‘Longford people should ask for household charge back’

The Government’s threat to trim Longford County Council’s annual budget by a further €1.3m because of difficulties linked to the household charge has prompted one councillor into advising compliant homeowners to ask for the return of their 100 fee.

The Government’s threat to trim Longford County Council’s annual budget by a further €1.3m because of difficulties linked to the household charge has prompted one councillor into advising compliant homeowners to ask for the return of their 100 fee.

Cllr Mark Casey, a long time opponent and member of the Longford Campaign Against Household and Water Charges, said taxpayers were fully entitled to feel short changed by the controversy.

And in a suprising outburst, the independent councillor urged over 7,500 Longford ratepayers who have currently paid the charge to contemplate asking for a refund.

“People who have paid the €100 should write in and ask for their money back. I mean where has the €700,000 that we have paid into that (household charge) gone? Like, where does this end?”

Cllr Casey, who has made no secret of his disdain at the Government’s much publicised decision to introduce a property tax last year, said his views on the fallout had not changed.

He also launched a bitter volley at the Government’s attempt to “bully and harass” people into paying the charge.

“I am 100 per cent behind what I have said. Phil Hogan (Environment Minister) is talking about taking money out of councils but the crux of the matter is that the Government has taken €600m out of funding that has gone to local government,” he said.

The absence, he said, of government leaders to spell out the long term implications to voters was also confusing, intimating the silence was akin “missing a funeral”.

Cllr Casey added: “The Government has gone to ground yet again on this. Look at Phil Hogan, where has he gone? Where has the Labour leader (Eamon Gilmore) gone? It’s just crazy stuff.”

If the Lanesboro based representative was leading a charge against those behind the planned budgetary alterations, other local politicians offered a more sobering analysis.

Cllr Martin Mulleady said despite not agreeing with the much talked about tax, his decision to pay the €100 fee was based purely on preventing service cuts at a local level.

“I didn’t agree with the charge but I didn’t want to see these cuts coming down. Where are all these people who were telling others to not pay, where are they now?”

The Fianna Fail representative was even more outspoken in terms of what further local authority drawbacks were likely to bring to his own constituents in Drumlish and surrounding areas.

“What’s going to happen if they (council) start turning off lights at two or three in the morning especially with the likes of anti-social behaviour and that? And what’s going to happen the library in Drunlish? Does it mean that it will only open one day a week? That’s not giving a service,” he added.