Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has said the Household Charge has to be paid and will not be abolished by the Government.

Mr Gilmore said he understood that no-one liked paying extra taxes, but the charge is an interim measure that had to be introduced before a property tax can be fully implemented.

Around 30% of people had paid the Household Charge by this evening.

The Department of the Environment has asked local authorities to open as many offices as possible on Saturday, which is the deadline for payment.

A spokesperson said this meant that all principal offices in each county would be open at the very least.

Those who do not pay before next Sunday will face penalties and fines.

Speaking in China, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said that people have plenty of time left to pay the charge and that it is the law of the land.

However, Socialist TD Joe Higgins said the Government is facing a mass revolt over the charge and will not be able to impose it.

He said people understood that the charge was simply a precursor to a total new tier of taxation that would quickly go to €1,000 per household and beyond, which they cannot bear.

Elsewhere, the Mandate trade union has announced its support for the Sinn Féin Household Charge Repeal Bill, which was launched today.

The union said the charge disproportionately affects those on lower incomes, but added that it would support the Government in introducing a fair and progressive property tax.

Fianna Fáil is advising people to pay the charge but says the deadline should be pushed back.

Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan has repeated that there will be no extension to the 31 March deadline.

A meeting of the Fine Gael parliamentary party this evening was dominated by discussion of the charge

Minister Hogan made a presentation and fielded questions from over 20 TDs and Senators.

Sources said the tone of the meeting was broadly supportive of the minister.

However, there was some criticism of Labour ministers, including Joan Burton and Brendan Howlin, who had voiced misgivings about his handling of the issue.