FINGAL County Council says it has no plans “at the moment” to look for proof of household charge payment before approving college grant applications.
The council moved to clarify its position after Clare County Council threatened to withhold the grant from students whose parents had not paid the household charge.
Clare County Council had controversially sought proof from college grant applicants of household charge payments from their parents.
The unprecedented move sparked a wave of protest and concern that other councils would follow suit.
Fingal County Council confirmed it is not currently enforcing such a condition on college grant applications.�
In response to queries from Northside People, a spokesperson for the council said it has no plans “at the moment” to link payment of Higher Education Grants or any other applications for funding made to Fingal County Council to the payment of the household charge.
Fingal County Manager David O’Connor, in response to concerns from local representatives, said that while there were no immediate plans to adopt the practice, the council is “keeping the matter under review”.
Local representatives were assured that if the council was to initiate such a practice they would be notified of this intention in advance.
Meanwhile, Dublin City Council has confirmed that it is “not seeking this information from applicants in the current year”.
Local councillor David McGuinness (FF) was among those who condemned the linking of the household charge with college grant applications.
“Students being punished for their parents’ inability or unwillingness to pay the household charge was a new low in this country that was supported at the highest levels of Government,” he stated.
“I welcome the Fingal County Manager’s commitment to avoid this approach in the immediate future.�
“But not ruling this proposal out completely will come as a worrying indication for the many thousands of families who rely on speedy processing of their grant applications to fund the academic year.”
The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) also severely criticised the controversial practice adopted by certain councils.
John Logue, president of USI, said he was awaiting legal opinion on the matter.
“Never have I heard of a grant being refused until proof of payment is offered for a completely unrelated tax owed by another person,” he stated.
“Students are being punished for the decisions of their parents and their education is being put at risk.
“This is a particularly cynical and craven way to manage a Government.