Homeowners who refuse to pay the new €100 household charge could have their fine of up to €2,500 deducted from their wages or welfare payments, it has been revealed.
Justice Minister Alan Shatter is reported to be set to bring laws before the Dáil next year allowing the state to take fines out of a person’s salary, dole or other welfare payments to avoid lengthy court procedures.
The proposed move is sure to be controversial and could further deepen the rift between the government and the handful of opposition TDs, who are calling for a boycott of the charge, claiming that the government can’t bring a million people to court.
The Department of Justice confirmed to the Irish Examiner at the weekend that Mr Shatter will bring forward an amendment to the Fines Act so that instead of going to court or jail, a person will have a fine taken out of their earnings.
A spokesperson said Mr Shatter intended to introduce a system of “attachment orders” allowing “a small amount of money to be taken from wages or social welfare facilitating the payment of the debt or fines over time as an alternative to imprisonment for people who refuse to pay fines”. Attachment orders will not be used to take the €100 tax out of a person’s earnings. However, they can be used for fines of between €1,000 and €2,500, which local authorities can apply to homeowners who refuse to pay.
Work is under way on the changes “with a view to bringing forward these legislative proposals in 2012”.
The department said fines under the Local Government (Household Charge) Bill would be treated the same as any other fines.