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Local Government Harassment
Open letter to Minister John Gormley TD. The letter outlines how Limerick County Council's motor tax office have forced me off the road and are now failing to take responsibility for my plight. It is a complaint to the Minister, in the hopes that he may help to resolve the situation. I have not had an acknowledgement from the Minister's department yet in relation to my email. I have circulated my letter to a number of newspapers and it remains to be seen if they publish its contents.
19th of September 2007,
Open letter to Minister John Gormley T.D.,
Department of the Environment, Heritage & Local Government,
Complaint concerning Local Government Harassment:
Dear Minister Gormley,
I write to you as a last resort due to local government bias towards me. I wish to inform you of the contents of the registered letter, dated the 11th of September 2007, which I received from the ‘motor tax office’ of Limerick County Council in respect of my motor tax payment.
The letter alleges that:
- ‘Your cheque has been returned unpaid by the bank’…
- ‘in accordance with Section 23 of the Finance Act, 1936, as amended, the tax disc issued in respect of the above vehicle is void, and accordingly, your vehicle is not licensed for use in a public place.’
- ‘You are therefore requested to return the vehicle licence (tax disc) within TEN DAYS OF THIS NOTICE. Alternatively, you may submit the sum of €144.00 by cash, money order, postal order or bank draft.’
- ‘If you fail to respond to this matter, the Gardai will be requested to call on you to retrieve the tax disc, and should this action fail, the matter will be referred without delay to our solicitors’ for necessary legal action to be taken against you for recovery of the outstanding amount, and you will be responsible for any legal costs incurred.’
The letter is deceptive, and seems to be veiled with legal intent. It is an attempt to put me in fear and incite a reaction. The actual circumstances are:
· The motor tax office continues to hold my payment of €144.00 by cheque, which is valid for six months, and they are failing to cash my cheque further to my written instructions.
· They have declared my legitimate motor tax disc void or legally invalid, for reasons known only to them.
· If I followed their directions to pay another €144.00, my circumstances will remain as they now are.
Their request for a further €144.00 from me is I believe a ruse, as the reality will remain that I will still have an invalid motor tax disc (according to them) and I will remain a soft target for the authorities, even though I would have paid twice. At this stage, I have to complete the appropriate motor tax form again, have a Garda sign the form, as my car is now off the road, and reapply for a new motor tax disc. My fear is they may well attempt to persecute me similarly in the future.
Why are they threatening the Gardai on me? I have not broken any law. Why are they seeking me to return the legal documents that I paid for? It appears to me that they want to seize my evidence in order to pursue me further and to prevent me from receiving answers. They have no justification for their legal threats. This situation is disgraceful and completely of their making. I am effectively bullied off the road for six days now, without any answers. Why won’t the local authority return my payment by crossed cheque, since invalidating my motor tax disc as issued on the 30th of August 2007?
According to my bank records, Limerick County Council received full payment from my bank on the 4th of September (unusually within three working days of me presenting the cheque in the motor tax office). The motor tax office actually returned my payment to the bank on the same date, as my bank records show both transactions resulted in bank charges being applied to my current account. Surely, this implies Limerick County Council invalidated my motor tax disc. If the Council had difficulty with my bank, the least I would have expected was a telephone call or that the local authority, return my cheque and invoice me accordingly. It is not good enough.
The officer in question has failed to answer my email of Friday the 14th of September; she has failed to invoice me or return my cheque, and has misrepresented the situation in her letter to me. I request you to assist in any way you can to resolve this situation.
The following background information may be of assistance. I did not receive a tax renewal form from the local authority. This is consistent with the last number of years as all my motor tax renewal forms have come to me headed Limerick City Council, which is an incorrect jurisdiction as my residence is in County Limerick. Consequently, I have not been able to tax my car online for fear of being provided with a void motor tax disc, and possibly breaching some law. I have had to visit the motor tax office in person to deliver payment and receive the motor tax discs over the counter, during this time. When I emailed the motor tax office on the 23rd of August 2007 to seek a PIN, in order to tax my vehicle online, I was informed to ring the Department of the Environment, which seems peculiar considering the Council’s latest action. I didn’t telephone the DOE preferring to complete a ‘RF100A’ motor tax form and attached a cheque payment, which I presented at the motor tax office prior to their issuance of the motor tax disc. Two weeks later to the day, I received the letter, which apparently deploys ‘Section 23 of the Finance Act, 1936, as amended,’ to wrongfully allege that I am at fault for not maintaining a valid motor tax disc. It is a ridiculous situation and blatantly fabricated.
The fact that the letter is on obsolete Limerick County Council headed paper is worrying. An obsolete address is given for County Buildings, which the motor tax office is not part of, in any case, as it is independently located around the block (Mallow Street) from Limerick County Council’s vacated County Buildings (O’Connell Street), since the Council relocated a few miles down the road to: Dooradoyle Road, in 2003. The fact that the details given on the Department of the Environment, Heritage & Local Government’s website have similarly not been updated over the past three years is something which you should immediately address. It seems that the more confusion introduced, the more leverage the Council have to wriggle their way out of their responsibilities to the public.
Obscuring facts and creating circumstances where an unsuspecting member of the public could unknowingly transgress the law, due simply to reading a letter, and not studying the semantics or being legally trained, and so being unaware of the consequences of driving their car out of their driveway, is appalling. I have not received any forewarning, which indicates to me that this situation is contrived. In addition ‘An Post’ have failed to provide the ‘track and trace’ details of the letter that I received in the normal way. I have also since lost my online banking facility, which I assume happens to be an untimely coincidence.
I’m sure you will agree that motor tax must not be used as a tool to harass the unsuspecting or to persecute any citizen. I have always paid all my taxes in this country. The threatened legal action by Limerick County Council would serve only to enrich their solicitors’. This is an abuse of power and a deliberate attack on my civil liberty. The slight-of-hand tactics is frightening. An attempt to have me hauled before the courts for a situation that I would have been completely innocent of, which was out of my control due to circumstances I was unaware of, is a telling indictment of the Council’s discriminatory actions. They have destroyed my life. My payment should be available to fund badly needed road infrastructure, but it seems that Limerick County Council’s priorities lie elsewhere.
The intensity of attacks on my civil liberty has increased in recent times. This seems connected to my endeavours to understand the intricacies of the Corrib gas situation. The timing of the letter coming just prior to my intended trip to Rossport, County Mayo, to attend a Shell to sea peaceful protest, is a worrying coincidence. What scares me is, that if I had arrived in Ballanaboy, without fully considering the letter, I am certain that I would have become a Gardai victim, arrested, with my car impounded. The unanswerable council officer’s misleading letter and obscure laws, would serve only to compound my difficulties and attempts to clear my name of charges which would probably be brought under the Road Traffic Act, by the Gardai/DPP and not by the council under ‘the Finance Act, 1936, as amended’. My solidarity with the people of North Mayo and across this land, who object to the government’s complicity in that destructive development, where the shareholders of rampaging multi-nationals are put before the vulnerable in our society, is my choice. I will not be intimidated from doing what I believe to be right and proper.
There is a serious need to reform local government malpractice for the prosperity of all and not just their cronies. I also missed out on a job interview, but that will not trouble some permanent officers of Limerick County Council. Do I have to change my address to a different council jurisdiction to receive a valid tax disc?
I look forward to your reply.
Adrian Nally, (086 313 4734)
2 Greenview Drive,