ENVIRONMENT Minister Phil Hogan warned yesterday that there will be no escape for people dodging the €100 household charge -- as it emerged 85pc of households have failed to pay so far.
He said people should think "long and hard" about refusing to pay the charge before the March 31 deadline and should not be "duped" by campaigners against it.
"This particular household charge will not go away. I want to send that message very clearly. The charge will apply for whatever length of time it takes, until such time as they discharge that debt to the State," he said.
The warning came as the latest figures from his department showed that just 229,650 out of 1.6 million households -- or 14.3pc -- have paid the charge.
That's an increase of around 30,000 since last week, but it still means that over 85pc of households have still not paid. And the €22.9m raised is still far short of the €160m target.
In an interview with the Irish Independent yesterday, Mr Hogan said people would not be able to sell or transfer ownership of their houses unless they paid the household charge to their local authority.
"They will pay penalties and interest on top of their household charge, in addition to having it attached to their dwelling, if they refuse," he said.
He also said agreements were being put in place with electricity companies to get the names and addresses of householders to find out if they had paid.
"We will be working with those electricity networks in particular to ensure we have the proper information in order to bring people to court in respect of this particular charge at the appropriate time," he said.
Mr Hogan warned there would be a "knock-on effect" on services provided by local authorities, which were depending on the charge to fund their activities.
He said these would include shorter opening hours in libraries and swimming pools, as well as less street cleaning.
"The Department of Finance is not in a position to give me any further resources. Towards the end of the year, we will be cutting services if we don't have the resources from the household charge," he said.
Mr Hogan also signalled that the Government was under pressure from the EU-IMF-ECB troika which has demanded the charge as part of the bailout deal.
In the Dail yesterday, Mr Hogan was taunted by Independent Waterford TD John Halligan, who is one of the TDs pledging not to pay the charge.
"You're not getting it in. One million people haven't paid," he shouted.
Mr Hogan denied there had been a middle-class revolt against the charge.
"People will only pay the charges when they have to. We have another three weeks for the charge to be discharged by the responsible people in the country and I'm fully convinced the vast majority want to fund their local services from this charge," he said.