Pay household charge, urges Kenny

Sat, Mar 31, 2012, 01:00

FUNDING:TAOISEACH ENDA Kenny has appealed to homeowners who have not yet paid to register for the household charge by midnight tonight.

“I know that new taxes are never popular. The household charge is no exception. But it is needed to fund essential local services,” he said in his opening address to the Fine Gael ardfheis.

“To close the gap in our public finances, we must instead broaden the tax base to include a property-based charge, because this is less harmful than taxes on work and investment.”

Earlier, Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan said the momentum was with the household charge in the past 48 hours. “People don’t want to break the law,” he said. There was an €18 billion gap between income and expenditure, and services needed to be paid for.

Entering the Convention Centre Dublin, where the ardfheis is being held, Mr Hogan told reporters “I never contemplate disappointment” when asked about the registration levels. He was glad people were registering in spite of all the “intimidation”.

Mr Kenny thanked those “who have registered and paid for the charge to date, and I welcome the significant increase in the numbers registering in recent days. I urge others to make their contribution to the restoration of sound public finances in this country by registering between now and the deadline at midnight tomorrow.”

Focusing for most of his speech on the fiscal treaty referendum, Mr Kenny announced he had appointed Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney as Fine Gael’s national director for “this crucial referendum” on May 31 st.

The Taoiseach said political and business leaders had conveyed a consistent message during his visits to the US and China that “they see Ireland’s place as a fully committed member of the euro zone as a crucial element of Ireland’s attractiveness as a location for investment”.

The country “will have a serious national discussion” about the referendum, he added. “The issue at stake is straightforward: will we do what is needed to keep getting jobs back and get Ireland working?” He told delegates he was “confident our people will reject the idea that we can stand outside of Europe” or “put our recovery funds at risk”.

The referendum was a “vital and unique opportunity to send out a powerful signal around the globe that Ireland believes in the future of Europe, and in the euro currency”.

He said in committing to these “good housekeeping rules, we will also ensure that no future government will behave recklessly with the people’s money and the people’s futures”.

PREPARED TO PAY THE FIGURES

631,433 OR 35%of households had registered to pay the charge at close of business yesterday, according to figures supplied by the department headed by Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan

ONLINEHave your say on the household charge and the various payment options on Mary Minihan's politics blog at irishtimes.com