SOCIALIST PARTY LEADER Joe Higgins has said that the government are “delusional” about the public mood over the household charge.
Speaking during Leader’s Questions today, Higgins said the refusal by the public to pay the household charge is “a massive revolt against the massive policy of austerity”.
He said the government are maintaining that the 83 per cent of people who have not yet made the payment are merely waiting until the last minute. However Higgins stated this was “delusional on a Marie Antoinette scale”.
Higgins argues the government are out of touch with the public drawing comparisons with Marie Antoinette. (AP/Press Association Images)
Higgins recommended that Gilmore read the recent New York Times article on the household charge issue that he said “got it far more right”.
“We have to bring reality into the chamber here,” he said. He then asked if the new proposed arrangement with the EU authorities to avoid paying the €3.1 billion cash payment on the State’s bill for Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide, would mean that Gilmore would “withdraw this regressive household tax and listen to what the people are saying”.
Over 300,000 homes have registered for the household charge so far. Gilmore has said that there will be no extension on the 31 March deadline despite Fianna Fáil calling for an extension “in light of serious inadequacies”.
Gilmore said “If we were listening to you Deputy Higgins the country would run out of money” adding that Higgins dealt in juvenile economics. Higgins stated that the household tax was putting the “massive burden of this corruption on the backs of the ordinary people”. He added that the “revolt” against the tax was simply a symbol of people’s disdain for the government’s austerity measures.
When Sinn Fein’s Martin Ferris asked what legislation might me introduced that would criminalise those who did not pay – Gilmore said they were not bringing any legislation forward that would criminalise the “ordinary citizen”. The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government confirmed to TheJournal.ie that the household charge legislation is complete and has already been published. “We are not drafting any amendments to it,” said the department’s spokesperson.
Gilmore previously caused some confusion around the household charge matter when he stated in the Dáil that the charge could be paid at the post office. However people can only collect the forms from their local post office. The Postmaster’s Union said they are “mystified” as to why the public cannot pay the charge in post offices nationwide.