Council directs manager not to use utility bills to pursue household charge

A motion directing the County Manager not to use people's uitility bills and other private information to determine if they have paid the Household Charge has been passed by Donegal County Council.

The motion, initially moved at the end of March by Cllr Jack Murray, has been the source of much debate both inside and outside the chamber.  It was supported by Labour, Fianna Fail and most independents, although some reservations were expressed about the way the motion was discussed, and whether it can actually change anything.

County Manager Seamus Neely told the meeting that collection of the charge is an executive function, and he is mandated and required by law to collect it as he would any other outstanding payment.

However, a number of members expressed concern at the date protection ramifications of the power to use bills, pointing out that the council had earlier discussed a directive from the data protection commissioner to tighten its own policy.

Speaking after the debate, Cllr Jack Murray said while the council cannot stop the manager from collecting the charge, it can stop him compromising people's privacy to do so..........