Impact of Household charge on Council budget report passes without debate

What was being flagged as one of the most important issues to face Donegal County Council in recent years today passed in Lifford without debate.

It was anticipated that a lengthy debate would take place on the impact the non payment of the household charge may have on the council's budget - but in the end there was only one speaker.

According to official figures, 51% of those liable to pay the household charge have done so but the level of non-payment means that Donegal is still facing a cut of 4 million euro in funding from government this year.

Sinn Fein had asked for all other business to be deferred and the meeting adjourned to allow for party's to consider a report on the implication of adjustment to the 2012 Local Government Plan  compiled by the county manager.

It was anticipated that a long debate on the report would follow.

Before hand, County Manager Seamus Neely outlined the contents of his report - it warned of significant cuts that have already had to be made and said that if there was not an increase in payment of the household charge, further cuts would have to be made and it would be inevitable that front line services would be affected.

After lunch, Fine Gael Councillor Barry O'Neill was the only Councillor who spoke on the issue urging the public to pay the charge. In a surprise move Sinn Fein, Fianna Fail and Independents opted not to - notably including independent Councillor John Campbell, who is a leading campaigner with the Can't Pay Won't Pay Group.