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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Carlow Nationalist — Sinn Féin TD says there should be an amnesty for TV licence-fee dodgers

Vivienne Clarke

A Sinn Féin TD has claimed an amnesty could be introduced for people who have not paid for the TV licence in the same way an amnesty was given for people who failed to pay water charges.

Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland, Thomas Gould pointed out that last year 13,000 people went through the courts for TV licence evasion. The lost revenue from those TV licence fees was “just over €2 million”, he said, which was the same amount RTÉ lost on Toy Show The Musical.

“So what we have is ordinary people being dragged through the courts, facing a thousand euro fine, short term imprisonment and a charge against on them. While at the same time, executives at RTÉ are squandering millions with no accountability.”

Mr Gould denied that Sinn Féin was encouraging people not to pay their TV licence. “I’m saying at this moment in time, the licence fee is a legal requirement. We’re telling people to make sure to pay the licence fee, as long as it’s a legal requirement.”

The amnesty for those who have not paid their TV licence was just one of a number of issues the party was proposing, he added.

“In 2017, the Government gave an amnesty for people who didn’t pay the water charges. So look, this has been done before.”

Under a model proposed by Sinn Féin, RTÉ would be funded under a dual system with direct exchequer funding along with commercial funding through advertising.

“Our new model will ensure that public sector broadcasting going into the future will be on a much better, sustainable footing.

“What we are proposing in our Bill today is a triple lock, and that will ensure independence. And what we mean by that is we would have Coimisiún na Meán on that. They would outline and review the amount of funding that would be needed, that would be sustainable over a four-year period, so that it couldn’t be interfered by ministers. And if a minister tried to interfere, they would have to come before the Dáil to explain why.”

Mr Gould said the Taoiseach was being hypocritical about the TV licence because he had been prepared to abolish water charges and there had been an amnesty. “So is he saying there’s one rule for the water charges and then the other one, if we abolish the TV licence.”

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