Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Environment, Barry Cowen TD, has reacted to leaks in today’s papers suggesting that those on the fuel allowance and the long-term unemployed will receive a rebate of €100 off their water bills.
He commented: “For the last three years, I have called for an ability to pay clause to be considered in relation to water charges but the Government ignored these requests.
“The penny now seems to have finally dropped with the Government. Fine Gael and Labour chose to ignore repeated warnings about the outlandish spending costs associated with the set-up of Irish Water. It is unfortunate that the Government are only now accepting that they have imposed unfair water charges people without proper scrutiny.
“One of the most glaring omissions in the onset of water charges has been the fact that no account has been taken for people’s ability to pay. Now belatedly, after a massive protest in Dublin last weekend, Fine Gael and Labour are desperately scrambling to come up with some way of providing relief for the unemployed and those on social welfare payments.
“The mixed messages from Irish Water, the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) and now the Government about how much people will pay will only add to public fury about the disastrous handling of this from the very start.
“I am extremely concerned that families with three adult children will still be forced to pay almost €600 per year in water charges. It is still not too late for the Government to take ability to pay into consideration.
“The Government needs to urgently reassess water allowance charges particularly for large families.”