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Posts Tagged ‘ Household Charge ’

News in Brief-Focus On Referendum As Salpa Gets The Sack

A mass pulping of the children’s rights referendum Bill has been ordered after 30,000 copies were issued to post offices around the country with a monumental typo.

Ironically the mistake suggested an amendment to article 40 of the constitution which protects the right to life, panicking pro-life campaigners in the abortion argument. The mistake has been blamed on the printing company that produced the copies by the Department of the Environment who have assured voters it will also be the printers footing the bill for the new Bill. Fancy the government being over eager on the admin? That doesn’t sound like them. Well, actually . . .

They’re really cracking down on those that haven’t paid the Household Charge even sending reminder letters to the deceased. Apparently tens of thousands of the letters were sent, including to those who had already paid, children and individual family members living at the same address. One wonders if the combined cost of ink, printing, postage and staff could not have been better spent. Say on street lights and road repairs?

Speciality chicken restaurant Nando’s announced it will be creating 100 new jobs with two new branches opening in Dublin. On the same afternoon Co-operative Poultry Products in Cavan announced it would be closing down forcing unemployment on 90 staff. Coincidence? Yes.

Ireland is now one of the top five places in the world to be, if you’re a woman. According to a new index system introduced by the World Economic Forum in 2006 education levels are higher and more Irish woman also favour technical careers marking us above Britain, France and the US at successfully bridging the gender gap. Despite this though Irish women still earn a reported 75% of Irish men.
Georgia Salpa earns an alleged €2000 a day. Or did. The model, who has made a name for herself in print and on Celebrity Big Brother, has reportedly failed to turn up for work on a number of occasions leading to model agent Andrea Roche letting her go. Don’t expect Georgia to be putting the socialite into social welfare though, apparently her own reality TV show is in the pipeline.

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News in Brief-Divorced Couple Battle Over Titanic Replica As Clooney’s Irish Ancestry Is Cast Aside

The biggest story of the week has to be The Irish Daily Star rather losing its shine after publishing controversial pictures of a topless Kate Middleton, a.k.a. future Queen the Duchess of Cambridge. Richard Desmond, well-known for his penchant for publishing -cough porn cough-, and 50% share owner has decided to cut his losses with the Irish branch of his newspaper empire after what Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte called its “lapse in taste”. Rabbitte who was rampant on RTE’s John Murray show claimed Desmond had overreacted before suggesting the Star knows what taste is.

The best things in life are free, including a University degree or so one student in Mayo thought. Anna Marie Flanagan, a mature nursing student has been banned from attending lectures at Galway Mayo Institute of Technology after failing her first year but continuing to show up.

Despite being ineligible to continue the course Ms Flanagan was not deterred and still attended lectures and lessons in what has been described as a “disruptive for other students”. She has subsequently had an order placed on her to prevent her doing any further study or turning up at GMIT.

She may be the first of many students on the make if Phil Hogan’s new incentive is approved. The Environment minister has given the go ahead (“didn’t ask” but “fully supports”) to local councils to withhold vital grants for third level students whose parents have not paid the household charge.

Did you enjoy the London 2012 Games? Did it inspire you to make some summer resolutions, get fit for Christmas? Don’t get your runners out too quick. Before you get carried away apparently the Olympics will have no impact in inspiring us to get off the sofa or on obesity levels long-term. Previous Games have not caused an “Olympic effect” according to Doctor Niamh Murphy, director of the centre for health behaviour research at Waterford Institute of Technology. Former international athlete, Dr Murphy said efforts to tackle obesity in Ireland were short-term, disconnected and uncoordinated; “everyone is doing stuff in their own silos”. As London 2012 fades from our minds so too will any ideas about taking up judo, javelin or becoming a Jamaican sprinter.

Wednesday saw the tenth anniversary of ’Speak Like a Pirate Day’ on which people are encouraged to add the odd oohh arr aye shipmates into everyday conversation. County Wexford took this literally by becoming the smuggling hub of the country. A €1.5 million haul of smuggled cigarettes was found in Enniscorthy town giving them the unofficial title of smuggler’s cove. County wide cigarette sales are down up to twenty percent,  which is being blamed on illegal trade. So if a man with a parrot on his shoulder offers you some cheap fags tell him to walk the plank.

A one happy couple in Cork have watched their relationship go down like a sinking ship, like the Titanic actually. Hungarian national Zoltan Panka and ex- Carmel McGrath, are caught in a vicious dispute over who gets their handmade, 16ft, Titanic replica. Ms McGrath accused MR Panka of taking the ship from her house without permission whilst Mr Panka counter claimed owner-ship (get it?!) Ms McGrath then stated it was she that paid costs to build the boat and has secured a court order to prevent him from selling it. Mr Panka claims he has since received abusive text messages from McGrath and had no intention of selling the ship which is worth about €70,000. For goodness sake, Rose and Jack they ain’t this feud will go on and on.

