PROTESTERS campaigning against the controversial €100 Household Charge need to "get a life", Justice Minister Alan Shatter has claimed.
The Minister's comments came as just over 630,000 households out of 1.6m had paid or registered for the charge by last night. The deadline for payment passes at midnight tonight.
In an attack on independent TD Mick Wallace, the Justice minister said he has "never seen such a mountain made out of a molehill".
"I think it's unfortunate that people like Mick Wallace, who is a serial non-payer of debt, should be urging other people to engage in the type of illegality that he himself has found himself brought before the courts for.
"I think the protesters for tomorrow should get a life."
Mick Wallace responded by describing the minister's comments as a "cheap shot".
"Alan Shatter knows I never set out to default anybody. I had a successful business for 20 years. I paid all my taxes. There was a business crisis and mine collapsed," he said.
Under-pressure Environment Minister Phil Hogan refused to accept that the introduction of the household charge had not gone to plan.
"I never contemplate disappointment," he said.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny declined to comment on Minister Shatter's outburst but said last night new taxes were never popular. "The Household Charge is no exception. But it is needed to fund essential local services," he said.
A surge of thousands of people every hour have been paying the €100 household charge before the deadline.
However,the numbers continue to fall far short of the 1.6m who are obliged to pay the controversial charge. Over 621,000 households had registered by 5pm yesterday.
If rates of payment continue at the pace seen yesterday, it was estimated that close to 50pc of households may have paid by the deadline tonight.
The Government said that a further 56,167 properties had registered since 4pm on Thursday.
Total revenue generated from the householders who have paid to date was €51.9m.
Meanwhile, to allow for last-minute registrations, local authorities have been directed to open their offices today to receive payments.