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Just under 430,000 pay household tax as March 31 deadline looms


TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has said he is confident the Irish people will meet their obligations and pay the household charge.

But figures from close of business today in the Department of the Environment showed that only 426,599 of the 1.6 million homes eligible have done so.

With just 72 hours until the deadline for homeowners to register for the €100, the Taoiseach sent a message from Beijing that he expects the public to obey the rules and come out in their droves.

"The law is there, I expect that people will obey that law," said Mr Kenny, on the final day of his trade mission to China.

"Clearly, individual comments are made by people from time to time. I expect people, as they always do in Ireland, to measure up here and come out in big numbers over the next few days and pay their charge."

The deadline for householders to register for the charge is Saturday.

The Government hopes to raise €160m from the levy, but has so far taken in only €42.7m.

Money raised from the charge will fund public services, including the maintenance of footpaths and parks, and public libraries.

Embattled environment Minister Phil Hogan also went on the airwaves to encourage people to pay and insisted that there will be no extension to the deadline.

He also criticised opposition TDs who have campaigned against the charge, accusing them of advocating lawbreaking.

Thousands of protesters packed the National Stadium last Saturday and a second huge rally is expected to be staged at the Fine Gael Ard Fheis in Dublin this weekend.

A group of nine left-wing TDs, including People Before Profit's Richard Boyd Barrett and Socialist party TD Joe Higgins, have led an anti-household charge campaign.

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein unveiled plans for proposed legislation to have the household charge reimbursed.

The party's environment spokesman Brian Stanley said it will lobby for cross-party support to reverse the levy and pay it back.

"It's clear that the household charge has been a farce, it's clear it's not working," said Mr Stanley.

The Bill will be tabled during private members' time in June.

"We're calling on members of the Dail and the Seanad to back our Bill and are hoping that members of the opposition and Labour Party will back it," Mr Stanley said.

However, Sinn Fein has a long way to go if it is to succeed.

Sinn Fein TDs make up 14 of the 166 currently sitting in the Dail. The Fine Gael-Labour coalition dwarfs the party with 111 seats, meaning that even if Sinn Fein rallied support from every single TD in opposition, it would still have to gain support from a significant number on Government benches.

Mr Stanley said implementing a 1pc wealth tax would shore up more funds for the Government than the household charge.

"That rate is very modest by European standards and would have brought in €500m," he said.