Who’s gonna blink first?

Go ahead punk, make my day. Just picture the scene. Dirty Harry aka Phil Hogan pointing his pistol in the face of the nation and asking “Do you feel lucky, You’re asking, did I fire five or did I fire six?” Yes, folk’s with just 72 hours until the deadline for the Household Charge, the country and the Government are playing the ultimate game of brinksmanship.

It is a case of waiting to see who is going to blink first and if the million or so households which have not yet registered blink, the flap of those eyelashes will represent a major coup for Minister Hogan and the Government.

At time of going to press on Wednesday evening, Big Phil had not rowed back on his stance that there would not be any extension of the deadline which currently sits at midnight Saturday.

He feels that there has been adequate explanation of it and that if a million or so households refuse to pay it by the deadline, then they will be breaking the law, and will be pursued accordingly.

The battle for the minds of the nation has been going on all week, right from the moment Minister Hogan said that council officials will be out first thing next Monday morning knocking on the doors of those who have not paid. Exactly what they were going to do when those doors were opened, the Minister was not so precise on, but you can well imagine that choice words would be exchanged.

You can also imagine that this work will not be sought by many council officials who themselves feel less than motivated in recent times, and certainly do not feel like being the troops in the trenches, popping their heads up on the orders of the generals ensconced safely back at barracks.

Of course, the imagery of the council’s equivalents of The Viper coming to your door to demand payment is one that is very emotive in this country, a country just 150 years or so removed from the days of Michael Davitt, Captain Boycott and the familiar sight of evictions.

Of course, what the Minister’s suggestion did also is open the door to a floodgate of criminals who will seize upopn the opportunity to pose as Council officials and try to convince vulnerable householders to part with cash.

As it stands, 26 per cent of the households have coughed up and in order to facilitate more, The Department of the Environment has asked local authorities to open as many offices as possible on Saturday, which is the deadline for payment.

A spokesperson said this meant that all principal offices in each county would be open at the very least.

Those who do not pay before next Sunday will face penalties and fines, they insist.

It promises to be an interesting weekend.

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