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From left, Luke Flanagan TD, Joe Higgins TD, Joan Collins TD, Cllr Ruth Coppinger, Richard Boyd-Barrett TD, Clare Daly TD, Seamus Healy TD and Pat Waine. Photo by: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

Half of Irish homeowners join boycott on $131 tax

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From left, Luke Flanagan TD, Joe Higgins TD, Joan Collins TD, Cllr Ruth Coppinger, Richard Boyd-Barrett TD, Clare Daly TD, Seamus Healy TD and Pat Waine. Photo by: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

An estimated 50 percent of Irish homeowners failed to pay a new flat rate $131 (€100) property tax by the March 31 deadline.

As of 1st January 2012, most owners of residential property in Ireland were liable for the household charge on each residential  property they own.

“It is quite clear a mass boycott has really sent this government a significant message it didn’t want to hear,” Luke Flanagan, an independent TD, told the New York Times.

“When we started this campaign, even 25 percent support translating to several hundred thousand would have been phenomenal, but we estimate over a million people eligible to pay this tax have refused.”

“I don’t care if 99.9 percent of people end up paying it,” Mr. Flanagan said. “I won’t be paying it and there are plenty like me,” he added.

The Irish government has vowed to identify and penalize those who have refused to pay.

“We will begin with sending out letters and then escalate it from there to the maximum fine of 2,500 euros” ($3,330),” a spokesman for the Department of Environment told the NY Times.

“We will be taking people to court if necessary, and if there is refusal to pay, then that could be seen by a judge as contempt of court.”

Last weekend, Irish police ordered Fine Gael to stop “riling protesters” during the party’s Ard Fheis when thousands of opponents of the tax descended on the annual meeting at National Convention Centre in Dublin.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter angered protesters on Friday night when he suggested they should “get a life”.

"This is the lowest property charge you will find anywhere in Europe." Shatter said.

"...I think Sinn Fein and the promise protestors should just get a life'

Commenting on Irish homeowners’ refusal to pay the new levy, Communications minister Pat Rabbitte said it was their way of kicking back.

"My own view is that after four years of cutbacks and very painful decisions for people, I think they probably seized on the Household Charge as their opportunity to kick back, and I think a lot of people have done that,” he told the Irish Examiner.

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