AS the deadline looms, Offaly County Council extended its facilities to allow people to pay their household charge this week after a surge in number of householders seeking to pay locally.
The local authority is accepting payment at Birr Civic Offices and Edenderry Town Hall from Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 4pm amd Aras an Chontae, Tullamore will also be open specially on Saturday, March 31 to receive payments.
Declan Conlon, Head of Finances, explained that over the last two weeks, there has been a big increase in the number of householders seeking to pay locally and this extensions of facilities will help them do so before the deadline as penalties will be due after March 31 for late payment.
Currently, 80% of people are paying on line and Offaly County Council are encouraging people to pay on line, if possible, or post their registration/payment directly in order to avoid delays and queues. Both Laois/Offaly Deputy, Marcella Corcoran Kennedy and Senator John Whelan are urging people to register and pay for the household charge.
Deputy Corcoran Kennedy warned that by telling people not to pay that people were advocating for a cut in local services such as a cut in opening hours to public libraries, swimming pools and other local amenities.
Urging all her constituents to pay the charge, the Fine Gael TD doesn’t wish for the situation to arise where people are breaking the law and incurring penalties for late payment and in come cases being charged with a criminal offence.
Senator Whelan believed that it is “highly irresponsible” for some politicians and trade union leaders to urge and encourage people not to pay the household charge.
“This is shameful carry-on from people, who should know better and they are being highly hypocritical, two faced and speaking out of both sides of their mouths,” he said as he strongly and sincerely urged people who can afford to pay to do so.”
Sinn Fein’s Brian Stanley urged people not to pay the household charge and at a protest last weekend he said, “Householders are facing threats of fines if they refuse to pay the new Fine Gael/Labour house tax. A tax that’s being implemented to fill the hole in the state’s finances created by the Government’s removal of €166 million out of the Local Government fund.
“The cost to the people of Offaly for the Promissory Note to be paid this week is €51,521,036 or €728 per person. This would not be necessary if the Government weren’t bailing out failed banks and making good the fortunes of unguaranteed bondholders.”
The Laois/Offaly Deputy said that the suggested deal regarding the €3.1 billion promissory note, which the Government are “trumpeting”, offers no solution. “They are merely placing the debts of private banks on the shoulders of Irish citizens which we will be paying for years to come and we don’t know what interest will be charged.”
Fianna Fail’s Barry Cowen says there are serious inadequacies with the legislation, the lack of a proper information campaign and inequalities with payment procedures as a reason for the deadline to be extended.
“The Government has made a mess of this from the beginning. The Environment Phil Hogan has been so distracted by rushing through his controversial legislation and scaring people into pay it by the end of March that he has completely abandoned all sense of fairness and procedure.”
Meanwhile, local activities from the Campaign Against Household and Water taxes [CAHWT] travelled to Dublin last weekend for a national protest rally while further ocal protests are expected to continue in the run up to the looming deadline.
The Laois/Offaly Campaign Against Household, Water and Septic Tank Tank will hold a ‘Standing Together Rally’ in the Bridge House, Tullamore on Thursday, March 29 at 8pm.
Clare Daly TD, among others, will address the rally where organisers expect to build on their recent meetings since their inital meetings less than two months ago.