19 September 2012
Taoiseach tells Sinn Féin that councils linking Household Charges payment to grants illegal
‘Nearly half of commercial water rates remain uncollected yet the children of the owners and shareholders are not singled out for punishment’ – Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley
TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY has admitted to Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley that local authorities have no right to withhold grants to third-level students based on non-payment of household charges.
Deputy Stanley, Sinn Féin’s Dáil spokesperson on Local Government, said:
“I raised the matter with the Taoiseach in the Dáil today. It is totally unacceptable that local authorities – including Clare County Council and South Tipperary County Council – would use bullyboy tactics in their attempt to force people to pay the Household Charge.
“Our legal opinion would indicate that local authorities have no basis to block or to stall a grant application for third-level fees. The argument of tax compliance has no basis. Nearly half (48%) of commercial water rates remain uncollected yet the children of the owners and shareholders are not singled out for punishment.
“I am glad that the Taoiseach has confirmed that local authorities are not entitled to withhold payment of grants. This will come as a relief to many students and their families. Councils must make every effort to process these applications as soon as possible.”
Deputy Stanley said that local authorities must not be allowed to punish or discriminate against any grant applicant. “This behaviour will be opposed by Sinn Féin in councils where we have elected representation.”
Earlier, councils in Clare, Cavan, Kilkenny, Leitrim, Limerick City, Longford, Roscommon and South Dublin were reported to have been considering the move.
The Sinn Féin Mayor of South Dublin, Cathal King, told An Phoblacht that he had contacted the County Manager expressing his complete opposition to the linking of payment of the Household Charge to third-level grant applications.
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