The Workers’ Party have said that today’s threat from Environment Minister Phil Hogan that he will alter the Data Protection Act and other legislation if necessary is a clear sign that the government is losing the battle to collect the Household Charge.
Workers’ Party spokesman and anti-household charge campaigner Seamus McDonagh from Co. Meath said that the minister’s comments reeked of desperation and showed that the overwhelming majority of people regard the charge as grossly unfair to the extent that the government is resorting to duress to collect it.
“The household charge is a beaten docket. It cannot be collected and the legislative changes Minister Hogan is threatening, along with general administration, may well cost more to introduce and implement than the household charge will ever collect. To-date less than 15% of people have registered and many of these don’t have to pay the charge anyway because they are exempt as council tenants or residents of certain ghost estates. There are still a million-and-a-half people who have not registered or paid and I believe most of them are solidly behind the non-payment campaign and will not be bullied into doing paying this unfair tax”, said Mr. McDonagh.
The Workers’ Party spokesman said that the fact that the Minister had been publicly contradicted by the Data Commissioner today on whether legal changes might be required in that area showed that the Minister’s statement was a knee-jerk reaction to a failing strategy. “The Minister and his government are on the ropes in relation to the household charge and know they are in serious trouble with a powerful mass non-payment campaign”, he said.
Mr. McDonagh said he feared that the Data Protection Act could become a lame duck if further tampered with as instead of protecting people’s data it would serve as a pooling centre for such, data completely contradicting the concept of data protection.
Issued 18th March 2012