CLARE County Council’s decision to ask approximately 800 third-level maintenance grant applicants if their parents had paid the €100 Household Charge provoked a storm of local and national protest this week. The Union of Students of Ireland has warned it will initiate legal proceedings against any local authority that withholds a student grant over failure to provide evidence of the Household Charge payment.
Clare County Council, in a statement, said it has not, at any stage, indicated that grant payments would be withheld from applicants that have not paid the household charge. “Applicants who have completed forms and provided the necessary information will have their payments issued as expeditiously as possible. Applicants who do not provide the requested information will be requested to submit complete applications, which may result in delay,” according to the statement.
Speaking in the Dáil on Wednesday, Taoiseach Enda Kenny confirmed Clare County Council is not entitled by law to reduce or withhold a portion of the third-level grant that is due as a result of the non-payment of the Household Charge.
He confirmed no money has been withheld by the council in respect of higher-education grants and noted it is entitled to secure as much information about the numbers who have paid the household charge as is required in law.
The council reiterated on Wednesday it was never its intention to delay or withhold the payment of third-level grants to second, third and fourth-year students, regardless of whether their parents had paid the Household Charge and merely initiated this measure as part of its “public awareness campaign” about the public services that are funded by the collection of money from the charge.