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Thursday 30 March 2017

We will enforce van tax despite Gormley's claims, say gardai

Paul Melia and Treacy Hogan

CONFUSION mounted last night over a crackdown on people using commercial vehicles for private purposes after Environment Minister John Gormley said it was "nonsensical" to suggest parents bringing their children to school would face prosecution.

But despite the minister saying they had "better things to do" than set up checkpoints to catch offenders, gardai last night insisted they would enforce the law after the Department of the Environment ordered a clampdown by local authorities.

Last Tuesday the Irish Independent revealed details of the crackdown where owners of car vans and 4X4s will have to declare that their vehicle will not be used "at any time" for social, domestic or pleasure purposes.

This means parents taking their children to school, or people using their work vehicle for shopping or going to the pub or Mass, face the prospect of prosecution and a hefty increase in their motor tax bill if caught.

But the minister said gardai were not going to stop people going about their daily business.

"The gardai have better things to do than stop someone taking their kids to school," he said.

"Who in the name of God is going to bat an eyelid at that sort of thing (taking kids to school)? Are the gardai going to set up checkpoints to stop people with golf clubs?

"That's just nonsense. This idea that the gardai are going to stop people on those pretences is nonsense," he told RTE's Pat Kenny.

But the Garda press office said gardai would enforce the law.

"There's been no change in the legislation in regards to the taxation of cars and gardai will continue to enforce the legislation and would encourage all motorists to fully comply with the legislation," a spokesman said.

In a separate development Mr Gormley also said he would not change the law so that Dublin City Council (DCC) could fulfil a contract to supply at least 320,000 tonnes of waste to feed the Poolbeg incinerator.

The council and US company Covanta propose building a 600,000-tonne incinerator in the minister's constituency which he opposes.

"The private operators own the waste. DCC does not," he said.

"They (DCC) can't get control of the waste. They would expect, under normal circumstances, the minister to intervene and say 'all right lads I'll make everything fine for you', but I'm not going to do that.

"Why should we go ahead with a plant of 600,000 tonnes when we know for a fact Dublin City Council cannot come up with 320,000, and the taxpayer will be hit.

"How they can proceed with this when they don't control the waste? I am not going to facilitate them with this."

He added that the contract between the council and Covanta should be renegotiated, and that he was prepared to meet both parties to further discuss the issue.

Dear john, it's not me, it's you

Irish Independent

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