Friday 19 January 2018

New challenge halts case over refusal to pay household levy

Caroline Crawford

Caroline Crawford

THE first case in the country for the non-payment of the household charge has been delayed after a second legal challenge against the legislation was brought to the High Court.

Mayo County Council initiated proceedings against Peter Anthony Keegan (70), from Belclare, Westport, Co Mayo, last year.

However, the case has been delayed on a number of occasions following a High Court challenge.

Mr Keegan's High Court case, which claimed the charge was unconstitutional, was struck out in March but is currently on appeal to the Supreme Court.

At Westport District Court yesterday, it emerged that the case against Mr Keegan could not proceed because a second challenge against the charge was now before the High Court.

That case is understood to have been initiated by Acorn to Oak Communications plc.

Acorn to Oak Communications is a special-purpose vehicle that was set up by the Attack the Tax campaign group.

The group has attracted thousands of homeowners from around the country who have signed up as shareholders to Acorn to Oak Communications with a €2 share.

While the case is currently before the High Court, campaigners state they will pursue it through the Supreme Court and to Europe if necessary.

Ward McEllin, solicitor for Mayo County Council, told Judge Mary Devins yesterday that a new proceeding had been issued.

He said the case was to appear before the High Court on July 15 when the chief state solicitor hoped to have it struck out. However, the court was told that the case may not proceed until the next legal term later in the year.

When Judge Devins questioned the status of Mr Keegan's appeal to the Supreme Court, Mr McEllin said the case was still before the court but had not yet been given a date for hearing.

Mr Keegan was the first person in the country to be before the district court in relation to the non-payment of the charge.

The summonses against Mr Keegan relate to allegedly not making a declaration in relation to six units in Westport.

In response, he issued summonses against three government ministers, Phil Hogan, Alan Shatter and Michael Noonan, in his High Court challenge against the household charge, which he claimed was "unlawfully concocted".

He also included the Local Government Agency and employees at Mayo County Council as being in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights. He described the household charge as unlawful, unconstitutional and a human rights violation.

He claimed the defendants willfully neglected and disregarded his request for information on the local government household charge. He also claimed he was given no recourse to a defence.

Judge Devins adjourned the District Court case until November for further mention.

Irish Independent

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