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Household charge must be withdrawn – Stanley

16 December, 2011 - by Brian Stanley TD

Sinn Féin's spokesperson on Environment, Community & Local Government, Brian Stanley TD, today called on Minister Hogan to reverse the Household Charge in the face of growing opposition.

Deputy Stanley said “Sinn Féin has been consistent in its opposition to this unfair charge. It’s now obvious that the charge is unworkable as much as it is unjust and the level of opposition is growing on a daily basis. Community groups, campaigners and residents groups are mobilising to oppose this charge.

“People see this for what it is – a bank bailout. The minister plundered the local government fund to make €164 million available for bondholders in Anglo Irish Bank and now he intends replacing this money with €160 million raised through the household charge. This piracy will bankrupt many local authorities who simply cannot afford to depend on the household charge because this will be almost impossible to collect.

“If the latest reports are to be believed households will have their charge increased to €250 next year. John Fitzgerald of the ESRI is reported as saying that the figure may need to be as high as €1,300, proving that €100 is the thin edge of a very thick wedge.

“In his desperation to make up for the 84% cut in the local government fund, owners of bedsits have to pay while Minister Hogan, like Scrooge himself, will not even grant a waiver to those on disability allowance. Those on the lowest incomes will have to pay the same household charge as the wealthiest in society. This is grossly unfair and unacceptable to a majority of people.

“Sinn Féin attempted to introduce constructive amendments during the Dáil debate only to have them struck down by Labour and Fine Gael. Our amendments would have protected the most vulnerable in our society. The bill, which was rammed through without proper debate, is the latest example of ordinary families having to bail out casino capitalism.

“The public have had to endure several harsh budgets. While Sinn Féin respects and stands by the decision of those who cannot pay or choose not to pay the charge, we are not calling for non-payment. We are very mindful at a time when many citizens are struggling to make ends meet, not to lead householders down a road to greater hardship through fines for non-payment.” ENDS

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