Household charge causes heated exchanges

A VOTE on a motion put down by Cllr Joe Reidy calling on the Borough Council to reject the introduction of a household charge failed to carry despite having five votes in favour and five against.

A VOTE on a motion put down by Cllr Joe Reidy calling on the Borough Council to reject the introduction of a household charge failed to carry despite having five votes in favour and five against.

Cllrs John Coonan (FF), Andrew McGuinness (FF), Joe Reidy (FF), Joe Malone (FF) and Kathleen Funchion (SF) voted in favour of the motion to reject the household charge. Cllrs Martin Brett (FG), Betty Manning (FG), David Fitzgerald (FG), Marie Fitzpatrick (Lab) and Seán Ó hArgáin (Lab) all voted against the motion. Cllr Malcolm Noonan (Green) abstained from the vote while Cllr Paul Cuddihy was absent.

Cllr Reidy said that this was the first time he had brought forward a motion on a national issue in the council. Cllr Reidy said: “The charge may only be E100 but I think this is the thin edge of the wedge. There is no differentiation in this charge; somebody with a mansion in Mount Juliet will pay the same as a person in a terraced house. There is no equity. This tax should not be brought in.”

Cllr Funchion seconded the motion. Cllr Funchion said that the household charge was completely unfair and that it would fall on people who are already struggling. She said: “We can’t cut and tax ourselves out of the recession.”

Cllr Brett said that the country was in an unprecedented situation and funding had to be got from somewhere. He said: “A E100 charge isn’t something any of us want but we have very little choice.”

Cllr Noonan said: “My supporting this motion would be just as hypocritical as Fianna Fáil proposing it. I think the motion rings hollow as Micheál Martin decrying austerity across the Dáil.” Cllr Noonan added: “I don’t support the introduction of a household charge but, that being said, I do support the motion even if it rings hollow.”

Cllr Manning said that she had spoken to Environment Minister Phil Hogan about the introduction of the household charge. Cllr Manning said that Minister Hogan told her that Fianna Fáil had planned to introduce a E200 charge. Cllr Manning said: “It’s astounding that a Fianna Fáil councillor has put down this motion.”

Cllr Coonan said that the principle of any tax is that it should be fair and equitable.

“The introduction of a tax like this that is charging someone on E200,000 or E300,000 a year the same as someone earning E200 to E300 a week is not equitable,” he said.

Cllr McGuinness said that as councillors they had a duty to reflect what their constituents were feeling. “I think it is out duty to speak out against this tax. Cllr Ó hArgáin, if you think we’re not going to speak out, you have something else coming for you.”

Cllr Ó hArgáin criticised Sinn Fein who he pointed out supported the bank bailout but were now opposed to the household charge.

He said: “Sinn Fein want to tell the IMF to take a hike. The implications of that would be that there would be no money to pay teachers and council workers.”