Donegal residents resist Garda tax clampdown
Donegal residents resist Garda tax clampdown

A campaign is mounting in Donegal against a tax imposed by the Dublin government on cars purchased in the Six Counties.

Thousands of people have joined an online campaign against the tax, which can amount to several thousand euro.

On Tuesday, about 50 people took part in a protest in a Buncrana car park after a woman refused to co-operate with 26-County Garda police.

“It took approx 16 of these cowardly lowest form of life scumbags to come to a woman’s house and seize my car,” said another victim of the clampdown.

“They were obviously watching my house and they waited until everyone else left before they had the courage to come.”

In April, 69 people driving northern registered cars in County Donegal had their vehicles seized. The county, almost entirely cut off from the rest of the 26 County state by the border with the North, is one of the poorest in Ireland and routinely ignored by successive Dublin governments.

Under the law, all vehicles in the 26 Counties must be registered with the state’s Revenue Commissioners, other than those brought in temporarily by visitors. However, thousands of people who live in border areas travel between the two jurisdictions on a daily basis. They typically purchase lower-priced cars in the Six Counties as a cost-saving measure.

26-County tax and customs officials are now checking if people now living in these areas have properly imported and taxed the cars under 26-County law.

26-County Revenue said the “rules were clear” and the non-payment of tax would be “vigorously pursued”.

“We have been carrying out operations in relation to vehicle registration tax all across the country,” said local customs officer, Sean Kelleher.

“The fact that it is highlighted more in this region is because we are intensifying our operations in the Donegal area.

“There would appear to be a higher level of non-compliance in this region based on our operations to date.”

Online campaigner Ryan Stewart said VRT was an “unfair tax”.

“I set it up because there is serious outcry and it’s just to give people a voice.”

Donegal Sinn Fein Councillor, Padraig Mac Lochlainn has challenged the county’s Fianna Fail politicians to clarify where they stand on the matter.

“Our Fianna Fail politicians can not just walk away from their responsibilities on this issue,” he said.

“They support this government and they now need to tell us where they stand on VRT. There is widespread outrage at the recent draconian behaviour of customs officers enforcing this unjust tax. But the facts are that those really responsible for their operation and ongoing enforcement are the government and by extension, Fianna Fail politicians in Donegal”.

He said the VRT was “a tax on ordinary people seeking to get a good deal for their family within the European Union in difficult times. It is a tax that flies in the face of the stated principles of open trade within the European Union.

“It is blatant double taxation. It is not good enough to hide behind the actions of customs officers anymore. I challenge them to do the right thing and act now and work towards abolishing VRT once and for all”.

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