With just over two weeks to go before the deadline for the registration for the house hold charge it has been claimed that as few as 11 per cent of households here in Donegal have registered - suggesting a remarkable 89 per cent, for whatever reason, have not opted to pay the controversial charge.
The campaign against the charge has been hugely active in Donegal and anti charge campaigners say they are not surprised so few have paid here.
The Donegal Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay campaign dismissed the government’s claim that 14.5 per cent of households had registered. The campaign says the government’s figure does not include the 200,000 who are exempt but must register and therefore the figure is closer to 11 per cent nationally.
The Department of Environment says no county by county break down is available for how many households have registered.
The campaign has been holding demonstrations around the county for months and is holding a demonstration in Letterkenny on Saturday March 24th. The march is expected to be the climax of a campaign that has seen over 40 meetings held across the county, dozens of bill boards erected and 100,0000 flyers and leaflets distributed. The campaign organisers say it has been funded by collections, individual donations and fundraisers.
Micheàl Mac Giola Easbuig of the campaign steering committee said: “The latest figures are that 230,000 have registered. It has been spun by the government that this represents 14.5% of the 1.6 million who must pay the charge, but this ignores the 200,000 who are eligible for exemptions but must also register. The real story is that 230,000 out of 1.8 million, or just 11%, have registered. It is a clear example of government misinformation but no matter how they try to spin it, there are still over 1.5 million households who have not registered.”
Donegal South West TD Thomas Pringle, one of the first TDs to say they would not pay the charge, said the decision not to pay the charge is a personal one and people are aware that there may be consequences.
“There could be a rush (to register) over the next couple of weeks but it will be very interesting to see how significant that will be,” he said. “The larger the number of people who refuse to register then the more difficult it is for the government to deal with it. The campaign expects that at some point there will be targeting of select individuals around the country for prosecution as a way of putting pressure on people who have not registered. We have always stressed that it is an individual choice for everybody and I have made that choice. If you believe the tax is unfair and unjust the only way to oppose it is to not to register. That may have consequences.”