George Clooney isn’t from Abbeyleix. I know, I know, it’s devastating. This “news” comes from genealogy company Eneclann, based at Trinity College, and is in dispute with earlier genealogists who traced George back to Co Laois. It was believed George’s relatives were forced to leave their ancestral home in Kilkenny due to the famine but what do you know? They weren’t. We’ll all sleep well tonight.

Unless you have a sore head. It turns out people who take pain killers could in fact be giving themselves headaches. Nice, (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) highlights new research showing those that use painkillers more than ten days out of a month, in cases of ’medication over-use’, can exacerbate tension headaches and migraines. Not so nice.

Education Cuts Pose a Real Threat to our Future

  • Threats and bully boy tactics. That’s what Ireland’s present government is becoming known for. We’ve already seen it with the fiasco that has been the introduction and implementation of the hated household tax – threats of further fines and lawsuits should Irish citizens refuse to simply shut their mouths and stump up a good chunk of what little cash is left to them to pay for someone else’s mistakes.

That hasn’t resonated too well with the Irish public. Despite government figures which quote a compliance rate of around 60 per cent, when the figures concerning landlords with multiple properties on which they must pay the charge are removed, the number drops down to the half-way mark. Householders aren’t the only ones who are being forced to shoulder the debts of people farther up the chain and thus apparently immune to retribution. Recent reports are suggesting that students and their parents will be hit by a review of grants, while Agriculture Minister, Simon Coveney has been openly warned by Finance Minister Michael Noonan to cease publicly opposing any proposed changes to the system.

Grants are already means tested to the hilt. Everything from which a student’s parent receives income is included in the application, and as someone who has had the misfortune of having to wade through the river of paper needed to secure a miserable few euros of assistance, I can attest to the processes’ thoroughness. Rest assured, should an area of income amount to only one cent, that cent will be considered. Now the penny pinchers are scrutinising the system as closely as possible, in an attempt to find new ways by which to deny prospective students government assistance. Savings accounts are one possible way they have hit upon. Should you have gone against the grain during the years of the Celtic tiger, and squirreled away money rather than recklessly spent it, bad news. And if you’re a farmer? Bad luck again, apart from the heavy rains delaying the harvest once more. Aside from business premises, farmland may also be included under a new, ‘improved’ means test, despite the fact that it may be simply sitting there collecting grass, without making a significant or even any contribution to a family’s income.

It’s not just a monetary impact that this will have. Sure, more families will have to fork out extra to ensure their kids receive a necessary education and have some hope of getting a job in the next few decades. But for others, university simply isn’t going to be an option anymore. The number of entrants and graduates will fall and all the bluster about finding more jobs will be pointless, because in the future, there won’t be the people to fill them. Instead, we’ll have scores of young people, whose only qualification is a Leaving Cert or perhaps a FAS course which, in a world where many employers are looking for master degrees more and more, means they are about as useful for getting a job as only having done your Junior Cert.

We pride ourselves on our Irish identity. At home or abroad we fly the flag, shouting for our representatives with an unbridled fervour and passion, or looking on in pride as they tour the world. We are fighters, lovers, a race of proud people who stand up to oppressors and never say die. Ireland, at one stage and for quite a long time, was also the land of saints and scholars, the island of education, to whom the rest of the world flocked in search of knowledge and learning. Our leaders have already ensured the next generation will be saddled with the debt of a few. Will we throw away their chances at an education too? Our future lies with the young people, and if we can’t do our utmost to provide them with the best possible education, we’ve not only failed them but our country and its future. If only our politicians showed the same level of support and apparent admiration and care for the ordinary people of this country as they do for the exceptional ones.

In the end, the power to refuse these movements should rest with the Irish people. It is to us that our politicians answer to, and it is us who can make or break them. We elect them to run our country on behalf of us, to look after the population as a whole, rather than run us into the ground and shove our faces in the dirt while we’re down there. Perhaps we need to look after ourselves. As V said so memorably, “people should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.”

Labour Party Conference Descends Into Chaos

In recent times politicians haven’t been topping any popularity polls, so it was no surprise that on Saturday, at the Labour Party Conference in NUI Galway that violent clashes broke out between anti-austerity protestors and Gardaí.

