Belfast Telegraph

Charges dispute minister accused

Environment Minister Phil Hogan has been accused of monumental hypocrisy after it emerged he is in a dispute over management fees at his apartment in Portugal.

The minister, who has been heavily criticised for his handling of the controversial 100 euro household charge, is believed to owe about 4,000 euro in service charges at the property on the Algarve.

A spokesperson for Mr Hogan said: "The minister is in dispute over some of the fees owed to a private management company. It is a private matter and hopefully it will be resolved shortly."

Mr Hogan earlier commended some 800,000 householders for "their patriotic duty" by paying the charge that will fund vital local services - but urged local authorities to collect outstanding charges from another 800,000 homes.

Campaigners against the fee claim the low level of registration has been a huge failure for the Government.

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein's Micheal Mac Donncha said: "Minister Hogan is guilty of monumental hypocrisy. Today we learned that Minister Hogan refuses to pay management fees on his holiday home in Portugal and he asks 'Would you pay a charge if you were unhappy with service?'

"Yet he expects the Irish people to pay a regressive household charge to fill the banking black hole and while local government and other services continue to be cut.

"Many thousands of those on whom he has imposed the household charge also have to pay management fees, very often for services that are very badly provided or not provided at all.

"The Government wants to punish local authorities and citizens for its own massive failure in trying to force through an unjust and unworkable tax."

Mr Mac Donncha plans to table an emergency motion at a Dublin City Council meeting on Monday night calling for the repeal of the household charge and the bringing-in of a supplementary budget for local government by the Fine Gael-Labour coalition.

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