Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Environment and Local Government Barry Cowen has called on Minister Phil Hogan to publish the Government’s submission to the Energy Regulator on water charges.
Deputy Cowen has said: “There are less than eight weeks to go until people vote in the local and European elections and the public have a right to know how much they will pay in new water charges before they elect their new local councillors. It is unacceptable that the Environment Minister is withholding this information.
“The Taoiseach gave a commitment in the Dáil that the amount of money people would be charged for water would be know before the local elections. Three weeks ago Minister Hogan told me that the Government’s submission to the Energy Regulator on the issue would be published in a week. Why is the Government continuing to drag its feet on this issue?
“The Commission for Energy Regulation is currently engaged in a public consultation on the domestic water tariffs but the chief executive of Irish Water, John Tierney, has said “there will be a period between March and August by when the final charge has to be determined.” It is not acceptable that the public do not know how much they will have to pay for water when they vote in the local elections on May 23rd.
“Fianna Fáil will be making its own submission to the energy regulator but it’s the Government that is driving this whole agenda. We need to hear from Minister Phil Hogan what charging regime he’s putting in place.
“We have already seen how the Central Statistics Office is pointing specifically at decisions taken by Government as the cause for an increase in the cost of living. The CSO in the latest bulletin on prices specifically cited the impact of the property tax and higher private health insurance costs as being key drivers behind higher costs for families. Hitting thousands of families with new charges for water will only put more and more people into financial difficulty and hurt the economy.
“The establishment of Irish Water has been shrouded in secrecy from the outset. Millions of euro in taxpayers’ money has already been squandered on consultants’ costs with little to show for it and now the public are being kept in the dark on just how much they will have to pay for Fine Gael’s pet project.”