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Judge convicts and fines 31 people over non-payment of TV licence fee

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A judge has convicted and fined 31 people €150 each, plus €100 in legal costs, over non-payment of the TV licence.

Summonses against more than twice that number were struck out, mostly because licences were taken out after those involved were visited by TV licence inspectors.

At Dublin District Court on Friday, Judge Anthony Halpin dealt with what he described as a “rather short” list of more than 100 cases in which An Post alleged failure to pay the €160 licence fee.

It is a criminal offence to have a television without a TV licence, and the offence on conviction carries a maximum €1,000 fine and a record of conviction for a crime.

The RTÉ payments controversy, which erupted in June last year, was not raised by any of those who appeared before the court. Overall, TV licence sales fell by 13 per cent last year, representing a €20 million loss of revenue, and more than 13,000 people were summonsed to appear before the courts for non-payment.

Jennifer Morgan BL, for An Post, presented all the cases, which arose from visits by TV licence inspectors last September and October to homes in areas including Dublin 4, Dublin 6, Dublin 15, Dublin 18 and Malahide.

Counsel secured strike-out orders in 64 cases, mainly because the individuals involved had taken out licences since the inspectors visited, or were entitled to free licences. None of the 64 were required to appear in court on Friday.

One man who attended court told the judge his sole income is the statutory old-age pension of €266 weekly, and the judge suggested he contact a Citizens Information Centre over whether he is entitled to a free licence. The judge told a small number of other individuals who sought extra time to get a licence that they had until September to do so.

In 31 cases, where there was no attendance by the individuals involved and none had corresponded with the court office, the judge heard evidence from TV licence inspectors before proceeding to convict.

All 31 were fined €150, to be paid within three months, and costs of €100 each were awarded against them. If they wish to appeal to the Circuit Court, they have 14 days to do so. An Post can take enforcement proceedings where there is no appeal and no licence is obtained.

A small number of other cases were adjourned before the list concluded by lunchtime on Friday.

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