[Sinn Fein]

7 October 1997

Calls for non-prosecution of service charge protesters

TD urges Taoiseach to introduce amnesty

A call has been made for the government to introduce legislation to grant an amnesty to those who did not pay local authority service charges and who now face pursuit through the courts. The call was made by Sinn Fein TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin following the decision by a local authority in Monaghan to oppose legal action against people for non-payment of the charges. Clones Urban District Council voted in support of a motion from three Sinn Fein councillors to instruct its solicitors to withdraw summonses against people who did not pay the charges which have now been abolished.

This is the first time a council has voted for non-prosecution of service charge protesters.

Deputy Ó Caoláin is tabling a question to the Taoiseach urging an amnesty for those who did not pay the charges. Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

``These charges were a form of double taxation and were abolished by the government. I am calling on the government to grant an amnesty for those who refused to pay and finally end the debacle of these charges which always were a totally unsatisfactory way of funding local government.

``It is scandalous that at a time when State coffers are bulging people are still being pursued through the courts for non-payment. While recent events have highlighted the disgraceful passports-for-investment scheme which grants special privileges to foreign multi-millionaires, Irish citizens continue to be penalised for an unjust tax which they have rejected in successive elections.

``An amnesty should be introduced and prosecutions should end. I call on the Taoiseach to take up this matter and clear the decks for fundamental local government reform.''

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