The Dublin government has been accused of lying about the level of water charges to try and get past the local elections after official estimates of the annual cost of water suddenly escalated this week.
Figures produced by the energy regulator say the average house with two adults will pay 278 euro a year in water charges. The government said before the local elections that the average home, which includes holiday homes, would only pay around 240 euro a year.
It was also revealed that the free water allowance initially set for children is being cut by 17,000 litres. It had been suggested in May that children would receive a free allocation of up to 104 litres each day, the equivalent of 38,000 litres a year.
It means parents will be given only enough free water for their children to take one brief shower and flush the toilet once each day. Everything else will have to be paid for.
The Society of St Vincent de Paul said the water charge was one of the highest in Europe, and would have “serious implications” for low-income households. It also raised concerns that the cost of water was likely to rise, and that households with adult children would bear a disproportionate burden.
“This establishes a culture of high charging which could have serious implications after 2016, recognised as the end of the transitionary period,” said social justice officer Brendan Hennessy.
Sinn Fein’s environment spokesman Brian Stanley accused the coalition government of “misleading the public” on the likely level of charges. -
Fianna Fail environment spokesman Barry Cowen said the publication of the proposed water charges “exposed the Government’s dishonesty”.
Meanwhile, anti-water charges campaign groups across Ireland are encouraging the public to remove their water meters and use a cheap plastic plug to keep their water flowing.
Nearly 300 of the devices have already been sold as part of a mass campaign of civil disobedience being run by more than 100 anti-water charges groups.
More than 100 anti-water charges groups are due to meet in Cork next month to plan a national campaign against the levy.