In the afternoon, vicious scenes of fighting were witnessed, as protestors attacked security men with flags, utilised a mock coffin as a weapon with which they breached the Garda cordon surrounding the conference and proceeded to the doors of the hall where the conference was taking place. A mere 20 Gardaí became the shielding force, acting as the sole barrier between the protestors and the conference delegates, the not so popular Labour politicians.

Resulting from these ferocious scenes was the decision to lock down the conference centre for a period of time. This however did not deter the efforts of the protestors, with one RTE camera man even succumbing to a ‘pepper spray’ ordeal at the hands of the frustrated protestors. Journalists who had attended the event to cover the protest were also threatened, and one student was finally arrested by Gardaí after reaching the windows of the conference centre.

People Before Profit TD, Richard Boyd Barrett, who was one of the politicians leading the demonstration, said that what was initially a peacefully demonstration had been hijacked by a plethora of other protest groups, namely the Occupy Dame Street movement, Citizens versus Charges, Shell to Sea, lone parents, anti-bin tax campaigners, DEIS schools defenders.

As bag pipes and bodhrans sounded in the background, taunts aimed at Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan, echoed around the NUI Galway campus, whilst placards read ‘Don’t Register Don’t Pay’, ‘Axe the Home Tax’ and ‘Thug Hogan’ were evident to all.  

Undoubtedly this was an obvious to Phil Hogan’s reiteration on Friday night that the Government were not backing down regarding the collection of the Household Charge of €100, and would enlist the help of local authorities to pursue all those who have not paid.

To date 900,000 people have registered for the household charge. Notifications will be sent to those who have yet to pay in a similar method by which people are notified of their obligation to pay the TV licence. Phil Hogan also pointed out that “People know in these financial circumstances they must make a financial contribution for local services, and notwithstanding the fact that people are under pressure, over 900,000 people in this country have prepared to comply with the law – unlike the people outside,” referring to protestors outside a conference he delivered in Kilkenny on Friday.

So dare I say it – Are violent protests truly the correct medium to have your voice heard? Or are they just an excuse for thuggish behaviour? Does there not exist a better means through which our voice can be heard? Should these groups to meet not be given the opportunity to meet with specific political parties in an ordered manner for a healthy discussion and one which does not end in violence?

It may be the age old adage, but violence does not solve anything. Outlandish yobbish behaviour of protestors merely paints the nation in a bad light, and we could really do with not tarnishing our name any further. If we want issues addressed by government ministers we must meet with them in a different environment. Also, we must note that it is possibly the worst time to be in government, and must commend the efforts of those currently in ministerial roles, as they have quite simply landed a job that requires them to clean up a mess caused by others.

We as a nation must accept our part too in the financial recovery. Whilst we may look unfavourably at some austerity measures, and the requirement to pay the household charge, we must focus on the ways by which we will recover as a nation, and return to some form of prosperity as a country – a country we can be proud of and one we aren’t so ashamed to call home – even if that does mean adhering to the Government’s request and paying the household charge!

News in Brief: #Axethetax Among Top Headlines This Week

Meetings and protests explode across the country, #axethetax has taken off on twitter, poetic posters have been stuck to Dublin phone boxes – Stick your 100 euro charge up your arse – said one.

Phil Hogan has assured the public that non-payment of the household charge will not result in jail time. The punishment may only stretch as far as a ten euro surplus charge. 

Whilst RTE has been unable to issue similar to assurances to their top earning presenters who are set to face significant pay cuts. The broadcaster is attempting to offset a twenty million euro operating deficit by reducing presenters pay by up to thirty percent and closing its London office. A voluntary redundancy scheme has also been put in place. 

While The Irish Times runs a real time stream of household charge developments, an elephant ran amuck in Kerry. Sadly only one of these stories was illustrated by an image of Mick Wallace, independent TD for Wexford. 

Jedward were also running, recently completing a marathon with apparently no prior training. Gratefully the Grimes brothers are now back in Dublin, (we’ve missed them haven’t we?) no doubt for a spot on the Late Late. 

Or perhaps Tallafornia? The show’s producers have been inundated with applicants since announcing the launch of the second series of this ‘repulsive and compulsive viewing’. The new episodes will see the cast relocated to live communally in a villa, somewhere hot, sunny and far away where they will presumably be left. 

Jane McEvoy knows about communal living in the current series of The Apprentice. The only Irish contestant this year Jane has a lot to prove after the success of Jedi Jim Eastwood in the last series. Currently in business with Centra (featuring in their ad campaign with husband Gary) she’s so far proved a powerful opponent managing to evade the sack last week. We will have to keep watching to see how far she gets.

