Belfast Telegraph

Government defends household charge

The Government has defended the controversial household charge despite the High Court paving the way for a challenge to the tax.

A judge found grounds for a Fianna Fail councillor to launch a legal battle against the levy because it had not been published in Irish. But that, coupled with the fact that some 85% of householders have still not registered for the levy, has not dissuaded the Government from its mission.

Education minister Ruairi Quinn said imposing the two euro per week tax was unavoidable. He said: "This charge is necessary, it's part of where we are at the present time and it will be short-lived."

The Government hopes to raise 160 million euro from the levy, which will go towards funding public services, including libraries, footpaths and parks.

Householders have until March 31 to register and the Government has warned that those who fail to pay up will be summoned to court.

Latest figures revealed that 15% have so far signed up for the tax. The minister urged opposition TDs to stop calling for householders to boycott it.

"I would urge you to consider your position in relation to incentivising people," Mr Quinn added. "I would urge that anybody in this house who has suggested people don't pay the charge to think again."

Sinn Fein TD Jonathan O'Brien told the Dail he had no intention of paying the charge, which he described as unfair and regressive.

He said: "In light of the High Court ruling yesterday, coupled with the overwhelming number of people, including myself, who are choosing not to register and pay this unjust and unfair tax, would you agree that it is now the time to do the right thing and scrap this tax altogether?"

Dublin city councillor Thomas Brabazon claims the legislation is unconstitutional as it is provided only in English. His lawyers argued that the two months' notice given to householders to pay the charge was a reasonable time to make the legislation available.

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