Updated: 15/12/11 : 16:01:16
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Nine TDs will boycott household charge

Nine rebel TDs have pledged to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the public in a mass boycott against the household charge - even if they end up in court.

Socialist Party TDs Joe Higgins and Clare Daly are among Independent and left-wing members of the Dáil calling on householders to refuse to pay the new €100 tax.

"The way this will be won is by a massive campaign of people power," urged Mr Higgins.

The Government has warned that failure to register for the tax, which comes into force in the new year, before the March 31 deadline could result in a court appearance and fine of €2,500.

But the TDs are hoping that if enough people refuse to pay, the Government will have no choice but to overturn the tax.

Mr Higgins and Ms Daly spent a month in prison after leading a similar campaign against bin charges in 2003.

But Mr Higgins insisted the campaign need not go so far.

"As we've shown in previous campaigns, the people have the will to stand to the very end," he said.

"Going to jail might seem a bit exotic. Nobody wants to go there. People going to jail does not win a campaign."

Other TDs behind the campaign include Independents Thomas Pringle, Mick Wallace, John Halligan and Ming Flannigan; People Before Profit TDs Richard Boyd Barrett and Joan Collins; and Seamus Healy from Workers and Unemployed Action Group/United Left Alliance. Several councillors also support refusal to pay.

As the IMF agreed to release a further €3.9bn in loans to Ireland as part of the country's bailout, the campaigners said the Government should be taxing the rich instead of low and middle income earners.

"There are sections of Irish society that are getting away without paying their fair share," said Ms Daly.

She warned that the Government would keep raising taxes if no-one opposed it.

"The Government sees a very large prize at the end of this battle," said Ms Daly.

"If they can break the resistance that's out there then they see a whole new tier of local taxations being opened up which will see ordinary people absolutely persecuted for thousands of euro.

"Not in a one-off fine but in an annual charge in terms of property and annual charges."

She said the support of the TDs would serve as a platform for people to rally together and take a stand.

"We will march alongside them and go all the way with them," Ms Daly added.

"Court action is the first step. The campaign will have people in the courts, we'll have loads of residents outside the courts.

"People are marching already and we won't abandon them."

Taoiseach Enda Kenny defended the household charge yesterday saying it only worked out at two euro a day.

He said the charge was expected to raise €160m, which would go towards funding local authorities, including fire services, library services and water.

Environment Minister Phil Hogan condemned the campaign as irresponsible and as a cynical PR stunt.

"This campaign by elected representatives is very irresponsible," said Mr Hogan.

"Particularly when it encourages people in what could be expensive court fines and late payment fees."

He went on: "The nine TDs are irresponsible and are engaging in a cynical, emotive PR stunt and it is wrong for opposition TDs as legislators to encourage people to break the law."