Council looks to collection role, but campaign continues

Donegal County Council and local authorities around the country will be considering ways to pursue outstanding payments of the household charge, while opponents of the charge say their fight will continue.

Donegal County Council and local authorities around the country will be considering ways to pursue outstanding payments of the household charge, while opponents of the charge say their fight will continue.

According to the Department of the Environment, more than 805,000 households registered and paid the charge by the March 31st deadline. The department said 1.6 million households were eligible to register, but recent census figures suggested more than 1.8 million could be eligible.

“The campaign has been very successful,” said Thomas Pringle, TD, one of the first deputies to announce he would not pay. He said people who have not registered, are “part of mass movement and mass campaign that would be unpredecented in the history of the state.”

Donegal has been reported to have one of the lowest payment rates in the county.

Garry Martin, director of finance for Donegal County Council, said that the council was awaiting processing of remaining registration forms by the Local Government Management Agency. Mr. Martin said he expected that local authorities, as a sector, would agree a protocol with the LGMA on ways to follow-up outstanding payments.

Deputy Pringle said the government “rather cynically set up the tax so that the onus is on the local authority to collect it”. The non-payment campaign will continue, he said.

“Always the 31st of March was the first deadline,” he said. “We’re settling into a more drawn-out campaign at this stage.” The deputy said the numbers of people who have not registered, “show the government doesn’t have a mandate to implement this tax, and they should withdraw it”.