A LOCAL Fine Gael councillor has questioned the timing of the implementation of the Household Charge, having abstained from a county council vote on whether or not to ask the Government for an extension to the payment deadline.
Councillor Anne-Maria Irish did not cast a vote, and subsequently voiced some concerns about the charge. Despite her stance, she says that she will pay the charge before the deadline this Saturday, March 31.
“My own position is that I will be paying it, and I am not advocating that anyone break the law,” she said.
“But I would question the timing of this.
“People are fearful of what it is for, and what they are signing up to. I would urge Minister Hogan to come out and clarify the situation, because people are very stressed out there.
At last week’s meeting of Kilkenny County Council, head of finance John Dempsey warned of the consequences if people refuse to pay the charge.
“Local services are being paid out of a projection of what will be taken from the Household Charge,” he said.
“There is a strong possibility that if funding is less than expected, we will be cut.”
The council members voted on whether or not to write to Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan asking him to extend the payment deadline for another month. A number of councillors said that people needed to be given people more time to pay the charge.
“There is nothing to be lost by extending the deadline for payment,” said Cllr John Coonan (FF).
“If councillors are still asking questions about this, members of the public are also still confused.
“The block grant has already been reduced to the local authorities, and this needs to clearly be seen as making up the difference,” he said.
Cllr Irish abstained from the vote, saying she did not agree with either side. The vote was split 9-9 between members before Cathaoirleach Paul Cuddihy cast his vote. The Cathaoirleach voted against the motion, defeating it.
He said that Government TDs encouraging the non-payment of the charge were behaving in a ‘grossly irresponsible’ manner:“I would like to challenge TDs Flanagan, Wallace and co,” he said.
“Are they going to pay the fines and the penalties of the people who don’t pay? Of course not - they will just slide away.”