“Are you supporting cuts to county’s services?’ - queries McConalogue

Donegal County Council is facing punishment from the Government in the form of cuts to services over non-payment of the household charge, according to Donegal North East Fianna Fáil TD Charlie McConalogue. And he is asking his Oireachtas colleagues in Donegal if they support the cutting of services here if the government implements that.

Deputy McConalogue commented, “At the weekend, we saw Government Ministers trying to shift blame onto local authority workers in Donegal and across the country for the mess that Phil Hogan has created over the household charge. Now it is reported that Minister Hogan will punish those areas where the household charge has not been successfully collected, by cutting local services to the entire community.

“Let us be clear, this fiasco is not the fault of local authority workers in Donegal or anywhere else. This is entirely Phil Hogan and the Government’s fault. They made a mess of this from the beginning by forcing a flat-rate charge on people regardless of their ability to pay, by failing to provide the proper information to the public, by failing to allow people to pay in a variety of ways including in their local post office, and by failing to give people enough time to pay by instalment.

“Now in order to save face, the Government wants to blame ordinary council workers and to threaten cuts to local services. This demonstrates just how disconnected this Government has become from the experience of many families in a very short period of time. What Fine Gael and Labour should be doing is putting their hands up, admitting that they made a mistake, and extending the deadline to the end of the September. That gives them time to run a proper information campaign, allow people to pay in a variety of ways and to offer an option of paying by instalment.

“I am asking Minister Dinny McGinley, Deputy Joe McHugh and Senator Jimmy Harte if they stand by their colleagues’ claims that gaps in household charge payments locally are the fault of Donegal County Council workers, and not the Government? I also want them to clarify their position on Minister Hogan’s plans to cut to local services in Donegal if they Government has not succeeded in collecting the household charge from all homes in Donegal.”