Council cannot stop or cut grants


CLARE COUNTY Council has no legal power to stop or reduce third-level grant to students, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has told the Dáil. But he said it was entitled to ask whether applicant households had paid the household charge.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams raised the issue after it was revealed the council had written to applicants for third-level grants asking whether they had paid the €100 household charge. The council said it would prioritise the processing of applications from those who had paid.

Mr Adams referred to the reports “of councils planning to link the payment of grants to the disabled to the payment of the household charge”.

And he called on the Taoiseach to clarify the matter and asked him to “make it clear that the Government supports the rights of students to the grants to which they are entitled without reference to what their parents may or may not be doing”.

Mr Kenny said the council was “not entitled by law to reduce or withhold a portion of the third-level grant but as a matter of course it is entitled to as much information about the numbers who have paid the household charge as is required in law”.

Clare County Council made its own decision to issue the letters.

“It is entirely appropriate that as public monies fund the processing of these applications, the local authority is entitled to find out whether persons have paid the household charge,” he said, because the money went on facilities and provisions in local authority areas.