 The watching of the household charge, however will come to a close at midnight tonight, when we will find out exactly how many have registered and what will befall those who have not.

Over One Third to Boycott Household Charge

At the time of writing, more than 530,000 Irish citizens are intent on breaking the law. In an unprecedented act of defiance, a sizeable amount of Irish homeowners are planning on refraining from paying the newly-introduced Household Charge of €100. The results of a Paddy Power RedC poll conducted earlier this week indicate that 39 per cent of those eligible for the tax will not pay it.

The 61 per cent of those polled who intend to pay the charge – or have already done so – is primarily made up of older people, while almost half of those aged between 18 and 54 surveyed say they will refuse to pay.

Somewhat unsurprisingly, coalition supporters are the most likely to pay the charge; 77 per cent of Fine Gael voters and 26 per cent of Labour advocates declared they will have paid up by Saturday’s deadline. In stark contrast, 72 per cent of Sinn Féin supporters are adamant they will not pay, as are 43 per cent of Fianna Fáil voters and 44 per cent of Independent supporters. The latter takes in backers of the Socialist Party and the United Left Alliance – both political groups have been extremely vocal in their disapproval of the charge.

Of those questioned, 65 per cent said the tax was unfair, and 72 per cent said they would prefer a charge for use of services rather than a flat tax.

This latest survey will no doubt come as another blow to the under-fire government. Nevertheless, Taoiseach Enda Kenny remains optimistic that people will “measure up” and “obey the law”. He did concede, however, that: “The government can only function where it gets the cooperation and the support of the people.” Despite a late surge in those registering to pay the tax, the figure remains well shy of the 1.6 million homeowners who are liable. Even members of Kenny’s cabinet are dubious as to whether or not the majority of people will pay up before this weekend’s deadline. Transport Minister Leo Varadkar admitted it would probably take until the end of the year before those who have paid reached 80 to 90 per cent.

Joe Higgins of the Socialist Party is among those TDs who have urged house owners to boycott the tax in an act of mass revolt against austerity. He said: “This is the first time in the history of this State that such a massive movement of this kind has been crystallised in this way. It’s people power.” 

Thousands of demonstrators have attended nationwide protests against the charge, while others have called for an extension to the 31 March deadline – a suggestion Environment Minister Phil Hogan immediately shot down.

Active Retirement Ireland has said they have been inundated with calls from elderly people who are confused as to how to pay. The organisation’s CEO, Maureen Kavanagh, has criticised the government for sending out conflicting messages in relation to the charge. She said: “The problem has been around the information that was given out, particularly over the weekend, where Minister Hogan said that council officials may be calling door to door to collect the charge has led to fears of bogus callers.”

Problems with the Household Charge website have also been reported, with many people voicing their annoyance at having to make several attempts to pay the charge before it was processed correctly. Further frustration was evident when it came to light that those who live in estates with even a single property unfinished are exempt from the charge due to a loophole in the legislation. As the results of last year’s census released today show that there were 289,451 vacant dwellings in Ireland at that time, 14.5 per cent of all houses in the state, the figure of those who are ineligible to pay could be quite substantial.

On Monday Fine Gael TD Brian Hayes, said that if the government couldn’t raise the estimated €160 million from the household charge, they may have to look into raising personal taxation. Figures obtained today from the Department of the Environment show that fewer than one third of homes in Ireland have paid the charge. People who do not pay the tax will face financial penalties which will increase monthly.

1,700 Pay Household Charge While Activists Get Set For Protest

The Household Charge Project Board has said that people are quickly signing up to the site and arranging payment methods, with some having paid in full already.

The board says 1,700 people have paid by credit card or debit card and 400 more have set up direct debits.

The system went live on 1 January and people must register by the March 31st deadline. However should people wish to pay by instalments they must register by March 1st.

The board says an online system – householdcharge.ie – has been set up allowing homeowners to register their households and to make payment with a credit or debit card. Payment can also be made by cheque, postal order or at local authority offices.

However, opponents of the charge are stepping up their campaign against the controversial tax ladi out in last month’s budget.

The Campaign Against the Household Charge group are meeting next week ahead of a national protest scheduled for ten days’ time.

The group says it is confident that as many as 50% of households will not register for the charge while they also expect thousands to attend the protest.

Over 100 meetings of local groups have already taken place around the country, with meetings planned in Cork and Dublin tonight. The campaign is been spearheaded by independent politicians and member of the People Before Profit Alliance.

The Government says the household charge is an interim measure and that a comprehensive and equitable valuation-based property tax will be introduced in the future.

Will you be Paying the charge?

 

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