Fianna Fáil Environment Spokesperson Niall Collins has heavily criticised the Government’s plans to punish local authorities over non-payment of the household charge by cutting local services. This is the latest attempt by the Government to shift blame for their failure on the household charge fiasco.
Deputy Collins commented, “At the weekend, we saw Government Ministers trying to shift blame onto local authority workers across the country for the mess that Phil Hogan has created over the household charge. Now it is reported that Minister Hogan will punish those areas where the household charge has not been successfully collected, by cutting local services to the entire community.
“Let us be clear, this fiasco is not the fault of local authority workers in any part of the country. This is entirely Phil Hogan and his Government’s fault. They made a mess of this from the beginning by forcing a flat-rate charge on people regardless of their ability to pay, by failing to provide the proper information to the public, by failing to allow people to pay in a variety of ways including in their local post office, and by failing to give people enough time to pay by instalment.
“Now in order to save face, the Government wants to blame ordinary council workers and to threaten cuts to local services. This demonstrates just how disconnected this Government has become from the experience of many families in a very short period of time. What Fine Gael and Labour should be doing is putting their hands up, admitting that they made a mistake, and extending the deadline to the end of September. That gives them time to run a proper information campaign, allow people to pay in a variety of ways and to offer an option of paying by instalment.
“I am asking Minister Hogan to clarify he plans to continue to blame local authorities and punish the users of local services for his failure to execute this policy properly and fairly,” said Deputy Collins.