisce, DITs School of Real Estate and the School of Philosophy and Economic Science.
The odd one out in this group is An Taisce.
First, it is a private voluntary group accountable to nobody. Second, it's general remit in legislation is heritage/water protection with a statutory role in planning. Third, it operates as a secret society which refuses to publish the names of its members and refuses membership to people it doesn't like.
I personally debated this aspect on RTE with then President Eanna Ni Leamhna in a programme presented by Tom Mc Gurk.
Eanna defended the secret membership comparing An Taisce to a tennis club which would be entitled to protect the privacy of it's members. I argued the comparison was groundless because An Taisce has a statutory role in planning legislation. The idea that an unaccountable, private, secret organisation could have a statutory role in any legislation,
is a subversion of democracy and an ongoing threat to the constitutional rights of Irish citizens.
Chairman Charles Stanley Smith claims An Taisce has "a unique role in the planning process" (annual report 2010/11)
It must be stressed that planning is a quasi judicial process. How can any private group claim a "unique role" in a judicial process?
For years elected members in counties around Ireland have passed resolutions calling for the de-listing of An Taisce from the planning process, but without success. Successive governments have run scared from this organisation.
A couple of years ago An Taisce decided to employ a dedicated official to become involved in energy policy issues (annual report)
Along with energy policy, An Taisce is now into property taxes. This time it has hooked up with two 3rd level institutions which are fully accountable to the electorate. How can these bodies justify this association with a secret society on an issue as fundamental to democracy as taxes?
What's next for An Taisce - planning the Budget?
One stated priority of the Irish Citizens Party is to de-list An Taisce from the planning process, for a start.
Founder Irish Citizens Party
Irish Citizens Party