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The government could be taking almost two million a year in tax from Inishowen households if the planned septic tank tax goes ahead - and a local TD says people in the peninsula simply cannot afford this.

Speaking yesterday with the ‘Journal’ Padraig MacLochlainn said his party were telling the government ‘don’t be old fashioned’ in their attempts to take money from people who haven’t got it.

He commented: “There are 30,000 septic tanks in Donegal, 5,000 to 6,000 of them in Inishowen. If the government goes ahead with their sewerage charge plan it will affect a lot of people here.

“A household charge has been introduced, septic tank charges are planned, and there are moves afoot on water and property tax. We are talking a lot of money here. In fact there is growing concern that ordinary families are being squeezed to the bone.

Cash Cow

“Inishowen has been disproportionately hit with the decline in the construction industry, and many other families who have members in employment have seen their take home pays substantially cut.

Mr MacLochlainn said he would be very concerned that the government would see the septic tank charge as a ‘cash cow’.

This, he added, would be totally unacceptable.

“The government is being old fashioned here. It’s trying to shift the blame on to Brussels by claiming they are acting under a European directive. This directive has been in place since the 1970’s and was, in fact, amended in 1991. They are using this as cover.”

The Sinn Fein representative said there were perfectly acceptable alternative ways of meeting this directive.

“In the Six Counties the cost inspection and de-sludging the tank on an annual basis is met by the Department of the Environment. If a new tank is needed the cost is covered by the Department.

“In Cavan they have got a system that is also perfectly acceptable.

“Every seven years there is an inspection by a council official of all septic tanks.

“The cost is 100 euro. Once the householder has this inspection he/she is given a licence which clears them for another seven years.

“This is a perfectly acceptable way of doing this.But I think the government see this as a cash cow which they intend to milk for all that it’s worth.”

Stating that his party planned to launch a major campaign in Donegal timed to coincide with the resumption of the Dail Deputy Mac Lochlainn said they were urging everyone to get involved by writing to the Minister to make their opposition known.