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Harris and Collins clash over new self-catering rules

June 20th, 2024 11:00 AM

By Southern Star Team

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BY EMMA CONNOLLY AND MARTIN CLAFFEY

INDEPENDENT Ireland leader and Cork South West TD Michael Collins had a heated exchange with Taoiseach Simon Harris in the Dail on Wednesday over the government’s policy on self-catering units, which Irish Self Catering Federation (ISCF) has called a ticking timebomb’.

The ISCF claims that over 1,300 self-catering units will be lost to Cork, and mostly in West Cork, due to what it calls the ‘Irish government’s poorly thought-out implementation of EU legislation’.

The Short Term Letting and Tourism Bill will be approved and published shortly. Unlike other EU countries, Ireland is attaching planning permission to this legislation, which is a consideration in the context of the housing crisis.

On Wednesday, Cork South West TD Michael Collins accused the Taoiseach of not understanding the effects it will have in West Cork and rural areas, with the Taoiseach deriding Deputy Collins’ claims as ‘nonsense’.

The register for short term rental (STR) in Ireland will be managed by Fáilte Ireland and be mandatory for all who operate in the sector.

Under the planning acts, all development, including a material change of use, requires planning permission.

The move from long-term rental to short-term rental would be considered such a change. Without planning permission, it won’t be possible to get a registration number. Deputy Collins said this could be devastating for ‘hardworking local businessess’ in rural Ireland.

The Taoiseach said Deputy Collins shoud wait until sees the legislation before making calls for change. The ISCF for its part has huge fears. ‘To force businesses to apply for planning permission retrospectively is an issue,’ said Durrus-based ceo of the ISCF Máire Ní Mhurchú.

‘This is a ticking timebomb, because no planning permission means no registration number,’ she pointed out. She said while aspects of the legislation are welcome and will increase standards she is very concerned at planning implications.

‘The cost of this proposed planning aspect to the legislation, which is posing a considerable threat to our members, would be unviable to obtain. That is a cost that our members, many of whom rely on their business for a living for their family, simply cannot afford,’ she added.

Richard Murphy of Dunworley Cottage, in Lislevane outside Bandon, has three self-catering units, and has worked in the sector since 2000.

‘We need clarity on the situation. This is my main source of income, and it’s not like we can get long-term rentals as there’s no public transport within 10km,’ he said.

Most of his rentals are US visitors and he pointed out their contribution to the local economy from taxis to dining out to excursions.

‘This is very stressful. We’re taking bookings for next year, but we don’t know what’s going to happen,’ he said.

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