Irish Republican News · September 20, 2014
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: Water charges anger as Dáil resumes
Water charges anger as Dáil resumes

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There have been sharp exchanges between the political parties in the 26 Counties following the end of the Dublin parliament’s summer recess and ahead of next month’s delivery of the national financial budget for the forthcoming year.

Although the coalition parties have touted possible reductions in income tax as a “sweetener” for hard-pressed families, the introduction of a flat new water tax remains the most controversial issue.

Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said the annual Money Advice and Budgeting Service (Mabs) report showed that the average disposable income of people using their services was just 8.75 euro a week after all bills were paid.

She asked the Tanaiste: “How do you expect or recommend to these families that they pay 500 euro a year or more for their water. What household essentials do you advise them to cut back on?

“It confirms yet again how wrong-headed and unfair the approach of your government has been in the imposition of a tax on the family home and the imposition of a tax on water.”

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin that there was “no linkage to ability to pay” the water charges for people with low incomes, with children only qualifying for a shower and one toilet flush daily.

He also called on her to clarify the position on ‘self reporting’ medical conditions following a report that ticking a box on the Irish Water form would allow them to limit the charges they paid.

The new Labour Party leader said the coalition government had agreed that those on social welfare and anyone of the household benefits package would receive 100 euro a year towards their water bills, paid quarterly.

Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny later said people could also save on water charges by turning off the tap when they brush their teeth.

Mr Kenny said people underestimated the ways in which they would be able to conserve water.

“People are in control here because you can turn off the tap. From simple things like washing teeth to all of the other things that happen, it is possible to save and conserve huge amounts of water.”

The Taoiseach said definitive water charges would be issued next week and people’s “practical, normal” questions about the new regime would be answered then.

CHARGES SET TO BEGIN

Water charges are due to kick in on October 1 but the bills will not arrive until January. As contractors attempt to install the meters, they have been met with furious protests by angry taxpayers determined to oppose them.

This week in Drimnagh and Bluebell in County Dublin residents successfully resisted the installation of meters.

Sinn Fein’s Councillor Daithi Doolan said: “While the protests were very good humoured, the message was serious. People do not want water meters and will continue to campaign against water charges.

“People fully understand that we all pay for water in our taxes and this double tax must be resisted.

“The establishment of Irish Water has been a political disaster for the government. People genuinely feel this is a tax too far.

“Those on low incomes will be hardest hit by the charges and it will take more money out of local economies that are already struggling.”

© 2014 Irish Republican News