Deputy Martin said this is the latest attempt by the Government to shift blame for their failure on the household charge fiasco.
He commented, “At the weekend, we saw Government Ministers trying to shift blame onto local authority workers in Cork and across the country for the mess that Minister Hogan has created over the household charge. Now it is reported that the Minister 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 Cork 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 Fine Gael Deputy Jerry Buttimer and Minister Simon Coveney to clarify his position on Minister Hogan’s plans to cut to local services if the Government has not succeeded in collecting the household charge from all homes in Cork.”