Fianna Fáil leader Michéal Martin has said his party will bring forward an amendment to legislation to extend the deadline for the household charge payment to the end of September.
Martin, who was speaking during Leaders’ Questions, said that there were big difficulties in how the government was communicating the charge, saying that not everyone had accesss to the internet. Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore acknowledged that there were difficulties, citing the fact that it was a new charge with a new method of payment.
Gilmore told the Dáil that he had checked with the Minister for the Environment today to check on the “status” of the charge, and told the Dáil the deadline would not be extended.
Pressed on whether Mr Gilmore had checked with the Environment Minister about a deadline extension Gilmore said he was just checking in with the Minister in anticipation of questions about the household charge in the Dáil.
Both Fianna Fail and Sinn Féin accused the Government of bullying the public into paying the household charge. Mr Martin told Mr Gilmore that the Government “mantra” of late seemed to be that “Big Phil is going to get you”. Gilmore rejected this, saying that the charge if unpaid, will be considered an unpaid tax and penalties will be applied. Mr Gilmore said it was unfair on households being told not to pay the charge and accused Sinn Fein and others of “misleading” the public into avoiding the tax.
The Labour leader said that “hundreds of thousands of people won’t be taken to court” for not paying the charge, but that financial penalties and interest would be incurred for unpaid tax.