A spokesperson for the Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay Donegal committee said they will evaluate the campaign to date before planning a strategy of continued resistance to the government’s household charge.
“There is clearly massive support for this campaign, especially in this county,” said committee member Micheal Mac Giolla Easbuig. “The support is there, but it’s how to build on that support and empower people to get them active.
“I think that’s very important and that’s how we’ll be moving forward,” he said.
Donegal has been reported to have one of the lowest collection rates in the country. There have been further reports putting the Donegal collection rate as low as 25 percent, but Garry Martin, council director of finance, said it was not yet possible to put a percentage on the county collection rate, and denied comments attributed to him that did.
Mr. Mac Giolla Easbuig called the campaign, “the biggest act of civil disobedience since the foundation of the state”, and said, “Well done” to all those involved.
On Tuesday afternoon the government estimated that more than 829,000 households had paid the charge. But with estimates of eligible households now ranging from 1.6 million to 1.8 million, that means that 800,000 to 1 million households may still have not paid.
“I would advise Minister Hogan and Dinny McGinley (Fine Gael minister of state) and Joe McHugh (Fine Gael TD) and Jimmy Harte (Labour senator) to listen carefully to those who pay their wages and those they are supposed to support,” Mr. Mac Giolla Easbuig said. “Because they have spoken.”
Thomas Pringle, independent TD and among the first Dáil deputies to say he would not pay the charge, said opponents to the charge never expected the campaign to end with the March 31st deadline.
He said opposition would now “settle down into a more drawn-out campaign”, adding, “I imagine every so often we will get another scare tactic from the government.” Deputy Pringle said the government’s suggestion that counties with low collection rates will not receive as much money as counties where the collection rate is higher was one of those tactics.
“They’re hoping to encourage registration among people by saying Donegal County Council must be penalised,” Deputy Pringle said. But he said that because of existing budget cuts, “Donegal is already being penalised.”