First cases go ahead for unpaid household charge
THE first prosecutions for non-payment of the household charge are set to go ahead after a High Court challenge to its legality failed.
Peter Anthony Keegan (70), from Belclare, Westport, Co Mayo, had initiated proceedings in the High Court last December, claiming that the charge was unconstitutional.
That case was struck out on Monday.
Ward McEllin, solicitor for Mayo County Council, told Judge Mary Devins at Westport District Court yesterday that Justice Murphy had struck out the proceedings brought by Mr Keegan, describing them as ill-conceived.
The case against Mr Keegan (pictured) and a number of others for the alleged non-payment of the charge will now resume before Westport District Court.
Mr Keegan was the first person to be before the District Court in relation to non-payment of the charge.
The summonses against him allege that he failed to make a declaration in relation to six units in Westport.
Mr Keegan told the judge that he intended to represent himself.
Similar cases against John Joe Duffy, of Coraroya, Ballinrobe, Co Mayo, for alleged non-declaration in respect of three properties in Claremorris, and Desmond Horan, of Abbey Street, Ballina, for non-payment of the household charge, were also adjourned to the same date.
The cases will now appear before the court on April 4 for mention.
Mr Keegan had issued summonses against three government ministers – Environment Minister Phil Hogan, Justice Minister Alan Shatter and Finance Minister Michael Noonan – in his High Court challenge against the charge, which he claimed had been "unlawfully concocted".
He also included the Local Government Agency and employees at Mayo County Council as being in breach of the European Convention of Human Rights.
The High Court challenge had been drafted by Mr Keegan himself, rather than by a lawyer.
In it, he described the charge as unlawful, unconstitutional and a violation of human rights.
He claimed that the defendants had willfully neglected and disregarded his request for information on the charge and that he had been given no recourse to a defence.